A PERFECT review for The Kinfire Tree!
Thank you, Jeff Blackmer!
A PERFECT review for The Kinfire Tree!
Thank you, Jeff Blackmer!
I regarded the excerpt below as too much backstory, and removed most of it from The Infinity Mantle, but if you’re interested in finding out more about the mighty Maghdim Medaillon, and how the Mantle came into being, read on!
Three thousand years before the present time the human population of Valaris was essentially decimated.
First there was Drasso’s extermination, which was wholesale slaughter, and their numbers were further depleted when the Immortals descended to do battle. Using human tactics to fight a war required men, many men. That part of the war lasted three years, and at the end of it, large tracts of land were wasteland … and thus more succumbed, for the aftermath was as hard as the wars fought.
Only the Great Forest remained unscathed, but it became a physical and emotional divide between north and south.
The Guardians saw this, but were powerless to change it. Not only could neither side see beyond the wastelands in the aftermath, but also they no longer trusted their saviours. Deified they were, but the terrible power of the Immortals left the humans as fearful of them as they were of Drasso, Infinity and their kind. The Guardians chose to leave the humans to rebuild alone.
They left an inheritance for each region divided by trees and superstitions.
To the north went ten volumes, containing within the pages of antiquity universal truths. Warded within those pages were sufficient charms to promote the spirit of adventure, the need to restore the past, and a wish to cross the wastelands in search of other survivors.
The charms needed to be read aloud, which they never were, for the dead language was also an unpronounceable one. Fear of magic had stilled most tongues.
The ten volumes were and are collectively known as the Ancient Oracles.
To the south went the Maghdim Medaillon. In the Ancient Tongue it translated as ‘Supreme Wisdom’. It had the power to summon the clans of old, particularly those of the north with numbers to call to, but like to the Oracles, it was not used. Fear of magic stilled it also.
The remaining sorcerers in the south guarded the Maghdim Medaillon. Their numbers were small, fifteen having survived Drasso. From them, the continuance to the present-day Society.
The golden medal lay in its velvet casket for two centuries, the sorcerers too afraid to discover what it could do. Sorcery was outlawed before Drasso; after him, it was worse.
There came a day a young apprentice magician, Ugarth by name, stole the velvet casket and carried it secretly to his quarters within the Society, there to study it.
In those early days of the Society, magic was more than theory, and Ugarth’s touch was the first the device received in two centuries. It burned him fiercely on first contact. His hand hurt and he was afraid, but was more fearful of discovery. Warding himself against burning, which the Medaillon unaccountably permitted, he retrieved it from the floor.
Imagine his surprise when on second contact images flooded his mind of northern lands fertile and populated, of stars near and far, of other inhabited worlds, of enchantments and wardings he never dreamed of. He was entranced and transfixed, but soon shook out of it, knowing instinctively his life would be in danger if he broadcast this newfound knowledge, not only from the outside world, but also from those within his own ranks.
The fear of the supernatural continued with manic intensity and the Society lost ground to the world, and went into hiding to protect themselves and their arts, but also there were factions within, some political, some greedy, and some arrogant. Jealousy could lead to death, and it was known certain sorcerers were secretly revealed to the authorities … thereby removing rivals. Ugarth was in love with his skin, and knew how to keep a secret.
Ugarth shaped a detailed and true replica, and replaced that in the casket, which he then returned to its usual place. The real Medaillon he wore about his neck out of sight.
As Ugarth became more proficient, he cast an intricate spell. He limited the device to one master or mistress at a time, it to be gifted secretly from generation to generation, the gifting enchantment learned only once in the receiving. Any who casually handled it would thus be burned. Ugarth did not realize that the medal itself enabled this enchantment from him. The burning was the true test in validating the Medaillon.
Ugarth cast a failsafe, perhaps recognizing a future task during his sessions with it. The failsafe was that one other was to command it, someone other than its master or mistress. That person could only be the most powerful sorcerer of the time, and only that individual would have the power to call the clans, although Ugarth regarded the latter factor as irrelevant. The device demanded this, and the legend passed down into the future would be why McSee was shocked and Aven fatalistic;
Rayne would prove true power on Valaris the instant he held it unharmed. Ugarth often wondered over the course of his life how much had been him and how much upon the Medaillon’s insistence.
