Magical storms

Table of Contents

Everyone knows that clashes of magic can create thunder and lightning even at the level of only two mages duelling together. Well now imagine what gigantic magical currents clashing can do! The magical storms create can cover thousands of kilometres and kill every lifeform not adapted to survive them!

Clément! If you think you don't need to listen and already knows everything to be able to survive about the storms occurring just next to us, Im going to grab you and leaves you in the Orage Mountains and we'll see how well you'll do!
— A teacher to their young pupils
 

Cause

 
Fluxes of magic are everywhere in the air and inside the earth. They interact with static magics and with each other constantly, with each interaction giving unique results. Strong magical fluxes are good for the health of an area, as magic being too stagnant can give very twisted and dangerous results.   This is for example the case in places where powerful rituals went entirely out of control and damages the magical structure itself of the region, such as in the Black Forest in the Estate of Alyssenne, which has resulted in the creation of the murderous Alyssenne flowers and the Lyrienne apple trees. An infamous naturally occurring case of stagnant magic is the Abyss, a deep chasm in the Eastern sea at the bottom of which terrifying magic is trapped, leaving only sea creatures to thrive there.   In some areas of the world, those interactions between magic fluxes are particularly violent and one of the most notable consequences is strange weather patterns. Any species living in those areas have had to evolve mechanisms to adapt to these and increase their chance of survival. Humans, however, have not been able to do so and can only hope to avoid them altogether.
 
Only crazy people live near magical storms! Clearly they are too stupid to realise the danger or too weak to claim a better Estate somewhere else!
— Classic opinion shared through the empire
 

Effects

 
Magical current clashing together mainly manifests as violent magical storms that can span thousands of kilometres and last months. During those, the magic is so strong that the currents are visible to the naked eye by people who do not have any magical sensitivity. What can be observed on those occasions is similar to a lightning storm or tornado, with the magical current looking like a myriad of lightning blots jumping in unpredictable directions. Each current has a specific colour with no apparent limitation on the light spectrum.   Since magic is so strongly concentrated during those events, the storms have been known to gain consciousness briefly. What kind of conscious they have is unknown, but even at a great and relatively safe distance, their presence can be felt. When the magic storm finally dies out, the magic divides back into individual currents and the overall consciousness of the storm disappears with it, although each current has itself some weak form of individuality and personality if not awareness.


Lightning in the middle of dark clouds
A magical storm by Johannes Plenio


— It's ridiculous to think that a storm could have goals or thoughts. Nevertheless, I can't help but ponder what they must feel about their short lifespan.

— For sure, the storms must be attempting to prolong their life as much as possible by causing enormous amounts of wreckage and stripping all material and life of their magic in the process! Nobody who has reached sentience could possibly accept to lose it!
— Two inhabitants of the region around the Orage Mountains discussing the storms


Another consequence of the strong magic in the storms is that non magical weather events are also triggered, with hails, ice storm, tornadoes, and any other possible weather occurring randomly without head or reason. On occasion, the dust, spores, and other small particulars lifted by the storms all form such a thick cloud that any spark can trigger an explosion followed by fire and lightning storm similarly to what can be seen during volcanic explosions. The consumption of the dust by the storm allow it to absorb the magic contained within it.   Storms are mostly witnessed in the air, but similar violent behaviour can also occur underwater or even underground, in particular inside volcanoes and lava lakes. Water or lava currents then behaves in the same way as air currents do during a storm, and the same devastating effects can occur, with violent currents shredding everything on their way and wide variation of temperatures, freezing water or lava or making them boil and vaporise.
A photo of a tornado getting near a small island covered with trees
The beginning of a magical storm forming above the Western Seas by Espen Bierud on Unsplash


I swear those storms are out to get us! I'm never going back into those mountains again—no you listen to me! don't care how valuable those mushrooms are, my life is worth a lot more!
— Some poor harvester who ventured into the Orage Mountains at a bad time
 

Consequences for local lifeforms

 

Animals

All lifeforms living in those regions have had to adapt to both the violent magical currents and the dangerous weather patterns. To this end, animals—terrestrials or marine mammal, birds, and fish—have a special organ at the base of their skulls that allows them to feel magical currents and based on that to predict the weather. When dangerous weather is coming, they can all enact their defence strategies.   For many small animals, this consist of burrowing underground or in caves, nearby special rock minerals that can absorb magic. For larger animals, the main strategy avoidance as much as possible and so they are capable of swift movement or even disappearing and reappearing in other places such as mages can do with location pentagrams. If avoidance is impossible, the animals will go to the ground, roll themselves in a tight ball and enact a magical shield around themselves.   Humans themselves have chosen the strategy of avoidance and simply do not go into the mountain except for rare expedition in search of rare crafting materials. Those expeditions are dangerous because humans are not able to predict the occurrence of the storms and also because the high amount of magic possessed by local lifeforms makes them especially dangerous.   In the regions where such magical storms occur, there are legends of extremely powerful mages getting caught in the storms and managing to survive through them, either through burrowing themselves underground or created powerful shield around themselves and being able to sustain them long enough.
 
