A Brief Treatise on Magic

Editor’s Note: The following is a work by the heretical former Grand Mage Avran Ebontide of the Keepers of the Sacred Flame. Grand Mage Ebontide was ousted from the order for his permissiveness of forbidden magics within the walls of Glaskerze. Nonetheless, Grand Mage Ebontide was a wise and studied wizard. To abandon his pre-eminent research in defining magic would be folly. Thus, his words are presented below, with some minor edits by Ebontide’s successors.

What is magic? Many an apprentice has raised this question in their first years of study at Glaskerze. No doubt those who raise their voices to question the nature of magic within a magical institute are setting themselves up to be rather wise or rather foolish. I asked the question myself when I arrived at Glaskerze some eight decades ago. Whether I am wise or a fool is yet to be determined. On the surface, this is a good question. What is this thing that we all study? However, some use the question as a shield. The foolish ask because they know their answer and wants the world to agree with their assessment.

The wise understand that magic is a tricky and elusive beast. The more we learn, the more we find to learn. To call oneself a master of magic is hubris of the highest degree as magic is always shifting so as to have no true master. So, to finish my rambling and answer the question. Magic is the queering of the natural world. The average person who has little idea about magic assumes some key things: magic is energy that is pulled from the air by those who study the magic arts, this energy is controlled via the medium of spells. To the uninitiated, magic seems to come from nowhere. In truth, magic is about drawing on the natural unseen energies of the world and manipulating them to your whims. Mages, such as those of my order, study to attune to these invisible forces. Just as a master alchemist can control the elements through study, so too can the curious student.

There are others who control the world of unseen elements. There are the sorcerers. Those who are naturally predisposed to magic through an element of their history or genealogy. Our historical record speaks of the nature of the gods to descend onto the world below and beget children. Through those lines, there are sorcerers whose lineage can be traced to the ancient heroes who themselves are the children of the gods. Other sorcerers may have their power as a result of experimentation. Magic can be studied in the old ways by searching ancient tomes and et cetera. However, recently students of magic around the world have begun to treat magic with the same rigour as the nascent fields of science that it predates. They have a fundamental method to their process. Through this process, they create more wonderful permutations on the fundamentals of magic. Some decry these movements, but I can’t help see our evolution within them. The shifting of magic as decanted through the lens of science.

Then come the last group of magic users. Those who made a deal, who agreed with someone with more power in exchange for taking the short route to power. The warlocks. While others may shun them for their ill-advised deals, I understand their compulsion. We all make concessions when it comes to power. Mages study under the tutelage of various colleges. They agree to abide by the rules of the wisest in order to learn from them. They commit themselves to the higher power of knowledge. Sorcerers commit themselves to the power within. The power that could destroy them. Are the warlocks any different? We are all of us trying to understand the spaces between reality. The cracks that magic flourishes in. We are all of us committed to the higher power of magic. Is it so wrong that we should pursue magic regardless of morality? Magic exists beyond morality. Heroes and villains both get access to magic. Magic is the space in between all things. That is the nature of magic.


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