Though I long ago became a senior professor at Isou University, I have made it a point to continue with the most dreaded of all pedagogical duties, teaching the introductory class. Each semester I shepherd a roster of intelligent imbeciles into the understanding that they do not, in point of fact, know everything already. To be more precise, I teach a class known as Arcane Studies: Introduction to Magic, whose focus is on the nature and history of magic rather than the application. Many of the educated citizens of Rues demonstrate an appalling lack of understanding about the arcane power of the world, and I shudder to consider what superstitions remain in the minds of the uneducated. Together with a printer who wishes to remain anonymous, I have provided this very basic overview of the history of magic on Rues.
The word magic is derived from the ancient root of magh, which translates roughly as "to be able." The magic of Rues is not so different than the fish oil of Rues, or the trees of Rues; it is a natural resource that, by the power of the Purposed Races, can be made into a marvel. Many of the so-called sorcerers and wizards are offended by my comparison of magic to something so common as lumber or carp, but they are a tiresome lot, clinging to a fear-based elitist system that led only to ignorance and destruction. I have no wish for the Shepherds or Shapers to come knocking upon my door, so let me pause here to make a distinction between divine power, the abilities granted by the Genesori to their faithful, and arcane magic. While there are many theorists who have taken note of the similarities between divine power and arcane magic and have suggested that they are somehow related, those theories have met with resistance from the High Chapel of Inlyrico, and thus will not be mentioned here.
Arcane magic, then, has been a companion of the Purposed Races throughout our recorded history. While it is not fully understood, the arcanists of past ages discovered enough to categorize their various capabilities into spheres and establish some common uses. One of the truly remarkable traits of arcane magic is its versatility. It responds to gestures and words, to force of will, can be captured in objects and crafted into carvings. It comes as no surprise to me that after it disappeared from the world in the year 950, it achieved the same legendary and wistful status as children's tales about the Turtle Princess and Brave Young Fortkin.
One of the first questions that my students ask is about the disappearance of arcane magic, which of course accompanied the day known as the Great Tragedy in Inlyrico, the Day of Two Suns in Anbara, the Reap in Volbrecht, the shirak a'vehr (Lightning from the Sand) by the Mehrdahd’i, and most properly, the Entropic Pulse. Arcane magic includes many of the greatest forces acting upon the world today, and as an act of defiance against the empire, the now-defunct kingdoms of Aerithea and Drakkenspar combined their considerable arcane knowledge to conduct a poorly researched and illadvised ritual. The result cost countless lives (the last attempted estimate was abandoned at eight thousand), obliterated the once beautiful kingdom of Drakkenspar and burned arcane magic out of Rues for the following century. Only within my lifetime has it truly begun to reappear and spread across the empire again.
If the ritual caused the disappearance, then what caused the ritual? Academic integrity demands that we look at historical context, rather than blame the convenient targets of Aerithea and Drakkenspar. Previous to the Entropic Pulse, a mistrust of arcanists had been building for decades, based upon the concentration of powerful mages in the two kingdoms that refused to join the empire. The bitter feelings toward these two kingdoms became generalized toward arcanists as a whole, and Invicto Mercurio made the decision to control the empire's mages by collecting them in remote camps. As one might expect, this plan served to control a large and bitter population of arcanists while ensuring that the rest would indeed turn against the empire. Happily, Invicto's successor Lucitora rescinded these acts, and may they never rear their ugly heads again.
One hundred and ten years after the Entropic Pulse, hints of the return of arcane magic were noted, and summarily dismissed as wishful thinking. However, when the arcane fonts appeared in Shiara and Erekon in 1149, all skepticism was erased. In the past sixty years, we have seen a rebirth of the ancient arcane tradition as we try to mesh the reality with the legends we all heard as children. The Arcane Studies wing of Isou University has been joyfully rebuilt after its destruction in 946, and new discoveries and knowledge pour in each day.
As a parting, I feel it is important to stress that arcane magic is not a remote and alien thing. It is in your backyard. Your children may be born with it, as children have been around the empire. Just as you have learned to be a carpenter or a cooper, your neighbor may learn to be an Elementalist or a Despoiler. As the Purposed Races, we have proven ourselves time and again as masters of our world, bringing the forces to bear in our favor. Let it be no different with arcane magic.