p class="MsoNormal"stronguA Study of Martesian-School Magic/u/strong/p
p class="MsoNormal"emA Study of Martesian-School Magic: An Exploration of the Lesser-studied Schools. Part the First/em/p
p class="MsoNormal"emBy Talarak Sensip, Minor Artificer of the University of Mett-lar/em/p
p class="MsoNormal"uIntroduction – What is the Martesian School?/u/p
p class="MsoNormal"Martesian magic, like many of the obscure schools of our art, is a name that has a tendency to provoke fear in unlearned folk. Known facts about Martel and his descent from brilliant scholar and noble son of a dukedom to bloodthirsty warlord of the land have mixed with common tales of the "Breath-Stealer" and his followers, roaming the land sucking breath from the lungs of unfortunate men and women to produce a monstrous image associated with Martel and his studies. Your average peasant-folk is now more likely to clutch the idol of his chosen god and pray for protection from demons upon being asked about the Martesians than he is to provide any truthful information. But to those of us of a more knowledgeable disposition, Martel presents a fascinating, but under-studied, idea of magic. Martel's dark reputation has reached even our learned heights, making studies of this intriguing, unique school of magic a emde facto/em taboo in Universities and Towers across the Six Roads. This work aims to change that, along with the reputations of several other Schools that are lesser-studied by mages and wizards for a variety of reasons. But to properly understand and overview Martesian Magic, we first have to understand Martel, and that requires at least a basic knowledge of the man's history./p
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p class="MsoNormal"As mentioned previously, Martel was born a son of a noble ducal house. That much, at least, is still widely recognised among the learned. What has a tendency to be glossed over, however, is just how important a dukedom the House of Ifvun was at the time. The primary caretakers of the North-East road, Ifvun held almost sole responsibility for ensuring that the supply of meat and grain from its fertile fields to the sprawling capital of Crossroads continued uninterrupted (a duty that they still continue to this day – despite their drastic decline in fortunes as a result of Martel's actions, House Ifvun still maintains several way-stations along the Road, using what few soldiers they have to police the local stretches.) As can be imagined, this gave the House great sway and influence. Martel's mother, the reigning Duchess of the time, is clearly recognised in contemporary texts as being one of the real powers behind the Journeying Throne. As the youngest of three children (one sister and one brother, in descending age order), Martel was likely a figure of importance within the House, but not one so important that his fate was decided from the moment of his birth. Texts from the period of Martel's birth and childhood are sparse; most scholars of the time stored their works in the library of the Great Tower of Crossroads, the vast majority of which was of course lost in the burning of the Tower that marked the start of Martel's attempted conquest. However, we can gleam from older texts, along with those few period books lucky enough to have been widely distributed, that before the beginning of Martel's War the Roads had enjoyed a period of peace lasting at least three generations. As such, a reasonable speculation can be made that the status of Martel's birth would have likely freed him from most courtly responsibilities. Barring the most unfortunate of circumstances, Martel was highly unlikely to find himself in a position of significant inheritance, and therefore would not have been subject to the same focused, pointed attention that his siblings in more prominent positions would have been. Indeed, it is entirely possible that Martel could have been encouraged to pursue his magical ambitions by his family in the stead of those responsibilities; a proud scholar of a Tower is no shame to any noble House. Whatever our speculations might be, we can be almost certain that Martel's education consisted in at least some part of a relatively extensive study of the alchemical and biological sciences, for reasons that will become clearer as we explore the nature of Martesian magic./p
p class="MsoNormal"Post-enrolment at the Great Tower, our general supposition is that Martel was a strong, albeit not exemplary student. Although any records from the Great Tower itself were once again destroyed in Martel's initial rampage, records of transferred semesters at the Tower of the West Road and the University of Syppa have been uncovered in recent years, primarily thanks to the efforts of Martesian historian Tharrun Ifvunser (whose contributions to this paper have been immeasurably helpful). In said records, Martel is described as a "bright, keen student" and "an inspired mind with a clear passion for his magical arts". However, his Tutoring Artificer at Syppa also notes that Martel "is overly obsessed with the finer details of magic", an important point of reference to keep in mind when considering Martesian-school magic. Martesian spells are finely-crafted, delicate works that rely on precise knowledge of a variety of factors – to put it simply, they are exclusively small-scale spells. Indeed, we now consider one of the primary factor's behind Martel's eventual defeat at the Second Battle of the Crossroads to be the inability of his brand of magic to work on a larger scale, allowing his forces to be overwhelmed with sheer numbers that their uniquely deadly techniques could not effectively deal with. However, the aim of this paper is not to recap the entire history of Martel and his War – for that, irrespective of her contributions to this work, I would direct readers to Ifvunser's emMartel/em. However, keeping Martel's past in mind, and how it may have fed into his development of what later became the Martesian school, is necessary to understand the nature of his magic; a clever, ground-breaking idea put to a terrifyingly sinister purpose./p
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p class="MsoNormal"uThe Nature of Martesian Magic/u/p
