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“This morning, I saw some of your practicing spells in the arena. Let me put this plainly. You either draw your wand, or you don’t. Don’t finger it, fiddle with it, or otherwise handle it in a casual manner. Your wand holds the thrust of your assault or defense. It is the focal point of your magic, wield it accordingly.”
- Obsus Ashsere, Master of Combat Magic, Cyridon Spire, c. 7C-267
The House of Candles and its methods can be traced to Zariayde, one of the legendary sorceress queens of The Winnowing. Zariayde’s magic transported a massive crystalline citadel across A'therys' rings, siphoning power to keep itself aloft. Sometimes called “channeling” or “gembinding”, her magic became an empowerment to the populace, who could be taught the magic’s basics with relative ease. As such, her city-state was one of the few of record that did not rely solely on the magic of its ruler, able to use magic on their own behalf, as well. This is also likely the reason that the city-state was among the first targeted by the gods, falling well before The First Calling.
Zariayde's surviving kinsfolk had long been scattered as the first Cycle dawned at Llyrrh's call; but their knowledge was not. They traversed along the planetary rings, some choosing to settle down in the developing nations, with others remaining migratory. Those who could passed on the knowledge necessary to continue the art. Despite the dark ages to magic as more kingdoms fell, this relatively simple method was passed verbally from mentor to student until the first Mage’s Guild was founded deep within the Winewood by Thalorus the Wise in 2C-549. Taught as the only method of magic, the aspiring mages learned to chart the moving loci of the world and how to utilize the power of the Cosmic Mesh to fuel their spells. With the founding of a permanent college near the Farendale Locus, the magic of the House of Candles had locked itself in place as the prominent method of magic within A'therys. It would continue to dominate magical teachings until early in the the fifth Cycle, when the newly recognized House of Eyes bore fruit under the counsel of Elder Miralem Aileanach.
Although their magic is seen by many as the simplest means of use, mages of the House of Candles have brought forth innovations to A'therys. As many must keep a supply of gemstones to store the essence of the Cosmic Mesh within, their business among gem traders sparked a demand for high quality stones to utilize for their art. The study and rating of gemstones was first standardized in 6C-17 by Selukkite merchants, although such measurements had long been proposed as a means of determining an art piece's 'value' in the fourth Cycle. Perhaps the most modern innovation was the technique divined by the terramancer Leoros Mirtanih in 7C-217. Known as delving, the ability allowed him to glimpse far beneath the earth for gemstones and precious metals, and in close proximity could search within a stone for trace minerals and flaws.
It was Elders of the House of Candles who utilized the Farendale Locus to seal the necromatic rift that devoured the old college grounds in 7C-241, a feat that burned out three of their order and left a visible effect within the locus' centerpoint; an ever-fluxing whirlpool within the pristine lake that once held the ancient building. While the locus itself remains stable, few are eager to investigate too deeply, out of fear that the damage instigated by the foolish young toothwizards yet to run its course.
Mages of the House of Candles manipulate magical energies extant in A'therys and project them through magical implements as bursts of evocative force. This energy primarily comes from loci, regions where the border between A’therys and the Cosmic Mesh are thinner. By reaching through a locus into the Mesh, the mage draws power into an external Arcane Focus, such as a wand, rod, staff, or sword. This instrument acts as a collection point for the energy drawn and used by the mage.
As dangerous as the flickering flame for which their house is named, the teachings of the House of Candles follow one of two schools of thought. There are those who seek to grasp the power directly, forcefully channeling the metaphorical torrent of a raging river. Students of this school of thought are disciplined akin to military training; worked to the brink of their limits to ensure they are strong enough to wrest control over the Mesh's power. This method is most commonly utilized in the art of pyromancy, where strong, sudden bursts of magical energy must be utilized in order to maximize a spell's effect.
The other school of thought teaches its students to act as guides, allowing one's consciousness to be subsumed within the pool of energy that fills the mage. By doing so, the mage gains heightened awareness, at the cost of direct control. Those who study the art of stormcalling find this method most effective, as the heightened senses they gain allows them to better sense and command a storm's path.
The House of Candles is most commonly known for elemental magic, projected as external bursts of force, often in destructive forms. They primarily utilize elemental magic; specifically, the elements of fire, ice, air, and earth. Although skilled Candles mages can also project magical force that is not elemental in nature, this is much more difficult than 'elemental magic'. Unlike the House of Eyes or House of Harps, casters from the House of Candles draw energy directly from the Mesh into an arcane focus, utilizing it as direct source of magic. As such, very few spells of its repertoire are internalized within the caster; and these few are often created by Archmages, whom are required to branch knowledge from the other houses in order to attain the position.
To effectively utilize cryomancy, the caster does not draw force purely from the Cosmic Mesh. Instead, he pulls heat away from his target, utilizing his gathered source of mesh as a pulling point. This essentially forces condensation in the air to freeze quickly. In addition, the sudden bursts of cold cause brief symptoms in living creatures similar to hypothermia; shivering, shortened breath, drowsiness, and loss of coordination. By reducing the target’s effective mobility, they become an easier target for further spells. It can also be noted that Cryomancy spells are particularly effective against reptiles and similar ectothermic creatures (including creatures formed of flame).
