Tuesday, January 25, 2011


There once was an age of magic.

Literally. There was an age of magic. You could have asked, “Hey, buddy, what’s the age of magic?”

“Forty-two,” he’d say, “Forty-three in August.”

Of course, he’d only say that if the age of magic was actually 42 and 43 in August. It didn’t celebrate birthdays or anything. But back then any magus worth his salt would have known its age and been perfectly willing to tell you—and then he’d kill you (because he could, not because he had to).

Back then, magic was alive. Magia naturalis. It was powerful. It was wild. It was in everything and everyone. No one could control it and there was no rulebook that told people how it should be used. Magic did not follow rules or books or anything else that one might follow. The ages of magic were also ages of burn wounds, disappearing limbs and eyeballs, and unpredictable weather patterns (including fireballs from the sky), and during the ages of magic the leading cause of death was conversion into an inanimate object. (footnote: There was a heated debate about whether or not conversion into a non-sentient animate being-e.g., a giant, blood-sucking amoeba-counted as a cause of death, that is, if it counted as death. The leaders of the day (and, literally, of the day because they were most likely dead by the next morning) concluded that anyone stupid enough to be converted into a non-sentient animate being must not have been that sentient to begin with and, therefore, should not be considered to ever have been alive in the first place.)

Powerful magi—warlords in an era when battles were won and lost by one’s knowledge of chants and counter-spells—rose up claiming to have written a definitive work on Magic, usually with a title along the lines of “Safe and Responsible Magic for Beginners and Intermediates”. Inevitably, in the heat of battle, they would end up turning themselves into a rock or some animal excretion, seriously undermining both their own livingness and their authority on magic safety. 

Out of chaos, an order emerged, a secret society (except the members couldn’t avoid bragging about being members and all the cool things they did). The founder of the order was shrouded in mystery. Members, if asked, would avoid talking about him, mostly because the only alternative was to admit they didn’t know. And the rumors that flew around about him made the secret order that much more intriguing.

The order had one purpose—to rid Lutranean B of magia naturalis. No one really knew why it had this purpose, but all the members agreed that anything so fun must be guided by wisdom. The members were taught and required to practice only one virtually impregnable counter-spell. The counter-spell would twist magic inside out such that any offensive spell would be cancelled out. It was believed that the magic used in the spell and counter spell would cease to exist and could never be used again. 

The order, intentionally nameless and lower case, amassed an army of Anti-Magi. Wielding a single spell and elite training in non-magical hand-to-hand fighting, they cut down all magi that tried to stand in their way, and they had a habit of changing direction so all magi would, eventually, get in their way. An organization of resistance fighters was formed which, through necromantic ingenuity, was able to win, or at least survive, a few early battles.  But the counter-spell evolved, beyond the power of its yielders, and it grew in strength just as the store of magic was weakened with each engagement.

With defeat eminent, the resistance gathered on Mount Apothesis. According to legend, it was on Mount Apothesis that the age of magic was born. Hundreds of elite Anti-Magi, each wanting to be a part of something big, surrounded the mountain and began to converge on their position.

No one knows what happened at the Battle of Mount Apothesis. The order sent scouts to investigate when General Hammadi, leader of the Anti-Magi force and the only participant remembered by name through this whole sequence of events, did not send word from the battle. When the scouts returned, they were summoned in to the council to report and were never seen again. Nor were any members of the council. Legend has it that the secret they carried was so great, so powerful, that the secret itself killed them. 

The age of magic in the year of the Battle of Mount Apothesis was 7,503, and it was the last age of magic. Magica naturalis was drained from the world, consumed on itself.  What would have been the 7,504th age of magic was instead the first year of the age of work—the seeds no longer planted themselves and the wheat did not self-harvest and bake itself into bread.

The order, without leadership or purpose, dissolved. Years and centuries afterwards, brave explorers sought Mount Apothesis but either returned empty-handed or didn’t return at all. Sir Richards reportedly returned as a chicken, but some have since suggested that Sir Richards left as a chicken and, in fact, was born a chicken. In time, the Battle of Mount Apothesis became the Mystery of Mount Apothesis became the Legend of Mount Apothesis became the Myth of Mount Apothesis.

The age of work grew until its age was forgotten, which kept philosophers debating for centuries about whether or not work still actually had an age if no one knew what it was. Elias, a young observer of these debates decided that the issue could be resolved if only they could recalculate the age of work, and he set out to do just that. He would find instead that the world was still full of magic if only one knew where to look.

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