His world small, his innocence true, his ignorance bliss. Angdraoni was the youngest member of the Usgrat dwarven tribe. Small even for a dwarf. His round clay colored face already had a bit of dark stubble. He kept his black hair short, and most often wore a brown loose fitting tunic.
His father Ongjorni was a skilled craftsmen and a fierce warrior. And as the Usgrat had no official leader many saw him as the defacto chief. Ongjorni’s wife Lysyntri, possessed immense power. With the ability to bend nature to her whim, she was often seen as the spiritual leader of the tribe. It was due to their high regard amongst their people that these two were permitted to keep their son Angdraoni. After their narrow escape from Those Who Maim nine years ago the Usgrat came to the conclusion that children would be a liability. They were most likely still being pursued, and their future was uncertain. They all agreed to drink a special herb to sterilize themselves. However Lysyntri was already pregnant, with a heartfelt plea Ongjorni argued that they needed some hope for the future, and thus Ang was born.
Since young Ang was the only child, he was accustomed to playing by himself. He would often sneak off into the woods with the ceramic ocarina his father made for him. His favorite spot was under the giant Silver Willow. Angdraoni sat beneath the tree, where the air was always calm and cradling, and began to play the song his mother taught him. As he did he noticed the branches and vines beginning to rise up and sway like a silver wave. He stopped and the branches gently fell limp.
“Did I do that?” Ang thought to himself. He had seen similar things happen when his mother would sing. He started to play again and the branches created a silver cascade. Animals came and gathered around drawn in by the wonderful sound. Angdraoni played the day away, making music and song with nature itself. He danced beneath the Silver Willow until the moon came out. Realizing how late it was,he dropped the ocarina and sprinted back home. His mother was going to be upset with him for being out so late.
Angdraoni ran into the house only to find it empty. This was becoming a more common sight nowadays. He figured mom, dad and the rest of the villagers must be at another meeting. The meetings were more frequent and lasted longer than before, sometimes going on for days. Ang took the opportunity to sneak into bed just before his parents came home. Lysynstri ran to Ang’s room to make sure her son was safe. Ang pretended to be asleep as his mother gave him a loving kiss good night. He could hear her quietly leave the room.
“How is he?” asked Ongjorni. He was brawnier than most dwarves. Arms as thick as his thighs and shoulders almost as wide as he was tall. His textured dark clay skin was covered in a generous amount of dark brown hair. And he had a long glorious beard with the most intricate braids. He was sitting in his favorite chair smoking a pipe.
“Safe and sound” answered Lysyntri, while closing the door behind her. She was slightly taller and more slender than the average dwarf. Her smooth light clay skin was covered in fine light brown hairs, and she had a peach fuzz beard.
“He shouldn’t be playing out there. It was sheer luck that we found this forest. I don't know how much longer we will remain hidden.” Said Ongjorni in an irritated tone.
“It’s alright Ong, he was playing beneath the Silver Willow. Honestly he is safer under that tree than in this village.”
“And how do you know that? Did a little bird tell you?”
“Actually a spider came along.” responded Lysyntri with a mischievous giggle. “She told me some very interesting things happened. I think it might be time for him to learn.”
“Already! At his age?”
“Shh!” Whispered Lysyntri holding a finger to her lips. “Yes that is what I am saying, he is trying to sleep darling, let's step outside.”
Ang wanted to hear more. But he could no longer fight the urge to sleep and drifted into a deep slumber.
The next morning Ang awoke early and well rested. He wiped the drool from his cheek and hopped out of bed. Outside he could hear his mother humming and tending to her garden. Yawning he stepped outside. Of all the gardens in the village hers was the most beautiful, and had the most bountiful harvests.
Lysyntri was wearing her blue dress that day, Ang loved that dress. The hue was almost divine, it contrasted the blue of the sky while at the same time complementing it. She almost seemed to blend in with the green landscape, as if she were an integral part of it. Like an irrigation stream, or the sky and she the sun, nourishing all things with her presence. She was tending to the tomato plants, they were starting to bud. Tapping each bud while humming a tune, she made the entire bush bloom. Feeling Ang watching her Lysyntri called out.
“Ang! Your awake, come I have something to show you” Lysyntri beconed Ang with a sunny smile. Ang moved to stand next to his mother. “Now close your eyes”. As he did she placed a hand on his head. He felt his essence expanding. It was as if he was growing. Not in a physical sense but a spiritual one. He was melding becoming one with the nature around him.
"That feeling Ang, that is your Imdrina, your essence. Since you are my son your Imdrina is like my own thus it is very easy to blend some of mine with yours. Now hold up one finger and focus all of your imdrina into the tip of your finger."
