The Magicians of Carthage

See No Evil...

Why remove the eyes? I suppose I can reveal one thing to you. It was supposed to be a joke, a trick. That is the danger of our secrecy. In august 1997, a group of students played a prank on a high ranking official of the school named Isabel Porter. She made a lovely mask of gold, fretted with onyx and silk ribbons, It covered her eyes as she was one of the few at the time who refused to take The Oedipist Rite. While it wasn't intentional, Isabel's mask was removed.

She took a look at the world around her and after a moment, her mouth dropped and out came a scream that pierced the ears of all around her. She dropped to her knees, kicking her self back off the ground, sliding on the ground until hitting a wall behind her. The screams echoed through the building, and a crowed gathered to see. The students tried to give her the mask, even tried to force it back onto her head, but she fought back. Whatever it was she saw, she refused to look away.

Her heavy breathing slowed. Her eyes darted across the lobby, and she said a single phrase that served as the only thing I needed to know.

"So many monsters..."


Almost as if on cue, she was promptly torn apart in a crimson rain by some unseen force. I scheduled to undergo the rite within the hour...
— Adhira Patel
      The Magicians of Carthage are unique for many reasons. They are powerful psions that are capable of utilizing various psychic abilities and extrasensory perceptions, they can remain nearly invisible to the public eye due to their unique connection to The Candlelight, and they are the most enigmatic organization in The Web. The Magicians are the founders and current operators of The School Of Carthage. They began as nothing more than scientists, explorers seeking to find and further expand the limits of the human mind. They were fascinated by The Candlelight and sought to understand the condition, how it works, and why it affects people the way it does.     They determined that a key factor to the condition stemmed from the eyes like a beacon. It radiates from the eyes, and anything that also has the condition can easily see it. As they approached the unknown reaches that the candlelight had to offer, they tested their latest hypothesis: why not removed the eyes from the equation. In the beginning, this was done with blindfolds. By living without sight, the light is blocked, and the candlelight can grow and fester without fear. This had consequences, for while it was far easier to survive in a world filled with horrors, the mind is not so lucky. Few who reach such brilliance in candlelight do so with their mental faculties intact. They slowly degrade, losing their minds one mental illness at a time.     It could start with a phobia, a compulsion, or a simple case of paranoia. It quickly grows to an uncontrollable list of problems, but they wouldn't have it any other way. The mind is an easy thing to lose to in their philosophy. One bad day is all it could take to fracture the mind of most, but not them. Their tribulations have hardened them, minds comprised of fractured stone. Insanity is relative. They prove time and again that trauma is not weakness. Trauma can be one's greatest strength.    

Emotion

The Magicians come off as distant, detached from the troubles of others. Words like "sociopath" and "psychopath" are thrown around without accuracy and without thought. Their aloof demeanor is often the most unsettling thing about them. They are unaffected by the horrors that haunt the dreams of most. This should not come off as callous or unfeeling, nor should it imply they lack social grace. Most Magicians are logical thinkers. Death is an inevitable reality, and they choose not to linger the death of others. They would rather know why and how they died as well as ways of preventing deaths in the future.

In other words, Magicians would like to ensure that each death can be beneficial. To The Magicians, no death should be in vain. They stay true to their roots and are driven by the pursuit of knowledge. Without it, they would not be the careless and unfeeling people most think they are. While you see calm, within they are a raging torrent of emotion that is mere seconds from devolving into an inconsolable wreck. Magicians feel more than any other human on earth. They are deeply connected to those around them, and to be called a friend by one is no small feat.




 
 

Avert your eyes...

One of the most iconic aspects of The Magicians is their head ware. All full Magicians wear ornate garments on their head of variable size, shape, and composition. These garments cover the eyes and give them an imposing presence if you are not used to the sight. Before the death of Isabel Porter, The garment was a necessity if you had yet to take The Oedipist Rite. Since then, it is little more than a symbol of status, as well as a means of covering the scars that remains after the rite is completed for those who may be put off by the sight.

These head pieces often double as arcane items, capable of enhancing and focusing a Magician's psionic power. Some are also a means of physical protection, emitting a psychic shield that can deflect small arms fire if need be.  
 

