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The magical nation of Zeria

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1 The magical nation of Zeria on Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:38 am


In the middle of a massive forest, a singular volcano stretches into the sky. This volcano is home to the magical people known as the Zerians. The Zerians appear to be mostly human, the only differences being their teeth, which instead of four canines, instead have four more incisors replacing them, and their tongue, which comes to a point. The obvious difference between them and humans is their innate magical energy. This energy is mostly small and minor, but it is always present, and is a large if not the most important focal point of Zerian culture.
First, to understand the Zerians one must understand their home. The volcano simply known by the Zerians as “Zeria” is tall yet incredibly broad. It has been inactive for the past thousand years, but historians and scientists theorize that it used to erupt quite frequently, though few of these eruptions were violent. This consistent lava flow cooled and built on itself until it created the strange shape the volcano is today. One side of the volcano is very gently inclined, almost flat in some places. The other side has a more irregular shape, steeper with numerous drop-offs and valleys. The entire volcano is huge, measuring almost 60 miles in diameter. Couple that with the fields and farms that ring the volcano and the Zerian domain is about 100 miles in diameter, maintaining a roughly circular shape around the now inactive volcano.
Zerian magic is a very important part of their lifestyle and must be understood in order to understand them. As youths, their magical energy is unfocused and weak, not taking on the aspects of any element and very difficult if almost impossible to use. However, as each youth reaches the tail end of puberty, they can choose to focus their magic via a special ceremony on a certain element. This must not be put off, since if it is not done in time, the magical energy eventually focus on one element after an exposure to that element, and the Zerian will have no choice in the matter. The seven elements that their magic can focus on are earth, air, water, fire, light, darkness, and the rarest of all, lightning.

The earth-movers
The first of the Zerians, those known as the earth-movers, are those who have focused their energy on the element of earth. Their abilities obviously revolve around the manipulation of the earth beneath their feet, or the utilization of the properties of earth. Like all Zerians, the majority of the population’s magic is minor, mainly constrained to using the earth to sense things around them or moving loads of earth with ease, or plowing and churning up the earths more efficiently. Another common practice is a form of meditation that allows them to draw strength from the earth and transfer it into the plants around them. This practice is mostly used by farmers, farming being a business the earth-movers seem to have a monopoly of. Also, one should note that a side-effect of being an earth-mover is increased strength and endurance. Even the most magically weak of earth-movers are brawny and hard workers, able to work for long periods of time without rest. Most also seem to suffer from acrophobia.
Some of the more skilled earth-movers can actually turn their bodies into a sort of living stone, increasing their strength and making them much more difficult to harm. Others have been known to cause the earth to churn and ripple with nothing but a foot-stomp or open-handed slap to the ground. There are even stories of those who can cause quakes, or those who levitate huge rocks with nothing but a thought. Some even are rumored to be able to petrify people, turning them into fossils in an instant
Overall, the earth-movers are known as hard workers and a simple people. Those who choose the path of an earth-mover do not choose a path that leads to fame and wealth, but instead to the quiet joy of a good home and a caring family. The earth-movers value family greatly, and many of the farms are owned by people whose ancestors owned them long ago, the land a family heirloom and inheritance for future generations. Most of the earth-movers find employment as farmhands or working in the mines found all over the mountain. Some of the more skilled earth-movers work in traveling construction crews who go from city to city on commission to maintain and build structures for hire. You can always identify members of such a crew by the green armbands they all wear.