— I tell you that all such legends are completely ridiculous! Everyone would believe you're a foreigners who's never seen the storms rage over the mountains with the way you blab about people surviving them!

— And I'm telling you that you've never seen Lord-Consul Xénophène Ylucianie or Lord Véridice Lyrienne in action! How anyone can believe that the two most powerful people in the whole empire could not survive for at least a few days is beyond me! But then, you're not the heir of the Estate. You've never been to the senate and frequented such elevated individuals. Your ignorance is only to be pitied...
— Two siblings quarrelling
 

Insects

 
Most insects and crustaceans will choose to burrow in a similar way, but this is often not enough to protect them sufficiently since their small size can make them less able to resist string magic. Instead, most insects will live in colonies and create themselves some home in which they can integrate protective magic, allowing them to take refuse inside when needed. Other insects will parasite those homes or chase out the inhabitants to make place for themselves.   Very few insect species have gone in the opposite direction with their evolution and put all of their energy into being able to resist the strongest magical currents. They do this thanks to a few protein complexes present in all of their cells as well as in special area of their body dedicated to just this task, acting just as fat tissue in mammals that store energy.   Those protein complexes form a very strong link with magical particles so as to trap them and avoid them getting released and travelling in the rest of the body of the insects where it could cause harm. Indeed, once a ligand is in too high concentration in the environment, the affinity of still free ligand for their receptors decreases. Thus, in the middle of a violent magical current, if the affinity is not strong enough to start with, there is a risk that the number of magical particles will simply overwhelm the receptors and be left free to roam.   The consequence of having extremely strong affinity means that it is difficult for the magical stores to release the magical particles once the weather has calmed and the insect needs to use its magic. This is dealt with a switch in the protein complexes that is triggered by low magic environment. It results in the proteins changing their conformation so that the binding pockets for the magical particles have a reduced affinity for them and can release them more easily. Still, if too few magical particles are present, the affinity stays too high.
 
Magical storage schema.jpg
 


This means that in order to have some magic to use, the insects really require having lots of magical particles in their stores, as having just a few is as good as having none at all. To this end, those types of insects will actively seek strong weather patterns so as to charge their magical stores during them. As everyone knows, highly concentrated magical particles give rise to sentience. This has interesting consequences for those insects.   The most notable species is the prickly sparks, which has been known on rare occasion to communicate with people and even to accept deals. However, their first instinct is always to eat everything that moves. their intelligence, numbers and highly poisonous darts make them legendary creatures that are seen as a symbol of the Orage Mountains.
A prickly spark by AmélieIS
 
— Did you hear what happened to Lucie? The sparks have given her tons of storm mushrooms in exchange for just a roll of Veinianie silk! Her family is going to lord it over everyone in the village now!

— I've also heard that the only thing she had to do was stand there under a shield and wait for a while until the sparks got bored and agreed to a deal. Well, if it's really that easy, I'm going to go there too and ask for the corpses of their dead fellows so that I can make myself a robe just as shiny as the Storms!

— Wait—what?
— A villager from the Orage Mountains seeing their friends for the last time after they came up with a bright idea
 

Other lifeforms

 
Other lifeforms are not mobile enough to escape the danger and so they have to be able to endure it. Most will react in the same way as the magic storing insects, making themselves magic resistant and sentient in the process. Still, trees do not grow very high and most twist their trunks back towards the wrong after reaching two meters, where they twist like thick vines, growing more roots to gain further anchors.   The leaves of plants are thin and easily detachable, designed to be easily torn away in strong wind so that the plants can avoid having large surface areas that could form resistance against the wind in the middle of the storm as that could get them uprooted from the ground and killed.   No plant flowers in the mountain, as the production of flowers and fruits would be too costly to afford to lose them during a storm. Similarly, fungi tend to have small and flat fruiting bodies to limit the surface where the winds could catch them. All plants, fungi and microbes reproduce through spores or fruitless seeds as those are resistant to extreme conditions such as extreme magic, temperature, radiations, desiccation, toxic chemicals...   When the magic-sensing organ present in most of those lifeforms possess in an area near the ground—mostly the base of the trunk or stem—warns them that a storm is oncoming, spores are produced and brought to the surface of the lifeforms. When exposed to strong winds, the spores are carried away and spread through the mountains.   The spores need to be hit by magical lightning for their germination to be triggered through a change in the conformation of their enzymes. This ensures that the new lifeforms have enough magic stored inside of them to be able to develop without limitations. However, this also prevents these species from expanding beyond the areas covered by magical storms.   An example of such mushrooms are the very imaginatively named storm mushrooms because the slight purple glow of their spores inside the storms is easy to distinguish from very far and so they are seen as characteristics of the spore phenomenon.


