There are many theories regarding magic; what it is and what it does. More religious types believe it is a gift from their god(s), a tool through which they may carry out their will. Scientific minds see it as an energy, natural and not unlike the heat of the sun or the force of the wind. And then there are those who just think... it's there, and that's about all they need to know.
The truth about magic is that most of these theories are right to some degree. When the gods created Aesira, their actions always left behind a small amount of their power, which manifested itself as an ambient energy. This energy now suffuses everything on the planet, from the rocks under the earth to the sky above, and every plant, animal and object between them. This energy can be accessed, manipulated and focused in any number of ways, but the main and accepted methods fall under one of the various schools (shown below). Any acts by a god still leave behind a trace of magic energy.
The Schools of Magic Edit
Magic exists everywhere in the world, flowing in and around every living thing and space. Over the ages, many groups have learned how to control this force and shape it into specific effects, either through innate talent or rigorous study. These arts are the seven basic schools of magic. There is, however, another way to use magic to influence the physical world. Arcane magic is the ability to directly manipulate magic energy itself, and through it almost anything else.
Arcane magic can be used to achieve many spectacular efffects. One of the most well-known is the ability to use that energy to move a physical object. With it, you can levitate things, teleport them from one place to another, or even create a temporary portal, allowing others to use your own teleportation at their discretion. It can also be used to create objects seemingly out of thin air, combining magic energy into a physical form. However, this is not the only use: theoretically, Arcane magic can produce any effect, though achieving most is a matter of learning specifically how, which in turn is a matter of experimentation for most people.
Arcane magic is driven not by study or magical talent, unlike the other schools. Simply put, it is your magical muscle, the sheer power you can exert over magical energy. Like physical muscle, you may start out with a natural tendancy toward more or less of it, but it's useless unless you train it. A first-time user might expend all their energy to levitate a small rock, while a skilled Arcane magister could levitate it without a second thought; for that same energy expenditure, he could teleport several people a short distance.
Arcane magic manifests itself as a shimmering, iridescent mist around the affected targets. If it's a quick effect, such as a teleport, the mist appears and is gone, like a puff of smoke. For a longer effect, such as a continuous levitation, it's a barely-visible fog around the target, lasting until the spell is dismissed.
While the other schools may serve specific effects, such as Illusory affecting the mind or Elemental calling fire and stone to its users' aid, Divine magic is simply raw power, straight from the gods themselves, to be used however the magister sees fit.
In order to wield it, a mortal must curry the favour of their chosen deity; specifically how they do this depends on the god and what they demand of their followers. However the power is attained, divine magic is an extremely powerful tool - it allows the wielder to channel large amounts of energy throughout their body, enhancing and empowering their abilities beyond the levels any normal being can attain - effectively serving the same purpose as Energy magic, but with much larger wells of power to draw on. Divine magic can also be discharged from the body, and manifests itself as a white-hot flame, though there are minor differences to its appearance depending on which god the power is from. Some magisters are even capable of using it in composite with any of the other schools, using the raw power to fuel the effects.
It should be noted: you cannot use Divine magic to perform any actions the provider god is opposed to. If you even try, the power will be cut off, either temporarily or permanently, depending on how bad the infraction was.
Elemental magic is as it is named: the control of the four basic elements. Fire magic allows for the creation and control of fire, heat, and light. Water magic controls liquid substances, or water in its other states. Air magic conjures up wind and shifts the air and gasses, and can even mimic the various forces of nature like storms and gales. And Earth magic lets one move, bend and shape base elements of the earth, like rock and metals.
Owing to the very different natures of the four elements, while Elemental is one school in and of itself, simply becoming proficient in one element does not make you any better at the other three, and every magister must train themselves in Fire, Water, Air and Earth magics separately.
Four groups are particularly attuned and naturally adept at each element: the members of the Fire Cult can wield Fire magic with relative ease. The Lutras, while rarely powerful, feel a natural connection to Water that lets them control and shape it on instinct alone. The various Lynx tribes have passed the teaching of Air magic down among the Clan Mothers since it was taught to them by their god as a way to bend and repel the viciously-cold weather of their homeland. And the Bento, as a part of their connection to the divine through the goddess Tarrea, have a natural affinity for Earth magic that is taught as standard among the Earthmason tribe.
Energy magic is the most basic form of magic, and is used on an almost daily basis by every living thing on the planet (intentionally or otherwise). This school focuses on the redistribution of bodily energies, allowing the user to strengthen specific parts of their body and enhance their performance; many people and animals do this unintentionally, gaining a sudden burst of speed when fleeing from something, or suddenly being able to hear the quietest of sounds when they're actively trying to hear something. These boosts are written off as dumb luck or an adrenaline spike, so for the most part nobody ever realizes they're using magic. A particularly skilled energy magister can even drain the power from another being, or discharge a small amount of their own in the form of what can be approximated as an electrical spike.
