Mage or magus, magi or mages?


Last time on work in progress: The dull detailing of days, weeks, months, and years in Tellurin.

As promised, here is my theory of magic in Tellurin.  It actually starts about thirty years ago with me in confirmation class …

You may think confirmation a strange place for this, but I started theorizing things that had nothing to do with Christianity.  And you know what?  I was indulged, even encouraged by my instructors, two wonderful, open-minded people.  Shout of gratitude going out to Rick Shore and Marg Flath!  For them, it was healthy to question, explore the questions, and come to your own conclusions.

One of the things I theorized about was the nature of energy, consciousness, the soul, what might be termed miracles, and what might happen after we die … to me it was all connected.

In science (incidentally one of my confirmation instructors was also my grade 9 and 10 science teacher) we were learning that matter and energy were the same thing.  We learned about the laws of thermodynamics, including: energy can never be created or destroyed, but only changes form.

So to me, it wasn’t that far a leap to think that if we, humans, were made of matter (therefore energy) that thought, the soul, and all the wonderful things that made each of us uniquely ourselves was a kind of energy.  It couldn’t be destroyed when we died, it could only change forms.

So how does this relate to Tellurin magic?  Well really this species of thought contributed to both the magic and religious systems of my world, but here’s what I drew from my theorizing about magic: it could exist, just like any other kind of energy.  It would all be a matter of trial and error to figure it out.  It would be a kind of scientific experiment …

You may remember from my post about the cosmology of Tellurin that my interpretation of the big bang was that something within the homogeneous whatever that existed before the universe (I called it the One) recognized its independence.  In that moment, everything else within the One had to become distinct.  Boom!

But in my universe, not all kinds of energy are distributed equally.  The thing that recognized its independence (what became Auraya) carried more than its fair share of a specific kind of energy, and Tellurin, the planet, bore an equivalent amount.  That’s why the world has its own spirit and consciousness.

So Tellurin is a magic-rich world, and potentially any of the beings living on or in Tellurin can access that energy if they have the talent.  Talents are another group of senses that allow their possessors to recognise source and influence or manipulate it in specific ways.

Aside from Auraya, Tellurin, and the other gods of the world, everything holds its own share of the source of all things, or, simply the source.  In the people of Tellurin, this energy is bound to the spirit or soul.  It’s part of what makes them what they are.

When the primitive Tellurin first discovered their talents and their ability to manipulate the source, they called themselves sourcerors.  They learned in communities, experimenting with their various talents and expressions of source, categorizing and naming them as they went.

Along came a man named Halthyon Morrhynd.  He was actually an eleph from Elphindar, crossed over into Tellurin through one of the Ways Between the Worlds.  Incidentally, these Ways are just another expression of the source in Tellurin, a natural phenomenon.   If worm-holes could exist and function in a stable manner without affecting the matter and energy around them, that’s what the Ways would be.

Halthyon, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, is a bit of a megalomaniac.  In Elphindar, he’d tried to stage a coup against the anathas, or council of elders, and institute a kind of magocracy.  The eleph called source in their world the kaides esse, or the powers that be.  Sourcerors were called kaidin.

The result of Halthyon’s attempt to wrest power from the anathas was that he failed and was ostracized, or made shuriah.  The eleph were the only people in Elphindar.  Ostracism was generally a death-sentence.  Elphindar has no gods either, only the kaides esse, and those in significantly lower amounts than source in Tellurin.

Elphindar would not satisfy Halthyon’s ambitions, but once he found the Way and made it through to Tellurin, Halthyon saw this new world as a paradise.  He instantly made the connection between the source of all things, the kaides esse, and the gods of the new world.  He understood that if he could find a way to contain enough source within him, that he could transcend mortality and become a god himself.

The source existing in the things around him wouldn’t do.  He’d have to expend nearly as much source in the destruction of inanimate objects as he would receive from said destruction.  The gain would be negligible.  The people though, them he could use.

So he found the fledgling sourcerors of Tellurin and taught them.  In time, they “grew ripe” and he was able to “harvest” them by killing them and stealing the source carried with their souls.  The way to do this, was to call the deceased sourceror by name, and thus summon his soul.

Sourcerors began to take source-names, secret names to prevent Halthyon from learning the name that could call their soul and source to him, but Halthyon was skilled at telepathy, and could discover their secrets.

As he waited for some of them to ripen, other sourcerors grew powerful in their own rights, learned what he was doing to their fellows, and mimicked the practice to accrue their own stores of source.

The brothers Kane and Jareth were two of these surprising sourcerors.  Kane was as obsessed with gaining power as Halthyon, but he was also concerned that Halthyon would murder him before he could get very far, so he started to develop defences, the chief of them being binding.

His early experiments were with animals.  He bound his soul and source to a creature, and if he was killed, so the theory went, his soul and source would remain safe in the beast.  These he called familiars.  Kane was a good scientist, and decided to test his theory after sharing it with some of his fellow sourcerors.

Unfortunately, the consciousness of the animal interfered with that of the bound sourceror, and the animal hadn’t the capacity to use source, and so quickly fell prey to the predatory sourceror.

His next experiments involved people who had no noticeable talent.  These he referred to as homunculi.  Sadly the same thing happened with them as did with the animals, and these too, he discarded as a failed experiment.

Then he started playing with constructs, which he called golems.  These experiments were never wholly successful.

