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Topics I've Started

The Chronicles of Estra

21 July 2008 - 05:25 AM


Any comments, criticisms and/or queries will be gratefully received (And I'll do my best to explain anything anybody may have a query about).


"The Chronicles of Estra" is a collection of stories that involve the planet Estra, one of the smaller planets in the Meduna Galaxy, the only place in the universe that is protected from being annexed by one of the larger powers in the cosmos simply due to the fact that it's not worth the bother. The inhabitants of Estra are more inclined to believe that their business is more important than the Galactic Alliance make it out to be, but I digress.

Some of these pieces are stand-alone, others are parts of a whole. The biggest work I have at the moment is charting a chain of events with a basis three hundred years in the past. Because each piece was written at a different time (And in a disjointed manner, jumping backwards and forwards between time periods as much as I cared to) there will no doubt be discrepancies between the stories themselves (And, God forbid, between different parts of the same story).

These will be ironed out when I care to, which will be a long time from now as I write in bursts with large periods of inactivity inbetween. I have the basics nailed down, it's just a matter of fleshing everything out now. Each chapter I write is twelve A4 pages long in OpenOffice, and I intend for each book to contain ten chapters. I do this for consistency purposes, as well as a desire to be able to calculate total page counts easily as I'm lazy.

To be honest, I'm still trying to get into the heads of my characters (And I'm experimenting with different writing styles) and build the world. That's probably the biggest reason why there's so much non-dialogue text in the first "book". Got a lot of information that seemed relevant at the time to put in. ;)

-The Great Chapter List-

Book One - Ancient History
   Chapter I - The Battle of Meduna
   Chapter II - The Birth of Magic (Webcomic, unfinished)
   Chapter ? - The Mage War (Pending)

Book Two - The Hero Tournament
   Chapter I - Adventures
   Chapter II - Encounters
   Chapter III - Desperation
   Chapter IV - Tournament
   Chapter V - Futility
   Chapter VI - Confrontation
   Chapter VII - Mindscape
   Chapter VIII - Incursion
   Chapter IX - Catalyst
   Chapter X - Invasion

Book Three - The Rebellion of Men (Pending)

Book Four - Name Pending

Book Five - Name Pending

Book Six - Name Pending

Book Seven - Name Pending

Book Eight - The Fall of Giji (Current project)
   Chapter I - The Return
   Chapter II - The Reunion

Book Nine - The Shadow of the Council (Pending)

Book Ten - The Last Days of Mana (Pending)

-The Estrapedia (Blayze Explains It All)-


Aspects, the
   Each School is divided into a number of Aspects, sub-groups that focus on one particular "aspect" of magic. The Arcane School is divided into the Generic, Illusion, Summoning and Enchantment Aspects. The Divine School is divided into the Protection, Restoration, Curses and Wrath Aspects. The Elemental School is divided into the Temperature, Solid, Liquid, Gas and Druidic Aspects. Like the Schools before them, each Aspect has a base of its own in order to reach out to more potential students.


Behemoth, the
   The Xavians had learned from the fifth invasion, and Cruthek now knew not to divide a powerful fleet unless absolutely necessary. Based on records and reports of the various factors that had lost their forces the last two wars, several of their scientists devised a radical solution to solve not only the problem of failing troop morale, but also to negate the need for supply lines entirely. They drafted up blueprints for an incredibly powerful flagship that would stand as the beacon of their Empire.

It was their own home planet of Xavia. After all, surely no soldier would dare allow their morale to fail when their own civilisation hung in the balance! Being as rich in resources as it was, receiving tithes and tributes from all across the Empire, Xavia held enough supplies to last an army a lifetime or two. Although it would take most of their metal supplies, their plan was extremely simple.

Try and picture it. A planet full of materials, resources and manpower. A planet-wide energy grid to power the engines, weapons, shields and systems. Massive metal pillars jutting out of the ground, connecting with a massive sphere of metal located beyond the atmosphere. The hull itself, incredibly thick and dense, and absolutely covered in weaponry. Missile silos, laser batteries, plasma cannons... Enough firepower to decimate entire fleets, and enough defences to withstand the same firepower in return, if not more.


