I don’t imagine myself a teacher, leastmost a teacher of magic, but my familiarity with the subject outweighs that of most soldiers in His Majesty’s service. Whether for combat or more practical purposes, this log may be of some use.
Vincent Sterling of Haute-Ondes
This part, most people know, though the more mysterious details are often glossed over, exaggerated or outright wrong. Magic, as we know it, was first discovered by the children of the Crimson Queen – most prominently by Uldeen and Reule. Whether its manifestation was due to something innate in their blood, or a result of the storm that occurred in the hour of their would-be execution, no one knows; however, there is no earlier documentation of similar effects. There are, conversely, myriad stories and songs about Uldeen’s magic, the most popular of which is the Song of Strings:
Uldeen weaves his magic strings;
He knots them tight to everything –
To dirty beggars and to kings.
Uldeen moves his magic hands;
He ties his lines across the land
To drops of water; grains of sand.
Uldeen gathers all his friends
From Haute-Ondes to the swamps of Ends;
In darkness, he abandons them.
Uldeen kneels before the stone;
He whets a fleam upon the hone
High inside his mountain home.
Uldeen bleeds; his pain is brief;
Ringed in sorrow, thanks and grief,
Yet his tears are of relief.
Uldeen’s secrets, buried deep,
Now we men and women keep;
Reminded of his tears, we weep.
Uldeen wove his magic strings;
He knotted them to everything
To dirty beggars and to kings.
It is widely accepted that all living magicians are descendants of those men and women who partook of Uldeen’s blood. While many bloodlines suggest that this is true, there are magicians whose abilities cannot be accounted for in this way and, therefore, there are additional theories.
It has been suggested that heirs of Uldeen – if any existed – as well as those of his siblings may have exhibited magical talents. It has also been hypothesized that followers of Gala, Graine and Reule may have, at one time, partaken of their blood as Uldeen’s followers did. Direr theories state that the blood of any magician may grant its imbiber power, though this idea is rarely proposed publicly. Some Endine magicians have further theories altogether: the story of Simaab of Seven Souls, for example, supports the idea that magical talent is carried by the soul, and that all magicians are reincarnations of those who came before.
Despite many theories of origin, one fact remains constant: magicians are rare. Actual populations dwindle due to persecution by the Bloodletters and others who believe their cause; perceived populations appear even smaller due to an understandable desire to remain undiscovered. I imagine there are more, still, who don’t even know, themselves.
Magic works based on the premise that infinite, intangible strings bind together all that exists; for magicians, these strings (also called threads or lines) are tangible and may be used to affect the objects to which they are connected. Effects or tricks are accomplished by finding and pulling (usually performed with the dominant and non-dominant hand, respectively). The use of both hands is recommended in order to avoid entanglement (see below), and while it is largely believed that magicians require the use of both hands, that is not necessarily the case.
It’s sometimes said that there are strings not only for physical objects, but for concepts, as well, such as memory, fate and time. While most magicians haven’t been convinced, those who support the idea claim that such strings are difficult to find – thus making any related effects very difficult for less talented magicians
Aside from affecting objects (physical or metaphysical), strings may also be treated as objects unto themselves: some magicians have very successfully crafted magical items that use Uldeen’s Strings in the same way as one might use mundane strings, thread, wire or rope. Uldeen’s Strings, of course, generally have more desirable qualities, as their strength, elasticity and other properties vary based on the magician’s desires.
Magic is generally limited by the skill of its user. As discussed, certain strings are more difficult to find than others, and it requires a certain dexterity to work them. An understanding of Physics is required to work them well, in addition to physical strength. Seeing, itself, must be practised before a new magician sees anything at all. The difficulty of the task is compounded even more by the fact that there are very few ways to learn: magicians have no schools, few willing teachers, and most documentation that may have helped has been destroyed or lost.
Furthermore, the sight of Uldeen’s Eye causes magicians to weep – so they are easily found by those who care to look. Poison that affects only magicians is relatively easy to acquire, and entirely benign (in fact, pleasant-tasting) to non-magicians. The element Nightstone, while more difficult to come by, cannot be affected by the strings and can therefore be used to protect items of value.
Finally, there’s entanglement. If a magician manages to survive and to learn, a pair Nightstone scissors (or a single blade) must be acquired to maintain freedom of motion. Continuous contact with the strings makes the magician susceptible to cling, which can cause pain, paralysis and (in rare cases) death or disappearance.
Of course, it’s unlikely many people would notice a disappearance.