To enchant is to change the nature of a cár’áll such that the cár’áll is endowed with a new balance, yielding a different quality or activity than its original form. Enchantments are most often performed by Xeuá and Ecuá magi who, through their manipulation and understanding of links, are able to produce a permanent or semi-permanent balance within a given cár’áll. Enchanting requires both the alteration of links inside and outside the cár’áll (either from ahm to soór or soór to ahm) and the manipulation of meta-states (see below). While the physical shape of the object itself will often stay the same, the cár’áll will have a new balance that affects the natural qualities of the object.
Xeuá refers to the connection
between ounía “the great elemental force that holds everything together”. These
links are always either ahm or soór, either listening or speaking, passive or
active. A link can change either very quickly between these two states, or very
slowly. In most cases, the states of being for which objects or people are
identifiable - for example, being light in weight - often represent the most
lasting connections. Others, which change fairly often - moods, in some case -
represent more transient states of being.
The meta-state describes how quickly a link shifts between ahm (passive) and soór (active), or the permanence or impermanence of the connection type (ahm or soór). A meta-state can either be xeuán (permanent) or ecuán (impermanent; transient). In simple Tharian, a link’s meta-state signifies whether the current state of a link is stable or prone to change. For example, an ahm link with a ecuán (transient) meta-state is a passive link that is likely to shift into a soór (active) state. An Ahm link with a xeuán (permanent) meta-state is a passive link that will not easily become active. A soór link with an ecuán (transient) meta-state is an active link that easily “broken” (turned to ahm). A soór link with a xeuán (permanent) meta-state is an active link that is likely to stay active.
School. Elemental magi are able to create enchantments, as well, but these are often only achievable in advanced levels. In such spells, the magi are able to extend a cár’áll (usually his own, as it is this cár’áll that he has most control over) and connect it to another cár’áll. The part of his cár’áll he brings to the object is thus temporarily connected to the cár’áll, giving it a new balance, and thus changing its qualities. This connection, in lower-levels, does not often endure for very long. Only through sensitivity to and alteration of the xeuán and ecuán meta-states of the type of connection itself can a magi determine the longevity of the connection. This type of sensitivity is not developed by elemental magi until fairly late in their learning. However, once the sensitivity is fully-developed, elemental magi can achieve enchantments in their respective element. These enchantments are just as powerful as xeuá and ecuá magi’s.
Though elemental magi are able to create enchantments, xeuá and ecuá magi are more equipped to create enchantments in all elements that can last forever. Enchantments are generally taught at Ximax to ecuá and xeuá magi relatively early in their studies, and will start out with very rudimentary and easy enchantments as they develop their sensitivity to meta-states. For elemental magi, enchantments aren’t generally even attempted until students reach advanced levels.
While all magi can create enchantments, ecuá and xeuá magi are generally considered the most adept at doing enchantments of all types. Elemental magi, while extremely skilled at creating enchantments related to their personal element, are unable to create enchantments related to other elements. While there are cases of “opposite-elemental enchantments” (for example, an earth mage enchanting something to be “light” through lessening the effect of Earth), these are usually ineffective due to the shifting nature of links within the cár’áll.
In all schools, enchantments can decay away or break: in time the xeuán and ecuán meta-states of the ahm or soór links may wear, thus changing the nature of the links out of soór into ahm, or vice versa.
Process. Because xeuá and ecuá magi are trained in the nature and properties of links, they do not often require as many reagents as elemental magi, but still rather an extremely deep concentration and a huge amount of patience. It is reasonable to assume that the length the enchantment sustains itself is directly affected by the time spent in creating it, and those enchantments in which magi put the greatest time and effort will last a fair amount longer - sometimes, it is assumed, forever if not broken by some outside force.
The length taken to cast the enchantment is dependent on how far removed the desired quality (the quality of the enchantment) is to the nature of the object being enchanted. To increase the hardness of a boulder, to use an obvious example, would be far easier to do than enchanting it with lightness, since it is the nature of a boulder to be hard, to some degree or another, but it is not in its nature to be ligh - or soft, or bright. To endow a boulder with the property of brightness, a quality of Fire, would take a substantial amount of time. The process most xeuá and ecuá magi go through to cast these spells can be widely different. However, when performing an enchantment - for example, making a stone glow - most magi use the following two-part procedure:
First, the cár’áll itself must be manipulated. A mage should use either a spell or the environment, or both, to manipulate it. In the case of making a stone glow, it is often helpful to elicit properties needed for the enchantment by changing the environment, and so many magi might begin by warming the stone in a fire (as warmth is also a property associated with fire). With Fire ounía made soór (or, as an ecuá mage may conceive of it, the water ounía made ahm) within the cár’áll links would need only minimal alteration to bring about the property of brightness. In other words, once the stone has some of the fire links turned soór, the properties of the fire ounía and other links between the ounía will be less difficult to manipulate. Therefore, while this initial step is not needed - magi can locate the ounía themselves and turn the links from ahm to soór or soór to ahm - it often helps to save much-needed willpower and concentration. By altering the connections (through spell and/or environment), the mage has actually manipulated the cár’áll into an unnatural state: a stone, apart from environmental factors, would not glow. These actions do not themselves constitute an enchantment, but rather a spell. The cár’áll, when allowed to, will seek to return to its natural state.
