APPLICATION FOR GUARDIANSHIP OF A CHOSEN MORTAL
ASPIRING GUARDIAN ANGEL, INSCRIBE YOUR LIGHT UPON THESE VOIDS
NAME OF GUARDIAN ANGEL: Naathiel [Somehow, these characters shine with a holy light]
NAME OF CHOSEN MORTAL: Kynes Tanner
BASIS FOR PROMOTION TO GUARDIAN: Outstanding performance guiding souls to their next life. Performed consistently well for the duration of a particularly destructive conflict between a large volume of mortals.
DESCRIPTION OF MORTAL: Born in a village as the son of a lame leatherworker, grew to the age of 19 with no outstanding achievements… Before completing his apprenticeship under his father, was drafted into the military… Upon examination, latent talent for magic was discovered, prompting separation into a division for training mages… Part-way through training, his company was needed for support in an unavoidable assault.
BASIS FOR REQUIRING GUARDIANSHIP: An exceptional mortal… For unknown reasons is being pursued by a… [A small section is scratched off in frustration, what resembles the start of a few different words]... evil spirit, requires divine protection… A remarkable mortal with a… strong moral compass and… a desire to do good. Without protection, the life of such a… important person remains at risk.
Name: Kynes Tanner
Kynes is a rugged-looking young man with a face that always wears his unease. With brown hair, dim gray eyes, and a shorter than average stature, it would be hard to pick him out in a crowd. To be frank, even divine intervention probably couldn’t make him seem any more ordinary.
Besides his shirt and his trousers, all of his equipment is standard issue from the military. Not that there was much anyhow. Despite most illustrations of mages consisting of people wearing pointed hats and flowing robes, it is entirely impractical to enchant that many clothes for a bunch of mages sitting so far from a battle that the soldiers they’re aiming at might as well be specks of stray paint on a canvas. The closest thing to any kind of protective gear would be the boots he wears.
The shortsword at his hip is a sorry-looking weapon; calling it second-hand would be a kindness. It must have been handed down at least a dozen times before it could get all the nicks and occasional spots of rust that leave it in such a pitiable state. It might as well be a club with how well it can cut, and any kind of reckless handling would probably split the sword in two. The only redeeming quality that makes up for its shoddy condition is the sequence of runes that are stamped on both sides of the blade. Though they do nothing on their own, they improve the sword’s affinity for magic, making it an invaluable tool for a mage.
Kynes also still follows the advice his father gave him when he was still an apprentice, and keeps a dagger in his boot. It was made for cutting leather, but would still make a fine weapon if ever he finds himself in a pinch. (While the thought wouldn’t cross the mind of someone playing the cornered animal, Kynes has not done any significant training with this dagger)
Skills & Abilities:
Most techniques he learned were meant to be used in a formation with a dozen other mages, so the most destructive spells he knows are unavailable to him. The rest of the magic he knows would be for last-resorts, since any situation where a mage has to fight on their own would be the fault of the one commanding them.
The first magic Kynes was taught is strengthening magic. There are many varieties that exist, but the one he learned is intended to be used on a sword. Tracing one’s offhand across the length of the blade covers it in a prismatic sheen, increasing its durability to surpass even the strongest of steel. A master in this magic could also sharpen the magic enveloping the blade to the point of cleaving anything into two clean pieces, but a mage like Kynes who has trained less than a year would only be able to bring a blade up to par with any other well-maintained sword.
The blade can be traced again to add another even sharper coating of magic, but each additional trace layered upon the blade will take exponentially longer (think of tracing as trying to forcefully drag your hand across various materials. With Kynes’ skill, the first trace would have as much resistance as smooth metal; the second, like dragging across sandpaper; the third, like tire rubber; a fourth attempt would feel futile, like trying to force two magnets together). This increase in sharpness, while valuable, is never as great as the first, and would only provide a noticeable improvement with the third trace, allowing a well-executed strike to penetrate a plate of armor (emphasis on “well-executed”; Kynes may have gotten used to using a sword with this magic, but he is still a mage, not a swordsman).
