Mileage Material in Dread Romantic | World Anvil


What about that dream?
Uh… sure?
Nope. Not a chance.
          Olive wakes as she does most mornings, calm, but in a cold sweat. Her dreams repeat almost every night. Why did it have to be that dream…   She rolls out of bed, gets herself looking somewhat decent, then steps out of her cottage and into the morning sun. She walks along the wooden decking, avoiding the patches of dirt and thick black tar.   The shop's awfully low today. Usually it rises high, above most trees. Were the enchantments weakening?   She gazed over the edge at the ground below as she considered the possibility. It's unlikely. Perhaps it just wanted to be low, a disturbing thought. Is developing a personality, now? Can it even do that?   She made a mental note to investigate further. There were more pressing matters. First on the list… coffee.
        Olive stops mid-stride and looks up at the sky, at you dear reader, though she can't see you. She could never hope to comprehend you, much less the implications of your existence.   Don't think about it too much. The nature of magic is… complicated. Then again, if anyone could explain this odd phenomena you find yourself experiencing, it would be Olive.   "Is that a compliment?" She stops and shakes her head. "Not today," she says, rubbing her temples. "Can you just be quiet for today."
She sighs. She knows her pleas won't work. Not truly. Even if you were silent, dear reader, I am your eyes and ears. If I were to go silent, why… there wouldn't be much of a story, would there?   She ignores the voices. And steps through a large wooden door. Within is the storefront. Shelves with the various wares they sold line the walls. Bottles of potions and magical trinkets sit among them. Tables and comfortable chairs furnish the room, few of them occupied.   Mavis comes through a door leading to the kitchens, "Olive? Dear me, you're up early." The woman smiles, and the laugh lines on her face become even more defined.   "Early?" Olive mutters. She grabs a blanket folded over the head of a nearby chair and proceeds to wrap herself up in it. "Does early even exist anymore?"   "Well you usually don't come down until around noon. It must be…" Mavis looks out a nearby window, "...nine in the morning or so."   Olive shrugs and sits at the nearest table, the blanket hugging her slender frame. She peers out the opening of her blanket burrito, and asks, "have you seen Cory?"
      Mavis shakes her head, walks over, and places a cup of coffee on the table. "That boy's all over the place as of late. Lots of nervous energy, no doubt."   Olive nods, picks up the mug, and takes a sip. Its perfect. It always is. It doesn't matter who you are. If Mavis prepares it, it will always be perfect. Olive makes a mental note, another topic for study. How does Mavis do that? "That's weird. I thought having a home that moved would help."   Mavis shrugs. "I've never met another person with his gifts." She pauses, as if unsure to offer her opinion. "You'd know more than me, but maybe the issue is assuming he's running away from home. Maybe home has nothing to do with it."   Olive considered it before, though admittedly it wasn't for long. "What could it be then?"   "Oh," Mavis smiles and shakes her head. "Responsibility, a source of fear, love… it could be anything. Some people just enjoy the feeling of being lost."


Magic always comes at a cost. It's a staple of fantasy. What that cost is varies. In other settings, magic can be exhausting, the cost being energy from the user. In others, magic is a gamble, so unpredictable that using it is considered dangerous for one reason or another. Not here though.   Magic is fickle, sure. It makes little sense and plays by its own rules. It even changes those rules on the fly like a toddler… that's it. Yes. Magic is a fussy toddler. Despite its peculiarities, there is a constant factor that magic never changes, a variable that never varies. Magic has a type.   Magic appeared shortly before the end of the modern world, but it only manifested in a chosen demographic. Magic can only manifest in those who are mentally complex. The touched have mental disorders or perhaps disabilities. Whatever you want to call it, neurodivergence is a requirement. If such terms leave you uncomfortable, let's just say it requires one to be… neurospicy.
Olive stands just outside Cory's house. She snickers. "If you can call it that."   She's surrounded by colorful flowers, though their colors are far less vibrant than they should be. Each is muted, as if the color drains from them with every passing moment.   Olive wonders if, on a long enough timeline, they would fade to black. A question to be answered at a later time, however. She shouts at the makeshift shack before her, "Cory!"   Her brother appears and smiles, waving at her as she approaches. He then holds out a hand, as if commanding her to stop. "Wait," he says, the word drawn out as if meant to be a warning. "Flip the sign."   Olive looks to where he's pointing and sees a large wooden sign nailed to a nearby post. The sign says nothing.   "I'm not here for a session, Cory, I just wanted to check up on you." Olive replies.   "Sign please."   Olive scoffs and flips the sign. On the opposite side it reads, "In Session," the words written in off white paint.   Cory nods and accepts his sisters embrace. "What's up?"

