The Songlands
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The Songlands

The Canonical Saints of Magic

The Temple of St. Fasia, on the Shattered Shore — Licensed from Adobe Stock Images, created by Dominick

For the entirety of recorded history, through times of strife and times of alliance, humans were always made painfully aware of the superiority of the elves. The elves were first to awaken, the inspiration for human culture, and they lived far longer than humans, to the point of being functionally immortal. Most importantly, however, elves could wield magic, which had always been denied to humans.

Then the Dark Goddess Umbra rose from her watery prison and threatened to destroy the world.

The Celestial Choir knew humanity would need help in this fight. The elves were in decline, fewer in number than humanity and very disengaged from the world at large, so that help would have to come from the Choir. However, the last time the Choir altered the Song to aid their creations, they created the Gloriana, which led to the very crisis the world was now facing. They knew any help they sent would need to be smaller, less powerful, yet more helpful to humanity in particular than even the gods had been.

Artist rendition of St. Aegus, the Wizard sent by the Celestial Choir. Historical records suggest his staff was less ornate, while contemporary accounts described him as being “a bit too foreheady” — Licensed from Adobe Stock Images, created by AlienCat

Enter Aegus the Wizard. Seemingly an old man of extraordinary vitality, Aegus appeared one day in the southern kingdom of Belerion to a young leader of a trading caravan named Solari. Solari was often given to what his parents and friends called “flights of fancy”, thinking and speaking on topics few others knew or cared about. Aegus was drawn to the young man, and Solari was the first to understand the approaching threat of Umbra, who had not yet unleashed the full might of her army of Fell upon the world. Leaving his brother in command of the caravan, Solari and his younger sister Fasia joined Aegus in his quest to prevent Umbra’s rise to power. Aegus had chosen Fasia to accompany them because he sensed in her an affinity for magic, which Aegus could wield more effectivly than even the most powerful elf. He took Fasia as his apprentice, and as the trio made their way through the kingdoms of what we now call Al Sahar, the young woman became the first human ever to perform magic.

She would not be the last. After Aegus disappeared in the Final Battle against Umbra, Fasia travelled the world, seeking others like her, taking apprentices of her own, and eventually forming the Magi Order. As the Order grew, and tales of their deeds spread, magic took on a fascination for the average human that quickly became a religion. It was discovered that, while not all humans had the ability to become Magi, they could now all call upon magic to some extent, with the best results coming through ritual and prayer. A remnant of their time worshipping the old gods of the Gloriana convinced the people that they needed an entity or entities to focus their prayers, and the elevation of powerful magic users to Saints became popular.

Aegus, of course, was the first Saint to be so venerated. A temple and monastery were built on the site of the old elven city of Lothrae, eventually giving rise to the city of St. Aegus. It became common for individual homes to contain shrines to St. Aegus, where families or individuals would meditate and pray, asking the Saint for aid with all manner of concerns, from the mundane to the exceptional.

The Magi themselves were quick to take control of this growing religious movement, setting themselves as arbiters of what did and did not qualify someone for Sainthood, thereby establishing the notion of official Canonical Saints.

Artist’s rendition of St. Fasia, apprentice to Aegus the Wizard and founder of the Magi Order. Her fondness for earth-toned flowing robes would dictate what Magi wore for centuries. Recent reforms have succeeded in introducing elements of modern fashion into the official Magi uniform — Licensed from Adobe Stock Images, created by Roman

It would be a hundred years before another Canonical Saint was declared. The veneration of the Second Canonical Saint, Fasia, had been anticipated since the day she died, being the first human Mage and apprentice to St. Aegus himself. St. Fasia’s temple and monastery were built at the edge of the Shattered Shore, becoming part of the Great Pilgrimage walked by devoted worshippers and Magi from the ruins of Lothrae to the site of the Final Battle, following the path of the Heroes of the Talisman. This Pilgrimage would help build St. Aegus into a thriving city, and eventually give rise to the Pilgrims Road, which would be paved over the old Heroes’ Path.

In WC115, a Third Canonical Saint was proclaimed by the ruling Magi Pontifex. Though the new Saint was venerated by a majority vote in the Council of Arch-Magi, there was strong resistance among the dissenters on the Council. Many believed a new Saint had been proclaimed too quickly after St. Fasia, and showed concern that Sainthood would become an honor too easily bestowed, diminishing its importance. Their dissension caused a schism within the Magi Order that spread among the people, leading to the First Canonical War two years later. The war raged for five long years, ending in a crushing victory for the armies of the Third Saint.

As a result of the War, the Vox Imperium lost control of St. Aegus, which later historians would mark as the beginning of their very slow decline. In the south, the people of the Despotate of Merras used the chaos of the War to overthrow their tyrannical Despot and proclaim Solari, one of two living Heroes of the Talisman, as their King. The Realm was absent from the War as they dealt with an invasion from the eastern Steppelands across the Channel.

It would be years before the schism truly healed, but the Third Saint was eventually accepted by all, and would become a patron of those seeking victory in war.

Two hundred years passed before another Saint was proclaimed, and in that time, the rituals and dogma of the Magi developed significantly, building the Order into what it remains to this day. In the interest of avoiding another war, a greater majority was required for veneration, and voting was opened to the lower ranks of the Magi Order. As it was, this proclamation would be unusual, as it would be the first, and so far only, time two Saints were venerated together. This caused some small amount of concern among the Arch-Magi, but it was widely agreed, even among the common folk, that both Magi, twin brother and sister, deserved veneration. They had died twenty years prior in a great magical working that resulted in a cure for the deadly Blackcough Plague that had ravaged all the lands from the frozen mountains of Ironhold in the north to the humid jungles of Al Reliq in the south. Thus, the Fourth and Fifth Saints were venerated by unanimous vote among the Magi and were accepted unconditionally everywhere.

The Sixth Canonical Saint was not accepted as readily upon her proclamation in the 5th Century, leading to the Second Canonical War and the occupation of St. Aegus by the combined forces of Ur-Athaz, Voxport, and the Realm. The War only ended when the Sixth Saint appeared in the sky over the most brutal battle of the War, inspiring her immediate acceptance by the Realm and the overthrow of the Usurper Duke of Voxport. Only Ur-Athaz refused to accept the vision, leading to their eventual downfall in the next century.

No new Saints have been proclaimed in the five hundred years since then, and magic has declined in popularity among the people. This is especially true during our current age of industrial progress, when every day some new technological marvel is invented that grants even the most common human abilities once reserved for Magi.

Many complain that the Order has become too hidebound and calcified, citing the fact that no new spells have been added to the official books in centuries. A reform movement is spreading through the Order, especially among the younger Magi, but it remains to be seen if this movement will be successful, or if its efforts will prove too little too late in the face of growing industrialization.

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