As convenient as this magic seems, there are a few more limitations. The most glaring is the fact that each layer of magic can only be sustained for the duration of a single strike, slash, bash, or parry. It’s such a delicate spell that even a particularly forceful splash of water could do the same. Furthermore, attempting to use this magic on any living thing is not possible, and it is only practical to use it on materials imbued with the proper runes. While it is still possible to use the magic on a weapon lacking runes, the first trace on a runeless weapon would feel as hard as the third trace on one with runes (though a shorter weapon, like a dagger, would be easier to trace than a sword, simply because there is less to trace).
Also, wasting time on a battlefield is obviously dangerous, but if a mage takes too long on a trace and allows their magic to be interrupted the spell will become unstable. All the magic on the sword will be released at once and the caster will experience the energy recoil. This would feel like a nice mix of staring at the sun for a minute and getting punched in the face, varying in duration depending on how many traces are lost (1 second for a single trace; 3 seconds for a double; a triple could last as long as 10 seconds and may cause Kynes to lose his footing). Any sane mage would try to avoid this if they can help it. Being forced to feel it as a part of practice helps make sure of that.
While leveling entire fields with a barrage of hellfire is well and good, sometimes it is important to provide support that will avoid blasting your allies with the full power of an array of artillery magic. This is where flare magic becomes practical. Thoughtfully nicknamed “Little Flare”, this magic creates a ball of mostly pure light after channeling it for a few (5) seconds. About the size of a person’s head, it floats just above the skin of a caster’s hand. Its first use is obvious: It’s really bright. Not bright enough to blind anyone who looks at it, it wouldn’t be good making the sun jealous after all. One would be able to squint through it, but it would certainly be distracting. The sort of thing that makes it hard to see details, like a spear coming through a crack in a shield wall (I want to make it clear, this is a normal light).
This spell would make for a great lamp, if it weren’t for the energy it contains, which would be frankly unreasonable to be used just for shedding light. After it leaves the caster’s hand and comes into contact with something, all the magic within it is released in a burst of colors. While this doesn’t create any fires or craters, it still releases enough force to knock back a normal person a few feet and leave them winded, depending on distance to the point of impact and if they were caught off guard (5 feet radius, knockback wouldn’t exceed 5 feet as well, this won’t be launching any human-sized creatures). If they happened to be looking at the bright thing when it detonates they will be properly blinded (for 3 seconds, same as the second trace of strengthening magic above). Most mages would prefer that this unpleasant experience happens far rather than close, so throwing the ball of light is usually the best way to use it. The ball feels weightless for the caster holding it, but throwing it would be similar to lobbing a volleyball (with a good arc it could probably get 30 feet of distance; like a volleyball, it doesn’t move through the air fast).
Just like the strengthening magic before, interrupting the casting of this spell will make the caster experience the same backlash as if it had just detonated in their hand, regardless of how long the magic had been channeled. Once the magic is complete and the ball of light is fully formed, the spell is as stable as the traces of strengthening magic. That is to say, not stable at all. The caster holds onto the ball, but they aren’t touching it directly, as it floats just above the surface of their hand. If someone bumps into them and they lose their grip on it, it will explode when it hits the floor. If they try to grab it with their other hand, it will explode. If they try to scratch their head and accidentally let it fall to the ground, it will explode. The thing is honestly just looking for an excuse to blow up. A good mage makes sure all the excuses it can find are nowhere near themselves.
Practice casting magic as a team results in significantly increased casting efficiency, to the point where a single formation can deliver a large number of artillery strikes. This, however, does not substantially improve an individual mage’s efficiency when casting magic. Trying to use magic in rapid succession will quickly lead to exhaustion. Even with proper pacing, prolonged usage will still deplete a mage of their strength.
The strengthening magic can be used with the least effort, though that can change based on how carelessly it is used (using a single trace would hardly break a sweat; performing a series of traces rapidly, one after the other, would leave Kynes panting; Tracing the blade thrice three separate times in a short time would be enough to wind him).
The flare magic is comparatively harder to use. Infrequent use would be sustainable for a longer period of time, at Kynes’ level that would be twice every minute for an hour. Constant use without any break will quickly drain his stamina (using it as often as possible, once every 5 seconds, for a full minute would leave Kynes gasping for air; just fighting normally at that point would be challenging).
