Playing Around 13

The Greeks and Egyptians, and some peoples of Jerusalem, speak of ancient magicians who claimed territory.  This claiming was not the same as the ways in which princes today claim lands.  Magical processes now lost to modern magic were used to bind the land to the magician and the magician to the land.  The ritual of binding was exceptionally dangerous, particularly for large swaths of land, thus a reasons that doing so fell out of fashion and was forgotten.  Those who claimed lands did so for two reasons: to exert their power and authority over the land or to protect the land and its people.

Demosthenes writes that a magician who claimed land could draw power from the land itself, nearly as much as by blood rituals.  In payment, the magician found it difficult to leave the land for any length of time.  Erasmus of Egypt writes, further, that a claiming magician could control parts of the land.  Sextus Gracchus believes this control is the source of stories with the Roman army of forests that walked, whispered, and fought against the legions in Gaul and Germania.

Rediscovering such power could be a sword for ourselves, allowing us greater power to defend our society and people.  It would also be a sword for our enemies, as it would tie our best and strongest to static fiefs and estates from whence they could not move.

-excerpt from “Knowledge of the Ancients”, Sir Thomas Clifford, 1582

Translated from the original Latin by Clarissa Hoyt, 1994

Playing Around 12

In the earliest days of the world as we know it, long before the history known to normal, magic was at its most basic.

Today, we call the most ancient magics the primal magics.

They are called crude, unrefined, even simplistic.

They are most of those things, to those who do not understand them.  They are also ancient and powerful in their own ways.  The power inherent in blood and the procreative acts is exceptional.

Most magicians who deign to study the old magics never look beyond the raw power they can gain from either practice.  They never learn or explore the true extent of blood magic, or sex magic.  The primal magics offer so much more than pure power for those willing, and able, to take the time and expend the effort to learn.

Experienced blood mages, building upon ancient rituals found around the world, are capable to healing, crafting magical weapons, and theoretically altering their own blood in exotic ways.  There are stories of a 15th century Nepali who made his blood poisonous to beast and abaa’ya.  It is also said that a Romanian mage often used the blood of sacrificial victims to cover himself in blood-red armor.  Obviously, this practice, if possible, would be forbidden today, for clear ethical reasons.

Practiced sex mages routinely use their powers to find both objects and people.  Many also learn to charm others, a useful skill in dealing with normal.  Stories still circulate of masters of the art who could change their own appearance.  And the best of the ancient sex mages were known to be gifted oracles.

Due to the nature of the primal magics, all potential students must be at least eighteen years of age and will be screened by a panel of instructors, for safety.

-Gwen Bailey, Headmagister of Students, Hollyoake College

Playing Around 11

You’d think sorcerers would be easy to see, but they sometimes ain’t.  They need their gems, but not every‘un with gems is a sorcerer.  The trick is looking for the right gems, and how big they are.  See, a sorcerer can’t work with little stones.  Gotta be at least as big as your littlest fingernail, bigger is better.  That helps.  An’ knowin’ which stones to look for tells you what kinda sorcerer you’re dealing with.

You’ve only gotta look for diamonds for air, beryl for earth, opals for fire, hematite, the shiny one like steel, for metal, turquoise for water, and aquamarine for wood.  If they ain’t got those, they ain’t a sorcerer.

The smart ones, though, they’re sneaky.  They hide their special stones with other rocks or wear ‘em on necklaces under their shirts so you can’t see ‘em.

-Harry Brown, shifter, to young shifters


 

In the past, particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries, we have had an unfortunate tendency to look down upon and dismiss witches and witchcraft.  Because their magic focuses on nature and tends to be more intuitive in form, wizards have had a history of denigrating witchcraft.  We considered them less refined, less powerful, hedge magicians.

We were wrong to do so.

In this technological era, much of humanity has lost touch with the world.  There is imbalance, in many areas severe imbalance.  Although we have no right to ask it, perhaps witchcraft’s ability to aid animals and plants, and alter the weather, are our only way to rebalance the world before it is too late, since humans are clearly unwilling to do anything significant.

-from “Magic and the Modern World” by Donald Cantor, Akkare


 

A wizard’s staff is the most recognizable focus of any magician, more so than a witch’s familiar or a sorcerer’s gems.  However, a staff can take many forms, from a wand to a staff taller than its wizard.  Among the Victorians, a cane was preferred.  Some Asian wizards, and modern ones, carry bokken-staves.

