Who are the Melnari?
The Melnari is a mysterious group of people, neither Man, nor Elifaen, nor Dragonkind. They are very few in number, perhaps less than a dozen, and are long-lived, perhaps immortal as the Elifaen are. Some regard them as troublemakers, and others refer to them as mystics, although that term is somewhat inaccurate. However, in addition to their keen keen intellects, they do possess strange abilities and powers, similar to some of the older Elifaen. Their origin is murky, and no one knows when or why they appeared in the world (although they seemed to have first appeared sometime in the early Second Age). Melnari have served as advisors to kings and queens, they have been warriors, ambassadors, builders, explorers, and scholars, and there are many tales and legends concerning them.
There have been six notable Melnari:
At some point in each Melnari's life, he acquires a peculiar companion, called a Familiar, in the form of some creature. The nature of the relationship between the Melnari and his Familiar remains a mystery but, once together, they are hardly ever seen apart from one another. (See Familiars).
Below is a brief biography of each Melnari.
Barian the Counter
A Melnari of the early Second Age. He was renown for his knowledge of the heavens and wrote many books on the subject of the stars. It is said that he possessed remarkable eyesight and made an attempt to put a number to the stars and to trace their movements. It was Barian who first perfected a method of using a sextant to aid in navigation, which he shared with his friend and fellow Melnari, Ishtorgus. He was also able to accurately predict certain celestial events, and was a proponent of improved calendars. While living in Altoria, he developed a reliable timekeeping device, which operated on a system of waterwheels and gears. Legend has it that while he was stargazing one night a falling star struck where he stood, leaving no trace of him but a smoking hole in the ground.
One of the Melnari, also called Ashlord by Men, sometimes referred to as Collandoth the Wanderer, and sometimes known as Collandoth the Watcher. He was a mystic, warrior, academic, and learned one. He had a varied career, and traveled extensively throughout the world and the Dragonlands.
The earliest records of him are in Dragonkind annals which record that he successfully defended the city of Alaberbra (later called Kajarahn) against a rogue Dragonkind general who laid siege to the place. When the prince of the city was killed, Collandoth led the city in its defense and defeated the general. So grateful were the people of the city that they made him their king. Collandoth accepted the title only long enough to take advantage of the Dragon King's appreciation for defeating his rebellious general so that the city would be granted an independent, city-state status as a Free City, to enjoy trade with the north as well as the Dragonlands. This was granted. Collandoth then installed a council of leaders to rule the city, and abdicated to them. These events took place roughly around the year 336 S.A.
His name is first mentioned in the annals of Duinnor in the year 347 S.A., when he is listed as one of the Nine Banes, a group of witch and demon hunters who, during the Second Demon War, sought to eradicate the creatures from the world. Later, he served Vanara as an ambassador to the Dragonlands.
He is referred to in some texts as one of the Twenty-Four Watchers (no list is available of the other twenty-three). In manuscripts he is referred to as one of the Forge Ores, because legend has it that the Melnari must undergo severe trials during their stay on earth to prepare for their eventual transformation into another plane of existence.
Between the years of 585 and 760 S.A., he spent a great deal of time in Duinnor where he taught at the King's Academy. He departed and disappeared for a long while, reappearing in Glareth in 780 S.A., and then in Vanara in 796 S.A., where he taught various subjects at the Queen's Academy.
By the late Second Age, Collandoth was out of favor in most realms, probably because he gave stern advice to Ruling Princes about the need to reform their ways. In Vanara, he was tolerated by Queen Serith Ellyn, and played an important role in seeking to forge some truce with the Dragonlands, even acting as a trade representative on her behalf. It is thought that during those years, he was instrumental in the smuggling of darakal plants out of the deserts so that they might be studied in an attempt to cultivate them in the north (Such cultivation failed.). He befriended a young Dragonkind named Gurasa and was convinced to bring him north on his return to Vanara. Collandoth and Gurasa traveled throughout Vanara and on to Duinnor, where Gurasa met and was befriended by Lord Tallin and his son Dalvenpar. Although Gurasa always traveled in disguise, and his identity was carefully guarded by his new-found friends, the fact that he was Dragonkind was eventually learned by others not friendly with Collandoth or the Tallins. As a result, and especially after Gurasa rose to become a powerful general of the Dragonkind, Collandoth would be under some suspicion for his friendliness to Gurasa. (A cloud also hung over the Tallins until they more or less proved their loyalty in battle.)
