THE KREAN ARCANE ARTS

SANTHARIAN INTEREST - TERMINOLOGY - WORLDVIEW - BASIC PRINCIPLES
ABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS - SPECIAL LOCATIONS - PREVALENCE - ORIGINS/HISTORY

The Krean believe that all possibilities exist simultaneously - like sheets of paper layered on top of one another - and that the most probable events exist in "our" reality. Krean mages replace one piece of reality with another, less probable version. They do this by making it the most probable, causing the two pieces to be exchanged. Krean Magic derives from Krean philosophy - and Krean philosophy is built on six premises: (i) Everything is energy - or as the Krean put it: Everything is thought, given form; (ii) Reality is objective, and exists independently of our perception of it; (iii) There is an infinite number of possibilities, all of which exist simultaneously; (iv) All sentient beings have freewill; they have the capacity to make choices; (v) Contradictions collapse: Existence is logical; (vi) All things are interconnected - or as the Krean say: Connected is everything, to everything else (Savere edor edora).

All Krean arcane arts - for instance, the magic of the Priestesses of Ankriss as well as that of "secular" Krean mages - rests on the same theoretical foundation. What differs is practice - that is: how these principles are put into operation, how magic is cast. This entry offers an overview of the principles common to all Krean magic.


Santharian Interest in Krean Magic. Santharian interest in Krean Magic flared when Lord Coren FrozenZephyr made one of the most controversial statements in Ximaxian history:

Archmage Akiris Akai

View picture in full size  Picture description. Archmage Akiris Akai (3211-3114 b.S) - considered to be one of the three founders of Classical Krean Magic. Picture drawn by Sheil.

"I have been asked to weigh the magic of Ximax and that of the descendants of the Krean against the magic of the Ancient Krean. I do not dispute that the Academy of Ximax houses some of the most powerful magi in all of Caelereth - but does one hold a candle flame to the sun?

There was a story among the Ancient Krean about the legendary emperor Déárán Asaen. It recounts the day the Temple of Ankriss rose against him, outraged by an endless stream of reforms following one after the other like waves in the ocean:

The High Priestess, a being of prodigious power and herself a figure of myth and legend, called forth every priestess in the Krean realm to meet her in the Valley of Light. Now, you must understand, a Krean mage was like a tempest among men. But there are storms that make other storms look like harmless, rogue winds that lift a straw here and a straw there. Such were the priestesses - each a cloudburst of immeasurable vigour, thunderous, swift, unyielding...

The priestesses planned to waylay the Emperor at a moment they knew he would be alone - for he had a predilection for taking long walks before the Viziers woke and the work of the day began. Every morning at Firstflame, with the rising sun behind, he would come out of the Valley of Light, and walk, unattended, to the gates of the capital, through those grand avenues of pristine white stone, up terrace after terrace after terrace, all the way to the Imperial Gardens where the Divan met.

The Temple was to intercept and imprison Emperor Asaen before the army or the arcane academies could come to his defence. So at the mouth of the Valley gathered the strongest of the strongest: the priestesses of Ankriss. The moment the priestesses caught sight of the Emperor, a tempest overtook the Valley.

They danced on the earth. They danced through the sky. They danced over mountain and stream. Priestesses, thousands of priestesses, swirling and springing across impossible distances… They danced the Great Dance and sang - danced and sang until only the Dance remained.

Their hands and feet sketched complex patterns on the ground and in the air around them, which pooled and coursed together into a shimmering lacework of runes. The movement of their bodies breathed life into the spells their hands and feet shaped. And all through, by swiftly shifting between hand positions and precise finger arrangements, they refined and connected the spells taking form around them.

The more accomplished among them could weave dozens of spells at once. Their hands and feet traced different incantations, the upward swing of one arm released one spell whilst the shifting hand positions of the other arm fine tuned yet another. With perfect synchronisation, all the elements of their spell-casting were woven into one flow. Hundreds of complex patterns, synchronised through breath and woven together through song, flashed and sparked and ran around their dancing bodies.