To render a wizard truly safe, you must remove their staff, their ability to speak, and their ability to write.  For a wizard’s power is in words and sigils.  These are how they use their magic.  Some say this makes their magic the most difficult to learn, but also the most adaptable.  I don’t know if either claim is true.

What I do know is that they can be formidable opponents, if you are not fully aware of how to contain them.

-Nica, House Tyerman, abaa’ya


 

Why do you need to practice martial arts and meditation?

Do you wish to remain limited to human and beast, forever a child?

NO?

Then you need the discipline of mind and fortitude of body required to achieve and effortlessly hold a half-form and become an adult.

Without discipline, you will not gain the control of mind and body that holding a half-form takes.  And, in the eyes of shifters everywhere, you will be considered as a child.

That, young one, is why you must practice meditation and a martial art, like your ancestors before you and your peers.

-Clarissa Pinol, bear shifter

Playing Around 10

Before we begin delving into practical necromancy, or any other direct contact with spirits, all of you will study spirit taxonomy and must pass an exam on general spirit knowledge.  This requirement is in place for your safety, as well as the safety of your classmates.  Dealing with spirit entities is not a game or something to be entered into lightly.

Clear?

Anyone who wishes to leave now may do so without penalties and switch to a different class.

Alright.

The brief overview of spirit taxonomy is as follows:

There are four broad classes of spirits, you will be expected to know all four and their traits, sub-classes, and other divisions in detail.

Yes, you should be taking notes now, and, yes, this will be on the test.

First, we have the spirits of the dead, or ghosts.  These are the spiritual remains of mortals that persist after death.

Second, the nature spirits.  Just as ghosts retain some humanity, nature spirits can be expected to act like the beasts and plants they appear to be or protect.  Always respect them, they can be quite powerful and quick to take offense.  And they do not respond like humans.  Witches will specialize here.

Third, elemental spirits.  These are totally inhuman spirits.  We have no frame of reference for how they think or feel.  Some seem to be quite intelligent, though.  Sorcerers, these are your focus.

Last, and strongest, are place and object spirits, bound to, well, places and items.  They are reserved for advanced classes.

Alright.

Books out, summarize chapters one and two in pairs, and record at least four questions for each chapter.

-Robin Tyerman, Professor of Necromancy, The Sablebridge Institute

Playing Around 9

There have been tales of the First Families for almost as long as magical beings have existed.  All of the peoples, whether magician, abaa’ya, shifter, or gargoyle tell stories of the first of their kind.  Presumably, even the shadows do the same.

The existence of a progenitor of each people is undisputed.  There had to be a first genetic mutation or adaptation at some point, an origin of the specific genetic code.  It may have happened over millennia or all at once; with magical forces involved, determining which is all but impossible, either is possible.  However, from a modern perspective, knowing the names of our respective ancient, possibly prehistoric, ancestors seems rather unlikely.  Even more so the idea that these progenitors sired or bore undiluted children whose ancestors still walk among us in hiding today.

It seems infinitely more likely that our first ancestors mated with normal humans, which produced the second or third generation. From time to time, of course, we now know, an infusion of normal human genetic material helps prevent inbreeding and the death of magical peoples.  The possible exception in both cases, of course, being the abaa’ya whose first ancestor may, theoretically, still walk the world and who may be able to alter their genes enough to prevent the problems of long term inbreeding.

In short, we find the stories surrounding the Firsts to be nothing but myth and legend shrouded in superstition.

-excerpt from “A Genetic History of the Magical Community”

Playing Around 8

We have been called by many names over the millennia.

Undying.  Shtriga.  Vetala.  Strigoi.  Vrykolakas.  Undead.

The last is untrue, of course, and a deadly insult among us.

We prefer the name we call ourselves, in the ancient tongue: abaa’ya.  Literally, “the People”.  Not very poetic, but the first of our kind lived in a more practical time.

You may think you know much about us, from legends, stories, and the screen.  All carefully crafted falsehoods.  Most of it at least.  We are living beings.  The sun holds no fear for us.  We, mostly, do not have exaggerated Eastern European accents.

The truth is, most of you walk by us everyday without knowing it.  Unless you know the subtle signs to look for, possess a shifter’s acute senses, or can see auras, you would never truly see us.

