The anatomy of Magika is unlike that of any other naturally occurring element in Elarra. Although mostly invisible to the naked eye, it fuses with its environment, not unlike moisture, which can only be seen under specific conditions, yet is always present in some form. Similarly, it has a purpose as vital to Magical creatures as water is to Elarrans and Humans alike. Yet it possesses the ability to be called upon and to have its purpose defined by a skilled and focused individual: one who masters the ability to absorb its very essence from their surroundings and harness it to execute their bidding. It can be a beautiful merger of a willful mind and a willing manifest of nature, or it can be devastating.
The very purpose of the Magic Academy has been to both educate and regulate the use of Magic. Most certainly, not everyone was permitted access to the teachings of founders Horus Grimthane, Azmay Spectra, Asher Vex or Zyroth Killdorian. Pupils were chosen via a process known as Aural Speculas, an instrument that measures vibrations emitted from the energy occupying the potential student. This energy read much like a signature or fingerprint: each person’s is unique. A high vibrational force was required to command Magika, and less than one percent of the Elarra’s population passed the test. Most students possessing such a unique read knew long before the test is taken, as unusual events tended to occur in their presence. Due to the social ramifications of these inexplicable, uncontrolled events, even the youngest of High Arcs, as they’re called, sometimes ended up on the steps of the Academy as exiles or orphans. Many would go on to be Consuls at the Academy.
Behind the great fortress walls of the Academy, it was very much a different world. Beyond the Magical studies, there was discipline and structure; Rogue Magic was forbidden, and every student who crossed the threshold of the Academy had their Aural Emission Value recorded in a registry, thus they could always be found, no matter their distance. Given the nature and power of Magika and the possible effects on wider Elarran-kind, it was vital to maintain such a registry for the safety and security of both the Academy, its elite students, and the general populace.
The Academy had maintained a peaceful union with the outside world, with only the exception of the eradication of Vex many passes through the Rings ago. With goodwill ambassadors to the villages, most of the subsequent fear and damage to their reputation was left to the mists of history.
Alas, it must be said that the Academy still had its vocal skeptics – and plenty of political opposition. Surely, they would expect blame for the unnatural extinction of so many magical creatures, for their inability to understand or explain the Gray, to explain where it had come from, or why it did what it did, or why the spread could not be stopped. With colorless, smokey tendrils, the Gray had consumed several square feet of the Forest each day – and it only moved faster as it conquered.
With the Guidance of Professor Doran Biggelroot and High Elders from each house, the Academy had undertaken the astounding task of wrangling massive herds of Deerlings from the Plains of Al’Shawar, along with colorful flocks of bright winged Sabras from the Cliffs of Denuur, along with many other creatures besides, and relocating them to remote reservations on the Seabris Coast. There, it was hoped, they would be out of the deadly path being gouged by the Gray – if just for now.
Yet the Gray was a mere 722 Fendul Tails from reaching the Staralis Desert, where a tribe of small, gentle, magical creatures known as the Mystics left the Petalpods of their unborn to warm in the Sun. It was their Bourning Season, and thousands of their pod-sheltered young lay nestled in the tall yellow grass. All lay directly in the path of the swelling Gray.
The dilemma that now presented itself to the Professor was the availability of safe havens for these creatures. Most places far from the Gray were already occupied now, and by extremely dangerous magical creatures – creatures that would pose their own danger to the gentle Mystic-Kind. It was clear to the Professor, as they sat at the council table in the Great Hall, that relocation could only be temporary. Without the ability to understand and thereby stop the Gray, it would would soon infest every corner of Mystica, and soon devour the entirety of Elarra.
