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Magic

Magic is power - this is a simple truth known not just in but far beyond the borders of Ivendarea. Magic has the potential to create and to destroy, to significantly alter something as tiny as enchanting a ring or shaking the world in its foundations as a whole forever. Not evenly spread amongst most nations' populations, an individual has to be born with an inclination to it to truly master the magic arts, although with much dedication, time, and efforts, even those born without an inherent magical talent can potentially unlock some of its secrets.   Ivendarea's magic is unique and curious in the way it affects the peninsula's weather patterns, climate, resources, and also the creatures and people living there. All Nyr are born with a talent for magic, which is an unusually high percentage of mages per capita for a singular country. While not everyone dedicates their life to mastering their abilities, unlocking their full potential, an above average percentage of Ivendarean Nyr are powerful mages.    

The Nature of Magic

  While great efforts have been undertaken to truly understand what exactly magic as such even is, it is to this day not only an enigmatic field of study, some scholars have even come to the conclusion that certain aspects of magic might not be to explain by mortal beings at all - or at least not yet at this point in time.   While some are driven by its mysteries and workings, the study of the nature of magic has lost some of its former glory and has become more of a niche science, sometimes even called a pseudo-science. According to its critics it is mostly undertaken out of a drive of naive curiosity and stubbornness, by egoists longing for fame to be the ones to have "understood" the nature magic without really furthering more practical approaches of its powers. Those studying the origins, the fabric of magic though, no matter how frustratingly hard it is to gain solid results and revelations beyond what is already known, believe it to be the last true mystery left in this world that could be the key to solving many other questions unanswered as of yet. Scholars devoted to the study of the nature of magic for example wonder if there might be an underlying pattern to rebirths after all, a theory that has been rebuked but some still hold on to. The workings of the plane of the Silent Waters and the gods residing there are also full of mystery still, despite Aman's best efforts to find answers during their lifetime.  

Essences and Aether

  The most important facts to know about magic that have been scientifically examined and proven, are that magic manifests in two different forms: essences, and aether.   Essences are strong concentrations of magic that can be found in many places. Certain inanimate "dead" materials, such as Starglass, are one possible location. Those materials are therefore described to be "magically potent". Particularly old and slowly changing materials such as stone, minerals, and raw metals are capable of holding very high and strong concentrations of naturally occurring magical essences that have specific and unique properties. Starglass as an example is known to glow when it comes into contact with water, making it useful as a light source, piece of extravagant jewelry, or building material.
There are many different types of essences. Some have healing properties, others defy gravity, and there is a big variety of those with elemental powers such as heat or cold stored within them. All these magical essences found in the bones of the earth have simple and often practical purposes, but they are sheer impossible to extract, fused with the material they are found in - and lost forever if the material is destroyed.   Magical plants, such as Riverroot, are much more rarely found, but as living, inanimate creatures, they can have much stronger magical essences that are very sought-after not only by alchemists. As opposed to minerals and stone, the essences of plants can be extracted in complicated alchemical processes that should always be overlooked by a trained alchemist. Splitting the essences from their "vessel" can cause many negative and undesirable side-effects from accidental poisoning to explosions.   Lastly, individuals and animals possessing the ability to perform magic, have magical essences within them. It is not only the source they draw their inherent power from, it also connects them to the magical flow of aether they can draw strength from. The magical essences within living beings with a soul have long been believed to be a subtype of those found in materials, but meanwhile it is known that they are a third group standing alone. They can't be taken away or "extracted", and after the person's death it is unclear what happens to their essence - but it is not considered lost in the way essence is lost when a material possessing it is destroyed. Some scholars claim that the remaining power of the essences allows the soul to travel to the Silent Waters, others think that it might be lost after all or absorbed into the aether - none of these claims have been proven without a doubt yet though.   Aether, as opposed to magical essences that can be extracted or used as a source of power, is a lot less tangible. It merely describes an invisible flow of magic, seemingly without distinct pattern or direction. It can be sensed by mages, and power can be drawn from it in the same way it can from specific essences, but it is a much more generalized power that has no distinct purpose (e.g. healing, destruction, alteration, etc.). It has to be given its purpose by the mage making use of it. What has been witnessed by scholars as well as regular mages, is that the strength of the flow of Aether can vary. The stronger or more concentrated the flow is in a region, the more powerful spells can be cast - simultaneously it is also much more likely that the Aether reacts with naturally occurring essences, causing unpredictable magical phenomena. These are very rare, but can include more harmless effects like optical illusions up to very severe or even destructive occurrences of gravity being nullified or tears in the space-time continuum. The latter, so far, is only a scientific theory that hasn't thankfully been documented in the wild yet.  

