The Aetheric Arts

  Eons ago, the Crystal of Light was extracted from a meteoric rock on the world of Xantro I.  The planet's inhabitants, the Nitari, began to use the crystal in a 'Rite of Illumination' that supplied the participators with the great power of the Aether: the collective power of the biospheres throughout the universe.  Throughout the ages, the Aether's Illuminative power has been studied intently by the Xantroans.  
  By various means, sentients may achieve a connection to the Aetheric force, to accomplish a variety of effects. An Aetheric power is called a 'Heka', and multiple such powers are called 'Hekai', and wielders of Hekai are called 'Illuminated'.  The condition of being Illuminated has no effect on the person's biology, only the spirit, so Illumination can not be inherited, nor can undead beings be Illuminated.  However, the process of becoming an Illuminated is exceedingly dangerous (for those without strong regenerative abilities), and may kill an ordinary human unless the correct preparations have been made.  
 

Terminology

  • Advanced Arts:  The advanced and arcane manifestations of Aetheric power.  This is a science in progress in the Xantroan Empire, not yet fully understood.
  • Aether:  The collective power of the biospheres, an energy field spanning across the universe.
  • Animal Spirit:  A semi-corporeal manifestation of an Illuminated's soul, shaped like an animal.
  • Ba & Ka:  The Xantroan words for 'Soul'/'Spirit' and 'Lifeforce', respectively.
  • Crystal of Light:  A mineral and a required component in the Rite of Illumination.
  • Hekai:  The powers possessed by Illuminateds.  Advanced/arcane applications of Hekai fall under the Advanced Arts.
    (Hekai is plural, Heka is singular.)
  • Illuminateds:  Those who, through the Rite of Illumination, have achieved a spiritual connection to the Aether.  Illuminateds typically possess Hekai, a Wadjet, and an Animal Spirit.
  • Nitari:  The humanoid race native to Xantro I, and the original Xantroans.  It is possible to be of Nitari descent without being a Xantroan citizen.
    (Nitari is plural, Nitara/Nitaro are feminine and masculine singular, respectively.)
  • Rite of Illumination:  The rite in which a person achieves a connection to the Aether and becomes an Illuminated.  A fragment of the Crystal of Light is a required component.
  • Spirit Name:  A secret name that every soul (whether they are Illuminated or not) possesses, although most do not know their own.  It is essentially the password of the soul, and particularly evil practitioners of the Advanced Arts might use a person's spirit name to enslave them.
  • Wadjet:  A facial marking that appears on Illuminateds once their Hekai are active.  They tend to resemble glowing tribal tattoos.
  • Xantroans:  Citizens of the Xantroan Empire.  The original Xantroans are the Nitari of Xantro I, though it is not required for citizens to be descended from them.  Any Xantroan citizen above the (relative) age of 15 is legally permitted to apply for the Rite of Illumination.

 
 

Mandatory Effects

These are the natural characteristics possessed by Illuminateds.

  • Animal Spirit:  Also called Ba, Nagual or Fylgja.
    Illuminateds typically manifest their subconscious minds, or spirits/souls, into a visible, semi-corporeal shape outside the body, in the form of an animal.  An Illuminated's animal spirit is usually perpetually visible for approximately four Terran years.  After that, they may manifest their animal spirit at will, or whenever their Hekai are active.  If an Illuminated engages in Astral Projection, they might take on the appearance of their preferred animal spirit form.  Each animal spirit has its own personal name (though this is not the same as the 'Spirit Name').
    The preferred animal spirit form is usually decided by a combination of the host's characteristics/attributes (or their characteristics/attributes as perceived by others) and what the present culture tends to associate with those characteristics.  Thus, one's animal spirit form will often assume the shape of the animal your culture associates with your personality.  If a certain Illuminated is cold and calculating, and their culture associates those traits with snakes, that Illuminated's animal spirit may assume the form of a snake.  If their culture instead associates those traits with wolves, the animal spirit may instead assume a wolf's form.
    An animal spirit is typically easy to distinguish from a physical animal, by virtue of animal spirits often having a glowing aura, and not being bound by gravity.
    Powerful Illuminateds may be able to communicate or control physical specimen of their preferred animal spirit form.
  • Wadjet:  A common occurrence is that a cryptic marking around the eye tend to appear on Illuminateds.  Normally this marking remains subtle, but may shine brightly when their Hekai are active or in the presence of powerful energy sources.
  • Hekai:  Illuminateds naturally possess powers, which vary between individual.  See 'Classic Hekai' for examples on how this might manifest.

 

Classic Hekai

The Aetheric powers that Illuminateds have been known to wield.

