Arcana Basics a.k.a. how to avoid spontaneous combustion
Dear reader, please be aware that this article contains disturbing descriptions of magic going wrong, summoning not-so-friendly beings and horrible accidents. Proceed with caution.
The magic system in Koria divides itself into two great parts: the lightmagic of the Garladans and the rest. Scholars are debating for decades now if the lightmagic is the same system as the normal used magic, but those scholars are the ones who never can shut up, so it might be just a different name for the same thing.
Everyone with the affinity for magic - not their affinity for a specific part of said magic, like destruction or alchemy - can cast spells, can execute rituals and can create new ones.
Normally everyone who can cast magic is send off to a teacher, a guide or a Vael to get trained in the basics of magic, sometimes even on the more advanced level.
There are four levels of trained magic-users: basics, advanced, professionals and enlightened. There is no real border between the four ranks, it is mostly decided on which spells a caster can use. The enlightened magic users are mostly really powerful people with access to the most complicated, most devastating and most powerful spells and rituals. There are maybe ten of those people in the entire continent. One is a Garladan, one is one of the three headmasters at the University of Hulwar and the third one is the Cold Maiden in the Northern Realms (but she does not know this).
The source of the magic is beyond this realm. Every caster, every magic user opens a doorway or a tunnel through the fabric of the realm into a different dimension, taps right into it and sucks out the right amount of required energy. From what & where the magic user channels the energy, is still unknown, but everytime someone is sucking magical energy from behind the curtain (which is the more or less official name for the border between the dimensions), there is the potential danger of letting something through. And there were and will be incidents.
The Spiral incident showed humanity and the entire continent that magic is dangerous and that there is something on the other side of the curtain. It is uncertain if the things from out of the Spiral are the same which lurk for an entrance into the realm when someone is using magic, but the danger is more than real.
"What has happened here?"
"What do you mean? Isn't it obvious?"
"Yeah, no, sure, but it looks like it was... civilised."
"Yes, I mean, look at it. Heart and lungs left of the body, the other entrails on the other side, clothes folded at his feet."
"And he butchered, his brain eaten and burned to a coal?"
"Alright, not so much civilised, but what could do that?"
"Something that doesn't like it to be disturbed, I assume. Or with a pleasure for blood."
There are two possible sources for a magic user to obtain power: their own life source or the energy from behind the curtain.
"It is strongly adviced not to draw energy from your own body. Not only do you shorten your lifespan but you also dealing substantial damage to your body. I mean you can do it, but don't run to me or the medica if you've lost an eye or one of your kidneys."
The other source and the one which is the better option when one is not wanting to hurt ones body is the energy behind the curtain. Not even scholars can determine if there is a specific amount of energy which is going to be depleted eventually or if it is close to infinite.
The problem is that not even an enlightenend sorcerer can store one drop of magic in the body. The body of a magic user is just the conduit which directs the magical energy into the enhancing conductor. The "power" of one is determined by how much energy one can endure while channeling the raw energy into the enhancer. And the sturdyness of the enhancer.
"Your cells are doing the most work. Every cell has a potential which determines how many energy it can endure before breaking. If it breaks, that is. Every cell is like the lightning rod on our roof. It catches the energy and passes it to the next cell and so on until the necessary energy is depleted or the cell is burned away. Which is not a problem when you burn one, ten or hundreds of cells, you have millions of them. But if you start to burn thousands, you start to feel it. If you do, stop immediately, because if you burn enough cells the energy will use your nerves and that cause you to burn up. Literally. First a finger, then a limb, then your brain. Listen and learn."
But that is only ones body. It is possible to store magical energy in objects, mostly in artifical or natural grown crystals. There are many variants and it really depends on the crystals quality how much energy it can store. Some researchers represent the opinion that it is decided by the inner structure of the crystal, but nothing has been proven yet.
To cast your magic and put it to good - or bad - use, one has to craft and to use an enhancer. Those artefacts can be anything, be it a walking stick, an engraved gem or just the amulet around ones neck. It has to withstand the incoming energy and the output and guess what? There are runes for it.
The process of creating an enhancer is always the same: one recieving enhancing spell and one releasing enhancing spell. The first one is to protect the enhancer against the incoming energy and the second one is to protect the enhancer against the outgoing energy so not even really powerful spells and rituals can damage it. In theory.
Then one has to engrave every single one of the Eternal Runes into the enhancer. Some say it is enough to engrave the original 150 runes, others advice to carve all 250 runes. What one do and how one does it is ones business, but at least the 150 original runes are required that the enhancer works properly.
If one is done with engraving the runes and the two protection spells one can enclose the core with everything one desires. Some magic users use walking sticks, other rings, some a wand - yes, cliche, but if it works? - others crystal balls or pendants.
"Be careful with your engravings, lass. Make it good, not with haste. If one rune is crooked, wrong or it is just a spelling error, it eventually explodes in your hand."
One has different kind of sources in how to learn magic. The best sources are teachers, books and scrolls. But with a little practice one can craft own spells and rituals, using whatever material to bring it to life. Once written the spell is "fixed" in reality and can be casted. Like a sentence written on paper or whispered in someones ear.
