Yao Yu’s Ephemeris

I have the gift of Sight.

Even a gentle brush with cosmic aether allows me to Gaze deep into the Heavens. During these trances, I have witnessed phenomena beyond imagination. In the Outer World exists forces more beautiful and destructive than anything found on Astraeus or within any of its vast planes.

With my instruments, I harvest the rich aether abundant among the stars. Manipulating this aether allows me to recreate cosmic events, thus showing the world the might of the Heavens.

To chart the Heavens is my calling. To use its power for good is my duty. This is my ephemeris, my life’s work. One day–though not one terribly soon–this will be all that is left of me. May my contributions to astronomy live on forever in the discoveries I have made and the words I ink onto these pages.


Contents


Researcher’s Notes

Aether is the energy that sustains life and fuels magic. There is aether in the Heavens, in the air we breathe, in the food we consume, in every plant and every animal. Life ends when one’s aether “supply” depletes. Upon death, the aether returns to the universe. Every person is born with aether flowing through them. Some people’s inherent aether is stronger than others, and this allows them to have a better capacity for the magical arts.

Without the Sight, none of this research would be possible. To whoever bestowed upon me this gift: Thank you. I can never repay your generosity, I can only ensure that it is never wasted.


The Fury of the Heavens

The Star Eater

Last night when I gazed into the Heavens I saw something that filled me with dread. An unseen force began to rip apart a massive star, siphoning its essence into a void in space. The stolen essence was spun into a swirling, whirlpool-like disk around the void hole. In a mere matter of seconds, the brilliant star was devoured. 

An image of the stellar-mass black hole, Cygnus X-1, devouring a nearby star.
By NASA/CXC/M.Weiss [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Is this a sign of the end of the world? Are there really empty holes in the Outer World devouring stars, and what else might they feast upon? Is there one lurking beside us right now, preparing to swallow Astraeus up? Perhaps they are simply portals to the Void, though this is not a comforting thought either.

Shooting Stars

Falling sky objects have commonly been called “stars” but this is an inaccurate designation. From what I have observed, these objects are actually made up of rocks, debris, ice particles, and vapors. There are, however, actual shooting stars whirling at unbelievable speeds through the Heavens. I very much enjoyed hurling one of these stellar runaways at a particularly vain and troublesome wizard.

No, I do not mean Jae.

Rain From the Heavens

Stars or not, the falling debris I mentioned can be quite dangerous. If a big enough comet or Outer World rock were to crash into Astraeus, that could spell disaster for life as we know it. One such occurrence happened mere centuries ago, and it nearly split half the world in two. If the rocks are small enough, however, they fall to Astraeus uneventfully. Many of these falling at once is known as a “star shower” and it is quite lovely to watch.

But perhaps it is, I would imagine, much more terrifying if these shooting stars came raining down upon you as molten rock and searing balls of fire. From my research during the war, I can conclude that people enjoy star showers much more than they enjoy the fire showers conjured by an opposing army’s mages.

Death of a Star

A image of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/SAO

When a star loses the power to sustain itself, the core of the star collapses. Then there is a final, cataclysmic eruption. Though this happens so unimaginably far away from Astraeus, the event is so powerful that we are able to see this blinding explosion as a bright dot on the night sky. What this violent, radiant death leaves behind in the Outer World are brightly colored clouds–a most elegant gravestone.

Bursts of Power

I once thought I had been given a second chance to witness a Star Eater, but to this day I am unsure of what I saw. When I entered the Gaze I found myself staring into a flaming whirlpool, not unlike the one that had surrounded the first Star Eater. However, this time I could not see a void at the core of the disk. There was only the swirling storm of clouds and energy, brightest and hottest at its center.

Artist rendering of a quasar, a red accretion disk shooting out a beam of white light
Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Without warning,  a radiant burst of wild energy shot out from the center of the disk. Both fear and awe overcame me. Somehow, my instincts told me that this stream of blinding light and raw power could incinerate me in an instant.  I awoke from the trance as one might from a nightmare, shaking, sweating, and pale. 

Was this another kind of Star Eater? Are these two entities related?

Perhaps a weakened version of this magic could aid me in battle. If I could channel a large amount of magic into a single, concentrated point, will the magic be more powerful when it is forced back out?  I will need Jae to help me test this, though I doubt he will object to anything that would enhance his powers.

Cosmic Prison

For days I could not stop thinking about that strange encounter with the funny little wizard Vashnar. Pardon, I meant Vashnar the Forsaken. He had an affinity for cosmic magic and if the circumstances had been different I would have loved to sit down and talk with him. Alas, he tried to kill my husband.

At one point, Vashnar drew runic symbols in the air and was able to trap Jae in a magicked prison. I have to wonder what kind of Heavenly phenomena created the aether used in that spell. Does it have to do with the invisible “pull” stars and planets have? What pull could be so strong that nothing has any hope to escape it?

Cloaked in Flames

I once saw a raging fireball, pulsing chaotically with hot energy and gas. I wondered if I was witnessing a star nearing the end of its life. It was not until I looked closer that I realized that the star was actually caught in the center of the flaming cloud. Imagine walking into the battlefield, cloaked in this powerful, raging fire. What a sight that would be to your enemies.

The nebula M1-67 surrounds exploding star Wolf-Rayet 124
By Judy Schmidt [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

Irresistible Thrall

Not long ago I was able to harvest aether from a particular interesting star. It appeared to have an incredibly strong and inescapable pull. Now, we have reasons to believe that Astraeus too has a pull–through we are unsure of what exactly it is or what might be causing it–but this star’s thrall exceeded anything I’d seen before.

