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The Magic of Shalazar
Magic is everywhere. The genies created the world out of the void with the magic inborn to them, and all they created is imbued with it. When Shaliq set mankind upon this earth, she gave them power over the magic of the world, and the power to command the magic of the genies. Ever since then some of mankind have devoted themselves to the study of the arcane arts, and the finests of these students have gathered in the Academy Invisible, concealed from the eyes of the uninitiated somewhere within the walls of Shalazar. There they study the nature of the world, and learn the incantations that summon fires from heaven, and winds from out of the bowels of the earth.
But those who choose to study righteous magics are not the only wizards in the world. Darkness grasps the hearts of some who look to deeply into the mysteries, and they turn away from Shaliq, and look into the forgotten and forbidden corners of her creation. Some seek to avoid the fate Shaliq has in store for all mortal men, and burrow into graveyards and defile the tombs of Caliphas. Still others raise up unholy prayers in the howling wilderness, and sometimes their prayers are answered by things of which it is better not to speak.
"It's Sorcery that gives a mortal man like me the power to bind a worm like this one."
--Final thesis propounded by Archmage Malacalyps to his apprentice Jerome.
--Rebuttal of said thesis by Caudimordax, Great Wyrm of the West.
Sorcery is the art of spellcasting, the power of the mind of a woman to bid the stuff of the earth to act according to her will. Sorcerous spells range from the least of petty cantrips that ease the lives of the poor, to the great and potent rites known only to the maga of the Invisible College. Sorcerers are a known and trusted part of the tapestry of life in Shalazar, and only the least of lords is without some kind of sorcerer at his side. Other sorcerers set up shop, and sell their talents to any who can afford them. The greatest of sorcerers dare strange and distant lands, and those that survive return with theit tales to the Invisible College to teach what they have learnt.
The practice of sorcery is bound up in the learning of spells. A spell consists of a procedure involving carefully memorised phrases and the ceremonial use of special components that allows the sorcerer to impose her will on the world. Learning a spell is a time consuming process; the simplest spells can be learn by trial and error without any serious consequences, but with more powerful spells the hazards of miscasting are too great, and the spell must be developed slowly and painstakingly under mystic laboratory conditions. Once the spell is learnt, it may be cast as often as the sorcerer can spare the time and material costs of whatever ritual is involved.
"I have called you here with an apple, and bound you to my will with a peach. Now you must serve me for a year and a day!"
--Last words of Periapter, upon summoning up the Genie Prince Ammonduinen the Maker of Fruit.
"Yucky worm, hiding in that apple! Have to eat your eyes instead!"
It is told how Shaliq gave to mankind the right to command the genies that created the world out of the void. However the secret rules that govern the actions of the genies are too complex for mortal minds to comprehend, so none save the Grand Calipha can command all the Djinn. Humanity has discovered some of their secret rules, and used correctly they can allow a wise and careful woman to harness the might of a genie to her own ends. Those who try this must beware, for the genies are bound by many rules, and forcing them to do one thing may also may free them from the rule that has been used to bind them. Few genies like to be bound, and most will work great ill upon those that bind them harshly, if they get a chance. Some of the wisest of scholars have learnt how to bind certain Djinn into specially made objects, suitably imbued with the correct alchymical signifiers, such that any who possess the object can call upon the spirit contained therein.
There are also those who seek to use the power of the genies, but by wit, charm and subtlety rather than by power and knowledge. For the Djinn are proud, and in pride can be found folly, and folly can be turned to aid the wise. This is a dangerous game to play, but those who play well will have the friendship of the Djinn, and that is a very worthwhile thing indeed.
"Just a pinch more potash…"
--Last words of Ergion, Master of the Hall of Ignificiers and other Students of the Incendiary Arts, Shalazar Guild of Alchemists.
Historical Note: Since the explosive demolition of the 14th Guildhouse, by order of the Calipha the Guildhouse of the Alchemists must be built outside the walls of Shalazar, and more than five miles from any other dwelling.
Alchemy is the study of the properties of the materials that make up the world. By combining the correct materials in due proportions, a skilled alchemist can create potions and philtres with strange and potent properties. Other mystic artificers can weave the tears of the clouds into carpets that fly of their own accord, or build artificial men of cogs and gears. Alchemists supply sorcerers with the ingredients they need for many of their greatest spells, supply warriors with the finest of weapons and armor, and create miraculous constructs to glorify the courts of the great. The guildhalls of the alchemists create most of the simple magic items that allow the everyday life of Shalazar to run smoothly.
