Magic is both the lifeblood of Alturas and a dying art form. It can take the shape of magical abilities, or be focused into powerful charms through the use of runes, and cause lifelong consequences through curses. Iron and silver are dangerous if not deadly to most Alturians. Gold, however, is an excellent magical conductor and can strengthen charms and make people’s abilities more efficient.
This page is split into several sections:
- Runes and Charms
- Magical Abilities
- An Individual’s Magic Strength
- Wards and Curses
- Silver and Iron
- The Difference Between the Feylands and the Rest of Alturas
This is the magic that powers most of Alturas. Runes are precise geometric designs that rely heavily on mathematics to channel magic into a specific purpose. However, a single rune usually won’t have enough power nor specified purpose in order to achieve the desired effect. Instead, a chain of runes is created called a charm, which create specific instructions for magic to take a certain form, such as prevent an object from catching on fire or creating an invisible ward that protects a room from fleas. Charms are capable of replicating magical abilities in a precise and autonomous way, if the proper runes are known.
The size of the rune does not typically matter. However, the scale of the rune compared to the other runes it is combined with is vitally important. If the wrong ratios are used, charms can leak magic or even explode.
Charms can be carved into gemstones and minerals, burned or carved into wood, sewn into fabrics, painted, or stamped. However, charms usually require certain materials in order to work correctly and not have unintended consequences.
For instance, many warding charms are usually carved carefully into rubies, which resonates with the needed runes and creates a much stronger and longer lasting ward than if the runes had been painted on hide, which would make a weak, flickering ward. Sometimes, multiple materials are needed to create the most complex charms. Illusion charms are created through placing a cat’s eye gemstone in the middle of diamond-shaped piece of cedar, with the runes carved into the piece of wood carefully, pushing magic through the cat’s eye, without the cat’s eye ever being carved.
Runes and the charms that are created are powered by an individual or a group’s magic that is “pushed” into the charms, charging the charm. Eventually, all charms will run out of magic and need to be recharged, unless an alternative is created (such as the Obelisks in the Feylands).
Runes are a universal language, but complex charms can be very difficult to read, as runes can change the meaning of the runes around them. Charmcasting is delicate work, and usually multiple educated creatures are needed to create complex charms, each specializing in a different key element. Knowledge of the correct materials is useless without the steady hand to paint, carve, or sew the runes. A steady hand is weakened if the mathematics is incorrect, and the wrong angles, diameters, and dimensions are used. Geometry becomes pretty designs if the runes are in the wrong order, placed incorrectly, or the wrong runes are used. And without magic pushed into the charms, they become no more than intricate decorations. If anything in the process is incorrect, unintended consequences can occur, including rogue magic explosions from volatile charms, causing all sorts of bizarre happenings, and even death.
In the eight centuries since the Feylands were built, hundreds of runes, and therefore charms, have been forgotten outside of the Feylands as the knowledge is lost. Occasionally, they are rediscovered through charmcasters, or are traded for objects by the Fey.
Magical creatures are born with magical abilities that vary in number and type. Typically, outside of the Feylands, a creature may only have one to three different abilities, and most often these take form in telekinesis or, like in Rose‘s case, telepathy. Fey usually have more abilities. Greater Fey can have upwards of twenty or more. Abilities can take many different forms, from being able to cast illusions, change the color of one’s hair, or be able to know names, like Ireen. Telekinetics are generally able to only move one state of matter, whether that be solids, liquids, or gases, and if capable of moving two, it is generally solids and liquids. Three phases is rare.
When exactly magical abilities appear depends on the specie. Generally, magical abilities begin appearing between the equivalent of 5-10 human years. The child will be unable to control his or her magic, and therefore the ability will activate according to their emotions. Constantly using magic without control will make them exhausted, irritable, and often hungry. Children will eventually learn by themselves how to control their magic, although how long this takes varies. Teaching children self reflection and breathing exercises often decreases the time it takes a child to control their magic.
The strength of one’s abilities varies greatly depending on the individual’s magical strength, which can change one from being able to pick up a single five pound object telekinetically, to a five hundred pound object. Powers don’t necessarily pass down from parent to child, although sometimes an ability is passed down slightly different. Ireen’s father, for instance, does not know true names magically like Ireen, but does know the number of syllables (“beats” as he calls them) in a person’s name. Therefore, both of them have the nominascire ability. Magical strength is not inherited, but depends on instead how much magic the unborn fetus and later young child is exposed to. More magic the fetus and then infant is around, more abilities they may have, and more magical strength they may possess.
Some are born with an ability that most likely won’t ever be noticed or is regarded as coincidence, like not being able to step on beetles or always having sunny weather on their birthday. Much of Alturas does not have any abilities, which is why it is considered by many scholars that magic is slowly dying out in Alturas, as every generation seems to have weaker abilities, or none at all. Only in the Feylands are the number abilities remaining consistent over the centuries, or increasing. Those who do not have magical powers are called null.