In the meantime, Kane’s brother Jareth, whose primary talent was geomancy, or manipulating the earth element, conducted experiments of his own.  He decided that inanimate objects would make better subjects for binding.  There would be no consciousness to interfere with the bound sourceror’s, but this would necessitate having a partner who would be able to release and restore the sourceror after the death of his or her body.

Jareth’s experiment was much more successful than Kane’s and was widely adopted, even by Kane himself, but no solution was perfect.

Sourcerors like Halthyon and Kane, after killing another sourceror, would search out the partner, and torture them until they revealed the secret of unbinding their victim.  If the partner was stubborn enough, or faithful enough, to keep the secret, then they could simply be killed.  Although the murderer would never benefit from the source of their victims this way, their victim would forever remain trapped in whatever object they’d bound themselves to.

This is eventually what happened to Jareth.  Halthyon slew him in sourcerous combat and went in search of his partner.  Kane got to her first.  Laleina was not only Jareth’s binding partner, but they were also lovers, a relationship that Kane always envied.

Laleina wasn’t cooperative and would not divulge Jareth’s secrets.  Kane knew, to his regret, that he could not keep her alive.  Halthyon would eventually come calling and Kane wasn’t ready to face the eleph.  In a twisted bit of experimentation, Kane bound Laleina’s soul and source to one of his failed golems.  He’d noticed that metal tended to dampen the effect of source.

And so Laleina was trapped in the thing that would eventually become the Machine.

The sourcerous world continued along the same violent lines for centuries, but Auremon eventually decided that he couldn’t let things go on this way.

His idea was to voluntarily surrender his godhood, and his god’s share of source, to Tellurin, hoping that more source in the world would allow Tellurin to even the playing field among the sourcerors, and keep the power-hungry ones from victimizing the rest.

It didn’t work out as well as he thought.  Too close to one of the Ways Between the Worlds, he tore it open and half the population of Elphindar was sucked into Tellurin before the Way could be repaired by Auraya.  The sourcerors didn’t behave any differently, and Auremon had to concede his failure.

The only thing he could think to do, was to teach young sourcerors how to use their powers responsibly.  So he set himself up as a sage in a mountainous island off the western coast of the main continent.  Auraya created a great castle for him there, and eventually all sourcerors found their way to Auremsart.

Auremon taught ethics more than anything else.  It was the sourcerors themselves who thought that if they changed the names of things, that they could change the way people behaved more effectively.  So source became magick, sourcerors became magi, and they instituted a rigorous initiation process that would so instil Auremon’s ethical code into their students that there would be no risk of any of them becoming monsters.  They called their new discipline Agrothe, the followers of the code, in the old language of the land.

They policed themselves too, and started setting up schools of magick in other cities.  Business was booming.  And then Yllel came in disguise and killed his father.  Auremsart crumbled, became the Spire, and two kindly elementals from Elphindar resurrected Auremon and bound his spirit to the stone that was all that remained of his earthly home.

How the Agrothe functions in Tellurin at the time of the novel:

  • As soon as the prospect’s talent begins to manifest, training begins.  This can be anywhere between five and thirteen suns of age.  The prospect becomes an aspirant.
  • This period is one of intense theoretical and ethical training, highly structured, lasting thirteen suns. This phase of training does not guarantee initiation.  If evidence of cruelty or insanity is detected by the Master, the aspirant is taken to a mind-mage, and their talent crippled.
  • The aspirant is initiated.  This phase of the training introduces the initiate to their talent(s) in a gradual, disciplined fashion, and also lasts thirteen suns.
  • The initiate is apprenticed, gains some autonomy and is allowed to experiment in a limited fashion.
  • After thirteen more years, the apprentice could become a master in his or her own right.  If further training is deemed necessary, an interim period of guided practice could be instituted.  The mage operated independently, but under the watchful eye of their master.  This period could also last thirteen suns.
  • At any time, if the student decides, they can withdraw from training, once more having their talent crippled so that it cannot be used in an unauthorized or unethical fashion.
  • This is why most women, wanting a family and life outside of the Agrothe, never make it to initiation.

Aeldred sensed Ferathainn’s potential at the eleph ceremony of Shir’Authe, when she was only a day old and newly abandoned in Hartsgrove.  Her talent was prodigious and he began her training when she was four suns old.

Most aspirants only evidence one or two talents, the rest developing with age and experience.  Most full-fledged magi might have five talents at their disposal, but it will be the one or two that showed themselves first that will be the mage’s primary talents.

Ferathainn possesses aliopathy, or the ability to speak to the spirits of things, which in turn feeds into her talent at evocation and summoning.  She is uncommonly talented in mind magick, able to communicate through thought speech with those who do not share the talent, and can travel in spirit with ease.

Aspirants are not allowed to use their talents prior to initiation, but Aeldred does not want to lose Ferathainn as a student, so he allows the girl latitude.  Besides, mind-magick is not one of his stronger talents, and he cannot prevent her from doing what comes naturally to her.

He does not want to call one of his Agrothe brothers in for fear that Fer will be taken away from him.  Further, he fears reprimand for his unorthodox training methods.  For similar reasons, he has not prevented Ferathainn from becoming betrothed or married.  He feels that if anyone can balance a life of magick and domesticity, it will be Ferathiann.

He hasn’t explained much of this to Ferathainn.  He hasn’t even explained her talents to her.  In truth, he’s a little afraid of what she might become, and that his lenience may lead her to the forbidden ways of sourcery.

She will be the first Agrotha initiated in two hundred suns.  That’s too great a prize for Aeldred to resist.

Next week: Everything little thing she does is magick!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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