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    Cosmically Attuned


    Hovard felt the smile forming as he watched his wife, her wondering face pressed to the glass with the excitement of a child.   "Hovard, are you seeing this?" Her gaze remained focused on the planet below. Their home.   "I've never seen anything so beautiful," he replied earnestly, his gaze wandering from the way her auburn hair caressed the dimples of her smile down to her delicate fingers splayed across the viewing window, her fingernails painted a beloved obnoxious purple in honor of the occasion. Their sun, setting for the twelfth time since they found the luxury liner's viewing lounge, framed her ample figure beautifully in its fading light.   She looked up at him then, blushing as she caught his eyes. "I meant Sparnell!" She placed her hands on her hips and attempted to glare, but her shoulders remained relaxed.   "My view's better."   Her dancing laughter warmed his heart. "I don't know how you managed these tickets." She furrowed her brows, and Hovard could see the worry beginning to paint its way across her face. He wrapped his arms around her, the muscles fit and defined from years of lifting and moving hydroponics equipment. She buried her face in his neck, the wet of her tears tracing his veins. "How can we afford this?"   "Shhhh. I told you, friend of mine had to cancel last minute. Gave me the tickets at a steep discount." He tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear fin. The statement was true enough, but she'd never learn the true cost he paid. The money, sure, it was affordable enough. But the rest? He'd take that secret to his grave. Best to change the subject. "Will you marry me?"   She pulled back then, playfully punching his arm. "We're already married, Hovard, or did you forget again?"   "Five years tomorrow," he nodded solemnly. "Happy Anniversary, My Darling Annalay. I hope our cruise is a suitable apology for all the time you've been stuck with me so far."   "It's everything I thought it would be." She was looking outside once more, absent-mindedly twisting her finger through his thick blonde hair, and Hovard recognized she was talking about the view again. "It even feels different up here. More alive than I thought it would be. Do you feel it? The stars... It's like they're singing..."
      The Cosmically Attuned feel the power of the Universe pulsing within The Void Between the Stars. Given a large enough energy source, such as a star, they can syphon off some of that power to augment the effectiveness of their own spells. Starmetal, infused with cosmic magic and mined directly from the stars themselves, can also be used as a source of finite cosmic energy when not in the proximity of a star.

    Causes

    Genetics seem to determine who inherits Cosmic Attunement. Its presence across all sapient species has led scientists to hypothesize the Cosmically Attuned are descendants from the subjects of some cosmic-scale event. The scattering of these gifted lineages across the universe implies this event to be either a series of unrelated scattered incidents or else a giant cataclysmic event felt throughout the Universe.     Interestingly enough, while the Cosmically Attuned must first be Attuned prior to unlocking their cosmic gifts, they may not necessarily be Attuned from birth. Many powerful Void Mages gained their attunement through Gene Therapy or other treatments prior to unlocking their Cosmic Attunement.

    Symptoms

    The Cosmically Attuned appear as average Attuned unless give the opportunity to travel among the stars. Many spend their lives under the assumption they are merely Attuned, obtaining training and forging planet bound careers without any knowledge of their true magical powers. Others begin life unattuned and never gain the attunement needed to unlock their gift.   Others, however, do unlock the secrets of their true power. Sometimes this involves an intentional effort to test the levels of their magical attunement, while other times the discovery is a happy accident, but in all cases the results are the same. Those who are Cosmically Attuned can feel the magical energy of the Universe itself flowing within The Void Between the Stars. The Cosmically Attuned, when close enough to a star or other source of condensed natural power, are able to syphon off the some of the cosmic magical energy within that power and apply it to augment the power of their own spellwork. They can borrow the power of the Universe.

