What am I looking for? Some advice, some critique, what you thought was good, what you thought was terrible. Your first reaction. Things like that. Any thoughts you have would be welcome.
I hope you enjoy reading this.
White Ritual is the easiest and safest. White Rituals generally have little effect on the caster or anyone around them. They affect energy, usually creating light or warmth, though they are also often used to cool a thing or area. White Ritual demands less precision than most other rituals.
Green Ritual requires more precision than White Ritual, but is still reasonably safe unless poorly applied. Green Ritual affects the environment, usually plants.
Blue Ritual requires great precision and is more dangerous than Green Ritual. Blue Ritual affects the physical bodies of living beings. Performed incorrectly, it can easily kill or cause suffering. However, it can also be used to heal injuries.
Yellow Ritual affects the weather. It requires great precision and can cause great havoc, which is why it is rarely attempted except in cases of great desperation.
Grey Ritual affects inanimate objects. It requires great precision but is generally safe. This is the ritual type generally used in halfling ritualistic technology.
Red Ritual is the most dangerous type. It affects thought and emotion. It is the hardest to control, and the most demanding of precision. Errors that would be irrelevant in other rituals can kill, drive the affected to insanity, or otherwise severely damage their minds. Red Rituals can affect the caster, someone else, or both. They always affect living beings. Red Ritual is highly addictive, and hence has been banned by order of King and Senate.
-From a student's essay on ritual
Though she had performed this ritual many times before, the priestess was just as careful this time as she had been every other. She drew the runes upon the wall, runes to call light encircling the symbol of her faith, drawn in chalk upon stone.
Once done, she backed away, placing the chalk into a pocket, and began the ritual. Here, so far from any ley line, it was difficult to call enough power for any but the simplest of rituals. More precision was needed.
She began with the traditional invocation of her people.
"By rite and rune."
As the priestess spoke, she stretched out her hands to hold them out to the symbol drawn upon the wall. She felt the magic coming, felt it draw into her and then flow out into the runes, and she smiled at the familiar sensation.
"By sun and star. In the name of our Lord, let light spill forth."
The symbol drawn upon the wall began to glow softly.
The priestess turned, still smiling, and went to complete her preparations.
Raima examined her daughter's work critically.
"Redo that one," she said, pointing to a rune.
Imani obediently erased the contested rune and redrew it.
"Better," Raima said with a nod. "You are progressing well in your studies, Imani."
"Thank you, Mother," Imani said quietly.
"You are ready, I think, to assist me in tending the garden," Raima pronounced.
"Truly, Mother?" Imani asked excitedly. Raima's garden contained many delicate plants - relatively small errors in the rituals could ruin them.
"Yes," Raima said warmly. "Come, there is work to do."
Imani obediently stood up and followed her mother out of the door.
It was hard to form runes here in the forest. Imani had to cut away most of the plants in a circle, and then cut the runes into the dirt beneath them.
It was work, but she did it calmly and carefully. She could not afford to mess up now.
Not with Kar's life depending on it.
Kar watched as his sister's daughter worked around him, a slight, fond smile touching his lips. Imani was a good girl.
He almost wished... wished what?
Kar's thoughts faded into darkness before he could work out what he wished.
When Kar awoke, his injuries were gone, but he was surrounded.
A human man stood with one arm around Imani, who silently watched all that was happening with the calm she had long practiced. The human, indeed everyone there except Imani and Kar, wore a police badge.
A halfling, clearly the senior police officer, had a stunrod pointed at Kar's chest.
"Get up slowly, elf," she snarled. "You're under arrest for the murder of the elf Kiro."
Kar decided that what he wished most of all was that his brother was still alive.
The ritual itself was not his favorite part.
Nor was it the rain falling.
No, Rathor's favorite part of Yellow Ritual was the expressions on people's faces when the drought ended.
It was a pity that responsibility prevented him from using Yellow Ritual too often, but just because he was human did not mean he lacked a conscience or the capacity to recognize consequences, no matter what the more racist halflings said.
Amar was so very bored.
Stupid project for a stupid basic-level class that he could have passed in his sleep five years ago-!
But if he wanted to graduate, he had to do it, so the young halfling heaved a sigh of frustration and got to work.
This piece went there, and that one went there, and a few adjustments like so...
And of course, the words of the ritual.
"Move and still, turn and stay, carry..."
Amar smirked at his creation. It was such a simple, trifling thing, but he felt a sense of accomplishment at being done with it.
Amar decided to ride the little autocart to class the next day. Sure, it was showing off a bit, but what was life without a little fun?
She had no chance. She knew that.
She was not sure she minded.
But she ran anyway.
Why was she running away?
It was hopeless, she knew. They would find her, take her back there.
She would die.
Would that death be so bad?
Every moment she kept running, she delayed death a little longer.
She was not sure it mattered.
Mari did not want to die.
But she could never live.
Mari sank to the ground, shivering. She missed it already. She had never realized how much she craved it.
Not that she had had long to judge. How long had it been? A day, two?
Mari staggered to her feet. She had to keep running-
-she had to find it-
-she had to get away-
-she had to go back-
Where was she going? What was she doing?
Mari stumbled, fell, and did not get up.
She could not remember.
She needed the ritual. Then it would not matter.
No! She could not-
She had to.
She could not perform that ritual. It would kill her if she tried.
She would die if she did not.
Shaking, Mari began to draw in the dirt of the unpaved road.
"Human female," the coroner reported in a bored tone, "dead of a poorly-cast Red Ritual."
"Another Redhead," growled a dwarf policeman, slamming one fist into the wall.
"Kindly don't damage the building," the Chief of Police said evenly.
"It's the fifth one this week, Chief!"
"I'm well aware of that," she said, still calm, "but breaking walls won't help us deal with the problem."
The dwarf growled again, but elected not to hit more things.
"Are you sure she cast the ritual herself?" asked a different policeman, an orc.
"Sure as I can be," said the coroner. "She'd clearly been casting a ritual when she died, and there were no signs of any other rituals in the area."
The Chief shook her head.
"I'm aware that you two think there's some sort of sinister conspiracy involving Red Ritual," she said, "but there simply isn't enough evidence to support that theory. Stop wasting your time on dead ends and work on something productive."
With that advice, the Chief of Police left the room.
"Halflings," the dwarf growled. "Always thinkin' they know everything."