Quantity and Quality

Mileage. That's what the touched call it. It's not exactly an ideal unit of measurement, but Americans aren't known for that sort of thing. I suppose it's appropriate. Let's call it the freedom unit of magic, a way to measure how powerful one's magic can be. The more mileage, the more potent the magic.   Mileage is also a way of determining how much magic one can do, not just measuring its quality, but also its potential quantity. The more mileage one has, the more magic they are capable of doing in a given period of time. Simple right? No. Mileage is not simple.   As magic began firmly establishing itself in the long line of laws the universe must obey, a rumor spread that cast a negative light on all those who use it. Many believed magic to cause insanity. At the very least, many thought magic made one more than a little eccentric. People confused the chicken for the egg.
Olive and Corey sit and talk, each sitting in a lawn chair overlooking the far side of the moving shop. They talk about nothing, at first.   Corey expected this. It always starts this way. The nerves need to break down, but small talk is small, after all. People tend to run out of it quickly.   Olive stares out at the world, lit by the midday sun. Where the shop is currently traveling, little civilization exists. You wouldn't know the world ended if you were here when it happened.   She notices the Direwood in the distance, a vast canopy of massive, thick trees that towered over even the largest trees below them. The sight makes her uncomfortable.   In an effort to push the thoughts from her mind, she changes the topic of conversation, "Are you alright?"   "I'm always alright, Oli."   She turns to him with narrowed eyes, then cocks her head at the sight of a cat curled up in his lap. "What the hell is that?"   "This is cider. Don't know how she ended up here, but I wasn't about to kick her out. I mean, really. It's a long fall." He laughs, "Cats may have 9 lives but that's only so many."   This made Olive smile. His dark humor always did. She nods and then turns her head. She feels compelled to bring it up, not just because it involved him, but because of something else. She feels as though her brother has all the answers, as if his words could provide more than solace. His words can heal.
Olive forces the words out, but they can only come out in a whisper, "I'm having that dream again."   "The one about mom?" He asks, though it sounds more like a statement of fact than a question.   "Yeah."   Cory nods. "It wasn't your fault. Dad wasn't either."   Olive lets out a lung full of air, trying not to be upset. "You weren't there. You don't know."   "Yes I do." He looks her in the eye, and Olive feels almost elated. "They always forced you onto the cross, but that doesn't mean you belong there." He rests a hand on her leg and leans forward, his words ready to deliver a crushing blow. "We'll work on it. Don't worry. When the time comes, I hope I'll be there to help you off of that cross."   Olive loses herself for a moment. This is what Cory does, at least a small part of it. She then snaps herself out of it. "Alright you fucker." She's shouting, though she does so with a wide grin. "How do you do that?"   "It's just my gift." He shrugs, "It's okay. I know it isn't your style. Like I said. We'll work on it."   "Work on what?"   "How to stop adding those nails."

How does one measure mileage?

it's not measured in numbers or really with any form of static data. That would add complexity and understanding, which could very easily change how the concept of mileage works for you. You can't study magic with such accuracy. If you do, it becomes more complex, requiring more study. Rinse and repeat until magic is so complicated you can't even do it anymore.   This is an intuitive form of measurement. You can only get an idea and it requires a little bit of knowledge about the person you're measuring. Then you have the Doomsday Therapists, who can read you like a book. They can tell one's mileage just by looking at them. In other words, they eyeball it.   Did I mention your ability to accurately gauge mileage is also dependent on your mileage? The more you have, the easier it is to gauge it in others. Some people have so much of it, they don't need to be therapists to eyeball it.

