In the world of Airtha-Eyrassa (the world in which The Ruon Chronicles takes place), magic and magical abilities are called Talent or Nith. The nith is further split into four distinct branches, namely Nith, Nithrus, Nithran, and Nith-Eyr.
Also called “Ruon nith”, “nith” usually refers to the Talent of the Ruon and their embroidered charms. This includes nith used in healing, guarding and creating armour.
“Nith of the Airus” refers to the Talent innate in the Airus. This includes being able to read the Knowledge Stones.
This type of nith is only found in the Tellerassar (shapeshifters) and Water Women and is, like Nithrus to the Airus, innate in them.
Nith-Eyr, or “Nith of the Veil”, refers to the Talent which the Airus and Khalne possess and which they use to “walk the Veil”. The Airus Tarion and Amalia are seen walking the Veil in the story Grove of Graves.
The embroidered charms of the Ruon can be divided into two main types – healing charms and guarding charms.
The healing charms may include such charms as those against pain, fever, and to knit bones, as well as those to ensure safe delivery in difficult pregnancies. However, some of the guarding charms may also be used for new mothers and babies; usually in conjunction with healing charms.
Some of the most potent of the guarding charms are those which guard against the Khalver and weapons. These, however, are seen and used very seldom because they are so difficult to make and take such a large amount of nith or Talent (this refers specifically to the Ruon talent gifted to an individual by the Creator (Agrai) and not just the talent to create needlework) to make.
Most of the knowledge of making them was also lost in the Great Burning, during which all but a tiny handful of the books of the Ruon were burnt and their knowledge subsequently forgotten. The hiding cloaks some of the Ruon can make are also counted among the guarding charms because they are mostly used to hide a Ruon from the eyes of those who are not Ruon and specifically those who are the enemy of the Ruon.
The charms may be worked on any fabric and in any thread, though specific thread and fabric are usually used in Ruon Haliern and manufactured there especially for this use. The reason why the charms may be worked on any surface is that it is not the fabric or the thread which is magical, but is only endowed with a certain amount of nith by the Ruon while the charm is being constructed. Some thread and fabric – those which are stronger and have a higher thread count – may, however, last a bit longer and the fabric may also be used more than once to make either the same or different charms.
As can be seen in the preview of The Ruon Chronicles, the charms may be worked on clothing and not just on charm cloths carried by the wearer. These charms which the strongest Ruon (like Ruaha and Ruenna) wore, were in many ways as tough as armour while still allowing the Ruon a free range of movement. To make such an outfit, however, required a very large amount of both nith and time and, unlike metal armour, would only last until the threads lost integrity as the nith locked within the threads were used.
Those worked over Ruaha’s heart kept her alive not only because of their strength, but also because of the placement. While the charm could not deflect the blade of the knife, it could stop the blood from exiting the wound, thereby making the body “think” that it is still whole and not wounded to such a degree. Ruaha also kept these charms hidden because she knew that they would give her the upper hand should she be injured. Nith from the other charms she wore could be moved to the charms over her heart because she was a Ruon and she was using it herself. This is why the rest of her dress started to fade and those charms break first. Once all the other nith was used up, the charms over her heart was at last used and lost their integrity. If it had been a less severe wound she could have been saved by using this method to keep the wound from bleeding.
The charms must further be worked in a specific order in order for the charm to function. For instance, when working a pain charm, the first “layer” of stitches will be the lines crossing the circle. Next the circle itself will be worked as the second “layer”, whereafter the lines crossing the first layer will be worked. These stitches hold the nith within the charm and anchors it to the thread. Once the thread is knotted and cut, the thread will turn a deeper colour as the nith is fastened to it. This is one of the few ways in which a true Ruon charm can be discerned from that of a fake one when it is being made. For instance, a non-Ruon may work the same pattern as the Ruon, but the charm’s colour will not change and neither will it contain any of the nith required to work.
The colour of the thread is not of such big import, but coloured thread is used in order to see whether 1) the nith is fixed to the charm and 2) when the charm is fading and losing integrity. Traditionally red, blue, and green thread is used to create the different charms. Different colours may also be used in the same charm when there are different “layers” present. This is especially done by those only learning how to make the charms, but is also sometimes done for aesthetic reasons when worn on items of clothing.