He did as his mother instructed. He could feel the energy gathering at the tip of his finger. It was warm, like holding a mug of tea.
"Alright Ang now hold the energy right there until you make contact with bud. Then envision the energy flowing into it."
He did just that. Placing a finger on the bud he felt the connection between fauna and flora and let the energy flow. The bud opened only a little. Mother, detecting his disappointment was ready with a suggestion.
"Let's try the same thing. This time try focusing the energy into your thumb. The thumb can contain the highest amount of Imdrina of all your fingers."
Thus began Ang’s first lesson in using Imdrina. Placing his thumb on the bud, it began to blossom. Not as colorful and vibrant as mom could do it but it was a very good start.
In this state of heightened awareness, he could even feel the movements of the worms beneath his feet. Something seemed off. He could sense frantic movement. It was as if they were attempting to burrow themselves deeper into the earth, as if they were trying to get away from something.
Ang knelt down and felt the soil to coerce the worms to come out. The hairs on his neck stood up, as he felt an unfamiliar presence behind him. He spun around, his mother had vanished. A giant humanoid figure clad in black armor, stood in her place. The armor was covered in wicked sharp thorns and edges. It was so dark that it seemed like it was sucking in all the light, or was it the life around it. Ang froze in place. There was something about this being, it's aura was vast and seemed to be crushing his soul. He felt like one of the worms, pinned beneath this monsters giant foot.
Thorny vines shot up from the ground entangling the monster. Its aura subsided, and Ang could feel the pressure lifting from his chest. A voice in his head whispered "run".
That is exactly what he did. None of other villagers were anywhere to be seen, but plenty of other armoured giants were around. In his haste he tripped with a loud thud, causing one of the giants to notice him. The giant gave chase. With surprising speed and agility, It was swiftly closing the gap between them.
He could feel the tips of it’s claws reaching for his back. Then Ang heard a loud roar, followed by the sound of a large hammer striking metal. A black helmet flew over his head and landed several meters in front of him, just on the edge of the forest. He stopped and stared at the empty helmet.
He could hear it breathing, something bigger and more dangerous than giants was behind him. He slowly turned around to find himself face to face with a colossal gray bear. Though the bear was large, muscular, and oozed of primal ferocity, it had a familiar presence.
He heard it again, the same voice in his head “don’t look back keep running.”Then the bear was shot from behind with an arrow. It wailed in pain and turned to face the attacker. Ang noticed the arrow had created an unnaturally large gash on the bears rear left thigh, the wound was already gravely infected,and quickly spreading rotting the bears leg away. The whole village was set ablaze, the sky darkened, and the bear was facing down a small army of armored giants. Ang heeded the voice in his head and ran.
He did not know how long he was running, what direction, or how far he had gone, he ran until he collapsed. When he came to he looked up. His mind was hazy, vision blurred, but he would recognize that divine blue anywhere. His mother placed a hand on his head, his body became light, and he floated to his feet. His vision cleared and he began to scan his surroundings. The trees were taller than any he had seen before, and the flowers more diverse and colorful. But what really caught his eye was that blue, that divine blue that stood out amongst the foliage. It was a small piece of fabric caught in the web of a spider. He approached the web.
Ang took the cloth in hand. Realizing that he may never see his family again, he started to cry into the cloth. Several animals gathered around him making a circle of comfort. He cried well into the night, and fell asleep. The next day he awoke to find that a small shelter had been constructed around him. A spider was there, waiting patiently, standing next to a thick tome. It was a blue tarantula with red knee joints, an intricate silver horizontal stripe pattern on its abdomen, and an elaborate gold line running vertically down the center of its body ending at the spinnerets. Ang moved to pick up the tome, and opened the hard wood cover to the first gold page. On it was a letter to him from his mother it read.
“Little Ang, If you're reading this then I am most likely gone from this world. I must apologize. In giving birth to you I placed a heavy burden on your shoulders. You being the only child of the Usgrat tribe, we placed the burden of our future on you. Forget about that Ang the Usgrat dwarves are gone now, but you still have family out there. I want you to live for yourself. But in order to live and survive you are going to have to learn use your Imdrina. The spider Kiliyi is an old friend of mine, don’t let her looks deceive you, she is a powerful caster and has a lot to teach you. Use this book as a guide, and I know you will quickly master your talents.
Ang then turned the page and read this passage.
