Everyone in Aili’s country wears a neckband. It has become a part of their culture, it’s been done for so long. When bands were originally used, they were made by mages who wanted an easy way to identify who was another mage and who was not. Earlier in their history the mages did allow non-magical folk to live in their countries, usually refugees from various disasters. Mages preferred to mark themselves instead of forcing outsiders to segregate or mark themselves.
People aren’t born with the bands, but they are given them within days from birth. As a person grows, the band grows with them. Their magical abilities and deeds are recorded by the bands through both colour and decorations. The bands start as a plain bronze, and change once a person’s magic becomes active. Normally this is around the age of five or six. Aili is incredibly unusual in not having her band change for a prolonged period.
The colour of a band affects a person’s status in society. Little children have bronze bands, and not much is expected of them as they grow and get ready to study magic. Once they are ready, around five or six years old, they are assessed for magical ability and their bands change to silver. Silver indicates a student. Silver bands have a small and flat plate with the magic teacher’s name on it. When a person passes their formal exams, their band turns gold and they are a full mage. They’re ready to find an occupation and take their place in society as a full adult. If their knowledge and abilities progress, usually as a person ages, their bands may turn platinum and they become a Master Mage.
By far the largest group are regular Mages. Much of the population have gold bands. Master Mages are not rare, though. They tend to gravitate to either academics, usually at the University, or they join specialist groups, like the Scouts and Border Guards. The population is fairly stable in the country, with families tending towards only two or three children generally, and people live in harmony with nature. Not everyone forms a family, which prevents the population from growing beyond their resources.
So, what does someone do when their band doesn’t act normally? That is Aili’s problem...
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.