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Leeching

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Leeching
Personal magic
Full nameLeeching
AvailabilityThroughout Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, books
Key conceptAcquiring Djed from external sources for use in spellcasting
UsesLetting the user cast more magic than otherwise possible
RisksShort- and long-term poisoining, physical and mental disorder, frailty


Leeching is a discipline of personal magic that focuses on rapidly acquiring Djed for use in other personal magic. If he can replenish his Djed, a Leecher can cast more magic than a regular wizard before yielding to overgiving. Leeching can absorb Djed from mostly anything: the environment, living creatures, and especially fellow wizards. With enough experience, they can even absorb other magic cast in the area to replenish themselves. However, Leeching has a terrible price that made it a restricted form of magic before the Valterrian: the Djed gained in this unnatural way is hardly pure or refined. It is, in fact, toxic to the user. Every time the Leecher employs his powers, he is willingly poisoning himself.

Contents

History

Leeching has always been considered a dark form of magic, even though it is really no more amoral than any other personal magic. Perhaps, what gives it such a gloomy reputation is the fact that it damages both the user and his target. What is certain is that Leeching was discovered shortly after the invention of writing, though rudimentary forms might be even more ancient. In Alahea, it took a special government license to practice Leeching (just like Summoning), fearing the long-term poisoning effects. In Suvan, on the other hand, Leeching was common among battle wizards, who were taught to use it on their dying comrades in battle to make them useful until the end.

How it works

Creatures absorb Djed, the essence of the mortal world giving form and identity to everything that is real, naturally through food and drink. A part of that Djed can be spent doing personal magic, but spending more than this amount can lead to overgiving, a state in which the organism is deprived of its very building blocks. It is quite natural that some wizards would seek a way around the system, no matter the cost. Leeching does exactly this; it replaces the lost Djed with a hastily gathered surrogate coming from another source. This Djed is alien to the body, and not particularly good for spellcasting, either, but Leechers know that every little bit helps.

Leeching is the polar opposite of Reimancy, and the two are the hardest disciplines to mix; while Reimancy is about expelling one's essence from the body, Leeching is about driving it into the body. This is accomplished through physical contact; Djed enters the body through the skin or any opening available. The requirement for touch cannot be avoided; the user needs to make contact with the thing he wants to draw from. He has to focus on consuming the target, inducing its energies to flow into him.

The amount of Djed acquired in this way depends on the source. One can draw Djed from a rock, but the net gain would be laughable. Leeching in general has two modes of operation: an unfocused one, in which the Leecher keeps his whole body open and absorbs from the environment, and a focused one, which steals from a specific source that is being touched. Unfocused mode is by far the slower of the two, unless there is a sizeable amount of magical energies in the area. When this is not the case, it will provide a modest boost that is only noticeable after a period of time. Focused mode is much faster, and definitely more intense as well, if the source has enough Djed to donate. The source is typically a live creature or an item charged with any form of magic, which they suck dry eventually. It also damages the Leecher faster.

Stolen Djed needs to be released as quickly as possible. It is very unhealthy to keep it in the body for longer than a few minutes, so most Leechers will only charge themselves at the very last moment.

In general, master Leechers are physically very frail. Practitioners are of a sickly disposition that only gets worse as one's rank increases. Even counter-measures such as Healing cannot bring them back to health because their condition is not anomalous; it is the normal default state for them, their very essence. If they do not have a stable body, such as the Nuit, they burn through their bodies at appalling speeds, never synchronizing well with any of them. They become entirely dependent on their lengthened magical abilities for defense.

The amount of additional magic the Leecher can do depends on how much Djed they can absorb and the consequences they are willing to face. A Leecher of sufficient skill may be able to introduce much Djed into his system, casting twice or thrice the amount of magic as a non-Leecher or even more, though the additional spellcasting will not be of the same quality as when using his own Djed. Leechers are instructed to keep their spellcasting simple when they use stolen Djed, especially at the lower levels. Moreover, Leechers can delay the effects of overgiving by minutes to hours depending on level, though overgiving will hit them in even fuller force when it happens. As with borrowing money, the capital is paid back with an interest.

Leeching sources

A Leecher is usually recognizeable to a trained wizard's eye. Even without Auristics, which can detect the long-lasting damage to the Leecher's aura, Leechers often carry their own kind of ammunition in pouches and on easily accessible belts. These small items, ranging from small wooden bits to pieces of paper or parchment, are invariably infused with Glyphing, which is the most popular support skill among Leechers. Any magic stored with Glyphing can be leeched within seconds of physical contact. Leechers will usually create the items by infusing another personal magic they know into the items, and then leech their own magic as the need arises. Unfortunately, the fact they cast the magic in the first place does not make it any less toxic, as the Djed is transformed past recognition when used as magic.

Efficiency rate for Leeching is around 25% for novices, 50% for competent users, 75% for experts, and 100% for masters. This means that if a novice Leeches a spell he wove into an item through Glyphing, he will recover enough Djed for a spell one fourth as big. This means, of course, it is much more convenient to just use any Glyphed item directly; however, Leeching renders the Djed available for any type of personal magic, thus making it much more versatile.

