The Magic of Sommerstone comes in three varieties, Runes, the Beckoning, and Magical Creatures, such as the Ea Hanlora, whom men call Feallen.
The first kind of magic, runes, can only be worked by humans, though not gender specific, most rune masters are men. The secret of the runes is closely guarded by its practitioners. Runes can only be made and wielded by someone with a human soul, so even magical creatures cannot use them, and certainly not the dead. Of the runes, there are three kinds: Mundane, Lesser, and Greater. Mundane runes are without power, and are used in writings. The term mundane, therefore refers to any written alphabet of any culture or society.
Lesser runes are the simplest and least powerful. They draw no power when made, but must still be made by a being with a human soul or they’re nothing more than marks. To have power, they must be activated by a living mind. While inert they are indistinguishable from mundane runes. This is important because Feallen can sense active runes.
Greater Runes, of which there are fewer, are runes of power. They too must be made by a being with a human soul, but they begin to draw on magical energies the moment they’re made. This does not mean the rune is active, at least not fully, but the runes tap into power immediately, and so can be sensed by magical creatures. Great runes are many times more powerful than lesser runes, and are used in more powerful magics.
However, runes by themselves are fairly useless. To work, runes must be set in a circle. Each rune has an association with one or more Virtues, also known as the faces of God. Runes are set in an aett, or a slot in a circle, of which there are 24.
The circle is based on the Sumis, or the Compass Rune. Sumis means literally, all things manifest, and is meant to be another name for God. Because all runes can be drawn from the basic pattern of the Sumis, and the Sumis is the shape and form of the Compass, and contains 24 Aetts, or Hours, it is considered to be a manifestation of the nature of God, who encompasses all lands, all time, and all knowledge and power.
Sumis is also the name of the book that contains the secret of the runes, and was given to mankind by the Virtues Elerasum and Tomalis, the Virtues of Knowledge and Wisdom. The Sumis, though it contains the secret of the runes, is written cryptically, and is not an instruction book so much as a book extolling the Godly Virtues men should seek to obtain in their own lives. The Runes are associated with one or more Virtues, and their placement in a circle is based on that affiliation. The Rune for Love is strongest when set next to the Runes for Fidelity and Truth.
Thus, as the Sumis teaches, “…a man’s power will not exceed his wisdom.”
Practitioners of Rune magic are therefore called Sumisarians. Their knowledge gained from the study of the Sumis is closely guarded and rarely shared with outsiders. While anyone with a human soul and a living mind can scribe runes, their full potency and efficacy is rarely achieved without years of studying the Sumis, or apprenticing to a Sumisarian Rune Master.
Runes summon magical energies, and the more potent a conjuring the more sophisticated the scribing of the runes must be. For complex and potent spells, Rune Masters link together two or more circles, and bind them with with one of the eight runes of binding. This is called a Wheel, and there is no limit to the number of circles that can comprise a wheel.
Runes must be scribed in something tangible, stone, wood, bone, iron, or even a living mind. Because they draw on magical energies, the runes must be in something solid. Stone and metal are the best substances as the energies runes summon erode whatever they’re set in. Apprentices practice their runes in a scribe box, a box filled with sand, which rapidly erodes their forms, allowing students to make mistakes without endangering themselves. Badly formed circles and wheels can explode. The longer it takes for the runes to erode the greater the explosion, so sandboxes provide a measure of safety.
A living mind can hold the runes, and through concentration, the erosion of the runes stopped. Only simple incantations can be formed in the mind, as the more complex ones require greater concentration. The more complex the wheel, the harder to form and maintain in one’s mind. Scribing runes in the mind is very dangerous because if one loses concentration the energy the runes are channeling is released into the brain of the person who formed them, often with lethal consequences.
There are several artifacts that can be made using runes, circles, and wheels. The most common is a Tok blade, a knife or sword used most often by the Tair to sever the Beckoning from the Feral or Nohetka.