Have you ever tried to concentrate your mind on an issue, only to find yourself repeatedly unable to do so, as if every time you focused on a thought it drifted away? Or maybe you had a profound insight, but the inspiration escaped before you could tether it in writing? Or perhaps you were once in the presence of a particularly absent-minded scholar and found your mind flooded by all sorts of outlandish and random ideas, as if his thoughts floated away only to “bump into” you? If so, then you might already be more familiar with this spell than you realise.

Floating Thoughts draws on the spiritual aspect of Wind to make the target’s thoughts lighter and lighter - until they begin to drift away like foam swept upwards by a mischievous zephyr.

Thaelnoric Tempestbringer and his ‘floating thoughts’
View picture in full size Image description. The creator of the spell: Wizard Thaelnoric Tempestbringer of Astran and his ‘floating thoughts’. Illustration by Quellion.

Spell Effect. Floating Thoughts causes the thoughts of the target to become lighter and float away like a feather caught in a morning breeze. Eventually the whole mind becomes as light and fleeting as a puff of air, making the target more likely to drift off to other worlds. As this spiritual form of “lightness” becomes dominant in the cár'áll, the victim starts to forget his duties and gets distracted easily. This may also cause the target to become inattentive to his immediate environment: his thoughts may have wandered off elsewhere...

A rather peculiar consequence of this spell and the multitude of adolescent wind mages on the loose on public holidays is that there seems to be an alarming number of random thoughts just drifting around across the Ximaxian peninsula, waiting to ‘bump into’ someone. And indeed many a man in Xaramon has blamed the breakdown of his marriage on wayward wind mages!

Occasionally there is the rascal who argues, as a defence to premeditated murder, that he had but randomly thought of the villainous act and thus the elaborate schemes must in truth have been someone else’s. Time and time again jurors across the realm have debated whether a doctrine of ‘transferred intent’ ought to be introduced into Santharian law, whereby the act of one man may be married to the guilty mind of another. The Wind Tower assures us that such draconian measures are not necessary: cases of literally ‘floating’ thoughts are (relatively) rare and doubt as to the defendant’s state of mind can always be resolved by expert testimony from the Academy’s wind magi, which one supposes makes for rather lucrative business for wind magi everywhere.

Indeed, there is a lot of uncertainty among wind mages themselves about whether thoughts disperse or can enter other minds once they ‘drift off’ from the originator’s mind. Even among those who accept that thoughts can sometimes ‘float about’, many question whether a defendant can actually be ‘seduced’ by such floating thoughts. The balance of opinion seems to be that thoughts floating around can enter a person’s mind only if the ‘victim’ is predisposed to allow such thoughts to enter.

Scholarly doubt aside, it is perhaps best to err on the side of caution. When travelling to Xaramon, beware the “random thoughts” which suddenly get hold of you! Return to the top

Casting Procedure. Floating Thoughts raises the influence of Wind in the target’s mind to give her thoughts a light, ephemeral quality. The mage does not increase the influence of Wind globally, as this might create unintended consequences as well – such as making the target’s thoughts ‘invisible’ to himself (see: Concealed Sentiments) or increase movement, thereby making the target mind more agile (see: Swift Thinking). Instead, the mage will focus on a single property (namely: lightness) and amplify the spiritual aspect of ‘lightness’. (Isolating a specific property and working on that alone is harder than augmenting all aspects of Wind across the board. This is why, comparatively speaking, a spell such as Floating Thoughts would take longer to cast and have shorter range and duration.)

Increasing the property of lightness in a solid object will make it less heavy (see: Feather L1) – but it would take quite a bit of effort to make it so light that levitates off the ground and begins to float away (see: Levitation). Thoughts on the other hand are things primarily of Wind – weightless, wispy, ephemeral; here one second and gone the next... Thoughts are already light, enough to coast effortlessly on the currents of the mind (Water) – the slightest inducement and off they fly.