I thought this might be related to the prison Vashnar conjured, so I took to the field. When I tested this aether in battle, it summoned a glowing sphere of magic that pulled anything and everything toward it. I was dragged nearly halfway across the field before I was able to break the spell. So, the mystery of the inescapable prison goes unsolved, but I suppose this little blue sphere might be useful, in small doses, for fetching things from across the room.

Solar Gales

Our patron star is actually quite active. Its surface, which I would certainly be unable to view without the Sight, bubbles with movements and likes to spit out arcs and plumes of fire, sometimes even giving off hot and forceful wind-like energy. Why it does this, I have not yet discovered. Naturally, this mysterious phenomena has inspired another spell. Cutting through the battlefield with burning gales sounds like an entertaining experiment to try.

Red Storm

I have noticed “red storms” brewing in the air on several planets surrounding Astraeus. These storms must be massive because I can see them clearly from quite a distance. As of now, I am unsure of whether these are similar to the traditional storms we experience on Astraeus or if these storms hide something more sinister. Portals to other planes, perhaps?

A false color image of Saturn's polar
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Unleashing torrential rains and howling gales upon my enemies is a favorite tactic of mine, but I have yet to try doing so while coating the rain and wind in red magic. I can only imagine that people might find it quite unsettling.

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Caressed by Stardust

Stardust in Our Blood

We have determined that cosmic aether is actually not very different from aether found on Astraeus, in our water, in our air, and in our blood. The same aether that has the power to create and destroy stars and shape the Heavens is found within our own bodies. This is the most incredible revelation astronomy has ever given us. This is also why cosmic magic is such a potent force of healing. I can use it to close wounds, to cure abnormalities, and to cleanse the humors.

Image showing the brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life, resembling a glittering fireworks display
NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Does this mean that we were born of the stars? The Astraeans, whose ancient ancestors first discovered and settled this planet, believe that life did not originate here, that we come from somewhere in the Outer World. Dragons believe this too.

Stellar Sacrifice

Some stars exist as a couple. I like to think of these as lovers, and perhaps one day there will be some great, romantic myth told about them. However, love can be arduous. When one of the stars’ aether is much stronger than the other’s, the more powerful star may actually begin to siphon the energy from the weaker star.

While this sounds tragic, I have used this concept for good. Some wounds can only be cured by very serious magic. During the war, there were many times where I had to sacrifice the aether sustaining my life force and give it to someone in need. It is a taxing and exhaustive process, and if you are not careful you could give too much and lose your own life. Thankfully I am professional. I am also a dragon, which, I am sure, helps a little bit.

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Blessings of the Cosmos

Cosmic Protection

There is a sphere of brilliant, blue gas surrounding Astraeus. I do not believe it can be seen without the Sight, as it has not been observed by any other astronomer to my knowledge. The purpose of this sphere is a mystery to me. Is it meant to protect us from something, or protect something from us? From where did these blue vapors come? Whatever its purpose, it has given me an idea. I may be able to manipulate this aether into something that enshrouds and protects my allies.

The Lovers

We have observed instances where two stars seem to inhabit the same orbit, existing and traveling together in a close pair. These are commonly called twin stars, though like twins born on Astraeus, they are not always identical. Between you and I, I prefer to think of them as lovers rather than twins. Whenever I discover a pair in which one star is much larger than the other, I pretend that one is Jae, as to accurately reflect the size of his ego.

An artist's impression of a binary star system that depicts two glowing, cerulean-blue stars connected at the middle.
ESO/L. Calçada [CC 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I began to consider the uses for this in battle. Suppose I create two “stars” and assign one to each member of a two-person party. These stars could act as beacons that would allow the party to find each other if ever separated. They might also enhance magical abilities when in close proximity to each other. Stronger together, as they say. 

The Family

We are not alone. At night the sky is speckled with millions of stars, and even the naked eye can observe nearby planets. Astraeus seems to be part of a cosmic family. That is, a grouping of stars and planets and other Heavenly objects all in orbit together.

If I apply my lover stars theory to a group of people, I can recreate a cosmic family. This may not be useful in enhancing magical powers, as that would require the aether to be stretched too thin, but it could prove effective in situations where keeping track of the party and staying together is critical. Think, for instance, travel through the dark or treacherous terrain.

Safety Within the Clouds

The Sight once brought me somewhere I had never seen before. I was high above a swirling, spiral-shaped cloud. The cloud, with its vibrant splashes of blues and purples and whites, was speckled with small, glittering dots that I could only guess were thousands of stars. At the center of the cloud was a warm, orange glow. A massive star?

A photograph of the Pinwheel galaxy, a circular, spiraling galaxy with greenish-orange arms and bright red spots along the edges
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

Looking down at it, safety and comfort washed over me. The cloud felt like… home. Was this the place from where Dragons came? Was this what Astraeus looked like at its birth? Or was Astraeus somewhere down there, beneath the clouds and among the stars?

Even if my feelings have misled me, I have discovered that “cosmic clouds” make for an effective smokescreen when in a pinch. Or when you cross paths with an old acquaintance and do not care to hear about his new post and five children.

Ice Armor

There appears to be a massive belt, so to speak, of deeply frozen debris and particles encircling Astraeus and its neighboring cosmic entities. The origin and purpose of this belt elude me, and I wonder how all of these different particles found each other and manage to travel together in a tight group.  This has, however, inspired an idea.

What if we were to wear not just a belt of ice, but a full suit of armor made of ice? I began to test whether or not there was a way to coat someone in a magical, protective layer of ice that would react to outside attacks without harming the person “wearing” the armor.

The results have been… mixed.

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