Council of Magic, the
   The Council of Magic is the governing body that oversees all use of magic anywhere on Estra, and is based in the University of Magic erected on the former site of the village of Terril. They not only set the laws, they also have the connections to have them enforced. Little is known of their numbers and even less of their identities, save that Fiona von Parfu must be one of their number. She is their public figurehead, most likely due to both her power and her fame. Those who break any laws relating to magic are liable to find themselves tried and imprisoned swiftly, although despite their influence and Fiona's outright power, the Council is neither omnipotent nor omniscient. Many have managed to escape from the Council's justice in the past, and some criminals have even been harboured willingly by governments or rulers who wished to deny the Council the right to have them hunted down and brought to justice.

Curses Aspect, the
   Most commonly known as the "Cursed Aspect" due to its nature, the Curses Aspect contains spells that can affect people in negative ways. It is associated with spells that can slow an opponent's wits or movements, make them weaker, amplify their feelings of pain or inspire fear in their mind. Yet for all its possible negative applications, the Curses Aspect contains spells that can aid one's allies directly as opposed to just indirectly. Fear and indecision can be torn straight from the mind of an ally or even from the caster's mind, and feelings of pain can be suppressed allowing a person to act as if they were healthy once more.


Druidic Aspect, the
   When Tiax and his cronies torched the home of the Earth Aspect, they didn't do a very good job of it. Not all those present were slain, and not all of the Aspect's knowledge was destroyed. Those who survived gained a new appreciation for life, and the sight of the surrounding grassland being reduced to charred cinders drove into the minds of many of them a desire to never see the same sort of thing happen ever again. They called themselves druids in a reference to the mythical druids of old, and decided that their job was to ensure that nobody ever misused magic in a way that harmed the world ever again.

Armed with the knowledge and spells that they had recovered - and still retained in memory - despite the destruction of their home, they were prepared to rebuild the Earth Aspect from the ground up. The Council's decision to rework the system made them think twice however, and so they decided to be an unofficial Aspect. Despite their use of banned "Old Earth" magic, the Druidic Aspect has yet to come under fire from the Council. Most believe that as long as they exist to prevent magic from being misused, the Council is prepared to leave them be.

Over the years, the Druidic Aspect has come into its own, and druidism has become as respected a way of life as any other. Their doctrines are heavily laden with references to nature, and many of their spells reflect that.

Duvak, Magran
   Having met and befriended a young Elemi as a child after driving off some older children attempting to mug her, Magran disappeared from her life after he was kidnapped and subjected to experiments into incorporating the practical application of anti-magic theory into humans. The only survivor after a botched rescue mission from the village of Kinarel resulted in the deaths of most people in the facility, one of his major driving forces is his hatred. Due to his youth at the time, he remembers little of the life he used to live. These days Magran works to rebuild his life, all the while his mere presence causing spells to flicker and die as the mana used to sustain them is pushed away violently. He signed up for the Tournament in order to vent aggression and allow him to bet on himself in matches against spellcasters.


   A young druid with a penchant for shapeshifting, one of Elemi's major driving forces is her enthusiasm. Born and raised in a loving family in a peaceful village community, her lack of understanding and experience of the hardships others have faced - and her own expectations and opinions regarding "adventure" and life outside the village microcosm - have resulted in something of an insensitive attitude towards their opinions and complaints, and she is widely known for her ability to put her foot in her mouth (Metaphorically speaking). Seeking to both experience "the thrill of battle" in a controlled environment and to meet up with her childhood friend Magran after several years apart, she signed up for the Hero Tournament and gained an understanding of how painful tattoos can be in the process.

Enchantment Aspect, the
   While the Transmutation Aspect focused on altering objects and people permanently, the Enchantment Aspect does so temporarily. People can become healthier, stronger, weaker... but only as long as the spellcaster in question can maintain the spell. The instant they lose control or stop concentrating or fall unconscious or asleep, the changes are undone. Due in part to the lessons learned from the history of the Transmutation Aspect, none so far have tried to abuse Enchantment spells.

