Bhel-Silvest (the Void)
Bhel-Silvest (commonly called the Void) is a force that exists both between and within physical worlds. Although largely imperceptible to humans, it has the ability to physically affect and alter reality, and those with a talent for magic are known to siphon its power as a tool. Although Bhel-Silvest is most notorious for affecting physiological change through prolonged contact, it is often compared to water that flows through the universe and seeps through openings. Erosion would be a natural, if sometimes unfortunate, consequence.
The largest documented concentration of Bhel-Silvest exists in Thervade, where Bhel-Silvest is theorized to have originated.
The remainder of this page will refer to Bhel-Silvest by its name in Common: the Void.
"In the Void," concept art from the video game Shimmer Dark, cancelled in 2018. Although created in the USA, the painting depicts Nimani Astra, a Kandoran archaeomage who vanished in Thervade.
Locations and Origin
The Void crosses both time and space while also having localized pockets. These pockets may be ethereal or physical, and carry varying levels of potency. The phenomena is not well understood, although potency seems to increase in relation to more physical manifestations. The prevailing theory is that the Void must take physical form in order to maximize interaction with worlds, but that this same shift carries limitations and might even fully isolate pockets from the greater Void, effectively trapping a concentrated dosage. Whether this is by design or accident remains in question. Theories vary based on whether one views the Void as a purely natural (and amoral) force or as a malignant entity. The latter view is particularly popular amongst worldviews that favor a "good versus evil" dichotomy.
Because the largest known concentration of the Void exists in Thervade, it is theorized that the Void might have originated during (or even be responsible for) Thervade's creation. This Void concentration exists inside Thervade's core, which has never physically been observed, although Sil Seri, the first high mage of the Atrium, claimed that the core was ephemeral and only took physical form in relation to contact with a conduit, whether a wellspring or mage.
It is also possible that Thervade's core is a pocket of the Void that became trapped during the planet's creation.
The Void in physical form, as seen in Namche Bazaar, Nepal. Image retrieved from unclaimed camera.
Sil Seri's workbench. Painting attributed to his daughter, Elizan. Pictured: Jian Huok's Bloodwine Gem, known to contain the Void.
The Void predates recorded history, with the first known reference to it located inside the Illuminated Cave, a cavern carved with poetry in the ancient Rissni language and script, a predecessor to modern Venoran. Here the Void is called Bhel-Silvest (blue glare), which is also the Rissni word for both sea/snow blindness (photokeratitis) and magic. This triple meaning (the Void, magic, and photokeratitis) is partially conjecture given that so few examples of Rissni exist. In other contexts, Bhel-Silvest seems to refer to power in general.
Void magic, as a named discipline and practice, emerged in the premodern period, directly before the first era. As a general source of magic, its usage is no doubt ancient and has assumed various names. Many cultures have some notion or theory of dark magic, whether true void magic or not. In some cases, such as Bhel-Silvest, it is possible that void magic did not (and does not) hold a universally negative connotation.
As a formal discipline in the pre-modern period, it is likely that Kandoran mages first consolidated void magic into an organized practice, although this is entirely based on the Aakhalaya (Kandor’s State Library) claiming the oldest known documentation of void instruction. The velum manuals date to Kandor’s high imperial days, the timing of which aligns with other historical documentation about the pervasive use of magic in imperial expansion. However, certain terminology within the manuals suggests that these early Kandorans obtained instruction from a third party, yet unidentified. If Kandorans indeed sourced their material from the prior era (the Lost Era), which is the most popular theory among scholars, the original sources have since disappeared like so much else from both the Lost Era and the premodern period.
Although magic, and void magic in particular, was pervasive in premodern Kandor, the empire’s collapse and practices have long been forgotten by most non-scholars outside Kandor. Void magic, as a named concept known outside magical institutions, only regained traction with laypeople in the first era, during the reign of Queen Liale Jemthenwe in Alt Rohan.
Painting of the Illuminated Cave
Queen Liale Jemthenwe emerging from the Void
The Void’s presence on Earth is largely undocumented in both frequency and power. As a concept, it is barely recognized, and as in Thervade, its influence likely predates recorded history. Even reported incidents of the Void’s touch are often unverified, with the case of Peter Mathers, an evangelical preacher, being typical. His camera, a secondhand Canon Rebel, took photos that sometimes revealed strange figures and landscapes, the frequency of which escalated until his disappearance. No conclusive evidence ties Mathers to the Void, but the camera images do suggest a transference between dimensions.
Last known photo taken by Peter Mathers. New Hampshire, USA. He claimed to have located a crossing point between Earth and Heaven in 1972.
Many cultures have various notions about “good” and “evil” magic, with void magic often being used interchangeably with dark or black magic. This extends to both Thervade and Earth, although many (if not most) claimed instances of dark magic have no real connection to the Void. As a term, void is rarely used among laypeople at all, even in Thervade, where it most often appears in curses or as an interjection. In this sense, its usage is often disconnected from magic, with laypeople instead envisioning it as something akin to the Christian concept of hell—a dark/evil place that lurks somewhere far beyond everyday life.
Further disconnecting term usage from both magic and abstract concepts, it is common for people to personify the Void. Where monotheism in particular segments the world into black and white, the Void often assumes a monstrous form. This is not to say that religious or folkloric figures on Earth and/or Thervade always trace back to the Void. In fact, the exact opposite is true, with few cultural figures being directly related, but specific personified forms have been noted. Most notably, this includes Tehmuk, a demon goddess on Earth that might have originated as a marketing gimmick, and Maglor, the infamous ungod of Paramir.
It is important to note that not all personifications and/or true encounters with the Void have negative repercussions. Nor are they always viewed as evil or demonic by those affected. When Daniela Morales, an eight-year-old girl in Chile, was swept out to sea, she reported swimming back to shore with fairies. The fairies supposedly kept her afloat to no harm, although a void scar appeared on Daniela's back. Likewise, the performer Brigitte Thirruyo, a gifted but untrained illusionist (entrancement), was famous for sometimes summoning shadow figures without ill effect, even though she eventually experienced scarring.
Tehmuk statue, which shares similarities with Galrene
Brigitte Thirruyo, an Iwenik illusionist, performing with the Grand Troupe. Void scarring is visible on her arms and face.