The very best source of Leeching Djed is the body of another personal magic user. Physical contact is required with no clothing or armor in the way, and Leechers will often go for the face, placing their fingers on the target's forehead. As the victim is often unwilling, the Leecher will subdue or incapacitate them beforehand in a variety of ways ranging from physical shock to stunning them with Hypnotism. A Leecher can deplete a magic user of approximately the same level in about thirty seconds, assuming they have not cast magic recently. Continuing after the victim has been drained will yield very little Djed, but can expose the victim to overgiving. Unexpectedly, the draining is also quite uncomfortable and will leave the target weak and possibly stunned. A Leecher cannot steal Djed from a better Leecher than themselves.

One can leech Djed from a non-wizard as well. It takes three people to generate as much Djed as a novice wizard would. Common animals and materials will yield almost no Djed at all.

Leeching from personal magic that has already been cast is harder, and only for competent or better users. It should be noted that once Djed has turned into a mundane substance, such as Res in Reimancy after it has become a physical element, it cannot be Leeched anymore. Leeching is not an antimagic tool, though it it can be used against released (i.e. not Glyphed) spells. It is not a dispelling technique; it can weaken a magic effect, but will not "dispel" it unless it is very weak compared to the Leecher's level. Efficiency rate is lower in this case, though when Leeching from a big spell it can provide plenty of Djed. Examples include touching an astral body performing Projection, a portal made with Voiding (if the user is willing to try, that is), a morphed body or a Familiar.

An expert Leecher can leech world magic. This broadens his repertoire to such things as absorbing Djed from Animated golems, Magecrafted items, Spiritism-made Soulmist, and even the Summoning leashes keeping creatures under the Summoner's control. Again, Leeching will not cancel the effects of world magic, and at most weaken it, while at the same time boosting the Leecher. When world magic extends over a large area, such as in Webbing, the Leecher has a substantial advantage, with a constant battery at his disposal.

A master Leecher can leech wild Djed from the environment. These are residual patches of Djed from spells cast a long time ago, or which dissipated and were never reabsorbed by Mizahar. They are common in the wilderness both above and under the ground; some of them, where magical academies used to rise, are massive. The master Leecher is a formidable force while near one of these areas, being able to cast almost without limit (though the spells have the usual intensity).

Reverse Leeching

An expert or master can perform reverse Leeching, thereby giving Djed to a target being touched. This is very flexible ability which can be used for a variety of purposes either positive or negative. Giving Djed has the same effects as it does on the Leecher, including short-term poisoning (though it will not make the target a Leecher). More interestingly, their Leechers can donate their Djed to existing spells or world magic applications, thus "infecting" them. While the effects of reverse Leeching a spell are not entirely predictable, the Leecher can attempt to modify or corrupt the original magic with his own, making him a vicious threat.

Initiation

Initiation into Leeching is the most brutal among the known forms of personal magic. The prospective user is quite simply sucked dry of any amount of usable Djed, almost to the point of death. Given the amount to be absorbed, initiation can easily last several minutes, which the wizard will usually remember as among the worst of his life. The newborn Leecher is typically knocked out for several days, often wishing he were dead before he can stand again.

Reputation

Leechers tend to be outcasts even among wizards, and will regularly be shunned by their colleagues if discovered (which, as mentioned, is not too difficult for an Aurist). They are commonly thought of as power-hungry meddlers who have even lower ethical standards than most other wizards. It is also known that casting on borrowed Djed tends to be cruder, which causes some in the magical community to scoff at Leechers.

Skill progression

Novice (1-25)
The Leecher can draw modest amounts of Djed that will at most complement his usual spellcasting and give him a little extra boost. He can draw a little Djed from the environment (unfocused mode), people and fellow wizards, as well as magic contained in Glyphed items. The Leecher gets perhaps an extra cold a year from his tampering.
Competent (26-50)
Having spent more time stealing Djed around, the Leecher can absorb at a higher rate and with greater efficiency. They can steal Djed from active spells of personal magic. When they feel overgiving coming to them, they can forcefully push it back for about thirty seconds, making it mildly worse when it hits them. The Leecher would be considered delicate or somewhat sickly, having lost some endurance, strength and dexterity due to his prolonged exposure to toxic Djed.
Expert (51-75)
An expert Leecher can easily cast as much as two or even three wizards of the same levels if he can find enough Djed to do so. They can steal Djed from active world magic, and ignore overgiving for up to fifteen minutes, though this will make it quite a bit worse. They can perform reverse Leeching. The Leecher is slow, clumsy and poorly coordinated, and gets sick easily. Heavy armor or long running stints are out of question. His aging process is also twice as fast.
Master (76-100)
A master Leecher can absorb Djed with 100% efficiency. He can absorb from wild Djed patches and do reverse gnosis on them, his magical stamina being almost unlimited in these areas. He can ignore overgiving for up to three hours, but this will make it far worse when it sets in. The Leecher can cast as much magic as many normal wizards; sufficient availability of sources is the only real limit. However, he is by this time a worn out shell who needs to support himself with a stick to even walk. Even when young, the Leecher is an old thing withering away as time passes.


Part of a series of articles on Magic
Concepts Magic · Magic list · Djed · Personal magic · Gnosis · World magic
Personal magic Auristics · Familiary · Flux · Hypnotism · Leeching · Morphing · Projection · Reimancy · Voiding · Shielding
Gnosis Gnosis · Gnosis list· Gnosis Marks · Religion
World magic Alchemy · Animation · Glyphing · Magecraft · Malediction · Summoning · Spiritism · Webbing
Magic in Society Magic academies · Magic factions · Famous wizards
Lost Disciplines Architectrix · Dominion · Pathfinding · Static · Sensing
Other Antimagic · Paramagic · Wizard psychology