Stories / Anve /

Emacy: In Theory & Practice

by Professor Samãri Vedresã

96 Summer 598M

For an art that sustains the very civilization of Anve, emacy in the large has received precious little academic attention. Each tradition maintains its own avenues of lore and research, but until now very little effort has been made to unify these disparate schools into a single overarching theory. This document is the result of months of work to bring together these distinct arts and suss out the principles behind their working.

On the Acquisition of the Art

All ematic traditions are alike in one detail: the manner in which the ability to consciously activate and direct the ematic properties of human blood is first acquired. The secret lies in the sap of the starblossom, a unique tree capable of growing only in the Barrier Forest, and known for its faintly luminous needles and the unearthly color of its wood. An emator becomes an emator through painstaking injection of this sap beneath her skin, such that the sap comes into contact with the emator’s blood. If performed properly, the sap will form a luminescent tattoo (known as a cuemara in Beladanese), that glows brightly whenever the emator calls on her art.

Of note is that, despite the wide availability of anaesthetic drugs in the modern world, no ematic tradition prescribes their use during the sap ritual. Indeed, experiments graciously funded by her Majesty’s investment into my research show that use of any substance that dulls the sensation of the blade piercing one’s flesh seems to prevent the proper integration of the sap with the subject’s circulatory system. Conversely, substances that enhance awareness seem to bolster the ease with which a subject can call upon their ematic capabilities, although this avenue of research was unfortunately limited by the pain tolerance of the University’s volunteer pool.

Through careful research and experimentation, we have determined the following locations on the body to correspond to a particular ematic potential.

LocationAssociationNotes
Nape of neckFirecraftingCommon in Belad
Around the eyesLightweavingCommon in Vau Shan
Back of handsTelekinesisA component of many ematic traditions
Left breastDivinationA component of many ematic traditions
PalmsWillbindingA newer tradition practiced mostly in Cuedre, spreading to Tãlaco
Forehead[OMITTED PER HER MAJESTY’S DECREE]

Once given, such a tattoo is permanent, although it (and the capability for emacy) can be destroyed by severe trauma to the area of the tattoo - in Vau Shan, criminals who kill or maim with emacy are stripped of their ematic potential by means of branding the location of the cuemara with a hot iron.

On the Economics

The amount of sap used in the cuemara affects the strength of the emator's power. As the sap is a rare commodity and the locations of starblossom trees jealously guarded by those who traffic in their sap, significant ematic power is typically limited to the wealthy.

The sapmongers have always had and continue to have a tendentious relationship with state power, and not without reason. Uncontrolled access to emacy has the potential to unseat a ruling party. As such, most states (with the notable exception of Belad) place restrictions on the apportioning of sap - and in doing so create thriving black markets. The trade is cuthroat, and the location of a viable starblossom is well worth killing over.

Sapmongers do not perform the initiation rites themselves, but sell the sap to those who do. In Belad, Clan Tarichaste maintains a monopoly in most cities on cuemaras. In Vau Shan, where trade is mostly uncontrolled, the sap is bought by hundreds of sages and skin-inkers who compete for the business of prospective lightweavers. In fair Cuedre, cartels and corporations alike vie for the allegiance of the traders, treating them to luxurious dinners and generous salaries for a promise of exclusivity. And of course, here in the Motherland, only the Crown may legally purchase sap, bestowing the cuemara only on those in the Sovereign's favor.

On the Stigma

Not every ematic art is welcome in every culture. Among the Tãli, we do not look kindly on those bearing the marks of lightweaving, for it indeliby associates them with the vile Shan who so long ago enslaved our proud race. In Vau Shan, the well-to-do sneer at those so provincial as the willbinders, who practice the arts of their former slaves. And in no Menoran nation is the wickedness of maleficy suffered. Right or wrong, these cultural taboos press hard on the lives of those who have chosen an unwelcome path, and force many to hide the sigils of their profession.