In the words of the scholar Coren FrozenZephyr: ‘Thoughts are like tides; constantly they course, swell and reflect off the shores of the mind. One wave passes away so the next can be born into the Dream. Water flows, and so does the mind, shifting from one idea (Wind) to the next.’ (Extract from the Water spell ‘Serenity’)

Knowledge is Wind, but cognition (or awareness) arises from Water, from the currents circulating through the mind, carrying the thoughts, bringing ideas (Wind) together, integrating them, and providing the opportunity for connections to form like a lacework of foam riding the crest of the wave.

Every mind has a unique balance between the weight of its thoughts (Wind) and the current on which they coast (Water). Increasing the influence of Wind in the carall does not cause the influence of Water to rise too – if anything, as the influence of Wind waxes, that of the other three elements wane. If thoughts abruptly grow lighter but the speed of the main current (the speed at which a mind thinks, the speed at which it sifts through ideas) remains constant, cognition can no longer keep up with these thoughts and they will be swept away by the next impromptu current surging past.

Thus is the generally accepted theory - but not without controversy! According to some mages, such as Drasil Razorfang, to say that thoughts can ‘lose mass’ as it were and ‘float away’ is to take a metaphor too far. They argue that the spell actually manipulates the Wind property of ‘ethereality/invisibility/intangibility’ and causes the thought to take a less solid form, in a sense ‘disappearing.’ However, proponents of the theory espoused above point out that making the target’s thoughts ‘invisible’ to himself is a different spell (see: Concealed Sentiments). The difference between the two spells is that ‘Floating Thoughts’ does not ‘hide’ the contents of the target mind: the thoughts are still reachable, they simply become more difficult to keep within view, so to say. There is after all a difference between absent-mindedness and the mind ‘going blank’. Return to the top

Magical Formula. Still to be defined. Return to the top

Focus/Target. Any sentient being. Note that the spell is harder to cast on dwarves and other creatures whose carall is dominated by the Element of Earth and its associated qualities of heaviness and stability. Return to the top

Reagents. A feather and indeed any other object that is characteristically light or weightless may be used as a reagent. The presence of a light breeze might also function as a reagent – the wind acting as a tangible reference for the (spiritual) qualities the mage wishes to bring forth in the cár'áll. Return to the top

Spell Class. Lightness, spiritual representation of Sphere I. Return to the top

Range. At the beginning touch is required. From level three onwards, Floating Thoughts can be cast from a distance:

Casting Time. Lower level mages might require anywhere between one to three minutes to cast Floating Thoughts (since this is a Sphere I spell, once cast the mage will have to keep maintaining the spell or the effects will disperse). Return to the top

Duration. Being a Sphere I spell, Floating Thoughts will last only as long as the caster continues focusing. Once the concentration is broken, willingly or otherwise, the car'all quickly returns to its natural state, causing the spell effect to end. Therefore, the only limit to the duration is how long the caster can sustain the manipulation. Return to the top

Counter Measures/Enhancing Measures. A wind mage can counter the spell by weakening the property of lightness, whereas an earth mage would increase the influence of earth and its property of heaviness.

Spiritual spells of this nature are difficult to cast because they are cast on a living cár'áll. The stronger the target carall’s will, the harder the spell will be, because it will fight against any change to its natural state. Consequently, high level magi and people of exceptional willpower can show varying degrees of resistance.

One particularly notable case is that of Krean monks – or at least those few who wander across our continent from time to time, most likely visitors to Varcopas. In various documented attempts by Ximaxian scholars of rather impish temperament, the monks showed only the slightest signs of distraction or forgetfulness. Ximaxian mages have come up with numerous hypotheses to explain why the spell does not seem to work on Krean monks. One theory, put forward by the mage Drasil Razorfang, is that the monks' years of study have altered their minds, making wind extremely dominant in the mind's cár'áll. Since wind is already such a potent force in these targets' minds, increasing its influence does not really have noticeable effects because they are already heavily displaying wind's properties. Over time their minds have acclimatised to the ever-increasing lightness of their thoughts and the speed at which they move.

