Magic Users of Pre-Ikosian Altazia

Before the Cataclysm and the resulting large-scale migration of Ikosian mages to Altazia, the continent was a complex landscape of warring tribes and isolated city states. Well, the human parts of it, anyway. Altazian humans were far less populous and widespread back then, with many areas off-limits to human settlement. The forests and swamps were larger and darker, the territories of yetis and trolls more extensive and entrenched, and the various native spirits often claimed the choicest bits of land for themselves.

Regardless, although this human civilization was in many ways primitive and did not have the magical sophistication of the Ikosians that conquered them, they had developed several magical traditions of their own. Most of these were not anything special to the Ikosians, who had by this point already absorbed magical traditions of many other tribal groups. However, three traditions would prove to be exceptionally novel and influential, changing Ikosian magical tradition forever after. Specifically, the magical traditions of the shifters, the witches and the morlocks. For now, we will consider the witches and the morlocks in more detail.

Witches:

Altazian magical traditions, just like traditions of many other peoples, were heavily connected to their native religions. Only the priesthood was allowed to wield magic openly, and anyone dabbling in magic was condemned as foolish and a danger to society. This idea was not without merit, since such amateurs often made pacts with less-than-friendly spirits to gain their magic, but people often found themselves in need of a mage outside the existing power structure. Priests were only human, after all, and had their grudges and vendettas just as everyone else. Plus, sometimes one needed the sort of help that the local priest just wouldn’t be willing to provide.

Fortunately for such people, there was an alternative. Since most Altazian cultures were very patriarchal, women generally couldn’t become community priests. However, it was inevitable that some would come into possession of magic, either through simple accident of birth or through a mage father who decided to teach them what he knew for one reason or another. Such women were effectively outside the traditional power structure, since they couldn’t be recruited into the priesthood and trying to get rid of them was often unwise. Nobody wanted to make an enemy out of a mage whose powers they could barely understand, and this was doubly true in places like pre-Ikosian Altazia were magical education was rare and one couldn’t simply call the local mage guild for help if they angered the wrong person. Thus, so long as such ‘witches’ didn’t make too much of a nuisance of themselves, they were allowed to live their lives on the edges of their communities and offer their magical services to those who sought them out.

Of course, such a position was a rather precarious one. Many people who came to visit a witch did so because they needed access to shady or illegal magic, and those that didn’t were often desperate and had trouble paying for their services. Enforcing payment was a problem, since witches had considerable issues taking matters to community judicial systems. The priesthood was rarely entirely happy with the arrangement and did their best to work against them in any way they could. Unsurprisingly, this caused witches to acquire very unpleasant reputations. They found it hard to marry, weren’t welcome in polite company and were the first to be suspected when a supernatural crime occurred anywhere near them.

Shunned, yet armed with potent magic and prideful about that fact, witches began to tackle their problems by turning to each other for help. They befriended other witches around them, sharing their magical insights, caring for one another when sick or otherwise disabled and coming to each other’s defense when threatened by outsiders. In time these gatherings were formalized into what are today known as ‘covens’, and developed their own customs and traditions. These covens often ignored tribal lines, as witches came to think of themselves as witches first and members of their community second. They grew insular and secretive, with an attitude towards normal society that was often antagonistic or even outright predatory.

Of course, the covens only worsened the reputation of witches among normal society… but they also made people leery of targeting them. The covens policed their own members, punishing the worst of the excesses, but any attack on one of their members was met with immediate retaliation by the rest of the coven.

Witches dabbled in all sorts of magics, but they were most infamous for their potion making skills. This appears to be a consequence of their highly antagonistic relationship with the local priesthood, which forced them to figure out an alternative source of magical healing. Thus, witches took the rudimentary herbal remedies that were present in virtually every culture in existence and slowly refined them into downright supernatural cures. The initial versions of the potions were quite underwhelming compared to divine healing, and thus of little interest to outside mages, but they were relatively cheap and thus often used by the poorer segments of society. Eventually, witches developed these rudimentary cures and healing potions into ever more powerful versions and then started branching out into non-medical applications such as mind-affecting drugs (such as the infamous love potions), transformation potions and poisons.

In addition to their increasingly refined potion skills, witches were known to be skilled in soul magic – though not soul magic as most modern Altazians would understand it. Witches rarely went for actual animation of corpses, instead using soul magic for enforcing deals with outsiders through magical geas, forging familiar links and deciphering people’s true attitudes by studying their soul auras.

This common usage of soul magic, and the corresponding proliferation of soul perception, had great influence on the witches and their beliefs. Many a witch has obtained soul perception and then had a child, allowing them to observe the process by which souls are created in developing children. In short, the soul of a child seems to ‘bud off’ from the soul of the mother. At some point (quite a while before the actual birth of the child) this soul bud separates from the mother and becomes the property of the baby alone. Although children clearly do inherit things from the father, to anyone observing the process with soul perception, the soul itself seems to originate from the mother alone.

The Ikosians (and most other groups) believe this only means some parts of the process are invisible to humans, even with soul perception. They cite the fact that children can inherit magical abilities from their father as their chief proof that there is more going on beneath the surface. Witches, on the other hand, placed tremendous importance on the fact that a child’s soul seemingly comes from the mother alone. They believed only female children could truly continue their bloodlines. A person’s ‘soul lineage’ originated solely from their female ancestors, and sons are basically spiritual dead ends.

According to ancient Altazians, many witches had a habit of quietly killing off their male offspring because of this belief. It is hard to know how much of that is true, but it does appear some covens had a habit of doing that – especially during hard times when the witch had trouble supporting all of her children. Most witches had a more nuanced philosophy, however, and found plenty of uses for male children – they were often married off to witches from other covens to forge links and cement alliances, or just raised as loyal helpers and workers for the coven.