This is accomplished in a number of ways. Some sites of inking give themselves well to concealment - diviners need wear only a simple tunic to obscure their powers. Firecrafters might wear their hair long to keep their cuemara away from prying eyes. But those who specialize in willbinding, lightweaving, or telekinesis have no such options. Some choose to have their cuemara inked in the shape of a scar, mixed with pigments to conceal its true nature. Still more simply color over the mark with makeup.

On the Practice

Every being with ematic potential possesses an irianda, poetically known as "the light of the soul." The irianda becomes visible only when an emator calls upon their art, shining from their cuemara and the irises of their eyes. The pigment of an irianda is specific to the individual emator, ranging from the common blues and greens, to the infrequent rose and purple, to the impossibly rare gold and black. The factors that determine the pigment of an irianda are maddeningly elusive, and as of this report, my studies have done nothing to satisfactorily identify them. Neither blood descent, nor personality, nor favorite color can be reliably associated.

The cuemara and the irianda are the only constant in the practice of emacy. A willbinder needs nothing more than the right inking and a strong imagination to form tools and weapons of hardened flame in their hands, while a firecrafter depends on a wide range of elixirs and a fair amount of in-born talent to be able to ply their craft. A diviner suffers nothing more than headaches and a penchant for unbearably philosophical conversations over tea, while a maleficer's each act draws them deeper and deeper into madness. In the following list, I have attempted to catalogue each art along two axes: its ongoing cost, and its effect on its practitioners.

Firecrafting CostFirecrafting requires many expensive nootropic substances to be of any real use.
DangersWhile effects vary based on the individual firecrafter, many of the drugs they use have debilitating long-term effects, and a number are dangerously habit-forming.

Lightweaving CostNone.
DangersPractitioners develop eyesight problems and chronic pain conditions at an above-average rate.

Telekinesis CostTelekinesis can be greatly strengthened with morchensua, an extremely dangerous drug that can cause euphoria, seizures, unconsciousness, wasting, hair loss, and in sufficient doses, death.
DangersPractitioners tend to become overly dependent on telekinesis for day-to-day tasks, in severe cases permanently damaging their fine motor control capabilities. As telekinesis does not rely on fat reserves for energy, practitioners are also prone to weight gain.

Divination CostNootropics are needed based on the precision desired by the diviner.
DangersMigraine headaches are common among diviners, as well as a number of mild personality disorders.

Willbinding CostExpensive fireglass accoutrements are necessary to give a willbinder the ability to carry enough ema on their person to work with. Forming particularly precise implements may require nootropics.
DangersNone yet known; better longitudinal studies required.

Maleficy CostNone inherent, though maleficers will stoop to any means they imagine will enhance their powers.
DangersMaleficy warps the body and soul, and has left many fools and tyrants a shambling ruin of their former selves. On this cursed art, I will speak no more.

On the Theory

All there is, says the Book of Dawn, is but water, fire, and blood; this lends itself well to explaining the nature of emacy. Water is eternal and unconquered, subject to no mortal art, nor even the whim of gods. Fire, chaotic and splendid, Meraya tamed, and bound with reason and will to form the very continents themselves. Blood is the transcendent manifestation of awareness, the anchor of the soul in the mortal realm, a self-contained engine of creation, and the source of all emacy. Without blood, nothing can grow. When a child matures into an adult, her blood has transmuted her body, working raw matter into bone and flesh. When a plant grows tall in the sunlight, it is its blood that collects the ema of the sun and from it forms leaves and stems and roots. All living things perform emacy in some fashion, but only humans may bend the power of their blood to greater tasks.

When a firecrafter binds ema, she follows in the footsteps of Meraya, giving form and function to mad, chaotic flame. When a maleficer conjures vile beasts from her blood, she perverts its nature, tearing out the wise words of Rogam and replacing them with her own. This is what the cuemara makes possible: it creates an aperture from within that permits the power of human blood to flow unrestrained into the world, for good or for ill.

When we call upon the ematic arts, we pick up the tools of the gods, and bend them to our own ends.