The power of flame is opposite to Cryomancy. Rather than drawing heat from its target, Pyromancy instead draws a large amount of power from mesh and condenses it under pressure, forcing an ignition of the energy before directing it toward a target. Spells within the talent of Pyromancy set fire to combustibles and severely damage objects in the area. Many of these spells can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. Most noticeably, fire spells affect a target well after the initial spell was cast. By the time an opponent manages to put one flame out, the caster will have had time to launch more spells, in addition to the benefit of a foe dropping prone. It is not without its disadvantages, however. Pyromancy requires a great deal of training and conditioning before it can be utilized effectively, By far, its methods are the easiest to use - but the most draining when prolonged.
Among the arts that require one to subsume within the mesh are Stormcalling and Terramancy; spells whose domains are of the air and earth. Stormcalling is the process of commanding the general tendencies of the weather, such as direction and intensity of the wind. Practical application within this talent requires a large degree of predictive casting, akin to how a mage of Harps will read fates. Adjusting the course of a storm is a gradual change, often the novice Stormcaller will attempt to conjure a torrential downpour, only to find himself gathering a light drizzle upon the battlefield. The stormcaller must, therefore, know three things when attempting to command weather. Firstly, the pre-existing conditions. These are the primary factors by which one can adjust and command the weather, and are the most difficult to alter and changes. Thus, if the temperature is brisk, the caster would be wisest to create a light fog or rain. If the temperature were warm, it would be easier to form a mass of threatening clouds, if not an actual thunderstorm. As one progresses their knowledge and practice, one can utilize predictions to better command specific aspects of a storm’s path - where lightning strikes, for example, or the exact path of a tornado. It should be noted that storms affected by magic do not dissipate once the magic upon them has ceased. As with their brewing, they must take time to ride out their events before exhausting out. Combat between Stormcallers is a series of predictions and counters, as a magical storm is often an unusual and violent series of weather patterns. Both mages often compete for the same storm, attempting to influence it to their own designs.
Similar to Stormcalling, Terramancers must attune to the natural environment around them. Dissimilar to Stormcalling, is that their effects are more immediate. At best, this process rends the earth asunder, creating crevices of magma in its wake. At worst, the caster can do no more than kick up a dust more around himself. The trick, as many Stormcallers of Thesse note with irony, is persuasion. A Terramancer gives direction by convincing the earth around it of a need. Stones move and think slowly, our time upon them is but an eyeblink. By their perception, continents batter and clash at a charging pace, while we perceive only a few inches of movement a year by our own eyes. Through the source of the Cosmic Mesh, these perspectives are attuned and synchronized, allowing a Terramancer to alter the terrain far faster than would be possible if he attempted to subtly change the patterns as a Stormcaller does. Upon synchronizing their times, the Terramancer and earth around him must come to an agreement of action. Every stone is different. Lands that have been previously scarred by magic, as is the case with a majority of the Selukkite deserts, often are hostile in general toward mages. A novice Terramancer is best practicing in lands that are well cared for by humans. Farms, well-walked trails, and landmarks are examples in which the earth naturally feels appreciated by humanity. Mines often require one to stir a sense of curiosity and adventure, prodding the land to search for hidden things as the miners do. Lands that have been ravaged by mankind by blood and war must cautiously invoke the anger of the land. This should never be attempted by a novice. Cities and worked stone is often the least responsive, cut away from its native land. It is slowest to change, and most difficult to invoke. Lastly, it should be noted that the land holds a long memory. If promises are made and broken, it will be less willing to work with the caster in the future. The wise man does not makes “deals”, he persuades the stone to act on its own.
A majority of mages can only touch the Cosmic Mesh where the barrier between it and A'therys runs thin. It is at these loci that the mage may reach across the planar barrier and draw a fraction of the Cosmic Mesh into an arcane focus to cast their spells. Early in the Age of Balance, it became customary to charge crystals at a locus, drawing energy from the Cosmic Mesh to store and utilize for spellcasting outside of the radius of a locus. Candles mages are easily identified by the variety of wands, staves, and gemstone charms they keep upon their person, ensuring an ample supply of magical energy between visits to nearby loci.
One can forego magical implements and channel the Cosmic Mesh through himself without an external focus; however, this is dangerous. Channeling such energy without a focus directs energy into the body, which is much like running an electric current through metal. Personal overuse of such methods often can result in a fast acting, disabling fever. The fever is characterized by bright red flushes to the skin, and a crawling, painful feeling in the veins as minute portions of blood selectively boil. Left untreated, the caster may lose their ability to use magic altogether. Severe overuse can lead to auto-combustion and eventual self-disintegration.
The intake of power from the Cosmic Mesh can become addictive, driving a mage to constantly maintain a connection to the Mesh. Those who do not learn to control this urge often drive themselves towards madness, or become burned out by drawing more power than their body can allow.