   Estra is one of the smaller and less-developed planets in the Meduna system, and that's saying something. It is divided into a multitude of kingdoms, fiefdoms, counties, realms and empires, and although there was once much war, now there is an uneasy peace of sorts, championed as a breakthrough by many idealists. Any change in the status quo, however, and a second Age of Slaughter could occur. Specific information about Estra will be revealed at a later date, either when I decide it's a good time or if requested.


Galactic Alliance, the
   The Galactic Alliance is an institution not unlike certain international organisations in real life. In other words, it was formed so that the member civilisations could keep tabs on one another, as they didn't trust each other in the slightest. It is only the threat of swift and terrible retribution from the other members that prevents any one of them from rising up against the others. The Alliance very rarely works as a whole, and it almost always takes a threat to get them to assist each other. This is usually either an outside threat that could destroy all of them, or the threat of previously-mentioned swift and terrible retribution if they do not help.

The Alliance is a fragile thing, constantly in danger of falling apart due to rampant xenophobia on all sides. The various species that form it, however, need each other, if only to help achieve the illusion that they are all on the same side. The truth is, however, that were a single fracture to appear in any one race's military strength, then opportunism would reign triumphant in the minds of their fellows, who would seek to capitalise on such a weakness.

The Alliance has a grand total of thirty-seven different species as its members, although thirty-two of those are little more than puppets for the five major members. By "major" I mean "spacefaring", and by "puppets" I mean "slaves". The thirty-two minor members were all introduced to the Alliance after their planets were invaded by one or more of the major members. Most of the cultures absorbed into the Alliance were going through one industrial phase or another, and an army with the capacity to fight back effectively was a very rare thing indeed.

The five major member species are as follows: The Rugons, the Gurts, the Ablinai, the Kronii and the Quen. In what is both a homage to Star Trek and a showcase of my laziness and lack of originality, all five are humanoid in appearance. Further information about them can be hastily thrown together if requested, although Gurts are exceptionally, impossibly, disgustingly ugly.

Generic Aspect, the
   In the months after the atrocities caused by members of the Transmutation Aspect came to light, the Arcane School had become known for a wide range of versatile spells that simply could not be classified as being part of any of the existing Aspects. Many of these spells were useful utility spells, especially for travelling spellcasters, but they had no Aspect of their own to belong to and therefore no official teachers to help pupils study them. The Generic Aspect was created as a catch-all group to allow every last one of those spells to be organised and taught as well as any other. These days, most Arcane spellcasters at least dip into the Generic Aspect, if only to help make their own lives a bit easier.


Illusion Aspect, the
   One of the original Arcane Aspects, the Illusion Aspect is full of spells designed to confuse and confound enemies. While the majority of this Aspect's spells work by projecting images or sounds and most of the remainder focus on tricking the enemy's senses directly, one or two have been rumoured to work by altering reality itself. While this has yet to be confirmed officially, anybody who tried would no doubt be arrested by the Council's enforcers immediately.


Kiono, Luja
   An ex-pickpocket and spellcaster, one of Luja's major driving forces is his greed. Born, raised and then orphaned on the streets of Giji's slums, he knows what it is like to have nothing - not even hope - and is willing to do almost anything in order to avoid falling into that life again. Coupled with his former "occupation", he knows the value of money, and seeks to accumulate as much wealth as possible in order to stay afloat. To achieve that goal he signed up for the Hero Tournament, seeking - if not the title of Hero - the wealth and fame that comes with celebrity status. As a result, one of his role models is Zack von Parfu, the "Jackal" who won over the hearts and minds of many Tournament patrons - despite never placing first - with his single-minded refusal to lose and his ability to make any battle entertaining.


   A previous post of mine mentioned the Void, an alternate reality of sorts used for 'warp' travel, which is basically the use of super-powerful spaceship engines that cannot be used safely in the 'normal' reality, which is full of stuff to crash into. The Void is home to a form of energy that has been known to destroy spaceships that linger there too long, and was a contributing factor in the destruction of Xavia in the Sixth Xavian War. It has come to be referred to as "anti-matter" by the Galactic Alliance, due to its devastating effect upon anything from normal reality.

