"The hand that rattles the Cage is the hand that rules the world..."
-- Cager proverb

Copyright 1999 by Jon Winter, art by Karl Mikalsen

LLYSADIA ( Prime / female drow / wizard 16 / Fated / CE )


Most cutters think that the Rule of Three predicts that there should be three powerful, rich, and dangerous women in the Cage: Shemeshka the Marauder, Zadara the Titan and the Lady of Pain. Well, they're wrong on the last one, 'cause for starters the Lady ain't female, and secondly she ain't rich ('least, if she is she keeps her jink hidden awful well). In fact, there is a third, but she keeps herself very much out of the limelight. Her name is Llysadia, and she's a drow.

Unlike most drow, Llysadia doesn't come from some dark underground prime hole; she was the matriarch of a spelljamming clan of drow that sailed the Crystal Spheres in a vessel that looked like nothing so much as a gigantic moth. Out in deepest wildspace, the matriarch schemed and plotted with other drow clans, against the Elven Empire and either with or against the Regent of Bral, Prince Andruu, depending on Llysadia's mood. She ruled her clan with an iron claw, for one thing drow fear most than all else is treachery. Llysadia was no exception.

The clan dealt in magic and cut-down spelljamming helms, drawing a great deal of hostility from the arcane, a race of merchants with apparently limitless supplies of gold and artifacts at their disposal. Despite being outgunned, Llysadia built herself a miniature empire of wizards, training her many children in the arts of magic, and investing the proceeds of her trade in helms in buying more ships, magic and hiring more mages. The clan researched and probed the helms for years, finally learning some of the secrets of their creation. Soon, the drow had produced their own versions; not half as powerful, but a damn sight cheaper than the arcane-made helms. With this advantage, Llysadia hoped she could hold her own against the arcane and force the blue-skinned giants to grant her a contract to trade in spelljamming helms.

Llysadia and Collosis


Cage Rattlers:--
Barren, Garroth the Blinded, Lithoss, n=n+1, Baeneral Pikestaff, Sage, Vaysolar.
Uncaged: Faces of Sigil:--
Fell (p.36), Harys Hatchis (p.44), Koe (p.52), Omott (p.74), Lu Ruskin (p.86), Shemeshka (p.96), The Will of the One (p.110), Zadara (p.118).
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Things eventually blossomed into a confrontation when the arcane hired two dozen shiploads of giff warriors to smash the drow clan with their swords, pistols and great bombards. Llysadia's mages gave as good as they got (for the giff are not a magical race), and would probably have won out if it hadn't been for a stag-turning daughter of the matriarch. She'd had second thoughts about the chances of her clan winning, so in exchange for her life and a big pile of jink she's sold maps of the drow clan's base to the arcane.metal spiral

Unable to surprise the giff, and rapidly overwhelmed, the drow were forced to abandon their stronghold. The merciless (and well paid) giff picked off escaping vessels, save for Llysadia's own flitter which she'd cloaked with an invisibility spell. In the chaos, the treacherous daughter was killed (a lesson to all would-be stag-turners), and only the matriarch escaped.

Knowing that she'd be run out of any port she stopped in, Llysadia only had one option left open: emigration to the planes. Being a less clueless prime than most she even knew of Sigil, and had already made elaborate plans for a safe house the Lady's Ward, just in case such an event should have occurred. She's also made provision for a large stash of jink to be hidden thereabouts. Once can never be too prepared.

So, unlike most new prime refugees in the Cage, Llysadia found her feet fast. She knew the way that the cosmopolitan spacer ports worked, and found Sigil, while rather more over-run with fiends, to be otherwise similar. An added bonus she'd not anticipated was that the arcane seemed to be unwilling to enter the Cage for some reason, so she felt relatively safe from further retaliation. Once she'd settled her feet on the ground, she joined the Fated, finding the idea of taking what you reckon you deserve particularly attractive. She's worked her way up in the faction ranks to the position of Chancellor, one of the most powerful tax-collecting bloods. Under her command is the faction's pet marut, Collosis, who the drow uses as heavy muscle to scare debtors into paying up their dues.

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Now, it is a natural instinct of most drow to gather a clan around themselves, and Llysadia wished to do just this. The Fated, while a useful tool, weren't controllable enough, so Llysadia wanted something more personal. Trouble was, she felt unable to trust anyone, partly because there were so many unfamiliar faces in Sigil, and partly because of her previous experiences. That's when she hit upon her idea. Rather than have to trust a bunch of evil bashers to do your dirty work, why not use cutters who don't even know you exist?

That's where Shemeshka and Zadara have gone wrong, Llysadia reckons. While most berks don't know what those two ladies are working on at any one time, everyone knows of their presence in the Cage and that they're behind much that transpires there. The same berks don't have a clue who Llysadia is, or if they do, only know of her because of the work she does for the Fated.

Well, not all of them at least. One blood heard on the razorvine that Llysadia was looking for an opportunity, and came calling. Barren, a marraenoloth pilot from the River Styx, had something to sell, and thought the drow might be interested in it. He wasn't wrong; the drow was indeed keen, and sold the hard-won secret of the arcane's spelljamming helms in return for the marraenoloth's magical sphere.

