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On magic

Accelerator

Well-known member
Author
A/n: This is rather irregular, but it must be said. Half the things I say here is bullshit. I am no programmer, no metallurgist, and no historian. Please, suspend your disbelief.

There are many things that occur in the multiverse. Not, of course, ranging from every choice ever made like some physicists have theorized, but there are indeed divergences. Points in time, where worlds and their fate had separated into different paths, and again and again, until they were all but unrecognizable from each other. Were one to be able to travel from one world to the next, they would find fascinating things. Entire new lines of evolution. Geological formations seen nowhere else. And entirely different civilisations.

And let's look at one now.

350,000 years ago

Unlike that of the other, Homo sapiens sapiens did not experience the ice age. No great frost. No immense blocks of ice to lock up entire oceans worth of water. The sea levels were higher, the places, more inaccessible. Humans never scattered across the planet, their landbridges submerged, and having no need to flee the sudden cold.

Here, with more temperate and far more stable climate, humanity flourished. Sure, they did not spread far and wide. But the stable climate and the warm weather did wonders for plants. And animals. And the humans fed off them, digging up tubers and yams, and hunting the various animals of their world. They sang, they danced, they told stories about the campfires. They fought off illness, fire, wild animals, and misfortune. Just like any other human, amongst the manifold worlds.

Left alone, they would have ended up like a typical human civilization, just like our world. They have already discovered fire, and with some effort, pottery. They would discover metal, writing, medicine, agriculture, all the little things which made life better. They would advance, like many would advance. And they would make their own unique culture, not quite the same, but quite similar to the ones in other worlds. Except for one small factor.

Let's look at them now.

Bands of hunter gatherers go around, on circuitious routes. Already, they are at the stage of gardener, destroying and uprooting plants that they figured out to be useless, and replanting those that they find useful. Plants with pretty flowers, delicious seeds and fruits, herbs, and tubers. Not on the level of dedicated farmers, but it ensured that the routes they took always had plentiful food.

Not for now. A famine had struck. Bad luck had struck this particular tribe of wanderers. First, came the illness. They buried their dead in unmarked graves, believing that they would meet the master beneath the earth. Second, came the drought. A great majority of the plants and tubers they relied on, died or shrunk, the drought slowly killing them. Hungry and weak, they trod on. The drought itself had slain many animals, and their carcasses and bones littered the ground as the tribe walked forward, hoping for respite.

There, it is. An elephant. One that had wandered away from its herd. A male, one in the midst of musth. Which was to this tribe's complete bad luck. Tired, hungry, they were slow. And a full grown male elephant in the midst of musth was one that could kill dozens of men. It released a single, trumpeting call.... and then it charged forward, its immense bulk and size making the ground itself shake and clouds of dust to be brought up. Its tusks, lowered and pointed at its unfortunate victims. Musth made an elephant highly aggressive, just like it did in elephants. And as it charged down the hapless humans, they scattered in fear. No use. Tired and hungry humans were no match in speed for an elephant. There was only one solution.

Some one had to stay behind, to stop it. And as bad luck had struck, the plague had killed many of the strong young men and experienced hunters that would help. Of the few that were left, there were only a scant two dozen left. Armed with nothing more than their wits, courage, a sharpened stick, and the willingness to die for their families, they struck the rampaging beast, hitting it from the sides as their loved ones fled. The enraged creature turned against them, its old target forgotten in favor of this new annoyance. It grabbed one, and held it to its teeth, crushing his head. A stinging pain to the side, and it saw one hunter, foolishly stabbing into it, shouting war cries. A swing of its trunk, and he was flung from his feet, kicking up dust clouds as he landed on the dusty soil. He lay there, not moving. Another two blows, and it threw a trunk from a dead tree, the mass of wood smashing onto several hunters who failed to scatter in time, their inexperience dooming them as they did not react to the sudden projectile before it smashed onto their bodies. Again and again, it struck. There were two dozen. Now, only six or so were left. And once they were done... well, it would either go after the women and children, or it would just leave. Either way, the tribe will die, either from the sudden loss of manpower, or from the fact that the few that were left were unable to fend off wild animals or aggressive humans.