Second, when a mage achieves the cár’áll in its proper state for the enchantment, he or she must then manipulate the meta-state, the xeuán or ecuán meta-state of the ahm or soór link. Because brightness is not the natural state of a stone, this connection will be breaking (ecuá). Either the ahm state of the connection of water ounía (for ecuá magi) or the soór state of the connection of Fire ounía (for xeuá and elemental magi) will need to be made permanent: the breaking (ecuán) meta-state of the new ahm or soór link will need to be made connected (xeuán). This is the most difficult part of the enchantment process, because it involves amazing sensitivity and concentration. It takes many, many years to develop the ability, not just to see these underlying states, but to develop the willpower to manipulate them.
Levels. Enchantments are very advanced spells. Enchantments require sensitivity to the nature of elements or links that most other spells do not, and this sensitivity calls for the utmost concentration and skill. A non-enchantment spell changes the qualities present in the cár’áll for a limited amount of time through manipulation of the links either directly or indirectly. While the links may change, however, the meta-state of those links as either xeuán (permanent) or ecuán (transient) remain the same, and determine how long a spell’s effect will last. One can build a sandcastle using water to shape the structure, but in time, but this is only a temporary manipulation of the sand: once the water dries, the sand will return to its original, formless state. Enchantments change cár’áll in a more meaningful and lasting way. It would be like taking the same sandcastle and using cement instead of water.
Particularly in cursory, clumsy, or unsophisticated enchantments, the meta-states may wear away, and the links will return to their natural states. The xeuá meta-state will shift to the ecuán one, and following this the soór will turn to ahm or vice versa, and will cause the enchantment to break. The stone would shed the artificial property of light molded from its cár’áll.
In the case of more advanced spells, a more complicated use of links is used, and the two-step procedure may increase to three or four or more. These are enchantments are available only to the most skilled and powerful ecuá, xeuá, or elemental magi. It is a delicate process, and those who are skilled can manipulate the links in ways to time the enchantment. By allowing some of the meta-states to remain ecuán, an enchantment may deteriorate faster or slower.
Those enchantments requiring certain states of being to be initiated by certain circumstances (a glowing stone growing brighter by the approach of a certain individual, for example) are reserved for only the most advanced magi - archmagi and their peers. The magi may have to weave an intricate “web” of links, including one between the target (he or she will make the initiator of the enchantment) and the object. Generally this link remains ahm with an ecuán meta-state until approach.
As the individual approaches the enchanted item, the ahm link will slowly become soór and will stay soór as the person is near (a natural quality for two items in close contact), and as it does, it will set off a chain reaction, turning to soór the other links within the object (i.e. the stone), thus causing it to trigger the appropriate effect (glowing). The meta-states of these other links would be connected with the meta-state of the link between the object and the individual, such that the meta-state of the individual-object connection would be maintained in the quality-object connection.
Taintings. Taintings are a type of enchantment created by an environment and not necessarily by a mage. All cár’allía change based on environment: in the Ráhaz'Dáth Desert, the environment may cause ones physical body to become warmer, for example, while the appearance of the Aj'Nuvic Grounds may make one feel comfortable and at ease. All environments have the ability to alter cár’allía in multiple ways, though generally only the physical manipulations are consistent from cár’áll or cár’áll. Spiritual and mental manipulations are generally influenced more by interpersonal interaction.
In the case of taintings, though, the changes become more permanent and usually have more prominent spiritual alterations. For example, in the Mists of Osthemangar, those who enter may encounter strange alterations to their cár’áll, causing hallucinations (manipulation of Wind ounía), or ferver (manipulation of Fire ounía), or distractions (manipulation of Water ounía) or a number of other mental effects. Places like the Mists of Osthemangar are also powerful enough to drastically change physical features. Exactly how this is done remains unknown, though one theory is that it both adds to and extracts portions of the cár’áll itself, permanently changing links to ahm and causing this links to gain an xeuán meta-state. In the case of the Mists, this often involves the earth ounía being completely extracted and the properties of transparency (Wind) turning soór, and then that property of soór gaining the xeuán meta-state, making the change permanent. These are often states that cannot be reversed.
The Mists of Osthemangar are thus curious in that they alter the meta-states of the links themselves. Therefore, while they may cause the feature of distraction to become more prominent by turning the link soór, once this link has been made soór, the environment will begin to change the meta-state of the link from ecuán to xeuán.
The alternation of meta-states of links is not something which most environments can do. Only exceptional environments can manipulate meta-states in this way, and these are immensely dangerous. Because most of these tainting environments change meta-states relatively slowly (over a few days or weeks as opposed to a few hours), if an individual who finds herself in an environment in which she might suffer tainting, she should leave that area as quickly as possible, lest she suffer negative and irreversible alterations to, not only the links within her cár’áll, but the meta-states of those links.