After the Silence of the Gods, witches rose considerably in prominence. Without divine healing, their potions became the primary source of magical healing and medical care on the continent, which put them in a position of considerable power. Although the breakdown of social order and traditional power balance that followed in the wake of the Silence claimed the lives of many witches, many more had profited immensely in the aftermath. Thus, in many regards, the century between the Silence of the Gods and the coming of the Cataclysm is considered something of a golden age of the witch covens.

Yet, it was precisely this golden age that created the fractures in the covens that Ikosians would exploit when they came to Altazia. Suddenly finding themselves in this new position of increased demand, many covens struggled to maintain direction and discipline. The leadership of the covens had always been very tradition-bound and based heavily on age. They disdained outside ideas and young witches with more ambition than experience. That had been fine in the past, when young witches needed the support of their covens and had nowhere else to go, but as the world around them started to change more in their favor, they found themselves less willing to tolerate the restrictions their elders placed on them.

When the Ikosians started flooding into the continent, they almost immediately started tempting these young, ambitious witches into their service. Having lost their source of divine healing just like everyone else, they appreciated the alternative that their healing potions represented immensely. Unlike the natives, Ikosian mages had no problems with legitimizing these ‘female mages’, giving them positions of authority, marrying them and even granting them the status of nobility in some cases. Though these ‘defectors’ tended to be young and only possessed the very basics of witch potion making and magic… it was enough. Ikosians took those basics and gradually developed them into what is today known as alchemy, eventually far outstripping the witches in terms of sophistication.

As Ikosians finished their conquests and started re-organizing their territories, they began to crack down on unlicensed mages. This included the witches, of course. Many skirmishes and wars were fought, with witches finding themselves on the losing side more often than not. Faced with a choice between fighting a losing battle or assimilating into Ikosian mage communities while they still could, many covens ended up disbanding or fracturing.

The Ikosians stopped hounding the witches once they had destroyed the bulk of the covens, believing that the remnants would quietly fade away in time. In this they miscalculated somewhat, since some covens survived the witch wars and exist even today. However, these covens have been irrevocably changed by the conflicts, and are vastly different from how they were in the past. Modern witches make considerable use of the Ikosian spellcasting system in their daily lives, and often even take inspiration from alchemy to improve their traditional cauldron-based potion making. They still exist on the margins of society, however, due to lingering prejudices among the populace and their own unwillingness to toe the line in regards to magical regulations. Their insistence on having their daughters inherit their surnames and insistence that the child inherits the soul exclusively from the mother do not help, either, as they are things that clash heavily with the prevalent cultural norms across most of Altazia.

Overall, the legacy of the witches is felt keenly across Altazia. Modern society would be almost unrecognizable without the existence of alchemy, and many of the powerful mage families and even Noble Houses draw their roots from ancient witch lineages.

Morlocks:

Although there are many varieties of humans in the world, few were as distinctive as the culture of subterranean humans that once built underground kingdoms beneath Altazia. The morlocks.

The most noticeable things about the morlocks are their white hair and their vivid blue eyes. Ancient records often describe morlock eyes as literally shining in the dark, but modern morlocks do not exhibit such traits – it is likely these were just cases of magical intimidation on the part of the morlocks in question. They do not have any innate supernatural abilities, but most of them see very well in low-light conditions and have excellent hearing. They also do not appear to suffer any health issues from spending prolonged periods of time in total darkness. Contrary to rumors, the sun does not burn them or hurt their eyes – at least not if they’ve grown up on the surface like most modern morlocks.

As one can figure out from the description, morlocks are a breed of humanity specifically adapted for underground existence. At some unknown point in the past, the ancestors of the morlocks colonized the surface layers of Altazia’s Dungeon, battling the creatures living there for living space and occasionally raiding the surface for things they could not acquire in their underground homes. What exactly compelled their ancestors into making that choice is unknown, and the morlocks’ myths are inconsistent and fractured about that point.

Regardless, the morlocks were surprisingly successful in their underground habitat. At their height, just before the Silence of the Gods, they had the highest level of technology and magical sophistication on the continent. They were extremely feared and hated by the other human groups, however, for they had the habit of raiding them for slaves and tribute. Worse, many of the slaves had ghastly fates waiting for them, for the morlocks excelled in blood magic and used it often… and had religious appreciation for cannibalism. They believed that through eating the flesh of their enemies they could steal their powers and that through eating the flesh of their ancestors they could preserve their wisdom.

It is likely that this widespread use of blood magic and belief in the benefits of cannibalism are linked closely together. After all, one could gain another’s powers through blood magic – and indeed, many of the high ranking morlocks were armed with at least one power they had stolen from someone through the use of such – so it’s not so farfetched to believe one could go even further by taking more than just blood…

The Silence of the Gods hit morlock society very hard. Although most known for their blood magic, the truth is that morlock society depended most heavily on divinely-granted powers, just like most human societies. Without the support of their gods, the morlocks found themselves struggling, and started raiding the surface humans more heavily for slaves and sacrifices. Thus, when the Ikosians came to Altazia, one of the first targets the locals pointed out to them was the morlock underground kingdoms.

The Ikosians didn’t have the numbers or the will to wage an underground war on the scale that would be necessary to thoroughly crush the morlocks. But they didn’t have to. Simply by virtue of stopping their surface raids and destroying their most prominent centers of power, they broke the backs of morlock kingdoms and left them vulnerable to assaults by underground creatures. In the end, the surviving morlocks were forced to abandon their underground holdings and journey to the surface in several waves, where they were forced to surrender to the Ikosian authorities and beg for mercy.

