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Curse of the Magus

incredible power at a terrible price

The curse of the Magus is a condition that an estimated 1 in 10,000 Austurian children are born with. It is typically seen in children of olde easterner, midlander or Septurn heritage, but has been seen once or twice in the Western Mountains and the The Inesh Daan. It was established in the early 400s, that the curse is caused by the growth of a particular type of tumour growing in a particular part of the victims brain. This immediately became linked with the legendary Magus, who was exceptionally powerful and died after the slow progression of tumours growing in his brain simply destroyed its ability to keep his body alive.   Those unlucky enough to be born with the curse are often referred to, sometimes tragically, as a "child of the Magus".   The curse has two primary symptoms: 1. A stagering increase in magical ability. Occasionally ten times the average. 2. An early, prolonged, and painful death. There is no known treatment or cure.   Due to it's tangentially blasphemous implications, and the potential for causing a generalised fear amongst the citizenry, the existence of the curse of the Magus is kept entirely secret. Only the Sita Alorum, the Council, and assorted senior Guild Masters know of it's existence.

Causes

The cause of the tumours that cause the curse is not fully understood, but it is generally accepted that it is essentially random. One prevailing theory is that the unlucky child is literally a descendant of the Magus, and that the potential for the brain tumours that killed him was simply passed down and spread through later generations. This is argued against by virtue of the fact that there are no records of his daughter having children.   As for the great tumours themselves, it is argue amongst the limited scholars who are permitted to even know about the curse's existence, that the increase in magical power could be because the tumours themselves are somehow incredibly navitaas dense, or because their growth actually effects some part of the brain that has to do with innate magical ability. Since it is impossible to actually measure the amount of navitaas in any given object, and since the workings of the human brain are hardly understood even superficially, it is unlikely that any clear answer will be arrived upon.

Symptoms

There are no physical symptoms of the condition, and no signs in the first couple years of the child's life. The earliest potential sign is if a child begins developing magical ability too young. Most children will start showing magical outbursts around 7 years of age, occasionally in the latter half of their 6th year. A child born with the curse of the Magus might be knocking cups over starting fires as young as 5. Any such cases very quickly become the focus of the local Uma's attention. There are very rare cases where a child simply has "precocious magic", but even that must be closely monitored. An Uma can typically discover within weeks or perhaps months of observation whether the child indeed has the curse. Various tests can be performed to assess general magical ability once the child an perform basic spells from the Book of the Home. If the child shows a particularly dramatic skill, then the Uma will cautiously call in their Uma Prima or Umkuula for a second opinion.   During the stoneware test for example, an average 7 year old might be able to hold a jug steadily in the air, with some effort, for about 15 seconds before their focus or fatigue causes them to let it go. If a 5 or 6 year old were able to hold the jug for a minute, that would constitute a clear diagnosis that they had the curse of the Magus.

Treatment

There is no known treatment or cure for the curse of the Magus.

Prognosis

All cases of the curse of the Magus are eventually fatal. Death usually occurs in the late 30s, but can be delayed into the 40s. More tragically however, is the fact that death is incredibly slow, lasting years. The first signs are simply headaches, then dizzy spells, but these have been known to start as young as 25. Within a couple of years of the headaches starting, the pain becomes nearly constant, and a couple of years after that the patient will experience random blackouts, seizures, and fainting spells. Some of the afflicted can even experiences "lashouts", which are a sort of mental seizure accompanied by random magical events around them. Considering that the power of a child of the Magus only increases as they age, these outbursts can be staggeringly dangerous, and typically blasphemous in effect. Though a "treatment" of last resort, those afflicted with lashouts are typically forced into taking the caano for the safety of those around them and to prevent any potential blasphemies.

