The Final Calling: Progress Report Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen is now online; read! Enjoy! Send money!

I’ve written midway through Chapter Twenty-One.

The serial is paid for through Chapter Twenty-One.

Chapter Seventeen will be posted on Wednesday, October 6.

Not much other news on this one; I was on vacation for most of the last two weeks, and the only work I did while traveling was getting the files ready for the Wildside Press reprints (as a two-in-one flipbook) of The Cyborg and the Sorcerers and The Wizard and the War Machine. No writing. Oh, a little plotting of future projects, but no writing.

But I’m home again, and should be caught up in a day or two, then it’s back to work.

50 thoughts on “The Final Calling: Progress Report Sixteen

  1. NIce chapter 🙂 So Vond can influence the structure of persistent spells. One wonders, if he would be able to undo antiwizardry zone, which is, after all, a wizardry in itself. Also, does undoing result in creating a random spell from the magic “leftovers”? Hmm.. lots of food for thought. Thank you!

  2. Heh, the description of the Broken Tower’s Interior sounds like a computer. I know Sterren will land on his feet but I would really like to see him back at home after this crisis is over. Also, I would really like to see Hanner have a meeting with Vond. It is logical to assume that Vond has heard of Hanner and at the very least knows of his reputation. Innyhoo, nice chapter.

  3. It looks like the wizard’s guild is about to make a mistake. If they just leave Vond alone, the problem might solve itself (or at least be solved by Sterren).

    Any attack would place him into war mode. He doesn’t want a war, but more important than that, he doesn’t want to appear to be afraid of the wizard’s guild.

    I have always though that the pillar of flame is a perfect example of wizardry breaking the laws of thermodynamics :). I wonder if it draws the power from somewhere else, or if breaking conservation of energy is all in a day’s work for wizardry.

    In the modern world, it would be like fusion power, but without the need for an actual reaction. They could surround it with steam generators :). Eknissamor could be the electric power capital of the world (if they had that tech).

    A wizard should try to figure out how to replicate the effect, but on a smaller scale. They could sell a stone which has a small pillar of flame attached to it. People could then have a fire in their house that never burns out. Ofc, it could cause problems in the summer.

  4. Now I am curious about what Vond would see if he visited the fallen castle (and, consequently, took a look at the null-wizardry zone).

    Satsuoni; I suppose given that warlocks can influence lesser forms of wizardry it shouldn’t be surprising that they have some control over larger forms. I wonder if he can do anything with it other than just break it.

    raphfrk; Best I can figure wizardry does not break the laws of thermodynamics- they’ve stated several times it draws power from the chaos outside the world. Ironically (or not) it’s a lot like warlockry (and most of the “major” schools of magic) that way; drawing power from a source outside the user to produce effects out of proportion with effort expended by the caster or objects present.

    Hullvald; After some conversations and observations I’ve started wondering about whether sorcery is high level technology. I’d love a window on the process sorcerers go through to create a new talisman.

  5. Ryan. Hm.. I don’t exactly recall warlocks being able to influence wizardry except for disturbing / breking in or whatever. In fact, I believe that warlockry is of Order, while wizardry is of chaos, so they can only partially or wholly cancel each other. Then, Vond would be able to break the spell by suppressing parts of the pattern of “nonreality” (Chaos influence) that holds it up. And yes, all major magic schools seems to draw energy from outside sources, except witches, that draw enegy from themselves. Wizardry is powered by Chaos, sorcer by Order (Gaja), warlockry by.. sources which I suspect to be Gaja retranslators in origin, Theurgist from gods, Demonologist from demons, etc.

  6. Satsuoni: I think that you’re correct because there are so many “minor” magic schools: e.g. where does ritual dance draw its energy from? Or herbalists? Or those strange guys, the scientists? (I’m sure there are others which I’m forgetting, but that’s what happens when you choose a minor magic school)

  7. Just guessing here, but Ritual Dance = communal emotional energy of everyone involved. Herbalists from the properties of the plants (poisons, medicines, etc). Scientist you can probably figure out.

