One very reliable informant from Roawia came up with a document. He gave it to me to investigate if it was of any worth, and my intuition says yes. It must be one of the earliest documents in the long history of Roawia about how magic works and what it's limits are. And the author claims to have used magic himself! Read with me:
Natura et opere magicae brevis historia
(About the nature and working of magic, a short history)
The world has many forces, the divine, the natural, the human and the demonic. Some writers claim that magic is the fifth force, fitting in none of the four. Others, like many lords on the Great Continent called Roawia, claim that magic is certainly one of the demonic forces.
I have long studied these things, reading the ancient scriptures, by meditation using the divine power, and also by learning and applying magic myself. Long have I studied this, and neither the learned writers, nor the mighty rulers who are not scholars but princes, have seen right. Magic is not an independent force.
Magic is a combination of natural and human power in such a way that it is beyond human power alone, and in a way that it seems almost unnatural. This magic can be used both for bad and for good, i.e with divine or demonic inspiration. When, as many as philosophers wisely have done, one draws the forces in a quadrant with the shape of a circle, divided in four by a cross, the magic is located at the very center of this cross.
The natural aspects of magic are three in number. First, the person who wishes to exercise magic must have a gift or inherited predisposition at birth. This is a natural and no human power, because there is no father or mother who can enforce what talents their children are given.
Second, one can not make something out of nothing, nor bring a living, active force forth from that which is absent. Magic can only transform one matter into another, and transform a living force of nature to into another force. This is how all teachers in the arts of magic teach. One can change a plant into bread, and pebbles in arrowheads, but forming a mantle out of thin air is impossible. One can also transform fire into wind, and sunlight into a shock motion. But one cannot extract a living, active force from a cold, stagnant rock.
The third element is a natural catalyst, a device that the interplay of human and natural power stimulates and strengthens to immeasurable heights. The most common form found on this large island is a potion from one of the many springwells. They are called wells or sources of power, and the name 'potion' is probably derived from 'potentia'. One can bottle the potion and take it with them on a journey, but it loses power once it leaves the well, ie by half during each moon. After three moons only one eighth of its original strength is left. On the Great Continent the wells of power are rare. During all my wanderings I have only found one.
The human aspects of magic are two in number. First there is the will and concentration that a man must yield to magically give shape to what otherwise would have taken him many years. Magic costs the man, however, his natural strength, it can exhaust him to the death.
Besides the willpower and concentration, matter or a living force must be shaped into the right form. This happens in different ways, with rituals, attributes, elixirs, mantras and spells, and the imagination of the mind. Learning all these methods is possible if one has the gift. However, it takes years of study before any tangible results of any importance are apparent, as I myself have experienced.
About the divine and demonic inspiration I can be brief. One should always choose divine inspiration to practice magic, the evil leads only to destruction, not in the least of the magician himself. For combat situations magic is impractical. Making an elixir, performing a ritual and even the chanting of a spell takes too long if you face a sweeping sword or a flying arrow. The nature of the inspiration can be detected mostly by the odor. Demonic-inspired magic smells like sulphur, rottenness and marsh gas. Divinely inspired magic smells like sea breeze, grass in spring, and resin from pine trees.
Always be cautious with magic, especially in the presence of laymen. Because they have little or no understanding of magic they will not trust you and probably threaten or maltreat you, if not worse.
Bo of Dakia
pretiumque et causa laboris pixit