The terms they were offered tended to be harsh. The Ikosians found the morlock beliefs and practices odious and blasphemous, and the natives under them hated them to the core and advocated to have them exterminated outright. Thankfully for them, as much as Ikosian authorities expressed disgust at the very idea of their blood magic, plenty of powerful mages found the idea… intriguing.

In the end, the Ikosians decided to give morlocks a chance. As the various morlock groups streamed out of the Dungeon, they were presented with the same or similar deal – they would be forced to convert en masse to the Ikosian faith and scattered throughout the land to speed up assimilation, but they would be allowed to live. Some of the morlock groups were not willing to suffer this wholesale destruction of their culture and returned to the Dungeon, where they descended into the fathomless depths in search of something. They were never heard from again, and are surely dead now.

Though the Ikosians had hoped to quickly assimilate the morlocks by breaking them up and suppressing their culture, the reality proved to be not that simple. Altazian natives wanted nothing to do with the morlocks, and the morlocks themselves often found themselves turning to crime, alcoholism and the like. Today, they still tend to exist on the periphery of society and suffer heavy discrimination.

Their blood magic is also alive and well. Partially because many of the morlocks still retain some of their ancient magical traditions, and partially because many of the Ikosian mages secretly compiled many of their techniques and kept passing them around, and so blood magic refuses to die out.

And, though it is not said in polite company, it is well known that many of the modern Houses and magical bloodlines would not exist without the blood magic acquired from the morlocks…

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243 thoughts on “Magic Users of Pre-Ikosian Altazia

  1. I just thought of a new branch of magic. COOKING MAGIC!

    It recently occured to me that magic can be used to cook the perfect steak instantly. With precise enough shaping skills one could bring a steak to the desired temperature instantly and sear the outside perfectly in a matter of seconds. It would take very fine mana control to be fast and not burn anything, but the sheer level of control over the cooking process a mage could have would make almost any type of meal better and quicker to prepare. No stove or cooking utensiles required! Learning some basic alteration would be needed as well as alchemy for making magic pizza sauce, and being able to precisely control temperature with unstructured mana shaping is a requirement.

    I think I am probably hungry right now, which is why I am thinking about this. But the idea is solid! Chef magic should be a thing. I really hope somewhere in the world, there is a brave young mage pioneering this new field of magic. Cooking magic would also include techniques for making magical creatures edible and removing any poisonous effects from the meat of dungeon creatures. It’s the ultimate magic of the gods! Foooooooooood!

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  2. I have a couple questions about Zorian’s current nature – warning Spoilers for people who have not read to Chap #91 yet.
    So Zorian left the loop as a soul and took over his originals body. Does that mean he is now technically a soul entity or soul possessor spirit? The reason I ask is that to do that he would have had to create one of those artificial brains to be able to think as a soul. Basically other than not having a phylactery it seems to me that he basically has the same attributes as a lich now.
    Secondly, since Zorian took over his original’s body he should have full access to his mind magic bloodline. However if for some reason Zorian had taken over the body of an ordinary mage would he still have his bloodline ability?

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    • He definitely used something to temporarily bind his soul to an artificial mind, similar to the simulcarum spell, but without the ectoplasm, just a spirit entity. But I think by binding himself to the body of the original Zorian, he is no longer a spirit being. Also, Zorian being skilled enough as a soul mage to do this, means he can body hop again should he so choose. This is a potential path to immortality. Other bodies would not be as compatible, but he could do it if he had to. It’s a little bit scary to think Zorian might jump to a new body every time his current one wears out. He might go thousands of years just stealing bodies.

      I don’t think he is the type of person to do that, but just the fact that he is capable of it is a bit scary.

      Zorian really is a genius for achieving so much in a relatively short time. Even with all his advantages, many others would not have accomplished nearly as much. Zach for instance was granted greatly boosted magical capacity in both control and quantity. This should have allowed him to reach a much higher level of skill from his lifetime he spent in the loop than what we see when he first meets Zorian. Meanwhile Zorian spends a small fraction of that time in the loop and accomplishes vastly more than Zach.

      I can only imagine what might have happened if a super genius like Damien was put in Zach’s place. He might have been able to reach a similar level to Quatach Ichl with that amount of time and resource.

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      • To be honest I sort of feel the same way as Zorian about Daimen. He might have vast natural gifts but he lacks the drive that Zorian has to excel. Personally, I think that if Zorian can find a way around his mana reserves issue he will vastly exceed Daimen’s potential.
        In a way he is already catching up to Daimen’s natural gifts in one regard – his mental modifications allow him to close the gap in terms of mental ability and he has really only started to explore this field. Even with all he has achieved Zorian still does not appear to be on the same level as Spear of Resolve where Mind Magic – and especially mental modification – is concerned.
        As far as a path to immortality I agree that body hoping might achieve this but it seems a messy and crude solution. Perhaps Zorian can find a way to craft an artificial body in the future. One with vastly deeper reserves and power than a natural human body. In a way, this would be mimicking QI since it’s not like he uses a real skeleton but one crafted from some kind of artificial mineral.
        However, that being said I really would like to know if Zorian would have kept his mental abilities if he had body hopped into a different body. I also wonder if his Toad Tunneller enhancement is still intact.

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      • So, a few things, first of all, the time loop had a huge effect on Zorian’s personality. If Damien were in the loop from the beginning, it is likely he would have been much more proactive in trying to gain the skills and knowledge to escape his temporal prison and developed a zorian level work ethic. Zorian was not as intense in his study and ambition before the loop forced him to everything in his power to get better.

