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Idiot Savant

by Jeff Daly

Understand the purpose of the term "idiot". In the following article it is used closer (though not with precision) to its older meaning, the technical term for a certain mental disorder. It is not intended to equate people with mental deficiencies with the jerks who cut you off in the fast lane (today's use of the word idiot).

Dangerous, deadly, beautiful, elegant, embarrassing; these are the words used to describe a person within Alphatian society. 1 in 1000 people in Alphatia are born both with the gift of magic, and with certain mental deficiencies that render them unable to lead a normal life.

The deficiencies discussed, are not simple slowness, or retardation, but a problem that reaches beyond reason. Generalities are difficult. One cannot simply say, "They are not bright". Quite the contrary. How many Alphatians today can name all Emperors, past or present, in order, backwards, and in strange combinations which, though seemingly without logic, are perfectly patterned in some way or the other upon close examination. This was the case with one such individual, a "Humakan" of Draco. Though he could do these amazing feats with lists, he could not tie his own robe. The "malady" comes in various severities, the worst being unable to continue existence without some sort of protection.

The matter becomes more complicated when one considers Alphatian law. These "Idiot Savants" have the ability to produce magic. Therefore they are considered nobles under Alphatian law. We cannot simply experiment on them, or lock them away in some vault. They have to be free. They have to have the same protection under Alphatian law.

One could say, "Simply let them be." While such pacifistic thoughts are enticing, they do not address the crux of the problem. These fellows, for whatever reason, seem able to effortlessly produce magical effects, though they be incapable of learning actual magic formulae (not entirely true, but true enough for our purposes here). These effects can run the range of beautiful, complex illusions, to gates, to fireballs suddenly detonating a mile away. They seem to be able to, quite easily, unlock the magic and let it fly, in whatever form presents itself to their enigmatic minds.

This has led to the craft of the Savant. The Savant seeks to control, in some way, the effects of this maddening "gift". This can range from anti-magics on the Idiot Savant himself (only in extreme cases) to encouraging the person to live away from human settlements.

High placed families often set aside acres of land for estates housing their Idiot Savant relatives. They furnish the estates with plenty of servants to attend to the idiot's needs. The estates themselves tend to take on some strange characteristics as time goes by, warped by the mind of the idiot into a beautiful paradise where dreams come true, to a hideous nightmare in which visitors will not awaken. An idiot is not necessarily insane, but the servants sometimes end up being insane after years of service.

There are also religious monasteries in some areas of Bettelyn that take care of less fortunate idiot savants, and loyal servants from other estates, who can not go on any longer with their service.