Wherever their feet touched blossomed into great eruptions of magic and power. Plumes of flame and light swirled around their bodies like the tails of a long dress. And many more plumes sailed across the sky like colourful bolts of cloth tossed into the air in a moment of wild abandon - bolts woven not of cloth but of strands of light and life. Gradually the spells stretched from one priestess to another until a complex structure of light and sound spread between them like lacework.

Like wind that shifts and lifts and breaks the waves of the ocean, their spells seized the very essence of the world and raised from it an arcane tempest. The wind gathered into a terrible gale and howled and rushed across the Valley of Light. An unnatural quiet had fallen upon the wildlife; animals sought shelter between the trees and underground, and birds fled the Valley in great numbers, battling against the wind. The current gathered and grew. Bears, wild boars and all manner of creatures whirled across the sky like dusty balls of cotton caught on the wind, surprised perhaps by their newly discovered powers of flight. The storm continued to grow. Great trees were uprooted, picked off the ground and hurled across the Valley like handfuls of grass grabbed by a child and tossed randomly over his shoulder. The Valley had been covered with a thick carpet of green, but now the forest floor was being stripped of its trees like a hallway of its carpet. Hundreds of trees popped off the ground and flew in all directions until the Valley of Light looked less like a valley than a plain.

A blast went through the lacework and the mountains around the valley were flattened for leagues. It was as if an invisible giant had picked up the very earth and unfurled it from the centre outward, with the kind of movement that resembles a sheet being draped across a bed with a flick of one's wrists. Thus, what was once a small, cosy vale broadened into one of the widest valleys in the Peninsula. Another burst rippled through the priestesses and the lacework between them. Streams of blazing flame and light flowed from their spells down towards the ground, infusing it with their runes until even the stones melted and the Valley glowed like molten metal. The priestesses wanted to make sure the Emperor did not survive, and they were very thorough in their work.

But then a miraculous thing happened: The bears and trees and debris swept up in whirling cones of wind did not fall or come crashing down but hung suspended in the air, floating gently.

The Emperor walked through the tempest, unaffected and untroubled, calmly and with poise, as the sea-gull glides through the air. The wind that surged elsewhere in the Valley had calmed down to a playful breeze around him, brushing lightly against his body and lifting a strand of his hair, now here, now there. He seemed to be in a conversation with something - or someone. Perhaps it was the wind, for from time to time the wind would spiral around his limbs with renewed gusto and the Emperor would stop to listen. His head would be cocked to one side as if he were mulling over something he recently heard. Then he would nod slowly or say something in response. They even seemed to exchange a few jokes. Every now and then his face lit up with a smile and his laughter filled the Valley - a laugh that was inundated with humour and goodwill, beginning with a deep resonance and effortlessly climbing several octaves.

The heat that had scorched the valley floor and melted the rocks did not burn his feet; the ground cooled just a few peds ahead of his step as if the heat was drawn deep into the earth, like water into sand. After a few moments, a soft undulation would go through the spots where his feet had touched the ground and sprouts began to push their heads up through the soil.

When the first of these appeared, Déárán Asaen seemed to be taken by surprise and laughed as if he had just remembered something. As he continued to walk, the boars and the bears and all the animals of various shape and size drifting overhead shimmered and disappeared through doorways of light, and were deposited safely elsewhere in the Peninsula's forests. The trees and debris did not go through these doorways, but instead dissolved into clouds of crystalline light, and were sown again into the earth.

And he walked to the gates, as he had done every morning for seven years. He turned his head up towards the firmament and smiled as the sky cleared and the sun shone across the Valley again, bathing it in warmth and a gentle radiance. The storm had subsided and there was no sign of the priestesses' lacework of spells.

Just before he passed into the city, he glanced back, perhaps with a half-smile on his lips, and chided the High Priestess - as one might gently scold a child so as to correct or improve him:

'You make a lot of noise, but you do not make music.'

But noise they at least made. Alas, the magic of this era, in the face of the magic of the Ancient Krean, raises as much clamour as an ant passing wind in a gale."