The denizens of Estra, however, know it by the name "mana". The small hole in reality that Fiona discovered in Terril's disused library was a wormhole of sorts, a doorway between reality and the Void. Indeed, the very reason the library was abandoned in the first place was because of its presence. More specifically, it was due to it *opening*. Think of a wormhole as a hole in the bottom of a bucket. The larger the hole, the quicker the water escapes. The larger the wormhole, the quicker the energy escapes. If there is a hole small enough, the water cannot escape.

Wormholes opened by spaceships are huge, and the Behemoth was forced to open a truly massive one in order to pass through. By comparison, the hole in Terril was tiny. Little - if any - energy was able to pass through at all, although that did not stop the locals from forming their own opinions about something that they knew nothing about. In time, some of those opinions became stories told to quiet down troublesome children, and the next generation grew up with an ingrained fear of the place. Living creatures must either adapt to their surroundings or perish.

After all, people who live in a desert find themselves adapting to the heat. When Fiona entered the room that housed the wormhole, she was unknowningly exposed to the tiny amount of mana that had managed to exit the Void over those generations. When she inserted her arm into the wormhole itself, before forcing it open further with her own hands, she was exposing her body to slightly more mana than before. When she widened the hole, more mana was able to escape. As water flows to fill up a container, so too did the mana flow to fill up reality. Or rather, it tried to.

Fiona's body was now used to a tiny level of mana, but that was enough. As it flooded through her and into reality, it *changed* her body... as well as that of her unborn son. Later investigation and research done by Fiona and the Council of Magic would discover that hers was not the only body that had been changed somewhat. Her body had adapted to withstand mana, as well as to create and store its own supply. It had evolved a couple of new organs, as well as created an entirely new network of tubes that connected the two new organs to the respiratory, nervous, digestive, immune and endocrine systems.

Meduna system, the
   The Meduna system. Situated on the outer fringes of the charted universe, in an area of space none have yet claimed, the only reason it has not been absorbed into one space-faring empire or another is because it isn't worth the effort. Meduna's planets have little in the way of resources, and an equally pathetic smattering of intelligent life. There is nothing worth pillaging and nobody worth enslaving, an attitude that has spared its inhabitants much strife. Over the centuries it has been used mostly as a dumping ground for space wrecks, the remains of vessels that were of no use, even as scrap. It is a common practice for species belonging to the Galactic Alliance to reassign troublemakers there.

The few space stations scattered across the system are old and outdated, little more than holding pens for the criminals and dissidents who live there. Home to some of the most violent and dangerous criminals in the history of the universe, and devoid of enough resources to make an invasion worthwhile, there is little enough reason for anybody to go there. The system's sole asteroid field, however, has slowly been picking up the pieces of spacecraft that have drifted its way, one by one, drawing each of them into its combined gravity well. With every spaceship that is abandoned there, its size increases, bolstered by the scrap metal.

The metal only adds to its gravitational pull, its power slowly increasing with every new addition. But the effect such a gravity well has on passing spaceships has never been the real danger. No, the real danger lies in the scrapped spacecraft themselves, or rather their contents. Though the spaceships have been decommissioned, they still contain supplies of highly dangerous fuel, no longer protected by containment shields. The whole network of asteroids and spacecraft is a catastrophe just waiting to happen, but it is also the last resort against any attacker. If things look grim enough, the entire thing could be detonated, causing not only a devastating explosion that could destroy a large part of the system, but also a massive discharge of the stored energy, effectively working as a crude EMP weapon simply by completely overloading every electronic system it touched.

Or at least, that's how it was before the Sixth Xavian War and the Battle of Meduna...


New Elemental Aspects, the
   The four New Elemental Aspects are little more than renamed versions of the originals when you boil the situation down to its essentials, although there are some differences. The Temperature Aspect contains Fire spells, but also spells of cold as well. The Solid Aspect is most linked to the Earth Aspect, the Liquid one to the Water one and the Gas one to the Air one. Rumour has it that the Council's refusal to act sooner in the events that became known as the "Mage War" simply came down to it being easier for a bureaucratic change in the Aspects themselves to be accepted if the fear of painful retribution was driven into their minds first.


