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Literature / Elcenia

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Elcenia is a series written by Alicorn (author of Luminosity and Hi to Tsuki to Hoshi no Tama), and is currently in-progress. It consists of six novels (so far) and several single-chapter 'shorts'.

  • Summons opens when two school-age wizards summon half-elf kama Rhysel from her home world, Barashi. This would normally be mostly harmless... except that no one can undo the spell, which means Rhysel is stuck on Elcenia until someone can. Rhysel adjusts to the new planet itself fairly well, but finds herself both experiencing and creating various upheavals, ranging from the personal to the romantic to the magical.

    On the bright side, she does suddenly have a lot of time for her research.
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  • Blood is the story of Talyn, who was a secondary character in Summons. He can read minds, and does. The story starts with him breaking his arm cliff-diving, chronologically a little after the beginning of Summons. Talyn is very interested in how things work; for example, he chose to leave his arm broken longer so that he could see the healing done slowly and learn more about the process.
  • Silver is the story of Ehail, who was a tertiary character in Summons. She is a silver shren and the wizard of her house. The story starts at the very end of Summons. Ehail starts dating Gyre, Rhysel's brother.
  • Empaths is the story of Ilen, another tertiary character in Summons, a jade shren that takes care of babies and suffers panic attacks over even the mention of the outside world.
  • Siaddaki is the story of Mallyn, an abused teenager who comes to Elcenia to seek help.
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  • Red is the story of Finnah, a shren who lives in the Kep Island Shren House until she moves to Binaaralav Academy to learn kamai.

Elcenia's discussion thread.


Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Due to some Deliberate Values Dissonance, people in Elcenia see Rhysel's parents as abusive because they use corporal punishment. Rhysel insists they aren't. But as it turns out, her mother is emotionally abusive to her, due to irrational fear of her spontaneous kamai. She finally gets better late in Silver.
    • In Silver and Siaddaki, Mallyn's parents are abusive even by the standards of Aristan, a nation full of abusive parents.
  • Adult Fear: in Silver when the egg-parents of Ehail and Gyre's adoptive children start showing up to claim them.
  • All There in the Manual: Two main indices, one for setting and one for characters.
  • Alternative Calendar: One for each world. Neither particularly resembles ours.
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  • Beware of the Nice Ones: Tekaal, polite, cordial, sometimes distant. Don't anger him.
  • Blessed with Suck: Hearers, vampires that hear objects talking about themselves. Every object, all the time. And they can't turn it off. Vampiric Inanimate Audition is considered a mental illness because it eventually does make the vampires crazy.
  • Bittersweet Ending. Not to all novels, only with Empaths, it ends with Ilen and Hallai breaking up due to her using empathy to manipulate him, Ilen is left alone and still unsure how to take care of himself, but he at least has family and friends now
  • Body Surf: Barashin demons.
  • Bond Creatures: Wolfriders are magically bonded as infants with sapient wolves.
  • Bungled Suicide: Tsuan, after being confronted with Ilen's existence attempts suicide in a manner that only afterward she remembers could not have possibly killed her. The doctors call it an "announcement of distress", an assessment she deems "probably about right".
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Talyn finds himself in one in Blood. To wit, he needs to shapeshift out of vampire form to eat something, but he's been in that form so long that he's too hungry to cast the spell. He ends up having to ask an elf neighbor for permission to drink her blood.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The magical abilities of Elcenian dragons are linked to their color.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: For unethically summoning Rhysel, Korulen is sentenced to tutor wizarding ethics to the younger students until the summoning can be reversed.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Spontaneous kyma, who have less control over their powers.
  • The Dark Arts: A subset of kamai is called the "forbidden workings" and includes transferring lifespan from one person to another. This is implied to be one of the least nasty parts of the forbidden workings; the forbidding came after a worldwide war against the abuse of power by kyma. When Rhysel admits that she considered giving Samia some of her lifespan, Revenn admits that this isn't exactly the reason this sort of thing was forbidden, but reminds her that even benign forbidden workings tend to result in Slowly Slipping Into Evil.