Moss growing on rocks in he middle of a cascade
Moss by PublicDomainPictures


 
— All those mushrooms are invaluable! And their spores just float around all over the mountains! Everyday the storm rage, you all see them glow in the sky, taunting you with their presence... Anyone brave enough to go over there with cloth bags wide opened could collect enough to live the rest of their life in luxury! Who is daring enough to come with me?

— Look at him! Another imbecile foreigner about to rush into the sporenadoes. Good riddance and may the Storm have a good meal!
— A young man about to die giving what he thinks is a rousing speech to the locals
 

Locations

 

The Western Seas

The most notorious place where magical storms occur is the Western Seas. This phenomenon makes navigation in those seas impossible without some strong weather magic as protection, and even with it stays extremely complicated.   Navigation a few kilometres beyond the shore is only carried on by people from the Northern Islands since they have line-gifts associated with that type of magic, as well as many artefacts, rituals and other types of magic linked to the weather that they have kept secret from the rest of the world. The way they built ships and their navigation techniques in particular are unique and highly developed. As a consequence, trade on the West coast is highly depending on the Islanders and alliances with them are highly desired.
Map of the Empire of the Covenant
The Empire of the Covenant is a millennia-old federal empire spread over a whole continent and gathering around 600 independent Estates. Those are ruled by powerful mages, lords and ladies who are the Heads of their Houses and who are linked to the ancestral magic of their Lands. Estates are divided by their affilitation with the Light or Dark political factions.   See Geography, Climate and Demography of the Empire and Political Organisation of the Empire.
 
Those damn Lyriennes with their weather-based line-gift! they keep redirected storm coming onto their Estate to those of their enemies and the whole of the north-western coast is utterly destroyed as a consequence!   I ask you, my fellow lords and ladies, how can we tolerate such dark and dangerous magic any longer? Let us banned all weather magic and rituals to protect our empire and its inhabitants!
— A Light Lord in the senate


The Orage Mountains

Another place wrecked by magical storms is the Orage Mountains in the northeast of the empire. The Estates located around the mountains make their fortune by trading in the valuable resources found in the mountains as a consequence of the storms, but all inhabitants of those Estates avoid going into the mountains as much as possible. The veneration of Land's magic often takes a special form in the region and extends to the storm themselves in a manner that is regarded with concern by outsiders.  
Do not complain about the Mountains! It is thanks to Them that our Estate has grown rich, and thanks to their dangers that no foreigners has dared attempt to invade us in centuries!   Pay the proper respect to the magical currents with your prayers and sacrifices, and they will remember you even when they will be joined into a storm and watch over you and scorch your enemies.
— A Lady to her child and heir

Map of the Empire of the Covenant
The Empire of the Covenant is a millennia-old federal empire spread over a whole continent and gathering around 600 independent Estates. Those are ruled by powerful mages, lords and ladies who are the Heads of their Houses and who are linked to the ancestral magic of their Lands. Estates are divided by their affilitation with the Light or Dark political factions.   See Geography, Climate and Demography of the Empire and Political Organisation of the Empire.


Cover image: A magical storm by Johannes Plenio

Comments

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5 Dec, 2021 08:26

I really love the idea of the storms being sentient when they really get going. It really makes me think they really are out to get people, too. :D   This part was unclear though:  

n infamous naturally occurring case of stagnant magic is the Abyss at the bottom of which terrifying magic is
  Bottom of... Ocean? :D   And I really can't wait to see what poorly thought out, mad-cap schemes people in your world invent with regards to magic storms. It is inevitable :D   Impressive, awesome work as always :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
5 Dec, 2021 21:01

Thanks :D Yes, some people are going to do some crazily stupid stuff for sure :p   I meant at the bottom of the Abyss, which is indeed itself at the bottom of the ocean. I'll see if I can clarify, thanks for pointing that out :D

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5 Dec, 2021 22:50

Good article again. This time i really liked the way the different animals/creatures/plants/insects of your world have adapted to the magical nature of the wind and storms. A well deserved Like.   Aemon

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
5 Dec, 2021 23:32

Thanks :D In fact I started this article and just got "a little bit" carried away with the insects which is why I ended up giving the sparks their own articles XD

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6 Dec, 2021 02:35

As usual, I loved the way you end your quotes. My favorite is the Orange Mountain villager "seeing her friends for the last time". The concept of the storm is very good.

