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The Magic Engine

The Travelers Guide to Aqualon

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After reaching the North Harbor of Lake Rahn, our captain bids us farewell since he only travels the Giranja's Tribute up and down. Shen's gang and I settle down in a beautiful little dock-side inn and get drunk on cobalt blue, a local hard liquor with the most peculiar color and sheen, and play Age of Heroes late into the night. I loosely recall him crushing me for a week's worth of pay, so there's that. In the morning we make our way towards the great Spire of Rahn, though the Lake is large, and we'll take the scenic route, so I expect we'll have an hour or two I can spend on writing. I'll keep my review of the spire itself until later; there is more than enough interesting things going on right here in this boat.   The boats, ah yes. When we went to the dock, there was a strange pier-shed filled with these large plates. In fact, there were different shacks with different plate dimensions. The tour-guide and skipper we hired to take us by the spire pulls one of the plates onto the water with a hooked pole then readies it with the help of his son: They carry comfortable looking chairs and a table onto it as it floats atop the lake, and a strange black box as well, all locked in a storehouse by the pier. Once everything is on the large, floating plate, the skipper waves us aboard. I am a bit unsure because it looks like it might be wobbly and tilt at any wrong move, but Shen and his men confidently step aboard, so I follow. The skipper moves his feet oddly, and out of Lake Rahn, some water begins to rise and, well, 'constructs' walls for what now looks like an actual boat, one half made from wood, one half from gleaming ice.   Shen and his men sit down by the long table aboard and the ship begins to just move across the water, propelled by an invisible force. Amazingly there is no swaying at all, everything is perfectly steady. I am actually a bit uncomfortable because of it in the beginning. Going to the skipper to ask some questions, I see that on the floor before him are a number of beautiful drawings worked onto a metal plate. He puts his foot times on this one, times on that one, and they glow when he does so. I quickly understand that these move the ship and made the icy hull as well. They also keep the ship steady.   You have probably guessed it, dear reader: magic engines. I am on a magic boat. The skipper explains that these have brought great convenience into the lives of everyone around here. He doesn't even know how to perform water magic, the boat does all the work. If you are an islander like me, you may have never seen a magic engine in your life, but here in the Middle Lands Magocracy, they are everywhere. Since spell ink was invented in the 820s GE, the invention of new and practical magic engines has slowly but surely revolutionized all sectors of city life over here. Initially used by city guards, who painted spell ink mandalas onto their shields to gain access to rudimentary magic, these days there are boats, land vehicles, factories, high temperature furnaces, and all sorts of things run by this amazing technology, which was developed, or so I am told, by a united think tank of Middlish scholars, who call themselves the Middle Lands Magic Research Consortium, way back.   In fact, I see factories in the back blowing smoke, and the skipper tells me they are cobalt works, churning out precious cobalt using magic engines. And the surprises do not end here: After we are well out on the lake, he steps off the plate and lets us drift a little, pulling forth the ominous blackish box. Opening it, the inside seems to be very cold, and food is stored inside. He takes out a couple of plates with food on them as well as chilled drinks. He places the plates before our company on the table and then pulls a strange sheet with top handle from the box. Holding it above each plate in turn, a cover extends from it, and he touches another mandala on its side. We quickly see that the contraption warms the food right up. After he has warmed the last plate, he sticks the plate back into the side of the box and touches a mandala on the box.   ''We invented these with the help of Altonar technocrats, I hear," the skipper explains to me as we eat a nice, rustic meal of mussels and fried rice, which he assures me were made this very morning and are quite delicious indeed. "Ya, see you can't touch the mandala all the time so it's gotta still stay cold. They made this special uh... thermos lining they call it, I think, that makes it very good at keeping the cold in. And there is also this sort of soul energy battery inside, so it works for a while before you have to touch it again."   I am reasonably impressed. Though I can't help but think about the less fortunate people here that are allegedly abused for their natural ability to power these magic engines. An ability we all carry. But those who are poor and in need are quickly targeted by those out to make a quick coin, and for that victims of spellblight are more prolific here than anywhere else. Yes, blight is the price of progress in this region, and yet the blighters are still terribly stigmatized here.   No doubt are magic engines still rare on the Ocean Belt after hundreds of years because the Church of Pure Souls is lobbying against them with all the resources at their disposal.   Personally, I am unsure which side is right: progress, or caution? Even with draconian practices and revolting attitudes towards certain groups of people, there is a certain merit to the churches fear for the human soul, is there not?   Then again, this old skipper seems to be fine driving his magic engine out on the Lake every day, and there are only grey streaks in his hair, no white. As so often, I fear that education and societal stratification are the things that create social injustices. Still, I cannot help but be awestruck by this pristine lake, the magnificent Spire of Rahn that towers before me, the grand city beyond it, and the impressive factories in the distance. Truly, this is a city of splendor.   T.F.