Schools of Magic

  While some scholars reject the division of magic into different schools, as it is, in their eyes, limiting possibilities, it has become common practise particularly at the Academy of Saratheas and other educational establishments. Dividing magical abilities into different areas and skill-sets allows a more directed training and learning, and allows young students or scholars to aspire to become masters of their chosen field of magic. The general recommendation though is to branch out and not focus only one or two specialties, as magic in nature overlaps in many areas. For those born without a magical talent only learning how to acquire it through lengthy processes it can be easier to find their way into magic by only following the school that feels most "natural" to them initially, before branching out later in life. Since all Nyr without exception are born with magical powers the voices against the creation of schools of magic usually come particularly from the rows of isolationists not willing to share their knowledge and secrets with the Aapha, Assadin, and other known peoples without an inherent talent for magic.   The schools known and taught most commonly across Ivendarea are the following:  
  • Aetheral Magic: Arguably one of the hardest to master, aetheral magic encompasses techniques such as teleportation, soul-travel, and the study of the flow of magic
  • Alchemy: The study of magical essences and its purposes includes the creation of potent potions and sometimes poisons; contrary to popular belief one has to be a mage to properly conduct alchemy, as the purest forms of magical essences that are being handled need to be kept under control by the alchemist to not cause harm; only a trained mage can also determine whether or not a specific material even contains magical essences that can be worked with.
  • Alteration: The change of a material's properties or of one's own appearance, shapeshifting, becoming invisible and breathing underwater, healing wounds - only changing the past is off limits; it was one of Aman's favoured schools
  • Creation: Overlapping in certain areas with Alchemy and Alteration, Creation magic manages to shape the world or even create something seemingly out of thin air; the Canthoreas under the streets of Saratheas, as well as Saratheas itself, were built with the help of powerful Creationists out of the sheer rock of the Skyreach Mountains. Enchanting wepons, items, and jewelry also falls under Creation magic, and creationists are sometimes colloquially referred to as "craftsmen mages"
  • Mind: At times forbidden entirely and still highly controversial, the magic of the Mind follows Aetheral magic in difficulty to master; reading someone else's thoughts and intentions, manipulating or even controlling other individuals against their will, it is a feared power but also an important tool of the Avon Julanor; its more positive approaches though, such as the healing of spirtiual wounds, solving blockades, and soothing troubled souls are more widely taught and accepted
  • Primal: Probably the most destructive of the schools and overlapping with Creation magic in certain aspects, elemental magic focuses on the control and creation of fire, water, storms, plants, in fact the powers of nature itself
  • Prophecy: The least accurate of magical arts, Prophecy deals with the things long gone or in a far distant future: many religious rituals fall under this category, as prophecy forms a two-way-connection between past and present, but also teaches divination and meditation techniques; it is sometimes considered a more approachable and accepted sub-form of Mind magic
  Since many of the schools overlap there are occasionally quarrels about which techniques belong to which school, what should or shouldn't be taught by certain scholars, and so on. There are also very controversial techniques such as mind-reading that are actually kept under close guard and are forbidden to be taught at most institutions, as they mark a violation of an individual's right to their free will and can cause severe damage to a soul if handled improperly.    

Magic and Religion

  Magic very often has a connection to many world religions, of course including the teachings of the Aman'a Valeethi. Magical rituals from healing to conserving memories or preparing a body for burial are inherent to religious duties carried out by priests. It is also a major part of the Nyr's creation myth. They believe that only with the help of magic it was possible for the gods to shape this world in the endless void of nothingness that existed before. The magical essences and aether found throughout the world are remains of the magic of the gods, leftover from the creation of the world.    

Learning magic as a non-mage

  As mentioned before, it is possible for individuals born without magical essences within them to acquire magical powers. It is not without risk, and also not guaranteed to work every time. The individual willing to become a mage will undergo long periods of meditation and together with one or several mages as their mentor(s) actually create some sort of "depot" or source of magical essences within them. This can be achieved through long-term exposure to highly concentrated magical essences, for example by wearing heavily, specifically for this purpose created and enchanted jewelry or actually embedding essences under the individual's skin. This is a common practise with the Avon Julanor even though of course all their members are by default mages. Their magical, ritualistic markings across their bodies enhance their abilities dramatically.   Over time an artificially created depot of essences will lead to an accumulation of magical essences within the individual's body just by them being in contact with the outside, natural, inherently magical world and its flow of aether. Their mentor usually actively directs the aether at their protégé in a way to accumulate in the artificial essence depots, making sure that no undesired reactions result. Over time the mage-in-progress will gain a connection to the aether and within their body a natural source of magical essences can form, as the essences found in beings carrying souls have an inherent connection to the aether. The end goal is that the essences naturally accumulated in the individual's body will be enough for them to further develop their powers.   This doesn't work every time though, and also not reliably. It can happen that individuals lose their powers again if they acquired them artificially, and would be required to wear the special jewelry - consisting of a band around the head, bracelets around wrists and ankles, and a harness worn around the chest - for the rest of their lives. There are also the aforementioned risks where people have developed tumors or other physical ailments such as losing their eye-sight or hearing due to the heavy exposure to magical essences. In a few cases people also died, usually due to negligence of their mentor or wanting too much, too fast, overestimating their tolerance to the flow of the aether and its synergy with the essences, in the result dying very violently in magical explosions.


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