As promised, we are now turning to our new update schedule (we hope …. fingers crossed!).
Writing Mondays are reserved for writing topics, particularly things relating to Sons of Lur and the other projects. For now it’ll just be character ideas, how the work’s going, but eventually we’ll have the advertising here for the when the book is finished and ready for sale.
Today we’re talking about the magical sections of the world of Rhegan and the Sons of Lur.
Sons of Lur is ticking along nicely, along with the introduction of some minor players in the major plotline. One of these is Lore, Rider of Kalen, a Dragon Master in the Northern Province.
I should probably explain a little about the groups in Sons of Lur – since hearing Rangers or Scouts, Riders and Blood Mages won’t really explain who or what they are.
The Rangers of Rhegan are men and women of the forest and land. They roam far and wide from any major Ranger Tower and patrol the area doing mundane tasks such as catching poachers to heroic deeds such as locating stolen magical artifacts or acting as a cartographer for an advance party into enemy territory. They are usually decent horsemen (and women …) and are trained in the use of a bow and a sword, as well as accurate recall, scouting techniques, cartographical skills and blending with the countryside. Rangers act as messengers and law men, though Judges and Justices are rarely Rangers due to the requirement of learned book reading.
Rangers are trained from the age of 12 when they are considered old enough to understand that to suffer pain and discomfort is worth the rewards. Trainees are tested for their reaction to combat or an unknown encounter before beginning training and after two years are assigned with a group to a field commander. Groups rotate so that all of the trainees receive the training in all fields which lasts for another two years, travelling the southern parts of Rhegan. Then they are assigned to an older Ranger who teaches them their particular skill, be it mapping or skill with a bow. Master and student travel wherever the master is sent, be it to the front line or out into the mountains. The one place the students are not sent is into the Tanglewood.
Rangers from the younger members of the Noble Houses are required to cast off their family name and rank in an attempt to avoid division by class amongst the trainees, as well as to bring the individuals down to earth to the nature of their undertaking. Very few nobles who choose to become Rangers regret this decision and usual do well amongst their fellows.
Any Rangers who exhibit spell casting abilities are sent to the Mage Houses. Herbal magic and woodcraft are allowed, but fire wielders (in particular) are considered to be in danger if they stay.
There is a particular set of Rangers which differ slightly from the normal trainees:
Some new trainees are found to have powerful, wilder forms of Forest-craft or rare fluid-forms which are too dangerous to be controlled. These students are separated and trained in elite units to control themselves and their gifts. Some fluidic shapeshifter’s are unable to complete their training and it is the fear of some Scouts to be trapped forever as a man or as a wolf. Failed human Scouts are returned to the Rangers with heightened senses of smell and hearing, though their vision may be affected. They normally have very few other skills.
Those who are successful in making the change are marked with their pack sign and go through a series of changes. The most obvious is the wolfish gleam to their eye colour, thicker hair and the odd coloured patch which correlates with wolf markings.
Each pack reports to the Lord/Lady Woodsman and ultimately to the Monarch and are assigned to dangerous or long roaming missions. When in wolf form, a pack is assigned a caretaker who travels ahead or behind with food, clothing and other provisions, who is sworn to secrecy and reveals nothing of their irue identity. It is rare for a Scout to progress to a higher rank in society, and shapeshifters are feared amongst the general population.
When in wolf form (though some can change into ravens, big cats or other birds of prey), packs can have difficulties with other real wolves when they cross into their territory. It is also rumoured that some man-wolves travel with wolves and live the rest of their lives amongst their wolfish kindred.
In the time when the born Ruler was a man, he had his own personal guard. And the Queen was “gifted” the Rangers as part of her wedding gift, so that at the wedding there would be an honour guard of hand picked Guardsmen and Rangers to escort the happy couple. When the last Queen was born, there was a suggestion of changing the name to Queen’s Guard or Royal Guard.
The King’s Guard basically covers all your men at arms in respective areas. Like horses? Join the mounted group. Got a fondness of guarding gates? Men-at-arms. A woman? Get lost love.
The King’s Guard is the only group that does not allow women to carry arms, hence explaining the large proportion of women in the Rangers. The King’s Guard is also popular with the noble houses who look down upon the Rangers for the closeness they have with the peasants.
These are the Monarch’s personal honour guard who go where they go and are set apart by the magnificent royal blue cloaks. Hand chosen from all the groups, these are usually the King’s most trusted advisors and they and their family are given rank and title and honour.
Bonded Dragon Riders, shortened to Riders (not to be confused with riders who ride horses) are men and women who are twinned with a dragon soul. Individuals are tested for the mystical connection and sent to be paired and trained. Many Riders are given younger dragons who are too young to have developed much mental abilities and therefore become nothing more than mounts. However, some lucky (or unlucky) people are sought out by Elder or High dragons who have felt their presence since they were born and have come to claim them. These older, wiser dragons have very few Riders, whilst the younger generations seem to be able to be paired with similar Riders with ease.
Younger Riders can be recognised by their peculiar way of speaking. They speak as two voices, rarely using the words I or Me. This is because the bonding is complete – the human carries part of the dragon’s mind and soul with them and the dragon carries the human with them. They become one entity and any Rider or Dragon should be respectfully addressed as if two were standing there.
Elder Dragons and their Riders have a slightly different blending connection, retaining some sense of individuality when speaking. The human frequently develops a form of longevity as a side affect of being bonded with such an older dragon. When Dragon’s speak through their Riders (this is forbidden for the younger ones except in emergencies), the Rider’s eyes gain a metallic gleam and their voice can become strangled or strange.
When a bonded Rider dies in battle or of age, the Dragon feels their loss keenly. Some vanish for a time to return when ready to accept another. If the death was in battle, the next Rider is told before bonding so they can prepare themselves for the pain and memories of the previous human.
If a Dragon dies so does the human.
Current known Elder Dragons bonded with humans are:
Morrow (Golden Morrow) / Elrik
Kalen / Lore
Jaspel / Kerrin
The magic wielders of Rhegan claim to be descended from the direct Houses formed out of Lur. They are typically spell casters with gifts in ranging from hurling balls of fire to calling down lightning strikes and weaving storms. Some forms of magic are praised higher than others, with Forest-craft being looked down upon as poor-man’s-wizardry.
Magic will be explained in a future article.
Mages are trained from the time their magic appears (and this magic usually runs in families). They go to special Mage Houses are the major cities or are sent to Caeris to be trained in the Five Houses. They study spell crafting and Lore, along with battle magic, writing and other forms of book learning. Some healers can be trained, though these are rare and are handled by physicians or by a member of the priesthood, which ever is most able to assist.
Mages are typically arrogant because of their superior “intellect” and serve positions of Law or overseers.
Some Magic is forbidden!
People to use blood or other parts of their body (or another body) to work their magic are shunned and outcast. They can hold power over people and are linked back to Mar who taught his followers ways to turn a man’s will against him.
Most however are misunderstood. The men of the Southern Desert, outside of Rhegan’s borders teach the Desert skills of land and stone – geomancy, sand scrying and other releated subjects as well as the banned form of golem makings. Golems require the owner’s blood to be mixed into the clay, leading to the assumption that a mage who makes golems can make a mindless army to do his bidding. Most people believe this, but in truth, the Desert Magi do not allow a golem maker to make more than five personal golem in his lifetime and he must destroy any he no longer wishes to possess, burn the clay, grind it to powder and scatter the dust to the wind.
More on the people and places of Rhegan next time on Writing Monday.