  • Dhampyr: Half-vampires are... problematic. Vampire biology doesn't match up with that of other species at all, so a half-vampire has a malformed semi-random mixture of the two and will be sickly their whole life, if they're even viable enough to avoid miscarriage. Vampires tend to disapprove of mixed relationships as a result — except in the case of dragons, since dragon genetics override all this.
  • Didn't Think This Through: How Summons starts. Korulen and Saasnil co-cast a summoning spell to prove a point to Nemaar... the problem is, co-casting can't be used for reversals. Which means Rhysel's stuck until one of them can reverse it on their own.
  • Elemental Powers:
    • Rhysel is an elemental kama, which means she can manipulate all four elements.
    • Mages on Elcenia get power over one such element after "dying" by that element: for instance, a water-type would drown, but be alive at the end.
  • Exposition Beam: Corvan's Master working was to invent this. The spell's caster and target can essentially have a lengthy conversation in the span of a few seconds — they can't use creative thought at that speed, but it's good for exchanging information.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The countries of Ertydo and Egeria are both notoriously hostile toward dragons. This only comes up once, when it was instrumental in having Samia's death faked for her.
    • Wolfriders used to be considered unintelligent, because their language is built around their telepathy, and the common translation spells didn't account for that. Narax invented a new translation spell specifically to solve that problem, and the stereotype has been fading away since then.
    • Biologically, shrens seem to be the same species as dragons, but dragons and shrens agree that shrens are not dragons. This sentiment is due at least in part to how the Draconic language works.
    • Hearers, who are considered insane, despite actually having the power to hear objects; see Blessed with Suck.
    • Barashin Dragons are far less kind to humanoids than the Elcenia counterpart.
    • The nation of Ryganaav is brutal to all non-humans, as well as everyone with magical abilities.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Ryganaav: land of sand, camels, religious fundamentalism, and strongly defined gender roles.
  • Feel No Pain: Downplayed with shrens — while they do feel pain, twenty years of esu tends to accustom them to ignoring it as meaningless. Ehail has to explain that "four months esu" is the line between an ignorable scratch and a dangerous injury.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Invoked — when Keo, who loves spicy food, takes Rhysel to one of her favorite restaurants, Rhysel doesn't think to ask about the little stars marking each dish on the menu.
    When Keo asked what Rhysel thought of the food, Rhysel's response was to breathe a little puff of fire at her; this was technically kamai, not a side effect of her "pepper rice", but it felt like it ought to be.
  • Fish out of Water: See Trapped in Another World.
  • Flat World: Elcenia is one; planets there are naturally regular polygons (though the moon is round, gray, and dusty...)
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Anyone looking at a Barashin god sees the same kind of person as themself. This is actually quite uncomfortable for Mindlink Mates, who have the headache-inducing experience of seeing the god in two forms simultaneously.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Enforced by the vampire religion. Drinking someone's blood without their explicit permission is a mortal sin — and you have to ask (or they have to offer) every time, even if they've given you standing permission.
  • Functional Magic: Several kinds. Barashi has kamai, which is Force Magic fueled by mana, and the gods will sometimes intervene if requested and paid. Elcenia has several, of which the most prominent in the story so far is wizardry, a form of Rule Magic or Ritual Magic that mostly behaves like engineering, and witchcraft, which is alchemy.
  • Geometric Magic: Wizardry (see Functional Magic above) uses circle diagrams for some spells. The website uses summoning circles as a design motif.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • Rhysel and her siblings are half human, half elf. Barashin "halfbloods" breed true — any elf ancestry plus any human ancestry has the exact same result. Elcenian "half-elves" do not — they display elfin and human traits in proportion with their ancestry.
    • Elcenian half-dragons can be either "thudias" (essentially members of the non-dragon parent's species, with a few added dragon traits) or "parunias" (essentially just dragons). This is entirely random, but the vast majority are thudias.
  • Healing Hands: Lights have the ability to heal anything from grievous wounds to minor headaches with a light they form by cupping their hands, but they cannot heal themselves or other lights. Lights find sunlight to be very pleasing, even nutritious.
  • Hearing Voices:
    • Briefly mentioned in Summons and a major plot point in Blood, a very small percentage of vampires can hear inanimate objects speaking. Even though the voices can be used to obtain useful information, "Vampire Inanimate Audition" is classified as a mental illness, because most hearers tend to be driven out of their skulls by hearing every object, all the time.