Roaming The Night By Candlelight

A key feature of the Magicians comes from their reliance on The Candlelight to fuel their abilities as well as to strengthen them. The individuals who founded the School of Carthage determined that some of the more immediate dangers of candlelight could be eliminated if they never used their eyes. This has a profound effect on the magicians. By taking the eyes away, they can turn the adverse effects of the candlelight to a benefit, at least to an extent.

They gain psionic potential, allowing them to learn Psychic Surgery. They can sense things with candlelight in ways no one else can, which becomes a form of "sight" for them. Their reflexes are second to none, and their knowledge of the metaphysical is just as prestigious. Through some bizarre mix of the arcane and modern technology, they can quantify levels of candlelight in a given subject, and have learned how to increase and decrease those levels.

Through special operations performed through psychic surgery or administering the psychic drug, Bliss, the magicians can completely remove the candlelight from the mind. Through special forms of mediation and exposing oneself to the horrors of the world, they can increase the candlelight and develop an immunity like a researcher, exposing themselves to trace amounts of a potent venom.
     

Psychic Surgery

Most abilities used by The Magicians come from Psychic Surgery, psionic power that manifests in various ways. Through thought alone, they can manipulate almost anything in their environment, though how much they can manipulate varies depending on the strength of the magician. They can lift and move objects, communicate with others, control the flow of energy, and even destabilize particles in a wall, so they may stroll through it. They can also use the candlelight as a weapon, forging an impossibly thin "psychic scalpel" that emits from their hand in a lavender glow.   The practice is their own invention, and the first of its kind in the world of The Web. Its development is still ongoing, and new abilities show up periodically over time. Using psychic surgery, Magicians can do impossible things. They have removed tumors from the body with little effort, erased memories, heal the mind after trauma, and restore the body after sustaining fatal wounds. This can also be used to harm. Their abilities allow them to fight, tearing enemies apart by willing it to be so.   Psionic power comes directly from one's connection to the candlelight. The more you have, the more powerful your psychic potential. Despite this, it's rare outside of The Magicians. An occasional medium will develop minor abilities. One will swindle the gullible until one day she finds every prediction she makes comes true. The more specific a prediction, the truer it becomes. An actor on a ghost hunting TV show finds he can suddenly see auras and claims he sees spirits, though the TV crew refuses to believe him. These cases are anomalies, random occurrences with little correlation. It is unclear if this is orchestrated the Magicians or simply the natural order of things, but in time, these few always find themselves at The School Of Carthage.

The Oedipist Right



There is a downside to joining The Magicians: as one furthers their training at The School Of Carthage, they will inevitably come to a point where they must either turn away, maintaining their rank, but unable to progress, or go through the Oedepist Rite, a ritual that involves the removal of the eyes for reasons kept secret even to those undergoing the transformation.

The magicians are blind. While once, it was an option to have your eyes removed or simply covered, the modern day is different. Due to an unfortunate incident leading to a high ranking member's death, The Oedipist Rite is now required to fully become a magician. They can't see a thing, though they can 'see' many things. The experience is often described as psychic awareness through the other senses. They don't have an internal sonar like a bat, but their hearing is close.

The true advantage is when around subjects that are connected to the metaphysical world. All living beings, undead, and even blades of grass are connected to some metaphysical entity. For this reason, they can literally 'feel' you. They know how close you are, what you're wearing, your facial expressions, and can gauge your state of mind as well by using this sensation.


Fun Fact: Controversial Membership

Many in The Web are not too fond of The Magicians. This comes from the idea that every new member suffers from one or more mental disorders, often leading to them refusing to take medications. Others in The Web regard this as preying on the gullible and those who are incapable of making their own decisions or having a grasp on reality. Some of these disorders are preexisting, others brought on by exposure to the candlelight. Regardless, The Magicians actively seek out the mentally ill. They believe their minds are not sick, but evolving to accept a new truth. The human mind is not meant to experience the truth of reality, but the magicians believe that mental illness is the first step leading to a higher state of being that allows for such truth to be understood without complications.
   