The wind-walkers
The wind-walkers are those who have focused their energy on the element of air and wind. These people can manipulate wind currents or generate them, or use the air almost like one uses a tool. Most all wind-walkers can fly, though only for short periods of time, otherwise they become tired very fast. They liken it to sprinting. In order to fly longer distances, small wooden flyers have been constructed that allow the rider to glide on the wind currents quite easily if they are experienced enough in the art. Combined with their magic, wind-walkers in these flyers can travel long distances in short amounts of time with little need for rest. Other common skills of the wind-walkers include using small concentrated wind gusts to manipulate small objects at a distance, “listening to the sky” to predict the weather, or manipulating the wind to carry sounds and voices long distances. Also, just as earth-movers have the side-effect of being stronger from their element, wind-walkers instinctively can slow their own descent using wind currents when falling through the air. This skill is reflexively used even when one stumbles. A running joke is to trip a wind-walker and laugh as their body suddenly jerks and slowly lets itself down to the ground, the wind they generate blowing whatever they had in their hands helter-skelter.
The more legendary of the wind-walkers are the well-known weather-crafters. Now, any weather-crafter will tell you that they don’t actually craft the weather; they merely use a combination of science and magic to push and prod at the weather patterns to get a desired result. Also, they need their amplification towers to have any real effect on the weather. Still, their power is nothing to laugh at. On their own, they can generate huge gusts of wind, and some of the more powerful among them can create low pressure areas at will, and then create a twister! However, this will physically and mentally drain even the most powerful of wind-walkers, and is a feat rarely seen. Other wind-walkers can create gusts of wind so powerful and yet so concentrated that it actually cuts like a blade.
It is very common for the restless to choose the path of a wind-walker. Since most of them find work in the postal service or as one of the Scavengers who take flyers out into the forests beyond to find rarer and more precious resources than can be found in Zeria, they get to see more of the world than any other Zerian, and are envied by many because of it. Freedom has always been one of the staples of a wind-walkers lifestyle, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. The weather-crafters also value freedom, but in a different way. Rather than actually leaving and wandering, their love for freedom is shown in their studies of the sky and its mysteries. Many of the weather crafters choose their trade not for the money (which is substantial) but in order to pursue their theories and ideas without needing to care about others bogging them down.

The torches
While officially and originally called the fire-wielders, the users of the element of fire have earned the permanent nickname of “the torches.” Historians theorize this was due to the fact that, instead of using glowlamps or torches to light their way, they would simply light one of their own fingers or hands on fire. This shocked the other Zerians and led to the nickname. However, this may not be true, partially since not all “torches” can safely light themselves on fire without injury or pain. This is not a natural ability and is a skill that must be learned, though it is one of the more common skills among the fire-wielders. Other of the more common skills is the ability to heat an object by touching it, or maintaining an objects heat while they remain close to it. Obviously, there is the ability to generate fire, however small, as well as manipulate it. Some can even spit fire, though this is a risky practice and very painful when done wrong, and should not be attempted by the unskilled. The natural side-effect of being a torch is that you can withstand much higher temperatures than a regular person and the noxious gases generated by the volcano have a much less harmful effect.
The more powerful skills among the torches are mostly merely more powerful versions of the weaker ones. For instance, there are those who can manipulate fire on a grand scale, sometimes even being able to stop forest fires dead in their tracks. Some can generate huge amounts of fire and twist it and direct it like a trainer ordering a massive beast of war. Others can heat objects so quickly that they will actually explode within a second of the torch touching it. Some legends speak of torches actually altering the fundamental aspects of fire, even going so far as to make fire gain solid-like properties.
Torches are in many ways akin to the earth-movers. They tend to be hard-workers and take great pride in their work. The culture built up around their metal-working art has created a bit of a competitive streak in most metal-working torches. Competitions between metal-workers are fairly common, as are sore losers. Generally it’s a bad idea to stay past the end of one of these competitions, as a brawl is likely to ensue. Besides metal-working, one other business employs a good portion of the torches: the energy generation business. The city of the torches, which will be discussed later, is responsible for most of the energy that powers the infrastructure of the other Zerian cities. This energy is drawn from the volcano itself, and many find work maintaining this complex system. Some groups of torches live in other cities as one of that city’s fire brigades, recognizable by the bright red armband they always wear, similarly to the earth-mover construction crews. Also, there is a minor group that works as miners within the volcano itself, but generally at least one earth-mover is on the payroll in such operations, if for safety’s sake and nothing else.