Basics of magic
The key to using magic is harnessing and focusing Imdrina. Imdrina is the blood of life, and the fuel for all magic spells. All living things and many non-living things possess Imdrina. The age that any creature will start to exhibit the usage of Imdrina as magic varies greatly, some may use magic at birth, others can take several years, many may never display the ability.
Imdrina is crafted into spells, by channeling it in specific ways to create the desired effect. Many creatures at birth still have under developed Imdrina channels, and are unable to focus it into magic. The methods of focusing Imdrina into spells are as follows.
Rune weaving is one of the most common ways of producing magic effects. Runes can be used by most any creature. The only requirements for using runes is knowledge of the specific patterns necessary to produce the desired effect, a surface to write on, something to write with. Bipedal organisms are often seen using this form of casting by drawing the runes in the air with tracer light. Having dexterous fingers, allows some to weave complex hand signs. The most common method is simply carving the desired runes into the dirt.
Sound can be used to channel Imdrina. The methods of forming the proper channels using sound vary greatly. Birds especially parrots are very adept at this method. Many birds can produce a very wide range of sounds, however parrots and a few other species can also recite incantations.
Organisms that cannot sing, or do not possess the right vocal range can recite incantations. There are an infinite number of incantations that can be made in any language. What makes Incantations work is not the actual words said, but the sounds produced. Because of this many incantations, are strung together using words that make no sense, since the words only serve as guides to help one memorize and produce the correct sounds.
Music can produce incredibly powerful effects. Singing an incantation can sometimes provide a boost to the spell. By harmonizing sounds the effects of magic can be amplified exponentially depending on the number of harmonies created. Instruments are inherently magical, though some more so than others depending on the craftsmanship.
Color and Patterns
Coloring is the rarest form of casting. It can only be used by a few creatures who are capable of changing their skin color. The Chameleon is a prime example of this. By altering their skin color in various sequences they can produce a vast number of magical effects. Additionally the pattern on a creatures fur, scales, feathers, et cetera, may provide some innate magic.
Most things have a natural affinity to a certain element, or specific magic. Their bodies are designed to leave these magic channels open. Because they are always being channeled these can be cast quickly and remain active almost indefinitely.
The whale is a large creature of the ocean, known for its ability to control the tide and produce whale clouds. The Zebra is covered with a strip pattern that allows it to cast an invisibility spell at will. Turtles can make their bodies hard as diamond. Many different kinds of innate abilities exist. With training one can make frequently used magic spells innate.
It is possible to create items with the the appropriate colors, patterns, or runes set to produce the desired magic. These can take many forms. Effects can be woven into clothing, carved into clay, or engraved into metal. One can also tattoo, brand, or scar patterns onto skin. Magic can also be braided into hair.
Artifacts are special kinds of items that can produce their own Imdrina. Casters can use this to supplement, or cast spells without using their own Imdrina. Artifacts are extremely rare and difficult to create often involving a large sacrifice. Eventually Artifacts will lose their ability to create Imdrina. This can take anywhere from a year to many thousands of years depending on the craftsmanship. These most often take the form of glass balls, or wooden sticks, since these items are the easiest to imbue and tend to last the longest, but almost anything can be made into an artifact.
After reading this text Ang looked up at Kiliyi and noticed she was holding up one of her front legs. She was producing a faint glow at the tip of her leg. Ang recognized that this must be tracer light.
Remembering his first lesson with his mother Ang closed his eyes and started to focus his energy into the tip of his finger. He could feel the Imdrina gathering and his finger got warm. He then imagined the energy igniting into a light. He felt his finger get a little warmer and he was sure he had done it. Upon opening his eyes he saw that no light was produced.
Kiliyi leapt onto Angdraoni’s shoulder, and in a brief moment Ang’s finger lite up. She then leapt off his shoulder. The light at the tip of his finger flickered briefly and then went out. Ang spent several hours practicing this spell. Kiliyi assisting with each of his attempts leaping onto and off of his shoulder to help focus his Imdrina. Finally after many attempts he was able to produce the tracer light on his own.
The tome Ang was reading from then opened to a certain page. Ang turned and looked at the page the book had flipped to. On it was a picture of a rune Ang had seen before. It was drawn above all the doorways in the village. The text below the rune indicated that this was a protection spell. He then watched Kiliyi scuttle outside the hut, and he followed. Kiliyi led him around the side of the hut, and crawled into a web. Ang looked at the web and noticed the protection rune spun into it. Kiliyi then lite her front leg with tracer light, and waved it in the air. Ang got the hint. Activating his tracer light he used the web as a guide to draw the protection rune in the air. He felt a surge of energy surround him as the spell activated.