ESP: Second Sight

The magicians gain another key trait from their exposure to candlelight. Their senses are honed beyond the capabilities of the average human. This comes not only from their insufficient sight, but from the candlelight itself. These enhanced senses come with many advantages, as well as a few problems.   The Magicians are blind, but they can still see in their own way. They can feel others around them, able to pinpoint your exact location by simply sharing a space with you. They also have a keen sense of hearing and smell, allowing them to track others if they can catch their scent, that combination of pheromones, soap, body wash, and perfume that makes everyone's scent unique. With an enhanced sense of smell comes an enhanced sense of taste. A magician rarely eats food prepared by others. They prefer to keep their food sealed and contained, usually harvested from their own garden, to prevent exposure to the scent and taste of others.   Magicians rarely eat meat, as their psionic talents can trigger, forcing them to experience moments from the animal's life, including the experience of its death. The school of Carthage maintains strict rules on maintaining one's diet when dealing with new members, offering many nutrition supplements and food sources that make up for what's lost.

Meditations

When Magicians reach a certain level of candlelight, they stop increasing in candlelight. The magicians use percentages to define these levels and at level 2, or 50 percent, there is little in the world that can be experienced to raise it any higher. Eldritch entities and other metaphysical beings can do it, but they require something more to cultivate efficient (and safer) growth.   The Magicians have a form of meditation that involves "staring" into a mirror. Their head ware is removed and even though they have no eyes, the candlelight is so blinding, they can't help but notice it. The process is painful, but rewarding. The light burns and the head will throb. The longer they stare at their own brilliance, the stronger their connection to the candlelight becomes.   The meditation is not something done often. It's tiring, traumatic, and it can take months to prepare yourself for the experience. The moments after are when the reward is fully realized. The Magician will notice things they never noticed before. With each ritual, the entire world changes, switch out for one that is exiting and new. What these new experiences are is unclear, as The Magicians keep these secrets close to their chest.
   

Ghosts In The Fog

The Candlelight has a peculiar effect when interacting with the world. Those who have no candlelight have difficulty identifying those who do. The Magicians are so brilliant in candlelight, that those without it are literally blind to them. Magicians have infiltrated the most secure locations in the world by simply walking through the front door.

Even among members of The Web, Magicians are difficult to perceive. You will rarely hear one coming, no matter how loud their footsteps may be. They often find themselves repeating what they say due to the fact that others simply can't hear them.

There is a downside, however: just as those without the candlelight have difficulty perceiving a magician, so too do Magicians have difficulty perceiving those without candlelight. The everyday masses are nearly invisible, which has led to many tragic encounters over the years.

   

The Magicians And The Web

The magicians have a complex relationship with others in The Web. On one hand, they are invaluable in the study of the metaphysical. They are powerful allies that can turn the tide no matter the odds, and they can ease the burden with the many tools at their disposal for those who have problems with their exposure to candlelight.   However, they are feared just as much as they are respected. Their eccentric personalities are disturbing enough, but one can never be sure if a magician is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. They exist as a part of The Web, but act apart from it. They persue their own agendas and nothing can stand in their way, even if someone tried.   They are just as likely to refuse a call for aid as they are to answer it, and even during The Helheim Incident, one of the largest and the direst operations in the history of The Web, they were the last organization to take the field.
   

 
... There's this part of me that wants to know what she witnessed before the end, to know the feeling of a death so horrible for no other reason than to have a new experience. I try to keep the thoughts from my mind, but they will always seep in. What horrors could cause a woman to scream in such a way? What monsters lurk among us that we can't even see? This is just one case among hundreds. Each is different, and some have remarkably surprising results. That is why we remove the eyes. We are on an endless quest to know, and the eyes like to play tricks. This simply will not do...
— Adhira Patel


Cover image: by Oscar Keys

Comments

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26 Jan, 2020 16:47

I do enjoy your Carthage Magicians. They are such a unique mix of power and tragedy.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities, and Vazdimet, its darker spacefaring future.
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
27 Jan, 2020 01:18

Im glad you like them! They are another of my favorites. Thanks once again!

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