THE HISTORIAN GEAN "FIREFEET" VARCISTIN

APPEARANCE - BIOGRAPHY - IMPORTANCE

Gean "Firefeet" Varcistin (1638-) is a restless young historian with a fondness for the legends and stories of his home region. He hails from the glorious Strata, at the southernmost tip of the Sarvonian continent and, though a passionate citizen of his hometown, spends most of his time traveling. During one of his journeys he was fortunate enough to be introduced to the sage Artimidor Federkiel and has been contributing to his project the Santharian Compendium on and off. He feels that the general aim of the project, to cooperate in a spirit of enthusiasm and dedication, connects very much to his own view on life.

The Historian Gean Firefeet

View picture in full size Picture description. Image of the historian and hobbyist mage Gean Firefeet. Picture by Faugar.

Appearance. Countless strals covered during his lifetime, the traveling shows in the features of Gean Firefeet. A darkly tanned skin hints at his southern heritage, while some early wrinkles around the eyes are the result of the rough desert wind of the Ráhaz-Dáth. The hue of his skin fits nicely to his brown sienna eyes and half long deep ochre hair. His skin has darkened over time due to the sunny climate of Truban, while his hair became a little lighter than eophran brown. In a melancholic mood he sometimes mourns the loss of his dark hair tint but in general considers the new ensemble uncovered by the Injèrá a worthwhile change and patiently waits for the years to catch up with his appearance. Often a week old beard and moustache cover the lower part of his complexion, as shaving is a luxury while on the road. His intelligent but pondering character marks his regular facial expression. However, his eyes can sparkle with life when confronted by the smaller beauties of life and bring joy to those around him, as does his rare but full out laughter.

He stands about one ped and eight palmspans tall, which is a little above average for a Stratanian man. He has a slender posture, but is not meagre: his regular journeys have made sure that all the unnecessary fat was lost while on horseback, where on the other hand his muscular power was developed. He is not overly strong, but knows his body well and is able to use his strength very functionally.

His bodily features combined with his usual dress code add up to the sight of a common traveller. Long supple leather boots are kept under baggy breeches of strong and hardy material, while linen shirts in varying colours hide his sunburned chest. Though born in a rich house, he wears no jewellery, considering them a waste of money and fit for those living indoors, not for the outdoor life. Even when visiting other compendiumists at the Royal Court in New-Santhala this style of clothing won’t be changed as he cares little for formal appearance. His horse, a crossbreed of a Rusik and a Centoraurian riding horse called Eith and a falchion named Tris are his trusty companions wherever he goes.
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Biography. Gean Varcistin was born in a well-to-do family in Strata. His father worked for the government apparatus of the town, functioning as a magistrate at the Trade House, while his mother led the life of a well-off housewife. Growing in a street connecting the Glory and Thief’s Lane, he became aware of the differences between people at an early age. The combination of pauperized labourers on one side of the street and prosperous merchants on the other often resulted in minor conflicts in daily life and the young Gean observed this discord with great interest. In the evening he would question his father about the matter, who told him about the luck of being born in an affluent family, suggesting that this was the ultimate reason some people were poor and others were rich. While Gean found out that there were many other and more nuanced distinctions to be made, this was one of the first examples of his fascination for history: he started to research his family’s history. He discovered he descended from a long line of government clerks, who had held several important jobs throughout the centuries of Strata.

Gean enjoyed a good education at home and in small classes organized by the families in the neighbourhood. His father Elrin Varcistin was an avid storyteller and would often accompany his son’s curfew with historic narrations from Stratanian history. He fed the young boy’s imagination if he had the time. He was also the one who introduced him to music. Not being a musician himself, he often took the boy along to see the bards in the Central Place, inspiring the young man to take up the common flute. His first flute is still part of his luggage wherever he goes. His mother Jeanna Varcistin on the other hand was more practical and taught him the value of handiwork and agility, as well as morals and ethics. From her he learned to juggle and to debate, to mend clothes and to write essays. This broad view on education resulted in an open-minded adolescent, almost greedy for knowledge and skill.

