The Essence of Magic, by Magore Greymane
Magic, in its purest form, flows through everything. It is not truly a mystical force. It is a high curiosity. Wizards can communicate with magic and coax it to change or do their bidding, but they cannot directly create or destroy magic or elements. Magic can think for itself. It is far more powerful than any other form of life. Therefore, if a wizard mistreats or spites the elements, his own magic is like to turn on him. Magic is not often fickle, but it is undoubtedly deadly. It is for this reason that few are mentored in communicating with the elements. This is also why, of late, wizards are hesitant to assist the wyvern riders in understanding and using magic to control the elements.
In the following text, I shall divulge information that has not previously been recorded. It will not make one a wizard, but it can be of incalculable value to both wizards and non-communicative minds.
The Four Elements
Magic can be conveniently divided into four elements: air, water, earth, and fire. I say conveniently because such schools of thought already exist. Each element behaves differently on both physical and magical levels, and, curiously enough, it is difficult to coax one element to combine with another. The only people to date who have allegedly combined them with ease are the Maker, some of the lesser gods of men, and the most gifted of wizards. That said, however, it is much easier to mix the first three elements than it is to mix the fourth at all. Rumor has it that dragons have done so and still do so often, but there has been no evidence of such. There are some rare combinations that are relatively easy, such as blood, water, and flesh – the first two of which are considered elements of water, and the last of which is an earth element. Most wizards can use these three together with little effort, and wizards who ignore the high laws of magic have done so to create soulless, shambling abominations. Such, along with reanimating the dead, is classed as necromancy, and is outlawed by all the kingdoms as well as the high council of wizards.
The Element of Air
Air is the easiest element to manipulate, but is also the least reliable: “Whither the wind goes, nobody knows.” For several years, wizards used the winds to carry messages, but then in the fourth year of King Maroneses of Brucia, some wizards claimed that the wind was becoming “bored” of carrying their words. It came to their attention that some of their messages were arriving with curious modifications. Some were harmless and amused the recipients. Others caused unpredicted enmity. Erastus of the Jarbian Council was the first wizard to interpret this as sentient behavior: “When an air elemental changes – not slurs or confuses, mind you, but actually changes – our words to suit its own purposes, we can only assume that it is, contrary to popular belief, thinking for itself.”
Air elementals have also been used to cool palaces and castles, and no self-respecting wizard leaves his colleagues or students sweltering at the Arcane Academy. Other uses include cleaning, dusting, blowing leaves, and more. The mastery of air magic is neither prestigious nor overly useful.
The Element of Water
Water is the second element of magic. The wizards who practice water magic are often referred to “bringers of life”, and they are usually tasked with visiting remote villages and farms. “Cloudless Rains” are the result of a slow, drawn-out series of commands a water wizard uses to locate, raise, multiply, and slowly release water over dry lands or crops. Peasants gaze in fear and wonder as a blanket of water materializes over several days near their village, and, although the wizard goes about his daily business while the water performs his commands, they leave him alone out of terror – in fear of interrupting the process and unleashing a minor flood on the village. This did happen in the town of Atlante, but it was the fault of the wizard. He had failed to explain to the water in what manner to fall, and after several days the water elements grew weary and dropped all at once.
Uses of water magic include: hydration and drying, washing, seafaring, river transport, cooking.
The Element of Earth
Earth magic is often considered the most practical. One who wields earthen elements can mould the very land itself, should he wish; however, the Brucian King Garrel negotiated with the wizard council to regulate such “meddling”. Earth magic is commonly used to aid in fortification, irrigation, and the building of roads. A good earth wizard can lighten the work on fortifications such as moats and island fortresses. Metals are also part of the earth elements, so wizards have been known to go into smith work as well. Smelting, shaping, sharpening. The metal elements are notoriously stubborn.
If a powerful water wizard works in conjunction with an earth wizard of similar talent, it is believed they can coax a swamp into arable land.
The Element of Fire
Fire magic is the most dangerous known power. Fire elementals are both tenatious and lethal, and are less than forgiving toward unskilled wizards. Wandering wizards have been known to coax fire out of sunbeams to light campfires, and wizards with such a skill are valued by those whose duties lead them to dark places – dungeon guards, jail-keepers, cellar-masters, undertakers, and even the odd fisherman.
Fire elementals are a lot more compliant during winter. Perhaps because they can easily fall victim to the bitter winds and steady downpour unless protected by a wizard. This is beneficial to humans as well as the element – it gives them enough warmth to last through the winter, so long as they can feed the flames. A similar symbiosis occurs between wizards and water elementals during droughts.
Fire elementals are the only ones that can transform into a state that requires sustenance. Flames die if not fueled, but the fire elementals last a little longer in a dormant state after going out.
Further Notes on the Elements
On the reproduction of elements. Elements do not frequently reproduce on their own. Usually they fade over time, and leave a fresh copy of themselves when they die. To the common eye, the fact that wizards can persuade elements to asexually multiply appears as though the wizard has just created something. Commoners have told tales of wizards raising mountains and trees in the blink of an eye. The truth of this is less inspiring. In reality, elements of magic have relatively long reproduction cycles. Most elements have a two-month cycle of life, and only reproduce at the end. With a wizard’s help, an earth element can double its mass in two days. Fire is the exception to this. Fire constantly reproduces at an alarming rate, but the elementals seem to live no longer than a few hours.
On the thoughts of magic. It has been said that the reason magic is possible is because the elements are “so hopelessly bored”. That may partially be true. Some elements quite enjoy their day-to-day cycles, but find a change to be pleasant as well. Earth and air elementals see less excitement than fire and water, so they are easier to magically coax. Under this assumption, however, it would seem that earth elementals should be easy to manipulate. But earth elementals are ironically stubborn. Air magic is, however, initially easy to control – and just as easily, it loses interest.