Endless Blue – Week 134 – The Magics that Permeate the World   Leave a comment

Thaumaturgy

The Magics that Permeate the World

The world-spanning oceans of the Endless Blue teem with puissance. It is a world where the primal avatars of the Pantheon swim the same waters as mortal pisceans, and alchemical wonders are performed with a mix of exotic materials and scalding heat. But these miracles are created whenever the caster happens to will it. The more potent, primordial magics of Elqua require the caster to be in the right place to reap their boon. Informally called the Mind, the Heart, and the Soul of Elqua, these magic systems are as intrinsic to the existence of life in the Endless Blue as the waters the world is named after.

Ley and the Lines of Élan

The Pantheon creation myth tells of how Ahto the Sophist wove the tapestry world into being with threads of water and coral, forming into the piscean belief in the vital nature of xanthellae. The threads of coral form lines across the ocean floors, lines that can actually be seen by those in tune with the coral. These are ley lines, and represented on maps as a series of lines intersecting with circles.

Ley lines criss-cross the waterworld in a geometric pattern of arcs and circles.  Xanthellaettes seek these out, for it makes their summoning work so much easier.  In and of themselves, ley lines possess no true magical power. They are merely conduits to a source of power, be it a small cluster of coral polyps or extensive barrier reefs. A ley line can be thought of as a link to a growth of coral. When a sorcerer uses their power, they draw puissance from a source of coral, along the vast distance of the ley line, and into a predetermine point at the other end of the line.

The endpoints of these lines are called nodes. They occur naturally in the wilds of Elqua’s oceans, but can also be purposely created by Xantellaettes through a ritual. These created nodes can bisect an already existing ley line or can create a completely new line to an already existing node. It is this direct, geometric patterning that gives ley lines the reputation for being the “nerves of the world”, or more colliqually, the Mind of Elqua.

Pulling the life essence of coral from elsewhere on the leylines to a node, a Xanthellaettes can bend it to his will.  However, it drains the reef being drawn from. Take too mush, demand more than the coral can spare, and the reef begins to die. Because of the distances involved between the coral and the end node, it becomes easy to overlook how much of a drain a xanthellaette can be. Negligent coral benders can easily sap all the life from a reef before they know it, and once dead, the ley line also dies.

Over time, natural and created ley lines accumulated, and now criss-cross the sea floor, intersecting with each other. Regardless if the crossing occurs along the ley line or two nodes overlap, these intersections are called nexuses, and they are highly sought after. The puissance pulled to these nexuses is particularly potent and thus capable of some truly amazing magics, but they still pull vitality from the coral growths down the ley line. The saving grace of nexuses are two-fold: First, the more sources a nexus pulls from, the lesser the drain on any one particular reef, and Second, a dying coral can be kept alive through drain on more robust reefs.

Ley Line Visualization

The Order of Anthozoa have dedicated themselves to the protection of Elqua’s coral reefs. They seek out abusers of the xanthellae to punish them, then sever their ley line connections to endangered coral reefs.

Cruor and the Web of Veins

Cruor is the potential for algae to bloom in the seas of Elqua. It is spread throughout the oceans, rising to the surface and submerge below the silt, in a branching, chaotic manner not unlike a living creature’s circulatory system. From this viewpoint, Cruor is referred to as a “web of veins” or the Heart of Elqua.

Cruor develops along the Shore and much of the Shoals — everywhere that natural sunlight can reach through the depths. It ebbs and flows with the tide, like the breathing of a gargantuan beast. As the potential for cruor algae flourishes, the web fades into focus; as the bloom dies, the web blanches from sight. This ebbing and flowing of potential growth blankets all of the Endless Blue, but because of the cyclic nature of biomes, is never constant. Just as crops grow with the seasons, as fish migrate to greener sea grass, so to does the cruor web flare up and disperse.

Cruor Druids, sometime called Bloom Druids, specialize in tapping into what they describe as “the flow of red”. To them, everywhere they look has a subtle overlay of varying intensities of red. By willing the red to intensify, a Cruor Druid can make the naturally occurring red algae in the water explode with growth. This algae is under the bloom druid’s mental control, and will react to the druid’s thoughts.

Cruor algae is dangerous to the surroundings. This is the origin of red tide, a harmful algae bloom that pour toxins into the water that can potentially exterminate both flora and fauna alike. Tameryh Kinslayer earned his name when his burgeoning cruor tapping powers caused a bloom so severe it wiped out the city of Edonmul in the Yaun-Teel Bights overnight.