    • Vi'Yan Rylaatin the Third, High Priest and ruler of Ryganaav, hears voices which he (and the entire nation) believes belong to the gods. A quick look with some mind kamai proves that he's just mentally ill. The ironic contrast between the two examples is lampshaded.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Customary on Barashi for those convicted of violent crime. Since this is meant to be a lawful action, the practitioners perform the smallest possible change that ensures they won't reoffend.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: Directly stated to be possible via magic, though male couples require a surrogate, and female couples can only have daughters.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Not quite human, but vampires resemble pale half-elves externally, but have dramatically different internal anatomy without a discrete circulatory or digestive system.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • Every chapter in Blood is a present participle, e.g. "Cliffdiving", "Stealing", "Geasing".
    • Every chapter in Silver is a two-syllable word, e.g. "Shyness", "Adopt", "Tiger".
    • Every chapter in Empaths is an emotion, e.g. "Gratitude", "Caution", "Limerence".
    • Every chapter in Siaddaki is a Draconic word, e.g. "Spheote" (adopted), "Noi" (safe), "Uen" (hug).
    • Every chapter in Red is a location, e.g. "Kep Island", "Binaaralav Academy", "Livahe's Restaurant".
  • I Have No Son!: Magically enforced for Elcenian dragons — anyone who breaks a "line edict" loses their line name. Gyre and Kenar do this on purpose, when the latter returns to his egg family and wants to give up Gyre's line name to take theirs.
  • I Know Your True Name: Elcenian dragon names are extremely magical. The first two syllables are given to them at birth — there's a time limit on this, and if it's missed such as with Fena/Zinc, the dragon just won't have a true name, ever. The second two syllables are the line name, which is "like a surname but not really", according to Narax. And they can gain further syllables by taking them from others' names — this requires their cooperation and is generally only done with family and close friends, but there's no strict rules on it except that it must be entirely the receiving dragon's idea, the same syllable can't be donated more than once, and a dragon can't have more than two syllables from the same person. A dragon always knows their full true name, at all times, and if it's at least four syllables, they have a unique song to go with it. If someone, anyone, sings a dragon's full name to the tune of their song, that dragon instantly knows who and where — though this is filtered through what the dragon already knows of that person and that place.For example... 
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: In Elcenian dragons not flying causes a longing called esu. After a while esu will manifest as physical pain and steadily grow worse without upper limit. The only way to end esu is flying under their own power. Shrens are dragons who can't fly with their natural wings and therefore suffer from esu continuously until they are old enough to shift into a different flying form (which is not affected) They eventually stop caring about most pain as irrelevant; a shren who broke most of her bones wasn't particularly bothered by it.
  • Immortality Begins at 20: Not actual immortality, but Elcenian dragons' human forms age ten times slower than actual humans (with the equivalent age for other races), and stops at equivalent age 20. Barashin elves and Barashin halfbloods all stop aging at 25 and stay in that age for a few centuries, then start aging again. Vampires are a straight example of this trope.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: To vampires, blood's taste is proportional to the lifespan of the creature it comes from. Elves, being fairly Long-Lived, are tasty. Dragons, living about twelve times longer, are delicious enough to be mentioned in the vampire religious texts. And Talyn, after using forbidden kamai to steal ten years off thousands of people in war-torn Ryganaav, is as a Fantastic Drug to Leekath.
  • Inconvenient Summons: Rhysel getting teleported while asleep kicks off the plot of Summons.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Pure-blooded infant dragons have a staggeringly high mortality rate in their first month of life. The first symptom is a cough; once that shows up, they're dead within an angle.
  • Interface Spoiler: Averted on the supplementary pages, all of which have a "show spoilers" button regardless of whether or not the page does in fact contain any spoilers.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Of shren babies, mostly by Barashin elves, during the events of Silver.
  • Interspecies Romance: The writing focuses on interactions between Elcenia and Barashi, and as a result there hardly seems to be any intra-species romance. As of Chapter 12 of Summons, all romantic involvement has been between people of at least partially different species.
    • As of Chapter 13 of Silver only three of the twelve most prominent couples that appeared so far are the same species through and through, with three other couples involving a partial species match with a mixed species partner.