The bodily energies are slowly produced, naturally, within every living entity, and are slowly consumed in the maintaining of its functions. As such, despite its commonness and ease of use, extended or overuse of Energy magic can seriously drain, and even kill, the user. And unlike the other magical schools, which tend to be fueled metaphysicially or mentally, an individual becomes able to produce, hold, and redistribute more Energy the more physically adept they are.
Energy Magic manifests itself as sparking, green-blue energy akin to electricity as it enters or leaves the body.
The school of Healing breaks most conventions and clichés, in that its function isn't as the name implies. Healing magic is a school of pure law and order, and works by making sure the series of biological laws within a body (two eyes, heart beating at 52b/m, chemical balance at a certain level, etc) are maintained. This allows a healer to remove all abnormalities, such as poisons or a bleeding vessel, with relative ease. In addition to simply maintaining these laws in general, any individual with an extensive knowledge of the subject species' anatomy, and/or knowledge of specifically what the ailment is, could focus their efforts in a specific way - healing the gaping wound before all the smaller, notably less fatal cuts, for example.
When a certain level of aptitude in Healing magic is attained, a magister can also use it to break the laws of the body, though this is almost never used in a negative fashion. Instead, it can be applied to strengthen a bone so that it becomes less likely to break, or accellerate cell division past normal to speed up natural healing, or any number of similar things.
An act of Healing magic manifests itself as a translucent, blood-red aura that resembles liquid, like blood-stained water.
Illusory magic is, all at once, one of the most powerful and most weak of the seven schools. It allows an individual to directly manipulate a subject's senses, making them believe they are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling whatever the illusionist wishes.
The school isn't as simple, however, as "think it and the subject sees it". A magister could make a subject believe there is a tree in front of them, but if they simply specify "tree", the subject's own mind fills in all the information; the species, the size, the state - dying, Autumn foliage - and all the other details, based on what the subject's mind initially imagines "tree" to mean. The magister can specify all these details themselves, though, anything from the shade of the leaves, how many feet tall, and even the smell and little imperfections in the bark; however, the more specific the experience, the more energy and focus is required.
Adversely, sometimes being non-specific works to the illusionist's benefit... simply specify that you want the subject to see "what they fear most" or feel "horrible pain". Simple, but does as needed without the need for much focus.
Literally meaning "Death Talking", necromantic magic is the manipulation of the spirit. At its most basic, it is adopted by shamans and spiritualists as a way to have "out of body experiences", and perceive the world without the limitations of the mortal body. However, the spirit never actually leaves entirely, remaining fettered to its physical form at least in part by an unseen force. Separating a body and spirit from each other entirely is a very dangerous process, as the act leaves a physical gash in the subject's body - the aperture through which the spirit left. It can then re-enter the body (leaving another gash) intrude on another (again, cutting the subject open) or any number of other equally vile things - this, thankfully, requires a lot of focus, training and power, and true acts of "necromancy" are all but unheard of on Aesira.
The school manifests itself as an icy-cold energy.
Ritualism is nicknamed "sacrificial magic" by magister scholars, and is arguably the most powerful school of the lot.
The ritualist plans a specific desired result (to use an example, make a flower bloom), and then must find a material component that directly relates to this effect (continued example, a seed from a rare plant). They then spend anywhere from an hour to several days specially blessing and preparing the item, and then they can withhold that item for as long as they please. Then, when desired, the object is sacrificed (seeming to disintegrate into nothingness), and the desired effect is triggered - any energy or material needed to produce it is first taken from the sacrificed item, and anything over that is then produced from the ambient magical energies in the area. Ritualism can produce almost any effect, given sufficient time and components, with the exception of creating the spark of life (meaning restoring the dead to life, animating that which is not alive, or causing a living creature to spontaneously reproduce).
Exactly what the ritualist uses in their spells is subject to ratio. The more material they use, and the greater the connection to the desired effect, the less time and effort is required to prepare it. Adversely, a good deal more time and energy can be used to recieve the exact same effect from absolutely minimal material.
Unlike most of the other schools, Ritualism has no consistent manifestation; every different user might have their own way of imbuing an object with energy to cast a spell. One might simply pray over it, while another could focus their energy by painting intricate designs. Thus, the manifestation of a Ritualism magic is different for each person using it.
Subschools are "master"-level applications of magic. While not actually schools in their own right, their uses tend to lie outside of the traditional rules and systems of the main schools' definitions. The full list is ongoing, but a few have been figured out.
Composite magic is the ability to combine effects from two or more schools. The overall number of possible applications are theoretically infinite, but a good (and common) example would be using Energy or Divine magic to act as "fuel" for effects from the other schools, such as sustaining a powerful Elemental fire spell.