        Second, yes. If he can get the right combination of mental modifications working in his brain, his potential for learning would definitely take a sharp rise, especially if he has several mind-linked simulcarums all with the same enhanced mind. There are very few things that would be beyond his reach of figuring out with that kind of combined mental power.

        Spear of Resolve Striking to the Heart of the Matter is probably only just a few steps behind the most skilled elders of the Luminous Advocates web. I would guess she is probably in the top 20 of all mind mages on the planet of any species. Even among arenea matriarchs, she is more skilled than most. The comparison is unfair, and Zorian is actually not all that far from reaching her level and exceeding it. I imagine he might only need a couple more years of practice and experimetation to reach that level. The thing with mental enhancements is that the more one has, the better they become at almost everything else.

        Mana pools are located in the soul, not the body. Transfering to a different body would not give him a bigger mana pool. It is mentioned in the chapter that the tunnler toad enhancement was tied to the body and that the ability was fading as Zorian lost connection with his body. The reason he did not lose it instantly is because it was also tied to his mana pool, but just being connected to the mana pool is not secure enough to maintain it. This tells me that he used an enhancement ritual instead of a blood magic ritual.

        His mind magic is a part of his soul, so yes. He would keep his mind magic no matter what.

        I can’t say for sure, but I do believe that if zorian had gained the tunneler toad sense with a blood magic ritual and bound it to his life-force, he would have kept it even as a soul being due to it becoming part of his soul. I would need the author to confirm, but that is what seems to be suggested from what I have read.

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      • Actually, I was just rereading the chapter about Zach and Zorian’s enhancement rituals – they definitely used blood magic too so I’m unclear as to why the Tunneller toad sense is fading – there must be other factors.
        In regards to the body I was talking about Zorian crafting I should have made clearer that I didn’t mean Mana Reserves I meant more mundane reserves. The body basically being that of a superhuman so Zorian doesn’t need physical enhancement rituals or to depend on potions.
        In regards to Zorian increasing his mana reserves I was thinking some kind of advanced soul modification. I know this isn’t really a subject we have talked much about but it must be possible to an extent as we know that the soul bond and shifter rituals involve grafting or connecting another soul to your own. Don’t get me wrong I understand how ambitious this is but its something Zorian could look at once he becomes older maybe.

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      • I remember discussing this in the worldbuilding article on mana and probably also in the one that covered the different branches of magic. Increasing ones mana pool in a reliable way is almost impossible. Yes, it CAN happen with the shifter ritual, but it also might not happen, and it can even reduce the mana pool if things go poorly during the soul merger. In the most ideal possible situation, both mana pools add together to form an even bigger mana pool than either member of the ritual had. In most cases it is more like the mana pool becomes an average or remains the same. The results are mostly unpredictable except for maybe people like Sudomir who have done extensive experimentation, but even then, that only raises the chances of things going well and does not make it a sure science by any means.

        The author made it very clear in several posts that trying to enlarge ones mana pool by messing around with the soul is just as likely to permanently damage the mana pool as anything else, and might even result in death due to how unpredictable this kind of thing is.

        Zorian would have to get VERY good at anatomy and medical magic in general before he could create something like an artificial body. It would be a lot easier to spend as many resources as possible in creating the perfect simulcarum golem. Once he has a golem good enough that it requires the minimum amount of mana possible to maintain, he can just create a simulcarum to inhabit the golem like he normally does and bind his soul to it after killing his body. Since the simulcarum spell is a combination of mind magic and conjuration, it would be best for him to become as skilled as possible in both those areas before attempting such a thing. If he is going to inhabit the mind he creates, it is best to make that mind as perfect as possible. Same thing with the conjured skin he would manifest over the golem to keep a human appearance. He needs enough skill so that even under the most careful scrutiny, he looks absolutely organic. Unless he does not care about looks and that kind of thing, in that case just keeping the robot look should be fine, and he can focus on just making the mind as accurate as possible. The good thing about this is he can upgrade his body as he gains more skill and knowledge in building powerful and lifelike golems.

        Becoming skilled in medical magic and anatomy would still be very useful here as far as learning how living bodies function in order to replicate them. The knowledge would also be useful in making magical prosthetics for amputees. Selling advanced animatronic prosthetics could help fund the reaserch and development of his own golem body. If he can make prosthetics sufficiently superior to the real thing, I can see especially ambitious and eccentric individuals having their eyes surgically removed to get an advanced golem eye that can see further and more detailed as well as seeing in low light and maybe even detecting things normally invisible to human sight.
        If earth real-world Earth is anything to judge by, there would definitely be a significant market for such artificial limbs and organs.

        Even though this is all fun to think about, I doubt Zorian would want to become a robo-lich. I think Zorian would just want to grow old and die like a normal person. That might change with time though. The Zorian of right now definitely would not want to do that. The 60 year old Zorian might. . . Maybe.

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      • To summarize about the mana pool thing: yes it is possible, but the risk is so high and the odds of success are so low that it is not even remotely worth trying.

