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"The notes of the great song of creation were woven intricately together in a way that not only reflects the weaving of notes into a song, but it also is reminiscent of the threads which weave ‘Tapestries of Fate’ among the people of Hon’lai. Might they be the same thing? The Tapestry of Fate and the great song? Are the strands which connect all things both threads and notes? Could this be the way in which the audible word and the visual sight are combined into one metaphysical concept?"
- Amren Waystrider, ‘Philosophies of the Witchhunter’
Imagine, if you will, a great song; the remnant singing of Yeor's words of creation. Within its orchestra is every living thing, every place of importance, and insignificant object. Every event that has, is, and might yet happen. Now imagine you hear this song, constantly, millions of instruments silently singing in your ears. Now imagine you can touch the instruments, conduct their volume and pitch, accelerate their tempo or bring them to a soft rubato. All unseen and silent to those who cannot perceive and hear it. You can add instrumental parts, compel a player to change instruments, or sever the strands of one you wish not to hear. And most importantly, you see the score they read from. You know what they might (or might not choose to) play - and must conduct them appropriately or suffer the backlash of an audience that is fate herself. It is no small wonder then, that mages of the House of Harps often appear mad and will seclude themselves from a world that does not understand their abilities.
The House of Harps is the youngest of the presently recognized Houses of magic, yet can trace its origins to The Winnowing. Legend states humanity was first taught the art by Zahatmos, the dragon of fate and connections. As time progressed and the magic fell out of use, those who would naturally see these strands were deemed either mad or cursed by those who feared them; and oracles among the Selukkite tribal shamans who held them in great reverence.
Although it was not understood in the same manner of other magics, the most influential legends of the House of Harps exist within the land of Atvoria; where several millennia of tampering has saturated the land to force stories and fate to intertwine within its borders. A surprising source given their distaste to magic, the Bravnikh saga of Hennelei the Golden-Crowned tells of their legendary ancestor and her band of heroes, including a figure known as Kodtymyr the Snow Bard, a battlecaster who fought a dragon within the fury of a winter storm. Similar legends linger around House Whistwallow, claims stating the family was long ago blessed by fate magic to protect them from physical harm - perhaps an inadvertent cause for the family's reputation of reckless danger and bravado.
The House of Harps was not officially recognized as an oath of magic until 7C-126, under much pressure from Archmage Soraa yar-Tiirkol, who sought to bridge the gap between Selukkite shamanism and the teachings of the Arcane College. Magi from thirteen tribes were gathered before the Arcane Council, questioned and interviewed rigorously about their abilities and training - and cross-examined by magitheologists and graduate students. Despite their sole argument that the ability had been taught by dragon rather than acquired naturally by humanity; few could contest that these men and women, who had never borne witness to the dragon or undergone rituals for their power, inherited and grew into their power in very much the same manner that they themselves had done. As the month of Stormshift came to a close, the Arcane Council announced that they would be teaching the magic of the newly founded House of Harps.
Mages of the House of Harps perceive the Cosmic Mesh not as a source of power, but as a web of fate's possibilities. There are strings corresponding to your cells, connected to the strings that correspond to your body parts, which in turn are connected to the strings that correspond to your whole body, which are connected to the strings describing properties of the A'therian plane as a whole, such as the air which you breathe or the ground upon which we stand.
With proper training, the mage can subtly manipulate the strands to affect when events will happen, and the intensity at which they will happen at. A rare few can even 'create' new strands via their own power. However, these strands are imperfect, fragile, and snap soon after their creation - for they are not the perfect song of creation that first sung the world into its existence.
Those born with a natural affinity to the House of Harps usually begin to see the strands fade into existence as they grow up. They see the thin threads gradually phase into view between people. As they grow and train, they learn how to focus on the strands so they can hear the pitch, tempo, and dynamics. However, even when they are not looking for it, the strands are always present. It is said that this constant web in their vision is what drives some mad. Some become paranoid about touching other peoples' strands, often ducking under or moving around to avoid the unseen wires which cross their vision. It is because of this that Cyridon Spire keeps a crisis team at the ready, in case the anxiety overcomes an initiate of the House of Harps.
