We return this week with, well, a few more magic systems. And to round them out, here’s a link to an old story of mine, which is as much overview of a magic system as it is creation myth: A Legend of Creation.
- The Multitudinous Way
The financial astrologers are not the only power in their world. In some opposition to them (not so much morally but ideologically, for their respective magics depend on wildly variant world-views) are those that consider themselves Icewalkers, or Driven, or Joktanists, or the followers of Ishmael’s Way, or nomad-princes.
There are three tools through which a Joktanist wields zir magic: wine, bowl, and dust. No cup will do to hold the wine, which may be of any quality, nor a deep plate, but only a bowl. The dust is tossed in (the more you put in, the more you get out) to fuel the spell, and once the bowl is struck or swirled to achieve movement the dust dissolves and the spell takes effect through the medium of the wine.
What exactly is done depends upon what kind of dust is used. Salt, for example, will imbue the wine with protective properties. It shields against harm such that, if placed on the doors of a house, it will make the building impregnable for a time. Ash-charged wine will ignite. Common earth will heal or repair.
Just as the financial astrologers lose something in return for their powers, though, so too do the Driven. Each of the nomad-princes has become what ze is because ze wanted freedom and wonder. In a dream ze pursued zir quarry— deer, man, RC car, or something else entirely— until it was caught and revealed itself to be the Dream of Kings (no accidental switching of order there) and granted zem power. As consequence, however, the Joktanists can never rest their heads in the same place more than once. No bed, cot, or sleeping bag can serve the same man again, nor building, lest the offender suffer nightmares all through zir sleep, and when ze stays in the same city for a full lunar month zir powers— but not the required nomadism— are lost until ze moves again.
Generally, financial astrologers want bigger cities and Icewalkers want smaller ones. Larger cities lend themselves to easier manipulation through ley lines, while smaller cities make things more flexible for the Icewalkers. Nevertheless, it is not unheard of for a financial astrologer to hire an Icewalker for some task.
- Stars and Sun
There are those who have sought out the power of the stars and made bargains with them upon the mountain-tops. To each of them a star comes. They speak, and deal one with another, and make their contract. To one that has made a stellar-pact there is given a small power. Through one star may be granted the power to relieve exhaustion, through another the power to turn steel back to untreated iron, and through a third the power to speak with mice. The number of powers and stellar-pacts to be had is as great as the stars themselves, for no star will refuse to come down and deal with the children of men.
But there is one cost that is ever the same, no matter the terms of the pact. The usage of this magic hollows out memories, emotions, and other aspects of the mind, leaving space for them to be infested with parasites of a spiritual nature. These parasites, perhaps proto-stars, are not malevolent, but neither are they benign; by natural consequence of their presence they warp their habitation, altering the mind of their host in ways that are small at first but grow greater in the course of time.
The sun, chief emperor among the stars, does not take part in these pacts, and neither have the stars ever been permitted to remain in the land except for the space of a few minutes. But there are those whose blood goes back to those times when the sun itself came down and tarried long, making merry with the sons of men, and the daughters of men. It bore children to the sons of men, and begot children by the daughters of men, and some of these lines have continued true to this day.
The power of these bloodlines is tied to the sun, coming with its rise and departing with its setting. Because of the rising and setting of their forebear they have internal clocks precise to a thousandth of a second, being able to tell time by the waxing or waning of their power. When the sun is risen they have not so much great strength as they do the ability to make other things weak, and simply by so choosing they can interact with matter as though it were warm butter, no matter whether it is granite, flesh, or steel. This power is theirs from birth but it does not affect others with the same heritage.
This magic is as simply as it is horrific: the murder of a human being, under the right conditions, can give the killer a glimpse of another point in time and space. The more removed this point is in either time or space, the more deaths that are required, and changing both has a disproportionate effect. Viewing another location in the present is about as easy as viewing one’s present location in the past, though just a handful of deaths are necessary to glimpse a few minutes of one’s present location ten years hence.
It is possible, in theory, to glimpse everything, past, present and future. The number of deaths that would be required is unknown, but must surely be immense. It is possible that the population is not even large enough to accommodate make it possible yet. It is just as possible that a group of morospexes are patiently waiting through the centuries for the time when their order may make the necessary sacrifice or, if life extension is possible in the setting, that a single long-lived morospex has been killing through the centuries and saving zir charges in preparation for the day of revelation.
Each morospex has zir own necessary conditions, which can be anything from intoning a certain chant or to using a weapon inscribed with the right runes. These conditions can be discovered either by accident or by the intervention of another morospex using zir own conditions to view the future and see under what conditions someone is practicing morospicy.
R. Donald James Gauvreau works an assortment of odd jobs, most involving batteries. He has recently finished a guide to comparative mythology for worldbuilders, available herefor free. He also maintains a blog at White Marble Block, where he regularly posts story ideas and free fiction, and writes The Culture Column, an RPG.net column with cultures ready for you to drop into your setting.