But what exactly is mileage?

You ready for this? Tl:dr

Mileage is a metric of power but also world experience. The touched, those with the ability to perform spellwork are neurodivergent. Most forms of neurodivergence come from deep seeded trauma caused by said world experience. The more mileage one has, the more potent their spellwork.

Mileage is a very loose term. Don't feel lost if you don't get it. You may not have the mileage for it, yet. That and It has to be vague and confusing. This is because of how magic works. Magic does what it wants and the more you try to understand it, the more complex it will be for you as a punishment. This gets to a point where the more you understand it, the less of it you can do.   Mileage requires trauma, but trauma can be good as well as bad. While negative trauma grants more mileage, it is theoretically possible, if a bit improbable, for one to use spellwork with little to no negative trauma. It just hasn't happened yet and likely never will.
In short: Trauma = magic.


As you can see, trauma is also loosely defined in terms of spellwork, but usually it is discussed with negative connotations. That being said, the severity of one's trauma is universal.   In determining mileage, It doesn't matter if it was the death of your dog, your child, or your wife. It doesn't matter if you were assailed by a bully in school or chased by a gunman in a mass shooting. The emotions are the same on a chemical level and so is the trauma.   This means mileage isn't related to specific events. It's related to how much those events impacted you. It's subjective, like all things related to magic. Could the death of someone's dog really cause this much trauma? Yes. Who are we to say otherwise? Trauma affects everyone differently. It's not our place to say one has suffered more or less than another. It's not for us to say that someone else's suffering isn't justified.
Olive stared at him, a range of emotions on her face. Rage, sadness, fear, but also a hint of joy, a single spark signifying a chair reaction, the first signs of healing.   Cory smiled. He knows what he's done. He could never see her again, and still take comfort in the fact that his work is already done. She doesn't know it yet, but she doesn't need him anymore. It may take longer, but with or without him, healing is done by oneself.   He turns to the shack and the sight makes him sit up straight with narrowed eyes, his laid back demeanor completely gone.   Just outside of the front door, Cory spots an off white envelope, a letter with E.W.B postal service written on the front.  
    Cider leaps from his lap as he stands and picks it up. "What's this?" These letters were how Dread Romantic first came to be. They got him his sister back, gave him a place to belong and kept him sane. This was different though, everyone he knew here. Who could this be from?   Olive stood as well, rushing over to investigate further. "It's not from me."   Corey nods. "It doesn't even have a name." The moment he opens it, his eyes go wide.   "What?" Olive asks.   He sniffs the air. "It smells kinda like fear."   "It smells like fear?" She teased.   "Yes." He replies. He touches the letter in the envelope to his tongue. "Woah."   "You can smell and taste emotions?" Olive asks. She doesn't even care about the letter now. This fascinated her.   "Yeah. Fear is bitter but this has some sweetness to it. Think grapefruit." He reads the letter, his eyes darting across the page. "Holy shit. We gotta go."


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Jul 9, 2023 19:02 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I really liked this one, particularly the discussion of trauma.   Also, they're SIBLINGS?!

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 10, 2023 15:08 by R. Dylon Elder

Thank you!!! And Yup yup!

Jul 9, 2023 19:35

Agreed, love where this is going. Your take on magic in Dread Romantic is so freaking COOL!

Jul 10, 2023 15:09 by R. Dylon Elder

Thank you! Im really hoping a prompt will let me actually dive deeper into it. If not I'm just gonna make it cause I'm really enjoying this magic system.

Jul 10, 2023 08:38 by Catoblepon


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Jul 10, 2023 15:10 by R. Dylon Elder

Yesssssss >:]

Aug 21, 2023 16:37 by Tlcassis Polgara | Arrhynsia

Very well written and interesting!

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