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|“||There is another world, hidden to those who do not know where to look. For aeons, the dreamer touched its churning waters when he slept, the artist found its alien life in his inspiration, and the madman felt its greatest horrors lurking in his fears. Train your eyes to see what cannot be seen, train your ears to hear what cannot be heard. Find the key at the meeting place between the worlds and open the door to the house of the spirits.||”|
– Excerpt from "The Nine-Edged Sword", found in the apartments of the Esoteric Order of Man
Beyond the veil of ordinary life, there is an exotic and alien world working in tandem with ours. Sages, magicians, priests, and mystics have communed with unknown beings from a land teeming with a seemingly infinite variety of creatures ebbing and flowing in a vast network of birth and death. These things, these spirits, were long ago discarded as myth, but have since been rediscovered. By making deals with them, or by binding them into objects, one can become truly powerful, using these creatures' novel gifts to change the world in unforeseen ways.
There are as many spirits as there are concepts in the world. No one knows where they come from, nor how they work. It is known that that spirits differ radically from each other in terms of intelligence, ability, and temperament, and that each spirit seems to serve a purpose, usually as a guardian of some concept or object. They typically come in families, organized around some concept, and members of each family vary in their power. Some families are associated with basic concepts and objects, such as the five elements (air, earth, fire, water, and metal in some traditions), life, death, light, darkness, disease, famine, trees, grass, stones, streams, and clouds. All of these spirits vary in strength: for example, one spirit of fire may only be the weak guardian of a campfire, while another may be strong enough to support the entire concept of fire. Each should be treated and respected according to its strength.
There are other spirits that seem to represent more abstract concepts. Adept magicians have summoned stranger spirits, such as spirits of justice, filth, curiosity, greed, compassion, or poverty. Rather than mirroring concrete, physical objects, these spirits reflect ideas that the races have created in their own minds and interactions with each other. They often appear in forms that represent their sphere of influence, and they vary in strength from spirit to spirit.
Still others come in the form of specific people, places, or things. A story from the Ninth Dynasty tells of how the wizards of Maram accidentally summoned a spirit of Masarach, who kept them fascinated for hours as it divulged secrets about their sister city that even they did not know. Another talks about Ashur-Ram, the Bone Wizard, who, it is rumored, summoned his own spirit and tried to bind it into a lamp to double his power. He was unsuccessful, as the spirit knew his moves as he made them, and could wriggle out of the binds he wove every time he tried. These spirits are as varied as the things they mimic.
It is not known if the Gods or the races have representative spirits. No wizard has been foolhardy enough to check.
There is one last class of spirits that stand out from the others, as they do not seem to have any earthly counterpart. They are the djinni, the so-called "men of the sky". The djinni are the most well-known of spirits for their rich personalities, fierce individuality, and great cleverness. They are thought to be the spirits of the dead, re-formed into new, living beings. The djinni are among the most useful class of spirits to summon for their power and versatility, but they are the most dangerous, for they will go the greatest lengths to thwart the bonds they are placed under, and will do whatever they can to make sure that happens.
One of the primary sources of power for the experienced magician comes from the manipulation of spirits, which is performed using complex binding and sealing spells. By using runes, symbols of power, and copious applications of magic, magicians can force spirits to perform tasks and follow orders or can seal them into rings, wands, staffs, swords, or other objects in order to imbue those objects with power. When limited in this way, the spirit will be forced to behave predictably and can be tapped at any time to act in a way that does not disobey their previous orders. However, spirits can only be called upon so many times before their power here wastes away and they are recalled back to their world to restore themselves, a process which may take lifetimes. If the magician still has need of that spirit's talents, he will have to summon another and have it take the previous one's place.
The Five, Seven, and NineEdit
Among those who study spirits, there has long been a belief that a hierarchy of spirits is responsible for the creation of the material universe.
The Five Fundamental ForcesEdit
- Air: The breath of life, the four winds, the storm and middle air.
- Earth: The mountains, clay, dust and soil, and all the plants.
- Entropy: The cold that precludes all other things, stasis.
- Fire: The spark of life, the stars, inspiration.
- Water: The water of life, the oceans, rivers, lakes, and rains.
The Seven Primordial ConceptsEdit
- Chaos: Rigid systems lead to stasis. Oppose Order which is the herald of Entropy.
- Desire: Fulfillment is the point of everything.
- Destiny: There is a Plan.
- Destruction: Everything breaks down, dies, and rots, creating something new.
- Dreams: Create Desire, reveal Destiny.
- Order: Disorder leads to destruction without renewal, leading to stasis. Oppose Chaos which is the herald of Entropy.
The Nine First CausesEdit