What Is Magic?
"The Secrets of the Universe are in the palm of my hand. It's getting very sweaty."
The Birth of Magic
As we often obsess over beginnings, in the beginning, there was nothing. There was no me. no you. no ancestors, nothing! It was all immensely boring and Nothing was getting along quite nicely, as nothing is wont to do. But then, amidst all of that void, the nothing bumped into....something! and there was a little spark. Nothing, being the polite existential abstraction that it was, said:
"Oh, pardon me."
but after a moment of consideration, its understanding of everything shattered.
"Wait! What was that?! Was that something?! What is ‘something’? Am I something?! I’m supposed to be nothing. I shouldn't even be an ‘I'm!’ what's going on?!"
In a flurry of concentrated apprehension, a little glint of manifested. Element of Confusion.
“Now there is a second something! Well that shouldn't have happened. surely something can't exist because there's always been nothing!" and the Element of Doubt blipped into existence.
"Darn it I've done it again! That settles it. Something is definitely going on." And, sure enough, the Element of Certainty shortly followed.
”Stop that, I mean it!" it said. and the element of frustration came to existence.
All those somethings ignored nothing, and the elements continued popping into existence. All the elements flashed and flickered in a desperate attempt to make something out of nothing. Crowding up all that nothing with, stars, bits of rock, all sorts of stuff. And amidst all that noise. something wonderful happened. out of all the somethings and nothings, nothing said:
"Huh.Well I guess this is more interesting then, isn't it?"
And the element of discovery was born! And thus, Nothing embraced something, and that’s typically how everything comes to be, isn’t it?
The Birth of Magic is, of course, just one of many ways something came out of nothing. In truth, all of existence prefers to be multiple choice. As when presented with the decision of ‘soup or salad,’ the rules of nature suggest that the energy built up from the regret of not choosing the other is potent enough to generate its own alternate universe. This occurs with every decision, every day. Meaning that indecisive people are probably the closest to Gods that we’ll ever know. There are somewhere between a handful and billions of other verses, as theorized by Wizard Crustbeard. Whom believed a mortal's decision making is predetermined by an uncaring super-entity beyond our scope of understanding. This theory was officially marked by the Ministry as "Too scary and depressing to Humor." Amidst all of these universes, there is one only that interacts with the elements that make everything possible: Hearth.
It’s unclear whether the elements were created by some higher being. It was more than likely an accident. The Elements create everything that is and will be, merely because they are. But because the elements are such a chaotic force of nature, they blip in and out of existence constantly. There’s an element for everything. From concrete things like rock and water, to abstract ideas like nostalgia or that feeling you experience when you want to flag down an uncaring waiter at a restaurant. It’s possible they blip out of our existence because they have something more important to do. Poker night, for example.
The nature of the Elements is chaotic, uncertain, and wrapped up in a lot of ego. The elements are naturally insecure entities, and require constant reinforcement to keep them from fluttering in and out of existence. In many universes, mortals reinforce the ego of the elements with polytheism, monotheism, tritheism, and unceasing arguments about which theism is the theism-est. This has the effect of grounding the elements in their own smug sense of entitlement. However, In one particular universe, A race of mortals do not treat the elements with the respect they’re accustomed to. In fact, the elements are insulted, chided, and mocked mercilessly in the tongue of Trite: the singular most offensive language the elements have ever experienced. When uttered, the elements are so thoroughly put out, they are compelled to smite the offending party. This energy is then collected, and channeled into bending time and space to the mortal’s whim. Or, as we commonly call it, Magic!
Ether is a magical energy within all of us, not unlike a life force. It possesses people, animals, objects, and the empty space between them. It can be refined into concentrated, physical energy. Many equate Ether to our capacity for magic. Ley lines are dispensed throughout the world of hearth like a circulatory system. And extraplanar ether is eventually formed into its own, chaotic willpower called the elements. Residual ether exists everywhere in hearth, and can often cause strange anomalies in key locations if left unchecked.
At some point in history, likely before a record of things being written down, a tiny person said something nasty to the Element of Fire. What exactly was said is lost to history, but the effect was clear: The Element of Fire’s self esteem was damaged, and its entire confidence of its capabilities was thrown into question. This could not stand. So the Element of Fire cast down rage and smoldering flames to crush the insignificant bug trying to insult it. Only for the magic to be absorbed, and channeled into something the mortal needed at the time. Namely, a warm fireplace. You see, all of casting is the channeling of impossible amounts of cosmic outrage, and turning it into small useful things out of spite. There are numerous methods of channeling magic, and all have various benefits and level of validity. As long as something has ether and a willpower to dispense insults, magic is possible.
At some point in History, before people thought to write things down, the elements were assaulted by a string of witty insults. In truth, this was one of the first languages to have been uttered in the world of hearth, as a bipedal species of indeterminate age was just getting a handle on the sounds its mouth could make. These sounds were the single most offensive language the elements have ever known, throwing their competence, and their omnipotence into question. This could not stand. So the Elements channeled some energy and cast it down on the offending party. Instead of the intended outcome, the mortal on Hearth was struck with the energy, and channeled it into a nearby tree, setting it on fire. Not only was this the first time the bipedal being discovered fire, but it was also the birth of the very first sorcerer. You see, all of casting is the channeling of impossible amounts of cosmic outrage, and turning it into small useful things out of spite. There are numerous methods of channeling magic, and all have various benefits and level of validity. As long as something has ether and a willpower to dispense insults, magic is possible.
Between the dimensions of the universe lies a fold of existence terrifying in nature. A realm of infinite eyes. Voracious in its desire to observe all, the lidless eyes transcend time and space to see everything that is, was, and will be. Once they make eye contact with someone, victims describe the experience as having their privacy drained in an instant. Disembodied eyes observing them in every waking moment of their life. It is still a mystery what motivates the unblinking, though their dimension makes a really convenient shortcut for teleporting between locations. It can save a lot of time on a commute.