Shielding is a skill that is often employed by an individual with some sort of Gift, be it Heraldic, Healing or, in some case, even Bardic. Its purpose is almost always protection, but can be two-fold: to keep certain energies, influences or thoughts away from the object or person being shielded, or to contain energies or objects.
Shielding is one of the very first skills learned by any individual who has Gifts in MindMagic, TrueMagic, or Healing. It is so essential to a Gifted's survival that some untrained individuals eventually learn to have some instinctive (albeit, primitive) shields in place even without anyone prompting them. This is especially true for individuals who have powerful gifts in Mindspeech or Empathy .
In the case of Mages, shielding is actively taught when the individual starts handling Mage energies. Shields are also essential for mages, in that they provide protection during Major Works of magic and during duels.
Use and AdaptabilityEdit
Shields are generally adapted to a person's Gifts and needs. A MindSpeaker, especially a powerful one, may tend to have shields that "filter out" the thoughts of everyone in the vicinity to keep the MindSpeaker from being overwhelmed by the sheer number of thoughts. A Healer, and more specifically a Healer with an Empathic Gift, must learn to shield himself or herself from the emotions and pain of the the patient being treated or risk being incapacitated. A Mage may have shields in place to shunt excess heat or energy generated when handling energies such as that of ley-lines.
Shields are extremely versatile. They can be made in any shape or size, depending on the maker's ability. They can be made to be as rigid or as yielding (without breaking) as needed. They can be made in layers, with each layer having a different purpose. Shields of several individuals can also be melded to offer better protection. Melding shields together is reputedly one of the more difficult parts of working together with other mages, since melding shields requires that the individuals involved know each other well enough and are able to trust each other. On one occasion, when Mardic and Donni showed her their melded shields, a relieved Herald Mage Savil mentioned that she was the only Herald-Mage (at the time) who could teach concert work and now that Mardic and Donni could meld shields, she could turn them over to other teachers who were more able to focus on teaching them.
Shields can be made to be permanent, or to disable under certain circumstances. Permanent shields are usually put up around geographical locations or structures, and usually have some sort of focus to which the shields are attached. Certain shields can be used as an alarm system, alerting the person or persons connected to it of any threat, reflect a magical attack, launch its own counterattack, hold the threat in place until reinforcements arrive, or any combination of such actions. Some shields are grounded, helping to shunt or negate a magical attack. There is even a shield, used by a Northern Blood Mage encountered by Vanyel Ashkevron, that would implode and obliterate anything inside of it should an attack be made on the shield itself. Shields saved most, if not all, of the Tayledras Heartstones from being drained during the Mage Storms.
Versatile as shields are, they are, more often than not, only as strong as the mind who made and maintains them. Shields can be forced down or brought down by any trauma to a person's mind, whether from an external or internal source. They can be shattered and destroyed completely by a sufficient amount of force, often doing irreparable damage to the maker's mind.