Old Elemental Aspects, the (also Mage War, the)
   The four Old Elemental Aspects were the original four, each named after one of the four "classic" elements. Each was full of spells relating to that element, and the disparity in size between the largest and the smallest Aspect was far more evident than with either of the other Schools. The Fire Aspect was the largest and the most powerful, and obviously received the lion's share of the budget. By comparison, the Air Aspect was the smallest and the weakest, and barely got any money by comparison.

One woman's desire to prove that the Air Aspect was not weak led to her creation of a hurricane-causing spell, and her decision to challenge some members of the Fire Aspect to a duel in which she would use her new spell to prove her Aspect's worth. However, she hadn't bargained on what would happen when her hurricane came into contact with a fireball spell.

The fireball found itself with a lot more oxygen to consume, as well as a lot more mana to use as fuel. It fed off the hurricane, which kept drawing air into itself and making itself larger and more powerful. This made the fireball larger and more powerful, until the two of them had accidentally created a hurricane of fire that spat flame everywhere. Unluckily, they had held their duel outside the Fire Aspect's base. It wasn't long before the building itself was engulfed in flames.

While the fire did eventually die down, many had been in the building itself as it burned, and a large portion of their younger students had been immolated. The Air spellcaster had fled in a blind panic, taking to the air and escaping. While most of the remaining Fire spellcasters knew it was an accident, one in particular - a man by the name of Tiax - sought to get revenge.

He was a charismatic sort, and managed to whip up some of his fellows into a frenzy. They stormed the Air Aspect's home, burning it to the ground and slaughtering most of their number. When they returned home, those who had not been swayed by Tiax's words turned them away and tried to hunt them down. They were nothing more than murderers, after all. Blinded by his own fury and feeling betrayed, Tiax persuaded his followers that they were being persecuted, and they fled from the wrath of their former friends. They sought out and destroyed the homes of both the Earth and the Water Aspect, then returned to purge the world of the Fire Aspect.

Tiax sacrificed his own followers in an explosion of fire, threatening a captured and broken Air caster with death and mutilation if he did not use the hurricane spell on the burning corpses. The hurricane was vastly superior to the original, the concentration of mana - and of the fire - in its location absolutely incredible. It was at that point that Fiona descended upon the battlefield. She had changed much in her long life, and according to eyewitness accounts, took pleasure in seeing and experiencing Tiax's futile attempts at harming her with his spells, before torching the flesh from his bones... slowly.


Protection Aspect, the
   This Aspect contains spells of defence and resistance, allowing spellcasters to defend themselves in combat if need be. It contains a lot of spells that are similar to each other in use, differing mostly in the level of protection they can bestow. A Protection spellcaster can harden their own skin or clothing or deflect arrows and other objects that approach them.


Restoration Aspect, the
   This Aspect is dedicated to spells of healing and recovery, as well as those that aid a healer's efforts. Despite that, it is *not* an Aspect that healers rely on, as spells more complicated than soothing bruises, sterilising injuries or speeding up the healing of minor wounds tend to require large quantities of mana. Flesh and bone *can* be rebuilt purely from mana itself, but it is rarely ever an option. Setting aside the fact that rebuilding anything greater than a small hole tends to take more mana than the average healer can expend at once, "mana exhaustion" from using too much mana fatigues a person greatly, and healers need to be fully rested and refreshed in order to be any use to anybody. Restoration spells can also be used offensively - effectively in reverse - to tear apart an enemy's body from within, and many are those who underestimated what a spellcaster armed with an intimate knowledge of the body could do to them.


