This eccentric contemporary mage Dalmac Brandivere (born ca. 1598) is renowned less for his control of magic than for his herbal skills and encyclopedic knowledge of plants. He is also often referred to as Dalmac the Green, Dalmac Herbhands, "Willowwight", Brandivere of Chaun, Brandivere the Upstanding or Mage Brandivere the Green.

The Mage Dalmac Brandivere

View picture in full size Picture description. The famous though eccentric mage with the unusual knowledge of herbs. Pic by Eratinalifalah.

Appearance. Dalmac is a thin fellow in his mid-sixties, usually found outdoors wearing a dirty green robe and a dilapidated mage’s hat. Belted with a sturdy leather belt hung with back pouches, and full of bulging pockets, the robe seems unable to avoid grass and mud stains despite being kilted up to Dalmac’s knees, or higher when swamps are involved. The prerequisite wizardly white beard is in Dalmac’s case invariably tangled with bits of vine, a stick or two, and a scattering of grass seed. Several drying herbs are bound about the top of his e’ur-oak staff, and a carrysack is slung over one bony shoulder. Return to the top

Personality. Under the crumpled brim of his green hat, his dark eyes glint with humor and kindly intellect. Always ready to share a piece of his long-acquired knowledge or a bit of dried berry cake, Dalmac is easy to get to know and difficult to get away from. Lonely fellow travellers will find a marvelously informative companion with an endless store of herblore and gossip; but the morose hermit giving up part of his hearth and bed for the night may rue the evening he invited the talkative wizard home.

Brandivere the Green, as he’s also known, loves plants, animals, and children (in that order) and when in a village is often surrounded by a crowd of the latter. Not only his berrycakes and maple candy, but also his tame kuatu and even tamer white dove never fail to draw the wide-eyed lads and lasses in. He has never wed, perhaps since he enjoys all the privileges of fatherhood without its responsibilities, and as to love, well... Herbwives and wisewomen vie for his attention, each hoping for some tidbit of learning which will set her above the rest, and many a widow has baked her best in a vain attempt to coax him to stay longer in town, but to no avail, for after a week or so Dalmac must be off and out again, to the woods and green things that hold his deepest heart.
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Biography. 1598 - Mysterious Birth. Dalmac was conceived and born in the little town of Chaun, on the edge of the Vontron Forest (near the Ximaxian peninsula, just north-west of Horth), to a wealthy farmer, Martyn Brandivere, and his wisewoman wife, Jennet. After a very short labour which came on unexpectedly early, the baby was actually born out-of-doors, on the first day of Méh'avashín, or the Month of the Changing Winds. His mother always claimed that he was delivered by a willowmaid, and certainly she could have had no other assistance, as she was alone in the verges of the Vontron, searching out the arv plant for a certain herbal remedy for which she was well-known. Her worried husband and his herdsmen found her later that evening, sleeping peacefully at the edge of the woods with the newborn tucked up carefully in her herb-gathering bag. Both she and the babe were washed and kempt, and the belly-cord had been tied off with a split switch of willow.

1605 - Dalmac's Childhood. Thanks to Jennet’s written account, and the reminiscences of various ancient wisewife cronies of hers, we have some notes on Dalmac’s earliest days. Like many a fond mother before her, she recorded little comments on her child’s abilities, in her case using the edge of her herbal journals – thus when he took his first step, babbled his first ‘ma-ma’ and began to use the privy are all documented for us, although not included here in the scope of this biography. It seems that he grew up reasonably healthy with all of a child’s normal curiosity about the world around him. At the age of about 7 we find some maternal notes that seem to indicate a beginning fascination with the natural world and the rich landscape of plants all around him. Left in their original orthography and spelling, the relevant extracts from Jennet Brandivere’s journal are given below.

“Dalmac todaie did plukke me somme gillyflowuers and rosemint, platting them togyther in a weave, saiying not as childryn wil do, I lof ye, Ma, but declaryng {as he hath oft herd me saiy}, theys flowuers do be goodde for headaike and chilles if ye do lay them to your headde bruisyed in a poultice mayde with springe watter. Whoe’er did hear tell of a ladde woulde be a wisewoman or herb-wyf, then, did I thynke, yet saiyed nought but, Thanke ye Dalmac, not wishying to demarkke hys kindeness…”

1610 - Dalmac's Teens and Presumed Apprenticeship. Here we first find mention of Dalmac Brandivere in historical sources other than his mother’s journal, fortunately enough, as she was to pass away the following year (for reasons unclear, although some scholars have speculated that her symptoms matched that of Xeuá deterioration, commonly called "Aterquás" or "Mage Grabber" …). He is listed in the Mennes’s Booke of his village in 1610 as being "of age to do a manne’s work" but a notation in a second hand says firmly that he was "bound to the Towers as a prentise maje".

