The Prime Tenet

Runewarden and patch mage magic are compatible and in fact additive.  What a great thing to learn.  I began putting my new-found knowledge to use.

Brilliant fireballs covered in color sprays.  Wards of all kinds masked in a bright pink and red hue.  Magic missiles tipped with flame.

Then I started wondering.  Could I thread the Tailor’s Touch needle through a tattoo needle?  It could give me a whole new level of power, something that had never been seen on such a level.

I could become a god.

I picked up a tattoo needle and focused on my Tailor’s Touch patch.  I felt the magic flow through me, although a little bit uneasily.  The needle and thread danced out of the patch and in line with the inkwell.  I placed them over one of my simpler sigils on my shoulder, hoping that coloring it in would empower it.

I felt the needles pierce my skin, the thread becoming a liquid rainbow.  I felt the power begin to course through the sigil as the ink spread across its tapestry.  I needed more.  I focused and willed additional power from my fireball patch, and a bright red hue overtook the rainbow ink.

And then it turned black.

The now onyx ink leaked out of my sigil and spread down my arm toward the patch, the magic of the sigil following it.  I stared in horror as the ink slowly drained down, creating sinister streaks of sable scars in its wake.  Ever so slowly it inched toward the patch.  Drip.  Drip.  Drip.

When it reached the patch, an indescribable pain overcame me.  I felt the magic of the patch leave my body, its rainbow threads rejecting me.  What was once a brilliant shimmering black double-stitch on a bright red satin became an ugly, singed blotch of blacks, greens, and browns.  I smelled the skin around the edges begin to smoulder, the skin itself turning an unhealthy blue-green.  The ink was beginning to race up my arm now, as well.

I suppressed the urge to scream and ran out of the parlor toward Patches’ hovel, hoping I would make it before the magic had rejected me entirely.

The Patchwarden

Patch mages and runewardens actually descend from a common ancestor, the arcane scribe.  These scribes were the first to record magic in its written form.  At first, they wrote down the various incantations and described the rituals and movements necessary.  Eventually these works were condensed into a form of shorthand, the first sigils.

Over time, powerful arcane scribes learned to use these sigils in much the same way that the rituals they described were used.  Through concentration, willpower, and raw talent, one could learn to activate the sigils and bring forth their magic.  Those who were capable of doing this were named the first runewardens, keepers of the scrolls, defenders of magic.  The tradition of tattooing the sigils came shortly thereafter, removing the need for spellbooks.

Other less conventional scribes learned to imbue armor and clothing with their magic.  They tailored fine cloaks, forged strong suits of armor, and embroidered or etched their sigils into them.  They found in this format that the sigils themselves could be used more fluidly and more powerfully, though at a cost of reliability.  The more eccentric of these arcane tailors became the first patch mages, sewing the patches directly onto their skin to attain the most control.

I concentrated on my breast, right where my first patch had been stitched.  Below it on my skin was a different ward spell, Iron Thorns.  I focused my mind and my heart, willing both to activate.

A bright red, pink, and blue glow filled the tattoo parlor.  I felt the familiar warmth of the patch against my skin.  I opened my eyes and saw my body covered in a layer of rainbow-colored thorns, a heavy emphasis on pinks and reds.

It worked.

The Magic of the Runewarden

It had been a few weeks since the last time I had used my sigils, so I decided it was a good time to go out to the local parlor and practice a little.  I sat down in the middle of the parlor, focused, concentrated on my sigils, and activated them one by one.

Runeward magic behaves very differently from patch magic.  First off, runeward magic is more of a science than an art.  Every sigil has its own spell, its own strength, and that doesn’t change from person to person.  A runewarden may not have the ability to activate a specific sigil, but the sigil itself is no different.

The magic of the sigils comes from the standard tattoo ink.  All that is required to activate it is to have the focus to do so.  The runewarden himself has no say on how the magic is created, only the strength and focus to control it.

The runewarden himself is calm, cool, directed.  He has no room for expression, for there is no need for it.  And if there is no need, then there is only inefficiency.

The magic of the runewarden is incredibly strict.  Its rules are as solid and rigid as the lines that make up its sigils.

That’s why I was so surprised when the sigils started glowing along with the patches.

The Truest of Sights

“Unfortunately, because of the mess I made, the patch is kind of permanently stitched to what’s left of your optic nerve.  That means it’s going to be difficult to learn how to turn off the True Sight, but it’ll still be possible.”  Patches’ soft, warm smile eased my nerves a little bit.  The apprentices were still heckling and bickering, but they had somewhat died down.  “The first step is to relax and focus on the patch, much like you would to activate any other.”

