An Introduction to Magic

Magic: Theory and Philosophy

Every culture of the Sister Continents sees magic in a different way, with at least minor variations.  Needless to say, this can be confusing to the peoples of the world, as well as for folks entering the world via the written word! However, there is one single statement that can be made about magic in the world that will provide a basis for understanding:

All magic is elemental.

There, I’ve said it, the cat is out of the bag. But how many pigs are still in their pokes? 

Many cultures around the world will break magic into categories, and give them names such as arcane, holy, wild, sorcery, witchcraft, voodoo, illusion, necromancy, shamanism, etc., but no matter who is practicing magic under any name, the source of that power are the Elements.

Elements: What are they?

The Elements are tiny, invisible energy particles that pass through the multiverse and everything within the multiverse. For the most part they are unknown to us all, as even as you sit here reading this, they are passing through your body in relatively small numbers compared to if you were on the world of the Sister Continents. For reasons that will remain unbeknownst to you and most characters in the books, the concentration of these elemental particles on the Continents is extremely high compared to most places in the multiverse. Most of the time (99.9%) these particles float through the multiverse with a neutral energy, that is until they meet something or someone who “spins” its energy, either consciously or unconsciously.

Note: In many cases, the terms Particle and Element are interchangeable. The Gravity Particle could just as well be called Elemental Gravity, with Elemental Attraction and Elemental Repulsion as its two poles. 

So, let’s take a gander at these particles. 

Primary Particle - Earth, Air, Water, Fire - Complex Particle

Within the Primary Particle we find the four Elements most often spoken of in Earth mythology: Stone, Air, Water and Fire.  By spinning the energy of the Primary Particle, the skilled wizard can generate Elemental energies to create numerous variants of these four Elements with many effects.  Consider that Air represents all gases, and you see how diverse this magic can be.

Illumination Particle - Light and Dark - Polar Particle

This particle may be spun to form Elemental Dark and Elemental Light. Both of these are different than their natural counterparts. You know you are in the presence of Elemental Dark when natural light will not penetrate it. You know you are in the presence of Elemental Light when you cast no shadow, as the Light envelopes you. Dark also holds a fear component, while Light has a comforting side effect.

Temperature Particle- Heat and Cold - Polar Particle

The Temperature Particle is pretty obvious from its name, and deals with the Elements Heat and Cold. Either one is extremely dangerous to work with, potentially painful if not deadly. Heat and Cold are two of the most utilitarian Elements, extremely popular in regions with extreme temperatures.

Gravity Particle- Repulsion and Attraction - Polar Particle

Elemental Gravity deals with the forces of repulsion and attraction, which can be very handy whether you want to lift a great stone into place on a castle wall, or turn that arrow heading for your head. Levitation and flight are also  popular uses for this Element, but are difficult. Telekinesis is the manipulation of Gravity, in most cases.

Life Particle- Singular Complex Particle

Unlike most particles, which float freely through the multiverse, the Life Particle will often bond with the cellular structure of a living thing, be it plant or animal, and even those that do not bond, tend to linger when they pass through living things. Being a naturally internalized Element, most folks born with "magic" utilize this element and become known as great healers, as the Life Element is used in a healing capacity. It is more difficult (as the natural spin of Life when entering the body is Health) but not uncommon to use Life to cause damage to living things.

Spirit Particle- Singular Complex Particle

Next we have Spirit, which is in some ways quite similar to Life, as it also often bonds, but in this case, Spirit bonds to the Life Element which is bonded to the living cells of sentient beings, and it attaches itself to that being’s soul. Upon the death of that being, and the soul’s departure from the body, the Elemental Spirit splits from the Life and follows the soul, which leaves an opening for our next Elemental Particle.

Unlife Particle- Singular Complex Particle

The Unlife Particle, feared throughout the world whether the people understand its nature or not, floats freely through the multiverse until it passes through the corpse of a being whose Life is still attached to the cells, and where the Spirit link is missing. Where the Spirit was, Unlife may enter, and if enough Elemental Unlife attaches to the Life, the corpse is reanimated. This leads to another phenomenon known as Spirit Reflection.  When the body dies and the soul departs, the Elements of Spirit follow, but not all do so immediately.  If the body falls in an area inundated with Unlife, meaning that empty Spirit connections are filled rapidly, the body may reanimate and retain much of the remaining Spirit.  This remaining spirit retains a “reflection” or “memory” of the soul and the consciousness of the previous life. Hence, they tend to be more intelligent, more powerful, and retain more knowledge from their previous existence than a corpse that reanimates after being dead for two months. This sort of thing can lead to dogs who don’t understand why you don’t love them like you used to, a dead lover who can’t quite let that relationship go, as well as dead necromancers with bad attitudes, known as liches.

Time-Space Particle- Singular Complex Particle

The Time-Space Particle is likely the most difficult and the most tempting of all elements to try to master, as it allows for instantaneous travel and the promise of immortality... without the decay of Unlife.  Most all sorcerers will at some point in their careers meddle in Time-Space, quite often as they grow older!  Although the extension of life is quite often achieved with a combination of Time and Life Elements, few if any have reached the Grail of eternal life.  So, most often it is utilized for glimpsing the future or the past, or short distance travel.

Electromagnetism Particle- Singular Complex Particle

The Electromagnetism Element has two basic spins, electricity and magnetism, as the name suggests. Manipulation of these elements are very useful and quite popular, ranging from sticking your armored buddy to the wall and playing pin the tail on the Knight, to lightning bolts without a storm. 

Void Particle- Singular Complex Particle

The Void Particle is different from all other Elements, and it is also quite likely the least utilized of the Elements. It is extremely plentiful, both in free floating form, and as Particle shells. Void is a natural barrier that surrounds every other Elemental Particle and keeps them from colliding and interacting.  Most wizards spend the entirety of their lives fighting Void, cracking this thin layer of energy in order to spin a Particle’s energy and combine that particle with other particles.  It is in part due to this that very few ever use Void as an energy.  In addition, channeling Void will ultimately lead to the inability to manipulate other Elements.  And the final reason is that most wizards never come to realize that it even exists!  If they did, they might have nightmares about someone ever mastering this Element, which would be the ultimate “anti-magic” and wizard killer.

Historical Note:  The term “Void” predates the current history of the Sister Continents, as it was coined in the Age of God Wars by the White Eyes (the only known beings capable of “seeing” the Elements). When viewed in the rainbow colors of their world, Void appears as a black emptiness to the White Eyes, hence they labeled these areas “Void of Elements”. If they ever realized their error is at this time conjecture.

Background Art by Jon Gibbons

© 2018 L. James Rice