#25 - Powers

DreamWidth Mirror
Mood: Contemplative
Location: When are we not at our desk?
Music: Phant Solo I-III / Taishi

Does your fictomere have any strange powers, either in general or for your setting? What about other people/creatures in your source? Was there any kind of widespread magic or other power?
01/03/2022. total words: 1327

   [looks at my four intensely-magical fictotypes]
   [looks at my four systemmates, all of whom run on stardust and belief]
   [looks at my room, which is halfway stuffed to the brim with witchcraft supplies]

   Uh.... Yeah, you could say we got magic involved here. But honestly, I'm going to answer this prompt off-kilter, because honestly explaining the magic doesn't belong here, it belongs in the noematapediae, which I just had to look up the plural form for. Instead I want to talk about a form of magic that none of us have, at this point, explained, despite it being deeply relevant to how we operate as a system and how Sagiverse itself functions.
   I want to talk about the triad signature system that we've got in place in our system and in Sagiverse, if only because we need a record of it. And because it's important.

   This starts in a place somewhat unexpected, but makes a whole lot of sense: the October Daye series, by Seanan McGuire. At the moment we're fifteen books in, and we'll be getting more come September. But in the main discord server for the series, which somehow I help admin, I of course walked in, saw that a few people had custom role colours for different magical scents canon to the series, and decided I was getting my own.
   The way it works in Toby Daye is pretty simple: when you gather or use your magic, it has two inherent scents to it. If you're only a small bit fae and mostly human, you get one scent, but everyone save the literal gods of the world have two. (The gods have a world to their signatures, because they can.) Now, most people have scents you can probably bottle - cut grass and fresh copper, cotton candy and ashes, primroses and campfire smoke - but sometimes they don't, like hooves across a field or sunlight on a bird's wing.
   And these signature scents have quite a lot of basis in both who the person is, and where they've come from. Someone with human blood is more likely to have metal in their signature, due to the iron thing. Toby herself is blood and grass, because her human father offered grassy lawns and her mother gave her the blood that lets her be a hero. May's cotton candy and ashes, because she's kind of a corpse and she's still sugar and sunshine. You get the idea.
   But I did want my own custom role, so I figured I'd better come up with a convincing argument for a custom colour that wasn't in use. Which meant thinking on what two signatures would represent me best.
   The roses that I love a little too much. The ivy that made me Luteia. The smoke of a gun of Pale. The chaorruption. The hum of the engines of Ranisson. The sweet forest darkness of being an Absol. The motorcycle of my current life. The electrical humming of a C++ program.
   I narrowed it down to three, and since Chaorruption is a very specific scent that I can never fully describe, I offered up Irish ivy and gasoline, the good kind before they put in all the restrictions, the kind that you either love or hate the smell of. (disclaimer- the restrictions are always a good thing.)

   To make my case, I wrote a little bit of prose, in the canon style, of Toby trying to hunt me down using my signature as a clue.

   The stench of gasoline hit the back of my throat so hard I almost immediately began to cough. This was gasoline with a cruel, pungent, primal twist; a deep thing that the mortal liquid could never have managed. This was unrefined gasoline, a type not used in over forty years due to safety regulations and the dawning awareness of the eventual heat death of mortal civilization. This was gasoline that still remembered what it was to be part of the earth, before it was soaked up in pipelines and boiled into something new. This was a graveyard twisted and warped and heated, still scorched from the sorrow of death.
   And under that gasoline, under the death-stench of it, was a thin latticework of Irish ivy, a strain of it not found in the modern world. A strain from the highlands of Ireland before the gasoline of its eventual graveyard had ever been discovered and refined. It lacked the power of heather, violet, lavender and roses combined in a true mooring, but it was the ivy that held strong against what suffocated it. It wasn't the roses that had grown at the start of the world, but it was the ivy that remembered them, the ivy that would welcome them again when the gasoline finished burning and the roses bloomed.
   Gasoline and Irish ivy. That was what I had to go on.

--As By Reflection, LocketShoru on Ao3

   And they let me have my colour, just off that, and then others decided on their own scents, and then asked me very nicely to psychoanalyze them. (The linked fic above is an archive of me doing exactly that.) But it still wasn't complete. Ivy and gasoline fit great for the person I am when I'm trying not to be a feral beast on main. A little ADHD, a little off-kilter, desperate for the road and the freedom and the adventure. But it doesn't speak of an inherent magic, heh, not quite.
   So I said to myself, "Add the chaorruption and you have what you should smell if I work my mortal magic today" and Goni, who was new but with me, nodded and went "Yeah, go add roses and seasalt and sundown over the edge of the Irish wilderness" and that's when I realized that either I'd just stumbled upon a law of the universe previously undiscovered, or I'd written it into existence. (Quite possibly, again.)
   That was where it started. Seanan McGuire giving everyone a fancy little shtick to their magic, me elaborating on it in a way that made sense, and Goni confirming that I was on the right path.
   If I'm going to find someone in my headspace, it's because I caught their scent. If I'm going to understand a character, it's going to start because I'll know their signature. We couldn't find Dohko for months despite knowing he was around until we stopped looking for an ex-Saint and started looking for his signature, and what do you know, we found out his shapeshifting was a little borked and he's a dragon most of the time. But we found him by his scent, and I know I'll spend the next two weeks thinking of nothing but a certain character the moment they walk up and go "hey here's my signature" because all it does is say everything about them.
   035 Pulsar walked up to me under the wrong name and cheerfully informed me that he was a man of deep darkness, kaizhou turnovers, and direct current running through a circuitboard. Found out a week later that he was a cyborg and his father had quite literally burned the light out of his original signature of growing wheat fields, brimstone, and ripe kaizhou. Asked him very cautiously if he was going to gain self-awareness and take interest in my life. His answer was a polite but firm "no thanks" and thank Strife for that one, we're barely managing five people as it is.

   But that's magic: three concepts, three scents to define who you are, and if they change, it's because you've changed so wholly you're now a different person. That's how it works for us, and that's how it works for the characters we write. In the here and now, away from the magic systems that we've always worked with, this is what seems to make the most sense.
   We'll stick with it for as long as it keeps working. I sure hope it keeps working.