Schools, the
   Of the three varieties of mana that have so far been discovered, each of the three Schools is dedicated to a different one, and have been named appropriately as such. The Arcane School studies the mana that has been found to exist - and is produced - within living bodies. Arcane magic is seen as being evidence of the power of the mind, and its Aspects tend to reflect that. The Elemental school studies the mana that exists in the environment itself, penetrating objects with ease, yet never entering living beings. This is suspected by many to be the result of Arcane mana already inhabiting those spaces. Elemental magic is seen as being evidence of the power of the world itself, and was named after the four classic "elements".

The Divine School studies the latest type of mana to have been discovered, that which merely gravitates towards living creatures. Divine magic is seen as being evidence of the power of faith, especially due to the more devout nature of many of its practitioners and the "healing" nature of some of its Aspects.

Originally, all three Schools were based in the University of Magic. Eventually, the number of students and the space they each took up simply became too great, and the Council was forced to "evict" them, ordering each to find a different location in which to inhabit. This was done both to recover space in the University and also to help spread the word of magic further across the world.

Summoning Aspect, the
   Summoning spells are more strictly enforced than almost any other Aspect, due to the inherent danger involved in the existence of spells that allow people to move from place to place almost instantly. Despite this heavy regulation, Summoning spells are very popular with merchants who wish to avoid bandits, and there has been talk of the Merchants' Guild paying for the construction of a "portal network" connecting many major cities together - for the Guild's use only, of course. Despite this business opportunity, the Summoning Aspect has been deemed borderline illegal for quite some time, and practically the only thing keeping it from being banned outright has been the efforts of its late leader, Yuutt. Now that he's dead, nobody knows quite what's going to happen.


   A healer-in-training, one of Teganor's major driving forces is his inquisitiveness. After waking up in the care of a family of healers with no memory of his identity or the world around him, he knows what it is like to be clueless, and is determined to find out who he is and what happened to him. To achieve that goal he signed up for the Hero Tournament, reasoning that since it was the single largest gathering of people in the region, he would have a much better chance than normal of finding somebody who recognised him. As much as he wants to understand who he is, he is plagued by nightmares of blood and murder that have done much to undermine his resolve to uncover the truth. Regardless, he simply cannot bring himself to leave a mystery - especially not one as involving, engaging and personal as this one - unsolved.

Transmutation Aspect, the
   The Transmutation Aspect no longer exists due to atrocities committed by some of its members against those of the other Arcane Aspects, but especially against the Enchantment Aspect. Transmutation spells were designed to alter things - permanently. While many of their spells saw no more harmful use than reattaching a table leg or mending tears in fabric, it was the potential for physical alteration of living beings that caused problems. Many Transmutation spellcasters practiced the art of changing portions of their appearance that they didn't like, but the potential criminal use of such an application was astonishing.

Transmutation users could walk into a building in the guise of somebody who had a right to be there, having changed their entire outer appearance, commit a crime and then walk out again as themselves - or as somebody else. Despite all of that, it was those who spent their time altering the physical forms of *other people* who sounded the death knell for their Aspect. Some had been corrupted by their own lack of self-control and restrain when it came to what they could do. They would stalk and capture victims, before sating whatever depravities they wished on the flesh and bone of their victims.

The most notorious of all was a man who decorated his room with the bodies of his victims, spreading their flesh, blood and bone across the walls, ceiling and floor as if he was painting. These days, the Transmutation Aspect no longer exists. Many refuse to even speak of it.


Universe, the
   The universe needs no real explanation. It is massive, and nobody could possibly even begin to chart all of it. The story takes place in an area of the universe that is (At least mostly) controlled by an organisation called the Galactic Alliance. From beyond the edges of what the Alliance know of the universe, a second faction enters into play, known as the Xavian Empire. Both factions shall be covered in brief.


von Parfu, Fiona
   Fiona von Parfu. Leader of the Council of Magic, the most powerful spellcaster Estra has ever known... and if the rumours are correct, the woman who discovered magic in the first place, her body exposed to forces no mortal could hope to survive. She set up the University of Magic, and we have her and her fellows to thank for the ways in which magic helps us with everyday life. However, we also have her to thank for the somewhat oppressive laws through which the Council govern all use of magic, and the seemingly random way in which spells are deemed illegal. In the end though, without the Council's strict regulations and rules, others would seek to abuse magic for their own ends.