The water-guiders
The water guiders are those Zerians who have chosen the element of water as their magical focus. They have the innate talent for swimming as well as holding their breath for extended periods of time. Some of the common minor skills involve manipulating or generating water currents, shaping water and causing it to retain its shape so long as the shaper is present, or cooling water to below its freezing point, or heating it to steam. They can also manipulate steam and ice, but their control over these mediums is much lesser than that of liquid water. Their control is also lessened the less pure the water is, though with salt water this difference is minuscule. Very few water-guiders can manipulate impure substances such as blood or mud, though it is possible to draw the water out of the mud. Another common skill is the ability to draw air out of water, allowing a water-guider to breathe underwater so long as they don’t tire out.
The more powerful of the water-guiders can condense water from the air itself. Others manipulate or generate massive currents, waves, and surges or simply manipulate and levitate the water itself, shaping it as they please. Some of the most feared can actually manipulate the blood in the human body, freezing it in your veins if they touch you. There are rumors of those who have such a skill, but do not even need to touch you, merely look at you.
It is difficult to describe the overall aspects of the water-guiders since they have none. They are widely varied in personality and attitudes. Some are greedy, others generous. Some are proud, others humble. All are drawn to the water-guider path for their own reasons, and these reasons are as numerous and as different from each other as the people themselves. A good portion of them are employed by the transportation business, working the enchanted canals that flow water down and up the mountain, using their magic to maintain the enchantments that allow the water to flow uphill, or guiding the ferries and barges to their destinations. This has made water guiders some of the most commonly seen of all Zerians, as well as some of the richest.

The chasmites
The fifth of the Zerians are the chasmites, officially known as the night-watchers, and are the users of the darkness element. However, since they have so many nicknames, and no one really calls them night-watchers, for our purposes we will call them by their most common (and least derogatory nickname), chasmites, which is derived from their home city. Some of the more insulting nicknames include “night crawlers”, which led to the even more insulting nickname “worms.” I will refrain from giving any other nicknames since they may not be appropriate for younger readers. As you may have guessed, the chasmites are among the least liked of all Zerians, and that may be for good reason. For one thing, they are a very private people, preferring their own company when they prefer company at all. For another, they are the main source of crime for Zeria, having spawned some of the worst and most dangerous criminals in all of Zeria, as well as having the large criminal organizations among their members. This is partially due to their magic being easily lent to a life of crime. One of the most basic skills is to simply remove all light from a given area. Since the natural side-effect of being a chasmite is the ability to see in the dark, this poses no problem for the user, but is very disconcerting and distracting for non-chasmites. Other skills involve being able to blend in with the shadows, making one very difficult to see even in only the palest of shadows. Some can use their connection with darkness to sense the so-called “dark emotions” in people, such as hate or fear. No one is quite sure why they can do this; though they explain it by saying all people have some darkness inside them. In general, their magic focuses on concealment and deception, and it is not quite clear how far it can go.
Some of the chasmite magic has earned terrifying reputations. For instance, there are the legendary shadow walkers, who can actually use darkness as a sort of doorway, teleporting instantly to another dark area a short distance away. Some are capable of generating True Darkness, which acts as complete sensory deprivation, robbing the victim of all five senses completely. There is also the dread nullification magic, which can completely cancel out other magics. There are even legends of chasmites that could infuse their bodies with the essence of darkness, allowing them to phase through solid objects.
As a general rule, chasmites are distrusting and secretive loners, working alone, or with other chasmites when they must. This has led to their less than flattering reputation. Many of them find work in the Zeria’s main prison, known as Derringson, which is housed in their home city. A small minority work for the Zerian government as spies and informants. Good portions are simply criminals, running black markets, racketeering operations, and crime organizations. A surprising number of them are honest merchants, often running large operations with cunning and savvy. The rest work as menial laborers, mostly in their home city.