Years later, and well after the peace was broken, Collandoth at first refused to take up arms against the Dragonkind. When the retreat from the First Siege of the Green Citadel took place, he was far away in Glareth where he went to study manuscripts located there. It was said that when news reached Glareth of the debacle, Collandoth ranted and paced for four days and nights without rest. Yet he remained in Glareth, and traveled from there throughout the Eastlands, visiting Colleton and Tallinvale before going to Tracia for a time.
Collandoth arrived back in Vanara only to learn that a second attempt to lay siege to the Green Citadel was taking place. The Queen's scribe, Orinus, recorded that Collandoth severely scolded Queen Serith Ellyn for permitting her forces to go with Duinnor's on such a foolhardy mission. An argument ensued between Collandoth and the Queen, which was interrupted only when news came that a botched retreat was once again taking place. Together, Collandoth and Serith Ellyn led a hastily assembled army to relieve a group of over two thousand of their comrades who were isolated and surrounded by Dragonkind in a steep ravine called Peldown, located in the Blue Mountains. They arrived, along with a contingent of Kingsmen, in time to turn the tide of battle and to rescue their surviving allies and kinsmen. The battle was so costly and bloody that the place came to be called Gory Gulch.
After this, Vanara seemed more disposed to listen to Collandoth's advice. It is said by some that he worked to assemble a group of peace-minded conspirators, to make overtures to dissident Dragonkind, and to thwart the rise of Duinnor's power in Vanara, particularly that wielded by Duinnor Regular Army units who ever agitated for and even provoked battle and unrest with the Dragonkind.
Collandoth eventually enlisted several high-ranking Kingsmen to his cause, who took on some of the more clandestine work in the desert lands. Then, mysteriously, Collandoth departed the west, traveling first to Duinnor, then east. In 859 S.A., he appeared in the Eastlands bearing a writ from Duinnor that made him warden of Tulith Attis. A few years later, in 864 S.A., he would take up residence there.
In 870 S.A., Collandoth was amongst the first to detect the invading Tracian Redvests and took warning of their arrival at Tulith Attis to Boskland, with the Redvests close behind him. While Garend Bosk, Laird of Boskland, put up a hastily prepared defense, Collandoth took many women and children with him and fled to Passdale. At Passdale, he and many others of the region fought a rearguard action in order to allow the people there time to escape toward Janhaven, and he only barely managed to escape capture during the fighting. Shortly afterwards, he joined with a party intent on traveling west to spread word of the invasion to Duinnor.
A Melnari of the Second Age, sometimes called Ishtorgus the Mariner. He was an advisor of King Thalamir of Glareth, the last of the Sea Kings.
During the Dragonkind Invasion of 322 S.A., Ishtorgus went to Tulith Attis with Thalamir (who was then a young Prince), and fought next to him at the Battle of Saerdulin. He was credited with much of Thalamir's education, and when Thalamir became king, Ishtorgus was a valued advisor to his court. It was in those years, 330-369 S.A., that Ishtorgus helped Thalamir build his maritime power. Istorgus advanced this cause by convincing master shipbuilders from other realms to come to Glareth to work. He also developed a triangular sail system that was first used on small craft and that would slowly become a distinctive feature of larger Glarethian warships long before being adopted by other ships. When Thalamir died, Ishtorgus remained in Glareth to continue developing his ship designs. He also served as a teacher at the Glareth Sea Academy and, later, as a trade representative. He was aboard one of four ships that sailed together from Glareth bound for Tracia when the Great Storm of 505 S.A. struck and the group was driven far out to sea. The ship bearing Ishtorgus and one other were lost in a maelstrom which pulled them under the waves.