    • Empath, the fourth book, is the first one to have a protagonist couple of the same species and planet.
    • This is part of the Draconic "culture": before marrying a dragon mate for life, they have several marriages with humanoid species.
  • Language Equals Thought:
    • By any real-world standard, shrens are dragons with a disability. The Draconic language, on the other hand, makes it very clear that shrens are not dragons at all. Another concept baked into Draconic is that a shren ceasing to be a shren by any method other than dying is a miracle — which makes it hard for Rhysel to point out that she's not a god.
    • The interlude "Zinc" explores the opposite of this trope. Dragons being natural omniglots means they can analyze a language and learn about its speakers. Pluralizing "friend" is weakly ungrammatical in the Isateian language because their culture has such a high standard for what constitutes friendship that most only ever have one.
  • Life Energy: The fuel for kamai.
  • Loophole Abuse: How Rhysel's summoning is finally broken. Elcenian summoning spells don't work on Elcenian natives, so Tekaal digs up an obscure spell that "resets" Rhysel's homeworld to Elcenia, and the summoning vanishes in a Puff of Logic. She's still on Elcenia, but now she can use sendings (which only work on Elcenian natives) to go back to Barashi any time she wants.
  • Mage Tower: An established cultural system on Barashi. A tower means "a kama lives here and is available to provide magical aid". Rhysel recreates her tower on Elcenia, but is slightly disheartened by the fact that on this world, it's just a tall building she lives in.
  • Magi Babble: with several different magic systems at once, there's a lot of this.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: True within each planet, although not between them. Which is unsurprising, given that they have different laws of physics.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: The reason why the vampire religion assigns stars based on the second midnight after the newborn's birth — this span of time is long enough to ensure that a genuine vampire infant has involuntarily shifted to and from bat form, thus proving that there was no "deception".
  • Mindlink Mates: Keo is mindlinked to her husband Kanaat — as a unique jade dragon, she has incredible power in the domain of mind magic, so this is something she can do. She also mindlinked Narax and Samia, which had nasty results when the latter's Psycho Ex attacked them with a memory-shredding spell. She relinked them when it turned out that Samia hadn't died after all, but due to a lot of circumstances, this went badly and Narax cut off the link. Keo refuses to create any more mindlinks ever again as a result.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Hearers go mad from constantly reading the minds of inanimate objects.
  • Mind Rape: The memory-shredding spell that killed Samia and nearly killed Narax is exactly as bad as that name makes it sound.
  • Mythopoeia: Mostly in the background at the present moment, though a goddess does appear.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Unique" dragons are not, strictly speaking, one of a kind — they just happen to be exactly rare enough that statistically there is probably one of each color group alive at a time.
  • One-Word Title: The title of the series as a whole and all the individual books. The series title is also an example of The Place, being the name of the world that the story is set on, at least, initially.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Barashi and Elcenia dragons come in several varieties each. Elcenian dragons are Colour-Coded for Your Convenience, voluntary shapeshifters, and much friendlier to humanoids than the Barashin kind. Both kinds live very long, breathe fire, and fly.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Elcenian elves age like humans, only three times slower, while Barashin elves age like humans until they reach adulthood, then stop aging entirely for a millennium or so.
  • Our Gods Are Different: Barashi has a singular set of 24 gods with physical forms (which they disguise to resemble whoever is looking at them) and omnipotence in matters of their own world. Their existence is a universally known fact. Elcenia has a number of mutually contradictory religions and no gods stepping forward to settle the issue. Though the god of the vampire religion is at least real enough to give Talyn appropriate visions when he's trying to convert.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Elcenia's vampires aren't undead in the sense of being created from other creatures, but rather a race that reproduces on its own like any other. They can shapeshift between bats and pale humanoids, and need to drink blood for sustenance. At one time they hunted other creatures for blood, but now they have a religious prohibition against taking blood from the unwilling. Their life spans depend on the lifespan of the creature whose blood they drink. They are harmed by the sun in humanoid form, but not in bat form. They can also use a spell for protection.
  • Overly Long Name: Dragons have a custom of copying syllables from the names of those they're close to, which adds up over the course of their very long lives.
