Last time I looked at the four branches of “Nith” or magic in The Ruon Chronicles. This week I’m going to look a bit deeper at the magic system that I’m building for the Ruon specifically.
Okay, so while the main charms are worked in embroidery, there are also other forms of needlework and weaving that can contain the Ruon nith and can be used in various ways. For example, there are:
- Tatting and lacemaking.
The embroidered charms of the Ruon can be divided into two main types – healing charms and guarding charms. The healing charms may include such charms as those against pain, fever, and to knit bones, as well as those to ensure safe delivery in difficult pregnancies.
However, some of the guarding charms may also be used for new mothers and babies; usually in conjunction with healing charms. Some of the most potent of the guarding charms are those which guard against the Khalver and weapons. These, however, are seen and used very seldom because they are so difficult to make and take such a large amount of nith or Talent (this refers specifically to the Ruon talent gifted to an individual by the creator and not just the talent to create needlework) to make.
Most of the knowledge of making them was also lost in the Great Burning, during which all but a tiny handful of the books of the Ruon were burnt and their knowledge subsequently forgotten. This took place before The Ruon Chronicles: The Knowledge Stones start. There may be a short story about it in the future…
The hiding cloaks some of the Ruon can make are also counted among the guarding charms because they are mostly used to hide a Ruon from the eyes of those who are not Ruon and specifically those who are the enemy of the Ruon. However, these cloaks are not easy to make, can only be worn by those with Ruon nith, and uses nith while it is being worn, unlike other charms which has all the required nith built in, so to speak.
The Nithin have also found a way to make hiding cloaks, although they are not as potent as the Ruon hiding cloaks. The Ruon are still able to see the Nithin even when they wear the cloaks although they are invisible to non-Ruon eyes. The role that the Nithin plays in “weeding out’ the Ruon from among those living in Agraver and in some of the Mountain Kingdoms (like Ogjan) is clearly shown in the Novella Grove of Graves, the second story in The Ruon Chronicles.
Not to be confused with needlepoint (where canvas is embroidered), the Ruon tapestries refer to woven tapestries that are imbued with nith. This nith gives the tapestry a dynamic quality which means that the picture that is woven can move. Okay, they basically weave a gif. But a gif with class 😛
So it’s not like a neverending movie that plays itself out on the threads, but rather a short scene (about a minute is the longest) that repeats itself. It works very well on landscapes (think trees swaying in the wind, etc.), but people and even important battle scenes and other historic moments are also shown in these tapestries.
Because they take so many people to make they are very expensive and is the main way for the Ruon sanctuaries to make the money they require to feed and clothe the Keepers of the sanctuaries as well as deliver healing and other services to the communities they serve.
Widely used in the making of clothing for the Tellerassar (eagle shapeshifters), the nith is what causes the Tellerassar to be able to change form and keep their clothes “on” while in shifted form. (Because having your shapeshifters looking for clothing to wear for half the book gets old very quickly.) The cloth can be made from various materials, most often linen or very fine cotton. Most of the cloth is produced locally in Heimfeie, although the finest cloth (based loosely on Jamdani from India) comes from the north of Sjahra.
Cloth used in the shrines of Sjahra and Khallahna are also woven in Sjahra by Ruon weavers and imbued with a certain amount of nith.
There are so many styles of knitting, that I’m not going to go through all of it here — especially since the knitting part is the newest part of the magic system and the figuring out of it is still a work in progress!
Much as the nith is trapped in embroidery stitches, so, too, is nith trapped in the knitting stitches. Different patterns can hold different guarding charms and healing charms, though they are usually a lot more specific and intricate than those that are used in the embroidery. (Here is a post I wrote regarding the basics of knitting for KnitPal.) Lace knitting is one of the favourite types of knitting that is used by the Ruon and also gives a very light fabric that is both easy and practical to carry.
In the colder climates in the north of Airtha-Eyrassa, denser fabrics are created in order to be practical for that environment, however. The Eastern Keepers and especially the Northern Keepers specialise in these knitting styles, while the Southern and Western Keepers are usually trained rather to knit lacework or at the most light blankets and cloths. The sanctuary of Holt Haliern, which lies in the centre of the world, is one of the few places where both “main styles” of knitting is taught and practiced.
Next week: Crochet, tatting and lacemaking!