Much in my writing life is changing lately. Last Word Before Dying, my online fantasy serial, is written and the last installment will appear online on July 8th. With my poetry collection, The Renaissance Cycle, published I’m now able to return my attention to my fantasy novel, Where Light Devours.
Viewing the time between now and July 8th as a unique block, I’ve decided to examine the Hartise partial’s colleges in my fantasy world, Ontyre.
But what or who are partials? The subject is only lightly addressed in the online tale, but its important to the novel.
Fortunately, I’m going to keep this brief. I have a notebook devoted to magic and the section on partials is 24 pages long (not counting the college maps, blueprints, and diagrams showing how their magic operates).
World building madness.
Anyway, humans who are partials are called such because they develop a specialized magic gift. There are five singular gifts that routinely occur (seers, healers (soothers), sylvans, seekers, and sirens) and there was a college built for each.
It was Queen Pressa who first envisioned training partials, but it was her grandson, Craus, who oversaw building the five colleges when he was king. Please note that in Hartise, unlike outside its borders, partials are often referred to as “senses” because they were viewed as extensions of the various kings and queens. A poem captured the thinking:
Seers of Vistus watch over us and their marble columns gleam.
Soothers in Meacine heal amidst the bright gardens of a dream.
Sirens in Asbray sing praise in tune with their waters cascading.
Sylvans of Horthure grow bounty from the Land of Lands surrounding.
Seekers from Lorne divide good and evil from the cliffs of Pressa.
These senses of our kings and queens serve us as they would Genessa.
This week’s college: Asbray
Year completed: 3410
Location: Northern Hartise at the edge of the Colossus Range
Like all partials, sirens could be traced back to the Old Empire and beyond where they were often invited to sing for the Emperor and Empress. So too they’d perform for the wealthy and in the greatest theaters of the day. Often their voices were heard leading others in song on special occasions and it wasn’t unheard of for them to inspire troops before battle.
As was the case with healers, sirens were always female. Their voices were as frightening to some as they were beautiful to others. The reason was because a siren could bring great pleasure or manipulate the mind, though they could only instill subtle suggestions. Too, a siren’s voice required time to manipulate, making it an unsuitable defense in an emergency. After the government declared magic illegal at the Ministry’s behest most sirens fell silent, though a few could be found in isolated taverns.
For those sirens who were provided formal training there were the Voices of the Siren, seven distinctly different approaches to voice. Each voice corresponded with one of the seven Powers who served Genessa as described by the Order of Genessa religion. During the days of the Old Empire a language, Aphrodite, was written to make sirens more effective, but much of the language was lost when the Old Empire collapsed. The fragments became Siren’s Song, a category within the Voices of the Siren.
Asbray was set in an isolated region north of Thain at the foot of the Colossus Range and beneath the towering presence that was Backdrop Cliff. Two streams crossed the college grounds, but it was the Brook of Song that was most famous. It and the structure that was constructed to span its waters were what caused the engineers of the day extensive problems. Those problems meant that Asbray was the last college completed.
In its day no structure was more famous than Asbray Hall through which the Brook of Song ran. Dropping into the building via the Falls of Genessa, the brook then tumbled over seven cascades beside the main concourse. Each cascade was said to represent one of The Powers and each was said to have its own song. Engineers struggled with dampening the noise the falls created and with isolating the sound each cascade produced. On any given day a siren could be found beside a cascade matching her voice to the music the running water produced.