A Melnari of the middle Second Age, sometimes called Micharam the Poet. Very little is known about him, but records indicate that he frequented Vanara and delighted Queen Serith Ellyn's court with his jests and witty poems and his sad ballads. He often boasted that he freely entered and walked within the Forest Islindia, but could offer no proof to skeptics. However, his fondness for woods and forests was well-known, and it is said that he had a mysterious ability to understand insects, and it was thought by some that the praying mantis that often perched on his shoulder was a Familiar. Although he sometimes traveled with Collandoth, he loved the solitude of the forest and was always venturing forth to explore woods and forests of the realms. He was a fierce defender of wild lands, too, and some say that his zeal inspired some within the Pinewood Uprising, although he denounced all forms of violence for any cause. He was fond of jokes and pun-making, and could not restrain himself from extemporaneous verse, even when it was somewhat lewd or offensive. Perhaps it was his proclivity to provoke that led to his demise, for legend has it that one of Micharam's verses severely offended a butterfly, which pursued him through a Vanaran forest and beat him to death with its wings.
A Melnari, known as Raynor the Wise. He was a renown tutor and educator with many notable students, including Navis and Esildre of the House of Elmwood.
His name first appears in the annals of Duinnor in the year 326 F.A. when it is recorded that a Melnari possessed of peculiar skill was able to decipher some of the old manuscripts that were possessed by the Fifth Unknown King and which had been brought to Duinnor during the Vanaran Purge of Scholars. He was apparently instrumental in organizing several lesser schools in the Duinnor area, and, under the Sixth Unknown King, he was given a position within the King's Academy in charge of the instruction of cadets in academic matters. The King's Academy was reorganized in 355 S.A. when the King ordered that all Kingsmen must have fundamental skills of reading, writing, mathematics, and be given knowledge of law and history. That same year, Raynor was made Head Scholar, and it was due to his leadership that the Academy quickly expanded from its military training to become a center for learning and research. Independent of his work at the Academy, Raynor also worked with other schools, particularly those for women who were not permitted to be Kingsmen, as well as schools for the poor. He privately tutored many students as well, including Esildre and her brother Navis of the House of Elmwood.
However, Raynor made many enemies in Duinnor by refusing to advance cadets merely because of their family's position, wealth, or influence. Rather, he insisted, as did the purely military trainers within the Academy, on excellence in all subjects of the curriculum. His situation became more difficult when he began openly criticizing Duinnor for its policies toward other Realms.
Raynor traveled extensively to gather materials for the Academy, even into the Dragonlands on several occasions. On his return from one such trip, in 723 S.A., he learned that he had been replaced as the Head Scholar, and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of spying for Vanara. However, his many friends in court helped him prove that the charges had no merit, and he was soon exonerated. He did not, however, seek to be reinstated at the Academy.
From then on, Raynor worked as a bookseller, copyist, and tutor. He seldom left Duinnor and was still living there in the late Second Age.
A Melnari, sometimes called Tolimay the Angry. Very little is known about him, and the only record that directly refers to him was a list of guests who attended banquet in Masurthia. Stories abound, however, nearly all of which having to do with his legendary temper. One tale says that he so offended King Inrick of Colleton that he was put in irons. He apparently escaped, as another story says that he was waylaid by a dozen highwaymen on the road to Glareth. When the bandits saw how impoverished that he was, they laughed and gave him coin from their purse. Apparently, this offended Tolimay so much that he entered a brawl with them on the spot, and gave them such a beating that they fled. Another story goes that he attended a wedding, but was impatient for the feast that was to take place afterwards and so upset the bride that she threw a candlestick at him, which put out his eye. But the most famous tale of all has it that he was tricked into watching after the spoiled son of an Eastlands farmer. The farmer told Tolimay that if he remained silent, no matter what happened, he would give Tolimay an entire keg of beer to drink, along with a fine roast to eat. He was to watch after the boy only for a day while the farmer went to market. Different versions of the story relate different ways in which the little boy, no more than five or six, played trick after trick upon Tolimay. But all have the same ending for, at last, so angry did Tolimay become, but so determined not to react, that his anger swelled up inside of him until he exploded into a thousand bits, much to the delight, apparently, of the lad.
The story is oft-repeated. However, during the late Second Age, a new version of the tale was in vogue, one in which the lad was actually an imp sent by Secundur.