Either way, without a miracle, this group of hunter-gardeners were doomed.

And a miracle happened.

A mutation occured, long before the group ever existed. Several genes were deleted. Some were rearranged. Some were added. A few were duplicated. And what came out, would always, be seen rarely.

The hunter who had jabbed the elephant in the side and had gotten a trunk swipe for his troubles, was not dead. His head injury only gave him a momentary concussion. And in that sudden jolt of nervous transmission by the impact, something awoke within him. It was like riding a bike (thought that will not be invented for millenia). Or how monks in the millenia to come would control their body temperature or heartbeat. He found muscles and abilities he did not know he possessed. And as he stood up, he saw the corpses of his friends and family. He saw his band of fellow hunters cut down to a small fraction of their previous numbers. And he saw the behemoth, that had done so much and endangered his loved ones.

There was no thought. There was no planning. He had fractured bones, strained muscles, and several bruised tendons. He had a crink in his neck, and a concussion still ringing in his ears. He did not care. There was a sharpened stick right next to him, a long-abandoned weapon of one of his compatriots. He grabbed it, and with a war cry, he charged forward, his footsteps leaving behind trails of fire, muscles pushing his body at speeds more similar to a racing car than a human being. The bull elephant turned to meet this new compatriot, trunk flaring, tusks ready to kill. And it scarcely had time to widen its eyes in reflex as the young man struck it in the side with a spear. And the spear punctured the leathery skin, and the energy contained it burst forth. The elephant, for lack of a better word, exploded, an enormous cavity opening in one side. It stood there, for one moment, trunk still wavering.... and then, it fell, away from the one that had killed it.

The young man, Grigar, did not know what he did. All he knew that he felt his body strengthen, his mind become fluid, and his blows become like that of lightning. His companions ran forward, searching answers on what happened. All they saw was Grigar, standing by the corpse of the elephant he had singlehandedly slain, liquid light pouring off his skin.

That, my friends, was the beginning.
 

Accelerator

Well-known member
Author
Grigar was a gregarious fellow. Friendly and outgoing. He had friends, and his rescue of them, allayed any suspicion of his new powers.

Grigar was not the only one to discover his powers. But there were several caveats for a magical tradition to appear within a civilisation. First, was enough people with enough latent magic in themselves such that the magical tradition is self-sustaining. Second, that they passed down their teachings in the first place. Both were rare. The genes for magical skill were complex, but on the whole, they rarely came out in such a way that the person could use magic spontaneously. They had to be 'awoken', by another. And magic was no easy feat, requiring training and hard work. Many kept the secrets of their powers to themselves, seeking to conserve their power and enhancing themselves. And so, when they died, decades of research were lost, and not to mention the fact that without anyone to awaken them, no one could use magic. And so the sparks of magic in humanity's history flew out, burnt in the night, and faded away.

Only a few struck tinder, and created a bonfire.

This was one of them.

The tribe began to experiment. Some could only increase their bodily strength and durability, glowing with a faint light. Others, though. Were different. Some could throw out wind, kinetic force propelling them. Others, could manipulate heat and fire. Others, could throw sparks from their fingers. It was all very exciting. Their joy was, childlike, in the wonder they saw their new abilities. They began to train, and practice. Some times alone, and sometimes in play.

This was important. And here they discovered something new. Magic was like a muscle. The more you used it, the stronger it get. And just like any bodily property, not all were equal.
 

Accelerator

Well-known member
Author
There is the knocking of stone.

Battle. War and destruction has always occured. Always in nature, beast and plant has fought one another. Same, for man. This was an argument for a good gathering place. The food was abundant in this area, but it was only enough for one. And there were two here.

An argument arose. Fights. Resentment. Realisation that there was not enough for both of them. And then, conquest.

The fight started out small. First, came the threats. The boasts. Few, wished to kill the other. It was a difficult thing, to make men genuinely wish to destroy the other, but a firm desire to protect their own was present. Battle in this time was costly, expensive, and could lead to mutual destruction. It took the form of ritualized combat, where both sides made loud noises, wore paint, and attempted to break the courage or frighten off the other side.