Time went on. As the Society became less, the real Medaillon returned to its casket, its existence known to few. A new master or mistress was chosen by consensus, passing from old to young every generation. It remained a secret to those outside and gradually it was barred from those inside, until a sect formed to protect it, actively training sorcerers of all ranks, ever mindful of the legendary failsafe.
That sect was and is the Mantle.
Far from the known there lies the forbidden, and it is into this zone we must go. Only in a place where no one lives a dragon may go free.
But is the Forbidden Zone as unpopulated as legend will have it?
The Steps of the Magical Condition is a manual used by sorcerers and wizards to train apprentices and inform laymen of the basics of sorcery. Below is an excerpt that lists the fourteen main talents.
“Manifold are the talents of the sorcerer. We tend to list the majors, 1 to 14, in a dictionary of terms such as this, because the authors attempt to instil the principle of the ruling number. But, reader, manifold are the talents of a sorcerer.”
The Sight – seeing over distance
The Sight – employing visions
Mind Reading and Speaking
Retrieval of objects from afar, both from the physical plane and the ether
Transport of Mind and Body across Space (foundation)
Transport of Mind and Body across Time (mastery)
The Shield of Defence
Control of the Elements (foundation)
Manipulation of the Elements (mastery)
Extension of Life-expectancy (foundation)
Immortality Ritual (mastery)
Creation, Light, heat, sustenance, weaponry … and also thought and emotion
Malin Drew was widely regarded as the founding father of Valaris.
He brought the first settlers to their brave new world. He brought them in starships and brought with him technology and all the tools to create a new life. The settlers were open-minded pioneers, and Malin Drew was considered the best amongst them.
History was unclear on the subject, but sorcery and communication with aliens was outlawed around the time the warp developed to close the heavens. Open-minded altered into a narrow civilisation.
There came a time when sorcery was ‘new’, an acceptable pastime. Valarians rediscovered something lost. It was during this period of renewal that sorcerers fashioned the Ruby of Enlightenment, and it was considered a tool of great purity. They were misinformed as to its true nature, and those who did know served to misguide the rest.
Had they been aware, perhaps they would have treated a magical device with greater caution and humility.
As it was, the Enlightenment process the gem enabled set apart those able to achieve it, and they came to believe they were all-powerful. They grew arrogant and eventually discovered the awesome powers of darak.
Dark days descended and ordinary folk again withdrew from the supernatural. As men at work to feed families found aversion to the arts of magic, the ‘Enlightened’ fought amongst themselves for sole possession of the gem.
No one now knows how it was lost, only that it was a good. It was popularly assumed it went missing during one of the ‘Enlightened Ones’ dark battles, and a law was passed that it was to be immediately destroyed if uncovered. Sorcery and all arts extraordinary were forbidden anew.
The laws governing that legislation were stringent and strictly enforced, and where the laws were deemed too lax, vigilante groups formed to ensure their own manner of adherence. A different darkness descended on Valaris, one from which it never recovered.
Later came Drasso and, on his heels, the Guardians. Prejudice on Valaris bequeathed Valarians the inability to offer defence, and thus they had to accept the assistance of the ‘Deities’. Valarians even honoured them after, recognising a lack within, but could do no more than honour from afar, for the Ruby debacle preconditioned them with terrible effect. Magic was and remained anathema.
The tale of the Ruby of Enlightenment formed part of Valaris’ history, a feared tool of sorcery, and an example of hindsight to warn future generations.
It was never found.
The Ruby of Enlightenment had now reappeared. By the laws of the land, it was to be destroyed. They dared not. It had a purpose. Had Infinity’s manipulations brought it out?
Or was it the will of the gem itself?
Valaris, the world, and Valarians, the people, when we enter The Infinity Mantle, abhors everything magical, and yet the art of sorcery isn’t entirely eradicated, not as the authorities believe. Vigilantism is alive and well, however, and therefore any overt sign of usage is dangerous, including a simple flame on palm.
Rayne, of course, doesn’t follow directives too well …
Part of a conversation between Torrullin and Lian in The Sleeper Sword:
“What is reality? The tangible, the controllable? Fate, death? The three dimensions your senses deal in? What, then, is a sunset? Nature’s spectacle, the reality of scientific factors colliding, yes, but what does it invoke in those who stop to experience? Do they merely accept the scientific reality or are they moved, awed, uplifted, romanced?
