Everyone born in the world has an attribute commonly called one's "luck," one's "magic," or, in Tichenese fashion, one's "power." This magic manifests itself on birthdays, and then only for so long as one's mother was in labor. During this birthday luck period, one's fortune will be unusual, either good or bad in tiny, quirky, often unnoticeable ways. It is customary for people who are content with their lives to stay indoors during their birthdays in hope of avoiding situations where a freak of chance may intervene in their fate. Except for birthdays, this luck period is a minor matter for the average person. For anyone who wishes to be a magician, it is crucial.
During the birthday luck period, it is possible to perform magic. It is not, however, easy. The study of magic requires years of practice, which cannot be achieved to any significant degree during the few hours each year of an individual's birthday luck. The solution is to transfer the essence of one's magic (one's "luck") from one's physical self into another thing or being. Then, so long as one is within three paces of the vessel containing one's luck, one can practice magic throughout the year. This transference, called investiture, can only be done during the birthday luck period.
Investiture is extremely difficult for novices. If a would-be wizard can't invest birth magic into a vessel before the birthday luck period ends, the luck is freed and the person sickens, and within a few days, dies. Therefore, magicians study the theory of investiture for years and practice tiny magics during their birthday luck periods until they are ready to attempt investiture. If the transference is successful, the serious practical study and eventual mastery of magic may begin.
A consequence of investiture is that a magician's luck is more predictable than that of other people, being slightly benevolent during the magician's natal anniversary and slightly malevolent for an equal period six months later on the midyear day. Every birthday, the magician's magic leaves the vessel in which it has been placed and returns to the magician's body for renewal. The magician must then reinvest it before the period of birthday magic ends. If this is not done, the magician will be without magic for the next year.
If the vessel of a magician's luck is lost or stolen, it may be destroyed by the magician's enemies during the ill luck hours of the magician's midyear day, thus destroying the magician's luck forever. The magician whose luck has been destroyed invariably sickens, but having already been weaned from luck, will usually recover, no longer subject to the yearly whims of fate—and no longer able to practice magic. If the vessel of luck is destroyed at any time other than the midyear period, the luck will merely be freed from its vessel to return to the magician's body at the magician's next birthday.
Master magicians who lose the vessel of their magic or who choose to spend a year without investing their power have one advantage over their nonmagical fellows. Being familiar with the use of magic, they can still use magic in very tiny ways during the five or ten minutes each day that correspond to the moment of their birth. But the magicians whose luck was destroyed during their ill luck hours and the magicians who chose to bind their magic (see below) cannot draw on this "birth moment" magic.
There are many schools of magic, each holding that it is best for learning the nature and use of magic. Though the schools vary in many ways, the following facts remain true:
1. It takes years to master magic, even after successful investiture of luck.
2. No magician can use magic if the vessel of magic is not within three paces, excepting master magicians, who can do very tiny magics without their luck nearby during the five to ten minutes of each day that correspond to their birth.
3. Magic must be invested outside of the magician's body. If the vessel of magic enters the magician's body (if an invested ring is swallowed or an invested sword pierces its owner), the luck is freed.
4. Magic can only be invested in a unified thing. If that thing is significantly altered, the magic is freed. If this happens during the magician's midyear hours, the luck is destroyed.
5. Magic can be invested in a living thing, but at great risk. Death of a living vessel invariably frees the magician's luck.
6. No magician can do magic directly on his or her vessel of luck, as it is the magician's source of magic—or perhaps it is the magician's link to the source of magic; opinions vary.
7. Only acts of an immediate nature can be done directly with words or gestures by a master magician. These include such things as levitation, mind reading, fortune-telling, conjuring fire, creating simple illusions, etc.
8. Major spells must be done through ritual. The key to ritual magic would seem to be the creation of an appropriate mood, and faith in the act being undertaken. Many magicians create their own rituals, which often involve the use of arts such as painting, doll making, and storytelling to aid in defining the desired result.
9. As magicians cannot create something from nothing, and as no magician's spell can last longer than a year (when luck returns to the magician's body), magical artifacts are rare. Only a major magician can create one, during the time of that magician's birthday luck, by permanently investing an object with magic, leaving the magician forever magicless. This process is called binding, to distinguish it from the temporary investiture. A magical artifact is almost impossible to destroy, and its destruction means the physical dissolution of its creator. However, the creator's death will not affect the artifact's existence.
Magical artifacts may be used by anyone who knows their secret, but they never have more than one magical function, for the process of binding demands intense focus of will.