Magic Monday: AI Magic 8

Week 8: Mrs. McCave’s Spellbook

Looking over the list of spell names we’re working from, we see that the only ones remaining are a little difficult to parse at first. Sometimes life gives you nonsense, and you’ve just got to make the best nonsenseade you can. Keep in mind that “David” means something akin to “beloved.”

Fark Mate

After a long and involved ritual, you separate any one thing from another that it had been paired with, although especially strong bonds will resist the spell, and it must be performed again on any bond that has been renewed. By adjusting the ritual’s parameters you might be able to shatter royal alliances, trigger a fission reaction, or open a particularly stuck jar. This spell can not arbitrarily divide a unified whole, though, such as a person’s body parts or an acorn shell.

Charm of the Dave

Craft this charm for someone you love so much it’s hard to put into words; whenever they face injury, disease, or other harm, you may choose to either take the harm upon yourself in their place, or allow the charm to absorb it. In the latter case you both remain unscathed, but their protection is gone until and unless you are able to craft a new one.

Chorus of the Dave

Gather a group of people who care deeply for each other and sing this ritual song together, adjusting the lyrics as appropriate: together you will sing something into existence, whether from materials that have already been gathered or out of thin air. The song must continue for a set number of heartbeats from the assembled group; this number required increases exponentially depending on the complexity and impossibility of the creation.

Hail to the Dave

Chant this spell in the presence of someone whose accomplishments you are able to praise without even a twinge of envy. They become stronger, healthier, more beautiful, more alert and thoughtful, and in general reach a peak of their abilities as your admiration and love boost their body’s capacity to heal itself of wounds, disease, fatigue, and other afflictions great and small. This boost fades slowly over the next day, after which weariness, sickness, and harm may begin to accrue again, but for as long as the magic lingers, a warm and calming glow appears whenever you are together in the same space.

Storm of the Dave

When someone who would die for you is in mortal danger, speak these seven words of power. An overpowering tempest of iridescent light and indescribable almost-musical sound will blow through the area, neutralizing or carrying away whatever is responsible for the threat. Summoning the Storm leaves you exhausted to the point of immobility, but several popular legends tell of lovers who were able to do so twice in a row, in times of dire need.

Daving Fire

Use this dramatic ritual only after the death of someone who would remain in your thoughts every day, no matter what time and distance intervened and no matter what distractions surrounded you; it will only work once in your lifetime, but if the emotion woven into it is pure, a phoenix will arrive before the next sundown and spend the night building its pyre over your beloved. At dawn it will immolate their body along with itself. When the inferno has died down and the ashes have cleared, both will be whole and hale, and back among the living.

Mordenkainen’s Lucubrabibiboricic Angion



AI Spells Used

Color-coded by week. What a trip it’s been!

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From a land before credit?

(Actually, tools allowing you to use money that you don’t actually possess have existed in Japan for centuries. A quick search turned up one source* saying that multiple such systems have existed since at least the Muromachi period. And now I’m interested in reading up on when and how the idea of credit first came to Japan, but… that’s beyond the scope of a kotowaza post, so we’ll leave it there for now.)

(Nai sode wa furenai; “A nonexistent sleeve doesn’t wave”)


You can’t use something that doesn’t actually exist or that isn’t available to hand. In particular, you can’t spend or give money that you don’t have. “Nothing comes from nothing.” “You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.”


We begin three characters in, with the noun 袖 (sode), “sleeve.” This is preceded and modified by adjective ない (nai), “not,”and followed by the particle は (wa). The particle can be read both in its contrastive function (i.e. “as compared to sleeves that do exist”), and as a topic marker (“this is what I have to say about sleeves that don’t exist”). The comment on these sleeves comprises the intransitive verb 振れる (fureru), “to swing,” with negative suffix in conclusive form.


There are a number of tweaks that can be made to this one: the starting nai may be rendered with kanji as 無い; the final nai may be replaced by old-fashioned negative ぬ. The contrastive function of the は may even be made explicit by preceding this phrase with 有る袖は振れど (aru sode wa furedo, “Even though sleeves that do exist do wave, …”).

Keep in mind that this saying primarily refers to lack of money, or occasionally to a physical object that is used up, out of stock, or otherwise absent. (Before modern pockets, money was sometimes carried in a pouch secreted inside one’s sleeve.) Using it to describe a lack of something abstract, such as ideas or opinions, is generally considered an error.

*Dekle, Robert and Koichi Hamada, “On the Development of Rotating Credit Associations in Japan,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, vol. 49, no. 1, 2000, pp. 77–90. JSTOR,

Example sentence:


(“Gomen, Gomen! Karita okane wo kaeshitai kedo, nai sode wa furenai nda. Kinyoubi ni kyuuryou ga hairu hazu dakara, shuumatsu ni nattara kaeseru hazu.”)

