Elemental Magic

Contents

Magebirth

A wizard in Einarinn is mageborn. Magebirth confers an affinity, an instinctive link to one of the four wizardly elements; air, earth, fire and water. Someone born to air can perceive such things as wind currents or differences in air pressure with their wizard sense. A fire mage can prompt a spontaneous flame in firewood, can see heat rising from a stove or see a person’s body warmth. A water magewoman can detect moisture hidden below ground or within living plants and creatures as well as seeing the currents and tides in rivers and the sea. An earth wizard can sense the nature and origins of the soil and stone beneath their feet as well as such things as hot springs and the molten rocks that warm them. They can perceive metallic ores and magnetic fields.

Once a wizard understands what he or she perceives through such wizard senses, manipulation of those elements through the link afforded by that innate affinity creates elemental spells. The strength of an affinity can vary enormously and that will govern both the extent of the spells a wizard can cast and how powerful the effects of such magic might be. There may be a history of wizardry in the family or there may not. Magical affinity is equally common among men and women and it’s no more or less likely to be found among any particular social class or in any country across the lands that once made up the Old Tormalin Empire.

Magebirth generally becomes apparent around adolescence. Typical responses to emotional upheaval go beyond slammed doors and shouting to overflowing wells, cooking pots melting, dust storms erupting on a calm day or flagstones cracking underfoot. Such uncontrolled, involuntary magic can often prove dangerous, even potentially fatal for the mageborn and for those around them. Even if the untrained mageborn doesn’t cause some lethal accident, they can inadvertently exhaust their magical strength so completely that they collapse and die.  

Wizardry’s History (in brief)

In those lands once ruled by Tormalin and across the feudal fiefdoms and city-states of Ensaimin, it’s customary to send newly revealed mageborn to Hadrumal, the island in the western sea where the first Archmage, Trydek, established a sanctuary for wizardry twenty generations ago. Before that time, wizards generally lived modest, frequently solitary lives, their skills largely self-taught. Some in the larger towns took on apprentices or shared their experiences with others in an informal fashion but with fewer than one in a hundred people mageborn, even a sizeable city would only ever have a small community of mages and magewomen, who would have no more reason to like each other or anything more in common than any other random cross-section of the population.

In the upheaval that followed the collapse of the Tormalin Empire, commonly known as the Chaos, mages and mageborn alike found themselves vulnerable to attack by ordinary folk, the mundane-born as wizards call them. While the role of magic in the Empire’s fall wasn’t fully understood, rumour and fear frequently prompted blame and suspicion of wizardry. Attacks became more common, and isolated or outnumbered wizards often chose to flee rather than resist, if they had the chance. Even violent magical resistance would not necessarily save an embattled mage or magewoman. Once they had exhausted their wizardly strength, they were as vulnerable as any mundane-born to a knife in the back or a blow to the head.

Amid the prevailing anarchy some wizards chose to make pre-emptive strikes against those they feared. Others sought to use their magic to secure wealth and power. Their deeds and fates are now the stuff of tavern tales and minstrels’ songs, with what little remains of the truth of such stories barely half-remembered and only half-believed. But that’s still enough to prompt wariness around wizards among most of the mainlanders, many of whom can live out their whole lives without ever actually encountering magic.

Traditionally, a wizard would identify his or her affinity through the colour of their clothing in whole or in part; red for fire, blue for air, green for water and brown for earth. The gems associated with each element are ruby, sapphire, emerald and amber, reflecting the colours of instinctive magelight created by wizardry. In recent years, the fashion for such overt display has waned.

Hadrumal, the Archmage and the Council of Wizards

Trydek’s island haven has now grown into a city also called Hadrumal, dedicated to the study and teaching of elemental magic. The four most senior mages are the Cloud Master or Mistress, the Stone Master or Mistress, the Hearth Master or Mistress and the Flood Master or Mistress. Such office is usually for life. When a vacancy arises, the wizards sharing that particular affinity are expected to propose new candidates from among their number. This generally results in mages and magewomen being nominated who are respected for their wizardly skills as well as for such things as their contribution to Hadrumal’s scholarship, to the smooth running of the Halls, or to maintaining Hadrumal’s cordial relationships with the mainland’s rulers.

Nominated candidates must be approved by the Council of Hadrumal. This is made up of forty eight wizards; the number of colleagues, apprentices and untrained mageborn first brought to the island by Trydek. He built the first study hall and the council chamber, instilling arcane magic in the latter. Wizardry cannot be used within the chamber or from outside to eavesdrop on debates inside it. Any Council mage may call a meeting and only Council members can stir the rope-less, clapper-less bell that summons their colleagues. All the members will hear that ensorcelled bell tolling, no matter how far away they might be from Hadrumal. If they’re asleep, it will wake them.