    What about the “extinct” school of magical song?

  8. I always assumed that ritual dance (or song) was a variant of witchcraft, only it required less talent in an individual practitioner because it was always performed by a group.


  9. Getting bits and glimpses of sorcery and how it works is always a treat; I’ve been interested in the whole Clarke’s Third Law aspect of it since I first read the first few chapters of Misenchanted Sword and noticed how awfully similar “combat wands” sounded to multi-function rifles. One of my favorite bits of Ethshar stories is trying to translate the pidgin of the sorcerous command phrases and talisman names. Can’t wait for The Sorceror’s Widow!)

    Vond’s ability to see wizardry and (possibly) unweave it is VERY interesting. I wonder…are the “created worlds” of the Transporting Tapestries part of the spell? Do they have the “fabric” Vond spoke of?

    And if so…what would happen if he tried to unweave it while he was there?

  10. (D’oh–I’m an idiot. Of course, he CAN’T unweave it while he’s there, because he’ll be cut off from the Towers. We already saw that with Hanner.)

  11. Wizardry does so violate the laws of thermodynamics.

    Ritual song, if it ever existed (which I’ve never confirmed), would not require more than one singer.

  12. I wonder if Vond really protected Sterren from the wards on the Towers or if he unconsciously did it himself. That close to the source, he might well be able to.

    (Ditto on the question of who really caught him when he was falling.)

    Too bad he was too nervous to experiment.

    I like the direction that Vond’s character is moving in. It’s nice to see him grow a little. Of course, this may be just his real personality emerging (now that he’s no longer affected by the old source.)


  13. Well, here we see that Vond might be actually useful enough to keep around in case another spriggan mirror incident. I wonder if he will be able to destroy spriggans, for example. Lord Vond: Hunter of Spriggans. The one thing that is clear is that warlocks are easily trapped in transporting tapestries. He might be fooled into going to a one-way world where he’s stay until the guild wanted him for some reason. Follow with couple wizards, petrify him, and you’ve got a nice, safe stash of Vond in case there is another magical incident. Why throw away a perfectly good resource when you can simply stash him for 100 years? I think immortal wizards would tend to take the long view.

    The description of tourists at the tower of flame is funny, and so very human.

    The Lumeth towers make me thing of superconducting magnets more than anything else. It’s interesting that they can still work even though one is damaged.

    We could go on forever with arguments about thermodynamics and wizardry. For example, one could say that it does not violate the laws of thermodynamics if we define the system as including both the chao’s well and Ethshar. So, while wizardry seems to create energy without input of energy, it is essentially just bleeding chaos from the outside source into the ordered world (Ethshar.) The arguments of the mages are manifold….

  14. (Delurks)

    Would songs of power imply an eighth school of magic? After all, the six extant ones all come in pairs:

    Wizardry:Sorcery (Order and chaos)
    Theurgy:Demonology (same-ish thing with different targets good/evil)
    Witchcraft:Warlockry (mental manipulation; source internal/external)

    … which would imply that warlockry was simply a latent school of magic that someone could have deduced.

  15. >>… which would imply that warlockry was simply a latent school of magic that someone could have deduced.

    Well, given that the gods have a word for the thing in warlocks’ heads, I’m guessing that warlockry is a manifestation of something pre-existing and old, but forgotten.


  16. A point that’s been missed – a warlock grows stronger the more he uses power and the closer to the relevant source

    Sterren caught *himself*. That’s a non-trivial amount of warlockery….

  17. >>It explicitly says Vond caught him.

    But Sterren is the POV character. It may simply be his interpretation.

    He was trying not to fall and he was feeling the power. I was thinking he might have unconsciously done it himself (as in the case of his manipulation of dice for monetary gain).


  18. It seems like, the past, characters who found themselves using warlockry realized it fairly quickly. Its not like Sterren doesen’t have some frame of reference- he resisted leaving after all. That also seems like an event which Vond would have noticed and commented on.