  • The Place: The title of this series, and also a One-Word Title, as it's the name of the world that the story is set on, at least, initially.
  • Plant People: Lights have some elements of this, being able to photosynthesize, and needing more water then others.
  • Power Incontinence: Talyn's kamai, and Vampiric Hallucinatory Audition. Also, spontaneous kamai, at first.
  • Puberty Superpower: Kamai generally manifests around 12-13, or the developmental equivalent for races other then humans. Spontaneous kamai manifests a little later (around 14-15), and innate kamai manifests earlier.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivered by Tekaal to Rhysel's parents
  • Ship Sinking: Invoked by Samia, because she doesn't like the idea of Narax getting together with anyone she knows.
  • Starfish Language:
    • Wolfriders are weakly telepathic, and their language is constructed around this fact. Most species don't hear the telepathic portion of the language, and until a translation spell was invented that actually accommodated for it, many believed wolfriders were simply not that intelligent.
    • The Draconic language is constantly updating itself with no apparent intent from its speakers, and every word has an absolutely preposterous amount of meaning baked into it. Non-dragons can't learn it because it's just impossible to learn; even dragons can only "learn" it by virtue of being natural omniglots.
  • Standard Time Units: Played straight within each world, and averted between them. The day-night cycles of the two worlds have different lengths, among other things.
  • Super Empowering:
    • Rhysel's Master working is to reconstruct an old ritual that grants kamai power to those not born with it. Because this brings kamai to Elcenia, the Barashin gods declare that she is responsible for how it is used there. She takes this very seriously.
    • A method of counting Elcenian channeling capacity is modified to transfer it instead. This is the only known way for Barashin natives to use Elcenian wizardry. Talyn quietly steals every last drop of CC from everyone he meets in Ryganaav, on the grounds that they all hate magic anyway and would be glad to be rid of it if they knew — he uses some of this to give Rhysel a nice round 500 units.
  • Sympathetic Magic: Proxic kamai allows a kama to create a miniature model of the subject that, with the help of loose hair or the like, becomes synchronized to them. Rhysel uses it to fix Talyn's broken arm (and slowly, because he wants to observe the process) and Leekath uses it to make the statue's voice tell her about Talyn when he's captured by the Linnipese army.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Aar Kithen repeatedly declines Rhysel's offer of changing to First-Name Basis and keeps calling her Aaral Camlenn. Once they start dating he agrees to call her Rhysel and be called Tekaal in private.
  • Translation Convention: There's a side page dedicated to discussing it.
  • Translator Microbes: In the form of a natural dragon ability and various wizard spells and kamai.
  • Trapped in Another World: The premise of Summons. An unusual example in that Rhysel is also from a Magical Land.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Mages need to get into a situation where they would otherwise die from their associated element (falling from a height for air mages, burning for fire mages, drowning for water mages, being trapped in a cave-in or landslide for earth mages)before they can access their powers. Not all potential mages choose to go through this for obvious reasons, air mages being the most likely to do it.
  • True-Breeding Hybrid: Barashin halfbloods breed absolutely true, which is why they're not called half-elves — it doesn't matter whether they are in fact 50-50 or just have one ancestor several generations back, they display the same even split between human and elfin traits. As Rhysel puts it, "it's the blood that's halved, not the actual descent".
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: The characters occasionally mention the need to convert between the two worlds' different timekeeping systems.
  • Uneven Hybrid: Elcenian elf-human hybrids blend smoothly — the more elf, the longer their lifespan.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: One of the abilities of Elcenian dragons. Can also be done with kamai and, at least for cosmetic changes, wizardry. Vampires can shift between humanoid and bat form. Thudias can shift between their birth form and a miniature dragon form of their dragon parent's colour.
  • Wizarding School: The Binaaralav Academy of Wizardry.
  • Wrong Context Magic: the use of Barashin magic in Elcenia, and the exploitation of the differences, is a major plot driver.
  • Yandere: Arylla stalks Gyre obsessively, even after he starts dating Ehail. Gyre tolerates this because her brother is his only source for certain gems, and he has been known to refuse business to those who annoy his sister. When Ehail solves that problem by conjuring gems for Gyre, Arylla decides that Ehail must be mind-controlling Gyre and decides to Murder the Hypotenuse.

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