Spirit Staff of Eastern Avian Shaman
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Spirit Staff of Eastern Avian Shaman

Ama-tsu-Mikaboshi-no-Ishikawa (天津甕星の石川), Staff of Sylvain Ailier

Conspectus

When a student of magical arts is ready to venture into the world and seek out further knowledge on their own, their master will present them with a hand-crafted apparatus. The gift, usually a casting tool, is intended to guide the student’s journey by reminding them to remain true to the master’s lessons. The spirit staff's properties make the student responsible for maintaining the brotherhood of birds and to keep in touch with their master as they travel.

This particular spirit staff1 was crafted in the high mountains of Japan as a coming-of-age gift for a certain bird mage2 in training.3, 4 The creator, greater mountainkin5 Mikaboshi, honored scholar of the celestial arts, hermit of the snow paths, craftsman of Eightfold Mirror Guild, applied his skill in the navigational and astrological arts to shape an apparatus that would be able to track and allow communication with individuals of avian affinity6.

Illustration

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The fragility of the apparatus indicates its primary use for communication over combat.

Knowledge

Traits:

  • Handmade, with raw materials gathered from Japanese mountain highlands
  • Elemental (Bagua)7 affinity: mountain, water, earth, heaven/sky
    • Mountain: bamboo and pine for flexibility, longevity, and self-discipline
    • Water: river crystals to help the traveling wind cross running water
    • Earth: dried berries to mark a traceable location, singing birds in particular tend to notice sweet things when tracking by thought projection
    • Sky: rice straw twine spun from thread discarded by sky-dwelling weavers, to hold the rest together.
  • Focus: crane and crow feathers, to draw out the bloodline affinity

Two raven wingspans in length. If handled well, will remain consistently pristine despite environmental conditions. Darkness and decay will corrupt the staff when the relationship suffers. A respectfully-treated spirit staff will never bow to weather or time.

Nature: The spirit staff is used to magnify an innate Wind aura8 (common to those with avian, insect, sand, or dust kinship) to project thoughts and mental images to lesser and greater avian-allied individuals9 over great distances.10, 11

To commune, one needs air and sky. The staff will call the wind to carry songs shaped from aura. You cannot commune without song or air; speak aloud, sing to those you wish to reach.12

Be wary: though the staff is mighty and the communion true, it can only sustain willing conversation. You cannot make others speak to you, nor can you penetrate protective magicks. The farther apart you are in spirit and in flesh the more difficult the communion will be.

The Loyalty of the apparatus appears to be Steadfast13 as the effects will only manifest for current custodian.

History & Associated Parties: Crafted by the greater mountainkin Mikaboshi-sama following the completion of his eighty-eighth14 apprentice’s training. Said apprentice, Sylvain Ailier, is the current custodian.

Approach: Communing activates with the (spoken or thought) invocation “see with my eyes, let me fly with thee”. You need not touch the staff but it is simpler to be near it. The staff is nearly as steadfast as the custodian’s will and song. Do not waver; else you will need to repair the apparatus.

Though its allegiance is solely to the custodian, the staff is safe to hold for those without ill intent. Should those impure in intention attempt to handle it, the staff will call down a flock of one thousand birds that shall inflict one thousand cuts.15

Other Detail: Additional affinities may be established with addition of feathers from regular contacts. Too many added feathers confuses the linking, do not attempt to add further decoration to attempt enhancement. The master knew what he was doing.

Also, does not appear to influence communication with ostrich16 or other flightless birds17, will need to rectify this somehow (recommendations include fish oil and dirt).

Observations & Stories

Though the names of mountainkin apprentices are seldom shared, Mikaboshi students who loyally carry their coming-of-age staffs are fairly quick to recognize each other, as each staff bears a distinct six-pointed star-like design and incorporates the signature rice fiber twine. It is rumored that in times of dire hunger or danger, carriers of Mikaboshi staffs may unwind pieces of the twine and use it for various purposes, including trap materials, woven rope, or even sustenance. If used sparingly, the twine is said to “regrow” itself over time, nurtured by the reverence its owner has bestowed upon it. -甕星

Doubt

A few fellow crafters question the legitimacy of Mikaboshi’s crafting talent.18, 19 Given his reported air-headedness and tendency to become easily distracted by anything in the sky that moves (and his alleged acquaintance with folklore figure Hikoboshi “the cow-herder star”), it is possible that Mikaboshi is not the sole creator of his trademark staffs, but rather a lesser contributor. As a mountainkin, he is able to gather the materials necessary, but the actual crafting is sometimes said to take place within the sky, among the stars.20, 21, 22 It is rumored that Mikaboshi merely passes on his collected supplies to be assembled into apparatus by those who are able impart the abilities that the staffs eventually carry.

Similarly, the rice straw fiber is often associated with another artisan. The celestial “weaving princess” Orihime, in exchange for the mountainkin watching over the magpies that form a bridge between her and her lover Hikoboshi, is whispered to have spun a legendary twine that would ensure the survival of any quick-witted student. Mikaboshi’s chance relationship with magpies has led him to prefer to train students with avian affinities.

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