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Find the Previous Column of T. Fletcher's Travelers Guide to Aqualon Here


 
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The Travelers Guide to Aqualon
Geographic Location | Jul 10, 2018

The Travlers Guide to Aqualon by Thadeus Fletcher was a regular column in the HJT Gazette in the 1580s GE.

 

Related Aqualon Facts of the Day


- #85 -

The large lakes Tarrenvel and Ostrund on the island of Rastrwoel are home to an unusual species of jellyfish: the globumeduzoa, also known as pearlhoods in the common vernacular. The pearlhoods proliferate swiftly when food is available and quickly form strands of tiny nacre granules, which are harvested by the people of Rastrowel as nacre gravel, a prized substance for goldsmiths and alchemists. Rastrowel is also the founding place of the Church of Pure Souls.




- #Special -

Compared to the relatively recent technologically based industrial revolution of Altonar, the Middle Lands have a different kind of industrial revolution that has been slowly but surely progressing since the 900s GE, called the magic industrial revolution, which is rooted in the invention of spell ink from which many magic engines have been created.



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The standard Age of Heroes deck of cards can be found all over Aqualon, even beyond the Iron Belt.


 
Spell Ink
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Spell ink is a restricted substance produced in the Middle Lands. It is used in all five of the great cities of that land where they create magic engines with it.


 
The Middle Lands Magic Research Consortium
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The MLMRC is a research think tank that meets up for one month each year at the Tower of Five to advance magic and science in the Middle Lands and promote unity through advancement and prosperity.


 
Spellblight
Physical / Metaphysical Law | Jun 1, 2018

Overuse of magic has its price.


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Comments

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10 Jul, 2018 04:55

This has got to be one of the most creative uses of magitech I've ever seen :) Almost reminds me of the time when the US Navy tried to make an aircraft carrier out of ice and sawdust, only this one actually works XD

10 Jul, 2018 05:10

Yeah ^-^ Because brief bursts of soul power when touching the corresponding spell ink mandala reform any molten portions of the ice very quickly.   Glad you like the design <3

10 Jul, 2018 05:28

I love it! This is incredibly detailed and diverse in it's scope. I really liked that you included the bit about Spell blight, kind of adds a class structure to the world and makes it real.

10 Jul, 2018 05:40

Thanks ^-^ In writing this world around my novel, which is set in it, spell blight really became a new corner stone once I had the article. Spell blight and magic engines were completely new concepts that hadn't been in the manuscript before, but now they are present everywhere as I edit through the chapters :D

10 Jul, 2018 05:57

This brings to mind that "any sufficient technology might as well be magic". I also enjoy how it builds and ties into the world as a whole, even calling back to another article in the world I've read so far. Well done.

10 Jul, 2018 06:02

Thank you ^-^ Technology and magic are two sides of a gradient in my setting. There are high technocrats that have literally suppressed magic within the limits of their city, the Middlish men, who have perfected the art of magic and are building machines that are powered almost entirely by souls, and the middle ground (or beyond xD) is Miyako Fluxum, where they have built actual soul computers and perfectly married magic and technology in a scientific branch called technamagix.

10 Jul, 2018 06:17

That. Is dang cool. Seriously.