Ad Astra Per Arcana
Maldin and Elenderi's
Situated in the Artisan’s Quarter of the City of Greyhawk, east of the bustling Low Market, this ominous, windowless, two-story building has no sign proclaiming its name or wares, yet the locals all know what it is nonetheless. Built of blackest basalt blocks, merely walking past this “shop of the arcane” engenders an uneasy feeling in most citizens. The mysterious owners are believed by most to be very powerful mages (both human wizards of unknown ability). They are seldom seen in public, and seem to have no interest in meddling with city affairs.
The shop serves as an alternative source for spell components and minor elixirs for individuals who cannot or prefer not to deal with the Guild of Wizardry. Maldin’s also offers specially treated scroll parchment, blank spellbooks, and other day-to-day supplies for wizards, sorcerers, alchemists, and other scholars of the arcane. These more mundane items account for most of the store¹s business, however items of a more interesting nature periodically become available. Rumors do circulate in certain circles that for the right price, Maldin and Elenderi can fill special orders.
There is a price to be paid for not spending your money at the Guild, however. By agreement with the Guild of Wizardry, all materials are 20% higher than Guild prices. The shop also will purchase arcane materials which in turn are sometimes re-sold to the public, much to the ire of the Guild. For sufficient “research fees,” the shop can be a source of hard-to-find information. Business has never been particularly brisk, but the owners don’t seem to care. Whatever their purpose in keeping the shop open, it is merely one of the countless mysteries and rumors that swarm around them. Maldin’s offers no discounts on any goods, ever. They will pay handsomely for any unique books on arcane or planar subjects, however, and have been known to hire adventurers for special missions to recover such materials.
In 590 CY, the shop was closed for a month after a night of terror, the sounds of an incredible battle echoing through the empty streets of the very early morning. A City Watch contingent was dispatched at dawn to investigate, but was turned at the door with assurances that all was well. An experienced paladin accompanying the group did recognize two distinctive odors with which he was all too familiar – the unmistakable odor of undeath, and the acrid stench of dead demons. A year later there was another incident where a lone dark, cloaked figure wielding a white ceramic wand (with apparent difficulty) destroyed the adjacent wood-constructed stables (after failing to effect the shop’s enchanted basalt walls) with a strange pale fire that burned the structure to the ground. The building has since been rebuilt.
The heavy bronze front doors swing open with a touch from dawn to dusk, and reveal a very ornate protective circle inlaid into the entryway’s floor with incredibly rare materials, and prevents entry by all extraplanar creatures, including special familiars. Powerful magic prevents any form of scrying or dimensional travel into the shop. The shop’s front counter is manned by the elderly Elbrak [N hm Wiz10], a seemingly doddering old fool at first glance. He is, however, an infallible appraiser, incredibly sharp, and cunning as a fox when it comes to negotiating prices. There are always highly experienced (and very well equiped) guards present. A glance at the floorplan for the shop shows how the shop’s wares are distributed under and behind the main counter, spell components and alchemical supplies filling the back shelves, as well as the location of the writing rooms where patrons can copy scrolls or study tomes without interruption.What lies beyond the front room can only be guessed at. Some believe there are portals to the planes guarded by wondrous beasts, through which the mysterious mages obtain their wares. Others believe that the two absentee shop owners are a figment of senile old Elbrak’s imagination, or serve as his illusory scarecrows to frighten away potential thieves.
Maldin and Elenderi’s shop of the arcane was first published in the Living Greyhawk Journal Issue#2, and made a return appearance in Dragon Magazine Issue#337.