I'm just gonna say it: City of Mages is essentially a soap opera set in a fantasy world of my own devising. Here's what you need to know:
The world of City of Mages, currently nameless, consists of one large continent, referred simply as "the continent" an numerous small islands. As far as these characters are concerned, that is the world.
There are two kinds of magic in this world - stargem magic and elemental magic. Stargem magic is big and flashy and practiced by Wizards and Sorcerers. Elemental magic is more quiet and reserved, and practiced by Witches and Druids.
All Stargem magic comes from an actual object called the Star gem. The closer you are to the Star gem, the more powerful your magic is. The Star gem is located in the Tower of Doom in the City of Errilliance. That's where most of the story is set.
As mentioned earlier, four kinds of magicians live in Erriliance (magician being a catch-all term for any magic user.) They are:
Sorcerers: Sorcerers are those rare individuals with a natural talent for Stargem magic. Most have one or two natural abilities which they can use pretty much at will, and of course some are more powerful then others. They are organized into the Sorcerers' Guild. Though non-guild sorcerers do exist (Clayton Darkwood, for one) they are treated as criminals and hunted down by the guild. Female sorcerers are called Sorceresses, and are quite common.
Wizards: Wizards have no inborn talent - they manipulate Stargem magic through rituals and ceremonies. Wizards are basically incapable of doing magic on the fly, but given a few hours, some candles and a book of magic runes, they can do things a sorcerer can only dream of. The Wizards are loosely organized by a group called the College of Wizardry, but they don't force all Wizards to join. Still, unrestricted access to the Colleges libraries is usually enough of an enticement. Female Wizards are called Wizardesses, and are very rare.
Druids: Druids cast nature magic by communing with the elements. Nature magic can be very powerful, but is usually not obvious. Some Druids are capable of communing with all four elements, whereas some only really have power over two or three. Druidism is taught by a master-apprentice system, and has no official organization, although Thurigen has professed himself their leader, and no one has questioned him yet. Male and female Druids occur with equal frequency.
Witches: Witches are by far the most subtle of the spellcasters. Most of their power comes from making potions with they brew in strange rituals using bizzare ingredients. They also can, and often do, cast complex spells similar to those used by wizards, but employing the power of the elements, not of the stargem. As these often require three or more witches to perform, and witchcraft is taught in a manner similar to Druidism, witches have a complex social network but no official organization beyond the coven (a group of three witches of varying ages.) Male witches, even rarer then female Wizards, are called Warlocks.
Everything else you need to know comes from the relationships among the many characters. Here is an updated version of a brief "Guide to Characters" I wrote some time ago:
Race: Human. Leader of the Witches (mostly by virtue of no one else wanting the job.) Small elderly woman, usually very friendly and motherly, but can have some bite. Incredibly clairvoyant.
Race: Dwarf. Portly Leader of Erilliance's Wizards. Middle aged, friendly and cheerful.
Race: High Elf of the Citadel. Thurigen, Leader of the Druids, has transcended his corporeal form and now exists as an almost Demigod. Ancient, powerful, enigmatic and a bit tempermental. His assistant is Simile.
Xindor the Incredible:
Race: High Elf of the Citadel. Leader of the Sorcerers' Guild. One of the most powerful and popular sorcerors of all time (Also one of the most Arrogant and self-centered.) Pushing 450, due to die in less than three years (According to Lady Cecilia's prophecy.) His Niece is Amora of Tiesan. He harbors a grudge against Clayton Darkwood.
Race: Hill Gnome. Halyn is a Bard. He cares for his younger brother Erdyn and his younger sister Tiryn. He once wrote a very catchy song about Xindor the Incredible.
Race: Hill Gnome. Erdyn wants to be a sorceror, but has thus far displayed only minimal powers. His sister is Tiryn. His brother is Halyn.
Race: Hill Gnome. Tiryn is an insatiably curious and energetic young gnome. Sister to Halyn and Erdyn.
Clayton Darkwood: Race: Human. The Notorious Sorceror Pirate has been banished from both Xarnip and Erilliance. He currently commands the Simian scallywags of the Pirate Ship Abandon. He is old friends with Lady Cecilia. He hates Xindor the Incredible. He was once married to The Queen of Xarnip. His son is Brandon Darkwood.
Race: Doom Pixie. Sorceress, currently adjunct to Thurigen.
Dukalb Argoldson of Viiri: Race: Dwelf (Half Dwarf, half Elf.) Rejected by both his peoples, Dukalb sought out life as a Druid. Due to his mixed heritage, he has an affinity for trees and rocks. He's not a very good Druid, mostly due to a total lack of training. His master is Grosk.
Brandon Darkwood: Race: Half-Xarnipi Human. The Prince of Xarnip, often ostracized for his light skin, has recently begun accidentily turning people into animals. His father is Clayton Darkwood. His mother is The Queen of Xarnip. His half-sister is Jiuni.
Race: Xarnipi Human. Half sister to Brandon Darkwood. Last we saw her, she was trying to talk her mother into letting her come to Errilliance.