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Please check out my worlds, Jerde and Tread of Darkness.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
6 Dec, 2021 07:59

Thanks for the comment :D Killing people in the quotes is very fun :p

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7 Dec, 2021 23:46

RIP sporenado dude.   Really fascinating article. I really enjoyed reading about how different plants and animals have adapted to their life in the mountains.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
8 Dec, 2021 08:03

Thanks :D I still have to write that article on the mushrooms, so someone might get successful in getting some spores in the end :p

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Starfarertheta
Starfarer Theta
11 Dec, 2021 13:15

I really like the idea of lifeforms that adapted or even depend on the occurrence of magic storms.   Great article!

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Dec, 2021 14:40

Thank you! It was fun to come up with al lof them :D

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12 Dec, 2021 04:15

Wow. Now these are some powerful storms D: I find it really fascinating how you go over the ways different life forms in the vicinity of the storms deal with it! It's neat seeing the different ways thing adapt to or react to magic.   Also, OMG SENTIENT STORMS?! That's really really excellent xD


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
12 Dec, 2021 10:07

Thanks! Coming up with fake biology is always fun :D I love the idea of sentient magical storms and trying to think about what could go into their "minds" :p

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13 Dec, 2021 13:56

Wow, this was a mouthful. :D I love how an idea, which sounds so simple in the beginning turns into something neat and complex.  

What kind of consciousness they have is unknown, but even at a great and relatively safe distance, their presence can be felt.
With regard to this, I wonder if the storm is conscious in a way a person is when awakening from a dream (and then falling asleep again) or the way a being realizes it has the power to process information and influence reality, e.g., physically, magically, etc.?   The animals from Orage Mountains have a special sense for magic and can feel which stones would provide better protection against magic. Do people make use of this knowledge to gather such stones and create passive protections against magical storms? I know one can make a shield, but active protection systems can be costly and failure during a storm can be fatal.   Is there a magical cycle in the mountains that would involve several species that would feed on one another to get the magicules for themselves, the same/similar way leeches such blood, mushrooms eat out cellulose/lignin specifically, etc.?   The Abyss sounds terrifying. Are you planning on introducing that place a bit more in-depth? :D   Thanks for a good read. Your articles are long and complex. Take some time to read, but provide a nice meal for pondering and imagination.

Introducing my challenge entry, with my cat as the main character and visitor to the tavern.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
13 Dec, 2021 22:30

Thanks a lot for your comment, it's really nice to hear that!   Regarding your questions:   1) I don't think the storms are too conscious and aware of what's going on around them. For once, most other lifeforms will be too tiny for them to notice. The storms also don't exist for such a long time and so they are still trying to get their bearings so too speak. Old storms however, could be really fun and start to be more proactive and control their own actions XD   2) I was thinking about those stones recently too. You're right that people would attempt to make something out of them, I need to give them more thoughts... I have some legendary items that absorb magic, I could maybe link them to the rocks, or make a fun metal that would be present in tiny flecks in the rocks...   3) While I'd imagine a magical cycle would be present almost everywhere in my world, the mountains would rather be a place where magic is too abundant and so the lifeforms there don't need to get more of it through their food. But in the rest of the world, you'd have plants getting it out of the soil, herbivores out of the plants and carnivores out of other animals... I think I want to refine it a bit more though, similar to the way we get some specific proteins or amino acids out of some food.   4) I don't have specific plans to do more stuff with the Abyss for now beyond the article I already have on it, since no one really knows a lot about what's going on down there. I might get a fun idea to write more though.

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3 Jan, 2022 14:32

Great article with a very cool take on magical storms, especially that they are semi conscious! The sections about how all the lifeforms have adapted to the storms was a nice addition as well. I wonder though would it be possible for humans to take one of the adapted animals with them in a cage to see when they would react to a storm? Perhaps something like the canary in a cage?   In all great work and my favorite for the category ^^

Feel free to check out my WorldEmber 2022 page if you want to see what I am up to!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
3 Jan, 2022 15:25

Thanks! I guess this would be possible and even a great idea. I just don't advise attempting to do that with the prickly sparks XD A problem though would be that the animal don't survive very long outside of the environment of the mountains, so you would have to attempt to capture one of them at the start of every expedition. But it's still better than nothing and something people should definitely do! Thanks for the question, I'll make it canon if I can remember when I write the novel XD

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13 Jan, 2022 14:34

CONCIOUS STORMS ! I need to know more! where can I rent an airship to go do Science?

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
13 Jan, 2022 17:41

*horrified face* Noooo! Don't fly into a storm you fool! Anyway, no airship in my world. Powerful people just fly in the air directly. You can go say hello to the storm without any protection if you want! :p   ... Though if you got to the Northern Islands, they have mages with weather magic and boats that can brave the storms in the Western Seas. I'm sure some of them are having some fun "experimenting"...

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