Magic - The Gifted
The world is built upon four basic elements: fire, water, earth and air. To bring all these elements together to form the landscapes we know as Aradea, a fifth element, invisible to the naked eye, is used as a powerful adhesive to create everything our senses can receive. All these elements exist in one form or another throughout the dark veil. The fifth element, commonly known as aether, has the power to influence and shape the others in ways that may seem unnatural. The aether floats all around us, seamlessly placing the four elements in order to create life. It is, however, the world beyond our world where aether becomes more visible, more tangible, holding together the great constructs of the immortal spirits we call Atars. It is the tool of greater beings, yet we, mere mortals, have been given the opportunity to harness this incredible might if we prove ourselves worthy.
A tiny portion of all people have a natural born gift to sense the presence of aether. These gifted have been given the rare chance to become something that is known with different names around the world. In the south, they are called mystics. In the north and west, they are known as mages. The eastern lands talk of sages, and I have been told that the continent of Esselon to the far east likes to mention sorcerers, but they are all one and the same. I will refer to them, to me, as mystics, for that is how Palantheon calls their own.
How the sensitivity to aether manifests itself? For me, personally, it was restless dreams showing me glimpses of past and future, and strange sensations of anxiety and thrill during the full moons when the aether around us becomes more active than usual. Often considered as claptrap folklore, but I must speak against such ignorant rants and point out that the moon's presence certainly has an effect on those with the gift. It is as if the moon acts as a kind of amplifier for the natural aether in the air, causing all the sensations to appear twice as strong. I am a humble servant of Avareth, thus I feel the presence of silvery Suri as a joyful thrill while the other moons, the azure Aure and the crimson Noru, offer me nothing but stranger's cold shrug.
Not all gifted seek to become mystics. Indeed, some become farmers, some pick up a weapon or a craft that suits them best, utterly wasting their talent by simply ignoring what was given to them. Some go and find a master that would accept them as apprentice to begin the decades long training, and very few even choose to educate themselves, which, of course, first requires that they understand what the symptoms they are experiencing really mean. These "self-taught" mystics rarely reach their full potential, for it is challenging beyond measures to walk through the darkness that is the might without a helping hand and a guiding light.
A mystic cannot control the aether with sheer willpower, but needs additional tools, namely the language of Awen, to command the fifth element. This language is older than the world itself, stemming from the creation of the dark veil. It is the same language that the Atars speak to each other, a language that binds and ignites the aether. The language was named by the Valhars, who, according to the very few surviving texts from the First Age, used it with almost similar ease as the Immortal Atars, to honor the sacrifice of Awenthas. It is a language that appears as gibberish to any other than the gifted. Written with beautiful and exquisite glyphs, sounding like the songs of dryads they sing around their birth trees, the language of Awen is a miracle in itself.
To weave a spell, the mystic has to focus and ignore all interference, whether it is an annoyingly buzzing bee or a terribly screaming comrade perishing in battle. Nothing may disturb what we call the channeling, for the result of a fizzled and failed spell may prove to be more disastrous than a hundred comrades dying. Through the language of Awen, we command the aether to do our bidding, but it is up to the level of training, and the mental stamina built throughout that training, how long a mystic can either channel a singular spell or keep casting repeatedly. Eventually, each and every mystic requires rest. Casting spells begins to add fatigue, which will only increase as the number and complexity of the spells increase. Training develops our ability to withstand more, thus building endurance to keep casting for longer. But there is a limit despite how skilled and talented the mystic might be, and there are no shortcuts to regain that mental stamina. It will slowly refresh while resting. Casting spells while heavily fatigued increases the risk of failure, and, eventually, when the fatigue is bad enough, it will threaten the very life of the caster.
Without exceptions, every trained mystic possesses a personal grimoire that holds all the spells they have ever learned, and of those spells the most needed ones must be memorized over and over again every day. In many ways, we are always bound to the language, for without it we cannot call for the aether to do us any favors. There are different ways to approach Awen, and I suppose we should go through the main branches now as it also sets some boundaries for the mystics.
There are two basic methods to create and launch a spell: static and dynamic. The static type is bound to objects and places, engraved in a circle that repeats itself, thus upholding the spell even after the mystic is long gone. These are generally called enchantments. The dynamic spell means that it is actively channeled momentary burst of aether such as various offensive spells used in combat. Now, let us go through the schools of magic as they appear in the study books.
Before we begin, however, let me make one thing clear: There is no such thing as good or evil magic. The aether does not pick sides or question motives. It only does what the mystic tells it to do. The good and evil, as concepts, only dwell in the mind of the caster, and from their deepest intentions the so called alignment of the spell is known.
Enchantment: Adding helpful features to items such as weapons and armor is one of the oldest methods to use Awen. Anyone can use such items as the spell is consistently in active state because of its circular form where it refreshes itself. Especially the Darfins of the mountains have been known as masters of this art, but it is not completely unknown to others. Enchantments are also bestowed on living targets, which results in familiars and powerful, internal spells such as accelerated healing and different types of protection. These enchantments are done by inserting ink underneath the skin, thus drawing Awen directly on the skin. This is often considered as a separate school, but is, in fact, one and the same. Curses, a type of harmful enchantment tied to a place or person, is commonly thought of being some kind of witchcraft, but it is simply just another type of enchantment made with a dark intent.
Evocation: The saying, "weaving out of thin air, is something commoners use to describe mystics that repeat a memorized spell without writing anything. While it looks effortless, the channeling is extremely demanding, inflicting great fatigue to the caster. The spell has to be bright and clear in the mystic's mind to be cast without writing. This method is based on the fact that the mystic has written the spell in the personal grimoire, then memorizing it over and over again every single day. The mystics seen in the battlefields are usually highly trained in this particular school, commanding the primal elements to rain havoc upon their enemies.
Conjurement: One of the most difficult schools for even the very advanced mystics to grasp. The far limits of this art have been tested, but never truly reached, for it is a slippery slope for even the most powerful of all. To conjure, the mystic must have a field prepared with a strong aether concentration, which means a complicated Awen structure to gather and amplify the presence of raw magical power. Once this has been achieved, the mystic may attempt to call forth creatures from other dimensions to either draw from their power or to subdue them into servitude. It goes without saying that this is extremely dangerous art on top of being very difficult to build and maintain. One may go as far as to attempt conjuring a dead spirit back to its body, and as the dead has lost the privilege of free will once given to all living creatures in the pact of Immortals, the dead can be enslaved and harnessed to achieve personal goals. This is called necromancy, a forbidden art that yields imminent death sentence upon discovery.
Mentalism: The mystics that excel in this particular school are often seen as cheap tricksters by the common crowd. We cannot directly command an individual mind, for the Covenant of the Immortals defines an absolute free will for all. There is no Atar that would respond to a spell that attempts to enslave another mind. However, influencing the mind in order to spawn favorable thoughts and decisions is a form of art on its own. A mentalist can weave images of horror and divinity, emotions of hatred and love, and feelings of loneliness and comradery to kindle wanted responses. To a degree, the most powerful mentalists can also peek into one's mind to catch a glimpse of their intentions. Illusions are a large part of this art, granting ability for the mystic to assume different forms and appearances to walk where they normally could not.
There is no such thing as foresight. As far as I am aware, the last oracles died in the turmoils of the Tempest.
Making fire out of water or wind out of dust is not possible for any mystic. We can harness the aether to serve us for little snippets of time, but we cannot change one element into another, thus altering the very fabric of reality. Hallows, on the other hand, have been known to perform such miracles, but I can only guess the extend of their sacrifice to do something like that.
Maldin Maradion, Palantheon, 691AT