Enchantment is a school of magic that comes from any of the other seven. When an individual becomes skilled enough with a particular type of magic, they can (with great care) focus it into otherwise mundane items, leading to a singular or even permanent effect. One could use Energy magic to create "batteries" for their power, or Elemental to make their knife burn hot, like it's been under a flame.
Telepathy is capable by anybody who has sufficiently trained themselves in Illusory magic. Being able to manipulate the mind so well, they learn how to properly read the feedback and literally see/hear what the subject is thinking. Actual mind-reading, however, is a much longer and more extended, delicate, probing process, not to mention dangerous.
Every living creature can access magic to some small degree, but precisely what they can do, how often and to what degree is all dependent on how attuned they are - the strength of their magic aura. Every being is born with a certain level, dependent on race, where they're born, the attunement of their parents, and (though this factor usually derives from the previous two) the amount of magic they were exposed to prior to their birth. With but a few exceptions, their actual aura strength is minimal, and every magic-user must train for many years to become particularly powerful. Those who attain a certain level of power manifest it in various ways, but it's most typically in the eyes: those who are the most outright powerful gain deep, purple irises.
Magic Zones Edit
While magic energy exists almost all over the planet, with noteworthy exceptions as detailed below, the exact amount can vary from place to place depending on several factors. The exact level of the magic energy is described using colours, from red to black, and are called Magic Zones.
Red Zones are the areas highest in ambient power. Even the simplest of spells can be made more powerful by tenfold with little or no additional effort, and it is in these locations that much of the most powerful mortal magic is worked. The air tends to feel warmer, whether it really is or not, and there's a force in the air like the static after a thunderstorm. Sites of note include the Grand Oak's stump (which still bleeds power, even today) and the entirety of the Arcana continent, where magic energy has gathered in a type of unfelt hurricane.
Orange Zones are high-power sites, and extremely rare in occourance. Typically, they only manifest around Red Zones, and are otherwise of little note besides their heightened power.
Yellow and Green Zones are the span of "normal" magical saturation. Anything regarding to magic, when explained, is implied to be taking effect within one of these areas (accounting for well over four fifths of the planet).
Blue Zones are areas of very low magic. They tend to form over cities and sites where magic is used in large amounts or on a regular basis. While not outright detrimental to magisters, these areas are incapable of sustaining reasonably powerful effects.
Black Zones, better known as Dead Zones, are areas where magic has ceased to exist. The area totally repels magic energy, meaning that spells are totally unusable. Existing enchantments end, and all the energy within a being's body is shunted out of them upon entering. The air feels cold, still and lifeless, and beings with a particularly strong connection to magic feel a horrible, deadening feeling so long as they're within the zone. Notable sites include the very centre of World's Heart, and an unnamed island chain off Tor's western coast where Naga was slain by Tarrea.
Magic Beliefs and Studies Edit
Gifts of the Mother Edit
The Bento belief system mentions very little of magic, namely because the race actually knows naught about it themselves (ironic, considering how much their culture is influenced by it). Instead, their primary doctrine - and the few variants that appear between the tribes - describe almost every magical power as an act of or gift from their goddess. Their natural strength and healing rate are a sign of their "high birth" above other living creatures, the shamans' ability to speak with spirits and heal their people is an extension of the power of their faith, and the powerful Elemental earth magic the Earthmason tribe demonstrates is tied to the fact that they are, more or less, the "first" tribe. All other schools of magic appear to be lost on them, with the exception of natural Energy magic that all living things use.
The College of Magisters Edit
An official branch of the Pryconian Temple, the College of Magisters teaches the sciences and theories regarding magic energy and its uses. They are the only faction on Aesira truly aware of what magic is capable of, and teach their practice among those who can afford to enroll. Their underlying belief is that magic is simply an energy and force, not bound by any sort of spiritual or metaphysical background, though exactly how it is applied is as subject to their laws as anything else in Pryconian society. Any magic-user within the Empire not registered with the college is typically monitored closely.
Reptus Slavers Edit
The Lizardkind and Serpentkind Reptus have a natural affinity for Illusory magic, and have found a very focused way to apply it. Being a race that relies so heavily on a slave workforce in all aspects of their culture, they have perfected their talents down to a fine art, used to brainwash, control and restrain slaves. Using a mix of these skills, and slightly more applied magic from the various other schools, the Reptus are even able to enchant objects to hold desired effects for whoever wears, uses, or simply just carries them; the most common and time-perfected example of these items are their control collars, which maintain a very specific and powerful effect: "any thoughts or actions that disobey [who the wearer percieves as their master], and the wearer feels an unbearable, though physically harmless, amount of pain".