Since then, the legend of Ancient Krean Magic has captured the imaginations of Sarvonians - a magic so powerful that the Ancient Krean seem creatures more of myth than of flesh and bone. Did they, we wonder, people a landscape of thought rather than the lush landscape of southwest Nybelmar? Were their mages really as powerful as Nybelmarians seem to believe - or did their feats grow with the passage of time, embellished by generation after generation of storytellers?

Alas, history becomes legend as its events recede into the mists of time - and memories grow dimmer in the slumber of peace. Thus the people of Nybelmar languished in millennia of peaceful splendour, growing forgetful of the dark times their land once knew. With the protection of the Krean gone, will the ancient evil that plagued Nybelmar rise again and terrorise Caelereth once more?
Return to the top

Terminology. Magic is complex - so in explaining it clarity is important. It may be possible to describe an arcane system without using any specialist terminology - but doing so without the benefit of clearly defined terms becomes a clumsy endeavour. After all, imagine having to write about Ximaxian magic without using carll or ounia or xeu or ecu!

The purpose of this entry is to provide an overview of the
Krean system for those who may never have heard of it, and to make its ideas tangible and understandable. Therefore, only the most fundamental terms of the Ancient Krean system will be defined here. Each definition is pruned down to the minimum necessary to make sense of this overview:

For other terms, please consult: The Glossary of Krean Magic. Return to the top

Worldview. Krean magic sprouts from Krean philosophy - and Krean philosophy is built on six premises:
  1. Everything is "thought given form"
    The translation is misleading. The premise does not mean that wishing will make it so. The word "thought" has a very specific meaning in this context, for which there is no Tharian equivalent. For the purposes of this overview, the premise may be simplified as: "Everything is energy."

  2. Reality is objective and exists independently of our perception of it
    The Krean conceive of an objective reality - i.e. that reality exists independently of our perception of it. Or as a Krean would say: Each reality exists independently of our perception of it. According to the Krean, consciousness pre-supposes existence: There is something - of which I am aware. There is (existence) something (identity) - and I am aware of it (consciousness).

    As the Krean saying goes: Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.

  3. Multiverse & no-time: There is an infinite number of possibilities, all of which exist simultaneously
    Krean Magic rests on the principle of non-linear time (more accurately: no-time). According to Krean philosophy, all possibilities exist simultaneously - like sheets of paper layered on top of one another - and the most probable events, given all that has come before, exist in "our" reality. Since this is a notion of time Santharians are not accustomed to, the following analogy may help:

    We have no conceptual problem with different sets of people doing different things simultaneously in different places. We have no problem, for instance, with King Tiandor having breakfast in a place called the United Kingdom of Santharia whilst over the mountains, and over thousands of leagues of ocean, Terevikh children are climbing tangleroot-trees. The Krean treat time in the same way. So, they would say, the Tiandor being born and the Tiandor dying are one; both events exist "simultaneously" within the First Wave, just in different locations - separated by "time" rather than geography.

    That is our first analogy; now keep this at the back of your mind as we turn our attention to how the Krean extend the same reasoning to probabilities:

    So what is this business about "the Web" and an infinite number of possibilities? Put simply: At every choice, every vicissitude, every instance something could have happened differently, Existence splits, like a fork in the road. In other words the Universe, and everything within it, has infinite variations, all of which happen at once - here and now. So, not only do Tiandor-in-the-cradle and Tiandor-in-the-grave exist "at the same time", but so do Tiandor the Beggar and Tiandor the King of Santharia... Thus, Tiandor could be said to have a web comprised of all his past and future selves as well as all his possible selves (the person he could be or might have been). What we call "Reality", the Ancient Krean called "The Possibility Probable" - i.e. the most likely possibility given all that has come before. In a sentence, Krean Magic is based on selecting which of these infinite possibilities is to be experienced - "as reality".


    -- Excerpt from a lecture by Coren Frozenzephyr

  4. All sentient beings have free will: they have the capacity to choose
    The premise behind the magic of the Krean, the premise on which all their arcane arts are founded, is Choice. It rejects the view of man as a helpless creature with a predetermined fate, a plaything of the Gods or his urges, unable to alter the course of his own future. Krean Magic approaches life and existence on the premise of freewill, on the capacity and power of choice.