They gesticulated. They smashed shields. They waved their arms in the evening light. And on one side, then had magic. Or at least, that was what they called it. At this point, the most advanced technological weapon was the sling, the atlatl, and the fire hardened spear. And so when one side could fire out blasts of wind, throw fireballs, or have sparks stream from their hands, the other side felt it was outclassed, and gave way.

This repeated continuously. In any direct conflict, the tribe used their powers. Fire, in a world without matches. The power to cast light directly from your hands, even without the use of fire. Lightning and blasts of wind, to fight off predators and capture prey. The usage of their power, to push strength and vitality into their legs and let them carry out bursts of speed. Ordinary men chased down animals, using their stamina and ability to sweat to run them down into exhaustion. These men used their newfound powers to overcome their limits, so that for a brief moment, their speed and strength over took their prey, and they slew them.

This was immensely useful. They could steal away the most valuable hunting and gathering grounds from other tribes, with nary a fight or with few casualties. They could fight off immense deadly predators, who could kill off any other tribe of early men, or they could hunt down prey which no one else could get to, like herds of the elephant and bison analogues, which spread across the plains in great numbers.

Good food. Good nutrition. Safety. The power to create heat and warmth on command. The tribe's numbers swelled and grew, free of most of the pains and aches of this age. And as they grew, their reputation grew. Tribes came to them, giving tribute or asking for favor. Animals began to fear men, as they recognised as those could potentially slay them numbered amongst them. And, as their reputation grew, they obtained a name. Its meanings are many, with at least a dozen different connotations and implications.

The Gifted Ones.
 

Alias

Bean Daddy
Moderator
Reminds me of a nature documentary. Keep up the good work.
 

Accelerator

Well-known member
Author
There was an air of great frustration.

Stone, bone, flint. The tools of choice. They were prized before, being used to make tools. Stone and flint knives could cut out animal hide, letting them be cured and transformed into clothing. Bone needles, for sewing and making fabric. Pottery had been invented, and now they were fired into kilns to store water, food, and such.

And here, came a discovery that would change the world. Copper. Metal. The shining substance shone in the sunlight, the first of its kind ever seen. Most metals, with the rare exception of gold, were too reactive to remain like this for long. Left alone over time, they would tarnish and crumble away, and they were all locked up in the ores and stones of the earth.


It was easy enough to transform them into copper and use them for tools. But that wasn't easy. For one thing, they required hot temperatures to even smelt them. Secondly, copper could be bent and twisted, its malleable nature both a blessing and a curse. And third, copper deposits were rare. Incredibly localized.

Copper could be reinforced by tin, or arsenic. But tin itself, being a semi-precious metal, was not found easily. And even when found and smelted, they were almost always found far, far away from copper deposits. Ignoring the sheer distance, entire trade routes had to be founded, in order for them to be mixed and to form a better, stronger alloy, named bronze. Arsenical bronze was another hope. But it was present as an impurity within copper deposits, and no one knew why these particular copper, or should I say, bronze, was stronger than the others.

There was never enough copper to go around.

Here, we see 'The Gifted Ones'. The present of copper tools intrigued them. So did the present of meteoric iron. Here, they began their metallurgy. Metallurgy, the smelting of metal, as well as the pottery and kilning that were related to it, all required vast amounts of fuel and heat. Here the Gifted had the advantage. Their fire manipulators could move and control energy, letting them achieve far, far higher temperatures than normal. And they turned their talents to something else. Copper was a common ore, but not the most common.

The most common one, was iron ore. Iron was the fourth most common element within Earth's crust, but it was locked in various ores and substances, where it had to be removed. And here, we see another thing changing. In an ordinary timeline, free from interruption, we would have seen the human race combine tin and copper. They would have kept at it, until their technology advanced to the point where they could smelt iron. But here, history once again changed course.

Grigar was long dead and forgotten, the tribe's long oral history simply remembering him as a warrior who the gods blessed as he faced down a tremendous beast of darkness. But his legacy lives on. Here, iron ore was dragged out, placed in a heap, and bombarded with blast of fire and electricity. Thermokinesis was used, the heat channeled and blocked off from escaping, the temperatures rising, hotter and hotter, until the vital temperature was reached. Masters of air and current, and those with magic-enhanced strength, began to shove, pushing air through lit charcoal, the carbon monoxide pulling away the oxygen atoms bound to the metal. And slowly, ever so slowly, the iron melted, purified.