Those who are not born with a natural affinity must instead learn to detect and feel the strands of fate on their own. In 7C-192, the Tessichord was invented by master lenscrafter, Ezekiel Crimsoneye. The tessichord is a multifaceted sounding board, equipped with five lenses, that allows one to see the strands of fate. In order to help a novice understand the silent music, the strings upon the device are plucked, which through trial and error will identify strands of fate as audible music and notes. When one accurately plays along with the strand, the lenses will emit a glow around it in the user's vision.
There are two primary types of strands; physical and empathic. Physical strands manage connections of the physical world and how each aspect affects the other. Empathic strands are those of thought and emotion. Dreams, ideals, and connections between people. It can be noted that Empathic strands may also be linked between people and places; and many an effective fear spell has been formed by altering one's feelings of a place, rather than their feelings directly towards the caster.
Pitch and tone are used to determine the facet of fate a strand is affected. Melody tells what the strand does, did, or will do. The most well-noted in literature is the 'drone of death', an ominous low-pitched, singular long note that foreshadows a possibility of death. Dynamics, the volume of the strand, which is normally compared against the strands around it, determines the intensity at which an event will happen. This is most-often adjusted when manipulating physical forces, such as gravitational pulls. The last aspect is tempo, the speed at which an event will happen. If one wishes to hasten the meeting of two lovers or forestall a duel, a tempo strand would be the strand to alter. Physical tempo strands are useful in a variety of healing spells – although one should note that by speeding up a wound's healing – it does consume an equivalent amount of energy from the body of the one being healed. In cases of traumatic wounds, one should instead sing the drone of death into a slow adagio, forestalling its attempted arrival until a proper medical team can attend to the victim.
By utilizing the knowledge of strands of fate and their patterns, a rare few mages can temporarily sing a new strand into existence. However, these strands are short-lived and require a constant focus from their caster; as they are not formed from the perfect song of creation. Creatures and objects created in this manner are known as conjurations. Ideas and emotions created in this manner are known as compulsions.
Novice mages are often excited to utilize their newfound power; and one can hardly blame them for wanting to do so. The ideal of altering one's own fate is often more tempting than the allure of artificing or toothwizardry. However, Fate is a delicate mistress. Every strand one touches may grant a reading – and with this knowledge the mage may choose to accept what may be, or attempt to alter it. The more distant or simple the event, the easier it is to attempt changes. In the example of a duel between two people; attempting to alter the course of their encounter two years' prior to the event, so that one misses meeting the other by a matter of minutes. Attempting to do so the day before, there are too many direct factors, peoples' strands to manipulate, events to alter in a single day. It may be possible, but one can always expect the lash of Fate to come upon them for such hasty intervention. The harder one must work to adjust a strand's song and course, the more Fate will pull back. This may sound like a simple tug of war, but imagine your foe is eons old and may or may not decide to hold back depending on how much you have irked it today. If it truly decides to pull full-force, a burnout is very likely.
Mages of the House of Harps often face suspicion among the common populace. Candles may summon raw fire; Eyes may tear holes in reality and conjure glamours of illusion; but who truly knows when interacting with a Harps mage, what they are doing. Are you agreeing with their proposal of your own free will? Or have they tweaked a strand of fate to lean your emotions and thoughts in their favor? This prejudice has strengthened their community, and as a whole - few Harp mages choose to utilize their powers against one another. It is also a general belief that no action be taken upon a strand until it is cautiously examined, weighed against what it affects, and cautiously judged as to what a manipulation will do to it. For example, a low droning note often signifies death; but it faintly appears at any chance of death - even something so simple as climbing a ladder or watching a bonfire. There is no distinct chance of death; and more often than not, these faint drones vanish as quickly as they appear. One should be wise, similar to the House of Eyes, in knowing that just because one can manipulate event, it does not mean they should.