  5. Contradictions collapse: existence is logical
    If the possibility the mage wishes to insert into reality is not sustainable, it will either cave in on itself or the First Wave will cast it into a more plausible design. Hence the axiom: "Contradictions collapse." The impossible cannot be created. For instance, if a mage tries to increase the temperature of an object by extracting heat from it, either the runic structure of the spell will disintegrate or he will succeed in drawing heat but the object will freeze. One cannot blow on a candle and light it too.

  6. All things are interconnected
    Or as the Krean say: Savere edor edora - "Connected is everything, to everything else".

    The principle encompasses the Ximaxian notion of Xeu - the idea that all things are connected to one another, that even the smallest change will have an impact on everything else in the Dream. Yet it also extends further: changing one reality will lead to other realities (other manifestations of reality) being altered. Changing one piece of reality is like throwing a stone into a pond: it ripples outward.

The Six Premises: do they contradict each other? Sometimes the Six Premises seem to pull in different directions. Krean philosophy (and thus Krean arcane theory) is divided into different schools of thought based on how these inconsistencies are reconciled. Of course each such fundamental decision leads to several other conclusions about what magic can and cannot do - and indeed, what magic should or should not do. In other words, Krean philosophy was not a closed-system but a living, breathing one; it was open-ended. The spirit of debate and enquiry that lay at the heart of the system gave birth to its diversity and depth. Questions grew and blossomed into branches, schools, orders, hypotheses, theories, methodologies of magic. For further discussion of this issue, please refer to entry entitled "The Six Premises: do they contradict each other?" Return to the top

Basic Principles. Channels of Communication. In order to exchange the existing reality with an alternative version, the Krean mage must first describe the desired possibility. Yet description presupposes communication and a means for that communication.

Communication is the art and science of expressing a concept through meaningful symbols, which may be auditory or visual. It is through such symbols - i.e. channels of communication - that one conveys the concept from one mind to another. An author writing a description of nature is communicating an idea, and needs parchment and quill to pledge the vision in her mind to the page before her. In the same vein, if the Krean mage is to exchange two possibilities, he must first communicate the alternative he has in mind to the First Wave. Thought, images, runic or geometrical structures, sound or music, words, sketches, scents, gestures, feelings, and dance are such tools or "channels" through which Krean magic can manifest. (The list can be extended, see Dearan Asaen's classic work on the subject.)

One can articulate a concept soundly through the medium of words alone - yet, a great orator would also employ movement and silence to contribute meaning to those words. Context is everything. Sometimes a single word, pronounced in the right shade of intonation, accompanied by the right gesture, can impart more than an entire tome. Extending the analogy to Krean Magic, the more meanings one can convey simultaneously, the more potent, the more profound a spell will be. Therefore, the more channels used, the more composite the depiction, hence the more integrated the concept (spell) becomes. At the same time, as the "prose" becomes more concise - with the mage no longer requiring extended, complex scaffolding - less time will be needed to cast each spell.

The Art & Science of the Arcane. The worldview of this tribe might shed some light on the analogies, such as the use of "depiction" instead of "spell," "describing/defining" rather than "casting" etc.

For the Ancient Krean, who honoured beauty as the highest ideal and the rational mind as the tool for its creation and refinement, magic was an art. To paraphrase Archmage Arisa, whose views had a profound influence on Ancient Krean culture and the aesthetics of their Classical Era, art is a presentation of reality slanted according to a certain code of values, according to a certain purpose. Hence the axiom "Art is selectivity": "One cannot recreate every minute detail about anything, neither about an event nor about a person; therefore, that which one chooses to include, or to omit, is significant."

Let us take this line of reasoning to its logical resolution: Since art is a slanted recreation of the world and magic through probability substitution transforms or recreates reality, for the Krean, the Arcane was the second highest form of art - second only to the art of living...
Return to the top

Abilities and Limitations. Abilities/Usages. Magic was a way of life for the Ancient Krean. Therefore, it was principally used for making life more comfortable, more enjoyable, more beautiful - and less arduous. It was frequently employed for practical purposes - such as building colossal bridges spanning some of the remotest areas of the rainforest or supporting the flow of water in plumbing systems - rather than for warfare. Among the most prominent and useful achievements of Ancient Krean magic one could list:

  • The founding of the city of Sihitara
    The whole forest floor was cleared and the land around the metropolis flattened for leagues through a tremendous Joining of Wills.