New abilities cannot be learned, although innovative folks sometimes find novel and exciting ways to use their abilities.
Therianthropics are shapeshifters who are capable of changing into different, set specie. They can remain in either form for as long as they desire, but cannot change between them if they do not have the magic. Like all magic abilities, shapeshifting cannot be learned, and a therianthropic is born with which species it can shapeshift into.
Beserkers are individuals with a high degree of magical strength and a number of various abilities (usually numbering around four to five) who are unable to control their abilities. Beserkers’ powers are linked to their emotional state, and they can often hurt the people around them unintentionally in fits of anger, sadness, or even joy.
Channelers are creatures with great magical power and one or two magical abilities. However, they are unable to use their own magic unless touching someone or something else that has magic. Once they touch this person or object, that individual’s personal magic is increased through the channeler, which often causes charms to be overloaded and explode. Only then can the channeler use their own magic and own abilities.
Ferrokinetics break the typical rules of magic and can interact with iron and sometimes even silver without being injured or killed, and can use telekinesis on the two metals. Ferrokinetics are highly desired for warfare and have a long history of them being enslaved for their abilities.
A list of magical abilities creatures can have can be found here.
Each individual has a certain amount of magical strength (also called power) that they are born with. For a visual, it is like every person has a different sized pool of water. Some, like the Black King, have a lake of magical power, others, like Ireen, have little more than a puddle. Every time a person uses magic, their available magic decreases. The lake or puddle is drained just a bit. Magic is regained over time through the available magic in the atmosphere. Magical creatures naturally give off magic, which can create “auras” that can be felt or even seen if an individual is powerful. Some can learn how to hide these auras and prevent magic from escaping for a short period of time, but this can cause a person to be overwhelmed if done too long. Others prefer to pulse magic to create more powerful auras, although this can only be done for short periods of time.
If someone prevents magic from getting released, then their magical “pond” can overflow, causing a person to uncontrollably release magic until the “pond” has reached safe levels again, an equilibrium between full and empty. This can take an incredible physical and mental toll on a person, and can cause brain failure and death. However, a body will continue to release magic until an equilibrium is reached, even if that person has already died from the process. It is horrifying to watch.
If a creature overuses their magic and begins to run low, they will first begin to feel warm, like they were standing in the sun too long. Their skin will become dry and itchy. If continued, painful blisters and rashes similar to iron burns will begin to cover the body. This can create scarring if pushed to a severe level. When a magic user casts too much magic and drains themselves too far, the body will automatically cause the user to go unconscious to prevent the further release of magic.
For therianthropics, when they have expended too much magic, they will be unable to transform into any form, even their original, born specie. The magic will slowly refill over time, whether that be hours or days or months, depending on the amount of magic that had been used. If drained completely dry, a person will die.
Eating vitamin- and protein-rich food and getting plenty of rest helps the body recuperate magic faster, such like battling the flu.
Some learn how to stretch what magical strength they have by becoming more efficient with how they expend it. This allows a person to hold a ward or illusion up for a longer period of time, or be able to telekinetically move an object heavier than they normally can for a short period of time. This takes a lot of skill and training, and not many are able to use these techniques well enough to make any markable difference. Those who can afford it use gold to amplify their magical strength, rather than putting in the time to increase their efficiency.
Notably, there is less magic to be absorbed outside of the Feylands. This means that all creatures that were born outside of the Feylands often get a considerable power boost after being inside the Feylands for a time. While this does not lead to new abilities, it does mean that one’s abilities become stronger and more precise than before. However, once a person leaves the Feylands, they will slowly weaken as less magic is available. The general consensus is that the Fey and Greater Fey give off huge quantities of magic. It is easy to feel this through their rather overwhelming auras, and this magic leakage helps power up everyone around them, including themselves.
Wards are magical force fields, either cast by someone with the ability to do so, or through the use of a charm. Wards can vary greatly in strength, and therefore in size. Wards are designed to either keep things out (such as insects or arrows) or keep things in (such as heat or cold). Mostly they take benign, boring uses, designed to protect grain stores from mold, roofs from leaks, and alert storeowners to thieves. However, specialized, expensive, and powerful charmed wards are used in military warfare and defense, meant to keep the enemy’s arrows, cannon balls, bullets, and, most importantly, dragon fire, away from the troops. Typically, wards are invisible unless someone with a strong enough magical prowess can see the magic forming it, although most wards leave a faint disturbance in the air. Wards cast by an individual will tax them of their magical strength until the caster is forced to take it down, and charms will need to be recharged.
