Angel Explains: Magic and the Mystical Energies
The Energy of Magic
As with many things in this universe, magic is comprised of natural energies. Magic is, actually, around you (the Native Americans were indeed correct when they said everything has it's own essence). The land, the water, your annoying brother, all of them are tied to the energies of magic. To a lesser extent, they give off (and use up) magic.
I know, that's great and all, but that makes it sound so mundane. Well, in all reality, magic is quite mundane. You don't need candles and broomsticks, wards and spells, seances, pointy hats, or covens dancing naked in the moonlight to use magic (although the covens are fun to watch). All you need is to learn how to tap into the energies of magic, tap into the potential within yourself to use that energy, and coalesce the magic around you into something most would normally deem "spells".
Magic is divided, in this reality, into 6 "schools" of magic, known as Affinities. That's a key technical term for wizards there. Affinity. Each and everything has an affinity to one of the 6 Affinities: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Dark, and Light. Four of those you'll recognize as the classical elements from Ancient Greece. It's amazing how much of the known universe was shaped by the Grecians.
Yes, the universe was shaped by ancient peoples. Magic is very malleable and prone to taking the forms of its believers (much like the gods, interestingly). Thinking something works some way with magic makes it more likely to happen. When the Grecians said "these are the four elements," they sorta set it in stone, cause people listened and went "well, okay, that makes sense."
Light and Dark, however, are not classical elements, but no one doubts the power of light and darkness. People have said that the dark can seem alive. Magic listens. Light and Dark just naturally grew in peoples minds as states of magic, and now they are.
Yes, that means that if enough people decided, "hey, I don't think magic works this way," they could feasibly change the laws of magic, but that would take fighting the very nature of your own beliefs, and beliefs are hard to change. Few magic users have ever been successful at disregarding what centuries of human belief have made innate. Magic is 6 Affinities, and that's all there is to it.
Unless you live in the Orient. They have 5 elements there, only mildly related to the western elements, and their magic works differently than western magic. Of course, they've had centuries with it their way, and it's just as hard for them to change as it is for everyone else.
In reality, it's more a "you say tom-a-to, I say tom-A-to" thing. Magic is magic, and so long as you have belief and practice tapping into the energies, you can make it do just about anything, whether you think there's 5, 6, 200, or simply 1 Affinity.
The Schools of Magic
For the common man, there are 6 Affinities. They pair off with with natural opposites. Light to Dark, Fire to Water, Air to Earth. Each school has it's powers and abilities the other schools can mimic, but not copy.
- Light can heal and revive the fallen. It can also tap into the energy of light as a weapon.
- Dark, similarly, can tap into darkness as a weapon. It can animate the dead, but cannot heal the living.
- Water uses water as a weapon, but also controls the cold and ice.
- Fire, as its opposite, can be a weapon and control heat.
- Air uses gusts and winds to its advantage. It's users can ride the winds.
- Earth can slow and confound (ever try to trudge through mud?).
As in the stories, any wizard can specialize, choosing to ignore some schools of magic while focusing on others. Whether it's truly to their detriment or not to ignore the magic of other schools is open to debate. To each their own.
I realize I said above that magic doesn't need spells to be used. It does help, though. Humans think they need to wave their hands and say some arcane words to make magic "happen". It helps. They can use magic easier if they light a couple of candles and dribble some blood on some runes. Magic, again, has adapted for humans to allow this kind of necessity.
That doesn't mean that a "spell" has to be performed the same way every time. Three different mages may find three different ways to perform a fireball. Each fireball can be just as powerful, even if they are done entirely differently. It's all in the mind.
The Taboo Magics
There are some magics that are just not practiced. Most of the time it's simply because to gain the power to use the magics, and the risk involved, is simply too high. For instance, it has been theorized that time and space are an affinity. A wizard could, conceivably, tap into the magic of time, travel the time-stream like an ocean. Of course, then he could cause paradox and erase himself from reality. There's reasons why these magics aren't studied.
Generally, when a mage gets too powerful for his won good and starts doing things he shouldn't with magics that never should be touched, his friends, enemies, and a bunch of angry townsfolk with pitchforks will come along and gently remind him (sometimes with fire) that he might be pursuing and incorrect path of magic.
If necessary, beheadings have been known to take place.
- Where is magic found? Can it be bought in stores? Do you get special discounts if you use coupons? (extra credit if you can figure out how much two fireballs cost if I get credit for "double coupons")
- How many Affinities are there? How many ought there to be? Did you just reshape the universe when you wrote that answer?
- Having learned about the schools of magic, fashion a stylus and paper with Earth magic, ink with Water magic, and write a three page essay (with these materials) about which school of magic you'd specialize in. If you can't use Water magic, set this test on fire.
- The student next to you is suspected of using Time magic. Who do you report this to? Is your pitchfork sharpened?
- Perform the "Dark Gaze of Beelzebub." List the materials you used to perform this spell, and tell me what Beelzebub said when summoned. (extra credit if you can figure out how to send him back)