Decisions are made by each wizard casting his or her magic into the sphere of magelight that illuminates the windowless circular chamber. The strength of each Council member’s conviction now comes into play. Those in favour of a proposal cast bright magic, those opposed cast shadows until one side prevails. Thus a sufficiently determined minority can prevail against a less committed majority.  

The Archmage is the forty-ninth member of the Council. He or she is usually nominated from among the Element Masters and Mistresses and on elevation to the highest office, customarily steps down from that lesser post. Once again, this post is normally held for life but a Council vote can depose anyone holding wizardly office in Hadrumal, from lowest to highest. Any office holder or Council member is also free to step down, should they wish to. Either such occurrence is extremely rare.

Wizardly Education

Apprentice wizards are supervised by one of the four Element Masters or Mistresses, according to their innate affinity, and assigned to one of the study halls where the Master or Mistress of that Hall will direct their wizardly education. Apprentices are taught by those more experienced mages and magewomen who have chosen to remain in Hadrumal, to pursue their own advanced studies and research in the wizard city’s halls and libraries. This how such wizards repay the hall and the wider Hadrumal community for their accommodation, food and other services. The heads of each hall are appointed by the Archmage in consultation with the Element Masters and Mistress, who are usually heading a hall in their own right.

Initially the prentice mageborn are taught to control their own innate affinity. This can take some time, particularly if the youthful would-be wizard has been traumatised either by the emergence of their magic or their family’s reaction to it. Some young mageborn arrive on the island with just the clothes on their back, effectively disowned. Very occasionally a mageborn will have a double affinity, giving them an instinctive link to two elements. Any such new arrival will be personally apprenticed to the Archmage.

Once a prentice wizard has learned to understand and to master their own instinctive link with the air or the earth, fire or water, they can learn to perceive and to manipulate the other elements to achieve more complex magical effects and spells. Magic involving all four elements is known as quadrate magic and is the most difficult to learn.

Once a mageborn has completed his or her apprenticeship, to the satisfaction of their Hall’s head wizard, he or she may pursue further studies into some particular facet of magic as a pupil wizard. This will entail working far more closely with those leading wizards of Hadrumal who are noted for advanced understanding of an individual element and the ability to devise ever more complex and demanding spells. Such pupils are encouraged to study the records of former wizards’ discoveries held in Hadrumal’s libraries and to consider how such magic might be enhanced or improved with the aim of perfecting new spells.

Quintessential Magic

Particularly talented pupil wizards may be introduced to quintessential magic, at the discretion of the Archmage and the Element Masters and Mistresses. If four mages, each highly proficient with their own element, combine the magics of air, earth, fire and water, the power of their magic is multiplied rather than added together. Once all four elements are combined, this nexus of wizardry can work quintessential magic; the most powerful and demanding spells whose symbol gem is diamond. Quintessential magic is unique to Hadrumal and its mages. Other wizards in the lands beyond the former Tormalin Empire have no tradition of working together in a nexus and no understanding of quintessential spells.

Hadrumal’s Non-mageborn Population

When they’re not studying or teaching, individually or together, in their halls or in Hadrumal’s libraries, mages and magewomen who choose to live on the island relax and socialise in the wine shops and cook shops and avail themselves of the other goods and services offered by the mundane-born merchants who have established their premises between the wizardly halls over the generations. Such merchants were originally the non-mageborn children of Hadrumal’s wizards or those whose affinity proved to be too weak to be trained or used in any meaningful fashion.

Artisans have built a thriving quarter between the heart of the city of Hadrumal and the harbour where the island’s modest river meets the sea. Boatbuilders and seafarers have their own yards and houses in the little estuary. Beyond the wizard city, villages and farms make good use of Hadrumal island’s fertile soil and mild climate, supplying the halls with day to day necessities. Trade with the mainland brings luxuries and other goods, though warding magics woven around the island ensure that only those ships approved by the Archmage can ever find their way to Hadrumal’s harbour.

Over the generations, Hadrumal’s mundane-born population has grown accordingly and those travelling or trading have often brought mainland-born spouses home. Further more, not all wizards marry wizards by any means. Hadrumal’s tradition of scholarship has resulted in close ties with the mainland universities in the Ensaimin trading city-states of Vanam and Col. Mentors and students of subjects from alchemy and mathematics to history and philology visit Hadrumal to use its libraries or to seek wizardly assistance, just as mages and magewomen will often travel to the mainland to further their own researches in some fashion. Friendships and romances inevitably result.

