Aether forms the unique backbone of Hevna as a setting, filling the role of magic for the people and animals living there.
More orderly than the wild magic of other settings, but less understood than raw science, Aether has both a basis in real-world history that inspired my use of the substance and term, as well as important applications in the setting.
To read about the real history of the term Aether, click here.
The following is information about Aether purely in terms of Hevna.
Innate to any culture or place is a local sense of what makes it special. In the case of Hevna as a whole, that special element for everyone and everything living upon its surface is a singular element present across the whole globe – aether.
Unlike other fundamental forces such as gravity, entropy, and electromagnetism, aether rests on the outside edge of science among Hevna’s intelligentsia, while still being a critical element of everything that occurs on the planet.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand aether is to think of an invisible series of spider-silk strands, drifting in clusters from east to west.
Mostly unhindered by physical objects (with the exception of copper), aether rings the planet with raw potential and what might, in some places, be called ‘magic’. Despite this, the Hevnese do not classify aether as such, as magic is unexplainable in all ways, while aether follows strict rules, not unlike that of the other basic elements of life.
It just breaks a lot of other rules in the process.
A Restricted Resource
While aether is an undeniable force no matter where one travels across the planet, it is not a resource accessible by all.
Whether some quirk of genetics or divination of the fates, only a relatively small portion of the human populace have the ability to feel and interact with the aether at a base level (other humanoid races are all aether-aware, see The Nagu page for more details).
Those who have access to the aether are known as Weavers, their craft as Weaving. These specialists are as sought after and well paid as any other finite resource or extremely skilled profession, leading to specific changes in the nature of some cultures in an effort to birth more Weavers into the world.
Weaving has also had a marked effect on human migration across various areas, following the intangible flows of power necessary for their art. This is made doubly dramatic by the fact that aether does not stay still, but instead travels as a collection of Storm fronts marching sedately across the globe.
More information on the process of Weaving and the origin of Weavers can be found here.
Just as spider silk on the wind is want to drift, aether does not remain stationary on Hevna.
Seven great Aether Storms ring the planet, bringing and removing aether from the nations of the world on an approximately thirty-eight-year cycle.
Whenever a Storm arrives in an area, aether becomes a thick and tap-able resource to the Weavers of the nation. This period of bounty is known as ‘The Warp’ or ‘The Spin’ and represents a time of boom for the local area. Once the Storms move on, however, there is a period of drought which the locals refer to as ‘The Weft’.
Each of the seven Storms has its own unique feel and properties to it, and vary in latitude and duration over the land. The more violent and dangerous of the storms, whose effects even non-Weavers can see and feel, are kept at bay by the use of Magus Wards.
Storm size wards are most often spires laced with copper, but even with such precautions, a bad Storm year can still mean devastation for a region, especially where the aether interacts with native weather patterns and other energy sources.
Hevna spins on a counter-clockwise rotation, with most weather following suit in a flow from west to east, migrating towards the lower air pressure at both poles. Naturally, the Storms act contrary to this in an east to west progression, often causing ‘bunching’ in more ordinary weather patterns, especially where rises in the ground help weather to pile up.
Aether storms have also been known to discharge their own unique weather in the form of lightning saturated with aetheric power, or just pure aether strikes to ravage the land below.
For all the Storms operate contrary to expectation in many ways, they are thankfully very easy to predict in terms of arrival and departure from any given nation, to the point one can almost set a calendar by their progress – something the major faiths of the world tend to do, in conjunction with star patterns.
It is also worth noting that due to this, Aether Storms are often measured in duration by years, rather than a length or width.
The Seven Great Storms
For all the similarities of the storms, in terms of their unique existence as aetheric weather patterns, each of Hevna’s storms has its own distinct facets, in both behavior and manifestation of power, and a name in keeping with their reputations.
Silenum The Quiet
The most predictable of Hevna’s storms, Silenum predominates in the northern hemisphere of Hevna, with only a few tendrils snaking below the equator. A very predictable and gentle storm, Silenum usually brings with her a month of severe storms, infusing the land with aether, before settling down to a gentle swirl or air currents for the rest of her passing. At her widest point, Silenum is a six year long storm, and occasionally crosses over with the southern storm Isolectus, when both are passing over Rasaal.