At the age of fourteen he came in contact with magic, which changed his life considerably. Until then, he had been sure he’d continue the family line of government officials. Now, he was ‘enchanted’ by a young traveling mage, who performed at the council hall of Strata. Instead of asking about his observations of daily life, he would ask his father to tell all about legendary wizards, the War of the Chosen, the Academy in Ximax. His parents watched this development closely, but said nothing to discourage him. Aged sixteen he could not wait any longer and said his goodbyes to his parents. They blessed his choice and said that they’d await his return. For the first time in his life, he left the Truban province, bound for the Ximaxian peninsula by ship.

The following three years Gean worked very diligently and persistently on becoming a good wizard apprentice at the Ximaxian Academy. No matter how big his efforts, he never succeeded in achieving a decent basis of magical skills. The theoretical side of magic wasn’t a problem, the principles of Xeuá and Ecuá nothing more than a trick to his mind, but bringing all this theory in practice was too much for the eager young man: he simply didn’t have enough talent. His only accomplishments were in the field of fire magic. After failing to cast a spell for a dozen times, again resulting in a random bolt of fire bouncing off the floor, he accidently discovered a new spell, which gave him the nickname "Firefeet". The idea of the spell is to create a field of fire on the floor around the caster, making it hard for attackers to reach the caster without getting hot feet. That this idea resulted from failed fire spells crossing the Academy's marble tiles time after time is not noted in the spell’s description.

During his time in Ximax he corresponded regularly with his parents and when he did start to write about returning home again, his father offered him a job at a friend’s place in New-Santhala. As the second letter from his father read:

“…it’s not that I don’t want you to come, believe me, we’ll both be happy to receive you after such a long absence. Still, I gather from your recent correspondence that you need some time for yourself away from your failures. Arriving home after a failed attempt at becoming a good magician won’t do you any good. Visit Marten in New-Santhala, see if you like the work, at least try it. I think the City of Light is a healing sight if viewed for the first time and there’s enough to do for an intelligent young man like yourself. Come home after a year, and Strata will be the home you always knew it was…”

The idea was debated in several letters afterwards, but in the end Gean agreed and did travel to the capital of the Santharian kingdom. After the magical city of Ximax, New-Santhala was quite a different thing altogether. Marten Mardeneer, clerk at the Royal Court, received him with open arms. The old man would tell him about the time Elrin Varcistin worked as ambassador at the Royal Court, but was demoted after a series of diplomatic conflicts on the different status of Thalambath opposed to Strata. Again the historian in Gean woke up and while working for the clerk, all his spare time was devoted to research on the history of the Truban province. He discovered the old conflicts between the grand cities of the south, Strata, Thalambath and Varcopas and noted the differences between the Shendar  and Stratanians.

One evening he had been debating events in the Shadow War with Marten when a visitor was announced. When Marten told of the arrival of the sage Artimidor Federkiel, the young Gean barely took note, caught up in the debate as he was. He asked the newcomer about his opinion about the Seven of Thalambath, who promptly gave a lecture about the different government forms of the Stratanian tribe, making note of Shendar influences and suspected issues concerning the hot climate and social practices, as well as marking "The Thirsty Herald" a little north of Strata as a fine establishment and the perfect spot to rest before arriving at Cape Strata the next day. Flattered by the compliments on his hometown and surprised by the display of historical knowledge, Gean asked the man to be allowed to visit him some day. The sage, now introducing himself properly, was amused by the eagerness of the young man and invited him to visit the Library one day. At that point Gean finally found a goal both pleasing and challenging. The sage Federkiel acknowledged the potential in the young man and assigned him to the Truban province to provide him with historical information on that region. Gean darted off on horseback the same evening, heading steadily south for home.

Ever since that day, his life has consisted of traveling the countryside, first mainly south, sending his research by wynd racers to the Library, later on also more north, in Manthria. The focus of his research on the southern province was expanded to other fields as well, notably some accomplishments in the research of folk music all over Sarvonia. As long as the Compendium is not filled with every detail imaginable, his work is not finished.
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Importance. Gean Firefeet was one of the first researchers of the Santharian Compendium to take up an interest for the more remote southern parts of the Sarvonian continent. His initial research paved the road for the later achievements of Talia Sturmwind concerning the Shendar culture. His broad education make him an all-round compendiumist with no real specialization, but a good diplomat to help out with several issues, showing all the different sides of the argument. Recent accomplishments in the musical field might suggest a deepening interest in this part of Santharian culture, but only time can tell. 
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