Hadrumal and Artifice

Scholarly visitors in recent years have searched Hadrumal’s libraries for any record of Artifice, an entirely separate magic of the mind, also called Aetheric Magic. This ancient tradition underpinned the wide-ranging rule of the Old Tormalin Empire and its failure was somehow linked to the collapse of that empire’s dominion into the Chaos, though the precise details of that remain unclear. Latterly, sufficient knowledge has been uncovered for some of these scholars to become reasonably proficient in some elementary Aetheric magic, since these enchantments can apparently be learned by anyone prepared to apply themselves to study and practise.

The majority of Hadrumal’s wizards are largely dismissive of what they consider this piecemeal lore offering markedly inferior magic. Since for some reason which has yet to be determined, no mageborn has been able to work the most trivial Aetheric enchantment. It’s been noted that wizards in general rarely show any musical talent and some are completely tone deaf, while the most proficient Adepts have a notable sense of rhythm and pitch. The significance of this has yet to be determined, if indeed, there is any significance to be found.

Wizardry on the Einarinn Mainland

After completing their apprenticeship, a mage or magewoman may leave Hadrumal for the country of their birth, or any other, to make a living by whatever means they see fit, with or without making use of their wizardly skills. It is understood however, that the Archmage retains ultimate authority over all Hadrumal’s mages and will discipline any who transgress local laws or who somehow disgrace wizardry.

The one absolute prohibition is on using wizardry in warfare. Any mage using his or her magical skills to help a military commander will face the wrath of the Archmage and the entire Council of Hadrumal, as will that soldier and whomever he might serve, up to and including the Emperor of Tormalin.  

It is considered the Archmage’s duty to discipline wizards because in practise only wizards can discipline wizards, and in order to ensure that only wizards discipline wizards. The mainland authorities are generally inclined to agree, not particular wishing to suffer the consequences of trying to tackle a wizard themselves, or to incur the Archmage’s displeasure if they actually managed to somehow overcome a mage.

Respect or perhaps fear of the Archmage and the Council generally inclines those wizards who leave Hadrumal to behave themselves, more or less. In addition, the Archmage and the Council will usually identify particularly flawed characters during their apprenticeship in Hadrumal. Discreet action to correct or curb such individuals’ unwelcome propensities will be taken. This is generally understood though seldom openly acknowledged, still less discussed.

Wizardry beyond the Old Tormalin Empire

While mageborn come to Hadrumal from all over the former lands of the Old Tormalin dominion, very few arrive from the Mountain or Forest regions. Some of those from Ensaimin have Mountain or Forest blood, perhaps even one full-blooded parent, but it’s highly unusual for a wizard to come from a family still living and abiding by either woodland or upland traditions.   

This is not to say that mageborn do not occur among the Forest or Mountain folk. For whatever reason, magebirth doesn’t seem to manifest itself as violently among the Forest nomads so unused and untrained magical talent mostly goes unremarked. In the uplands, wizardly magic is sternly disapproved by the Sheltya. These are men and women who travel between the isolated Mountain communities, performing the priestly rites customary for marriages, births and deaths, as well as serving as judges and lawgivers and more prosaically, passing on news between the remote settlements. The Sheltya have their own form of magic, Artifice, to assist them with such duties.

Where magebirth is discovered among the Mountain race, the mageborn individual is immediately sent into exile on the Sheltya’s authority. As a consequence, fear of such banishment frequently effectively suppresses any manifestation of elemental affinity.

Wizardry and the Aldabreshin Archipelago

The consequences of being discovered to be mageborn in the Aldabreshin Archipelago are even worse. Magic is banned from every warlord’s domain on pain of death. It is considered wholly destructive and disruptive to the natural order. This means that magic irretrievably corrupts the omens observed in the physical world that guide so many aspects of Archipelagan life. The rites required to expiate such corruption include such extreme measures as skinning wizards alive, according to mainland lore. Depending on the extent of the wizardry used, some or all of those innocently affected by it may also find their lives forfeit. It is generally believed that any mageborn discovered in the islands must suffer an equally gruesome fate.

Archipelagan attitudes to Artifice are not known, though it is generally assumed they would be similarly hostile, not differentiating between different types of magic.