Casting two spells simultaneously would take a great deal of focus and would be extremely exhausting. Attempting this would typically be foolish, with all the effort spent doing something that can be done significantly easier with just a little more time. It should be noted that any magic that has already been cast does not affect the casting of any other magic. That said, it would be very challenging to trace a sword while holding onto a volatile ball of magic, so this mainly means that a flare can be made after a sword is traced.
Brooch of the Iconoclast:
After delivering artillery strikes from a number of locations for over a week, Kynes and his squad were ordered to hike without an escort to an isolated spot to provide support for yet another skirmish a distance away. Once they arrived and began preparing their magic, they were ambushed by a small enemy force. If he and his squad were properly trained soldiers it would have been a simple victory with the numbers they had. In reality, they were unprepared for this type of engagement, and the members of the ambush were extremely skilled. The entire squad was wiped out. Including Kynes.
As life slowly left his body, a vague, human figure walked up to him, appearing from nowhere. For an instant, it looked as though it had been looking at someone else who was also lying on the ground, before casting its gaze down upon Kynes. It stood like a statue for a moment, and then began to speak. Except no sound came out, even as what should have been lips moved. Kynes could only think that he was already dead, and the words just couldn’t reach him. When it finished speaking, he heard the words it should have said, ringing in his head from all directions.
“It is your time to move on. Close your eyes and accept this.”
Who? Why would someone be…? Kynes struggled to look up. He saw, further above where its eyes should be, a ring of light circling its head. The sight of it made him realize, with his slowly fading mind, exactly what was going on. He wanted to call out for help, but his voice was gone. He could only look around desperately. The thing standing over him somehow cleared its throat and continued to speak in the same uncanny manner.
”I am not here to tell you that life is fair. It is not, has not ever been, and will never be fair. There is nothing left for you in this world. It is the natural course of all things to…” Its voice, lacking any human tone, Kynes could hear more distinctly now. It was his own voice.
No, no, I can’t… Clinging to life with the last of his strength, a flash of red suddenly caught his eye. It was a brooch that shined crimson, the same color as the blood of the person who wore it. It bore the likeness of a wolf, surrounded by thorns. It was so close to him, how could he have missed it? With a strange feeling of hope, Kynes reached out and clutched the brooch.
Nothing changed. He was still lying in the dirt, dying slowly. He was ready to close his eyes for good when he saw the angel that had come to collect him start moving frantically. It was now holding a slate, and was tracing lines with a finger into part of it while muttering to itself. This time, it was clear that they were speaking with its own voice as a real person would, and not however it had been. Kynes could scarcely make out a few of the words.
“No, no, no… Oh no. That isn’t right. That isn’t right!... His thread was cut. CUT!... He should be dead. He is dead! How can he be here still…”
It noticed Kynes’ gaze and tore its attention away from the slate it held. Now that it was looking at him, Kynes could see its face again. Its face, which now appeared more human than it had before, showed a look of disbelief mixed with anger.
The moment passed, and it turned back towards its slate. Just as it had appeared, the angel vanished without warning, leaving Kynes alone. All at once, a potent fatigue washed over him. His eyes felt as though weighed down by lead, but before they closed shut he could faintly hear voices nearby shouting about medics. Finally, his fading consciousness gave in.
The Brooch of the Iconoclast. The brooch that Kynes held onto after his near-death experience. He thought he heard the name of it from one of his squadmates. It may have been the night before the bloodshed, a whisper heard from a fervent dream. It may have been from the brooch itself. He has been trying not to think about it too hard. At the present, the brooch gives Kynes a degree of resistance to pain, even when it isn’t near. Despite not having experience taking blows, he is able to continue fighting for far longer than his average physique should allow him. Strangely, ever since he picked up the brooch, his own hands started to feel different, as if they were someone else’s. Even though he lacks experience with a sword, he finds his abilities more effective than they have any right to be. He can fight with his dull sword and strengthening magic, using techniques as if he had been training with it most of his (relatively brief) life. It is as if he’s been possessed by the spirit of a warrior. Though, the one cleric he’s asked about it told him his soul is free from any and all evil spirits that may haunt these lands. Perhaps almost dying does something special to some people. Another thing he has been trying hard not to think about.