The light-bearers
The sixth Zerian kind is the light-bearers, users of the element of light. The side-effect of their magic is perhaps the most well-known and perhaps the most inconvenient. All light-bearers have difficulty lying, telling lies taking great concentration and effort. This makes most of their lies easy to see through. As a result, most of them are very very good at twisting the truth, which doesn’t seem difficult to them at all. One must always listen to a light-bearer’s words carefully, in order to find hidden meanings. However, the other side of their magic is that most of them are somewhat more intelligent than most Zerians, though this should be looked at on a case by case basis and not as an absolute rule. As a result of their inability to lie, a strange system of manners and honor has arisen, a code of conduct which most of them follow absolutely.
One of the most common skills for a light-bearer is the ability to generate light, and sustain it for long periods of time. Small healing magics are also fairly common among them. Many of the scholars use a special kind of magic that allows the user to actually store knowledge in light sources, such as lamps. When someone looks into the light, that knowledge is temporarily put inside their mind, though without studying the knowledge, it eventually fades like a dream. The many performers among the light-bearers, musicians and actors and the like, will often use magic that generates beautiful multi-colored light at the same time they generate sound, making a musicians performance stunning visually as well as in sound.
Some of the more legendary of light-bearer abilities includes the famous ability to generate True Light. Just as True Darkness obscures everything, True Light will reveal all. If one was to look under a person exposed to True Light, they would be able to see that person’s very nature, as well as all their secrets. Traps and tricks would be easy to detect. Another ability is that of generating beams of light so powerful and intense that it burns through solid objects. There is even a legend of one healer who was said to be able to resurrect the recently dead, though there is no recorded evidence of this ability. The doctors of the light-bearers however are skilled healers, and their services are always in demand.
The light-bearers are well-known as the center of culture and learning in the Zerian society, and with good reason. Many of them are scholars or artists of some kind. They also make up the majority of Zeria’s doctors, and are among the kindest and most tolerant of Zerians. This is partly due to the rule that before a doctor is given his title, he must spend one year outside of Zeria, serving non-Zerians. This practice has made light-bearers the face of Zeria as seen by outsiders, so most of the country’s diplomats are light-bearers. However, despite their reputation and difficulty lying, a light-bearer can still be treacherous, just like any other person. Many of them work in the light-bearer’s home city at the University of Luvinaris or the Zerian Library. The doctors can be found all over Zeria, recognizable by the white armband they wear.

The flashmen
The final group of Zerians is simply known as the flashmen, this name derived from the fact that they are all part of the Flash Corps, Zeria’s main military. They are the ones who use lightning as their element, and are by far the deadliest of all seven groups in combat. The natural side-effect of their abilities appears to be near-boundless energy when they are awake. This however has a consequence, since when they run out of energy they crash and most of the time fall unconscious. The most basic skill among them is electrifying their metal weapons, making them even more deadly in combat. Others use their powers to charge and operate the massive crystal obelisks, short-range heavy weapons made of crystal that can store lightning energy and release at a specified target. The captains and higher ranking officers are even able to generate lightning bolts themselves, though the intensity depends on the wielder. Some are lethal, while some aren’t. The most elite warriors among the flashmen can create lightning much more powerful than any of the regular soldiers.
The flashmen are the fewest in number among the Zerians, but they are the most well-known. Besides acting as the military, they also act as the police force of Zeria, patrolling the streets and enforcing the laws. Their training is mostly unknown, since no non-flashman is allowed inside the training grounds. As a result, there is little I can say about them.

The magic listed above is by far not a complete comprehensive list of all the magical skills attainable by Zerians. While each element’s magic is different, there are a few magics that are used by all groups:
Enchanters: These people can put spells of enchantment on objects or people to allow it to effect the outside world. This effect usually has some correspondence to the caster’s element. For example, waterguider enchanters are responsible for the creation and maintaining of the magical waterways that allow water to flow up as well as down.
Crafters: These individual specialize in the creation of elementals. Elementals are semi-intelligent beings composed of one specific element, though there have been instances of ones being composed of more than one element. These beings are defined by their element as much as the Zerians themselves. For example, earth elementals are strong and often used for manual labor, while shadow elementals are used as spies, since they only appear to be a silhouette on the wall or floor. Lightning elementals are rare but feared, for while they are difficult to make they are deadly in combat.

