Worldbuilding the Ruon magic system, part 2

Well, it’s about time I post this, don’t you think! Here is the link to the first part of the more in-depth look at the Ruon magic system.

Okay, so — the magic system of The Ruon Chronicles are set in needlework and weaving, with nith or magic woven or worked into a specific design.

The main charms of the Ruon are worked in embroidery, for example, this is a healing charm meant for pain and fever. It is also made up of a pain charm and a fever charm that has been “locked” together. (Designed and embroidered by me.)


Ruon nith, however is used in all kinds of needlework, and this work can be divided roughly into:

  • Embroidery
  • Tapestries
  • Weaving
  • Knitting
  • Crochet
  • Tatting and lacemaking

For embroidery, tapestry, weaving, and knitting, you can read part 1 of this series. This part will be looking at crochet, tatting and lacemaking.

Those who follow my blog will know that I’m an avid crocheter (mostly addicted to shawls and doilies. Yes. I make doilies and actually like using them). However, the idea of crochet also being part of the magic system only came in later in my worldbuilding — at first it was only tapestry and embroidery. But then I thought, hey, what about all the other crafts? And a whole new world of magic opened up…

Crochet

The crochet that is imbued with nith is made from fine thread and usually has a very lace-like appearance. The stitches and different motifs contain different kinds of charms or guarding magic.

Here is a video by Olga Poltava showing how crochet — and specifically crocheting with thread — looks:


The crocheted nith usually takes longer to make than the embroidered charms, although crocheted motifs can also be healing charms.

(As an aside for other crocheters – I usually use number 5 thread for all my thread crocheting as other sizes can be tricky to come by where I live. My favourite patterns for doilies are usually Japanese and Russian, while my favourite shawl designer is Jasmin Räsänen.)

The finest of crocheted motifs imbued with nith are made with thread no thicker than sewing thread. This technique, however, is highly specialised because of the delicacy and fineness of the work.

These crocheted motifs can be either worn on the outside of clothing where they are visible, or on the inside of a garment where they are not visible and where they may give someone the upper hand when they need to use nith in a fight.

A shirt may be made of these lace-like motifs and, if it contains enough nith, it can be as hard as… well… mithril.

The first time this kind of nith comes into its own, is in book two of the planned Ruon Chronicles series when Ruenna wears some of the motifs at the beginning of the book.

Right, now on to tatting and lace making.

Tatting and Lace Making

Tatting, which you can see being done in the video below, is not only a craft that I still want to try, but also another type of needlework that can be imbued with nith.
Very fine work — almost as fine as the lace which I will discuss next, the motifs are made up of a series of “knots” so to speak.

Tatted motifs are used as part of guarding magic and those making this kind of lace are held in high esteem because they are quite few and far between.

Here is the video showing how a small motif is made:

Lastly we come to the type of needlework which is most scarce among the Ruon. It is important to again emphasize that not all lace makers are Ruon and that not all lace are imbued with nith.

However, the lace of the Ruon are the finest lace that is available in all of Airtha-Eyrassa. Those practicing the art can only be taught at a few of the Sanctuaries because there are so few lace makers.

Used only for guarding, the lace that the Ruon make is extremely strong with a lot of “concentrated” nith contained in the different stitches of the work.

That said, the lace which I have in mind as being the nith-imbued kind, is bobbin lace, which you can see being done in this short video:

And some more in this documentary on Vologda lace and lace making:

Worldbuilding Wednesday: The Magic System of The Ruon Chronicles

In the world of Airtha-Eyrassa (the world in which The Ruon Chronicles takes place), magic and magical abilities are called Talent or Nith. The nith is further split into four distinct branches, namely Nith, Nithrus, Nithran, and Nith-Eyr.

The Four Branches of Nith

Nith/Ruon Nith

Also called “Ruon nith”, “nith” usually refers to the Talent of the Ruon and their embroidered charms. This includes nith used in healing, guarding and creating armour.

