Q: In The Music Mage, why does Alannys feel a spark when she touches the painting of Dorramon and Raman?

A: This is an interesting bit of magic that I worked through in my notes for the series. Here’s what I wrote:

The short answer is that this is an effect of the mindlink. But it isn’t quite that simple. I am making an assumption here that this painting has been opened, which is reasonable if Lord Malrec wanted to use it to eavesdrop or spy.

Magic leaves traces.

This is especially try of magic involving a tangible object, like a painting. Part of the object used in the magic is bound up with the object(s) the magic was used on. In this case, that painting of Dorramon has a connection to the real Dorramon. As the magic grows more distant in time, the connection fades. This painting, however, was used recently.

But this connection isn’t enough to explain the spark. The painting is bound up with Raman, too, but touching him in the painting wouldn’t cause any particular reaction. The magic entanglement is the underlying process that makes the spark possible.

But it is the mindlink that makes it happen.

And here’s where it gets important. Touching the painting of Dorramon produces a reaction because the painting is entangled with the real Dorramon–which means touching the painting is in some sense like touching the real Dorramon.

Did you catch that? Because it’s really important. It means touching Dorramon has to produce the same sensation, and the same for him, when he touches her.

To put it shortly, the mindlink creates the electricity that each feels whenever they touch. Because the painting is entangled with Dorramon, some of that happens when she touches the painting. In this case it is even more pronounced, because….

Q: How do mindlinks work? How are they formed?

A: A mindlink is a telepathic connection between two individuals. I don’t want to delve into the mechanics of how that might work.

What we are interested in here is when the thing is formed, and when it becomes active. How does one discover they are mindlinked?

I don’t think you can be mindlinked to a person you’ve never met. I think some physical contact is necessary to forge the link. Even a handshake would do it. Or touching a painting of that person, if the painting had been opened. 🙂 (So this explains the intense, arcing spark as the forging of the mindlink.)

We also have a conceit where talk of executing Alannys causes Dorramon physical pain. We see the reverse as well, when Lord Malrec uses just this conceit to gain information about the mindlink that Alannys does not want to give. A pain response like that encourages each participant in a mindlink to become protective of the other, ensuring longer survival for both of them. The physical pain isn’t enough to incapacitate, but it does prod him to defend her against all comers, and vice-versa.

Q: What are the limits of this effect?

A: That’s not easy to answer–I don’t think there is a sharp, clear line. An execution order hurts. I imagine Queen Farrine telling her to burn in the Seven Hells smarts a little too. What about things that are painful to Alannys, even traumatizing, but not fatal? “I hope she falls and breaks both legs, and her arms too!”

Well, that’s going to piss him off, because he loves her. But I don’t think it will physically hurt.