Blood magic had a complicated history.
According to his Magic Lore class, it was largely considered to be one of the most dangerous sorts of wizardry in existence. The spell arrays of blood magic were somewhat similar to body enhancement: magic that directly enhanced—or hindered—the physical body would create magic circuits that directly connected to one’s body.
Blood magic created magic circuits that connected directly to the heart.
Alex flipped open his textbook on Magic Lore, though he’d memorized most of it by now. Still, when it came to certain kinds of magic, he wanted to make sure he verified everything he could.
The Magic Lore textbook was one of those stitched-together books that had approximately five editors, and three times that many authors. Each chapter had the perspective of some different well known name in the field, lending their expertise to young minds. It made for a very eclectic read: for all of the editors’ efforts, some chapters were engaging, others overdramatic, and others written in that dry way of many academic papers where it seemed the authors were both trying to prove how many specific terms they knew, and confuse the reader to death at the same time.
The entry on Blood Magic by one Professor Vlad Drac leaned toward the overdramatic.
Alex looked down at the page:
In all the misty ages that wizardry has walked with us, there are few forms of magic as ancient or enduring as blood magic. Before there were spell arrays and alchemical formulae and the scholarizing of magic, ancient practitioners knew that blood contained power. This is the old way.
Alex shuddered. He remembered Professor Jules saying something very similar when she’d summoned the shoggoth to get chaos essence from it. The old ways always seemed to be pretty scary. He continued reading the passage.
Cave paintings that depict practitioners of magic harvesting blood and life to power their crude, ancient spells have been found in several ancient settlements. Fascinatingly, this was often achieved through the sacrifice of another beneath a sharp stone knife.
Alex shuddered again.
This is the first principle of blood magic: sacrifice. All magic requires some sort of sacrifice—even if that is merely in the form of mana and time—but blood magic’s requirements are specific. Blood magic always requires blood and life for its spells to be cast. One’s lifeforce flows through blood in the body much as magic circuits carry mana to power a spell.
The similarities between mana and blood grow more obvious when one studies how blood is utilized in the supernatural world. Think of vampires: many varieties drain blood from living creatures to empower their own existence—whether living or undead—and develop varied mystical powers. Mana vampires drain mana to accomplish much the same, and many wizards theorize that they are a similar species that came to be through convergent development.
But blood can do a lot more in the hands of a practiced blood mage.
Lifeforce is power—intrinsically connected to us—and can be converted to mana to create all sorts of wondrous effects. In the civilization of Panucoco, the ancient wizard-priest Itzcoatl discovered that the power of life could be harvested from the body without killing the donor. This accelerated blood magic’s development greatly, for wizards could now study it in greater detail: any subject used to power blood magic would still be alive afterward, allowing blood magicians to examine the aftereffects of the art on those that donated blood and life to it.
This allowed for major improvements in the art.
And a few centuries later, the art of sympathetic magic arose in several societies within a few years of each other. Our blood belongs to us and can be grouped first by type and then by further individual peculiarities. It remains the liquid that our life resided in, even when separated from us. It will still bear our scent. A practitioner of blood magic can use an enemy’s blood to establish a strong connection through a sample of their blood.
One can then use another’s blood to cast spells on them from afar, and lower their resistance to magic. One can heal or harm. One can lay curses. One can cast sympathetic magic: they create an effigy of a friend or enemy and douse it with a sample of that person’s blood. With the correct spells, one can create a sympathetic resonance between the effigy, and the owner of the blood.
‘And that is where the fun begins,’ as my teacher used to say. If one then damages the effigy, then the blood’s owner will suffer a lessened but similar effect. If one repairs the effigy, then the owner will benefit from similar healing as a boon. If one puppets the effigy, one can gain some control of an enemy.
And so on.
One can even use blood magic on the self. By attaching magic circuits to the heart, the blood mage can access their own blood and the lifeforce therein directly. You, the student, can then convert your lifeforce to mana or control your blood by directly infusing it with mana: this can enhance or heal the body.
Do note though, that blood magic comes with risks.
The connection that one establishes to another using their blood is a two-way connection: it is greatly in the blood practitioner’s favour, but life and magic can flow both ways.