This was impossible for any other time. But here it was. And several thousand years before what it should have been possible, the iron age began.
 

Alias

Bean Daddy
Moderator
So what's the current year on this Earth?
 

Accelerator

Well-known member
Author
Trade was occurring. With the increase in craftsmanship, building, and all things, there was an increase in property. Once, they had a few artifacts of stone and skin. In the time before, they had few things, and simply carried them around or left them in specialised caches. Now, it was different. There was pottery, of varying beauty and value, which held things such as wine or beer, things which should not be spilled at all. There were clay figurines of bright colours, wooden toys, and even more. Stacks of iron blades, tools, and leather.

And where there were things, they needed to be transported. Some didn't bother, and simply stashed them in their homes, staying in a single place. Others, kept their belongings on leather satchels they hooked on their backs. Others, simply hired others to hold it for them. Others, more enterprising, took the more radical method of putting leather satchets on the more docile and gentle of animals, and used them to help carry the burden.

The Gifted Ones were no different. Until one year, something changed. An illness. Their great herds of cattle were decimated, and would not bounce back for decades. This, in another world, would have been called Sleeping Sickness. An illness transmitted by tsetse fly, with several different mutations to render it useless against humans, but deadly to animals. The population of cattle and livestock crashed, and the use of them as a source of motive power, was curtailed.

Meanwhile, trade and travel still had to occur. Usage of slaves was prohibitively expensive, and there were not enough people to go around. And hence, an invention came.

Flight had long since been an ability of the Gifted. Those strong enough to lift up their bodies, and with sharp enough wit and strong enough concentration, can lift themselves up into the air, and keep themselves aloft by selectively producing thrust in different directions and reducing the effect of gravity upon their bodies. Usage of mages to carry objects had been a thing. But this had their own problems. The human body was never the right shape for pulling heavy loads like cattle and other animals. And there was the issue of concentration. Flying enabled you to move at far faster speeds... but also meant that the moment the mage lost his concentration, the resulting crash would destroy the cargo. And a mage that had lost his concentration and found himself plummeting to the ground, could 'catch' himself and bring his fall back under control. But a mage with a sizable cargo, however... would end up with a dead mage and a destroyed loot.

And so, after several disasters, a frustrated conclave of mages put together, and sought to fix this problem. And their goal, was to put mind and thought outside the control of the mage. To take thought, desire, will, and direction, and inscribe it permanently on the world, immune to things like 'exhaustion' or 'boredom' or 'intrusive thoughts'.

Those of you who are suitably clever, will figure out what this is.

What they invented, was writing.

Now it wasn't to say that before this, there was no writing. There was most definitely sources of record keeping, such as those needed for trade of bronze and iron. And there were definitely warning sighs, such as 'The water in this reservoir is dangerous' or 'beware of falling rocks'. But never before, had there quite been an attempt such as this, to take every single possible concept and desire possible, and inscribe it down into a form that magic itself would reshape it.

The wise men that worked together day and night to fix this problem, succeeded.

It was revolutionary.

First came the changes in smithing. No longer did you require masters to manipulate thermal energy and air currents to reach the necessary temperatures and process the metals. Now you simply needed the right inscriptions, and even the most idiot mage could succeed, pushing magic into the geometric shapes that spelled out what the magic should do, and help out in great works of creation. Then came the weaponry. Simple weapons, inscribed with spells such as 'turn magic into kinetic energy and direct it in this direction' or 'turn magic into lightning, and go to where he points'.

And then, came the ships.

Great boats, composed out of a mixture of wood and wattle and leather, weaved together into a lightweight framework. Studded and covered with sigils, painted with a mixture of blood and other unmentionables. The first mana-reactive material. And then, power was pushed through, and mana, the power of magic, was turned into work. Work in this case, was to lift up a tons worth of material, and send it speeding at 40 kilometers per hour. The exhausting mental work now pawned off to sigils and wooden carvings, the travel was now far smoother, now only needing to make sure the sigils were not damaged and that a constant supply of mana was poured inside.
 
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