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The Mage Council is known for its stringency, and its complete and total lack of humor when its laws are broken.

Some of the very early years of the Mage Council are suppressed from regular knowledge, like the systematic genocide carried out against pedophiles and then rapists very early in human history on this world. Mages of a certain level up are forced to read these and other records before they learn the highest magics of all, and to reflect on the moral cost, and the long-term consequences.

But much as the Council would love to protect its rep, it cannot hide all the errors of the past--and many feel that general knowledge is good. It reminds the mages that they are responsible, it reminds people of the effects of magic.

A few examples: the mountain ranges raised to hem the Chwahir, and those raised to protect Sartor. Mountains raised for diametrically opposite purposes, but with cataclysmic consequences--and in both cases, the Chwahir were not contained, nor Sartor protected against Norsunder.

In the northern areas of Drael and Goerael there are other examples, the two most notable being the talking animals of Helandrias, and the Color People of northern Goerael.

The Fens, the Talking Animals of Helandrias

An ancient sorcerer-king said in his records that he was giving animals the "gift" of speech, though even at the time many (animals and humans) wondered if he really just wanted talking beasts of burden. At any rate, speech given to the animals of his kingdom made them awkward, objects of hilarity outside of their known environment, and of course objects of desire for those who wanted talking nannies to pull carts of spoiled rich kids, or talking pets to while away their boredom.

Before long they were called Fens, which someone thought a clever insult against the Land of the Venn.

Not that the animals spoke long like humans. Words for animals meant different things from the outset. Paradigm was utterly different, and human speech woefully inadequate for smells, just for example. Especially the verbs for various types of smelling and sniffing and scent-making. The animals discovered that their young inherited the ability to speak.

Speech changed animals' thinking, dividing them off from other animals. There were some tragic forays against humans, that resulted at least in them being left alone, instead of being captured and sold for great prices. Also being hunted: though hunting mammals to kill them had vanished from human activities as had eating mammal flesh, the idea of a worthy foe besides themselves occurred to some humans, and briefly, hunting came with terrifying rapidity back into fashion. This caused consternation among long-sighted humans as well as among the animals hunted.

The talking animals finally left their native environments and withdrew to the thick, human-unfriendly forest of Helandrias, which was full of Hervithe who had little to do with humans. The animals evolved their own speech, though they still kept cognizance of local human speeches just for safety's sake. The animals discovered that words sharpened their sense of time, that is, they gained history instead of mere memory of dangers to avoid. Brought with this sense of being, and past being, came questions of cannibalism--did one eat one's own kind? How about related kinds? They debated the human resolution of history, to avoid eating mammals, but could carnivores keep chickens and go fishing? Some could fish, etc, etc. Banding together in a very loose confederation seemed the only alternative, with certain spaces set aside as a kind of free zone where predator could prey on predator. Because their minds altered, yet they were left with paws and no thumbs, their view of the world did extend to art, but this was scarcely perceivable by humans. Animals began to cherish what we could call history, conveyed in sound, memory, and smell.

The connection between humans and animals is maintained largely by those we'd call domesticated animals, especially dogs. Cows and bulls as well. Cows did not like living in the forest; neither did sheep, who valued having the thick wool stripped off when the hot weather came. Dogs still loved humans, and many slipped back. Cats as well, for their own reasons, perhaps because a warmth hearth is far preferable to a wet tree branch. Gradually the animal population in the north grew, many having been brought from the south, but also some talking animals slipped back, and just did not speak before humans, unless the humans were really, really trusted.

The animals of Helandrias share with humans a hatred of Norsunder, and have allied against the greater evil.

The Color People

The history of the Color People arose out of tragedy when the early Toarans, who had come through the world gate as slave ships, encountered the early Venn, who still used conquered people as thralls to do their grunt work. Venn and Toarans were raiding one another (because both sides were ferocious fighters and excellent ship builders) for slaves, prizing slaves of the opposite color: the dark Toarans prizing pale Venn, and the Venn prizing Toarans.

A great mage at the time waited for a major battle to be arranged between both sides, spending the entire war-preparation period on a complicated enchantment webwork that, when loosened just as the ships began to engage, stripped all humans on both sides of the ships of the chromosomes dedicated to melanin and hair, eye colors, and replacing them with utterly random elements of rainbow color. Thus the captain of the Venn ship woke up from his last sleep before battle, reached to light his candle-tree in ritual preparation, and dropped the sparker when he saw his purple arm and hand. After hastily putting the fire out, he discovered that his ensigns were green with yellow hair, orange with purple hair, and black (real black, as in fulgent) with hair a fetching rose, instead of uniformly pale and light-haired. The Toaran chieftain was aghast when emerging from his cabin to order the drum ritual before battle to discover that his skin had turned to the lightest sea green, and his hair was blue. His second in command stared at him out of red eyes in a lavender face topped by fir-green hair.

The battle was mutually called off, each party returned home, to be summarily rejected by the homeland. They were forced to find land to resettle on, eventually melding into one group. A land invasion on each part meant to garner slaves earned the invaders the same effect--which pretty much put paid to slavery for a great many years.

The problem was that the color people discovered that their children did not mix the colors of parents, but came out random colors just like the originals. And those who mixed with ordinary humans would often produce a startling infant. The colors did not fade or die away, and the mage could not be found, or her work discovered: rumor had it she performed the spells with the enchantment key on herself then walked into the sea and turned into one of the sea creatures. No one has been able to disprove that--or to find evidence of her.

The color people ended up occupying the north of Goerael, and pretty much stay to themselves. They aren't rejected by the rest of the world, but they stand out, and many humans are reluctant to marry someone and possibly have a green baby with red eyes and orange hair, so they don't often intermix with outsiders. However, the northlands are a favorite place to visit for fun--the color people have evolved their own art, music, and traditions that are quite, ah, colorful. They have evolved probably the best tourist facilities in the entire world.

The only alternative so far has been to use the spells akin to hair coloring, which is to use an illusion of normal brown skin, for use in traveling. Many resort to that if they have the desire to venture anonymously into the rest of the world.

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Page last modified on January 18, 2013, at 09:15 AM