Oddly enough we have no confirmation of his acceptance at Ximax in that year. On the rolls of new prentices are listed a Delman, a Demmac, and a Talmik, but none with a last name even remotely resembling "Brandivere". And searching from the other end we find a "Brandyfire" and a "Prendifeare" but both are listed as female! At any rate, he was accepted and apprenticed, as we know from his next documented appearance!

1614 - Invention of the Kairen Compound (Blackmoss Repellent). A piece of Ximaxian internal correspondence records that “Dalmak Brandyvere is noted for ‘commendation’ to the Sage of the Green Tower” for his unusual combinations of reagents and spell activants, particularly organic and herbal in nature. He seems to have been responsible for inventing the Kairen Compound now commonly used in wild-animal protection spells, a less odiferous alternative to the unstable compote of urine and sulphur that was a mage’s prior resort.

“Because of Brandivere's re-interpretation of the spell and his use of new reagents, this spell can be found separately in many newer spell books under the heading, "Brandivere's Animal Protection".”

-- Quote from "Spells & Incantations for the Dolt", by Mage Thujain)

1620 - Dalmac Graduates as Mage and Leaves Ximax. Teasingly nicknamed ‘Willowwight’ by fellow graduate students, Dalmac was prompt to acquire more cognomens, also based on his growing love for plants and herbs. He was, unusually for a human, appointed as an assistant to the Head Gardener at Ximax’s Brownie-dominated Green Tower in his spare time, and was able to develop a hybrid tuberroot with a thin peel and smoky flavor which proved very popular in the student mealrooms. He also increased yield times for the onn bean and local variety of fáberige berry, and made himself popular to his peers and the masters alike by finding a never-revealed trading source (now thought to be dwarven) for the high-quality golden leaf pipeweed.

However, he was never more than adequate in his spell classes and enchantments; no flashes of brilliance or marvelously powerful charms were ever to be credited to “Dalmac Herbhands”. He seems, from all accounts, to have narrowly passed the requisite tests and evaluations, and to have been granted the title of "mage" more out of affection than honesty. What power he did have, though, the masters could be assured would be well-controlled and never turned to dark uses. So it was that at 23 the young herbalist, bearing the newly-granted title of “Mage Brandivere” left Ximax to seek a place where he could use his abilities both natural and sorcerous.

A sketch made by Dalmac

View picture in full size Picture description. A sketch out of one of Dalmac's early journals. Image drawn by Bard Judith.

1632 - Dalmac's Reputation Rises. The sage spent much of his thirties roaming Sarvonia end for end. The baby fat of his teens and early twenties, unrelieved by the gardening in the academic towers of Ximax, was finally beginning to melt from his frame, revealing the lanky figure he retains today. It was at this time that he conceived of his master project, the Herbal Compendium, which was to have held a comprehensive description of every useful plant on the continent, along with sketches of the plant in its relevant seasons and simple receipts and usages. Alas, to this day the Compendium exists mostly within the relatively inaccesible confines of Dalmac's skull, where it can neither be flipped through for reference nor copied readily. A few of his early drawings and notes are in scholars' studies around Santharia, and the Great Library of New-Santhala boasts a journal dated about 1637 to which many of our Herbarium entries owe a significant debt!

In 1632 Dalmac returned to his home village of Chaun, having received an urgent message from his (unmarried) older sister who was still in residence there caring for his decrepit father. He spent the summer and much of the fall with his family, assisting his sister to tend Martyn and make his final days more comfortable.

It was also at this time that his name was linked romantically with the Wise Wife of Kerrine (a tiny village just south of Chaun on the outskirts of Horth), a soothsayer, midwife, and fellow herbalist. However deep the attachment, it never came to an engagement, or indeed anything more serious than physical satisfaction - for throughout his thirties Dalmac was to gain a great deal of repute both as a peddlar of herbal aphrodisiacs and a man of stamina who needed no assistance from his own remedies - if we may be allowed to put it so delicately.

