Magic in Laeryk's Proving: Part One
Magic in Laeryk's Proving: Part Two
Magic in Laeryk's Proving: Part Three
The Vordanitar GiftThe Vordanitar Gift allows its Gifted to see, communicate, and Compel the spirits of the world. While the other Gifts focus on the transmutation of energy and the body, The Vordanitar Gift allows for the transmutation of the very world itself, albeit in a limited fashion. To accomplish these amazing feats, the Vordanitar must locate, communicate with, and then Compel a spirit appropriate to the effect they wish to create.
In some ways, the abilities of the Vordanitar and Vordanitariin seem even more limited than those of the other Gifted, but appearances are deceiving. A Saritar can transmute energy to create a blast of flame, but will quickly tire if asked to sustain the magical fire. An Alkesarimiin could create an Elixir which transmutes their body so that they can breathe fire, but this ability will end once the Elixir's effects have worn off. The Vordanitar seems limited in comparison in that he must first find an existing fire and its spirit, and then use his Gift to Compel the fire-spirit to change its fundamental nature and attack the Vordanitar's opponent, but once the Vordanitar has Compelled the fire-spirit the drain upon the Vordanitar's Gift is minor, and the created effect will persist for as long as the Vordanitar chooses to continue Compelling the fire-spirit.
Vordanitar and Vordanitariin learn to be resourceful when approaching a situation, for they lack the flexibility of the other Gifted, but once they have found an application for their Gift their mystical stamina is nearly limitless. Most Vordanitar exhibit a sense of calm wisdom, an attitude promoted by the Triumvirate's training and by their need for quick, but rational, thinking during a crisis situation. Many Vordanitar also prefer to learn skills which produce less of a dependence on their Gifts, providing them with more options when presented with a problem (and giving them greater knowledge on how to solve those problems with their Gifts).
The Nature of SpiritsThe world of Aerth is filled with a variety of spirits. Every naturally-occurring thing possesses a spirit attached to it, from the smallest stone to the greatest of men. These spirits remain invisible to the majority of humanity, fulfilling their function to keep the thing they are attached to true to its nature. A fire-spirit keeps a flame hot and bright until its source of fuel is exhausted, and then makes certain that it burns out, consuming the fire-spirit in the process. A stone-spirit knows that the rock it is attached to is meant to have a solid form, endure against the elements, and stay in its place unless an outside force exerts upon it. A steel-spirit keeps the sword blade it is attached to sharpened until it would naturally dull. A wind-spirit pushes the wind it governs in the proper direction, never deviating from its path. Much of what we would think of as "physics" are really the effort of the various spirits working to keep the natural order of the world as it should be, existing for their appointed time and fading once the thing they are associated with ceases to exist. Even humans and other living things have spirits attached to them, though these spirits are difficult to perceive. Spirits of living creatures work to keep the natural biological processes of their associated creature functioning, and even have some limited influence on the thoughts of the creature, providing them with a set of instincts appropriate to the creature.
It is the nature of humanity to shape the natural world, forever changing the landscape of Aerth in its wake. Men gather stones and build walls, they cut down trees to build houses, and they farm soil to grow new plants. In each case, the spirits of the world adapt to the changes men inflict upon them. The spirits associated with the individual stones used to make the wall might join together to create a new spirit associated with that wall, remaining a unified spirit until something happens to again separate the stones from the wall. The spirits of the soil and the plants work together to become a farm-spirit. And when a new child is born, the spirits associated with its parents split a portion of their essence from themselves to create a new spirit for the baby.
The Vordanitar have the ability to perceive the spirits of the world, making. To their eyes, the world is crowded with an ubiquitous number of spirits, rendering the Vordanitar nearly helpless while trying to process the information, unless trained to limit their vision. Unlike the Saritar, who must train to use their Gifts to perceive energies, the Vordanitar must train to see only those spirits and energies they wish to see, ignoring the rest.
A spirit typically appears to be a humanoid entity similar to whatever it is associated with. A wind-spirit is vaguely humanoid in shape, but amorphous and translucent, without any defined features. A fire-spirit appears made of flame, their voices crackling as they go about their natures. The spirits of a human or any other living creature appears similar to the creature the spirit is associated with, but faded, almost ghostly.
Communicating With Spirits
Spirits are not, by and large, wonderful conversationalists. It is the nature of a spirit to focus almost exclusively upon whatever they are associated with, paying little attention to the world around them. A Vordanitar can attract the attention of a spirit for a brief time through his Gift, allowing the Vordanitar to speak with the spirit. Such communications are telepathic in nature, though spirits associated with creatures capable of hearing sometimes pay better attention if the Vordanitar also speaks aloud to the creature. Speaking with a spirit about anything that does not somehow relate to whatever the spirit is associated with is pure folly; the odds of the spirit having ever taken note of something else are negligible, at best. A spirit associated with a stone wall will almost never take note of what happens across the street from that wall. A bird-spirit won't have noticed anything that the bird itself did not notice (and in many cases will only have noticed something that directly affected the bird). A resourceful Vordanitar will use the limited perceptions of spirits to their advantage, questioning the wall-spirit about someone who climbed the wall (violating the wall's nature for keeping people away from a space, and thus attracting the spirit's notice), or they might ask a stream-spirit about the people who stopped to drink from the stream's waters.