  • Aerokinesis: Ability to manipulate the air and wind.
    Known Wielders:  Sawor, Erneuth, Serqet, Itharis.
  • Aetheric Mimicry:  Power to duplicate or absorb Hekai from other Illuminateds.  May or may not require the other Illuminateds' consent, and is frequently limited in various ways.
    Known Wielders:  Aton, Izaiah.
  • Arcane Aptitude:  A natural ability to understand and wield the Advanced Arts of the Aether, potentially even inventing new Arts.
    Known Wielders:  Isis, Zehuti.
  • Astrakinesis:  Ability to wield stellar energy to project energy blasts, generate solid energy constructs or manifest other effects.
    Known Wielders:  Osiris, Ahramoz, Athymar, Isis.
  • Atmokinesis:  Ability to manipulate and shape the weather.
    Known Wielders:  Itharis, Sawor, Teneuth, Setekh.
  • Biokinesis:  Ability to manipulate biological matter, such as altering a person genetic or physical makeup.
    Known Wielders:  Osiris, Serqet, Erneuth.
  • Chlorokinesis:  Ability to manipulate plant life.  Usually a subset or variation of Biokinesis.
    Known Wielders:  Osiris, Isis, Saosis.
  • Chronokinesis:  Ability to manipulate time and space, whether slowing it down, speeding it up in various places, or folding time/space (i.e. teleporting or creating portals).  Powerful Illuminateds may have the ability to teleport through the elements they wield.
    Known Wielders:  Zehuti, Izaiah.
  • Dream Manipulation:   Ability to enter, shape or alter the dreams of others.
    Known Wielders:  Isis.
  • Enhanced Physical Attributes:  Channeling Aetheric force in a way to simulate increased strength, durability, senses, speed, etc.
    Known Wielders:  Horus, Serqet, Setekh, Itharis.
  • Geokinesis:  Ability to manipulate the Earth, and/or aspects thereof (such as lava, sand, soil, etc).
    Known Wielders:  Kebros, Setekh.
  • Hydrokinesis:  Ability to manipulate movement, shape and temperature of water for a variety of effects.
    Known Wielders:  Ahramoz, Itharis, Osiris, Isis Zehuti, Anuket, Teneuth, Kebros, Izaiah.
  • Persona Shifting:  Ability to physically transform into previous regeneration and/or reincarnation cycles of oneself.  Limited power of Spirit Guidance may be a side effect of this.
    Known Wielders:  Serqet.
  • Photokinesis:  Ability to manipulate light for a variety of effects.
    Known Wielders:  Ahramoz, Horus, Athymar, Izaiah.
  • Pyrokinesis:  Ability to generate and manipulate fire.
    Known Wielders:  Ahramoz, Horus, Bastet, Nebetet, Itharis, Izaiah.
  • Shapeshifting:  Ability to change appearance or body structure.  Depending on the variation, the actual body might not actually change, but is simply dimension-shifted and put in stasis while a different body of the person's choice assumes its place.  Powerful Illuminateds might develop the ability to shapeshift into their preferred animal spirit forms, or elements they are otherwise able to manipulate, without being 'proper' shapeshifters.
    Known Wielders:  Isis.
  • Sonokinesis:  Ability to manipulate sound.
    Known Wielders:  Itharis.
  • Spirit Guidance:  Ability to naturally recognize souls and/or sense whether a specific person is alive, dead, reincarnated or otherwise.  May also be able to trap a spirit in Duat, or keep them anchored to the physical plane of existence post-death, or guide the spirits of the dead to an afterlife or into reincarnation.
    Known Wielders:  Anubis, Osiris, Serqet.
  • Umbrakinesis:   Ability to generate and manipulate shadow and darkness.
    Known Wielders:  Nebetet, Anubis.

 

Advanced Arts

These are the advanced and arcane applications of Aetheric power.   Generally, even most Illuminateds aren't legally allowed to practice these arts. The Advanced Arts of the Aether may or may not be identical to the Terran concept of 'Magic'.