1639-1646 - Dalmac Moves South. The increasingly notorious herbal mage now added yet another cognomen - Brandivere the Upstanding - to his list of nicknames. We suspect this had less to do with his character than his reputation (which see above). Greatly sought after in the cities and larger towns, he rarely had to put down coin for lodging, trading his herbal knowledge and other abilities (which see above) for board and bed (ditto).

Yet just as his fame and other attributes (ditto) were presumably at their peak, he vanished from public life. In fact, for almost six years we have no reputable records or documentation at all. However, it is generally believed that Brandivere headed south, probably by ship along the coast, and spent time in the desert and coastal regions of the Brendolan and Truban provinces during that period. Some say he studied with the Shendar, learning their herb lore and familiarizing himself with the plants of the arid zone, but others say his main haunts were the urban environs of Thalambath or Strata. He doubtless spent time in the area of the Norong‘sorno volcano, with its variety of dry-climate foliage and fascinating geology. But however he survived, it is a fact that his knowledge of desert plants is unparallelled by any other researcher save the wise women of the Shendar.

1647 Dalmac Vends Brandied Healing Salve. Brandivere made his return dramatically, with a travelling carnival which was performing in the environs of New-Santhala. He was associated with the carnival in the auspices of Special Effects Mage, but it also provided him an opportunity to market his highly effective herbal ointment, the now well-known "Brandied Healing Salve", or "The Brandi's" for short. Packaged appealingly in little amber glass tubs with a braided wisp of southern grasses tied around their fat necks, the salve contained jeshanna lily buds, rendered lamb fat, a dash of R'unorian brandy, certain Shendar plants, and other ingredients known only to Dalmac. The name was a reference both to the scent which the R'unorian distillate gave the ointment, and to Dalmac's last name; it proved a clever merchantile ploy. To this day any small cut or injury in a New-anthalan household is met with cries of "Bring on the Brandi's!" as the salve is hunted down.

1648-1657 Dalmac the Philanthropist. Brandivere settled on the outskirts of New-Santhala for the next nine years, apparently enjoying the continuing proceeds from his salve and the luxuries he had presumably not enjoyed in the southern desert. He built and furnished a small but well-designed home, constructed around a lovely herb garden and surrounded by planted willows and eur'oaks. Gradually it became known that people in need of minor healing (not magical in nature but herbal or medicinal) might well be able to seek it at Dalmac's door, for a minimal charge, or sometimes for free. It was put about by the envious and his rivals in herblore that a woman would invariably have a better hearing than a man, and the more pulchritude she possessed, the lower her fee would be. However that might have been, it is true that in that decade Dalmac Herbhands gained a reputation for philanthropy and generosity among the New-Santhalites that has been unmatched to this day.

1658 - Dalmac Takes an Apprentice. In fifty-eight Dalmac moved from his lovely dwelling in the suburbs of New-Santhala to Harfulton and surprised Ximaxians and Santhalians alike by taking a hobbit apprentice. Young Briar Tanglevine was already a skilled gardener and showing promise in the brewer's craft, and her nature was as bouncy as her unrestrained locks of hair. Dalmac had another home built for him, again designed around a herbal garden, with one side snugged up against the Tanglevine hobbithill. Tongues were to wag, but not for long, as Briar demonstrated little patience for gossip, a quick fist, and a much-improved gift for healing concoctions - which she would gladly use on chatterboxes whom she had first rendered in need of them! As the writer of this Compendium entry is in good health at the present time, and wishes to remain that way, he shall say no more.
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Importance. Currently Dalmac Brandivere spends much of his time with Briar Tanglevine wandering the edge of the Silvermarshes investigating the fungi and other strange plants, off in the woods meddling with herbal magic, strolling the paths of the hobbittown with cookies for the children, or resting under a tree "meditating" upon his craft. Currently studying the vintner's art and developing a superior Ár’ó'bejón/Baradavos hybrid cross for a richer version of the famed Harvest Heat wine. Who knows, maybe - now that he enjoys the tranquility of life in the Silvershire - Dalmac eventually gets to work again on the Herbal Compendium, which he started in his youth and thus will preserve his exceptional knowledge for later generations. We'll see.
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