Compelling a Spirit
The true power of the Vordanitar Gift lies in its ability to exert the Vordanitar's will upon the spirit, forcing the spirit to act in a way not normally in keeping with its nature. The amount of energy expended by the Vordanitar to do this is minimal so long as the change does not violate the spirit's nature overly much. Asking a fire-spirit to spit flames at an opponent is a relatively minimal change for the fire-spirit (which is simply directing its nature in a new direction), but asking a tree-spirit to make an oak tree uproot itself and walk is a feat beyond the power of most Vordanitar, though having a tree branch move to grapple a foe is quite manageable. Once the spirit has been Compelled, maintaining the Compelling takes almost no effort on the part of the Vordanitar, no matter how difficult the original Compelling was. A Vordanitar may Compel multiple spirits at a time, but each Compelling requires at least some of the Vordanitar's attention, creating a natural limit on the Vordanitar based on their ability to multi-task.
Compelling the spirit of a human or other living creature is difficult, as the Vordanitar must not only contend with the spirit, but the will of the creature it is associated with. The more sentient and aware a creature is, the more difficult it is to Compel their associated spirits. In the case of humans and wyverns, it is nearly impossible. When a Vordanitar manages such a Compelling, they find it difficult to do more than affect the function of the creature's biological systems. A Vordanitar might Compel a spirit to stop the beating of an enemy's heart, but the struggle to Compel the spirit means that there is probably a better way to kill the foe, such as Compelling an air-spirit to suck all the oxygen from the victim's lungs.
Compelling a spirit requires a spirit to be within sight for the Vordanitar. If the Vordanitar cannot perceive the spirit, the Compelling ends, even if the Vordanitar was originally close enough to Compel the spirit. Because of the ability for humans to perceive things without directly looking at them, a Vordanitar need not keep their eyes on a spirit at all times to maintain a Compelling, but they must remain aware of the spirit and within line of sight of the spirit.
The Great Spirits
Certain Spirits exist on Aerth which seem to govern multiple, lesser spirits. These entities were once worshiped as gods by humanity, and with good reason. The power of a Great Spirit far exceeds that of a regular spirit. A Great Spirit holds dominion over every lesser spirit within its purview, and their scope is vast. Such Spirits are not simply associated with any one thing; they are concepts, and elemental forces. The power of even the least of these Great Spirits is beyond the ability of any Vordanitar to safely Compel. Should an impudent Vordanitar even attempt to Compel a Great Spirit, that Spirit will quickly destroy the Vordanitar. The sole exception to this rule is the Arakon, the leader of the Triumvirate. The Great Spirits will never destroy an Arakon outright for attempting to Compel them, but they will struggle against the will of the Arakon, and if the Arakon's will should falter, death will be imminent. Even the Arakon is unable to change the nature of Great Spirit, instead Compelling the Spirit to share its power with the Arakon.
Two Great Spirits were once worshiped in Valdaran, the Sky Father and the Skar. The Spirit known as the Sky Father governs all the skies over Aerth, except for those covering the Sharynwyn Marshes. The Skar represents the great mountain itself, but also governs the other mountains of the Wyvern Peaks. There are some in the Triumvirate who hypothesize that Alluman might be the collective Great Spirit of humanity, but no Arakon is known to have had contact with Alluman to confirm that this relatively-new deity truly exists.
While there is no true hierarchy among the Great Spirits, it is known to the Triumvirate that the Great Spirit of the Sharynwyn Marshes dwarfs the other Great Spirits in power, causing the other Spirits to flee at its approach. No Arakon has ever survived an attempt to Compel the Great Spirit of the Sharynwyn Marshes, and only the original Witch Queen of the Sharynwyn Marshes is known to have survived communicating with the Spirit, though it is unknown how she communicated with the Spirit, though she clearly has made some sort of accord with it.
Artifacts of the Great Spirits
At rare points in history, some Great Spirits have agreed to split a fragment of their power off from themselves, shaping that power into a physical object which was then carried by a champion of that Spirit, connecting the champion to the Spirit and its power. These artifacts are exceedingly rare; only a handful have ever been created, usually at the behest of an Arakon during a period of great need. Nearly all such artifacts were eventually reabsorbed by the Spirit which created them, though a few are said to persist. Legend says that the twisted black staff carried by the Arakon is an artifact of Great Spirit, though none of the legends agree as to which Spirit created the staff. Other tales speak of a Crown of Shadows which was lost ages ago, but again no legend states which Spirit donated its power.
The most famous (if such a term can be applied to relics largely unknown outside of bard songs and the halls of the Triumvirate) is the sword called the Sharynwyn Fangs. This weapon was created by the Great Spirit of the Sharynwyn Marshes as a sign of its accord with the first Witch Queen, and was often carried by the Witch Queen's personal champion. The sword carries a grave price for its power, demanding that life be taken whenever the sword is drawn; should the sword's wilder fail to claim a life with the blade, the Great Spirit lays claim to the destiny of someone dear to the wielder, causing that dear one to die early as payment for defying the Great Spirit's agreement. The Sharynwyn Fangs has rarely been seen outside of the Marshes, but all members of the Triumvirate are required to learn of the sword, for it is known to be the most powerful of such artifacts, and too dangerous to remain outside of the control of the Witch Queen's champion.
Scarcity of the Vordanitar
The Vordanitar Gift is dying out in Aerth. Only a dozen children are found each year with the potential to develop a full Vordanitar Gift, and many of these will fail to fully awaken their powers. No one knows why the Gift is dying. Some feel that humanity is moving away from the spirits, and thus losing their ability to perceive and Compel them directly. A few blame the Church of Alluman for this, saying that the Church's refusal to accept the existence of spirits has lead its followers to refuse to believe in spirits and thus make them incapable of perceiving them. Others say that it is not just the Vordanitar Gift that is dying, but all of the Gifts. The Vordanitar Gift only heralds what will happen to the other two Gifts. Regardless of the reasons, the rosters of the Vordanitar within the Triumvirate grow empty, forcing these Gifted to rely on the Elixirs of the Alkesarim to sustain them lest old age claim the ability for new Vordanitars to be trained.