History and origins Edit
Magic (kanata) is considered to be the fingerprint of the gods, residue of what remained after their fingers brushed across the earth’s surface to shape its form. Certain places of the earth hold more magical powers than others, and some locations are said to be so magical and powerful that they act as a portal to the realm of one of the gods. One such portal is the lake in Temolo. It leads to the Reef of Souls, domain of Hazhrahael, but does not lead back out to the realm of humankind. Other portals are rumored to be in Temvah, the temple of Taranvor in the capital city, as well as in Rivah, although religious authorities refuse to confirm or deny public rumors. As is such, few individuals know whether or not the Valley of Suns can actually be reached within Temvah.
Humans learned to harness the power of magic in prehistoric times well over a thousand years ago. The first human use of magic is left to myth, and various people groups pass down different stories to future generations. Some of the Felorum speak of Xhoudaki himself coming to teach humans magic to prepare them for demonhood in the afterlife. Still others claim that the sly Felorum woman Sheylaal sneaked into the Realm of Suns and learned the power by observing Taranvor’s warriors practice in their afterworld. Yet others craft their own tales. What is known is that, even during the earliest known years of the period of wandering, prior to the establishment of the Western Peaks Sovereignty, several people groups, including the Taran, used magic. Histories suggest that Taran mages once held a position of shamanistic authority amongst the tribe, acting as a powerful second or advisor to the tribe leader, but this authority must have dwindled with the establishment of permanent settlements and the official Vahim Regaad Sovereignty not long after 0 NS.
The practice of magic nevertheless remained largely religious in the Early Sovereignty to Early Middle Sovereignty times. The most powerful mages presided within the temples being constructed across the land; scrolls documenting successful magical talent were acquired within temple libraries. However, by the Middle Sovereignty, when many religious mages traveled the land to convert the populace to a Taranvor-centric religious practice, and brought with them the ideas of constructing shrines within every person’s home and village, they spread with them knowledge of magic to the common people. A great increase in commoners practicing magic eventually led to increase focus of non-religious magical actions. While magic continued to be a part of temple work, the decrease in religious temple focus caused a nationwide shift in magical trends. Traveling religious mages largely became traveling rogue magicians. By the end of the Middle Sovereignty and start of the Modern Age, magicians almost exclusively acted outside of any religious organization.
Within the last two hundred years magicians have lived widespread across the Vahim Regaad. Some villagers may learn a modest amount of magic to increase their skill in their farming or craft. The most serious magicians tend to become loners, traveling from village to village wherever their skills may be put to hire. Magicians have come to distinguish themselves through distinct garb, dressing themselves like particular creatures. A magician who considers herself a “yak magician,” for instance, may wear the full pelt of a yak and a headpiece or necklace featuring yak horns. A “cockatrice magician” might sew feathers into all their articles of clothing and create a headpiece mimicking the crest of the animal. Regardless of how they dress, though, magicians are recognizable because of the pouches they carry alone: around their belts, mages will tie a large number of drawstring pouches full of various substances they may need to ingest for their line of work.
Although magic is widely viewed to be the most deadly art an individual can learn, being as it is the power of the gods and demons, humans themselves contain only a marginal ability to harness magical powers. As is such, mages (nekana) find themselves with more limitations than power. Humankind’s magical abilities are negligible to the power of demons, including both dena and neden, while the gods’ power seems almost limitless.
That said, some human mages contain stronger magical abilities than others. Typically those with a closer connection and devotion to a god or multiple gods learn magic far more easily than the non-religious. Those who live in regions of magical remnants also perform much better at the art, though they often experience a severe drop in their capabilities when they travel away to less potent regions.
Magic operates on a consumption-based system in which a mage derives energy from what they ingest. Any item consumed can be used in magic, although both the specific material and the mage’s goals affect that consumable’s potency.
There are no standard items which must be eaten in order for specific incantations to be formed; mages must combine what they ingest with their knowledge to form a proper and successful incantation. Consumables which are most closely aligned with the nature of the magical action result in a more potent spell. For instance, a mage attempting to increase crop growth rates may find grass, rich soil, or thinly cut bark to be a good tapper. However, those same consumables would not allow the magician to cast an effective water manipulation incantation. For the latter incantation, some other material, such as tea or water itself, would provide a potent magical tapper. Because certain materials contain greater power at evoking certain types of magic, mages tend to consume similar materials for similar purposes. Some of the more common materials, along with their usual uses, are listed below.