Nithrus

“Nith of the Airus” refers to the Talent innate in the Airus. This includes being able to read the Knowledge Stones.

Nithran

This type of nith is only found in the Tellerassar (shapeshifters) and Water Women and is, like Nithrus to the Airus, innate in them.

Nith-Eyr

Nith-Eyr, or “Nith of the Veil”, refers to the Talent which the Airus and Khalne possess and which they use to “walk the Veil”. The Airus Tarion and Amalia are seen walking the Veil in the story Grove of Graves.

The Embroidered Charms of the Ruon

The Main Types of Charms

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.

img_3828
Pain and fever charms combined

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 (Agrai) 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. 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.

How the Charms Are Worked and Where They Are Worn

The charms may be worked on any fabric and in any thread, though specific thread and fabric are usually used in Ruon Haliern and manufactured there especially for this use. The reason why the charms may be worked on any surface is that it is not the fabric or the thread which is magical, but is only endowed with a certain amount of nith by the Ruon while the charm is being constructed. Some thread and fabric – those which are stronger and have a higher thread count – may, however, last a bit longer and the fabric may also be used more than once to make either the same or different charms.

As can be seen in the preview of The Ruon Chronicles, the charms may be worked on clothing and not just on charm cloths carried by the wearer. These charms which the strongest Ruon (like Ruaha and Ruenna) wore, were in many ways as tough as armour while still allowing the Ruon a free range of movement. To make such an outfit, however, required a very large amount of both nith and time and, unlike metal armour, would only last until the threads lost integrity as the nith locked within the threads were used.

Those worked over Ruaha’s heart kept her alive not only because of their strength, but also because of the placement. While the charm could not deflect the blade of the knife, it could stop the blood from exiting the wound, thereby making the body “think” that it is still whole and not wounded to such a degree. Ruaha also kept these charms hidden because she knew that they would give her the upper hand should she be injured. Nith from the other charms she wore could be moved to the charms over her heart because she was a Ruon and she was using it herself. This is why the rest of her dress started to fade and those charms break first. Once all the other nith was used up, the charms over her heart was at last used and lost their integrity. If it had been a less severe wound she could have been saved by using this method to keep the wound from bleeding.

Order in Which the Charms Are Worked

The charms must further be worked in a specific order in order for the charm to function. For instance, when working a pain charm, the first “layer” of stitches will be the lines crossing the circle. Next the circle itself will be worked as the second “layer”, whereafter the lines crossing the first layer will be worked. These stitches hold the nith within the charm and anchors it to the thread. Once the thread is knotted and cut, the thread will turn a deeper colour as the nith is fastened to it. This is one of the few ways in which a true Ruon charm can be discerned from that of a fake one when it is being made. For instance, a non-Ruon may work the same pattern as the Ruon, but the charm’s colour will not change and neither will it contain any of the nith required to work.

Colours in Which the Charms Are Worked

The colour of the thread is not of such big import, but coloured thread is used in order to see whether 1) the nith is fixed to the charm and 2) when the charm is fading and losing integrity. Traditionally red, blue, and green thread is used to create the different charms. Different colours may also be used in the same charm when there are different “layers” present. This is especially done by those only learning how to make the charms, but is also sometimes done for aesthetic reasons when worn on items of clothing.

More detail about the different nith can be found on my Patreon page, along with other worldbuilding and story notes.

Worldbuilding The Ruon Chronicles – The Ruon Charms

Examples of the Ruon healing charms…

The Main Types of Charms

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. 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.

How the Charms Are Worked and Where They Are Worn

The charms may be worked on any fabric and in any thread, though specific thread and fabric are usually used in Ruon Haliern and manufactured there especially for this use. The reason why the charms may be worked on any surface is that it is not the fabric or the thread which is magical, but is only endowed with a certain amount of Nith (or Talent) by the Ruon while the charm is being constructed. Some thread and fabric – those which are stronger and have a higher thread count – may, however, last a bit longer and the fabric may also be used more than once to make either the same or different charms.