I calmed down a bit more and concentrated.  I felt the flow of magic from the patch into my eye socket, focused intently on it, and willed it to stop.  A bright pink glow appeared in my vision, and I opened the empty socket.

Before me sat the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes upon.  Soft, warm skin, dazzling pink hair, bright blue eyes.  The patches on her skin sparkled in dazzling blues and greens.  She must have seen the look of amazement on my face, her gaze confused, then playfully upset.

“Wrong direction.  You’re looking to deactivate, not empower.”

Oh, that was Patches.

I closed my eyes again and refocused.  I concentrated again on the flow of magic from the patch.  I felt the patch get warmer and saw it release a bright red glow, then stopped.  I opened my eyes, and the same old Patches was sitting before me.  The apprentices were gone.

I smiled.  “So, are you going to tell me about that pink hair sometime, or am I just going to have to figure it out myself?”

Patches’ satin cheeks turned a rosy hue.  “Maybe I’ll tell you someday, when you need to know.”

The Apprentices

I bolted upright and opened my eye.  Again, I was in bed where before I was in the workshop.  A faint smell of burnt flesh permeated my sinuses.

Well shit, he survived.  Was really hoping the disintegration reached his brain.

At least his eyesight’s gone.  I think he’s probably suffered enough for now.  And besides, if he hadn’t lived, he wouldn’t still be here to harass! And where’s the fun in that?

The six were still there, now standing at the end of the bed.  Three men, three women.  Two with visible patches on their bodies.  One was missing several teeth.  Another had burn marks covering most of her body.

Patches walked into the room, noticed me staring at the end of the bed, and stitched a frown across her face.  “I see you’ve met the apprentices.”

“The apprentices?”

“Yes, my six previous failures to pass on the art of patch mage.  They really all failed themselves, but they blame me and each other for their downfalls.”  Patches let out a ragged sigh and restitched a smile.  “Enough about them.  Let’s look at that patch.  Make sure it’s healing properly now.”

The patch.  I had completely forgotten about that.  I put my hand up over my left eye and felt the stitch marks.  Nothing too out of place, but it felt like there was a lot of scarring around the edges.  Apparently the rest of the stitching didn’t go as well as before my twitch.  The area underneath the patch felt emptier than it should have, as well.

“I did everything I could, but the eye was already gone.  But that shouldn’t matter too much, the patch would have covered it up anyway.  And since it looks like the patch is working well, that shouldn’t be a problem at all.”

Snickers came from the end of the bed.  Yeah, but that botched stitching had to be painful as fuck.  And you’re gonna make him live with that experience for the rest of his life.

She turned to the end of the bed, her patches glowing bright pink and blue with rage.  “Will you just shut up and leave him alone!?  You didn’t do much better, Alphonse, what with your very first patch rejecting you.”

Her patches shimmered a bit, then dulled back down.  “Well, now that you’re feeling better, let’s see if we can’t get these assholes out of your head for a while.”

Cross My Heart, Hope to Die

“Oh no.  Hold still honey, or else it’s gonna be much worse.”

Having a magical sewing needle stuck into your eye is one of the most excruciating pains one can experience.  The feeling of the point pressing into the eyeball and the thread sliding through the cornea is terrible enough.  To have it paired with the sensation of all its magical energy now coursing through your nervous system is unbearable.

Needless to say, I screamed.

HA!  You deserved that, you master-stealing bastard!  Your patch is ruined, your eye jabbed out!  That’s rich!  The voices kept coming, mixed in with my screams and Patches’ futile attempts to calm me down.  The people were still there, and now there were red, white, and rainbow streaks flooding my sight as well.  I felt my optic nerve start to burn away from inside my skull, and everything slowly faded to black.

Patch Four

“Just hold still and this won’t hurt.  Much.”  Patches grimaced as she placed the newly-stitched swatch of cloth over my left eye.  I closed them both in preparation for what was about to come.

We decided that my fourth patch was to be my first divination spell.  Known as True Sight, it traditionally goes over an eye due to its nature of giving true vision.  Unlike most other patches, this one actually requires another patch mage, mostly due to its location.

Also, True Sight can make you go mad.

“Okay, here we go…”  The first stitch went in just below my hairline.  I felt the needle slide against my skull, the thread in short pursuit.  The first few weren’t too terribly painful.

Then the voices started.

Why are you doing this?  Who are you to take my place?  You’re not worthy of her teachings.  I’m the true apprentice!

I forced my eyes open.  Standing behind Patches were six people I had never seen before, and they all looked angry.  Their sudden appearance made me instinctively flinch.

And Patches’ next stitch went right into my eye.