Still, you are largely safe.

It is true that many of us see you as mayflies, with your brief, mortal, lives.  And it is true that a few see you as little more than prey, but they are a tiny minority.  It is also true that we do prey upon mortals, that is unavoidable.  However, we do not kill, unless absolutely necessary or deserved.  These days, most of our meals are volunteers, not hunted or forced.  For many, even most, that has always been the case.

That much, I can safely let you know.  The rest of our secrets must remain just that, except to say that we cannot make you like us.  You much be born of our kind.

-excerpt from “A Life Eternal” by V. Draco

(Pseudonym, supposedly a novel, but senior abaa’ya wish to locate the author)


 

Abaa’ya.

The People.

That really says all you need to know right there.  Their own name for themselves says that they are people, and the rest of us aren’t.

Abaa’ya.

A fancy name for deviants.  Predators.  Monsters.

They try to make themselves look respectable with their Houses and social rules.  But that is only the side they present so others will accept them.

They have managed to deceive the rest of the magical community.

Meanwhile, they continue to feed on humanity, living on blood and sex like the deviant monsters they truly are.

They don’t see the rest of us as people, only as prey at best, sheep at worst.  They look upon us with arrogance and superiority, as if we are nothing more than food.  And that is exactly what we are to them.

Abaa’ya.

Don’t use that fancy name.

Call them what they are: Parasites.  Vampires.

And carry silver and magic, their weaknesses.

Be prepared and don’t let the parasitic monsters fool you with their lies about themselves.

-Vollker, a mouthpiece of Humans First (a human/mage supremacist organization)

Playing Around 7

The magical community’s lack of unified governance has, as one might reasonably expect, resulted in problematic consequences.  The system of schools, whether martial, meditative, or magical, has, of course, mitigated the difficulties to some extent.  However, there is only so much a loose association of local and regional schools can do to bring social order and security.  The limited range of enforcement, typically no farther than the walls, has obvious results, regardless of the size of the school, reputation of instructors, or lessons they attempt to impart.

As a community, we must acknowledge that instructors can only do so much.  They can impart knowledge, but it is on the student to decide whether to accept the teaching.  While most do, there will always be notable exceptions who do not, and even more who consider their harmful actions to be small enough so as to be harmless.

Although our current social system worked well enough in the past, it has not adapted and is not suited to the modern world.

This is the direct cause of the modern rise in organized crime, mercenary activities, and establishment of pseudo-religious cults preying upon the normal human populace, and perpetuated by the magical community.

Therefore, for these and other reasons, we propose the creation of national and continental councils to govern the magical community.  These councils are to be comprised of equal numbers of sorcerers, witches, and wizards and will both create and enforce reasonable legal standards as well as represent all magicians in talks and relations with such non-human governance as exists currently and in the future.

-excerpt from a publication of the Magicians United organization

Playing Around 6

Humanity is not alone in the world, and never has been.

But, do not believe all the stories you have heard.  Reality became myth, turned into legend, and evolved into folklore.  Along the way, the truth became stretched, torn, broken, and sewn back together in incorrect, often bizarre, ways.

Take shifters, for example.  They are not monstrous beasts, though they can be scary if you anger them.  Nor are they hippie, druid, tree huggers . . . well, some are, but not because they are shifters.  They are simply ordinary people with one extra-ordinary ability or two.

Unicorns?

They exist, but hope you never meet one.  They are not the white, shiny symbols of purity that Christian nobles made them out to be.  They are dangerous, carnivorous, cunning creatures, tough to trap and even tougher to slay.

For the most part, the magical community plays live and let live with the rest of the world.  A bit of “What they don’t know won’t kill them”, or us.  It has worked quite well for a few thousand years, long enough to become second nature for us.

Since you do not come from a magical family and your acceptance to Hollyoake College is also your introduction to the magical community, you will have a year long required course that will cover all the basics you will need to know to function in our society.

Good luck and enjoy.

-New Student Orientation Pamphlet B, Hollyoake College

Playing Around 5

When Egypt was young, magician and human lived in harmony.  Schools of magic were founded in that ancient nation, that utopic land.  In time, the waves of Greek and Roman invasions turned into Christians and Muslims, who effectively destroyed the relations between human and magician.  The schools dissolved, and only one reformed.  We held the old ideals, renamed the Shadow School, first in India, then China, as we moved around the continents.  In time, we, the last magic school of Egypt, found a home in the Ebon Spire.

