Having met a spirit from the last age of magic – in fact, a sort of ghost – Zheung Bao Shun had quite a few things he wanted to inquire about. Given that Hantakan has little to do besides talk, here are some answers to the Ninja’s various questions:
Hantakan “died” – or at least lost his body – during the rise of the Horrors during the last age of magic, apparently around six thousand years BC (based on Neo’s extensive guesswork and a few events that might have known dates). A master “nethermancer” – apparently a magician specializing in dealing with the astral plane, the metaplanes, and extradimensional worlds – he detected the approach of some horrible menace from beyond. Attempting to protect the local villages and to give them more time to prepare, ward, and stock underground refuges, he worked some mighty ritual (described as a “spell of the fourteenth circle”), and moved an area of some hundreds of square miles out of phase with normal reality – barring the entry of alien spirits. Unfortunately, this did not stop some agents of the horrors from getting in, and he was stabbed with a poisoned blade. Dying, he used the tree he was pinned to as a focus and worked a spell with his own blood intended to anchor his phase-enchantment on the tree, so that it would endure after his death long enough for the local villagers to find some other answer to the menace.
What he actually wound up doing was to transfer his power to the tree and awaken it’s normally-passive spirit. Secondarily, he accidently tied his own spirit to the tree: he can’t pass on while the tree endures – and with his power plus what it’s developed over the millennia, it shows no sign of dying yet. While the horrors did finally break the protective spell he’d anchored on the tree, the tree itself raised additional smaller-scale defenses and endured for several thousand years – by which time it was immense. He lost consciousness quite suddenly, at what he now assumes was the end of the age of magic. When he reawakened it seemed to be long later, and the tree was rapidly regrowing from what seemed to be underground roots. He has no idea what it’s currently up to really – although it still seems to be vaguely protective of people and of the natural order of things, even if it does seem to want to grow to cover the planet. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be growing very quickly now that it’s back to the size it had achieved during the last age – although he thinks that it’s size is related to how large an area it can cover with it’s magic. The magical capacity of that large a “magician” must be immense.
As for as some of the more specific inquiries:
As far as he knows, long-range “Teleportation” effects usually required a spell of at least the tenth circle, and even those required an especially-prepared destination. Spells that didn’t require such preparations were of at least the twelfth circle. He doesn’t believe there’s enough magic available at the moment – at least outside the high-magic zone the tree is generating deep underground (according to what you’ve told him) to make such spells work directly – and he has no idea either when there will be enough magic or when such spells stopped working if it was before the end of the age of magic. Similar spells could open or seal rifts and gates that allowed physical travel to the deep metaplanes, and from there to other worlds entirely.
Unfortunately, from the Ninja’s point of view, it looks like the magic of the last age was almost entirely rule-of-thumb – and Hantakan is thousands of years out of practice, and his references are quite alien. Deciphering what he can tell you about his old spells – especially when he can’t actually show you any magic – will be a long-term project.
Hantakan has never heard of “alchemical radicals” or anything that’s really comparable. In his experience, pretty much anything could be enchanted fairly readily – although crystals were especially good at holding magic – and both the “True Elements” and Orichalcum occurred naturally; they only needed to be found and harvested. Items that were used by heroes or which were involved in important events often because magical spontaneously – and would grow in power as other heroes used them and great deeds were done. Minor magical items using the true elements and bloodcharms were made by common craftsmen, mages made intermediate items as needed. Many crystals did respond to the presence of magic, and some could be used to see into astral space with the use of a minor spell. This was important when it would be unwise to open yourself to astral space to use astral sight, but there was no great trick to it.
As far as the “Age of Horrors” went, it was a massive invasion, and most of the various sapient races went into hiding for many centuries. He doesn’t really know why the magic level stabilized as the Age of Horrors was winding down, but it certainly disrupted any attempt to determine how long it lasted: as far as he knew some minor Horrors were still around when he went to sleep.
The Horrors tended to arrive when summoned (yes, some people were mad or evil enough to do this), through areas that were corrupted by the use of blood magic, through existing (if usually untended) metaplanar gates and rifts, and – in some cases – by establishing their own gates in areas where massive amounts of magic was available, although this tended to be limited to the most powerful Horrors. Such passages could be detected and blocked off fairly readily, but there usually wasn’t much point in it. There were weak points for them to use all over the world.