The Zerian population is mostly divided into six cities. These cities correspond with the first of the six elements that the Zerians use as the focus of their magic: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Light, and Darkness. The first city, that of earth, is known as Grudner, and is by far the smallest of the six cities. This is not due to a lack of earth-focused Zerians, but rather because most of the earth Zerians live on homesteads in the fields ringing the volcano, raising crops and coming to the cities to sell their harvest or resupply. Grudner itself is a mining town, with deep tunnels crisscrossing underneath the city, workers excavating precious minerals and metals, most of the time iron. These metals are then exported up the mountain to the mouth of the volcano where they are shaped and forged by the fire users. An interesting piece of trivia about this city is that it is not the original Grudner, since the city is moved every time the metals beneath run out.
The second city, Cioscee, is the city populated mostly by air-focused Zerians. It is situated only a few miles from the volcano mouth, on a rise that drops straight down at the city’s edge. The rise was said to have been made with magic when the Zerians had first colonized the volcano. Cioscee most notable feature are its tall spires and interlocking rope bridges that form a sort of multi-layered road network that spans the entire city. Walls crisscrossing through the city act as highways for carts and pedestrians. Most visitors are disconcerted by the lack of railings and the nearly constant breeze that whistles through the city and threatens to make them fall. City residents don’t seem concerned, since their air-focused magic has the side-effect of allowing any possessing that particular magic to slow their fall to a safe speed, and it is unlikely railings will be added any time soon. The city is home to the Zerian postal service, the workers using their magic to power small wooden flyers which take them to various villages as well as the other five cities.
The third city is Dragon’s Mouth, and is the city of the fire users. It is situated on the south side of the giant opening of the volcano, which is known as the Maw, and is also the place where the city got its name from. While the majority of the city sits on the side of the volcano, a good portion extends down into the volcano itself, though no one actually lives there. The city has a single tower that rises high above the other buildings. This tower is topped with a strange assortment of huge mirrors, which are constantly emanating their own light, shooting it in beams down the mountain to other towers which redirect the light to more towers, until they reach their receiving towers in each of the other five cities. These beams are actually concentrated magical energy, drawn from the volcano itself. This energy is used by all the cities as the main source of magical power used for the infrastructure of each city. The city, despite being the highest of all the cities, is always very hot. This is due to vents and pipes which channel hot air and heat throughout the city from the large lava pools that bubble within the volcano. This has also had the sideeffect of lending the city a permanent sulfurous smell that keeps most visitors away. This city is also renowned for its metal workers, being the main source of all metal tools and devices for Zeria. This, combined with the energy business, has made many of the city’s residents the richest Zerians alive
The fourth city is known as Springtown. As this name rather obviously implies, the city is located on a large natural spring. Via water-focused magic, the spring’s natural flow of water has been increased and amplified, providing a huge amount of water each day. This water flows into the various waterways that have been constructed, all of which are enchanted, causing the water to even flow uphill when directed. These waterways leave the city and crisscross all over the mountain providing easy and reliable transportation via barge all over Zeria. The city itself is mostly composed of the thick strong reeds that grow along the spring’s edges. These are used to construct large platforms over the running water. The people of the city build their huts on top of these.
The fifth city is Luvinaris, also nicknamed the “City of Light.” This city is a center of culture and learning for all Zerians. Its architecture is breathtaking and grand in scale and design. The most notable attraction is the great Zerian Library, the place where all the knowledge and experiences can be found. Another notable feature is the city’s near constant illumination, via numerous streetlamps that never stop shining. Most of the city’s residents don’t use lamps themselves, but instead use uniquely designed windows that have mirrors slanting off the top that redirect light from the street into the rooms within.
The sixth city is known as The Chasm. It is unique in many ways, built within a large crack in the ground the goes deep into the mountainside. The walls are narrow, and lined with the various structures of the city, including the main Zerian prison Derringson. It is next to pitch black for almost the entire day, the only time of light being for a few moments at high noon as the sun passes directly overhead. This is the traditional time of rest for the city, most of the inhabitants going indoors until the light has passed. Several of the main streets are lit with glowlamps for visitors, but otherwise it is pitchblack. This poses no problem for a chasmite, but tends to discourage visitors. Couple that with the city’s near uselessness in terms of legal economics, and its ominous reputation, and The Chasm is by far the most private and mysterious of the six cities

