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Myne struggles against her fever.

The Devouring is an illness that afflicts commoner children born with mana equal to at least low-ranking nobles. It is characterized by sudden fevers, stunted growth, and a short life expectancy.

Header.pngSymptoms

All children who are born with mananoble and commoner alike — need to periodically drain their excess mana using feystones or specialized magic tools. Those who who don't have access to magic tools (usually commoners, but also some poor laynoble children[1]) will eventually die due to excess mana exposure. Among commoners, this is called "the Devouring".

Changing eye colour is a sign of uncontrolled mana.

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden fevers that worsen in times of emotional distress.
  • Stunted growth, which may cause children to look several years younger than their true age[2].
  • Low stamina, extreme frailty, sensitivity to changing temperatures, and a tendency to collapse.
  • Loss of mana control, which usually manifests as unstable eye colour and a haze of mana around the body[3]. In severe cases, it can cause boiling or bubbling skin. According to Ferdinand, losing control of one's mana for an extended period of time can result in a painful death as the body explodes[4].
  • The Crushing, which can occur in specific cases when a person loses control of their mana. Their mana instinctively crushes those they view as an enemy by putting them under immense magical pressure[3].

The more mana a child has, the sooner they are likely to die[5]. Most children with the Devouring don't live to see their baptism at age seven.

Because knowledge of mana and magic is closely guarded by the nobility and children who suffer from the Devouring tend to die young, most commoners do not know that the illness is caused by mana.


Header.pngTreatments

The only way to effectively treat the Devouring in the long term is to regularly drain a person's excess mana. There are multiple ways that can be done.

Magic Tools

Most noble children are given specialized magic tools at birth that are designed to absorb and store large amounts of mana. Not only do the magic tools prevent symptoms of the Devouring, but they also provide a significant store of mana which the child can later use for the mana-intensive process of dying their schtappe at the Royal Academy. Once they acquire their schtappe, they are no longer at risk of being harmed by their mana.

Noble Contracts

Commoner children do not have access to magic tools. However, they can prolong their lives by signing a contract with a noble patron who provides the life-saving magic tools in exchange for a form of service. Depending on the noble involved, this can either be a benevolent master-servant relationship or slavery.

Concubines

Freida explains her contract to Myne.

Signing a consensual contract to become a noble's concubine or servant, as Freida did[6], is considered a best-case outcome. According to Ferdinand, it may even be possible for a commoner-born blue priestess like Myne to be accepted as a legal wife of a noble[7].

This is a coveted position, and usually extended only to children who have been carefully raised with a knowledge of noble etiquette and social graces, such as playing the harspiel. Because a child's mana capacity is primarily inherited from the mother's side, female Devouring children have a much better chance of securing advantageous contracts.

Submission Contract

It is not uncommon for Devouring children to be tricked or coerced into a submission contract which forces them into slavery.

Girls are treated as mana-sources and breeding stock, while boys are taught at least some magic, given magic rings and are trained to fight. Depending on training, they can be highly effective combatants, capable of standing on equal ground with a knight for a short time[8], while others are just given the minimum of training and cheapest of magic rings to serve as cannon fodder that even well trained commoner soldiers can overcome[9].

Divine Instruments

Myne dedicates mana to the Shield of Schutzaria.

The temple is in possession of a special kind of magic tools called divine instruments. Priests and shrine maidens with mana dedicate their mana to those throughout the year to keep the temple's various magic tools charged. During the winter the blue priests and shrine maidens perform the Dedication Ritual, which gathers a particularly large quantity of mana that is then used to refertilize the land during Spring Prayer for a better harvest. As a result, priests and shrine maidens do not generally suffer from the symptoms of the Devouring.

Poor nobles who can't afford magic tools for all their children often entrust the future of their family to the child with the most mana, and send the rest of them to the temple[10].

Since pre-baptism children are not allowed to leave the orphanage and the divine instruments are not brought there, devouring commoner children in the temple do not touch the divine instruments directly. Instead a black feystone is used to drain the mana from them and later transfer it to where the temple needs it[11].

Mana-Absorbing Materials

As a temporary measure, those with the Devouring can use mana-absorbing materials to drain some excess mana and relieve their symptoms temporarily. Viable materials include:

  • Feystones. When pressed against the skin, raw feystones can siphon off excess mana and reduce the severity of symptoms[7]. However, because one's mana capacity tends to grow with age, they are only a temporary solution for those with more mana.
  • Taue Fruit. Releasing mana into a taue fruit causes it to germinate into a feyplant called trombe[12]. While trombe are considered highly dangerous, this method is enough to reduce the symptoms of the Devouring in young children.

Mana Compression

Mana compression can temporarily relieve the symptoms of the Devouring, reduce fevers and limit the risk of losing control of one's mana. However, compressing mana in this manner is exceedingly dangerous[13].

It also has the side effect of increasing a person's total mana capacity. Children whose minds are still developing and who lose control of their emotions more easily can generally only withstand a small amount of mana. The faster a person's mana grows, the worse their illness will inevitably become.

Emotional Stability

Because children tend to lose control of their mana when upset, frightened or angry, emotional stability is an important tool in slowing the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, it is only a short-term patch. When a child's mana grows to a certain amount, the illness will resurface regardless of their emotional state.

Header.pngKnown People Affected

Header.pngReferences

  1. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 4 Volume 3. Chapter 16: Philine's Family Circumstances
  2. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 2. Chapter 13: The Guildmaster's Granddaughter
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 3. Chapter 24: Confrontation
  4. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 2 Volume 3. Chapter 16: Ambush
  5. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 2 Volume 1. Chapter 8: What They Deserve
  6. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 3. Prologue
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 2 Volume 3. Chapter 6: Punishment for the Knight's Order and My Future
  8. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 3 Volume 5. Grandfather on the Day of the Baptism
  9. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 3 Volume 4. Chapter 10: The Shadow Falls
  10. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 1 Volume 3. Chapter 21: Benno's Lecture
  11. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 3 Volume 4. Chapter 18: Dirk's Mana and Submission Contract
  12. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 2 Volume 1. Chapter 19: The Star Festival
  13. Ascendance of a Bookworm. Part 3 Volume 5. Chapter 5: Conditions for Compressing Mana

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A AchimAdolphineAlexisAnastasiusAngelicaAnnikaArnoAub Klassenberg
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Z ZackZahmZasha
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