Curses are considered to be magical consequences. Most curses are caused by magical rebound when high-powered charms explode and release purposeless magic, although some learn how to release bursts of large quantities of magic without direction or with minimal direction in the hopes of enacting a curse on another being. Beserkers in high emotional distress can release large amounts of purposeless magic and create curses on accident.
Curses come in many forms, and are acts of magic that feed off of the host’s body without the host being able to control them. The curse may continually cycle off magic in small amounts (usually not life threatening) or large amounts (usually leads to eventual death) or it may use magic randomly, seemingly appearing to turn on and off. Curses may change physical appearance, or cause a person to accidentally do something with a particular action, such as freeze all water they touch. Curses are lifelong and usually cannot be reversed, although in some cases the magic can be twisted so that while the uncontrollable curse exists, it might take a slightly warped form. This might change a deadly curse (to the host or to another) in something simply moderately harmful but not life threatening. However, this takes a lot of skill to do and is generally a rare and expensive procedure.
Silver and iron are two metals that cause havoc to both magic and magic users. Iron is less of a worry. For most, it will cause mild pain over time that will eventually become acute, much like holding an ice cube with a bare hand for too long. Higher the magical power one has, quicker iron will become painful. If iron is left in contact with a person too long, it will create red rashes with painful blisters or cause feathers, fur, and scales to blacken and disintegrate, leaving the rashes and blisters on the skin underneath. These can be treated medically, but if the “burns”, as they are called, are too severe, they will scar. Most Alturians use iron carefully and responsibly, to prevent injury. They take care to make sure that iron does not touch bare skin, fur, scales, or feathers. For most Fey, iron instantly is painful and can leave immediate iron burns. There are charm-enhanced balms and salves that can reduce the pain of iron burns and help them heal faster.
Magic is often disturbed around iron. This means that all charms, wards, and abilities become weakened overtime through iron’s touch, if not prevented from working entirely. Iron can be a thief’s best friend, if they can find a large enough chunk of iron to disrupt a charm in just the right place.
Silver is very rare in Alturas, and tends to be ridiculously expensive, and is usually incredibly illegal. Silver is deadly to the vast majority of Alturians. Contact onto skin, feathers, fur, or scales leads to instant pain, which is increasingly excruciating depending on one’s magical strength. Silver causes feathers, fur, scales, and skin to instantly turn white and die. Feathers, fur, and scales with crumble and disintegrate, while prolonged exposure (more than about ten seconds) to skin causes the skin to form white blisters, then peel off. Continued exposure will continue to disintegrate the skin until muscles are reached. The muscles then suffer from instant myopathy, and become white and dead.
Amputation is all that can be done once muscles are exposed, for even if the silver is taken away, the damage will continue to spread along the body. However, with the correct, immediate, and specialized medical attention, those with superficial injuries (only the skin has been affected) then the continued spread of damage can possibly be halted before it travels deeper to the muscles and farther along the body. If silver is ingested, injected, or begins to kill the organs, death is certain, and the injured person will most likely be dead in only an hour or less.
Silver is illegal in all four monarchies of Themble. In Maithas, former Bevekras, and Croon, possession of silver of any quantity equals a death sentence. In former Pemembras, the silver was confiscated and the possessor faced a minimum of twenty years in prison. However, there are the quietest of whispers that both Maithas and Croon have a secret store of it, and use it to torture their victims.
Unlike silver and iron, gold does not cause harm to Alturians. This rare metal is an excellent magical conductor and is highly sought after in all provinces, and especially in the Feylands. Gold makes magic more efficient, so that less magic is needed to create the same results. This allows charms to last longer without needing to be recharged, and also allows a person to use their abilities without draining their magic supply as quickly. Many more complex charms need gold strategically placed to conduct magic to all needed runes. In order for magic to be used on a personal basis, it must touch the body at all times, making gold jewelry a common fashion statement in many provinces. In Themble, gold is the socially preferred material for marriage bracelets, although carved wood, leather, bronze, and copper are more often used due to the economic situation of most Themblise.
The Feylands are where the Fey were imprisoned for forgotten reasons nearly eight hundred years in the past. Because of this, there is a higher concentration of magic in the Feylands than the rest of the planet. This is assumed to be because of the massive amounts of magic Fey naturally give off as auras. In the Feylands, anyone born inside has a naturally high magical strength. Even the weakest fairy would be considered to be moderately powerful outside of the Feylands. Instead of usually having only one or two abilities, Fey and other Feylands-born creatures usually have a minimum of three magical abilities, averaging to five or eight of varying strengths and accuracy. The most powerful of the Greater Fey can have upwards of twenty or more various abilities. Iron is always excruciatingly painful, and silver can lead to instant death. However, gold is more powerful on Fey magic than for mundane or civilized creatures.