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    • There is definitely lots of potential in various ways – I like the Robo-Lich idea BTW but I doubt Zorian would ever go for it. Since going Lich would involve losing taste and the other physical sensations I think if Zorian went the Dark Mage rout he would go vampire or something. I think it would be really cool to make some simulacrums that worked with Golem War Frames though and also make ones that were not necessarily the same dimensions or look of his regular body. Now I’m imagining Mech Warrior Simulacrums. Go the Zorian Timberwolf.
      The idea with prostheses is also really cool. I think my biggest regret for Zorian is that he didn’t pursue medical magic. Still, he hopefully will have the time after this is all over.
      The thing I am interested in is if he improved the health and physique of his real body if it affects his mana reserves at all. Since there is obviously some relation and a lot of interaction between the two I’m curious what the impact is on the soul is if you improve the health of the physical body. Since we know that Zorian’s body at the beginning of the loop is only at the bare minimum in terms of physique I wonder if once he puts on some muscle and improves his physical fitness if it has any impact on his magic – however minor.
      In regards to soul modifications to improve Zorian’s mana reserves I realize that there is a lot of ground to cover there and that the current level of what we know about the field is that it’s insanely dangerous, unpredictable and yet also possible. Then again at the start of the time loop that is what we also knew about enhancements and blood magic – mind magic too. That being the case I think it would be worth Zorian pursuing research into this area as he never really spent a huge amount of time looking into shifter possibilities anyway – and I still haven’t given up hope that he will become a grey hunter shifter – or something equally cool. Since I can’t see Zorian wanting kids anyway there are still lots of possibilities for him to explore.
      Also the closer we get to the end the more I want to see Zorian get a chance to explore the different and mysterious magic in Hsan. Also we never really got to find out what the different magics in Koth were.
      So I’m getting to the end of this and seeing how much it looks like I want Zorian to become a Dark Mage or something. It’s not that I just like more morally ambiguous heroes and MC’s.

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      • “In regards to soul modifications to improve Zorian’s mana reserves I realize that there is a lot of ground to cover there and that the current level of what we know about the field is that it’s insanely dangerous, unpredictable and yet also possible. Then again at the start of the time loop that is what we also knew about enhancements and blood magic – mind magic too. That being the case I think it would be worth Zorian pursuing research into this area as he never really spent a huge amount of time looking into shifter possibilities anyway”

        It is not fitting to compare enhancement rituals and blood magic rituals and mind magic mental enhancements with something like a mana pool enlargement ritual. With the first three, there are many characters in the story capable of performing them even though the difficulty is very high. With enough skill and preparation, results are consistent and reliable.
        With a mana pool enlargement ritual, it is veeeeery different. From what the author has said in the chat, nobody knows how to perform such a ritual in a way that produces reliable results. Every time such a thing is attempted, it is a gamble. There is no level of skill or preparation known that someone could reach to do such a ritual with reliable success.

        If anyone actualy does know, it’s Quatach Ichl because he can use his divine blessing as a starting point for study, and his mana battery crown as an alternative reference point. He also has hundreds of years of soul experimentation under his belt. But even with all this, I still don’t think he could do it with even 90% predictable results. He would probably only be good enough to minimize the damage from a failed ritual.

        I’m just speculating. Maybe the old lich really did figure it out and simply decided to keep it to himself and not tell anyone. It’s possible, but only because he already had a mana enhancement ritual performed on him, and has spent hundreds of years studying it and has a mana battery crown that interfaces directly with the soul in order to keep the mana attuned to the wearer. If he did not have both those things, then I would say for certain that there is no way anybody knows how to do such a thing.

        As for Zorian figuring it out, I consider that extremely doubtful. There is a better chance of Kael creating a potion that stimulates mana pool growth. Kael is enough of a genius that given time and resources, he could probably figure it out.

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    • >Does that mean he is now technically a soul entity or soul possessor spirit?

      Yes, he basically is. He doesn’t intent to leave his old body, but he totally could with a little preparation.

      >However if for some reason Zorian had taken over the body of an ordinary mage would he still have his bloodline ability?

      He would. This is his inborn ability, which means it’s represented in the soul as well. In fact, the main difference between an ability gained through blood magic and an inborn one is that the first one is not represented in the soul of the person while the second one is.

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  3. I keep wondering if Zorian ever managed to copy the enchanted saber from chapter 79 that the battle mage on the airship was using. I imagine he did with all the time he has had and the numerous times they stole the airship. It mentions he took the sabre for study, but we never see that particular magic again. It does not seem like zorian used it in any anti-magic wards or made any anti-magic weapons or armor for people. I hope to see that bit of magic again before the story is over.

    That magic skating technique is also definitely something worth looking into. It might be too costly for Zorian to use regularly, but Taiven could definitely get good use out of such a spell. Zorian would have to be very selective about using it in critical moments to save mana. Combining it with the haste spell could grant trully amazing speeds, but would be expensive and only practical in a place where teleportation is not an option.

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    • Another thing we have yet to see appear again is the dimensional spell Quatach Ichl used to expand the door opening to the royal vault. The chapter mentions that Zorian decided he needed to learn that spell, but we never see any evidence of whether he actually learned it or not. I hope we will get an answer before the story is over. There are so many magics that seem to only appear once but I am very interested in seeing again.

      Another one is the golden orb attack that Alanic used against Quatach Ichl. That seemed to be a very high level spell, but we hardy know anything about it and what made it so effective against Quatach ichl’s artificial skeleton during that one fight. That seems like the kind of spell Zach would have begged Alanic to teach him.

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  4. Is it possible to anchor an enhancement ritual to a person’s mind? From what I have read, it should be possible. It would probably work like any other mental enhancement and be able to toggle on and off. I imagine it being like a permanent spell formula embeded in the mind. Just channel mana to that part of the mind, and the ability activates. It ought to be superior to the mana pool anchor in that it only takes mana when in use, but the drawback would be a more crowded mental space, and sufgicient mental damage could violently collapse the enhancement and leave the person a vegetable. Tying an enhancement to both the lifeforce and the mind seems like a better way to go about the enhancement process for Zorian. He has the mental capacity to spare on such a thing. He does not have the mana.

