The World of Ontyre. Over the years on this blog I’ve not spoken of it as much as one might expect. Much of the reason was I didn’t want to go on and on about it when any books were still years into the future. Well, while they aren’t exactly right around the corner, they are coming together. Yes, they.
Most of my touching on Ontyre in the past has more focused on its history and geography, especially via maps. Now, in January 2018, I want to begin touching on other aspects of the world. I’m thinking to do this about once per month, much like the map updates.
Where to begin? Given my primary genre is fantasy, magic seems like a good place to start, though I’m only going to skim the surface. I have a file that explains the basics of how magic works. It’s literally my version of Magic 101. It’s 8.5K long.
It’s also reads like a textbook. For instance, almost right away, it addresses the most basic vocabulary:
…Mysquanmutry is the study of the entire subject, magic is all the possible abilities that can be possessed, gift is the total number of abilities one individual possesses, and talent is a singular ability within an individual.
Mysquanmutry itself encompasses all the possible magics, their limitations, how they operate in general, testing, measurement, the Mysquanmutric Planes, the paths that can be chosen, objects that can conduct magic, its effects on the lifespan (prolongation factor) and reproduction, its ties to religion, and much more.
Whew! Sorry, that’s a bit dry.
When you figure that all of the above manifests differently in those who possess magic it becomes quite complicated. Who has magic? Among humans alone there are Sorcerers, Sorceresses, Wizards, Witches, Minor Wizards, Partials (five different kinds), and Practitioners (actually Minor Wizards with modified magic). I might be forgetting a few.
There’s an extensive list of rules governing magic (it can’t give life, for instance), but one of the most important is that you’re either born with magic or you’re not. Period. It can’t be endowed or transferred.
Wait a minute. What about werewolves? Don’t they transfer magic via the venom in their bite?
I’m glad you asked that question (clearly you think like me).
The short answer is, no. The reason is that a werewolf’s magic is imposed, not inherent. Wait a minute, isn’t imposed just a fancy word for transferred? Still, no. How can you tell the difference? The test is control. A werewolf has no control over their ability. Control, in their case, is driven by the magic, not the other way around. There’s no gift centered within. It’s the difference between having the ability to fly and being dragged onto an airplane kicking and screaming (okay, I don’t kick when I board).
Okay, this is all fine, but how does magic work?
Big topic because it varies from gift to gift and the amount of power each individual gift possesses, but there are certain universal elements.
A gift, if it’s present, is centered in the abdomen (thus the tie to reproduction), that’s where it’s core is located. It also works in conjunction with lifeforce, which everyone has, of course.
When used, a particular talent depletes the gift by a certain amount depending on multiple factors. If the gift becomes depleted the talent draws off the lifeforce. That’s known as an imbalance and initiates consume. When it becomes critical, degeneration starts. By that point, if not sooner, the person is far too weak to function. Death is the likely outcome.
These rules apply to everyone.
Two basic elements are important on Ontyre. Raw Magic and Natural Magic. Raw Magic is the wild force in the environment. It’s extraordinarily powerful, but virtually always lethal to anyone contacting it. Natural Magic is the less powerful, but more benign power source. Sorcerers, Sorceresses, Wizards, and Witches can access natural magic and supplement their gift.
The rules are fixed, but I’ve oversimplified a bit. For instance, Sorcerers and Sorceresses seldom supplement with Natural Magic, preferring the lifeforce of other humans, which is powerful (and addictive). Witches harness Natural Magic, but their magic enables them to use it without processing it through their bodies. Wizards can store additional Natural Magic in their staffs and access it as easily as if it were internal.
One other term that’s important. Saturation. It’s the sum total of the various talents a person possesses plus the power levels for each. A saturation level of 100% means you’re fully charged, so to speak. Thus, if someone’s saturation is depleted and in imbalance, a wizard will often refer to that condition as a saturation imbalance.
Of course, the people of Ontyre don’t talk about all this. In fact, outside wizards and sorcerers and the like it isn’t talked about at all, if even understood. For instance, from Book 1, Trust in the Forgotten:
Palladon released her hand. “I assured the parents your diagnosis was correct.”
She cracked one eye. Same old frumpy, brown suit. Timepiece on a chain. Heavy, worn boots. Thick, logouve wood staff propped on end. He embodied comforting, a warm blanket about the shoulders.
He was also prone to gentle scolding. He brushed her hair out of her eyes. “My dear Riparia, you’ve overextended your gift again and allowed a saturation imbalance to drain lifeforce.”
A laugh sputtered and died on her lips as she sat up. “Dear Genessa, only a wizard would explain exhaustion in such a way.”