  • Curse of Desperation:  Illuminateds who are near death, or otherwise in a very desperate situation, may cast a curse of this variation on a hated person, often their killer.  These kinds of curses are often extremely strong and may last for centuries, and are often near-impossible to lift by anyone but the caster or their reincarnation.
      Known Uses:
        Setekh, prior to being imprisoned in Duat for the first time, cast a Curse on Desperation onto his brother Osiris.  Hence, Osiris was unable to leave the Isles of Heliopolis on pain of rapidly weakening and dying.
        Aton (possessing Pharaoh Ikhnaton), moments before dying, cursed Izaiah's ability to speak, rendering him permanently mute as of his next regeneration.
  • Preparative Casting:  The art of preparing a number of effects, which can then be cast on a specific command (such as pronouncing a specific sentence or spell, or drawing a symbol).  The prepared effects can be stored in the caster's memory, or in objects of their choosing.  Prepared effects are often stronger and more stable than impulsive, standard uses of Hekai, since the prepared caster usually has had more time to visualize the effect and subconsciously absorb sufficient energy to perform it.  This art, or a similar one, has been referred to by Terran magic wielders as 'Vancian Magic' or 'Utility Belt Magic'.
      Known Users Isis.
  • Proxy Curse Breaker:  One of few arts that can potentially lift or ease a Curse of Desperation.  The caster of the Proxy Curse Breaker ties the CoD to an object (the 'proxy'), rendering the CoD unable to continue once the proxy has been destroyed.  However, the proxy must be destroyed on purpose, by someone who is unaware of its condition as a proxy.  If someone were to accidentally destroy the proxy, or if it were destroyed by someone who knew of its transformation into a proxy, the CoD will not be lifted.
      Known Uses:
        Osiris's condition of being unable to leave Heliopolis was lifted through a PCB cast by  Zehuti, the exact details of which have yet to be revealed.
        Izaiah's muteness was cured due to  Zehuti having secretly cast a PCB on Izaiah's then-present regeneration cycle.  Once Izaiah's Hekai (and thus his status of being an Illuminated) were revoked by Xantroan authorities, he regenerated, rendering the muteness curse obsolete.
  • Resurrection:  This art will repair the body of a person and reattach their soul to it, provided the following conditions are filled:
      The soul has not have departed from the mortal world, nor have they have reincarnated (essentially, they must be a ghost).
      The soul's spirit name must be known to the primary conductor of the rite.
      At least 95% of the remains of the person's original body must be present.
      The conductors must sacrifice pieces of their own 'Ka' (lifeforce) to supply to the person; if there is only one conducting the rite, then they will die when it's complete (sacrificing even just a part of one's Ka will drain one of energy, and it may take a couple of months for a person to heal).
    Generally, this is an exceedingly dangerous art to perform, and may backfire horribly on the conductors if done incorrectly, or if the conditions aren't properly filled when the rite is attempted.
      Known Uses:
        Osiris was murdered by Setekh, the weapon used being the Deathbringer Blade of Hezion, which occasionally has the effect of anchoring its victims to the mortal world.  His body was incinerated, and his skeleton scattered across Northern Africa.  His wife, Isis, had been entrusted with his spirit name, and collected the remaining fragments of his skeleton.  Isis, with the help of  Zehuti, Anubis and Nebetet, was then able to resurrect Osiris without any lasting ill effects.
  • Soulsiege:  The enslavement of a person's soul.  If the enslaved person is an Illuminated, the caster will gain control over their Hekai as well.  The enslaved can counter this, by altering their true name, but this is a difficult process as it requires the sacrifice of an aspect of their personality.  If the caster dies, the enslaved ones will be freed by default, unless the enslaved ones' bodies have been destroyed (then they will simply die unless a Resurrection is performed).
    Understandably, there is a strict taboo against this practice in most magical circles (when it is known or spoken of at all), especially in cases where the victim is not a willing participator (such as when the victim's spirit name was ascertained through a Spirit Name Analysis rather than them revealing it by their own free will).
      Known Uses:
        Lord Ahramoz willingly surrendered his spirit name to Horus on Isis's suggestion, supplying Horus with Ahramoz's immense Aetheric power and providing him an edge over Setekh.  After Setekh had been defeated, Ahramoz changed his spirit name.
        Aton (possessing Pharaoh Ikhnaton at the time) enslaved 11 Khemite (Egyptian) peasants using this technique, having discerned their spirit names through Spirit Name Analysis.  After absorbing the powers he had forced upon them, he destroyed their bodies, effectively turning them into enslaved ghosts.
  • Spirit Name Analysis:  The art of detecting the spirit name of a person.  This technique is widely considered to be one of the most sinister paranormal practices in existence, especially when used to enslave others, and the knowledge of how to perform it is strictly forbidden to spread in the Xantroan Empire.  Anyone, whether they are Illuminated or not, can learn how to resist this technique.
      Known Uses:
        Aton (as Pharaoh Ikhnaton) learned of a weaker variation of this art, which only allowed him to discern the spirit name of one person every solar cycle, and only when that person was in the process of becoming an Illuminated.  He used this technique on 11 Khemite peasants during his reign as Pharaoh.
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