Said material can be parchment, wood, stone or even sand when not disturbed by wind or footsteps.
The hard way to learn magic is experience. Most people know they have the affinity to channel magical energy is by accident. Suddenly they look at a pot and it starts to boil, other create winds and other set their friends on fire, business as usual.
The Eternal Runes are the runes which determines the power and the workings of the spell. Each rune has a title, a meaning and an effect of its own. Each rune has side effects with other runes and changes its meaning depending on the side effects. Brought together with other runes the first letter of the runes name is one letter of a word.(for further reading: Eternal Runes, but still under construction)
Every spell has a starting and an ending command. To no surprise the words are "start" and "end" in the words of old. Whatever lies between these two words creates the effects and the desired outcome of the spell. Everything has to be written in the Eternal Runes and can be "covered" up by writing it in one mothers tongue, but the caster has to remember the original runes and see it "before the eyes" so to speak.
Yes, it is easier to write and speak it in the Eternal Runes.
Most magic users have their spells written on parchment. Especially when it is only a small collection of spells, rituals or notes. But nearly every magic user with a bit of an education is using one or more magical books or scrolls. To take notes, to create new spells, rituals and incantations or just to remember how to do it. There are various methods to create a book or protect the scrolls, so you need a cover for it or even medium Ritual of Lock spells.
Rituals - mostly bannisters - are basically the same as spells but they are written on the floor or any surface which can be used to write the runes. One can even use any kind of writing tool to write the runes. Most people are using chalk, others graphite, others ink or other liquids.
You need four things: the tool for creating the bannister lines, the tool for writing the runes (and so the runes themselves) and enhancers on the connections of the bannister lines for enhancing the magic and keeping the flow steady. The last tool is ones own enhancer.
When the bannister is done, the caster is chanting the ritual and directing the energy not only in the enhancer, but channeling it into the secondary enhancers on the bannisters connection points. If one had done it correctly, the bannister should work just fine and starts the ritual.
A ritual, a bannister, an incantation or even all three can be practised and executed in various environments and circumstances. Every material can be used, be it wood, stone, bone, blood or leaves if they can withstand the energy flow.
Different classes, one teacher
The subject of magic can be broken down in various classes and application areas. The most famous ones are spells and rituals and every child can imagine a sorceress or sorcerer, glowing with power and firing fireballs, lightning and molten rocks against reinforced walls. But not everyone knows that you can use magic - or more, the runes and the magical power - in your everyday life.
So it is possible to engrave iron plates with runes and if fueled with energy you have a cooking plate. Or you engrave your alembics and burners with specific runes to do your bidding. Alchemy is one of those classes that heavily benefit from rune-engraved mugs and bowls and alembics. You can even engrave the blades of your scissor with them so they don't get dull.
With the possibility of combining and mixing various runes - remember, 150 original and 250 in total - to get glorious outcomes, you even have the downside: glorious mistakes which leads to more then certain death.
Here comes the University of Hulwar and the other schools of magic into play. They teach you how to train your mind around spells & rituals, the effects of each runes, how to defend yourself against the things behind the curtain and to enhance your affinity and your skills.
Dangers from behind the curtain
"If you think you can come into my hut, blackmail me with things I have done years ago and I teach you how to stroll through the Emerald Planes without a heavy heart, you are mistaken. It is not all quiet and peaceful while performing the arts."
It is not entirely clear why and how the realm of Koria and this other dimension are connected and why only the people on our side can open those connections, but it is relatively clear that we are opening them. And it is not clear what kind of energy the spells and rituals or the runes in general are using. Maybe we suck their dimension dry. Maybe it is their lifeforce. And maybe that is the reason why they are so angry.
Scholars from around the continent are not sure why and how the dimensions are connected, but they do know that there is some kind of barrier, some kind of skin surrounding the dimension of Koria. Most of them call it just "the curtain", some others "the veil", but they all mean the same: this veil, curtain, skin, bubble, protects the people of Koria from the very angry beings in the other dimension.
Most scholars and researchers agree on the topic that it could be that it is the same dimension the magical superdrill in Ganguk had drilled itself into and opened a giant portal to our world. But that is not enough for the beings on the other side, so they use every connection, portal, tunnel, whatever to Koria to gnash through and eat, devour, ravage, flail or skin whatever they find. Mostly an unlucky magic user, sometimes with friends.
It is uncertain if every spell or ritual opens a connection which is strong or wide enough to let beings through, but it is certain that there is a connection. Maybe the beings are waiting and can watch us. In our sleep, while we work, while we eat and practice. Some want to devour or kill us, and some to seduce, to corrupt, to use us. But it all comes down to one conclusion:
Maybe every magic user is doomed to a bloody and screaming death.
Some beings are drawn to power and then decide to like it here for many different reasons. Desperation, better food, better prey... so some beings decided that Koria is the better home. So you might find a friendly demon on your journey. Well, at least friendly in a vast meaning of the word.