From the moment he saw Fe’Lora weeping upon hearing the news of her kind, Doran knew the moment would come when he would have to ask questions he’d never asked before, and never thought he’d have to. It seemed indelibly printed on the surface of his mind, only waiting for the right time to come. Consul Aria Aventis of House Of Spectra sat to his left, her typically soft expression masked with anxiety, her glistening lavender eyes peppered with black. To his right sat Consul Rhazgul Ironheart of the House of Grimthane, his weathered face looking all the more tired. Directly across sat Killdorian Consul Xarian Brindlespark, his face partially shadowed by his blood-red hood, obscuring his ornate eye plate crafted from Myrridian ore. He, most of all was difficult to assess.
The Professor cleared his throat once, and then spoke. “We need to discuss my arrival.”
Aria furrowed her brow and leaned forward, candlelight dancing upon her radiant pink hair.
Doran folded his hands. “I’ve never asked by what device I’ve come here. By what instrument of magic or technology or marriage of the two. But whatever provided my safe passage here, we could possibly use it to send -“
Consul Rhazgul interrupted, his deep, growling voice betraying his gentle nature. “Your arrival remains as much a mystery to us as to you. We have as many questions as anyone, and the only ones with the answers have passed into the great beyond. Whatever magic delivered you here was a relic, something from before our time, and to be blunt, it was all quite accidental – even though a blessing, Doran, my friend.” He raised one stubby digit to punctuate his affection.
“Perhaps Professor Biggleroot is right,” Aria said. “Once we determined he was no threat to us, we presumed that the magic that ushered him to the West Corner was beyond our reach, but we haven’t made any qualified effort.” Arias said.
Rhazgul took a sip of his ale. The foam clung to his mustache, and he briskly wiped it with his sleeve. “Well, it’s not possible. We have no place to start. It’s Old Magic, unrestrained and chaotic.” He took another sip before adding, “And it’s dangerous! Doran is lucky he wasn’t torn to bits in his travels.”
The Professor swallowed hard. “It was when Fe’Lora wept, and I saw her tears. I recognized it. That substance, that unmistakable glow, like liquid sapphires lit from within. I have not tested, I have not studied, I have no samples; I have no scholarship to stand on. But I tell you all, from deep in my bones I know it. It was the same substance that came from the well and brought life back to those woods. The same substance that activated the well and sent me here.”
And for the first time, the traditionally silent Xarian spoke. When he spoke, everyone listened, as he never did so just to hear his own voice. While vastly restrained, every utterance possessed purpose. “At this time, given our dire circumstances and Doran’s recollections associated with the tears of Fe’Lora, we might consider opening the Vault of Chronicles…”
There was a collective gasp. Aria’s eyes grew wide. Doran furrowed his brows. She spoke calmly to him.
“Legend says that, in the days of the founding of the Academy, the four Founders each had access to the Chronicles. The Chronicles were a vade mecum, a magical text that each of them bore everywhere they went. Filled with the swirling, near-living symbols of Old Magic, they contained unimaginable power, such that they would never dare part from their copy. But,” she said, with a solemn bow of her head, “as the consequences of unchecked power grew ever greater, the founders decided to take steps for the safety of the Academy, of Mystica, of all the world. They agreed to lock away the Chronicles within the Vaults. All swore an oath to abandon the use of wild, unpredictable Old Magic, to teach its ways to no one, and to use only modern, well-studied, scholastic magic. Legend says that the Vault of Chronicles has been locked away since the establishment of the Academy, far beyond the memory of even the oldest Academy member. It has been spoken of only as a vague, old rumor: a Vault far beneath the Academy, hidden beyond a secret passage within the stone, and sealed with the last Old Magic the world would ever know, so that none could ever break the spell. And, for one last safeguard, the entrance was protected by three Siren spirits.”
Doran quirked an eyebrow once more. Rhazgul leaned toward him. “Mad fish from the deepest parts of the sea, quite insane, and not known to be honest!”
Xarian stood solemly, “I think it is time we break the seal and shed light on the Chronicles. It is our only hope.”
And he walked away, leaving an unnerving silence in his wake.
To Be continued
February 20th, 2015