If you're thinking this sphere must be something really special, you're spot on, berk. In fact, the sphere of authority allows the drow to usurp control of the imp and quasit familiars of evil mages when they're in the Cage. Even Llysadia doesn't know how it works; chalk it up to another mystery of the planes. In any case, when a mage and his familiar enter Sigil, Llysadia can sense it. She's then able to telepathically contact the imp or quasit through the sphere and garnish them with jink or promises of power in exchange for their services. The cutters are free to refuse, but almost never do, because through the sphere's magic Llysadia knows exactly what to offer the little pikes to get their cooperation.

It's generally understood in mage circles that imp and quasit familiars act strangely when they're in Sigil, but none of these wizards know why; they just assume the beasties are scared of the Lady or cagestruck or excited by all the portals around them. Little do these mages realise that the drow Llysadia is watching their every action through the eyes of their own familiars, listening to their telepathic conversations and learning their dark secrets. Even though the familiars could tell their masters at any time what was happening, they don't, because Llysadia keeps them sweet with more jink. Besides, imps and quasits love to pull one over on their masters whenever they get the chance.

Llysadia styles herself as the Imp Empress or the Quasit Queen, according to her mood, though of course nobody else knows about it. She just won't trust other cutters enough to let them into her secret. But with the schemes of many of Sigil's evil wizard population at her fingertips, Llysadia doesn't need friends. In secret, she likes to wear regal robes of fantastic splendour (making Shemeshka's claim to be the King of the Cross-Trade look rather hollow by comparison), and a crown of pure obsidian. Her insect-thin limbs and paper-like skin are ancient beyond most mortals' expectations of longevity, and some bashers whisper that Llysadia's discovered the secret of immortality. In fact she hasn't, but she's pretty sodding old even by elven standards. Her brilliant green eyes still shine with the vigour of youth, however, and her mind's never been sharper.

One of the many mages who she's watching closely right now is the saurial Vaysolar. Through his imp familiar Gynax ( Planar / male imp / HD 2+2 / LE ) the drow has learned that Vaysolar is feverishly working for Garroth the Blinded to discover the secrets behind the celestial weapons that Koe and his band of Upper Planar allies are selling to the fiends. However, the bond between the saurial and the imp seems to be weakening, as if the imp is starting to reject its master. Llysadia has managed so far to persuade it to remain loyal, but it's becoming increasingly costly for her to spy on the mage. (This is actually due to the machinations of the wisdom incarnate Sage on Vaysolar's mind).metal spiral

Of course, all this jink that Llysadia lays out for her imps and quasits has to come from somewhere. Some still remains from her spelljamming days, and the drow supplements this by skimming a few percent from the taxes she collects (all legitimate expenses, naturally). However, her main income depends on her information-gathering network. Depending on the mage and the nature of the dark, Llysadia sometimes blackmails them, sometimes sells what she's learned on to interested parties (Lu Ruskin is always hungry for chant on wizards and their magical items, and pays good jink), and sometimes sits tight, hoping that the information will appreciate in value with time. So far, she's not been wrong once.

Always eager to expand her imp and quasit network, the drow has opened her coffers for investment's sake. Llysadia owns a significant stake in the Pentacle, and with Lithoss' help has rigged a special subsidy for cutters wishing to hire the Baatific and Abyssal portals for summoning purposes. Llysadia was also the brains behind the public spellbook, which features the find familiar spell so prominently. She hopes to make it easy for young mages to summon themselves imp or quasit familiars that she can contact, just in case one of them turns out to become a high-up later on in life. With summonings of these beasties at the Pentacle at an all-time high, it looks like Llysadia's getting her wish.

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COLLOSIS ( Planar / asexual marut / HD 15 / LN )

Collosis, a marut who towers the same height again over most cutters, is a faithful servant of the Fated. Nobody knows exactly how long the marut's enforced the faction's will, but the being's the last resort of the Tax Collectors' office. Rumours abound as to how the marut ended up in the hands of the Fated (some reckon it was taken as payment when some demi-power owed the faction jink, others claim that the Fated are hiring the thing from Rudra himself). Whatever the truth, there are few Cagers who don't quake in their skins when the earthquaking footsteps of the marut shake their cases, and it always gets its way in the end. It was Collosis who forced the parents of the crier of commerce Harys Hatchis to declare their bankruptcy and hand over everything they owed (and though it was later found to be a mistake and the money was, at least partially, returned, Harys never forgave the Fated or the marut).

As Chancellor of the Fated, Llysadia's directly in command of the marut, using it to chance down persistent tax evaders and, sometimes, sods who she simply doesn't like very much. So long as the marut returns with a sack of coins, the Fated don't ask too many questions, apparently. Another prominent tax collector of the faction, the priest Baeneral Pikestaff, utilises Collosis' might more than once in a while, when Llysadia lets the marut out of her sight.metal spiral

Recently, however, Collosis has been acting uncharacteristically sneakily, vanishing for whole days at a time and performing its assigned tasks with only minimal efficiency. Worried that the mechanical creature might have malfunctioned, Llysadia has spared no expense in hiring the moingo n=n+1 to discover where the problem lies. The moingo hasn't yet picked up on the real dark; the marut ain't defective, it's suddenly got divided loyalties.

In fact, Collosis used to be an enforcer of Aoskar. As the Will of the One's beliefs are causing the dead power to stir, so the marut is feeling urges it thought would never return. With increasing frequency the marut finds itself drawn to the linqua Omott, awaiting commands. The marut also seems to remember the dabus Fell, though the two never did have that much in common when Aoskar was alive. Who can say what will happen if the Signers succeed in their goal? In any case, the Fated will not be pleased when they learn of their once-faithful servant's defection...

Cage Rattlers
Consult the Mimir Again