Blood calls to blood, no matter the direction of that call. And you, the blood mage, are connected to your victim’s blood through the magic circuits of your spells. This can have catastrophic results if one is not careful.
The blood mage Radagar famously thought to slay his former wizardry master, Glaius, by stealing his blood and attempting to use sympathetic magic upon him. Glaius—though largely unschooled in blood magic—was nevertheless much older, more powerful and more aware than his former apprentice. The old wizard was able to feel the connection and send his own mana through it, freezing Radagar to death with ice magic while the young wizard was in mid-ritual.
Another thing to remember is that lifeforce is not infinite. Blood magic might heal the body, but in doing so one is directing one’s inner vitality to quickly heal wounds or other damage. Draw upon the vitality too quickly and you can take years off a person’s lifespan or even kill them, thus leaving a freshly healed, beautiful corpse. Convert too much lifeforce into mana, and your corpse would be able to cast as many spells as it wanted. Imagine an error in spellcasting that not only caused a mana reversal, but also directly disrupted the lifeforce.
The practiced blood mage takes care to build their lifeforce through regular exercise, herbs, proper diet and rest. There is even an art in the east known as ‘Life Enforcement’ that might aid in growing your lifeforce, though I know little of this at the time of writing. It might be too good to be true; be careful to avoid fads and false disciplines.
Alex chuckled. Drac’s entry showed its age there.
Know your limits and know the law as well.
In Generasi, it is illegal to cast blood magic on another unless they can confirm to a questioning authority that they verbally consented to this, you can produce a written document acknowledging their consent to blood magic, or you have used it only in providing medical assistance and the party was unable to consent at the time.
Sentences for unsanctioned sympathetic magic are as vicious as the art itself.
Alex leaned back, pushing the book away and frowning. Blood magic was one of those arts that you tended to think of when the phrase ‘dark wizardry’ was mentioned. Vlad Drac’s chapter went on with many positive applications of blood magic practiced throughout the world—particularly in a medical context—but he also told several horror stories of blood mages enslaving others through sympathetic magic, or using blood magic and alchemy in combination to induce horrifying mutations in themselves, and others.
It was a creepy art that was risky, but if used properly, the benefits would be great. The lure of being able to heal himself was a strong one and—now that he had a far greater handle on The Mark—he was ready to try to carefully take up the art.
At the very least, he also needed to be able to defend against it. His frown deepened as he imagined a blood mage targeting him. What if they got some of his blood? Or Khalik’s? ...or Theresa’s?
Or even the blood of...
“Why do you look so funny?” Selina asked.
“Hm? What?” Alex looked up. “Oh, it’s…well, magic sometimes isn’t very nice.”
He closed the book.
Blood magic was something to worry about another day.
For now, it was time to work on other spells.
He picked up the guide for force armour, then opened up a blank notebook:
Training Day 1-Take II
“Mother and Father were delayed: torrential rains in the lowlands turned the roads into muck, so they won’t reach Port Mausarr for another week or more,” Theresa said. Her parents’ latest letter was sticking out of her bag. “Still, I can’t believe this is finally happening.”
Her arrow slammed into the target halfway down the length of the stadium, and she quickly drew another one. Brutus, sitting beside Selina who was deep into reading a book, watched her. Alex—taking a break from a punishing calisthenics routine—was going over the spell-guide for force armour, and making notes on aspects of the spell array that were similar to lesser force armour, as well as anticipating which parts might cause him trouble.
Khalik and Thundar were doing laps around the field—while under body enhancement spells—while Isolde fired lightning spell after lightning spell into a training dummy with some of her friends from second year.
Nearby, Zhao Shishi was meditating after finishing exercising with Theresa. Life enforcement was doing her good: Shishi looked much stronger and healthier than the last time Alex had seen her.
‘And speaking of life enforcement,’ his eyes turned to another part of the stadium, where he heard a loud grunt. Nua-Oge and Grimloch were there: Nua-Oge was practicing firing spells at a line of training dummies, while weaving between them on a wave of water she had conjured. Nearby, her younger brother was performing the Spear-and-Oar Dance as he held a massive steel pole that looked more like a tree trunk made of metal, than a staff.