As for countering the spell without using magic, the techniques used by these Krean monks might be of inspiration. Being Krean on the one hand and a visiting scholar at the Academy of Ximax on the other, Coren FrozenZephyr’s comments could perhaps offer insight into both worlds:

Through years of mediation, Krean monks train their minds to become light and agile. They dedicate their lives to attaining a mind that is free and spontaneous: as spacious as a clear blue sky and as still as a lake at Firstflame. They spend their entire life seeking – and embodying – a state of radiant or pure awareness. It is not that the monks go about and actively counter the spell – they do this habitually, almost effortlessly. To them this is no different than dealing with distractions during meditation:

First, because they are fully alive and aware in every moment, they do notice when a particular thought suddenly grows lighter and begins to float away. Then, because their minds are equally swift and sprightly, they simply go with the flow, trace and gently touch the thought again before it vanishes – just as, in meditation, if you find that your mind has wandered, you bring it gently back to the breath.

There is also a rather nifty trick the monks use when they realise a mischievous wind mage is playing with their mind. The idea is ‘using softness to defeat hardness’ – that is: not meeting force with force, but using the caster’s own energy to defeat him. To understand their technique, you need to first understand how Krean monks meditate. If you want to meditate the Krean way, when thoughts arise, do not push them away but also do not indulge them either. Instead, just let go of them and let them evaporate. Say you have ten colourful thoughts in your consciousness – nine green and one blue. Now suddenly a wind mage casts the spell and all these thoughts grow lighter, surface and begin to float. The monk does not try to push them back down; instead, if he wants to retain his focus on the blue one, he simply encourages the green ones to grow even lighter and be carried off and away from view. It is a bit like releasing a cluster of balloons – the lighter ones will go up and vanish faster, leaving only the blue balloon in sight.

Coren Frozenzephyr also notes that Krean mages (as opposed to Krean monks) are surprisingly vulnerable to spells like this: Direct manipulation of the mind is taboo in Krean magic, so they are taken by surprise when a spell begins to alter the very make up of their thoughts. However, the initial shock only allows one to get a foot in the door, to incapacitate the Krean mage before he realises what is going on. Afterwards, it is one mage’s will and skill against that of the other. Return to the top

The Maeverhim lecturer Aelien’ephtháer
View picture in full size Image description. The elven Maeverhim lecturer Aelien’ephtháer. Picture drawn by Eshóh K'ryvvlen.

Myth/Lore. When human mages discovered that elves could intuitively bring about effects very similar to that of this spell, some among them decided to hear how these elves described what they were doing. Their travels took them as far as the Sharadon Forest of the Maeverhim elves:

‘Feel the morning breeze? Feel its gentle touch – now here, now there, never grasping, never pushing, always light, ever elusive? Make yourself one with the Wind - and now reach into his mind, softly, softly. Felt it yet? See how heavy, how focussed, how burdened it is! So attached, so resolute, so possessive – each thought tethered into the soil of the mind. Now make it more like the breeze you feel on your face... Liberate his mind, make the thoughts lighter, allow them to rise and escape. Let them float and drift away, driven by a gentle wind...’

-- Extract from "The Teachings of Aelien’ephtháer the Maeverhim".

However, not all Ximaxian mages looked favourably upon these youthful adventures. The elves after all are strange creatures, and none could be stranger than the Maeverhim, who spend their entire lives atop trees without their feet ever touching the ground, lest they become ‘Earth Burned’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, chief among those who were, shall we say, less than pleased to see Ximaxian students consorting with elves was Thaelnoric Tempestbringer, the inventor of the spell:

‘Enough with this elven nonsense of “tapping into” minds or “attuning” yourself with another’s carall! Logic not mysticism; study not unverifiable, irreproducible, whimsical sensations. Off with the elves and their romanticism!

Every mage knows that carall is not something magi can ‘see’ or ‘become one with’. We impose our will on it through intense focus and knowing the carall is there, not because we can touch or see the carall. So stop whining and FOCUS! Focus on that carall, bend it to your will, bend it towards Wind, bend it until Wind and its property of lightness rise to ascendancy.

Here, in Ximax, we pay the bills, we provide the funding – so I propose we teach it the human way. We must strive to understand magic through logic - and through that understanding, master it.’

-- Extract from "Understanding Magic through Logic – and Logic alone: The Collected Speeches of Thaelnoric Tempestbringer of Astran".

There also a few proverbs and sayings associated with this spell, like the following:

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