    Zorian also has the advantage of being able to test mental constructs on his simulcarums, so he han keep trying till he gets it right. This might be a method only practical for psychics, but if Zorian does develop it, he could sell the method to an arenea web for a very very high price. I’m sure the Luminous Advocates would give him whatever he wants for something like that.

    Arenean mental enhancements are already a type of enhancment ritual that seems to work on similar principles to the type done by binding to the mana pool. The permanent cost is even quite similar. Just like the arenean memory packet claims a permanent portion of the mind which cannot be reclaimed, the standard enhancement ritual claims a permanent portion of the mana pool.

    By studying the connection between mind and soul, I think it should be possible for Zorian to locate the place in his soul where memories are stored and use that part of the soul to anchor an enhancement ritual instead of his mana pool.

    With all these mind methods, he would still need to use his lifeforce to make the enhancement intuitive.

    I am thinking pretty outside the box here. You may not have ever considered this potential, but with the mechanics already within the story, do you think it is theoretically possible to do anything like what I habe mentioned? If not, could you briefely explain why?

    Sorry if this is too technical a question. The technical aspects of magic are my favourite. I am an audio technician, and analyzing systems is my favourite. It carries over in my reading.

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    • It is not possible at the moment: as in, MoL inhabitants have no knowledge of how to do that. I myself did not consider the possibility and so cannot outright deny or confirm if it is theoretically possible. If it is possible, it’s something that would require considerable research and would probably be highly dangerous for the people making initial attempts…

      One thing I have to disagree with you is this: “By studying the connection between mind and soul, I think it should be possible for Zorian to locate the place in his soul where memories are stored”

      This is not a simple task at all. Necromancers have been trying to figure out how the soul works for ages now, using some highly unethical experiments and immense amounts of resources and test subjects, without success. There is no way Zorian can just casually figure out where inside it are his memories stored.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for answering and clarifying the details about the soul.

        I see, I thought his natural mind magic might have been able to give him the necessary advantage in locating that specific part of his soul associated with memory. Oh well.

        But it seems like the other idea might actually be possible.
        I don’t think it would be any more risky than what it took for the first person who developed the mana pool method. I’m pretty sure many test subjects were permanently crippled in the process of developing the current enhancement ritual and blood magic ritual.

        One of the reasons I thought this might have some potential is that Zorian can create artificial copies of his own mind to use as test subjects. And due to the nature of this type of enhancement, one would need some very advanced knowledge of making permanent mental modifications and of modifying spell formula to even begin attempting this. Zorian is in the extremely rare position of having very advanced spell formula skill, extensive experience with mental modifications, and being able to use the simulcarum spell. If it was not for all these three things being present, I would not have even suggested the possibility.

        Like with most things I have imagined for Zorian’s potential future, this is not a project he would be capable of pursuing any time soon.

        He probably has much more learning to do before he could begin such a project, but I think he could manage to get help from the Luminous Advocates in regards to more complex and unusual mental enhancements and ways of modifying and manipulating minds in permanent ways. This is probably an area that the Luminous advocates have actually looked into. They would have probably attempted the project and then abandoned it due to the overly high risk involved. But they don’t know the simulcarum spell.

        Another source of help would be to recruit Daimen in the project since he is both a natural mind mage and a magical genius. Zorian could teach Daimen everything he knows about mind magic, spell formula, simulcarum, and enhancement rituals. I think that with the help of the greatest Arena minds and the help of a genius older brother, this could be accomplished. Maybe not in a five year time period, but perhaps a ten year plan or a fifteen year plan might be doable. He would have to be very very determined to even begin such a project, and there would have to a reason why he would even want to do that. Maybe the desire to explore new magic and expand his own abilities is enough motivation. Maybe not.

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  5. Hello, love the story. A couple of questions have been on my mind for a while now. I hope they haven’t already been asked:

    One of the advantages of having more mana is the ability to practice spells for longer than those with a smaller magnitude. I was wondering if a mage of Zorian’s reserves could shore up this weakness by practicing with underpowered spells. While useless in combat, it could still increase mastery and help make them reflexive. Would something like this have any impact?

    Eagle shifters presumably went feral and left civilization. What would happen if they crossbred with regular eagles? Would the newborns be shifter children, or an eagle equivalent of the Silver One?

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    • Zorian has already been focussing on mana efficient spells for most of the story. It’s why we never see him use the very flashy combat spells used by Zach. Zorian saves mana anywhere he can. I don’t think he can be much more efficient than he already is. Even using low cost spells, he constantly works on his shaping to cast those spells as perfectly as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am not talking about low cost spells. When learning how to make invisible missiles, Zorian poured less mana into them. When Alanic first sparred with Zorian, he initially sent weaker fireballs at him. Those are underpowered spells, just as they can be overpowered to produce a bigger bang.

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      • Ok, I see what you are saying now. That makes sense. But why would he want to practice something that is not practically useful to him?

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      • Also, not all spell practice works in the way a force bolt works. A good example is making pocket dimensions. Much of the practice is in making them larger and more stable, but they require more mana to become larger. If zorian only practices making small ones extremely stable, then he will never get good at making big ones. It is similar to the shaping exercise with the cards. The challenge is to precisely control a large quantity of mana quickly. zorian could already control small amounts of heat quite well when he was learning that shaping exercise, and it showed in his casting. If you recall, he mentioned to Xvim that he was fully capable of casting an UNDERPOWERED fireball. He did not need any help learning the spell. He needed help to do it properly, which requires controling a much larger chunk of mana than he was acustomed to at the time.