  • The Great Dearanic Roads
    These gargantuan avenues of trade, built during the reign of Emperor Dearan Asaen, span nearly half of western Nybelmar. Although four eons have passed since their construction, the Great Roads are still in impeccable condition - due to a self-sustaining runic structure. Some mystics believe the Roads hold the secret to eternal life: understand how the Roads perpetually renew themselves, they say, and you understand the secret to life without end. Many a scholar has made it his life's work to decipher the spells that control this constant self-renewal powered by an endless intake and outflow of energy, and to devise a means of applying it to the human body.

  • The Great Wall of Krath
    These unassailable fortifications ward off Benderrath, Vaenath Plains and the Chyrakisth.

  • The "Invisible Wall of Krath"
    This is an invisible barrier that seals off the Peninsula of Shar from the rest of Nybelmar, beyond which not even the most potent magic can proceed. The purpose of this magical divide is not so much to keep the rest of the Disk out as it is to keep the nightmarish entities released during the Breaking (1649 b.S.) in. According to Nybelmarian legend, one day Emperor Asaen shall walk the Disk again, and will lift the curse on the Peninsula and with it the veil separating it from the rest of the continent.

Limitations.
As far as limitations to Krean magic are concerned, the following rules apply:
  • No theoretical limits
    As in the Ximaxian system, theoretically there is no effect that cannot be created through Krean magic. Of course the more ambitious the effect, the more power and elaboration it requires- to that extent imposing a practical limitation on what an individual can accomplish.

  • The manipulation of time: a practical limitation
    Since time does not exist and thus there is no barrier separating (the set of possibilities pertaining to) the past from (those pertaining to) the present, there can be no veil separating the past from the mage's reach: he should be able to replace the past just as he can replace the present. Call to mind a deck of cards. Suppose each card represents a moment frozen in time, so that the deck as a whole represents a given timeframe - say, a week. Krean magic works by exchanging one possibility with another, one card with a card from a different deck. If a Krean mage can replace that specific card, there is no reason why he should not be able to do the same for another, say a few cards before or after that one.

    However, this is not so. There is no record of a Krean mage successfully changing the past. And as regards the future: we all do so, by the choices we make in the present.

    The Ancient Krean theorised that the past was practically impossible to alter for two reasons:

    First, the flow of time simply marks the flow of the consciousness from one possibility to the next. Trying to change the past through magic, therefore, is like swimming against the current. Remember that what appears as the passage of time to us is actually the movement of the Disk's consciousness (see "Terminology: the Lace" above); the current is thus too strong to navigate.

    The manipulation of the future is of course very different. Imagine the flow of time, the movement of the Disk through different possibilities, as a huge boulder rolling downhill. Suppose it is a boulder rolling downhill on an undesirable collision course. Worse, as the boulder keeps on rolling, it picks up momentum ("the weight of the past" - this is why certain future events are very hard to alter). One cannot cause it to come to a standstill by standing in its path. One cannot hope to reverse its course by pushing it back. Yet, a relatively small force applied from the side might shift its course. What appears to be an almost imperceptible nudge at the top of the mountain might divert it by many a dash by the time it reaches the bottom. This is why the Ancient Krean said: The true master is he who moves the greatest boulder with the gentlest touch.

    Secondly, recall the fifth premise of Krean magic: Contradictions collapse; existence is logical; the impossible cannot be created. To continue our card analogy, each card must not only make sense within itself, but also in relation to every other card in the deck. If the mage adjusts what is taking place now, only one card will be affected. As the Disk continues to traverse the Web, more cards will be added to the Lace, the deck, logically following on from the new card. However, were one to rework the past, a card that occurred earlier on in the deck, all the cards after it until the present would have to be adjusted by the First Wave. Everything that follows needs to make sense - so in effect more cards have to be shuffled, more power is needed to bring about the change, to cast the spell.

