Blood and fire magic is central to the world of Sand Dancer, so I wanted to dedicate an entire blog entry to the magical system of Sandair.
Once upon a time the three gods gifted their powers to man and these abilities manifest within the three nations of Sandair, Hartnor, and Neu Bosa. Naturally the Sandarians received Rahn’s fire and the ability to summon his flame. They call it blood fire.
Blood Fire Abilities
Blood fire is called such because it uses the caster’s own blood as fuel. Use too much fire magic, and the caster will burn through their own blood and begin to feel the effects of blood loss. Symptoms include headaches and dizziness, but too much fire magic can lead to the extreme symptoms of blood loss such as heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, confusion, unconsciousness and even death. Fire magic can be summoned as a flame that passes through the skin. It doesn’t harm the caster, but it can hurt other people, and another’s flame can also hurt. It is possible to block and even absorb another’s flame, or even a naturally occurring fire, but doing this drain’s the caster’s fire – and their blood.
Blood fire is much stronger than natural fire as it’s more concentrated. It burns hotter and brighter and was traditionally used in funeral rites as it burns through bone quicker and easier than normal fire. Generally, blood fire acts in the same way as normal fire. It burns, reacts to flammable material, and can spread. How it differs is that blood fire can be summoned as a wall or shield of fire in self-defence, or thrown as a projectile. Experienced casters can manipulate their flame into various shapes including swords made of flame.
The strength of blood fire depends on the caster. Blood fire is stronger in certain people and can be easily summoned and held for longer depending on the caster’s experience and health. Some Sandarians who possess blood fire and go their entire lives without summoning it once. Others may be cursed with stronger abilities and trigger their latent powers by accident. Typically, blood fire is more potent in women than men, however men find it easier to summon and use fire magic.
The Limitations of Blood Fire
Each caster has a different method for summoning their fire. Some can summon it with a snap of their fingers. Others use a verbal command. Most don’t need a command at all, and can trigger their fire magic through emotion. Often this emotion is fear or anger, but sometimes it can be affectionate or love.
Stereotypically, Sandarian men are more emotionally volatile than women and so their fire magic is quicker to manifest and flare. Women also have a few disadvantages when it comes to fire magic. As fire magic uses blood to burn, any interruption in the blood flow interferes with fire magic. Sadly, this means that women’s abilities are weakened during menstruation. The body also naturally blocks fire magic during pregnancy so that their baby’s development isn’t harmed.
There are other limitations. Blood fire cannot be easily summoned if the caster is running low on blood or is wounded. Certain blood-related illnesses could potentially affect blood fire, as could narcotics and alcoholic, making it harder to control and deadly. Blood fire doesn’t typically appear until puberty, as younger children wouldn’t be able to control it, and it tends to weaken with age.
The general health of the caster also affects blood fire. People with heart or circulatory problems will struggle to summon flame and could even endanger their life if they used too much. Poor fitness and diet can also affect it, however larger people could potentially have more blood to burn. An excess use of fire magic itself can create health problems; most notably anaemia. Those who are training to use their fire magic are often advised not to use too much, to recognise the signs of blood loss, and to eat an adequate diet which is high in iron.
The History of Blood Fire
In Sandair, those with blood fire are known as Fire Walkers. For hundreds of years they have been feared for their abilities. The general populace believe fire magic to be a destructive ability. Historically, a Fire Walker once attempted to murder the royal blood line, and they set fire to the capital city of Solus killing thousands of innocents.
As a result, those who exhibit signs of blood fire are condemned to a life of imprisonment within the Temple of Rahn where they learn to suppress and control their abilities. Those who refuse are deemed a threat and executed. In exchange for life inside the temple, Fire Walkers are expected to use their abilities in service to the people by performing ceremonies, funerals, and lighting the town’s lanterns. Fire Walkers are also called upon in times of war to turn their power against Sandair’s enemies.
Of course, there is more to the Fire Walker’s story and their extraordinary abilities. You’ll have to read Sand Dancer to learn more!
In future blog posts I will also look more in-depth at the magical systems used by the Hartnords and Neu Bosan. Watch this space!