[“Sorry, sorry! I want to return the money I borrowed, but you can’t pay what you don’t have. I should be getting my paycheck on Friday, so I should be able to pay you back on the weekend.”]

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An open heart in your pocket


Literally: empty – heart/mind – wide/level – pocket/heart

Alternately: Open-minded and open-hearted. Without any bias, hangups, or pent-up bad feelings.

Notes: In this compound of compounds, 虚心 refers to a lack of prejudice or preconception, while 坦懐 is inner peace.

Replacing 坦 with homophone 担 (“carry on the shoulder”) is of course an error.

KyoShinTanKai no Kokoro

The name of a band that, it seems, performed at a Nagoya bar called Tight Rope on the date noted, in the fall of 2015.

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Magic Monday: AI Magic 7

Week 7: The Weird Stuff

We’re getting deeper into the weeds, now.

Clinging Blade

You enchant a flat metal object – such as a sword – so that it adheres to whatever you touch it to, or releases again, at a command. The spell’s name suggests that was intended to make it easier to carry knives and other bladed objects, but a good supply of spare metal parts could potentially allow for myriad creative uses – albeit ones vulnerable to disassembly by anyone else who knows the spell or the command word.

Frames of Death

For those burdened with the gift/curse/weapon of the Evil Eye, this enchantment is a potent magnifier. You erect over or more gates or doorframes, often of hewn stone and attune them to your power in a series of ceremonies. Thereafter, if you meet someone’s eyes through the space of these frames, each gate doubles your Eye’s power. When combined with a modified version of the Gate Sail that allows two-way vision, this can become a potent long-range weapon.

Ward of Snade the Pood Beast

Snade is a wandering godling of chimerical form. You can call upon its power to attract one sort of “beast” and repel another (of roughly equal mass) in equal numbers – for example, keeping one tiger at bay for each panda that answers the call. Some scholars theorize that this invocation is one of the oldest spells known to humanity, and is responsible for driving the domestication of various animals, from cats to elephants.

Wall of Distraction

This favorite of illusionists allows you to use your craft explicitly for entertainment: you place an image on a wall as if painting a fresco. Experienced illusionists can extend the apparent depth of the wall to produce three-dimensional images, cause their images to move, and even produce sounds and smells to accompany the image. An optional ritual can render the illusion permanent.

Primal Prayer Bear

You summon a living embodiment of human faith: a Primal Prayer Bear. The Bear can speak and understand all known languages and has an awe-inspiring voice whether it speaks in a whisper or a shout. It appears for the duration of one religious ceremony, from a five-minute koan discussion or a full day of fasting and chanting, and during that time it both participates in whatever role its summoner assigns, and guards the ceremony from outside disruption. Those who try to enter the area it protects with ill intent find themselves confronted with wrathful, snarling ursine visages and then lacerated and bludgeoned by overwhelmingly powerful claws.

Death’s Death’s Proud Bear

This supernatural ursine summon is a closely-guarded secret because the bear it summons is literally capable of slaying a death. If called just as someone or something is drawing their final breath, the Bear appears, snatches the death that just arrived for that person, and carries it away to places unknown and better unasked-about. Even better, while the person so protected is still wracked and ravaged by whatever poison, wound, or disease was about to do them in, they are functionally immortal until the next dusk, dawn, high noon, or midnight. At that point, some sort of cosmic something is reset and a new death will be assigned to their case as appropriate.

Spirit of the Spirit

After trapping a ghost in a magic circle, you use this complicated weaving to draw out and distill its fundamental essence: the ghost’s ghost, as it were, after the original ghost has been slain. In astral terms this manifests as a rippling sphere, shining with the pure pseudo-color of one particular emotion. This does not move, communicate, or take any sort of action, and only mildly impacts the mood of living mortals in the area. Spirits nearby are affected dramatically, though, and divination or sensory magic in the area tends to be skewed beyond all usability.

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Hot air, cold air

(Mono ieba kuchibiru samushi aki no kaze;
“When you say something, then your lips will feel the chill of an autumn wind”)


Being nasty will only make you feel bad later; shooting off your mouth invites disaster. Needlessly talking about other people’s (perceived) shortcomings and boasting about your own (perceived) virtues only invites ill-will and misfortune, so it’s better to be circumspect. “Silence is golden.” From the image of opening your mouth (for malicious gossip, etc.) and feeling an unpleasant chill as the autumn breeze brushes your lips.


We begin with noun 物 (mono), “thing,” compounded with verb 言う (iu), “to say.” The latter is in perfective form, with conditional suffix ば (ba), “when(ever).” This dependent clause is followed by noun 唇 (kuchibiru), “lip(s),” with adjective 寒し (samushi), “cold,” in conclusive form. This is followed by what I parse as a separate comment: a noun phrase comprising 秋 (aki), “autumn,” and 風 (kaze), “wind,” joined by associative particle の (no). One might imagine particles (such as an を between 物 and 言えば) or other additions, but these are elided.