In the days before military applications for magic were discovered, battles were only ever fought through strength of arms. Monarchs, warlords, emperors... there was a peace of sorts, broken by the occasional war or campaign. Were the balance to tip much in any direction, chaos would ensue for a time. Then magic was deemed no longer a toy or just another skill for a noble or heir to possess, but a *tool* with a *use*. Fiona was quick to capitalise on the sudden emergence of a market for a product she and her friends could sell, and they taught all who could afford their services.

These days, the use of magic has long since filtered down to the masses, although many still do not have even a basic understanding of what magic is. The University of Magic has split into three Schools, and each School into a number of Aspects, each focusing on a different *aspect* of magic itself. It has been three hundred years since magic was discovered, and since then Fiona has not aged a day. The subject has spawned many theories, but all agree that it has something to do with the magic she was exposed to during the "Terril Incident".

Her son Zack was subjected to the same level of magic as his mother, having been in the womb at the time. Unlike Fiona, Zack's body does age, but at a seemingly slower rate than that of a normal human. In almost three hundred years, he appears to have aged roughly fifty, and has made a name for himself for the past decade or so in the "Tournament of Heroes" held in Giji's Stadium of Glory, calling himself the "Jackal". The effects of Fiona's exposure to magic upon Zack's unborn body has also been a subject of much debate, and the most popular theory is that he was the only reason Fiona survived, his body siphoning off the magic Fiona was unable to handle.

Fiona's role in the story is that of the "Big Bad", as she has slowly lost her way over the three hundred years between her discovery of magic and the main portion of the story. Her "fall" was aided in part by the presence of her incredible now-innate magic power, as well as the vast quantities of wealth she has obtained over the years. Seeing - and beating down - people who continue to abuse magic for their own ends hasn't helped her either, and over time the Council's laws regarding the use of magic have partly changed in nature, becoming more oppressive.

The punishments have also become harsher, but Fiona (And the Council) have continually justified their actions times and time again by the results they have obtained.


Warp Travel
   Classic "Star Trek" theory seems to hold that a ship the size of the Enterprise can fly at incredibly fast speeds through space without hitting anything. Ever. While that *is* possible, I'd never want to take a chance like that. Both the Galactic Alliance and the Xavian Empire (Due to each side stealing the technology of the other) use similar methods of performing the same function.

Incredibly powerful energy generators are used to power special devices designed to tear a hole in reality, forming a 'tunnel' of sorts through the alternate reality known commonly as "the Void". It is called that simply because of its defining feature: There is nothing there. The 'tunnel' of energy through the Void tears open a new hole at a pre-determined destination, leading back into normal space.

The emptiness of the Void makes it a perfect place for the larger and more powerful spaceships to use their most powerful engines. These engines are unsuited for use in normal space due to the extreme speeds they can propel a spaceship at. At those speeds, the chances of a collision with anything are quite high. As such, Void travel is advised, due to the lack of almost all other objects in the vicinity.

Void travel is dangerous, and should a vessel not make it all the way through before the energy fades and the holes seal themselves up again, then they must either recharge their wormhole-creating systems or wait and hope for another ship to tear open a hole nearby.

Wrath Aspect, the
   Originally a single spell in the Curses Aspect, the Wrath spell was designed to give Divine spellcasters the ability to cause direct damage if they needed to. Unlike other Aspects with more in the way of choice when it comes to causing pain, the Wrath spell was pretty much the only choice for a Divine spellcaster who wanted to be able to go toe-to-toe with enemies. As such, it received all the attention from those who wanted to study it, and its use was quickly refined and mastered by a great many people.

The premise was simple. The more mana the spellcaster shoved into the spell, the more destructive it was. The first accident during practice came about when a young caster decided to see what would happen if they put *all* of their mana into the spell. Naturally, suddenly being drained of mana caused their body to immediately become fatigued. This caused them to lose control of the spell as they fought to stay awake, which meant that they had an unstable spell with nowhere to go. The result wasn't pretty.