  19. Here’s where we’re beginning to see some of the implications of the 2 different power sources. The old Vond would have snuffed the tower of flame without thought, just to prove that he could do it. The new Vond thought things through and decided not to.

    Is it becuase he’s finally growing up? I don’t think so. The old Vond always had the Source pushing him, nagging him, telling him to use his powers. High level warlocks used to use their powers without even thinking about it.

    The towers on the other hand, are mute. Because Vond doesn’t have this compulsion to use his powers he can stop and think things through. Sure he still wanted to snuff the flame, but without that pushing, nagging voice telling him to “do it, just do it” he was able to talk himself out of it.

  20. Reposting this here, for some reason it got cut off and attached to the last chapter comment but it is really about this chapter too.

    Prediction, Hanner being the political genius he is will turn to his sister the Steward/Castalian for Azrad and gather together the Council of Warlocks in a united front. The Wizards Guild can’t interfere in politics, and they should know better than to try and take out thew Warlocks after they supported them as a school of magic in the past. Maybe they can assassinate all the Lumeth Warlocks, but I remember what Hanner said way back in Night of Madness. A tuned Warlock doesn’t look any different than anyone else, so they can hide their talent especially when they are low level. But it doesn’t take much power for a Warlock to tune someone else to The Source or presumably to Lumeth either. Mess with the known Warlocks and an unknown Warlock might just tune you (Illithia) to Lumeth and make you a Warlock. Not a threat to be ignored lightly considering what it would do to the Guildmaster’s career as a Wizard.

    Vond will be the key to making the guild see the folly of a war of extermination against the Warlock’s. Without the compulsion of The Source he seems much more interested in getting along with them instead of antagonizing them, the old Vond would have stayed in his Empire and dared them to come and get him, this one is just going about his business.

  21. BTW,

    I found Vond’s description of what the Tower of Flame really was strangely moving The idea that it is just an echo, over and over, of a flame that went out long ago is rather melancholy–to me anyway.


  22. Dispaar: the Lumeth source does NOT want to be used like the old source. It’s somewhere in there writing from this book. It does not impose like the old source. As to if Sterren caught himself or not, I do not think it likely.

  23. Andy Cooke: there are LOTS of kinds of magic in Ethshar. See, e.g., _The Unwilling Warlord_, when Sterren is looking for help to fight his war. It’s just that most of the “minor” schools are, well, minor.

    On another topic, I don’t think that Vond’s turning off the tower of flame would be evil. True, it would be hard for the guides, and the tourists, but it’s not like the tower of flame is really doing good where it is. And think of the birds and moths and stuff that get caught in it! And it probably isn’t doing good things for the local weather patterns…

  24. I’ve really got to find a better forum for asking these sorts of ethshar-related, but not topical, questions;

    A list of the Great Dragons was added to the Wiki, and I just wanted to verify that the eldest on the list shares a name with the Gatekeeper god.

  25. No, he doesn’t. I know the list I posted said that, but since the dragon in question had never been mentioned anywhere else I’ve changed it.

    I think the name is now Asharn, but I don’t have the official list handy here to check.

  26. Lawrence – do you mind me putting things into the wiki from your newsgroup posts? (I can’t remember how I stumbled across it in the first place). I really should have asked first – it’s just that I only recently rediscovered the newsgroup and was reading that thread while leafing through Ryan’s excellent wiki and jumped in. Many apologies if I’ve overstepped the line.

    Goljerp – good point. I meant to say “eighth major school of magic”.

  27. No, I don’t mind at all; go right ahead. The SFF Net group isn’t private; anyone can get to it from my webpage, or from SFF Net’s own page.

  28. It seems like there is a lot of push (at least among those who bother to comment in the serial box) to the idea that this is not the end of warlockry in Ethshar and that the book will end will Lumeth-attuned warlocks as a continuing thing. I’m not seeing it myself. So far is seems like the stars are slowly aligning towards the Wizards Guild being able to keep a lid on any other warlock using the Lumeth source. In fact, if I had to predict, I’d predict that Hanner will decide that the World is better off without warlocks and be the one who masterminds the disposal of Vond in the end.