p class="MsoNormal"span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" /spanFor centuries after the climactic battle of Martel's War, it was believed that Martesian magic was an unique application of wind-based elemental magic. With Martel's suicide to avoid capture, and the death of his followers practically to a man, there were no viable practitioners remaining from which its exact nature could be obtained. As such, to scholars of the time, elemental magic was the only explanation of Martesian magic's signature abilities – how else could one make their enemies suffocate in the open air, gasping for breath if not through incredibly precisely applied elemental magic to literally pull the air out of their lungs? Despite the inability of even the most learned Master Elementals to replicate Martel's feat, this misconception of the fundamental nature persisted until around 335 PFC, when the initial discovery of documents relating to Martel at the West Tower confirmed that despite Master Eyn-loc, by far the greatest elementalist of the period, being in permanent residence at the Tower, Martel's studies focused exclusively on the restorative and biological spheres of magic under the watchful eyes of the experienced and well-regarded Artificer R'Qn Jupid. This new context led to a new series of experiments over the last decade, recorded in Redelan's emRediscovering Martel/em, that has resulted in our current understanding of the Martesian school as a twisted variant of those same biological and restorative magics./p
p class="MsoNormal"Applying the same principles of magichemical reactions that are used by doctors and surgeons roads-wide, Martesian magic takes the natural movements of the body and perverts them to cause harm. Martel's signature "breath-stealing" is no wind-based affliction; in reality, the spell interferes with the lungs' ability to absorb the oxygen in the air, forcing the body into anaerobic respiration. Without a clear reason for its sudden inability to access the oxygen it needs to live, the body instinctually assumes that something must be wrong with the air it is currently holding, forcefully attempting to draw in new breath to remedy the issue to no avail. This produces the ubiquitous "gasping" motions that have come to be associated with Martesian magic in common knowledge. Other recorded applications of Martesian magic have also been recreated; Martel's feared torture method of "phantom flames", for example, wherein significant muscular damage would be dealt with no physical signs of burning or similar magical applications, is most likely an application of the same principle to create significant buildup of concentrated lactic acid in the limbs. This would create intense, damaging pain without any outward application of force./p
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p class="MsoNormal"All of these elements add up to create, at least in this author's opinion, an even more threatening image of Martesian magic. It's one thing to be consumed in the flames of a particularly potent elemental spell – undoubtedly an unpleasant way to have your life ended. It's quite another to have the very processes which provide your animus turned against you by malicious application of magic. However, fortunately for the Six Roads at large (and for the publishing of this paper), once this understanding of Martesian magic was reached, countermeasures followed soon after. Whilst Martesian magic is barely-detectable, and uniquely effective in its purpose, it has a severely reduced ability to supplant any other restorative magics. As such, Martesian magic can be near-totally neutered by the application of above-average strength body-wide restorative spells prior to exposure. The Martesian school also suffers from a similar lack of resistance to being supplanted itself - the effects of Martesian spells can be mitigated by quickly applying any form of strong biological magics to the afflicted area. As such, we can effectively close the window on Martesian magic as an insidious killer, and begin to look at the practical, beneficial uses of this unique form in our modern world./p
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p class="MsoNormal"uPractical Applications of Martesian Magic/u/p
p class="MsoNormal"Whilst we now recognise the Martesian school as a derivative of the bio-focused restorative magics first explored by the likes of Rivens and his students, its relatively common derivation does not mean that it lacks for unique perspectives that can be usefully applied even now. Martesian spells focus on suborning and taking control of the body's natural process; the offensive applications of this we have already covered at length, but Martesian magic also has a hitherto-uncovered potential in the field of medical magics. Since its examination and demystification, Martesian spells have been put to a number of uses in the surgical fields; for just one example, the nerval paralysis associated with many Martesian spells has proven to be an exceedingly effective anaesthetic, potentially providing a new method of serving those areas of the Roads where herbal remedies and numbing solutions are in short supply. Trials are also underway to treat internal injuries, from simple ulcers to major internal haemorrhaging span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" /span– Martesian magic's abilities to control the reactions of the body's natural defences presents a potential breakthrough in the ability to treat life-threatening conditions that currently require extensive and risky surgical operations. With further study of its specifics, Martesian magic could make for an overhaul of medical magics entirely, presenting a brand-new front to improve the lives of citizens across the Roads./p
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p class="MsoNormal"uConclusion/u/p
p class="MsoNormal"span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" /spanIn his time, Martel constructed an image of himself as an unstoppable, irresistible force. His epithet of "Breath-Stealer" was well-earned; several different contemporary accounts describe forces coming across entire villages denuded of life, unfortunate souls strewn across the ground frozen in blue-faced agony. This is by no means a unique element of Martel; it would be impossible to count the number of bandit leaders and would-be kings that have cultivating a visage of terror to cow their opponents into submission. But with the Martesian school we now have a rare opportunity – to take something so terrifying and disturbing and use it for good. By no means should Martel's atrocities ever be forgotten, nor the man himself ever seen as anything better than he was; a promising mind subsumed by rage and lust. However, for too long has the fear of Martel's actions been allowed to paralyse progress into the new frontiers opened by his studies. If we are to utilise Martel's knowledge to the fullest, and pull these spells out from under the pall of the Breath-Stealer, then this work must only be a stepping-stone to a true, intensive study of exactly how Martesian magic came to be, and what else it can do./p