Ang had a thought. This spell was meant to provide protection, but it obviously did not work. He went back into his hut and noticed the tome had already flipped to the appropriate page. This page detailed how runes are made. He learned that straight lines indicate strength, protection or solid matter. Wavy lines were for manipulation of weather, fire, and other forces. Dots were for creating gas or mist like effects. Depending their placement dots can also determine the size of a magic effect.
Ang studied rune weaving for many days. At night he went hunting with Kiliyi. Practicing the runes he learned in his studies on their prey and also weaving a few experimental signs of his own crafting. Ang was a fast learner, and within a few months had gained enough of an understanding that he was able to draw improvements to the original protection rune.
He had grown accustomed to seeing Kiliyi first thing in the morning standing atop the open tome. On this morning both were missing. Ang quickly got up and stepped outside. Hanging on a branch just a few meters ahead was his ocarina. On the trunk of the same tree was Kiliyi, and in a web below her the open tome was suspended.
Ang was elated! He thought the ocarina was lost. Seizing the ocarina Ang started to play his favorite song. Just like when he was under the Silver Willow, the song made the forest around him dance. Ang felt Kiliyi leap onto his shoulder. She motioned to the tome. Ang picked up the tome and read the passage.
Transformation magic is extremely complex. In order to utilize it properly it is recommended that a caster uses two different chaneling methods at once. For most creatures this would mean drawing the proper rune on ones body and then reciting an incantation. Coloring can be used in place of either the rune or incantation. Mass can only be added to the body by converting Imdrina. It is impossible to transform into a creature smaller than oneself, since one cannot subtract mass. Additionally the more mass that is added the more difficult the transformation is to maintain.
This means that smaller bodies have an advantage when using transformation spells. The number of things they can transform into is greater, and they can remain transformed for longer. The amount of time a caster can maintain a transformation varies depending on the caster’s size, skill, and the size of the transformation.
Transformation spells cannot be used to turn into another individual. For example two casters can transform into gray wolves, but they will be two distinctly different gray wolves. All physical deformities, scars, and quirks will carry over to the new form. If a caster is missing an arm, then they will turn into a three legged wolf. If their eye is scarred closed it shall remain so. In order to make oneself look like another individual refer to the section on illusion magic.
Below this text was a rune with the words “deer” written below it, followed by a series of musical notes. Ang took off his ragged shirt, and using a nearby puddle of mudd he drew the rune on his belly. He then picked up his ocarina and played the notes. He could feel the Imdrina flowing in and around his body. Upon playing the final note his body started to morph. Fur sprouted all over, his fingers turned to hooves, and it became difficult to stand on two legs. The change was not painful, just very uncomfortable.
He had successfully transformed into a young deer with dirty pants on. At first he felt very wrong and uncoordinated. But after walking, bleating, and frolicing for a bit he got used to being a deer. He ran around the forest with Kiliyi until nightfall. Tired of being a deer Ang looked to undo the spell. Kiliyi directed him back to the tome. The tome was opened to the same page. Ang panicked for a brief moment. He has no hands to handle the ocarina to play the notes, nor can he use his tracer light. Remembering the basics of magic, he started to write the rune in the dirt. While standing over the rune he bleated the notes, upon the final bleat he turned back into a dwarf. Exhausted Ang retired to his hut.
For the next several months Ang practiced using his ocarina to cast spells, and did several more transformations. Experimenting with different notes and melodies. He realized that music is much like using wavy lines in runes, but channeling is much faster and more dynamic. With his ocarina Ang found it was easier to cast spells that control the elements. Not only could he start a fire, but he could manipulate it. Make the flames take the shape of an animal or spin into a cyclone. He played a song to start the rain, then played a different song to clear the clouds. He summoned a gentle breeze that turned into a tornado. He was causing many strange weather phenomena to occur in his small corner of the forest.
Ang hunted using many different forms. He found that transformations can be modified,and innate abilities added to the transformation. With a few changes to the rune and song used, he took the form of a black dog with red markings that allowed for an innate fire breath ability. His main goal was to recreate the huge gray bear that saved him from the giants. After many months of trying he was finally able to take the form of a gray bear, though the transformation could only be maintained for a brief moment.
While Ang was learning and practicing his magic Kiliyi was not idle. Using her special gold silk that was nearly indestructible, she set up a complex network of trip wire and traps. All of which were connected to a single gold thread, that was linked to the web she set up in the corner of the hut. It wasn’t unusual to feel vibrations in the web from time to time, but on this morning her web was jolted violently. Kiliyi sprung into action, jumping onto Ang’s back she firmly pricked him with her fang to wake him.
