Sunday, January 8, 2012

Protector Factions: The Nöords

In a previous post I was discussing the fictional factions/races in my Protectors universe.   Now I wanted to discuss some of these in more detail.  We can start with the Nöords.

The Nöords are the magic users of the world.  They are the Protector version of elves and other such etheral creatures.  When I write stories with Nöords, I often think of Galadriel from Lord of the Rings

Using magic - particularly white magic or animal magic - has been a staple of female power fantasy in many forms of literature.  The Nöord faction is design to channel and enhance this sort of role play. 

The Nöords are a mysterious race that inhabits the northernmost part of the protector world. 

The Nöords were originally formed thousands of years ago when individuals powerful in magic fled north to avoid persecution.  There they met up with a powerful race of magic users indigenous to the area.  Some speculate that these natives were not human – either extraterrestrials or angels – but this is all speculation.

The Nöords kept to themselves for a millennia of years and have only recently been rediscovered by the factions in the last 100 years or so.  The Nöords themselves have little need for outsiders.  As such, there are few relations between the Nöords and other factions.   Noords place a premium on their privacy and do not allow any airplanes into their lands, and also prevent satellite imagery.  Their lands, city structure, and population are all unknown to the outside world.

The Nöords, particularly the females, have a magic ability which they call "anima".   Through the use of anima, they can communicate with and control animals and have broad control over nature and the elements.  Anima comes on with puberty and develops to full strength typically by the time the woman is 24 or 25.  Nöords females who are regular users of anima are referred to as witches.  This is used in a derogatory fashion outside of Nöord culture, but is not considered insulting to Nöords.  Nöord males also possess anima but are usually much weaker.

Much anima involves creating temporary conditions known as glamours.  These glamours fade over time – sometimes fairly quickly – and can be detected by anyone who possesses any anima of their own. 

There are six general families of anima:  Ilma, Elukka, Kivi, Virrata, Liha, and Alue.  While a typical Nöord would have some nominal ability in each of these, it is very unusual for a single person to have significant power in more than one.

Ilma – control over air, atmosphere, and weather.  Common abilities include creating light in darkness, making objects glow, and changing temperatures.  More unusual abilities might be the ability to create focused blasts of extreme heat or cold, create rain or snow or even large storms, etc.    Ilma anima is a glamour and typically will not last more than a few hours after invocation.

Elukka – control of plants and animals.  Common abilities include the ability to commune with animals, talk to them, understand them, and even control them.  At lower levels it is used to pacify animals or grow impressive gardens.  This is a type of clairvoyance.  It works on humans as well, although it is considered impolite and can be resisted – typically by using ones one anima against it.   At more powerful levels mass control is possible, even at great distances.    Sometimes a large group of Nöords will get together to form a kind of hive mind, in which all of the member minds are thinking as one, with greatly increased speed and intellect.   It is rumored that the Nöord high council consults such a hive mind as a kind of oracle.  Elukka anima only has effect while being invoked. 

Kivi – control over earth, stone, metal, and other inanimate objects.  This is a form of telekinesis which allows the wielder to alter the shape of these materials as if they were clay, using only her mind.  This power is mostly used for artistic purposes, to make jewelry (at a lower level) or impressive cities of stone at high levels.  There are stories of it being used defensively (such as opening up large fissures in the ground to swallow enemies) but those are uncommon.  Those with greater power can mold larger objects and do it faster.  There are tales of powerful witches who can make golems in this manner, making a solid block of stone sprout arms and legs and then controlling it with their mind.  The kivi magic does not have any effect on living tissues, either plant or animal.    Kivi anima is a glamour and is easily detected, but has an extremely long duration.  Powerful casters can create stone cities that stand for thousands of years.

Virrata – Virrata is a strange concept.  The literal meaning is “flow”, but a closer description might be “luck”.  This magic just makes things go your way.  At the minor level this can be used for parlor tricks such as winning at games of chance.  At higher levels it can be shockingly powerful, with strings of impossible coincidences moving the wielder closer to the goal. 

