Magic is ubiquitous in Aeldreth, used for everything from waging war to common personal conveniences. To give a sense of how much a part of life it is, we may say that magic is to modern Aeldreth as electric power is to modern Earth.
Magic taps into and harnesses a natural spiritual energy known as “aura.” Aura may be thought of as analogous to electromagnetic fields. Everything has aura. Everything radiates aura. Anyone can learn how to manipulate aura to produce specific effects. The art of doing that is called “magic.”
That said, there are limitations and hazards to magic.
Aura Levels: While everything and everyone has aura, levels of aura vary. Some materials radiate and/or conduct stronger aura than others, making them more magically useful. Some people have higher aura levels than others, which affects how much aura they can channel and how powerful their magic can get. Aura levels can be raised through training, but they are basically genetic, so a person born with low aura may never achieve the same power as a person born with high aura, even if they do the same training. There are some ethnic trends, with faerie and elves typically having the highest natural aura levels while eormen have the lowest, but individual variations are much more pronounced than demographic trends. No one ethnic or social group dominates the magic professions.
Note: This, by the way, does not address the question of individual aptitude. Even those with good levels for magic may not practice it. For example, the three Ereonis brothers, Peino, Jeneyeru and Ruili, are identical triplets and all have the same high aura levels, but only Jeneyeru became a wizard. The other brothers apply their sensitivity to other pursuits (seamanship and martial arts, respectively).
How Magic is Done: Magic is practiced by wizards (also known as witches, sorcerers, magicians). They do it by casting spells. A wizard casts a spell by psychically tapping into the aura of a thing, being or environment, or their own aura, and shaping the aura to the his or her will to produce a desired effect, with the aid of various tools such as words, gestures, diagrams, etc., to define the spell’s form.
There are as many forms and styles of magic as could be imagined by millions of wizards over thousands of years throughout the world. However, all are founded upon a few universal features: the five spiritual elements and the language of the gods, Atultaec:
- Aura radiates or vibrates or whatever at different frequencies which correspond to the elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. These energy manifestations govern the forms of all spell outcomes, and the subtleties of each and all their possible combinations are the subject of study that consumes wizards’ lives.
- Atultaec is a magical language of power spoken by the gods amongst themselves and used by wizards only in the casting of spells. Every word of Atultaec is a spell unto itself that can produce manifest results. The power of the language is such that its words are abbreviated for teaching and discussion purposes to avoid accidental castings. Even the name of the language is abbreviated to Atul.
Aura Burn: Since magic involves channeling aura through the wizard’s body and spirit, the main limitation on magic is the wizard’s ability to do that. “Aura burn” refers to the condition of a wizard who is channeling aura out faster than he or she can absorb it from other sources. When that happens, the wizard experiences a temporary depletion of aura and loss of ability to cast spells. This usually self-corrects after some rest. Other hazards, injuries or diseases, of varying degrees of severity can result from excessive spell casting and/or certain types of magic, such as shapeshifting or space-time manipulation.
Training, Professions, and the Magic Guild: Like all Aeldrethian professions, magic is self-governed by a guild which regulates schools and training, maintains libraries, certifies master wizards up through the ranks, and licenses regulated specialties.
Guild training requires three to five years as apprentice to a master, five years as a journeyman, and then testing for master status, at which point a title and token of rank will be granted. Professional development consists of taking guild quests to demonstrate improved skills in order to gain higher titles and ranks.
The practical applications of magic are far too numerous to list. Some major areas of work in professional magic include: healing; military magic; divination; communications; transportation; enchanted objects. However, this barely scratches the surface.