Alchemy, and all other varient forms ofmystic artifice, are fundamentally time consuming procedures. The manufacture of a batch of simple potions will take several days in a well equipped laboratory, and the weaving of a magic carpet is the work of months. However, since no special effort of will is required in the production of alchemical artifacts, much of the work can be delegated to unskilled assistants. In addition to the ability to create new items, mystic artificiers are the best equipped to puzzle out the operation of ancient objects of unknown power created in the distant past.
In the city of Shalazar can be found mystic crafters in almost any mundane material. Some of the more common and renown are listed here, together with what items they are best suited to creating;
"Lung Wai, I have looked into the stars, and it appears that I am to die tonight. Kindly cancel my order for foodstuffs."
--Last words of Cho Man, Supreme Astronomer to the Jade Emperor.
Divination is the art of predicting the future. By studying various aspects of the natural world, its adepts attempt to observe in what directions fate is tending, and hence to make pronouncements about the future. Mortal insight is finite, and thus no mortal prediction is infallible. However Shaliq sees all, and knows what is and what will be, and upon occasion she reveals Her wisdom to a mortal woman. This is True Prophesy, and when it is spoken all can feel its truth.
The more common and popular forms of divination include:
Divination, and especially astrology, are very popular and considered extremely important within the Empire of Jade.
"The Black curse be upon, foolish mortals. I have stared into the eyes of fiends beyond your petty imaginings, and held discourse with the Lords of the Dead, and now you think to burn me! Me, the Lord of Unquenchable Darkness, First Servant of the Unnameable Flame! But free me from this pyre and I may yet prove merciful."
--Last words of Halastar, called Vile, upon his execution by the villagers of Muriasar for the crime of Necromancy.
Historical Note: The village is now deserted, since the death of all its inhabitants from a strange rotting disease of the bowels.
Necromancy is the dark sister of sorcery. In order to remain part of society, sorcerers refrain from investigating certain unholy mysteries. Necromancers are those who have turned the light of their undoubted intellects upon death, the blackest of subject matter. Seeking after immortality, raising up the bodies and summoning the spirits of the dead, and calling foul and hideous curses that strike men down without warning are the hallmarks of the necromantic arts. Most Necromancers are discovered by those around them, and forced to flee into the wilderness or perish upon the fires, but a few still hide their foulness beneath a fair face.
Necromancy is functionally a branch of sorcery; it too is concerned with the learning and development of spells. However there are many spells that no honest sorcerer will learn, and that can only be found by those who have delved into ancient and forbidden texts. Learning twisted spells of darkness and evil does not forbid a necromancer from learning the full range of spells avaidable to sorcerers as well. The forbidden spells of black necromancy, whose casting is punishable upon the flames, are those that do the following:
Many lesser curses are also considered to be necromantic, but are only subject to lesser punishments.
"Oh, Great Master, allow your slave to call upon you! By the threefold names of binding, and by the seven seals of Sacre Fain I charge you, appear before the one who would worship!"
--Words written on the open page of the book found in front of the dead body of Kiriela di Merci, Trader in Antiquities.
Historical Note: The expression of fear on her dead face was so horrific that the servant who found her body subsequently died from lack of sleep, after nightmares forced him to stay awake. The book was burned by the priestesses.
As is told in the books of history, when Shaliq set mankind above the Djinn, and gave to the First Calipha the secrets of binding and command, some of the Djinn rebelled. While the Adversary herself was struck down and destroyed, many of the lesser rebels escaped and hid themselves in the shadowed places of creation. As powerful as the Djinn, but bound by no rules save their own, they are known as Demons, and they plot unceasingly against the order of the heavens and the earth, and seek the downfall of all worthy things. But there are still those who seek to serve such powers, seeking secrets, or vengeance, or to satisfy some forbidden desire, and sometimes if a woman prays to the darkness it answers.
Little is known about the names and ambitions of demons, and what is known is kept hidden from the eyes of all save the most wise and pious. It is known that there are many of them, and that their aims and powers are different, and that the gifts that they give to those that serve them differ likewise. Certain necromancers are known to have learnt some of the most powerful and evil of spells from them, and some among the so-called wise have gained many secrets from such forbidden traffic.
"Here is the bone of my hand, here is the milk of a mare! Here is the hair of a horse, here is the ash of my fire! Oh Spirits that lead us, guide us to water! Oh Spirits that lead us, guide us when I am gone! Oh Spirits, drink of my blood…."
--Last words of Gella, Witch of the Wolf Tribe, as she ritually slit her own throat.
Historical Note: The wolf tribe were the only one of the eastern tribes to survive the great ten year drought.
Beyond the civilised lands lies wilderness. Out there, amongst strange people who give no allegiance to the Grand Calipha, and who even fail to witness the divinity of Shaliq herself, can be found many magics than are not recorded within the tomes of the Invisible College. They include: