I originally wrote this for a wiki I maintained on another domain. Some of the references and information contained here may not gel with where I want to take my Fels stories. The term odylicism comes from the concept of "od", defined here.
In the Felsian parlance, odylicism is synonymous with magic and the two terms are interchangeable. Cultures throughout the world have their own terms for such practitioners, not all of them respectful. Gramarist, sorcerer, wizard, magician, shaman, odylicist, occultist, arcanist, thaumaturge, theurgist, take your pick. Wizard is used, especially in the lower Three Rivers region, disparagingly for folk seen as quacks and charlatans, whereas sorcerer is reserved for practitioners of ability. The opposite is true elsewhere.
The Collision was the birth of all magic as Fels knows it. In the beginning, magic was a thing of pure chaos, not able to be controlled or directed. In the years after the Collision until things settled, magic was a thing to be feared, much like a farmer fears a tornado; a fickle and random thing of great destructive power. A few will argue that nothing has changed.
As the new universe righted itself, people of discernment began to realise they could control odylicism to a degree. That, through dint of effort, they could draw upon the scytae to work their will. Later, others discovered that the fluid of the scytae itself could be condensed and crystallised, to be imbued into mundane objects or to be kept and used as a source of raw odylic power.
True practitioners scorn those who use implements and crystals, giving them names such as "rod-bogglers" and "crystalfilths". To be sure, any person can use an odylically-imbued object, as Alais Gera did with the staff Onom. If items are created in this manner, they are usually attuned to the individual that will use them, to avoid disaster. This is readily circumvented, however, by those crafters with high skill, who can undo the work of others. The scytae comes from Exa, the plane that exists outside that of the material universe, behind the hazy barrier of the Argence. From there, it is piped around in invisible conduits, of which only practitioners can see and utilise.
Odylicism is at its most potent inside the Argence; the effects of Natural Law diminish its power otherwise, and this diminishing varies from area to area depending on a multitude of circumstances. The Fields of Odylicism
For thousands of years, odylicism has been divided into "fields" of speciality. These are artificial divisions as the scytae itself has a unitary nature. In theory, a powerful practitioner could master all aspects of magic, but this has never occurred. The vast majority of people who are odylically inclined can only master one field and maybe become partially adept in one or two others. This is a born trait, and to date, no-one can understand why this is the case.
The fields are different not only in scope, but in power as well. A practitioner in the Field of Creation will be a far more cogent sorcerer than one adept in the Field of Peace, simply as creation itself is a much more drastic action than the relatively reactive peace.
The Field of Peace
This is the most common field of odylicism. Practitioners in this field specialise in the calming of storms, the ridding of fears, and they are the bringers of sleep. For unknown reasons, only women can specialise in this field, and they are known universally as the Dyne. The word is both singular and plural. Despite their field name, the Dyne aren’t above killing, if that killing will bring about a greater peace. The ends always justify the means. It needs to be told that the peace that the Dyne pursue is their own personal peace, not the common weal. They are by no means harmless or non-violent in outlook, as many have learned to their chagrin.
They are employed as advisers and diplomats in many realms, though they are seen as nuisance meddlers in Myre and are prohibited from practising their art, though they are not banned from Myre itself. Dyne in general, have no real skill in creating odylic items. Dyne aren’t religious and do not favour any deity, but many of them venerate Kela, the Goddess of Meditative Calm and try to emulate her ideals. All Dyne have an antipathy to weapons, such as swords, knives and maces. The Umberlust priestesses are usually Dyne as well, although their outlook is much different, and they share many of the skills those of the Field of Shadow possess, like mesmerism. They see love as an end in itself, not peace. Then again, what they view as love differs from the everyday understanding of the term.
The Field of Blood
This is another common field. Those of this field, known as obair, plural obairai, are those able to mould the stuff of life itself. They can heal the sick, mend broken bones (their usual field of employment) and perform general chirurgeon work. However, blood is their field, not health, and they can destroy and harm life and health as simply as they can mend or heal. A powerful obairai can boil a roomful of people’s blood and kill them by merely standing at the doorway. As such, they are equally feared and respected. For this, many live on the fringes of society shunned by others who see them as witch-doctors and hedgerow shamen.
The obairai aren’t banned in Myre outright, but their abilities are frowned upon by the Hielachs. Nobody doubts their healing skills, but they are often associated with the related skill of necromancy and given a wide berth. Only two obairai are known to live in Myre and neither perform healing willingly or cheaply. They are used as embalmers by those who treat their dead in such a manner. They have a seminary, of a sort, in the town of Jelotan in the region of Lovos.
Obairai will not eat meat or anything that has blood associated with it or once nourished its substance.
The Field of Energy
A rare field. Mastery of the Field of Energy is difficult, and such masters are rare. They are known as Werra, single and plural, and the Werra are the archetypal sorcerer of legend, the one who can call bolts of lightning down or throw searing balls of flame. Logically, such adepts are treated with a great deal of respect and awe. Most have forsaken the worlds of men and live in Abodes inside the Argence where their power isn’t diluted by Natural Law or politics. The Werra are banned in Myre and any who are caught by the Hielachs face certain death. Oddly, many Huuni are practitioners of this field and have faced no opposition in Myre.
Werra are the most skilled at creating odylic items and are eagerly sought after for this purpose.
The Field of Creation
The rarest field of them all. These are the builders, the workers of wondrous art. They are known as the Attuned Wind collectively and they number less than thirty nowadays, though they’ve never been numerous. All practitioners in this field are members of the Attuned Wind; there are no others. In their own inner philosophy, they see creation as a tripartite thing; the cause, the deed and the effect. They are represented by three crescents in a circle.
They acknowledge no god or supernal being. The Attuned Wind are arranged hierarchically according to their own tenets, with regards to "facets of the Wind". In simple terms, they see their skill ability as points on a compass. A line drawn through each compass point traces out a polygon, after which they are named. The lowest rank is the Square, and the master is the Octagon. This is also their title, borne after their given name: Gaulvane of the Heptagon and Ioja of the Octagon. It is acceptable to address them simply by their ranking.
They shun strangers and keep their own company. They have always dwelt in seclusion, far away from the merely curious. Today, they live in the palatial Mansion Lammacia, on the island of Gryne, off the south-western coast of Forosth, a place bedevilled by awful storms.
The term "creation" needs to be qualified. They cannot create any living thing nor anything that cannot be made from existing materials. They use their skill to build; Fels is littered with huge and airy edifices that the Attuned Wind have created for no other reason than enjoyment of their craft. Sadly, both their skills and their ideals have devolved over the years and as of today, they are a former shadow of themselves, barely able to raise a single marble column. However, their grounding in the difficult field of creation has given them a much deeper foundation upon which to study other forms of odylicism, and collectively and individually, are a power to be reckoned with.
Like the Werra, they have consummate skill in crafting odylic items, but never do so for others, no matter what the inducement. Many of their creations, such as the naumarin, are in common use. The naumarin is a device that resembles a small armillary sphere, where one circle is rotatable. The rotating circle is attuned to another naumarin at certain points along its axis. So, in effect, it is a communication device that can be attuned to up to eleven other naumarin. They are greatly desired, and the Hielachs are known to possess a complete set.
The Field of Time and Space
One of the more rarer fields. All specialists of this field are men, for reasons completely unknown. Women can grasp the concepts of it, but not master it. Men face the same issue with the Field of Peace.
Practitioners of this field are called Xene, single and plural. The Xene are the ones who can travel inside the Argence at will and can create the adits that connect one temporal locale with another. Many is the lord who has paid a Xene to build an adit from his bed-chamber to the house of some pretty lady. It must be noted that they can only build the adits; they have no control over the appearance of inside the Argence along the adit’s path, nor what may be there. Many, also, is the heedless fool who has entered an adit and been lost to some vile denizen of Hjoll.
Because of this skill, a Xene can travel anywhere in no time at all.
The Xene also have some control over time itself. They cannot travel within time itself, nor change history by altering the past or future. Such things are fixed and immutable. What the Xene can do is stop time for themselves or another for a duration, depending on their skill. Essentially, they slip into the gaps between the "heartbeats" of time. This skill is used mainly as an escape, as the Xene cannot touch any material object whilst in-between the pulses of time, without using specially prepared silver gloves.
It is also used to put people in a timeless state, usually to forestall death where someone has been poisoned or is on the verge of dying. Once again, the duration is dependent upon the skill level of the Xene. A mistaken belief that is credited to the Xene is the ability to age an object or make it younger. They can do neither, but the notion they can is a popular one and will not go away.
A skill unique to the Xene is nauscopy. Nauscopy allows the practitioner to see over the horizon by focusing and bending the air. The distance that can be discerned is, once again, dependent upon skill. Strangely enough, it is for nauscopy alone, that a Xene is a valued member of any noble’s court, despite the multitude of time and space related skills they have.
Because of their ability to stop time for themselves, they are seen as meddlers by the Hielachs of Myre and are outlawed. However, nauscopy is considered a useful, if antemery skill and the Xene are tolerated for this reason. There are only three known Xene in Myre, the two male Dusadea children, Draun Dusadea and Quyle Dusadea, and the Darkenti Azonvando.
The Field of Shadow
A very rare field. Despite its name, true shadows play little part and the term stems more from the nuances and subtlety that much of this field exhibits, which probably resembled the fleeting nature of shadows. Unlike most other practitioners, adherents of this one do not usually admit to it. The major exception is the Hielachs of Myre who openly declare themselves as such. Those who partake of this field are known as mesmerists.
Essentially, this field is dedicated to the secret meaning of everything, the truths behind the façades. All of the odylicism is geared to this end; detection of lies, the creation of spies to watch and learn. Conversely, it is about the keeping of secrets, the perpetuation of mysteries and the obfuscation of the plain truth. So, a skilled adept is expert at both ferreting out secrets, and keeping those they want kept. The Hielachs are the acknowledged masters of this field, and it is believed the god Ydrys is the one who taught humans to begin with.
Mesmerism is the skill to coerce, non-forcefully, information out of people. Hielachs are also the high masters of this ability and can learn anything they need to usually just by what seems to be casual conversation.
Other, non-Canal Society adepts use this skill as fortune-tellers and spymasters for powerful lords. Myre law strictly prohibits anyone with remotely a skerrick of skill in this field to enter the city and will hunt them down mercilessly. The Hielachs do not like threats to their rule. It is for this reason that the Hielachs have pursued the Umberlust faith, for some of their creed include mesmerists such as Itanu and Gladei Merene.
The entire culture of the Canal Society revolves around the Field of Shadow without most knowing it. The distrust of foreigners, the dislike of strange faiths and odylic skill, the desire to camouflage homes and streets with vegetation and fences and the like, the dissembling and vague manner a Societor has towards a foreigner, the hatred of change; it’s all derived from the Field of Shadow, as passed down by Ydrys himself. The Hielachs serve the role of not only practitioners of the Field of Shadow, but priests of Ydrys.
©1996-present Peter (Booth) Greenwell - texts and images CC BY-SA 4.0
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