As can be seen in the preview of The Ruon Chronicles, the charms may be worked on clothing and not just on charm cloths carried by the wearer. These charms which the strongest Ruon (like Ruaha and Ruenna) wore, were in many ways as tough as armour while still allowing the Ruon a free range of movement. To make such an outfit, however, required a very large amount of both Nith and time and, unlike metal armour, would only last until the threads lost integrity as the Nith locked within the threads were used.

Those worked over Ruaha’s heart kept her alive not only because of their strength, but also because of the placement. While the charm could not deflect the blade of the knife, it could stop the blood from exiting the wound, thereby making the body “think” that it is still whole and not wounded to such a degree. Ruaha also kept these charms hidden because she knew that they would give her the upper hand should she be injured. Nith from the other charms she wore could be moved to the charms over her heart because she was a Ruon and she was using it herself. This is why the rest of her dress started to fade and those charms break first. Once all the other Nith was used up, the charms over her heart was at last used and lost their integrity. If it had been a less severe wound she could have been saved by using this method to keep the wound from bleeding.

Order in Which the Charms Are Worked

The charms must further be worked in a specific order in order for the charm to function. For instance, when working a pain charm, the first “layer” of stitches will be the lines crossing the circle. Next the circle itself will be worked as the second “layer”, whereafter the lines crossing the first layer will be worked. These stitches hold the Nith within the charm and anchors it to the thread. Once the thread is knotted and cut, the thread will turn a deeper colour as the Nith is fastened to it. This is one of the few ways in which a true Ruon charm can be discerned from that of a fake one when it is being made. For instance, a non-Ruon may work the same pattern as the Ruon, but the charm’s colour will not change and neither will it contain any of the Nith required to work.

Colours in Which the Charms Are Worked

The colour of the thread is not of such big import, but coloured thread is used in order to see whether 1) the Nith is fixed to the charm and 2) when the charm is fading and losing integrity. Traditionally red, blue, and green thread is used to create the different charms.

img_3828

Pain and fever combined

Different colours may also be used in the same charm when there are different “layers” present. This is especially done by those only learning how to make the charms, but is also sometimes done for aesthetic reasons when worn on items of clothing.

Flash Fiction: A Spell for a Spell

This story was written for the Microcosms flash fiction competition. The prompts I had to include were anchorman, newsroom, fairy tale.

A Spell for a Spell

The witch drew the obsidian knife across Gerard’s palm. Blood oozed from the cut and fell into the bowl where she had already concocted the rest of the ingredients for the spell.

“And this will save Fae?” he asked again.

The witch nodded. “O yes.” She stirred the mixture and it gave off a striking odour. “All you need to do is to give up the two things most precious to you.”

“That was not part of the deal,” Gerard said. Cold sweat beaded on his brow. He pulled at his shirt collar, staining it with the liberal amount of makeup he wore for the cameras.

“You should know by know that my spells take more that just a little blood to complete. Your two most precious things. Or do you want her to die?”

Gerard looked around the dressing room and then down at his wrist. He started undoing the clasp of his favourite watch, but the witch stopped him. “Not that type of thing.”

“Then what are you referring to?”

“Your looks,” she said, touching his face. “And your voice,” she said, grabbing his throat.

 

An ogre with a bloody palm stumbled around the set, knocking over cameras, tripping over the wires, scattering the frightened audience. It clawed at its own grotesque face that was better suited to be a gargoyle. It roared and growled as if it did not have a voice that could utter words.

Security burst onto the set. The first to fire hit the ogre in the shoulder. The second shot penetrated the heart. More, unnecessary, shorts rang out as they kept firing on the nightmare creature out of fear.

 

Fae Forrester woke up in a hospital bed with an old woman chanting over her.

“You’ll be all right now,” the old woman smiled.