        Basically, the only way to get good at using a lot of mana is to use a lot of mana. He will never get really good at mana intensive spells by only practicing them with the minimum amount of mana. He will only get good at performing the weak version he was practicing. Pretty sure that is what Xvim’s training was about in that chapter.

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    • Very little impact, I’m afraid. Most mages use spell aids like staffs and rings to instantly cast combat spells, so reflexive spells don’t really have a speed advantage over them, and being mana efficient is far less important in battle than being able to bring down your enemy as quickly as possible. So casting underpowered spells in combat to make your mana last longer is kind of a losing strategy.

      If you’re referring to the idea of him being able to practice longer by using underpowered versions before moving on to complete spells, this is sort of what everyone does. Plus, not every spell can be made underpowered while remaining stable. So Zorian doesn’t have any real advantage here over other people.

      Shifters can only produce children with their base species (humans in this case). So eagle shifters cannot breed with regular eagles at all. Well, they can, but it won’t produce any offspring.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m noticing a common theme that the pre-Ikosian Altazian magic comunities had a focus around magics that deal with the soul and self-modification, shifters, witches, and morlocks all deal with soul magic in some capacity and with self modification. Witches modify with potions, morlocks with blood rituals, and shifters with shifting. It’s very interesting to see that cultural commonality on the continent. I wonder what would cause that. Seems like there must have been some common historical magic community that eventually split into the urrent groupings.

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    • If I had to guess it could be that the Witches, Morlocks and Shifters of Pre-Iklosian Altazia probably communicated and exchanged some ideas – or the other groups copied ideas and went their own way with them. Since all three groups were outsiders to the Khusky natives it would make sense if they all had some limited contact. Especially for the Witches and Shifters.

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      • It might also just be more practical. If you can’t use structured magic then spells aren’t fast enough to use in combat, so you’re better off using a long ritual for a permanent modification that can then be used at will.

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  7. Did Zorian ever learn that special mental attack from the Burning Apex web that could partially pass through his mental sheilds? Also, has he managed to learn to improve his defense against those types of special attacks?

    Just curious.

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      • Thanks, I was wondering because it seemed like something the Burning Apex web would want to keep strictly confidential. But maybe they didn’t teach him. . . . Maybe he learned it when he was searching their minds practicing to open the memory packet.

        Either way, thanks for answering

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  8. I just had a wild thought. Since we know Zorian comes from witch lineage, and we know Silverlake is a very VERY old immortal witch, it seems possible that Silverlake could be one of his ancestors. What if she is actually his great great great grandmother or something and neither of them know it! It’s a possibility.

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  9. [new chapter spoiler!]

    Wow, you just turned up the suspense rating to maximum. I definitely did not think the wraith bombs would ever get the chance to become a real risk since they always took out Sudomir early on. But if the bombs go off early. . . The whole situation suddenly becomes almost impossible for just their small group to adequately handle. They need to recruit the entire Triumvirate church or some other large, non-government force.

    I wonder very much now about any hidden ability or bloodline Zorian might still have locked away without realizing. Could it be the drake is really just wary of his telepathy? I never thought to question this before!! I thought innate mind magic was enough to single out Zorian as a prime threat, but maybe it really is something else that has not yet been revealed.

    The way you constantly manage to keep the story fresh and alive with possibility is amazing. Thank you for all your effort.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In retrospect, it seems like an obvious idea to fast track the wraith bombs. RR can’t take Z&Z head on so he needs something to create chaos.

      In regards to Zorian’s ability, it’s entirely possible that there are aspects to it he hasn’t discovered yet. Since we don’t know exactly what the bloodline is from it makes it harder to know exactly what the abilities are other than Psychic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The particular species of the bloodline has always been a curiosity to me. It’s not arenea, because then only females would inherit the ability, at least I think it would work that way. It’s not cranium rats, because zorian has already tried that. The other options we know of are memory moss and azure sea hermit crabs. I don’t think a drake would be afraid of moss since they could destroy moss with a simple fire breath, but azure sea hermit crabs might be extremely dangerous creatures that we know nothing about.

        I’m thinking that whatever creature it is has two abilities, and Zorian simply has stronger telepathy than the other hidden ability. I imagine Daimen has the reverse, weaker telepathy, but whatever the other ability is, Daimen can probably use it better.

        That’s my guess. Since it’s a crab from the Azure sea, maybe it is an ability related to water somehow. Maybe it’s like pokemon, fire types are weak to water types, so the fire drake was scared of Zorian. I think my guess is as good as any at this point. Not enough information.

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      • Qq, both Aranea males and females are psychics, it’s just that while females are larger and have intelligence on a human’s level (even without mental enhancements), the males are small and have intelligence on a dog’s level. And about other aspects of Zorian’s bloodline, remember that Zorian was able to use a relatively advanced divination spell with little effort, and that Daimen is (if I remember correctly) very capable of this kind of magic.

        We also know that Kiriele has an incredible memory for details, to the point of making incredibly realistic draws.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Did Zorian ever consider becoming a shifter using the divine hydra? Having a multi-mind would have obvious advantages considering his mental abilities and with his simulacrums doing the same he could simulate having an army of master mind mages in perfect synergy to perform mental attacks. Not to mention the obvious gains in raw power and mana afforded by the hydra. The issues that would normally come with using a magic creature would also be diminished by him being able to modify his own mind.

    Did he ever learn anything about the mental shield of the divine sand worm? Z&Z trying to acquire it was never mentioned and I’m curious why.