The Bitch Oblitia
Oblitia earns her name from her unpredictable nature and aggressive whorls of power, rarely maintaining the same pattern between cycles in any given place. The Bitch is an equatorial storm for the most part, though she reaches into both hemispheres at various points in her travels, and stretches a whopping eight years across at her widest point. Most predominant in the two major deserts of Hevna (the Imyrian and Esian deserts respectively), some scholars believe her to be the cause for the dry nature of the areas, or even the fall of the first recorded civilization in Helze, where she also causes terrible damage any time she passes through.
The Bitch periodically swirls north long enough to caress the southern edges of Wessenland, and as such she is a prime storm used by many of the major powers on Hevna for storing large quantities of aether in Magus Globes, though rumor has it the true masters of this unpredictable and vengeful storm are the nomads, who rely on her visits to maintain their lifestyle in the inhospitable deserts they call home.
As his name suggests, Tyratus is a purely northern hemisphere storm, often experienced as a series of tight eddies as he passes across the civilizations that make the cold their home. While he has tendrils that extend much further south, Tyratus is best known for his presence in Nostalia and the Okan islands, with his duration lasting up to six years at the widest point. His southernmost tendril regularly makes it into Rasaal but lasts a mere year inside its borders before moving on.
With him, Tyratus brings an unusually large amount of lightning and seems to coincide with far greater wraith activity in the Nostalian Snowflats that any other storm that passes over the area. While the reason for this is not known, Tyratus is considered an underhanded storm, especially when he crosses paths with Oblitia when passing through Arlatene as part of his cycle.
While Tyratus may hold the record for most lightning strikes, Terrorst instead derives his name from the terrifying aether strikes that lurk in his depths. Invisible, potent and able to cause severe damage to anything he hits, Terrorst can last as long as eight years in some places, pushing the wards to hold him at bay to their limits.
Violent as he is, Terrorst provides many northern settlements with the power to thrive in spite of Hevna’s impressive winters, though he does have tendrils that stretch past the equator to fuel even places as far south as Keque for a single year per cycle. Tall and thin as the storm is, it is perhaps most noteworthy that one of it’s most northerly spires is eternally present in Frispin, and may be part of why the northern pole is so inhospitable to human life.
Great Storm Infiniatis
Infiniatis forms the second major storm that sculpts Hevna’s deserts. With a core of power across her ‘middle’, Infiniatis is so named for just how potent and never-ending her aether seems to be at peak Storm, blessing the southern hemisphere with a consistent and reliable font of aether for up to seven years at her widest point.
With her dense aether lines when in an area, Infiniatis manages to be of use even in the Dragon Islands, where she lingers for only a two year period. Normally a relatively sedate storm, the sheer quantity of aether in her eddies does mean massive damage when she shows her teeth, however.
Another southern storm, Isolectus takes his name from the phenomena that accompany his arrival in an area. While most of the other Storms affect weather far more than local light, Isolectus is very much the reverse. A Storm of average proportions with his six-year width, Isolectus is nevertheless the single greatest threat to travelers, thanks to his penchant for disorientating anything caught in his grasp.
Light, reflections, mirages and more accompany Isolectus as he drifts over a nation, leaving a wealth of legends in his wake of old world adventurers lost and ill-fated thanks to his work. In the modern day, these troubles are far less with the invention of Magus Wards and other devices to maintain orientation while under the Storm, and even something as simple as a map can help to overcome some of the problems he brings.
Isolectus is weakest in Stomwool when he crosses it borders at a mere three years, but he makes up for it by being doubly deadly when over Rasaal, where he interacts with Silenum the Quiet for a year.
Neuragris The Twisting
The last of the great Storms, Neuragris predominately affects the southern polar region of Frispin. Akin to Terrorst, it has one tendril permanently embedded in the glaciers of the south but produces less deadly results thanks to its overall spread.
Of the few humanoid nations Neuragris touches, Stomwool takes the largest benefit from the storm, and really only exists thanks to it. Stomwool is the youngest of Hevna’s nations, only managing to colonize the northern spur of the pole after the invention of both Magus Globes and airships. Despite this, the country has grown fast since founding and enjoys nine years of power at a time when Neuragris passes through.
Most other countries the Storm reaches have it for only a two-year span, but it is always a noteworthy thirty-two months, as the storm brings encroaching bands of murk with it, turning day to night for long periods in some places as the twisted tendrils pass overhead.