The Queen of Xarnip: Race: Xarnipi Human. Large, wealthy, and Powerful. Formerly married to Clayton Darkwood. Mother of numerous children, including Brandon Darkwood and Jiuni.
Race: Human. Thin, mousy witch with a mess of brown hair. Resident of the prestigous Tiesan Hall. Shy, but friendly. Very close friends with Amora of Tiesan. Has a huge crush on Bogue. Trained by Lady Cecilia.
Race: Human. Erilliance's leading Rune Master, Bogue is slightly disconnected to reality, due to spending so much time in the theoretical world of Runes. Something of a prodigy.
Amora of Tiesan:
Race: High Elf of the Citadel. Amora is a powerful budding sorceress. She has been spoiled both by her family's wealth and prestige and by her own great power, that of creating projectiles that alter people's emotions. She is controlling and manipulative, but essentially a decent person. Her best friend is Vivacia Brown. Her uncle is Xindor the Incredible.
Race: Hobgoblin. An experienced druid, Grosk is the only hobgoblin in the city of Errilliance. He is a trusted lieutenant of Thurigen. Currently training Dukalb.
Race: Dwarf. Owner and operator of Durney's Dwarven Diner, the only dwarven restaraunt in the city, and a popular hangout for Wizards and sorcerors alike.
The Story so Far:
Our story begins when Lady Cecilia has a vision. In this vision, she learns that Xindor will die in three years time and if something is not done soon, there will be no one to take his place as leader of the sorcerers guild. Xindor objects to this - he does not believe he's going to die, and even if he does, he's confident someone will step up to take over. Unable to convince the council, Lady Cecilia decides to take matters into her own hands...
Three gnomes, Halyn, Erdyn, and Tirdyn, approach Errilliance. Haylyn once wrote a very popular ballad about Xindor, and now Xindor has summoned him back to the city. His younger brother has some powers and wishes to become a sorcerer.
Clayton Darkwood, the infamous sorcerer pirate, is returning to the mainland after years of exile when he is contacted by Lady Cecilia. Lady Cecilia asks Clayton to retrieve his son from the custody of his mother, the Queen of Xarnip, despite the fact that she said she'd kill him if he ever set foot in her country again, and bring him to Errilliance to study. She promises that if Brandon comes to Errilliance, he could be leader of the sorcerers guild in as little as three years.
Xindor tries to contact his niece, Amora, but fails. Lady Cecilia finds him and informs him that Clayton is coming to Errilliance. Xindor is furious, but eventually agrees not to harm Clayton while he is in the city.
Dukald, a druid in the forest outside Errilliance, is summoned to the druidic leader Thurigen and made an offer - accept training from a new teacher or be exiled from the city. He takes the training.
Meanwhile, in Xarnip, Brandon Darkwood, Clayton's son, has been accidentally and inexplicably turning people into animals. Fortunately, these transformations have all been temporary. His mother the Queen of Xarnip, reveals that he is in fact a sorcerer, and the his father will be arriving soon to take him to Errilliance to be trained. Then she turns into a hippopotamaus.
The Gnomes arrive in Errilliance. Xindor sends a Wizard named Bogue to escort Erdyn and Tirdyn to their rooms, and summons Haylyn to his office. He admits that he, in fact, believes Lady Cecilia about his upcoming death, and is concerned about his legacy - he wants Halyn to write another ballad about his final adventure. Unfortunately, to do this, Halyn will have to live in Errilliance. The Gnome says he needs time to think about the offer.
Xindor's niece Amora and her best friend and roommate Vivacia are standing out on the roof of their building when they see Bogue and the two Gnomes walking by. Vivacia, infatuated with Bogue, talks Amora into shooting a bolt of pure love at him (Amora can fire blasts which manipulate emotions.) Amora fires, but misses and hits Erdyn, who immediately becomes infatuated with everyone. She goes down to try and reverse the spell and ends up nearly getting in a duel with Bogue. Fortunately Xindor interferes just before it starts and teleports Amora to his office.
Xindor chastises Amora for the attack, and reveals Lady Cecilia's prophecy, stating that he hopes she will be ready to succeed him should anything happen to him. Unbeknowest to him, she has already been planning to take over the guild for years.
Brandon's half-sister, Juini, tries to talk her mother into letting her come with Brandon to Errilliance, but the Queen says no. Clayton arrives in Xarnip with much fanfare.
Erdyn wakes up, thinking he's still in love with Amora. He and Halyn head off to breakfast before Erdyn's appointment.
Dukalb meets his new teacher, and is surprised to discover that he is a hobgoblin.
Erdyn and Halyn go to Durney's Dwarven Diner for breakfast. Erdyn tells Haylyn he loves Amora, but Halyn explains this is just an after effect of her magic. Erdyn prepares for his test.
Clayton and Brandon start to catch up. Clayton gives his son a gift - a chunk of oblivium which can nullify all magic in an area.
Grosk explains to Dukalb (and the readers) how Druidic powers work.
After a long wait in the lobby, Erdyn goes before the Sorcerer's Guild council to be tested. He demonstrates his abilities - the manipulation of small beads of light and the ability to slightly morph his facial features. The council seems impressed.
That's it so far. Next up: The story continues!