Barley beer Heat materials, intensify flames, combustion, disorient, dull mind
Chicken egg Increase or decrease likelihood of conception, abortion, strengthen or reenergize, weaken, slow, stiffen, tear muscle, tendons, or ligaments, repair muscle, tendons, or ligaments, strengthen emotional bond with a chicken
Cockatrice feather Increase or decrease wind speed, raise keenness of sight and smell
Copper dust Strengthen forged tool or weapon
Ground animal bone Fracture or break bone, make bones less resilient to damage or breakage, heal bone fracture or break, crush skull, increase resonance of bone flute
Juniper bark Heat materials, intensify flames, combustion, strengthen woodwork, increase resonance of wooden instrument, increase crop growth
Juniper berries Cure upset stomach, bloating, muscle pain, joint pain, numb wounds, increase crop growth
Juniper twigs Heat materials, intensify flames, combustion, strengthen woodwork, increase crop growth
Limestone Strengthen building construction or pottery, commune with Taranvor and Xhavaemaret
Meat Strengthen or reenergize, weaken, slow, stiffen, tear muscle, tendons, or ligaments, repair muscle, tendons, or ligaments
Seabuckthorn Cure arthritis, ulcers, skin rashes, sores, burns, cuts, and dry eye, boosting immunity to disease, decrease vulnerability to sun and weather
Soil Increase crop growth, commune with Taranvor and Xhavaemaret
Tin dust Strengthen forged tool or weapon
Water Bring moisture up to soil, increase water flow, boil water, freeze water, melt ice or snow, weaken or slow limbs, disorient, dull mind, stop heart, increase or decrease wind, increase crop growth, dehydrate, dry wet materials, commune with Hazhrahael
Yak butter tea Heat materials
Yak hair Strengthen carpet, clothing, or saddle, strengthen emotional bond with a yak
Other uncommon, but potent materials, are included below:
Human body parts
Animal feces Spread disease, cause illness, heat materials, intensify flames, combustion, influence animal species
Just as no one item is needed to invoke a certain magical action, there also are no standard “spells”, either; magical actions rely on the mage’s ideas, imagination, and abilities. For this reason, the most successful mages tend to be the most creative. They can synthesize what materials can be harness in what ways for potent, useful magical energies, while at the same time remaining mindful of human magic’s severe limitations.
Incantation action Edit
Consuming a material itself does not invoke magic. Shortly after eating the material, the mage must invoke an incantation action. If an incantation action is not done by the time the materials have become digested within the body, then no magic can be performed with those materials. Incantation can occur in many forms, including singing, speaking, gesturing, or playing a musical instrument. All that is required is that the incantation action evokes emotion from within the magician; any emotion, whether positive or negative, can be as equally powerful as another. “Happiness,” then, has no advantage over “sadness” or “anger.”
Through this incantation action, the magician stirs up emotion, focuses the power they have consumed, and directs it toward their willed action. Once the magic is put into effect, it comes out in a one or two time, sudden release burst. Slow, sustained magic is incredible rare, taxing, and usually deadly. Only demons and gods can hold up continuing incantations for long periods of time.
Human limitations to magic are severe. A magician can only create one incantation at a time. The amount of material ingested is directly proportional to how powerful a magical spell can be. If a magician attempts to create too powerful of an incantation for them to handle and deplete the material they have consumed, they may suffer large internal organ damage or even die. Injury is more susceptible if magicians attempt to incant when they are ill or injured.
Even when a lot of material is ingested in a healthy magician, magic can only influence the elements in certain ways. Magic cannot go against the laws of nature and physics; it can only manipulate what is already present. For instance, a magician can never be in control of flames. What a magician could do with fire is manipulate combustion and heat, such as by warming his hands and touching someone else to cause a blister, creating a small burst of gas and flames come from one’s hands and mouth, or firing a concentrated ball of exploding gas. Water magic cannot create water nor control storm clouds, but can do actions like bring moisture from the ground toward the surface or dry wet clothing. By and large, magical use does not appear incredibly intricate or flashy because of these severe limitations.
More powerful than human magicians are the demons. The neden are less powerful magically than the dena, and have some of the same limitations that human magicians have. Still, neden, like their dena counterparts, are able to conjure magic up from inside of them rather than relying on an ingested tapper and incantation action. The amount of magic flowing through them is what distinguishes the magical abilities of the neden from the dena. That said, even the dena cannot compare in power to the gods.
Even gods contain limits to magic. Were all the gods joined together as one uniform being, there would be no limitations. Nevertheless, because they gods are separated, different goddesses and gods contain different concentrations of abilities. Hazhrahael is strongest with water magic, Xhavaemaret with earth magic, Taranvor with fire and light magic, Xhoukadi with psychology magic, and Shivezhah with air magic.
Human limitations to magic prevent the art from being used widely in war. Unless used with practice and creativity, magic is almost completely useless in true combat. Since magical abilities fluctuate upon location, it is challenging to use magic as an offensive. The fact substances must be consumed after each incantation also places severe limits on using magic aggressively. Magic in true combat best arises through a quickly executed movement incantation in the midst of a mild melee engagement. Magicians may pull down rocks from above, grab another’s face to burn it, or use water magic to subtly stop an advancing enemy’s heart. Nevertheless, by and large a moderate knowledge of the sword will outmaneuver a master of magic in a fight.
For this reason, magic is almost invariably used for non-war purposes. Magicians may use their arts for religious ceremonies, healing, poisoning, assassination, or various crafts. Clever craftspeople may request the assistant of a magician to strengthen their wares, such as by adding increased strength to tools and weapons in a smithy. The most common use of magic is healing, and many magicians specialize in this form and act as a healer for a village or noble family.
All humans contain the ability to learn magic, but few actually do. To learn magic, individuals usually seek teachers from within their village, or from wandering magicians. Traveling magicians may journey in pairs, one teaching the other the finesse of the art. More rarely, individuals may attempt to communicate with a god, focusing on magic while revering the god in their home shrine, traveling to a temple, or seeking out one of the areas of stronger magic within the world. Rarer still, someone may seek to learn it entirely by themselves, though typically such “self-learners” accidentally kill themselves in the process.