1st level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
“…the bitter grin, the hidden sin,
the smoke evolves like burning tar.
To bide by me, your inner fire
will eat away the things you are.
My ancient kin, to keep me in:
their faithless curse of cold-iron bars.
Feel the beating of my prison!
Two bright souls on bright collision!
Keep the sacred, secret vision!
Dance among the burning stars!”
(Excerpt from Act II Scene I of Maralla and The Opalescent Dream)
Well do we know the tragic tale of the beautiful Maralla and of Glamdras, the banished Fey prince who fell in love with her. This dramatic play is popular with all manner of travelling performance troupes, and scarcely a month or two will pass without a production of The Opalescent Dream being performed somewhere or other.
What is less well-known about this play is that it is one of the few instances where a spell’s first known written account appears in a work of fiction. In the famous first scene of the second act, Glamdras lights Maralla’s way through the mystical caves which take her from the mortal world to his realm. She does not see her benefactor, for he is in the Feywild, but she does see the skin of dancing multicoloured flames which coat her and everything around her, without burning, and which unmask the Fey illusions which both confound her and conceal his prison. Well, we also know that their union is doomed to end in tragedy, and when Maralla flees back to the mortal realm she finds that hundreds of years have passed, and that all she knew and loved are long gone.
The modern spell of Faerie Fire does not, of course, derive its potency from the magicks of the Feywild – despite claims from some romantics that, when cast within that plane, the faint whispering of the still-imprisoned Glamdras may be heard, lamenting for his lost love. Nor should we take its curious first written appearance as indication that the spell was unknown before the author of The Opalescent Dream put it to pen. Rather it is a fairly standard modification to the Evocation cantrip, Light, and one whose derivation is often given to promising Evocation students as extra credit work. We may therefore safely assume that any ancient evoker of moderate skill would have intuitively understood the manner and method of casting Faerie Fire, even if they did not think of it as a spell in its own right.
Perhaps The Opalescent Dream was indeed the original inspiration for Faerie Fire, inasmuch as it is considered a distinct ‘spell’ — that would explain the name, at least.
Learning and Casting Faerie Fire
Once one has mastered Light, that most basic and useful of spells, one is ready to move onto Faerie Fire. The manipulation of light sources is a common thread through many magicks, and in particular the shaping of an evoked source is the logical next step in strengthening one’s abilities in this area.
The relative permanence of the Light cantrip is given up; by eschewing physical materials the spell is made more fluid (so more malleable), but more transient. Finding the place within where this shaping comes from requires a personal effort on the part of the student, and can be very specific to individuals, so cannot easily be conveyed by writing. It is not necessarily difficut, but can be personal, requiring the aspiring evoker to be in tune with both themselves and the inner nature of magickal light.
The student must find that place within themselves from which the constructive aspect lashes forth. The sensation of bursting power as one evokes light and matter into being is familiar to them by now, but more than likely they have never before attempted to rein that power in, to ride it, and to check and control its passage. These first few attempts are fumbling, as the student has not yet built up the ability to remain in that state of both focus and relaxation, but very soon concentrating in this manner becomes second nature.
Due to its nature as a personal development, the verbal component of Faerie Fire varies from caster to caster. There are some common elements, however. Experience has shown that it is most easily cast when spoken with a vowel,lengthened consonant, VOWEL pattern (with the final vowel spoken forcefully), such as “Esssssa, or “Innnnno“. With the consonant, draw your concentration inwards, and with the forceful vowel, mentally flick the Faerie Fire at your desired target.
Faerie Fire appears as a skin of light around all surfaces within a 20ft radius (targeted anywhere up to 60ft away). This includes creatures if they are not fast enough to dodge through it before it sticks. Creatures lit this way will not benefit from any invisibility, as the light illuminates their forms regardless. A dedicated caster will be able to maintain this effect for as long as one minute, though this requires continued concentration.
The colour of the light varies from caster to caster, and is usually involuntary, a reflection of one’s magickal habits (though some practiced few can dictate the colour at the time of casting) . It should be noted that the light does not behave like flames, is usually of a single colour, and definitely does not burn away illusion-like enchantments — unlike its dramatic appearance in The Dream. This is further indication that any connection to the Fey and their realm is purely literary.
Failure and Success
Students who fail to focus the spell correctly may find themselves afflicted by any of several side-effects, accompanied with either total or partial failure of the intended effect. Common ones include:
- the caster’s shadow turns the colour of the intended light,
- light will instead issue from the caster’s nose and mouth,
- instead of sticking to surfaces, the light will slip off and flow downwards like water, or rise like smoke, or otherwise move strangely.
Interestingly, students who fail catastrophically at the spell (by accidentally reversing the nature of their intent) will find that they remove a small amount of light from the target area. These lucky few have prematurely stumbled upon the next step in their evocations training. Indeed, the Darkness spell is a further refinement of an evoker’s understanding of the magickal manipulation of Light, and another descendant of that most useful cantrip.
– from The Writings of Markus Tydwyl, Arcano-Historian, Scholar at Oldhaven.