There is a seventh place worthy of note, but it is not a city. It is simply known as Citadel. It is the training ground and home of the flashmen after they have been recruited. It is a huge fortress built into the side of the mountain. Only one enchanted canal comes and goes from it, and it is closed off to all visitors, even the barge drivers who bring supplies forced to unload outside the walls. It is surrounded on all sides by watchtowers topped with iron spikes, each magically enchanted to hold electric energy. When commanded to, they will release this energy in bursts of predetermined intensity. They have never been seen to run out of power, and it is believed the flashmen have some sort of magical power source hidden within their base. It is also rumored that beneath Citadel are a huge assortment of underground chambers, stocked with supplies and living quarters, designed to hold refugees during a siege. Obviously these chambers, should they exist, could not hold all Zerians, but they would be used as a last ditch effort should the Zerians be on the verge of being wiped out.
These six cities are each led by a single member of that city, each elected or appointed according to the laws of the city. Grudner and Cioscee both elect their leader, Grudner’s leader known as a Lord while Cioscee’s leader holds the title of Minister, via popular election. Springtown is run by a dynasty of Mayors, usually composed of the richest family of waterbearer’s at the time. It is not always passed down the family line however. It is a common enough practice to sell the right to be the next Mayor to a richer family in exchange for monetary and economic gain. They are often an object of mild disgust among the other cities since the position is bought, not earned. Dragon’s Mouth also uses a family line of rulers, simply known as Leaders, but the position cannot be taken from the family unless the current ruler is judged incompetent by popular vote of the entire city. Luvinaris’ leader is always the Dean of the Academy of Luvinaris, since anyone achieving the postion is considered a person of great wisdom and intellect. The Chasm’s leaders, known as Governors, are interesting in that they are almost always crime-lords. This is because, many years ago, the city was in such chaos no Governor could stay alive for very long before they were assassinated by a some crime-family seeking to end what they saw as a source of government interference from their operations, or by some thug wanting to make a name for himself. The flashmen were finally asked to step in. They did and promptly declared martial over the whole city, wiping out huge groups of criminals and some of the largest crime families in only a few years. After that, a brilliant idea was thought up for keeping the remaining crime-families in check. The flashmen were confidant that they knew the identities of the leaders of these crime-families, but were unable to arrest them for various reasons. Instead they appointed the one they perceived to be the most powerful as the new Governor. They then placed several strict rules on his postion. First, all of his assets would be carefully monitored, and any growth had to be accounted for. This effectively shut down any illegal profiting, or at least prevented him from ever using any of it. Then, they based the salary of the Governor on the economy of the city. Basically, the more money the city made legally, the more the Governor made. Finally, they made it so that whenever a criminal with a bounty on his head was turned in, the Governor received a bonus proportional to the reward. This effectively forced the once crime-lord to turn good as well as shutting down or at least weakening his particular crime family. The flashmen were counting on the crime-lords greed and cleverness to get the jobs done they hadn’t been able to as well as stay alive. It worked, and the system is used to this day, The Chasm still formally under martial law.
These six leaders meet periodically in the Grand Council of Zeria, where they discuss and enact plans for the national good of Zeria. Only a majority vote by the Grand Council can command the flashmen army in its entirety. There is a seventh leader, the ArchCommander of the flashmen, but he only acts as advisor to the Grand Council, unless a state of war is declared, in which case the ArchCommander gains total authority until the Grand Council votes that the state of war is over. During a state of war, this is the only power of the Grand Council. In the meantime they merely act as advisors and bearers of the will of the ArchCommander.

One final thing that should be mentioned of the Zerians is the legend of the Unfocused. These are Zerians who somehow discovered a way to keep their magical energy from being tainted by the elements, instead having the ability to manipulate and generate magic on its purest level. They were said to able to affect reality itself, bending and warping the flow of time, generating huge shockwaves of pure kinetic energy, long-range teleportations, and much more. However, these stories are believed to be nothing but exaggerations of the abilites of some of the more ancient Zerians. The best known story is that of the Zerian ruler who led his people when they first colonized the volcano centuries ago, who was said to have conquered great evils and monstrous beasts to allow his people to settle there.

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