Our Q Ayl’gard – Part 2
Hello again folks and welcome back to our Q & A series where I answer some of your questions that you have kindly offered to me as enquiring minds speculate about the dark fantasy world of Ayl’gard. In part 1 we looked at some of the many races that inhabit the many regions of this world as I was asked to choose a favourite. This time we have the opportunity to take a look at a prominent subject deeply rooted in the history of Ayl’gard – magick.
‘What do you think is the worst magical curse to get?’
The word curse is an odd one as its meaning varies depending on the perspective of the witness. For example, a lonely vagabond stumbles into a tavern one night looking to spend his last few pennies on a mug of crude, brown gammy-gut grog. It’s a particularly nasty drink but it does the job. It’s not one of those fancy taverns on the road to Covenraen where the wine flows like water, oh no! You should probably only stop into one of those if you happen to be wealthy enough to basically eat silver and shit coins. I’ll bet you’re loving that mental image now aren’t you? I’m referring to one of the lesser alehouses, the one’s held up by mould, rotten wood and has the faint whiff of piss seeped into its grimy corners. Drinking away, alone in his squalid corner, he curses the very embers coming from the fireplace behind him for his loathsome situation.
This particular vagabond just so happened to once be a prosperous trader working on behalf of the Merchants Guild until he squandered what little wealth he had investing in worthless trinkets he thought he could sell on the road for a fair bit of silver. These trinkets were said to be bristling with ‘lost’ magicks, long forgotten from the age of the Ayl’far, who forged them to bring good health and prosperity to whomever wore them. The seller, a mediocre and mild mannered mage with the ‘gift of the gab’, claimed to have unearthed an old stash and was happy to part with them. For a decent price. Well there was some magick in them, just like the mage said. Only it was a mild form of earth magick woven into the copper, keeping them held together just long enough for the mage to be well on his way before they began to fall apart. It didn’t take long for the once proud merchant’s ties to the Guild to be severed and for what remained of his possessions to be sold off just to keep a roof over his head.
If you want to talk about a more physical representation of cursed magick then I would refer you to the ailment known throughout Lochland and Ayrlaston as shatterbite. Deep in the darkest parts of the Winter Wood, there are packs of wolves with fur as white as powdered snow that have fangs capable of piercing flesh greater than most daggers. A winter wolf sighting is rare and to be bitten even more so but every now and then a hunter or proud fool will test the natural order of the wild and try to make a name for themselves by attempting to return home with the pelt of a great beast draped over their shoulder.
There is said to be old magick in the fangs of a winter wolf that dates back to a time before any written account of history, back to when the gods walked the world of Ayl’gard as men and women of flesh and blood. Any person who engages one of these wolves and is fortunate enough to walk away have a tendency to share the same fate. A single bite into their flesh, usually an arm or a leg as they try in vain to to defend themselves, and the bitter grip of winter causes the wound to literally freeze, over the course of an hour or so, into solid ice and then shatter into brittle shards with the slightest touch.
This affliction was particularly distressing for one unlucky sod, an oaf whose words were grander than his actions, who was bitten in the crotch as he attempted to kill his quarry with a dull fork. He had proffered a wager that he could achieve this feat in exchange for a night with his cousins pretty wife. Once she had learned of this wager and saw what became of the oaf, it was she who shattered his wound with one swift knee to the groin. From that point onward he became known as ‘Cold-sack Jak’ as that was all that was left of him.
When it comes to magick as a force with deep roots in this world, its influence can be far reaching and devastating. I would have to say then that ultimately it is magick itself that I would consider to be the worst curse one can get in Ayl’gard. Magick in this world has the potential to be a very potent catalyst that can elicit change, for better or for worse depending on your perspective. When it is harnessed in a manner with of some degree of control, then naturally comes the threat of others wishing to wield such a force for their own benefit. The history of Ayl’gard speaks of Kings using mages to fight wars and conquer countries, of rogue magick wielders decimating entire towns for reasons such as love, hatred or a vengeance that allowed their magicks to consume them entirely as a result of the manipulative machinations of others. Countless mages have had to endure the agony of being hunted and murdered simply for having a power that others do not fully comprehend. To be seen as a tool, a weapon to be used and feared, it is a cruel fate for those who ultimately have no choice for being what they are.
If you are lucky enough to be born into a highborn House of noble birth and your awakening to magick occurs in such a way as to not intentionally cause harm to others, then you may find yourself housed in the Aeon Citadel or the Academy in Aetheria to harness your magicks in a relatively safe environment away from the rest of the world. This is the best case scenario. Even then they are at the mercy and behest of their rulers. Many thousands, usually of lowborn birth, have not been so fortunate. A life lived in fear, doubt and wondering if you can protect yourself and those you love or even wonder if losing control will result in the death of another just because an element of magick happens to be coursing through your veins, it is simply too much for some to bear.
Rarely does one who is mageborn live a life unburdened by the effects of their power within the realms of Ayl’gard. Whether through trying to control what they have or maybe by simply giving in, they will almost always harm themselves or another in some way, intentionally or otherwise. Fail to learn how to wield your magicks, they will consume you and you will die. Lose control of your magicks and others will die. Learn to harness your magicks and become a master of your gift and the chances are that someone else will decide to use your power as they see fit.
This question was asked by The Orangutan Librarian so I would like to offer my gratitude to him for joining in as we conclude part 2. Remember folks, if you wish to participate yourselves you are more than welcome to do so by adding your own inquiries in the comments below.