As a result the Wrath spell was given its own Aspect, mostly to keep those who wanted to use it away from those who didn't, lest more people explode. As a result, the Wrath spell has earned something of a reputation. Some have even likened it to calling down the favour of a God: Respect it and don't rely on it, or things will get messy.


Xavian Empire, the
   The Xavian Empire is a vast, interstellar empire (Obviously) that stretches across the universe. The majority of it lies beyond what the Alliance know of the universe, and it contains a grand total of four hundred and fifty eight sentient species. Of that number, only one is really in control of anything. They are the Xavians, and their home planet of Xavia is the centrestone of their vast empire. They are expansionists, if the vast number of species under their dominion is anything to go by. Little else is known of them by the Alliance, save their capacity to learn from the tactics of their enemies and their inability to understand the concept of interior design.

Having engaged in (And lost) six campaigns against the Galactic Alliance, they have displayed a startling level of intelligence, or at the very least something close to the Law of Infinite Monkeys due to sheer numbers. Every time they were driven back, they adapted their tactics to compensate. Every time they managed to acquire some of the Alliance's technology, they managed to adjust and reverse engineer it to suit their purposes.

Their leader, Emperor Cruthek, is a man who prides form over function and usefulness over appearance. This view is shared to some extent by his subjects, at least to avoid the Emperor's personal Thought Police. Because of issues with overpopulation, he has no problems with killing his own subjects in order to help reduce the drain on resources. It is for this reason that the Xavians are known as expansionists, and it is for this reason that their troops have been thrown into certain death time and time again.

The Xavians are as bad as everybody else. Emperor Cruthek, on the other hand, is a combination (And a parody) of Palpatine and Xenu.

Xavian Wars, the
   There have been six major invasions of Alliance space by the Xavian Empire to date. I shall speak of those invasions in order. The first three Xavian Wars were merely considered information gathering missions to the Xavians themselves, and were beaten back with relative ease. They did not go without a fight, however, and they obtained extensive information on the Alliance itself. From the locations of their galaxies and planets, to a rough distribution of their various military strengths. From their tactics to their formations.

From their technology to their cultures. There was much they learned from those forays. Having established in the minds of the Alliance leaders their status as weak, unskilled opponents, they launched a fourth invasion. The leaders of the Alliance were complacent in their ability to defeat the Xavians as they had done three times before. That complacency was their mistake, as the Xavians now know where to strike and where to avoid. This time, they were playing for keeps.

In the end, however, the Alliance were victorious. They were on home turf, and used their superior knowledge of the surrounding area to their advantage. Outflanked, out-gunned and cut off from supplies and reinforcements from the Empire, the fourth armada eventually fell to the defenders, although they did not fall easily. Although the fourth invasion had been serious, there was no way it could match the fifth. Entire Alliance planets were surrounded and obliterated, bombed into oblivion. It was a systematic approach to a problem, to be sure.

The Emperor had wanted to maximise the potential destruction, however, and had ordered the division of the massive, solitary fleet. In its place were a multitude of smaller fleets, each still capable of destroying a planet, but now allowing for many more to be destroyed at any one time. Unfortunately, they were immensely weak, when compared to the original. The Alliance couldn't be everywhere at once and still provide an effective defence against this tactic... or so they thought.

With a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, a Quen engineer was able to modify one of their race's standard scout probes to transmit radar signals. The idea was pitched to the military, who liked the idea. One thing led to another, and that idea cascaded into the perfect counter to the Xavian invasion. Before, Alliance spacecraft capable of wormhole travel were restricted to travelling to pre-set coordinates and hoping they could reach the affected area in time.

All that changed, however, when some bright spark realised that the same transmission that contained radar signals could also work as a homing beacon. And so, the speed at which Alliance spaceships could respond to threats drastically increased, to the point where they were practically on top of the Xavian fleets within minutes of the alarm being sounded. Now that the Alliance had the ability to fight back, the Xavian forces suffered a loss of morale.

They remembered, or at least knew, of what had happened the last time they had been drawn into a war of attrition. Within weeks, the fifth invasion was officially called off, but the Emperor had high hopes for the sixth one.