You are now joining that ancient tradition.

At the end of orientation week, you will each petition to join the house that will be your social and study network both at school and beyond.  Choose wisely, and heed the recommendations of your advisors.

House Bast seeks knowledge to protect themselves and others.

House Bes seeks knowledge to secure joy and good in life.

House Horus seeks knowledge to better lead others.

House Sekhmet seeks knowledge to fight and serve.

House Serket seeks knowledge to heal.

House Setesh seeks knowledge for personal gain and power.

House Thoth seeks knowledge for its own sake.

You will learn more of each house from advisors over the coming week.  You will also learn the Shadow School philosophy: All come to knowledge for their own reasons and no knowledge is forbidden.  To fail to learn is the greatest, and only, sin.

-Master Anne Roper, Shadow School, to new students


 

You are all here today because you have been observed for the last two years and recommended by your masters for advanced training.  And you decided to accept that training.

To that end, you will become members of House Neith.

House Neith does not officially exist.

No student can petition to join House Neith, one can only be invited.

While part of House Neith, you will retain membership in your official house.

Once part of House Neith, you will be part of the house for life.  Your first loyalty will always be to House Neith.  Your second loyalty will be to your comrades.

In House Neith, you will learn the truth of the Shadow School.  You will learn the truth of our hiding.  The true reasons.  The truth of our history in Egypt, our sojourn in India, our stay in Asia.

Neith is the Egyptian goddess of hunters.

As students of House Neith, that is what you will become, hunters.

Hunters of men.

And we will show you why the Black Rose leaves our territory in peace.

But, before that, to reach that level, we will push you to your physical and mental limits and beyond to achieve your absolute best.

-Master Isolde Wayne, Head of House Neith, Shadow School

Playing Around 4

One of the great mysteries of the magical community, the Ebon Spire ranks near the top with the Nine Cities, perhaps above them.  Simply put, the Ebon Spire is an abandoned pocket dimension that has been settled by squatters.  That does not tell the whole story, though.

What makes the Spire the enigma that it is is that it is a massive pocket dimension filled with impressive, interconnected buildings of a scale akin to giants.  Not only that, but there is no record of the Spire’s true name, creators, or builders.  It acquired its current name from the dominant structure at the center, a titanic tower of darkest ebony.

The Spire is connected to Earth at many points, on both dimensions.  The plethora of gates is part of the difficulty in determining even a rough population of squatters.  In fact, locals circulate stories of gates that connect to other, non-Earth, worlds, and a few believe the Spire is non-terrestrial in origin.  Some have theorized that the Spire is a waypoint or bridge to connect Earth to other worlds, either before the Nine Cities of to circumvent them, if they do indeed create a ward.

Although no creator is known, the so-called Silent Monks, one of the Spire’s three major factions, does appear to reside in the dimension’s namesake and might be caretakers.  They do not speak or otherwise communicate with outsiders, so there is no sure way to tell beyond observations.

-excerpt from Magical Mysteries by E.M. Floyd, B.M., M.A., M.M., S.K.A., E.S.


 

No one has any certain information about the Silent Monks, except that they wear hooded robes of mottled grey and white and they refuse to communicate with outsiders.  They go where they please within the greater Ebon Spire, and circumvent all attempts to prevent their free passage.  Both we and the Black Rose have given up on such measures, long ago.

Attempts to enter their sanctum, the Spire proper, have been rebuffed for centuries.  A few have recorded attempts to disguise themselves as monks, to infiltrate or to use their reputation.  What happened to these unfortunates is best left unsaid and not dwelled upon.

The last attempt to remove the Monks, at least the last recorded attempt, occurred in 1897.  One of the, then, great factions of the Spire, called the Dragon Circle, tried to forcibly remove the monks.  As to the result . . . the monks remain and the Dragon Circle exists as nothing but a story and a warning to others.  Suffice to say, we have made no attempts ourselves, nor have the Black Rose.

Our current policy regarding the monks is to leave their, minimal, territory sacrosanct and to pretend we do not see them elsewhere.  Complete non-interference at all times.  If you see one, do not point it out, attempt contact with it, or anything else.  Simply go about your normal business.

-Master Carlos Ostry, Shadow School