Example:  during the War of Northern Expansion, the entire eastern front of the Trade Federation army was wiped out.  Just as the Noords were entering battle, the trade federation armies feel ill.  The water used in the preparation of food that was shipped to the front turned out to have been infected with rare protozoa through an agricultural accident.  By coincidence, the filtration mechanism had failed precisely when the food was being prepared the week before.  This failure went unnoticed because the officer in charge had a family crisis and didn’t come into the plant.  Finally, the medical supplies that could have saved the infected were accidently shipped to southern Africa due to a computer mixup.  This was all attributed the unusually strong virrata of the witch in service of the Noord commander.

Unlike most anima, virrata seems to be an always-on background power and does not fade away.  The wielder can increase or decrease the strength of flow through concentration but has little or no ability to direct it.  Some speculate that those in flow are jumping through parallel universes to find one that is more optimal for them, as this seems the only way to explain certain effects (particular that the facts that support the coincidences often proceed the invocation of flow), but of course there is no way of testing such a hypothesis. 

Liha – the control of flesh and living matter.  A small level this can be used to make small changes in appearance or improve personal health.  Those with more power can alter appearance more radically – a common use if for cosmetic enhancements such as pointed ears or a different skin color.  It can also be used to heal diseases or mend cuts or broken bones.  At very powerful levels, flesh can be radically reshaped.  A person can be made into a different form entirely, such as being changed into a dragon or a mouse.  Flesh shaping in this way can be very complicated and typically requires a long period of study in addition to having the native ability.  Otherwise it is quite easy to accidently kill the subject, cause brain damage, etc.  Classic transformations (into bat, mouse, fox, eagle, etc.) have been worked out and perfected over hundreds of years and these are the ones commonly learned.  Liha anima is a glamour and rarely lasts more than a few hours or days at best unless the caster is extremely powerful. 

Alue – the control of objects in space.  This anima allows the witch to move things with their mind.   At minor levels this can be used to move small objects around like a parlor trick – sliding a coin across a table or making it come up heads when flipped.  More powerful witches can move larger objects or move them faster.   Those very powerful in the art can teleport objects as well as move them.  In this way, an object can move from A to B without going through any points between.  This anima is not a glamour.  While it can be detected while an object is being moved, this tinge fades within a few seconds.

Most non-Nöord scientists believe the alue anima is actually manipulating the fabric of spacetime to create apparent forces.   Objects are not so much pushed as pulled to their destination.  Teleport also seems to work by shrinking the object into a dimensionless point, then moving the point to the new location, and then expanding it again.  Even a small object the size of a coin creates a loud pop at its new location when teleported due to the supersonic shockwave caused by the object suddenly appearing in space, pushing the air out of the way.  Teleporting a book under the wheel of a car will cause the car to flip over onto its back, again from the force of the extremely rapid expansion.  Because of this, alue anima is the most common magic used in military actions. 

Tall and thin, with pale to white skin and long blond to white hair.  Females average 6’ tall, males around 6’6”.  Eye color can be blue, green, violet, or (rarely) black.

Another Nöord-looking female from a movie not quite as good as Lord of the Rings

Nöords do not wear make-up.  Hair tends to either hang naturally or be bound with simple braids. 
Nöords frequently use their powerful magic to alter their appearance.  Simple magic can create effects such as a light glow that surrounds the person or sparkles in the skin or eyes, or changing hair, skin, or eye color.  They also use charms that make someone look either extremely beautiful (or ugly), look like someone else, or otherwise disguise appearance.  Those that are most powerful can radically change someone appearance permanently or temporarily.  Adding wings or elongating the ears for an elfin look are popular, as is transmorphing into an animal.

Clothing Style
Nöord females tend to wear robes or gowns of various kinds.  Animal materials such as furs and feathers are common.  Fabrics are often decorated with natural materials such as pearls, gems, shells, or animal teeth.  

Magic glows, color changes, and/or winds are common charms that are added to clothing and jewelry.

 Most of the Nöord traditions center on the role of anima.  Almost all Nöords possess some anima, but a select few are extremely powerful.  If someone is born with no anima, they would be an outcast and would likely be expelled from the land of the Nöords.

Most mating among the Nöords is done for Magic.  Nöords are serially monogamous and pair-bond from the time of pregnancy until the child is weaned. 

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