“Ouch! Kiliyi what was that fo.”
Kiliyi jumped onto Ang’s mouth and pointed to her web. Now Ang understood their situation, something or several somethings were coming right to them. Then it dawned on him, by rapidly changing the weather, and practicing very loud and flashy spells it was only a matter of time before someone would notice them. He had compromised their position. Kiliyi jumped to the ground and began to carefully approach the entrance to the hut, Ang slowly crawling right behind her, his heart pounding. Kiliyi made it to the corner of the entrance and began crawling up the side of the doorway. Ang slowly poked his head out, his heart sunk when he saw them. Three black armored giants were approaching.
Thanks to the protection spell. There was no way the giants could see or hear him, but if one bumps the barrier he is found. Ang was sure that his barrier was stronger then the one used in the village, but it still won’t hold forever. He had to think of something. He was learning magic for this very reason, so he could fight back and survive. What spell should he use? The giants were still several meters away, he needed to work fast. He started making the rune for his gray bear transformation on the ground. He can’t maintain it for long, but he can at least get a few good swipes in. Next he carved the runes for his black dog transformation. Looking up the giants were almost upon him. He wouldn’t have time to draw another rune. Ang grabbed his ocarina and hung it around his neck with the silk lanyard Kiliyi made. He stood up and readied his tracer light he was going to try to fight from a distance. As soon as he started to draw a rune, the giants as if they could detect the usage of imdrina rapidly closed the distance. Ang was surrounded, and just like before the aura of these monsters was crushing him. Ang struggled against the pressure, he grabbed his ocarina but he couldn’t lift it to his lips. One of the giants placed a hand on the barrier, and began pushing it’s black clawed hand through. Ang looked around Kiliyi was nowhere in sight. The giants were reaching for him.
“Kiliyi, mom, anyone please help me.” Ang thought tears rolling down his eyes. “It’s hopeless, these things took out my whole village full of skilled casters and craftsman. What can I do? What can one little spider do? How pathetic, I am gonna be crushed like an insect. I can’t even fight back.”
Then she sprung her trap. A gold silk net fell from the sky, and simultaneously gold threads shot up from the ground. All three monsters were caught in her web. The pressure subsided Ang could move again. He looked around,and noticed a long thread coming off one of the giants that lead high up into a tree. At the end of the thread was Kiliyi on the trunk of the tree. With a flick of her leg, she ignited the thread with blood red flame. The flame sprinted down the thread, and the gold wed burst into red flame. The giants burned rapidly, their sickly black armor melting away. It wasn’t long before all three giants were nothing, not even ash.
Ang stood there for what seemed like an eternity. He didn’t know what to think or feel in that moment. He was scared, relieved, mad and awe struck. Kiliyi crawled onto his shoulder, and he started to relax. He was very fortunate to have her, she is indeed a powerful caster. Ang observed his surroundings, it seemed like they were safe for now but Ang knew they could no longer stay in this section of the forest. They had to move. He solemnly turned to the hut he called home over the past couple years. They should probably pack up and leave as soon as possible but Ang just didn’t have the energy. He felt completely drained after this last encounter, both physically and mentally. Kiliyi started to scuttle off and beckoned Ang to follow. She led him around to a hollowed out tree Ang had not noticed before. The hollow was filled with spider silk threads and hanging in the center were a brown pair of trousers and a red clay colored shirt. Tucked neatly into the shirt pocket on the right side was a small piece of blue fabric.
Ang bent down and gently cupped Kiliyi into his hands. “Did you make these for me?”
Kiliyi responded by wiping a tear from his eye and pointing to his new outfit. He placed her back on the ground and began to take off his rags. The trousers felt thick and durable but also extremely light. The shirt felt the same. They were so comfortable he had to double check that he put them on. The shirt created a deep v line that exposed the few hairs he was starting to sprout on his chest. His beard was really starting to grow in, and he was putting on a bit of muscle. Kiliyi pointed back at the hollow. Ang took another look and noticed a brown pair of shoes and a bag. He really didn’t care for shoes, dwarven feet were durable enough without them. But he figured he his going to be walking for awhile so probably best to put them on. Just like the shirt and trousers, he still felt barefoot. Ang slung the ocarina around his neck, grabbed the magic tome placed it in the bag, along with some food, and magic items he was working on. Kiliyi rigged the hut, they stood several meters away and watched as Kiliyi ignited a gold thread with her red flame. The hut was set ablaze and burned to nothing. Angdraoni with his mentor Kiliyi on his left shoulder. It was time to start the long journey to find a home.