Magic - The Gifted
Since the beginning of the second age, the magic of Aradea has been bound to writing as a measure to protect the world from the devastating power of raw, wild aether. This was decided and agreed by the immortal Atars in a covenant that was sealed before launching the tempest that broke the world. When the prophets appeared with the Grimoires of Immortals alongside with the Tome of Ages, they gave the mystics back their hope, for those pages laid out the basics of Awen, a new way to harness aether. With this newly discovered knowledge, studies began with keen, childlike drive, digging into the depths of mysteries it offered, finding greater might each passing day. Among these forefathers of Awen were such people as Shirak Cardoval and Eyred Sharkiel, bloodlines that would survive through the centuries of chaos and turmoil, eventually building Palantheon, the city of towers, the very heart of magic.
The grimoires mostly vanished during the following millennium as the houses holding the precious heirlooms dwindled and died. House Cardoval endowed the Grimoire of Avareth to Palantheon, where it was kept until the fall of the city in the beginning of eclipse. House Sharkiel was thought all but dead after Zethras Sharkiel escaped the burning Palantheon, taking the Grimoire of Sardius with him. As a miracle, however, it resurfaced at the end of the eclipse when Sarakin Sharkiel discovered the book, using it as one of the main sources for his own learning. The Grimoire of Mariel is in the hands of dryads and the Grimoire of Anduniel is rumored to stay in Lorendil, the capital of Luthans, the children of Anduniel.
When a child is born with the gift, with sensibility to the invisible aether, the raw energy that makes the magic of Aradea, they may either ignore it or choose to refine it into an ability that allows modifications to the fabric of reality. The sensibility in itself does nothing but merely gives an individual the chance to become a mystic through relentless studying and gaining deeper knowledge of the art, including the skill to read and write Awen, the secret language that only a trained mystic may comprehend. Those with the gift will feel a wide spectrum of sensations when exposed to enchanted items or brought to a place with exceptional concentration of aether. Without proper training the meaning of aether remains vague and haunting, causing flashes of unexplainable feelings such as sudden anxiety, excitement, fear, mirth or combinations of these. Without understanding, without knowledge, these strange phenomenons may become confusing and overwhelming, possibly causing different degrees of lunacy. To a person without the gift, Awen appears as plain gibberish. However, enchanted objects can be operated by those without the gift as long as they are familiar with the phonetic version of the spell trigger. This exception is addressed later.
Only a small handful of the gifted seeks guidance from an experienced mystic, thus forming a relationship of master and apprentice. Self-taught mystics are not completely unprecedented, but have always remained a tiny portion of those who reach an adequate level to scribe spells. Under the supervision of an elder mystic, the apprentice delves deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Awen until the master determines through various tests and observations that the training is complete. This arrangement is beneficial to both as the apprentice gains opportunities to practice and polish his skills while the master can delegate menial tasks to the apprentice, allowing themselves to focus on greater matters. The time to become a fully trained mystic varies greatly, and the learning never truly ends. A mystic dedicates his life to master Awen, yet it remains a goal that still evades even the most talented ones.
Awen is a seemingly endless collection of glyphs that activate the aether in the air, on objects, confined spaces, and even living things. The glyphs are written in sequences that command the aether to perform a desired task whether it is to set a piece of paper on fire or to open gates to other worlds. Generally, the more complicated spell the more complicated structure of Awen it requires. Because of the nature of magic, most common application is to create enchanted objects: weapons, jewellery and trinkets that are easily carried around to fulfill a practical purpose. Largest and most complicated spells have been known to protect entire cities, curse an area to make the dead wander and create a portal to another world. Spells of this kind of magnitude are vulnerable to errors and may cause unwanted consequences, which is why only the most ambitious, skilled and at least slightly insane mystics attempt to complete these. As these examples mentioned are true, it can be said that such combination of talent and lunacy has not appeared more than three times in over two thousand years.
The limitations of Awen are harsh, but a creative mind learns to dodge the barriers to some extent. As the very essence of magic is bound to writing, and learning takes decades due to its highly complicated nature, the number of truly powerful mystics remains low. The path to become a mystic is cumbersome, requires an iron will and patience of almost unnatural proportions. It is also something that does not give a clear advantage in the outdoors, yet it has not prevented mystics from branching into two very different schools where one is indeed more prone toward an adventurer's life.
About a thousand years after the tempest, a new kind of mystic emerged, a mystic that left the confines of the library and chamber. These wandering mystics developed a new way to use Awen. Simplifying the spell structures, they created scrolls that were lightweight and easy to keep at hand during a journey. While they were mocked at first, called as tricksters and fools, they quickly proved their worth to even the most dedicated sage, for these wandering druids traveled to places and unraveled secrets the mystics had no way of obtaining before. Armed with enchanted blades, staves and other formidable weapons, the druids quickly earned renown in the battlefield as well. Sharing a common interest with the Darkmere Wardens, many druids abandoned Palantheon and relocated to the island of Mithras where they combined their efforts with the grim rangers. The two most notable weaknesses of druids, compared to sages, are the limited complexity of their spells and the scrolls they must carry, for the scroll is usually ruined and consumed in the process of casting. This means they have to be rewritten after use.
An Awen sequence does not work automatically after it has been written down. Instead, it requires a trigger, often multiple, to activate. These triggers are chanted in proper order to cause a reaction in the aether, which fulfills the purpose of the spell. This may mean a straightforward conclusion as long as the required conditions are met or a more complicated string of goals that are achieved in correct order like a chain effect where each goal is part of the required conditions. An error in the Awen sequence or disruption to the chant may result in failure and fizzling of the spell, but may also have more unexpected results. Devastating results. The backfiring spell means an uncontrolled outburst of aether that may cause other spells to falter and fail, and the sudden eruption of energy may prove lethal to its immediate surroundings.
As mentioned earlier, a person without the gift may use an enchanted item as long as they are familiar with the phonetic version of the spell trigger. The Awen glyphs appear as undecipherable nonsense to one without knowledge, but these glyphs are named, and from these names it is possible to form words in common languages to activate the spell. This method is inherited from the first age when wild magic still existed, and those without the gift also desired to use many kinds of enchanted items and weapons. It could be said that this same method was further developed into Awen during the tempest, binding all mystics under the limitations of writing. The spells on items are generally known as self-sustaining, or static, demanding no additional maintenance from the mystic who scribed the spell. It is only this type of static spell that a giftless may operate.
Spells that are not static, but instead create a dynamic, sudden burst of aether reaction, require channeling, which is the nature of most spells that druids use. The rigorous concentration that sages practice when writing spells is replaced by sheer willpower when druids begin channeling. Extremely taxing both mentally and physically, often referred to as spell fatigue, it is the druid's ability to keep oneself focused that determines the length of channeling and the number of spells they can cast before forced to rest. This is a slippery slope, for active spells must be dissolved in a controlled manner, otherwise the backlash may hurt the druid and everyone around them. If the spell fatigue is allowed to burden the druid for long enough, their ability to focus and maintain the spell become gradually harder, eventually resulting in collapse and possibly even death. Spell fatigue affects sages during the triggering part of their spell, but it is considered a vastly lesser problem for them. Druids are able to engrave spells just like sages are able to write scrolls, but because of their very different methods to learn, it is far more challenging to cast a spell outside of their chosen specialty.
There is a third method, but we will not speak of it just yet.