    I am curious, though. For those of you anticipating something different, do you think that the story is heading in the direction of having Lumeth warlocks stick around, or do you just think that it would be cooler? That is, if the story ends with no warlocks left using the Lumeth source, would you be disappointed?

  29. I’m honestly not sure HOW the story’s going to end, and I think that’s to LWE’s credit; he always has a surprise up his sleeve. On the one hand, if the Wizards’ Guild manages to keep a lid on the Lumeth Towers, that’s likely to be pretty dull; on the other hand, it’s hard to imagine how a world with multiple Lumeth Warlocks would remain viable as a vehicle for storytelling without SOME sort of limit being placed on the power they can draw.

    I definitely think Stephen’s right, in that it’ll involve the Tapestry; that’s a great big Chekhov’s Revolver that, up to this point, remains unfired.

    I’d like to hope that Vond gets a shot at redemption; really, I don’t think he needs very MUCH redemption. In a series where we’ve seen that power CAN corrupt, he came close to absolute power without absolute corruption. For a despot, he was fairly benign, particularly given the effect of the Calling. Yes, he killed a servant in a moment of anger–but is he really worse than, say, Ithinia, or any of the other Guildmasters willing to kill innocents if need be to preserve the Wizard-enforced status quo?

  30. I will be disappointed if warlockry dies. There’s too much information floating around and too many warlocks who have become invested in that self-image for me to find it believable that no one is going to figure it out and keep warlockry alive. Hanner himself has little to fall back on- his wife and family are gone (or as good as), he long ago gave up his title, he knows about Vond continuing to be a warlock. Rudhira seems like the type who’d want to stab Ithinia in her eye after being casually and curtly dismissed, knows as much as Hanner, and is probably more sensitive (powerful).

    I won’t say I’m spoiling to see a fight, quite the opposite, but I don’t think eradicating warlockry comes without one.

    Wiki related (otherwise random) stuff;
    (if I could get a thumbs up when you do glance at those notes about if the new name is Asharn?)

    The Beast of Shasla; I’ve got a reference to a Nushasla in the Small Kingdoms… it seems logical to presume a connection. Is this true?

    I find it interesting that the oldest and yougest can’t fly and all but the youngest 2 have “oldschool” names, and all but the eldest end in “on.” no real question unless you care to remark.

    I found a reference to the Initiates of the Inner Mysteries being the sorcererous equivilant of the Wizards’ Guild’s Guildmasters… so, what’s the name of their organization?

  31. You know, about that tapestry. The obvious ending to the book involves Vond going through the tapestry, losing his power and either being abandoned there or else the Wizards Guild assassinating him while he is powerless.

    The less obvious choice is to send all the former warlocks through the tapestry to colonize a new world (and incidentally to get them as far away from the Towers as possible) since they don’t “fit in” with the modern Ethshar.

    Originally I was thinking that Vond could be tricked into touching the tapestry. But now that his warlock sight is revealed to be able to “see” wizardry, I’m not so sure. Presumably Vond could see the magical weaving in the tapestry and know that it’s a trap.

    Then again, perhaps Vond is megalomaniacal enough to touch it anyway, just to prove that it can’t affect a warlock as powerful as he is.

  32. I wouldn’t be so sure about Vond’s being able to “see” wizardry being so helpful in avoiding the tapestry. He makes specific reference to the fact that the ability to see what is going on with the Tower of Flame comes from it being so large:

    “I’ve never seen anything magical that was so big before. Usually when I watch wizardry in action it’s all sort of vague – I can’t focus on it. It’s as if it’s not really all there, or as if I’m seeing it through a dirty window. But this thing has a pattern to it; there are streaks of… of unreality, woven together with something that looks and feels like fire, but… the actual fire isn’t there anymore.”

  33. The way I read that was that normally wizardry is to transitive to really study, and the warlock/wizardry interference prevents clear examination. Meanwhile while the Tower of Flame (and presumably other “stable” magic) has a pattern imposed on it.