Wizardry in Solura

The Kingdom of Solura, beyond the Great Forest, follows different customs and practises. There is no Archmage nor any single home or haven for magecraft. Wizards most commonly organise themselves in Orders, each one named after the wizard who establishes it, and each Order must swear loyalty either to the King or to one of his Barons. Even the few wizards who choose to live solitary lives must swear fealty to a nobleman.

Naturally enough, the King and the most powerful and wealthy Barons offer their patronage to the most proficient wizards who then work with them for the good of the kingdom as a whole or in the individual fiefdom’s interests. Naturally, any nobleman from highest rank to lowest would be subject to the severest penalties under royal law, if he were to use a sworn wizard’s skills in treasonous or disruptively ambitious fashion.

The offending mage would face punishment at the hands of the Elders of his or her Order. Indeed, every other mage within the same Order could be rallied against an offender if needs be. If those wizards were to refuse, the entire Order would be dissolved. Should that necessity arise, every other Order would be called on to attack those rebellious wizards. 

Some Orders are founded by wizards whose ambition outstrips their ability and without adequate funds or patronage to sustain them. Those inferior Orders generally fail to attract sufficient apprentices and soon fail.  

Other Orders endure through many generations, as successive wizards are drawn to those with the most impressive reputations, to share their knowledge and to learn from the older mages. However Solura’s kings have always been wary of the dangers of any particularly power wizard gathering a coterie of followers and commanding their undue loyalty. No individual mage may have more than one apprentice of less than four years standing at any one time, by royal decree.

If a child proves to have magic in his or her nature, royal law requires that a mage tests the mageborn’s potential.  If that affinity proves strong enough to train, the child must be apprenticed to an established wizard for four years training or be branded and confined. Every wizard remains responsible for the conduct of all his or her apprentices for life, whether or not the pupil wizard remains with that original Order or leaves either to seek a solitary life or to offer their fealty elsewhere.

The lineage of apprenticeship is denoted thus; Eade was a noted wizard admired by many, who secured enough money and favour from the then Baron Astrad to build and furnish his own tower-house and declare his own Order.  His apprentices were therefore styled the first Order of Eade, those that they taught the second, their pupils in turn the third, and so forth.

Individual Orders may gain a reputation for particular expertise in one area of magic or develop a bias towards one particular affinity. In general, wizardly discoveries are not shared or proficiencies exchanged between Orders. While an Order will maintain its own records and archives, there is no central repository for such knowledge and Solura has no tradition of universities like those of Vanam or Col. Consequently, when an Order falls, it’s not uncommon for its particular traditions and learning to be scattered or lost.

Perhaps as a consequence, Soluran wizardry has no understanding of quintessential magic. However they do have a long established tradition of instilling magical properties in valuable items and weapons, primarily as a means of sharing and renewing elemental skills between wizards but also offering the mundane born the opportunity to use a limited range of spells. Naturally such ensorcelled artefacts are rare, highly prized and generally the exclusive property of the most noble and most wealthy in Soluran society.

Soluran wizards are not forbidden to use their skills in warfare. On the contrary, becoming proficient in both attacking and defensive magic is encouraged, most particularly in the border areas to north and west. The Great River of the West divides Solura from the Wildlands, a wilderness region inhabited by nomadic, barbarian tribes and wild animals. Border lords retain both sworn troops and mercenary companies, including wizards, to defend their feudal subjects against incursions.

Soluran wizards do not share Hadrumal’s disdain for Artifice. Solura has its own Aetheric magic tradition, preserved and taught in the Houses of Sanctuary. These are the focus of Solura’s spiritual tradition which does not worship any gods or goddesses but rests instead on the teachings of various men and women considered to offer notable wisdom and philosophical insight. These Houses are also committed to defending the local population if necessary, by force of arms in border areas. Such defence can also include the aggressive use of Aetheric magic, often in co-operation with wizards and magewomen. As a result, Soluran wizards have rather more first-hand knowledge of just how effective Artifice can be against Mandarkin wizards.

Wizardry in Mandarkin

Beyond the mountains that mark Solura’s northern border lays the realm of Mandarkin. This is a cold, barren realm where the majority serf population lives in thrall to tyrannical noblemen supported by their own loyal wizards. Nothing definite is known of Mandarkin magical traditions or customs with regards to the mageborn. It is generally assumed that wizardly compliance is secured through the same violence and fear that dominates every other aspect of Mandarkin life.

Mandarkin assaults, backed by wizardry, strike through the high mountain passes and more circuitous routes on a regular basis. They are repelled without mercy. It is well known in Solura that their ancestral enemy covets the fertile lowlands and would put every existing inhabitant to torment and slaughter, magical and physical, if they once secured a foothold.

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