    Cultural Reception

    The Cosmically Attuned are particularly welcomed among the spacefaring community. Many forms of magic remain difficult to cast in the voids of space, requiring those traveling the stars to bring their own biomes or materials in the hope of generating a strong enough magical field to allow for useful magic. The ability to augment these weaker spells by syphoning power directly from the cosmos allows for greater spellwork in space than possible without cosmic attunement.
    Annalay closed her eyes, reaching out with her senses to feel the magical fields pulsing through the hydroponics garden. "It feels just like home," she sighed, her hand lightly pressed against her husband's arm. "But different."   "We are in space." Annalay cracked her eyelids, covertly watching as he spread his muscled arms to indicate the Void Between the Stars just outside the domed glass. "And not a ship or planet in sight besides us and our escort."   She turned her attention to the large Mordena warcruiser lurking outside. The mercenaries' escalating tensions with the Sparnell Confederation had expanded to include the Dylant Sector, requiring their luxury liner to pause in Mordena space for clearance before proceeding to the neutral resort planet of Tesch. Annalay remembered her disappointment at learning their stay within the famed floating underwater island resort would be cut a day short, but none of that mattered at this moment. This beautiful, wondrous moment in the space between places, The Void Between the Stars, and the song of the Universe pulsing through her veins.   "I wish I could stay here forever," she sighed quietly.   Feeling Hovard's hand on her shoulder, she turned to meet his concerned gaze. "I will do everything in my power to make you happy," he began hesitantly. "I just... The only way we can afford to stay here is if we work here. And despite all of this..." His voice faded as his arms motioned to include the large hydroponic garden, the countless varieties of food-bearing and oxygen-producing plants and trees, the couples wandering hand in hand through the various paths curving lazily between the installations. Annalay watched his face fall, his shoulders following in disappointment and frustration. "I don't think they have much use for two simple botanists."   Annalay reached up, cupping his chin to rub her thumb across the rough stubble of his cheek. "I know that, Hovard." She tugged at his chin, rising to her toes to plant a kiss on the same cheek. "I love the life we built on Sparnell." She reached behind with one hand, closing her eyes as the tips of her fingers brushed the small bush at her back, willing them to flower just as she always did in their home garden. She felt the bush respond, opening her eyes to savor his relaxed smile...   ...and instead met his wide eyes, the muscles in his arms and jaw firm as he backed away slowly, his hand tight on her arm as he tugged her towards him.   She let him guide her, turning around apprehensively. The bush had indeed flowered, its branches covered in small, aromatic purple blooms. It had also grown to three times its original size, towering over the couple at its base.   "I... What... I can't have... That was me...?" Annalay gazed at her handiwork, reaching out with her Imperium to check on the plant. Everything seemed normal. If anything, the plant seemed... happier? than before.   Their reaction drew other couples to gawk at the bush. She felt Hovard's ingreasingly desperate tugs trying to pull her away but she stood still, transfixed. One of the liner's security detail arrived on the scene, drawn by the commotion, and sized up the plant and the growing crowd. Annalay felt his eyes on her until he finally spoke, jabbing a thumb towards the bush. "You do this?"   She felt a surge of pride as her husband stood in front of her, his shoulders defiant. "I did."   She was tempted to stand there and admire him, the firm stance of his posture, his muscles clearly visible through his clothing, but decided against it. She tugged his sleeve before stepping in front again, and felt him relax slightly, still eying the officer warily. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to." She twisted the hem of her dress nervously. "I just wanted to make it flower a bit. I didn't realize it would be so susceptible to magic."   The security officer held her gaze, intense brown eyes searching her face for any kind of deception. Satisfied, he relaxed and motioned for them to follow. She obeyed, her husband falling into step dutifully behind her, his hand tensely holding hers.   "I'm so sorry. Are they... Are they going to send us home?"   The officer halted suddenly, turning to face them. "Send you..." he puzzled. "Why would they..." His face flashed recognition, followed by a smile. "Ma'am, nobody's sending you home." A pause. "Not until you're ready to go, that is." Annalay felt her heart quicken with his next words. "With Cosmic Attunement that powerful, they'll probably offer you a job."
    Type
    Magical
    Parent
    Children
    Origin
    Natural
    Cycle
    Chronic, Congenital
    Rarity
    Rare

    The Cost of Borrowing

    As with all loans, there is an expectation that what is borrowed must be paid back, often with interest. The Cosmically Attuned have learned to only draw strength from the cosmos intermittently, allowing days of recuperation in between. Travel and commerce within the Void has adapted to these requirements, either pausing for several days at each destination or employing multiple Void Mages to allow for shifts.   In cases of emergency a Void Mage may decide to risk drawing past their limits, but this carries repercussions. In minor cases the Universe will claim more Imperium than they naturally produce, resulting in misattunement. This is fortunately a temporary condition, requiring intense treatments but carrying no long term effects. Most Cosmically Attuned have experienced misattunement at some point in their careers, with veterans considering the experience a rite of passage for new Void Mages and a useful way to learn one's limitations.   Larger requests from the Universe carry physical risks, frequently resulting in death as the physical body is not meant to channel those levels of power. This, too, can be a temporary condition to an individual with sufficient resources and the help of an Afterlife Planner. Reconstruction Clones can be created to rehome the soul, and many even choose to live their afterlife as AI. Most sizeable spacecraft are actually piloted by an AI Void Mage.   Beyond this point, however, the costs become much more permanent. There are levels of power the soul was never built to handle, and the backlash from a cosmic channel on this scale permanently sears and cauterizes that soul's ability to use, channel, or even sense the magic of the Universe. These Voidburnt spend their afterlives unable to use or even feel the presence of one of the defining factors of their lives: magic. The technology of Vazdimet has found ways to move, bind, and interface with the soul, but not to heal it.  
    cosmic burnout
    Condition | Apr 12, 2021

    Also known as Void scarring, those suffering from cosmic burnout lose all ability to cast magic, the price paid for borrowing too much cosmic power at once from the universe.

     

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    Cover image: Planet Moon Solar by LoganArt
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    Comments

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    13 Mar, 2021 19:03

    Ooo, very delightful! I like how it suggests an evolutionary angle to this, that beings develop this through genetics. Nice!   Also ... an article about when I've had just one cup of coffee too many! Who hoo! ( sorry... I just couldn't resist ... )

    13 Mar, 2021 19:10

    You must drink some amazing coffee. <3   So glad you enjoyed!

    Lead Author of Vazdimet.
    Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
    14 Mar, 2021 12:22

    I love the story that accompanies this article. The whole thing is so well written.

    16 Mar, 2021 01:50

    Thank you so much!   I want to get back into writing, so really pushing to add stories to my articles when I find the inspiration.

    Lead Author of Vazdimet.
    Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
    16 Mar, 2021 16:45

    I love the story that accompanies this. Really interesting - I like that it's hereditary. :)

    16 Mar, 2021 23:39

    Thank you!

    Lead Author of Vazdimet.
    Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
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