Watch Me Burn – 00 – Prologue

Prologue –


This is not something I was originally going to do. I still think it’s better that nobody knows it ever happened. But some people think that all elements of history should be documented, even the bits we don’t like. So here I go.

There are several things you need to know, though, before we start. I’m going to keep it as simple as possible for you but some parts are just hard to understand. But I’ll do my best.

Firstly, I’m from Kalidor, a country in Sho’enar, which is the third sector of our world, Zo’var. There are two others beyond the great barriers that ring the five countries (Kalidor, Loreth, Gaurin, Faraer and the archipelago Perinon). These barriers are made up of two parts, the natural and the magical. Even were it possible for us to cross the natural barriers, the magical part would knock out all technology that passes through its field, thus making it impossible. People have tried to use magic to cancel out the barriers, but the fact of the matter is, no one alive in Sho’enar these days has the capabilities to do that. So, we are stuck on our side, and no one from the other side can cross in either.

Now, I’ll move on to Phantoms. They are the creatures that inhabit our world. They are named ‘Phantoms’ because they possess a curious inconsistency. This means that they can ‘atomise’ themselves (that’s possibly not the best term, but it’s what we call it), turning themselves into a coloured gaseous substance that glows softly. The colour of the gas/light it different for each Phantom, a blue Phantom would have blue light, and a green one, green light and so forth. Phantoms can also be bonded to a human (no magical powers are necessary for the human to be bonded). Once a Phantom is bonded, a mental ‘link’ is established between the creature and the human. This link allows the human to atomise the Phantom at will. This is helpful because we use things called atomisers to store our Phantoms, thus making transportation easier. The atomisers store the light/atoms of an atomised Phantom in some kind of storage space (I’m not very good at technical talk). A retail atomiser can house just the one Phantom, but the higher end atombraces can have quite a few. Phantoms don’t have to be bonded to a human either, to travel with them. You can buy a canine Phantom and provided you’re nice enough to it, it’ll still be there when you get home. Most Phantoms avoid humans though because of how they’re treated by humanity. Also, Phantoms have a really cool gift (known as shape and size control) that allows them to use their atomisation power to change the way they look to some extent. However, the rule is that they must always be made up of the same amount of matter. And they can’t atomise just one part of their bodies (as a general rule, but there are always exceptions). Generally, Phantoms won’t increase their body size with this power, because in spending atoms to make their form bigger, something else has to decrease in size. The same goes the other way too. When a Phantom gets smaller, some decoration (like a feathered crest or armour plates) must get bigger. However, all Phantoms must retain the same basic shape they were born with, so a Phantom born with wings can’t just get rid of the atoms making up those wings in favour of having an extra pair of horns. Neither can a Phantom lacking wings get rid of armour plating to gain them. The same basic shape must be held. They also can’t have missing limbs and spare atoms (or floating limbs but no body) that breaks the rules too. Atomisation only allows alterations. Basically, the rule goes like this: every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so it is with atomisation.

Next thing. There are two types of magic in Sho’enar, Phantom magic, which is divided up into separate classes; and human magic, known as gifts. Phantom magic is easier, so I’ll start with it.

There are five classes and five subclasses. The first class is fire magic and it’s subclass is lightning. Then there’s earth with a mineral subclass. Light with a shadow subclass. Wind with no subclasses. And finally, water with two subclasses: healing and ice. A Phantom that’s in a main class, like fire, is written like this: firesong: fire class. A Phantom that’s a subclass, like lightning, looks like this: shockshield: fire lightning-subclass. Just so you know what to look out for. Now, a straight water class might be a little gifted in the areas of healing and/or ice as well as just the water, but an ice-subclass, while it might have a basic use of plain water (but not necessarily), will not have any gift at all for healing. Also, I find it prudent to tell you that most light and shadow-subclasses have teleportation gifts. It’s not something they can all do, but the vast majority can.

Now, the human gift is a lot more complex than the Phantom kind. So just bear with me. Since the advent of cold technology (so named because it’s said to have no heart, unlike magic) magic has become mostly superfluous. It’s not used half as much as it used to be. As such, the massive ‘gift pool’ of old has become segmented. Firstly, let me explain the gift pool. Imagine, if you will, a swimming pool. In the past, people in that pool could draw magic from anywhere, so long as it was on the same level or above them. So, people on the bottom of the pool, could use more magic than those floating at the top. In the gift pool, different magics exist in different places. You might have elemental magic in one corner and illusions in another, but someone on the bottom would be able to use both with equal skill. These people were called Grand Warlocks (even the females). Since then, though, technology has moved ahead in leaps and bounds, making the need for Grand Warlocks, indeed, any form of magic, pretty much moot. Nature, being the wonderful thing it is, saw that rocket launcher totting Grand Warlocks was bad and so she cut off certain parts of the gift pool from others. Now, someone sitting in the illusion corner can’t use any sort of elemental gift. Not only that, but gifts are different in each person. You might find two people who can heal, for instance, but one might be able to bring someone back from the brink of death, while others might be limited to fixing broken bones. Or they might be specialised in a certain area, such as muscle pain, common illnesses, etc. Or perhaps they can’t actually heal someone, just diagnose their condition (like your GP). Again, in the illusion corner, someone might conjure visual illusions, while another might weave words, or another might have a gift that allows them to see through illusions and lies. You see, everything is different and each gift is just a single tiny part of what the long ago Grand Warlocks could use. People these days sitting in the elemental corner, might have a Lesser Earth Affinity, meaning they can manipulate earth, nature, minerals (a specific mineral only perhaps) or even just that plant over there. But someone with a Greater Earth Affinity can manipulate any of the above, it’s a powerful gift. However, people with affinities often find themselves conscripted into a certain occupation, maybe one for which they have no interest, and as such they like to keep it a secret. Fire Affinities are often used in warfare for their sheer destructive capabilities.