    The first time Hanner encountered a tapestry (in Night of Madness) he was startled by the fact it seemed like “nothing.” Hanner didn’t really examine the one made for him magically. I’d imagine that with Vond’s (presumably more refined) senses that there’d be something more detailed than just “nothing.” I do wonder how the tapestry “nothing” differed from the Seething Death “nothing.”

    I wonder if a warlock who watched a wizard cast the same spell over and over might be able to provide some interesting insights into the process.

  34. Interesting. As I said before, it would be easy for the Wizards to petrify Vond if they can trap him in a tapestry. Then they could “thaw him out” if they ever needed him again. Waste not, want not.

    One of the wizards great unspoken fears has got to be how to deal with the permanence of their magical effects. They have little idea how their power works. Basically, most of them are monkeys who’ve learned to perform rituals. Only a few geniuses (like Fendel) seem to have an instinctual grasp of the connection between symbology of the rituals and the outcome. Vond (or Sterren or Rudhira or ??) offers them another option.

    Also, I can see Rudhira and Vond getting together. Her power was the only thing that got her out of the gutter. If Vond tweaks her brain, then he’d have a mate to share, er ah, omnipotency with.

    Lastly, that link between warlockery and witchcraft is also way too useful to simply eliminate. I can see the Brotherhood and Sisterhood nixing the wizards taking the high hand with Vond or any other Lumeth warlocks.

  35. The eldest dragon is Azarn the Undying.

    Shasla was once a major city, but is now abandoned. Nushasla was presumably named for it.

    The ending “-on” doesn’t have an English equivalent, but indicates “this is a noun referring to an individual thing, rather than a category, a group, or an abstract concept.” It’s common in names, especially names of things other than people.

    Thinking about it, the closest English equivalent is probably the ending “-er.” But it’s not very close.

    The sorcerers don’t really have a name for their organization — it’s much less organized than the Wizards’ Guild — but pretty much all of them do acknowledge the Initiates of the Inner Mysteries as having greater knowledge and therefore some authority.

    Sorry I haven’t been very chatty lately; still catching up after vacation, and I picked up a nasty cold in Alaska that’s cut into my energy.

  36. Oh, as for when the Great War started — no one knows. Except me, and I’m not saying. Legend has it that it lasted a thousand years.

  37. So if the legend is close to accurate, the start of the Great War (1000 years duration, ended about 240 years ago) would be fairly coincident with the athametization spell propelling wizardry to the major school of magic that it became … interesting. Potential link? Sorcerers getting annoyed at these uppity wizards? A new major school of magic permitting an oppressed Holy Kingdom of Ethshar to rebel against the yoke of a Northern Empire (speculating wildly …)?

    Doesn’t Fendel know when it started? If not, that would put a lower bound on its duration (ie more than ~900 years).

  38. >>Doesn’t Fendel know when it started?
    Actually, checking Misenchanted Sword, it strongly implies that when Fendel was an apprentice, the War was already going on: “I served my apprenticeship under a civilian advisor, not a combat wizard, and worked thirty years as an adviser myself…”

    Which implies that there was a need to differentiate civilian advisers from combatants already and the War definitely lasted at least ~900 years.

  39. Gordon A: You said this about wizards:

    Basically, most of them are monkeys who’ve learned to perform rituals. Only a few geniuses (like Fendel) seem to have an instinctual grasp of the connection between symbology of the rituals and the outcome.

    However, in Ithanalin’s restoration, the we hear something different: (pg 78, TOR paperback):

    “That was one of the Guild’s secrets; most people believed that wizardry was an entirely mechanical process of assembling ingredients, reciting words […] but actually the process was a good deal more dynamic than that. A talented wizard could feel when the magic was working properly and when it wasn’t, and could sense when a gesture needed to be altered, an incantation slowed or hurried, without any conscious understanding of why the change was necessary. A really good wizard could even sense whether other ingredients could be substituted […] — that was how new spells were discovered.

    Such wizards, wizards who could safely change spells as they went, were very rare.”

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