The already hulking sharkman had grown even more muscular now that he was further along the path of life enforcement. Alex noticed that his gaze would frequently find Claygon…
…was there a rivalry brewing there?
“It’ll be so good when your mom and dad finally get here,” Alex said with a mix of excitement and apprehension. “Gah, there’s so much I want to show them. And so little time. Like there’s the beastarium, the gardens, there’s Shale’s. There’s all kinds of things. Where do you want to take them?”
“More places than just the university,” she said. “When I go into the city with Shishi or Isolde, we always see so many new places and things. So much more than we’ve seen together.”
“I’ve no doubt,” Alex said, wincing a little.
Honestly, he’d wanted nothing more than to explore Generasi, but Uldar’s priests prowling around the city had made it dangerous for him to do so. He’d been only going into the city for work—near the university—and then back for most of his trips into the city.
Eventually, almost every priest of Uldar had been called home to support the war-effort, but by then, he’d been so busy that he didn’t have enough free time to go exploring. He also didn’t really want to risk running into one of the few that remained, no matter how few there were now.
So, he was just a biiiit jealous of his friends.
“We could get a sky-gondola,” Theresa said, looking at him meaningfully. “Take a tour from above, and then land in a few places that they’d want to go to…and that might be okay for you to go to. Like the museum, the Rainbow Tower and some other places.”
“What’s the Rainbow Tower?” Selina asked, looking up from her book.
“One of the tallest towers in the city,” Alex said. “Former home of ‘Noarc, The Rainbow Wizard’. He was this gifted weather wizard who seriously advanced weather magic.”
“Weather magic?” the little girl asked.
“Yeah, wizardry that controls the weather.”
Selina and Theresa froze and looked at him slowly.
“You can do that?” Theresa asked.
“Well I can’t,” he said. “But some wizards can. Before Noarc, the spell-craft needed was nuts.” He recalled a passage from his Magic Lore textbook. “You needed a ritual and like a hundred wizards and at least two of them had to be able to cast ninth-tier spells. So changes in the weather were basically the business of the gods and the weather. But Noarc came from a land where the gods were fickle, apparently. They fiddled with the weather a lot. They’d make it rain for weeks in a fit of rage, then out of grief, send an endless winter, and then a long stretch of drought. So Noarc came to study at Generasi and was obsessed with making spells where a single wizard could control the weather. And he finally did it when he was ninety-nine years old. He made this seventh-tier spell that lets one wizard control the weather for about a day. It takes a ridiculous amount of mana and the spell-craft is so complex that very few wizards can cast it, but he did it.”
He glanced up at the sky. “According to the book, there was a drought in Generasi that year, and he marched out of his tower after being holed up in there for like a decade and just made it rain. Then he marched back into his tower, wrote down all of his notes, donated his research to the university and then went back to his homeland and lived another thirty years, solving weather problems. So the city made his home—the Rainbow Tower—into a sort of public monument.”
“That’s sooooo cool!” Selina said excitedly. “I want to do that!”
“Maybe you’ll be able to.” He smiled. “And if you’re all going to the Rainbow Tower, I’d love to come with you, if I can,” he said. “I’ve got to prepare a welcome gift for your parents too, Theresa.”
There was a lot he had to thank the Lu’s for: he owed them so much for all they’d done for him and Selina over the years and…though it was in a different way to his own parents, he loved them. There was no way they were leaving Generasi without something from him to remember the trip by.
“Say, how long are they staying?” Alex asked. “Does it say in the letter?”
“A month,” she said. “The trip across the Rhinean Empire isn’t a short one, so they want to make it worth it. My brothers are working with my uncle…that poor, poor man.”
“Oh, they’re not that bad,” Alex laughed.
“They’ve probably wrecked half the smithy,” she said in a voice that was half-humour, half-sincere worry. She froze. “Oh by The Traveller—if they’re late—they’ll be here for the Games of Roal!”
“The what now?”
“Oh, they didn’t teach you that in Magic Lore? They-”
She paused, looking over Alex’s shoulder.
“-what’s that all about?” she asked.
Alex craned his neck over his shoulder.
A crowd—no, two crowds—of students had entered the stadium. And they did not look very happy to see each other.
Alex’s eyes narrowed.
One group was very familiar.