Where the centuries pile one upon the other, like falling leaves in autumn, the petty magics of men pile up as well.
The Loose Threads
Before a master mage attempts any great work, he must purify the area from magical contamination, lest his conjuring be ruined. Master mages know this, but not every worker of cantrips realizes that the principle applies to them as well. The petty magic of hedge wizards and lesser conjurers, worked day after day, begins to add up. Stray tendrils of magic soon work their way loose from the places of these wizards, drawn to where the threads of destiny are tightly woven: The gathering places of men and other races.
Few are aware of this.
A Touch of Destiny
"You’re back!" cried Ilsa, the taverner. Her smile lit the room as she shouldered her way through the alehouse’s crowded patrons, toward Gullrick, the soldier that had stolen her heart when he was last stationed in Alkenford. Looking at her, Gullrick smiled, his old gaptoothed smile the same as ever.
Winning past the crowd, she looked for Gullrick, but he had vanished.
There are some men for whom destiny has chosen a special role. Long before they find fame, the wise can sense a special meaning to their deeds, a potential lying dormant within them. The stray strands of magic that surround everyone seem to cling to them, taking their measure and remembering their passage. This phenomenon is well-known to the students of Destiny.
The implications of this are also known to few.
The melee raged furiously as the last few soldiers of the Hephaestus Legion struggled against the hordes of the invaders. Too stubborn to die, too proud to surrender or flee, it was clear that they were doomed.
Suddenly, on the ridge above the troops, a band of Imperial cavalry appeared, their banners fluttering brightly in the blood-reeking breeze. The invaders fell back, fear filling them at the thought of fresh Imperial reinforcments arriving. The horsemen began their charge, slamming into the enemy line… Then vanishing like soap bubbles as they hit. Shaken by the uncanny visitation, the invaders turned to flee.
The Misunderstood Magic
The visitations known as "Absent Companions" are a curious form of bilocation, uncanny echoes of the past that reappear when circumstances repeat themselves. Unlike the strange phantoms of the dead that sometimes appear, replaying moments of their lives over and over, these unnerving phenomena are often echoes of living beings. They are able to interact meaningfully with their environment, so they will discuss things with those around them, make requests or answer questions. They don’t seem aware that they aren’t the person whose form they wear, and often react indignantly to those who suggest such. Despite this, they are limited in their ability to physically interact with the people around them. While they are apparently substantial, often able to do things like open doors or drink ale, these spirits often vanish at the touch of another living being. Apparently, their pattern is determined when the wayward tendrils of wild magic first "take their impression": Only the objects and people present at that moment can interact with them. To anything else, they are insubstantial, vanishing when disturbed. As an example, an absent companion mimicking a married man might be able to caress his wife (or slap her, for that matter), but might vanish if he touched a tankard that wasn’t in the room when his impression first formed.
In rare instances, entire groups have been mimicked, such as the Imperial Heavy Cavalry that appeared at the climax of the Battle of Coven Hill. Other, rarer instances have involved animals or monsters, such as the perennial appearances of the Yenith Hound (... much to the dismay of the real hound’s master, Lord Yenith)
Different magical colleges and religious groups have conflicting interpretations of what these sendings may signify. Some consider them to be a sign of the mimicked one’s imminent demise, while others see them as a sign of divine favor.