Magic, at its root, is the power of life. The breath breathed onto our world by the god of Chaos that sparked all life on our planet. Therefore, mastery of magic is mastery over life itself. The most powerful of magic users are, in fact, beginning to approach the power of the gods themselves.
-Principles of Magic by Abelard Cirester
The energy in the world that people refer to as magic flows through all things. It is easier to feel and harness within living things and so for a long time people thought that it didn’t exist within inanimate objects. However, later it was discovered that it does lie within things like stones and clay and sand. The energy matrixes within them are completely different and much more subtle. Only an experienced magic user has any hope of sensing them, let alone managing to use them to power their art.
Magical potential lies within all people, albeit at different strengths. Every person has a well within them that holds their innate magical energy. This is usually what is used to power the outward expressions of magic, generally known as spells. These are also referred to in teaching institutions by the terms Forma and Schema
, depending on which tradition you are learning about.
Often times people with large Magical Well
s, usually referred to as a strong magical talent, are discovered by travelling trained magic users and are sponsored to go to training schools or universities. In times past, these magic users would take on these talented individuals as apprentices and train them themselves. However, in the current time, it is much better for them to get their education at dedicated magical universities. This allows them a much broader education with magic users that are adept at teaching people the rudiments of the art. After they graduate, the student will frequently go back to their sponsor and act as an apprentice. This acts as a way for them to repay the faith the more experience magic user showed in them and also allows them to attain higher learning in the magical arts.
A truly skilled magic user could draw power from nearly anywhere if they had the practice in it. However, most use the same type of external magic sources, known as a Magical Reservoir
The most common of these is the use of a sacrifice of some sort. The death of an animal, or in some practices a person, can give a tremendous burst of magical power. This is a practice that is frowned upon in civilised cultures in today’s age. It is seen as an easy and unskilled way to gain power with much waste. The crown also banned it within the Queendom of Vreabia
's borders. The Emperor and his establishment in the Atralum Empire
used the practice extensively to increase their power and influence.
Sometimes a magic user will sacrifice themselves for the power to fulfil a large scale ritual. Vincent Speyrer
did this in the creation of the Storm Wall
. The ritual that created the Cilostratan Expanse
also consumed the fifteen skilled magic users that performed it.
Once a magic user has worked with particular elements extensively, they gain a feel for their magical matrices and can learn to draw from them to power their magic. For example, a powerful hydromancer standing atop a ship at sea can draw power from the surrounding waters, giving them almost unlimited power to fuel their magic. However, once the area they are in is drained of magic, they have to relocate themselves while it regenerates. This practice is something that is very attractive to people who spend all their time surrounded by their element, but it can create bad habits. The same hydromancer now stranded in the desert would experience great difficulty casting and would have to use their personal well. They would experience a huge drop in magical power and could easily overtax themselves with horrible consequences.
A magic user can drain completely the Magical Well
within themselves during casting and then they have to wait for it to regenerate. Usually a good meal and a good night's rest will achieve this. Some people regenerate slower or faster. Once drained, they will be unable to use their well for power. This doesn’t stop them casting if they need to, but drawing on an empty well will start to use their magical potential as a fuel instead of their well of magic power itself. Everything cast once drained will irrevocably shrink their well. They can continue to do this until they burn themselves out completely. A burned out mage will only be able to use external sources to draw magical energy from and that will act erratic because of the damage to their personal magical pathways.
The ability to take the power from outside yourself to power your spells is an advanced skill that takes many years to learn. If a persons magical well is exceptionally small, then they might never gain the finesse to learn this skill. Therefore, they would forever be so weak they would be considered magical incapable. A large portion of the world’s population have wells that are so small we consider them a waste of time to teach. Sometimes these people learn minor spells or Cantraips
, which are minor expressions of magical power that usually help them with their day-to-day lives or professions. For example, a blacksmith might be able to create a minor spark that he uses to light his forge in the morning, or a tailor might be able to split a thread with a slight gesture instead of having to cut it with scissors. Often, these effects are impractical outside of the small niche they have developed them in. Many people don’t even realise they are performing magic when doing these acts.
Drawing the magical energy is only the first step. The true magical practitioner must then shape it accordingly to create the desired effect. This is a very exact practice, shaping the energy in certain, very specific ways. These schema are usually things that are taught to the magic user when they learn their craft. By knowing the exact way a user crafts their spells one can usually trace them back to the origin of their magical heritage.
Some say the schema themselves are just mental images to help aid the user in the manipulation of magical energy, that if one had enough skill, they could form spells without preparation and come up with what they needed at the time. This has yet to be proven. No magic user recorded in history has had the ability to casually create spells without knowing ahead of time how to cast it.
Until the formation of a Magical University
, magic users closely guarded their schema as secrets, only to be passed on to their apprentices. Even if two users could create the same effect, often they would be done slightly differently. A fireball from one magic user could be hotter or larger than a different user’s fireball, however, the second fireball might be more energy efficient. It is a constant study for some magical scholars to refine and perfect magical schema.
From the base elements of each schema, new things have arisen. The most important of which is the Cryptog Inscription Language. This exact set of carved symbols emulates what a magic user does within their mind to regulate and modulate magical energy, allowing the creation of magical devices that can be used by people who either cannot use that specific magic or people who can’t use magic at all.
This invention has opened up whole new areas of magical study and artifice, showing that magic and its use is a constantly developing and expanding science.