“Not one of the five senses there; no touch, no taste, no hearing, no smell, no sight – no sight, for even in blindness can it be, and cause emotion. That is magic. Why does a man stand in the first rains after a dry spell? Is he checking that it is real, is he giving thanks to his deity – which is magical also – or is he out there to glory in the wonder of the water that is life? He cries, he revels, he dances, he kneels. As long as there is emotion, there is magic, for neither emotion nor imagination belong to the world of three dimensions. Magic will not die while one sentient lives.”
“What you have described is natural …”
“Then all would experience it as part of genetic makeup. I have known men and women who have never looked at a sunset and not because they were unable to or there was no sun, but because they looked and did not see. They were unaffected. A sunset is natural, but how one reacts is the magic.”
“Granted, but it is natural magic, if you will. There is nothing supernatural in feeling uplifted after seeing something beautiful.”
“You become aware of your insignificance and you are aware what is happening around you is bigger than you, more powerful, it is beyond your ability to control, touch or change. It happens despite you. That is why you are moved, and say what you will, that is more magical than anything I can do.”
She did not answer.
Relentless, he continued. “Consider Breem, the linguist. He has never left the caverns and had never seen the view from the windows. If you were he, why do you have a likeness of a forest on your wall or a picture of an ocean from whence dolphins leap out into the sun? How do you know what it is and understand? Race memories? Perhaps, but is that not supernatural? All of it is bigger than you and is part of your soul and would be even in the darkest pit. It is inexplicable, complicated and magical.”
“I hear you and your words begin to change me. I am intrigued by your need to say it, however.”
He rested his forehead briefly upon his arms and drew breath. “I see the magic even in my sleep. It will not die and therefore some of us have reached for rebirth. A magic that gifts us the magic longer. Unfortunately the pain and loss eventually overcomes the selfishness, but that too I consider part of the magic. In all things there is two, equal and opposite. Thus, we reach for death, the final magic where loss and love go hand in hand, and in that understanding comes peace. I have died, and now I can no longer do so. Magic and magic. And nobody knows how fantastical that is.”
She moved on. “Looking at that painting I can feel the cool, the slight breeze, and I can hear the birds, the rustling in the undergrowth. God, I miss it!”
He rose and fetched his pack. He withdrew a slim book. Handing it to her, he said, “My son put this in. It is my favourite book; I want you to have it.”
Surprised, she opened the unassuming volume and read a while, and lifted a smiling face. “Poetry.”
“Descriptions of the imagination, about my world, its people and places. If you cannot come with me, then allow your imagination to take you there – the magic is in words also.”
She closed her eyes and clasped the book to her. “Thank you.”
What is this Medaillon?
Our tales, especially the epic kind, require tools of magic, and the Lore series do have a few. The Maghdim Medaillon, though, is number one!
In another post the mighty medal will be further unveiled; here I’m explaining why there is a Pinterest board known as Worlds of the Medaillon. Because the Medaillon is imperative to all the tales in Lore, I created a board to encompass all worlds. Do have a look!
Tradition and Time
Tristamil explains the fourteen concepts that rule Valleur society:
“Fourteen is the universal number upon which magic is based. We build fourteen sacred sites per world in keeping with that philosophy, and that is the first tradition. The second is the order in which we erect them.
“First is the Lifesource, then the Throne-room, thereafter the rest. The third tradition is the passing of the Dragon from Vallorin to heir at the appointed time. The fourth is the safekeeping of the Oracles, the fifth, the scrying of a newborn’s name, and the sixth is this ceremony of today (Coming-of-Age).
“The seventh is the learning of sorcery beyond what we inherently know. The eighth is the absolute autonomy of the Vallorin; we are not, nor were we ever, a democracy. The ninth is Nemisin’s runes, known only to the House of Valla, and the tenth is our longevity both natural and enhanced. The eleventh is our total intolerance of darak.
“The twelfth is a belief in prophecy and the thirteenth? We regard ourselves as master-builders, and build with heart, soul and magic. The fourteenth? For as long as one Valleur lives, we were first and will be last in all things.”