Careful readers will already know why the grammatical structure is a bit unusual for a kotowaza: it’s because this is also poetry. This “saying” is a 5-7-5-syllable hokku from the poetic collection『芭蕉庵小文庫』 (Basho-an kobunko) by, well, famed poet Matsuo Bashō.

That said, it’s acceptable to shorten the saying to a pithier form such as 物言えば唇寒し.

The wisdom of keeping one’s mouth shut is not a new topic.

Example sentence:


(“Mama, mama, tesuto de hyakuten manten totta!” “Yoku dekita wa ne! Ureshii ne.” “Demo, Haru-chan wa” “Sonna no iwanakute ii wa yo, mono ieba kuchibiru samushi.” “E? Futsuu ni attakai kedo.”)

[“Mama, mama, I got a perfect hundred on the test!”
“Well done! I’m so happy!”
“But Haru got a—”
“No need for that. Say too much and it chills the mouth.”
“Uh? But I’m as warm as usual.”]

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Sorry about all the words


Literally: violence – word – many – guilt/sin/crime

Alternately: This is a polite, formulaic phrase to use at the close of a letter, apologizing to the recipient for being overlong, going too far with its content, or anything else that might have inadvertently given offense.

Notes: Commentary on this compound suggests a special ire for people who actually put harsh or offensive language in a message and then slap this phrase on the end like a useless band-aid… but I’m sure we can all think of that one guy who would happily fill a letter with insults without any appearance of awareness that he had done anything wrong. That’s the sort of jerk who makes you long for people who know and care enough to at least pretend not to be trying to be nasty.


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Magic Monday: AI Magic 6

Week 6: Offensive Magic

What do angry witches and wizards do? Curse people! This week we’re looking at a series of spells that are likely to give somebody a really bad day.

Cursing Wink

You inflict an obsession on your victim by meeting their eyes, after the proper arcane preparations, with a well-timed wink. The object of the obsession can be almost anything you choose, but it must be within the victim’s field of vision even as they look at your winking eye, so the spell is commonly associated with young and foolish magicians using it on the object of their own affections as a sort of love-spell. Despite its relative ease of use, this curse is rare, because the caster must also take on a tic or obsession of their own for as long as it is in effect.

Chilled Arrow

You thrust your hand into a nearby piece of ice and pull out an arrow, dart, javelin, or similar missile. Whatever this ice-bolt next touches will be struck by a wash of rising cold that condenses moisture out of the air, then freezes it solid, effectively bonding the two together. Legend claims that this spell was originally devised as a means of marking pathways, in some cold country, but now any such benign use has been subverted by the human lust for violence.

Maine Storm

Through a grueling ritual you call all of the wind and potential precipitation from as far as the eye can see – from horizon to horizon – and direct it to focus on a single area. That locale suffers from a fierce blizzard, but everything else in sight enjoys a pleasant calm. This spell is one of the reasons why weather-wizards are so keen about living on mountaintops, but rumor claims that a true master can use it to sail at unbelievable speeds by carefully pacing the blizzard at just the right distance behind their ship.

Forceful Boor

This social curse dulls its victim’s ability to feel empathy for, or even pay attention to, others, while magnifying the seeming importance of small details about the victim’s own life and thoughts, resulting in a conversational partner who becomes increasingly aggressive and tasteless over time. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this spell is that its victim quickly loses the capacity to notice their affliction, instead becoming paranoid and petulant as they shed acquaintances, alienate friends, and drive away family.

Forceful Force

This double-faceted curse may be mistaken at first for a boon. On the one hand, it multiplies the power of its victim’s every motion in a manner similar to Greater Flick (below), effectively granting them superhuman strength. But at the same time, it removes their ability to sense or regulate the force with which they move. Everything the victim picks up risks being crushed or torn; every footfall is a floor-shaking stomp; objects casually tossed become deadly missiles; anything like a hug is right out. On the plus side, involuntary reactions such as hiccups or sneezes tend to be hilarious for onlookers at a safe distance.


This cruel but subtle curse does nothing more than plant a tiny seed of doubt in the victim’s mind. Every night, the primary focus of the victim’s dreams is infected, and the victim’s attitude on that topic becomes just a bit more pessimistic. If the curse is left unbroken for too long, the victim may come to see themselves as incapable of doing any good, paralyzed with regret over the past and fear of the future.

Greater Flick

You create a tensed loop with part of your body – such as by bracing one finger against another in order to flick it – and magnify the potential energy the loop contains into a shattering concussive blast. This can place great strain on the body, and inexperienced users would be wise to only invest a little energy before using it to flick a projectile – such as shooting a marble at high speeds – but hardened physical-magic adepts have been known to release gale-force winds with a mere snap of the fingers.

Deku Greater Flick
(Side effects may include: sore muscles, bleeding, shattered bones, supervillain attention, tear-jets, and bitter rivalries with childhood friends.)
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