Much in my writing life is changing lately. Last Word Before Dying, my online fantasy serial, is written and the last installment will appear online on July 8th. With my poetry collection, The Renaissance Cycle, published I’m now able to return my attention to my fantasy novel, Where Light Devours.
Viewing the time between now and July 8th as a unique block, I’ve decided to examine the Hartise partial’s colleges in my fantasy world, Ontyre.
But what or who are partials? The subject is only lightly addressed in the online tale, but its important to the novel.
Fortunately, I’m going to keep this brief. I have a notebook devoted to magic and the section on partials is 24 pages long (not counting the college maps, blueprints, and diagrams showing how their magic operates).
World building madness.
Anyway, humans who are partials are called such because they develop a specialized magic gift. There are five singular gifts that routinely occur (seers, healers (soothers), sylvans, seekers, and sirens) and there was a college built for each.
It was Queen Pressa who first envisioned training partials, but it was her grandson, Craus, who oversaw building the five colleges when he was king. Please note that in Hartise, unlike outside its borders, partials are often referred to as “senses” because they were viewed as extensions of the various kings and queens. A poem captured the thinking:
Seers of Vistus watch over us and their marble columns gleam.
Soothers in Meacine heal amidst the bright gardens of a dream.
Sirens in Asbray sing praise in tune with their waters cascading.
Sylvans of Horthure grow bounty from the Land of Lands surrounding.
Seekers from Lorne divide good and evil from the cliffs of Pressa.
These senses of our kings and queens serve us as they would Genessa.
This week’s college: Vistus
Year completed: 3396
Location: Western Wilder Hills near the River Tars
The only one of the senses that walked a thin line between having an upstanding occupation and using their gift for more disreputable activities were seers. Certainly having the ability to see through someone else’s eyes after physical contact would lend itself well to abuse.
Seers, who were always male, often served as protectors for the loved ones of royalty and other wealthy citizens until magic was outlawed. Since then those who could find work did so tracking wandering spouses, aiding thieves, or acting as spies.
The gift, which required physical contact, formed a connection with the “seen,” the connection’s quality dependent upon where the location was made, how long it lasted, and the quality of the seer’s gift.
The seer didn’t see a continuous stream of images, but instead individual images that had to “refresh,” the refresh rate depending upon experience and gift quality. The connection faded with time with the best seers able to maintain their “sight” nearly four days.
In the Hall of Shadows seers worked to master defining shadows, the term for managing unusual feedback. For instance, though they couldn’t see dreams, there was limited information they could discern when someone was sleeping. This was the most difficult seer skill and most didn’t attempt to learn it. A seer’s greatest fear was suffering a blinding, which occurred if they were focused on someone at the moment the person died.
The Hall of Images had a more straightforward purpose. There seers were trained to hone their power, focus endurance, and other more practical skills. For instance, the greater the load they could manage the better. Load, put simply, was the number of connections a seer could maintain simultaneously. The Seer’s Maze was used to aid tracking skills.
Built amidst hills and towering evergreens, the primary structures at Vistus were all constructed of white marble. The most distinctive structure was located at the center of the campus. The Seer’s Eye Spire had four eyes carved the stone near its apex, each facing one of the cardinal directions. For special occasions the seers would gather around the spire and the eyes would light, the beams symbolically traveling over the landscape as if watching over Hartise citizens.