The Magic of Tlefas


The last two weeks haven’t been kind to my novel editing. Studying for a professional certification, working on the memoir I’m ghostwriting, and various and sundry family concerns all have gotten in the way.

But Tlefas and its inhabitants have not been forgotten.

I’m using this break from editing to think through the system of magic in the world I’ve created.

Most of the residents of Tlefas, of course, have no idea that magic exists outside of myth and legend. They may have heard stories from grandparents, whispered during long winter nights, of magic that could heal or destroy.

The king and his agents, however, have stamped out all practice of magic, and harshly punish any who even refer to it as something that could possibly exist.

They know better, as do many others.

What is this magic they have forbidden?

Much of it is accessed through amulets. The amulets varied in size, but all were shaped like dragonflies, jeweled with purple or green stones.

The amulets tap into the power of the sky-god. Some give healing for disease or wounds. Others give knowledge and foresight, and even the ability to look into another’s mind, even over the distance of hundred of miles. Others provide help when it is needed.

The ancient civilization that created the amulets understood they were gifts from the sky-god, to be used according to his laws. Some men, however, saw the amulets as a way to gain power. They learned how to channel the power that flowed through the amulets to their own will. They stopped seeking to understand the sky-god’s intent or desire, and pursued their own ends.

Over time, many bent the power of the amulets into formidable weapons that could crush stone or bend steel. Others learned to master these same powers, thinking to just use them to wipe out the evil ones who started this, but ended up becoming corrupted by the power.

They took the amulets that allowed communication with others, the glimpses into others’ minds that were meant to be voluntary. Instead, they used the amulets to control minds from afar.

Then they began to pervert the use of healing amulets, to attempt to inflict injury or to create super human strength. This resulted in the creation of evil beings that knew only how to steal, kill and destroy.

These perverted amulets took on the form of scorpions studded with red stones.

Civil war broke out. Some wanted to control the world with the help of the scorpion amulets. Others wanted to destroy the scorpion amulets and those who made them. Still others wanted to stamp out all magic.

After decades of war, when it was clear no side would win and eventually all humanity would be destroyed, a few thousand people fled to the deserted realm over the western mountains and created Tlefas, the land of safety. They tried to banish all memory of the amulets and their magic.

But did they succeed? That’s the story told in my work in progress, Fearing Courage.

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