  • Controlling the mind: a moral restriction
    Since the entire system is founded on the premise of Choice, anything that directly deprives another sentient being of freewill or the ability to choose is forbidden. This represents an external, or second-order, moral restriction on Krean magic.

    For example, the Ancient Krean would have regarded even the basic Calm Spell (Ximaxian Elemental Magic: School of Water) as ethically questionable. This is why the Ancient Krean, especially the Temple of Ankriss, abhorred the Witch Queens of Marmarra and their gnosis. For a people that would have frowned upon even the gentle Calm/Serenity Ximaxian water-spells, such direct manipulation of the mind was intolerable.

    Of course the same effect is possible through Krean Magic, but it must be attained indirectly - for instance by conjuring a scene in the target's mind calculated to evoke a feeling of calm. Observe how elegantly this ties in with the idea of art/magic as a slanted recreation of reality!

    In one sense, this is foisting one individual's reality on another. One might therefore wonder if this is not simply the case of the pot calling the kettle black. But there is a fundamental difference: The Krean mage has not forcibly altered the composition of a target's mind. She simply has offered a different perception, which the mind can refuse to believe. Essentially, this is the difference between a suggestion and an ultimatum.

    The mind is sacred. It should not be bent by brute force. That said, so long as the individual's mind has a choice, however circumscribed, it has not been divested of freewill.

    The reality is the Possibility Probable - the most probable version. Since in this case the mage has not actually altered reality by sending the target to that place but merely manipulated the perception of his senses, the illusion can never be as probable/persuasive as reality. Logic and an inquiring mind will show the way. Can the target ask the right question? Can his logic expose the inconsistency in the illusion? The battle between the mage and the target is one not of strength, but of wits. Return to the top

Special Locations. Not applicable since according Krean magic, everything (all places) exists at once, here & now. Anywhere the practitioner can clear her mind and concentrate suffices. Return to the top

Prevalence. The system originated with the Ancient Krean of Nybelmar and, with time, spread to almost half of the continent. The power of today's Krean mages bears little resemblance that that of their ancestors. The original art, the magic of the Ancient Krean, is now extinct.
Return to the top

Origins/History. During the reign of Queen Rezza Aelralv, "Rezar" (ca 3200-3000 b.S.), Arch-mage Akiris Akai synthesized the various magical systems among the Krean tribes and put them on an analytical footing, establishing Krean Magic as we know it.

Rezar, known as the Mithril Lady, lived in one of the most troubled times in the history of her nation. By the end of her reign, she had brought the Krean supremacy over south-western Nybelmar. The latter half of Rezar's reign and the three centuries following it are regarded as the Classical Age of the Krean.

Seldom does a name bring such diverse reactions from people. Some call her the closest thing the Krean had to a tyrant. Others insist that if the birthplace of the Age of Discovery was the reign of Gondolwen Madas Mith, the celebrated Merchant-King of the Ancient Krean, its conception must have taken place during the reign of Rezza Aeralv. However, few deny that the great affluence and power the Ancient Krean enjoyed up to the Year of Darkness (ca. 1649 b.S.) is due largely to her "mithril" reign. (Emperor Asaen once remarked that Rezar's obstinacy and grip over the Peninsula was so strong that it was not iron but mithril).

Rezar's greatest contributions to posterity are the codification of the Krean Commercial Code and the integration of all Krean arcane practices into a single theoretical framework. Ironically, the Mithril Lady's establishment and generous funding of the Academies did more to secure the autonomy of the Krean than any of her iron-willed, hard-line defence policies. In so doing, Rezar gave the Krean that which was to become their transcendent legacy - an art so sublime and magnificent that few before or after could hold a candle to its brilliance - a magic so powerful as to lead a Grand Vizier to lament that it made the Empire of Krath seem like a lone boat trying to tame the ocean.
Return to the top

 Date of last edit 17th Frozen Rivers 1671 a.S.

Information provided by Coren FrozenZephyr View Profile