But recently, there has been more and more tinkering with the gifted gene in humanity. Scientists think that they can change the gift that people have, basically, moving them from one place in the gift pool to another. This is tripe. The only success they’ve had so far is making the gene a latent one. There was once a gift, a hereditary gift (a very rare kind) that was passed down to the oldest member of each family. This gift was known as the Copycat. Some children born after that would possess two gifted genes which is not something that happens often as you might guess. They would have the latent Copycat gene and another one that allows them to do something else. A while back, a Copycat was tinkering with his gene and made his latent, which meant that when he had children, they would be born without actual connection to their Copycat ability. And so would their children, and their children and so forth. This was, just in recent history, rectified and the Copycat gene once again exists in the world as a fully functioning gift.

The Copycat gift is so named for what it does. It’s a multi-faceted gift that is more of a throwback to the time of Grand Warlocks. People born with this gift have abilities, the most boring of which is the power to identify people in a room as gifted or ungifted simply by looking at them. On top of that, the gift allows the person to know instinctively what another’s gift is precisely, right down to the most minute detail. The more impressive portion of this gift is where it gets its name: it allows the Copycat to, simply through the briefest moment of physical contact, copy a person’s gift and keep it as part of their own. A Copycat could theoretically become a Grand Warlock if they touched enough gifted people. Mastering all those different facets though is a totally different story.

Actually, I’m going back up a bit to where it says technological advancements, alright? Firstly, because of said advancements, don’t be too surprised if magic doesn’t play such a huge part in the story. Most people don’t use it after all. Also, here in Sho’enar we have some pretty crazy technology and I’m not sure if you have the same stuff. Here in Sho’enar we can reattach limbs that have been ripped off with an 87% success rate. Although, for a little extra, you can get a prosthetic limb that has basic electronic functions. Rumour has it that there have been huge steps taken in getting a bio-tech limb that work by integrating a tech nervous system with the existing one, but I found it hard to believe until I was confronted with it. Much like how the teleportation gifts of light classes have been turned into a machine that allows people to do it too. Shocking right? But we’ll get into a bit more detail on that later; it does come up in the actual story after all.

Anyway, I think that’s just about it. Oh yes, please, use a map. This story jumps around so much that you could get lost if you don’t. I’m sorry about that.

Oh no, Phantoms of each species tend to have a certain colour palette that they stick to. I mean, firesongs for instance are red, gold, orange, brown, cream and white usually. And there are a lot of variations on those colours that are acceptable, but one born with blue patterns and green wings is called a ‘marked one’. There is no specific colour for a marked Phantom, you might get a purple firesong one year and then the next marked firesong you stumble on could be bright pink, it’s not set. I’m telling you this because Phantom species around the world will kill a marked one on sight. They can tell by the colour of the egg (or Phantom if it’s a live birth) and will place it somewhere cold where it won’t hatch. Humans find marked Phantoms rare and expensive and most will pay a shit load of money for one. The Phantoms themselves hate them, they believe the genes are wrong and they are often referred to by the Phantoms as ‘devil spawn’. There is no Phantom anywhere in the world that will breed with a marked one. Not and risk the ‘condition’ being passed down into future generations. In reality, there’s nothing wrong with the marked Phantoms, their kind are just intolerant.

And no, we don’t just use Phantoms as pets and battle companions (oh, we do use Phantoms in battles, in war, in fighting tournaments – those are quite popular – and in protecting borders and such). No, we eat them, they eat us, it’s all very symbiotic really. You go into their land and they’ll munch on you for breakfast. We breed shinecows, cindersheep, plainhens and lots of others, to eat. In the case of the cindersheep we also use them for their wool, and the plainhens provide us with eggs. You know the deal.

There are literally thousands of different types of Phantoms; the ones you read about herein are just a snapshot. Some have purposes, some are domesticated, some are children’s pets and some are war machines. But you won’t meet all of them, just a few.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, I labelled this as a prologue because I knew if I labelled it ‘introduction’ or ‘foreword’ or something else along those lines like ‘author’s note’ it wouldn’t get read. Which is sad really. Sometimes the best part of a book is the author’s note or the introduction – which is also sad, but in an entirely different way.

And I’ll add this too: I have a problem writing about… certain things. So, some places have been edited for your reading pleasure. Other places have been edited because I don’t like writing about them. I’m a modest person and I find it most uncomfortable to tell other people the intimacies of my life, so pardon me for not divulging everything. On that note, I’m going to try to be as honest as possible, so while I’m going to cut out a significant portion of crap that’s just completely irrelevant (I’ll not detail in depth every conversation I had over this period, that’s ridiculous), you will have to read about seemingly pointless events because they did actually happen. And keep an eye out for things that recur over the course of this story. Some events that seem like rubbish at the time actually do have a greater overall importance. So just watch out for them. Also, know that I have a tendency to over dramatise things. But I’m trying not to give away too much, so I think I’ll probably stop right there.

Also, I’ve tried to answer as many questions that may arise in the reading of this book as I can without giving away any spoilers. I hate spoilers and the people who give them away, yet sometimes I can’t help myself but to read them. I figure you people are much the same. Don’t read the last page! Although I doubt anything will give away the plot much.

As this is written after the fact, pardon my vagueness in certain areas. While some parts are deliberately left out, others I’ve simply forgotten. A lot has happened so I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I forget just how many flitterwings there were in that plague flock that ate all the seed that one year.

Now, I think that covers everything. Without any further ado; on to the main event!


~ by reliquiaen on April 12, 2012.

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