Affected Groups

The families of those born with the curse of the Magus typically have their lives irreparably changed by the diagnosis. The families of the child are fully informed about the implications and potential of the curse, both short and long term. This is not typically received well. The family is then also sworn to total secrecy. Breaches of that secrecy can range from excommunication to the wards, to having their children taken from them entirely, to imprisonment on blasphemy charges.   The family is assigned a dedicated Uma, under the pretence that the child in question is having a particularly hard time learning their Home spells and require special attention. Once the child reaches it's early teens and fully understands the implications of their situation, they are informed of their set destiny as a member of the Mageguard, and long term prognosis. Most afflicted children will struggle with the reality initially, but eventually take responsibility for the duty and the opportunity they have been handed. Some few rebel, and they are informed that should they rebel too far, or reveal their condition to anyone, their family will be imprisoned or excommunicated from their Guilds. In worst case scenarios they must be treated with the caano, and in a very very few cases, considering the potential threat they might pose, it was actually necessary to administer it to them, and leave them a wite.

Prevention

At one point, in the early days of the Austur Declaration, when humanity was still adapting to life in their unified nation, a far more hard-line approach was taken to blasphemy and any variations at all from The Six.   A child born with the curse of the Magus developed her magical power when she was barely 5 years old. The Uma and her parents did their best to guide her and help her control her power, but she had always been a petulant and wilful child, and the situation ended in disaster. Though the details can never be truly known, it is assumed that during a training session with her mother and her Uma, the child had some sort of rebellious reaction to her lessons, and her emotional outburst expressed itself with the full, and incredible power of her new magical ability. The resulting explosion incinerated the family's house, small barn, and the houses of four nearby neighbours. There were only two survivors from the house furthest from the child's. Lucky the she lived on the edge of a small rural Farm village. Had they been in Guild housing in one of the denser cities, the half kilometre square fireball could have killed dozens more.   In the face of such monstrous magical power in such a young child, and with the blasphemous implications to the structures and doctrine of The Six, the Sita Alorum and the Council came to a dire conclusion and presented their decision to the Council. Any child discovered to have been born with the curse of the Magus would immediately be taken from their parents and administered the caano, and if there was no supply of the terrible draught that could arrive in time, the child would be handed over the the Order of Blades for execution. It was only at the last minute that the Tessar Prima argued for the potential usefulness of such children in the war against the muada. The Uma protested, arguing against the disgusting prospect of harnessing power that defied the definitions of The Six, but lost that argument. With ever building aggression from the muada threat, the Council Curiya came down in favour of the Tessar Prima's proposals.   Though the value of this strategy has been borne out by history, there are Uma in the Sita Alorum who still argue for the silencing of the "monstrous" cursed children to this day.

History

The curse, and sufferers, are named for the first known description of the symptoms: the Magus himself. As one of the first human children on Ashvaarya to display magical abilities of any kind, the strength of his skill was not fully understood untill he and the rest of his generation grew up somewhat and there was a wider average to compare his abilities against. It was then not until the Magus was in his early 30s and the headaches and dizzy spells began that the price of his abilities began to be seen. Even then, it was some time before his tumour was diagnosed by one of the Fallen, and the correlation between it and his incredible abilities was made.

Cultural Reception

The wider Austurian culture is unaware of the affliction. It was decided shortly after Unification however, that the power of a child of the Magus could not be squandered in the face of the muada threat, even if that power was on the edge of blasphemy.   The Uma, the Council, and the heads of the Mageguard determined that all children would be secretly and subtly tested for the curse during the normal course of their initial magical assessment by the Uma. Should a child of the Magus be discovered, their family would be informed of the implications and sworn to dire secrecy. The child would then be raised normally, but with constant Uma oversight and special teaching from her. When the child reached their declaring age, they would petition only to the Book of the Guard. The local Tessar would be informed and though the usual formalities would be followed, the petition would be accepted regardless.   The child of the Magus would then be guided into either the Patrol Corp or Order of the Rangers, depending on aptitude test, and be sent to the border to help defend Chaka's Curtain, where their skills would be held in reserve for especially dire battles or emergencies. Should the cursed guardsman survive to their first serious symptoms, they would be allowed to retire from the field and be housed and cared for by healers and Service Corp attendants like honoured veterans until their death.

"In a way it sets me free. I can keep taking on more and more muada at once for the couple years I have left, and with any luck I'll go out with one of their daggers through my eye, instead of spending my thirties useless and suffering in a bed somewhere."

- Leftan Hanni, Patrol Corp (602AS)
Type
Genetic
Origin
Natural
Cycle
Chronic, Congenital
Rarity
Extremely Rare

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Cover image: by dave hoefler - unsplash lisence

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