Visualization of Cruor

Brio and the Fonts of Life

The Briofont are pinpoint punctures in the fabric of existence were animus vitae leaks, burbles, and even spurts into the waters of the world. All living things possess some measure of animus vitae, defined as “the force that differentiates living thing from inanimate matter”. It is that immaterial principle that gives thing life. In this way, animus vitae can be viewed as the “soul of Elqua”.

Brio cannot be “summoned” at will — it is only found at points where the threads that make up the physical world  have slightly parted, leaving a minuscule gap where brio can leak into reality. What causes these gaps is unknown, but given that briofonts seem to be found in remote areas of the Shelf under extreme levels of oceanic pressure, it is theorized that there just certain points in the world where the weaving of the world is weaker.

Briofont are not eternal — their very nature of being animus vitae means they heal themselves eventually. Animus vitae is the stuff of life, after all, the very definition of what it is entails that it must heal and mend. So potent is this brio that Resurrectionists use it to animate their homunculi that have become so in fashion in the Mer Currents.

Briofont Visualization

Being immobile, impermanent, and incredibly rare, briofonts are guarded places, kept secret for fear of being depleted by others. An artifact called a cannula can be created and inserted into a briofont that will keep the natural healing tendencies from sealing up completely. In many ways, this acts like a water pump for animus vitae, letting the Resurrectionist control the amount of brio required for their re-animations.

The Dark of the Brio

Using a briofont doesn’t seem to have any dire drawback, just requiring massive, intimate knowledge of biology, but truth is that every life “re-lit” with brio allows the soul of that dead creature to slip back into the world. It cannot re-inhabit their old cadaver — the body is now being animated by the brio. Thus these poor unfortunates are drawn to centers of wild growth, most notably kelp forests, where they take the form of a new kelpygmy. Perhaps the denial of their original body is why kelpygmies hate pisceans so fiercely?

Confluence of Means

Since these magical sources cover all of Elqua, it becomes obvious there will be places where two or more of these magical ecosystems overlap. These confluences vary in strength and accessibility. The most common type of confluence is between cruor and ley lines. Since ley lines exist on the sea bed, these confluences are mostly found in areas along the Shore. Sometimes these overlaps are symbiotic, with the cruor blooms helping to feed the coral polyps, while the coral exoskeleton protects pools of cruor from predation. Other times, the balance falls out of whack, with the cruor killing off the coral polyps like it does any other creature, leaving behind vast bleached reefs that resemble the skeleton of a whale carcass. It then travels along any other existing ley lines, leaving a trail of dead coral as it cascades across the globe.

The second kind of confluence is between ley lines and briofonts. These convergences are a godsend to the coral reefs at the other end of the ley lines, as the brio’s effect travels down the distance and restores the vitality of the original reef. Perhaps this is a natural balance, nature’s way keeping the Cruor from excoriating every ley line of its integral coral growths. Ley line/briofont convergences are exceedingly rare, again due to the tendency of brio to heal the fabric of Elqua’s tapestry.

The Dark of Brio Coral

There are stories where the brio floods backwards through ley lines, back into reefs already dead, There, exposed to the elements, pooling and seeping into the silt, the resultant bleached coral becomes tinted blackish-purple in hue and grows colder than any ice imaginable, capable of sapping the life from anything it touches. Xanthellaettes that have tapped into these brio-infused nodes tell tales of “sensing an awakening mind”, “slow in thought but vast in reach”, and “eclipsed in shadow”. It’s garnered the name “The Shadow Amongst the Coral”, an while little to anything is actually known about it, it seems unanimous that it is above all else malevolent. Is this the source of the akashic record that all kelpymy seem to share, or perhaps they have stumbled into the combined genetically inherited memory of all aboleth-kind?

It is theoretically possible for a confluence of all three origins — ley line, briofont, and cruor web — to exist, and while some claims have been made of discovery such a site, no investigation has proven it to be true. One such confluence occurs in the adventure “Ewer on the Confluence“, but at the resolution of the story the entire site slides off the edge of a trench and disappeared into the dark.

The Ewer on the Confluence was unique not just for having the three sources of magic mingle, but for also converging on the location of a Spur. Spurs are mysterious pylons of crystal found dotted long the borders of the Spine of the World mountain archipelago. Their purpose and creation are unknown, but some claim they are remnants of a long forgotten species called the Icht.

Understanding magic is the most precarious assumption.
There is more opportunity for errors of comprehension,
flaws in practice, and bias in judgement
than all of philosophy and theology combined…
— a Godless rebuke.

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