    Was it impossible for Zorian to fully integrate the different minds of the simulacrums into one holistic stream of consciousness? The advantages of such an arrangement couldn’t be overstated, being able to learn multiple things at once (I mean he could, but it wasn’t the same kind of efficiency) would have been tremendous. Or was he just against the concept?

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    • Zorian decided against becoming a shifter pretty earlier in the time loop, because he wasn’t sure how that would affect his marker and thus his time looper status. Becoming an animal shifter in the real world is theoretically on the table in the future, but becoming something like a hydra shifter is definitely not. Even if he can keep his mind and sanity in face of a monstrous other half – and this is far from guaranteed, even with his great skills – there is no guarantee that his children will be able to. He’d be either dooming his descendants or completely giving up the idea of starting a family in the future.

      No, he didn’t. He studied it as much as he could, but didn’t learn anything too useful. I never mentioned it because it did not bear fruit and it kind of felt superfluous to dwell on it. (The original plan involved a much lengthier arc revolving around Xlotic, but since most of it did not advance the story and involved them repeatedly running into various dead ends, I ended up cutting it. The plan was made back when I didn’t even dare hope that I would get this far, and completely ignore issues of pacing and such.)

      When considering that idea, I decided that successful achieving such a feat would completely remove Zorian from humanity as we know it and basically uplift him into some sort of miniature superintelligence. And I realized I have no way to write a story with that kind of main character, nor could I make the plot such a being would not break over its knee very quickly. Thus, I decided that such a feat was theoretically possible but very, very difficult. Zorian would not be able to achieve it without recruiting an entire facility-worth of psychic researchers and focusing on it heavily. Anyway, Zorian is not opposed to the idea, he just realized that full integration is beyond him and isn’t willing to drop everything to pursue this.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That last bit was very insightful of you. Some authors actually try to write characters exceedingly far beyond their own intelligence, and the greater the intellectual gap, the more poorly written the character becomes. The overcompetence issue of overcoming plot challenges too easily was the main issue that came to mind for me when thinking about the hivemind possibility. Zorian is already at the extreem edge of human genius as far as mental ability is concerned. His mental enhancements have given him the ability to think in ways most mages will never be able to. There are also many things he can think through with the speed of a savant.

        I think I consider Zorian’s mental enhancements closest to savantism, where some people have extremely hightened ability in one aspect of mental ability at the expense of other areas. Popular real-life examples are people born with eidetic memory who can remember everything they have ever read and what the weather was like on any particular day etc, and there are also people who can perform just about any sort of mathematical operation with near instantaneous speed. There are several different types of this condition, but they all cause the person to have a deficiency in some other mental aspect.

        What I feel Zorian does with his enhancements is he unlocks the ability of his mind to specialize in certain areas without sacrificing something else. So technically all the mental enhancements are still within human limits, just not all at the same time. There is no natural savant with all mental advantages and no drawbacks, but with magic this becomes possible. So while it is difficult, such a character can be written.

        But the hivemind would definitely blow that apart. Even just two minds working perfectly as one with double the perception and double the perspective as well as a third harmonic perspective which is the perspective that comes from having two different perspectives at the same time. That transcends human thought completely. If those two minds are both full of magical mental enhancements, then suddenly you have a superhuman being that would be so advanced as to be completely alien to us. I imagine a 5-7x enhanced hivemind Zorian is all it takes to put his mind on the same level as a primordial. Maybe I am underestimating primordials, but anything beyond a 3x hivemind zorian is already so far beyond human that it would make no discernable difference to us. It’s like telling the difference between someone with an IQ of 400 and someone with an IQ of 1000. Sure one is much smarter than the other, but to us mear mortals we would not be smart enough to even know what difference to look for. Any test that could be used to judge such absurd intellect would be beyond our ability to even understand the test.

        …Wow, I really ranted. I lost track there and just spilled my brain everywhere.
        Anyway, good job on not writing hivemind Zorian. That was the point I think I was trying ro make.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know if it will be soon. I want to write more worldbuilding but other things keep taking my time, and I focus most of my creative energies on the story itself, as it is more pressing. My current topics on the list: The Dungeon, Shifters, Types of Undead, Spell Formula, Religion, Brief Overview of Altazian History, and Souls. Others are only in the planning phase, and don’t have anything substantial written. I might settle for some simply, short articles instead though – descriptions of magical creatures, various Houses, and so on.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Cool. Undead (Vampires) and Houses both seem especially interesting. In particular, I’ve been wondering how many Houses and Noble Houses there are. For Zorian to have been in a class with three noble heirs – especially when he’s not in the advanced/networking class – it seems like there should be a lot of Noble Houses. But how big could the Council of Elders really be?

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  11. Maybe after the story ends, you could spend some time just writing all the world building articles you never had time for instead of jumping directly into a new story. it could be a great way to collect your thoughts on what story will be next while also providing really interesting background details that give context to new readers who want to dive deep into the lore of the story.

    Liked by 3 people

      • I meant last as in the last one before the story ends. I hope for and expect more after the story is over, but I am not confident enough to hope for more than one more before the end of the story.

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  12. If spirit possesed human body for a while and impregnated woman, will the baby or descendant gain some ability of said spirit ?
    I wonder if Estin bloodlines comes from spirit ancestor or his ancestor just performed blood enchantment ritual.

    Thanks Author for writing wonderful story >4<)b

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    • I don’t know. Which is an interesting admission from the creator of the setting but still true. I thought about interactions between spirit and humans, but I never settled on many solid answers. I’d say it’s possible but not guaranteed. There is definitely a way for humans to get magical abilities of spirits, but I have not worked out the exact mechanisms for that.

      Liked by 2 people

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