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Erik Jensen

"Arcane Magic" by Erik Jensen

SciFi/Fantasy text 25 out of 25 by Erik Jensen.      ←Previous - Next→
 
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A short debate. If anyone would like to add to the arguments of either side, please feel free to do so. 1,721 words on 4 pages.
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←- The Death of an Elf | The Coya Crisis -→

The mage was angry. His long blond hair and beard flailed as he walked back and forth, turning suddenly every now and again.

“I have been an asset to this nation, and you know it!” he exclaimed. “I’ve worked longer than you at perfecting my art, and that has made it possible for me to save the lives of many, and to save your life!”

The old priest waited in silence. He threw another piece of wood on the camp fire as he huddled closer to the warmth in the cold night. The mage went on.

“How dare you judge me like that? Were it not for my magical skills, for all the time I’ve invested in learning and perfecting recitations and gestures...”
”Yes, I think you’ve covered that,” the priest interrupted. “But you didn’t become a mage to help others, I’m sure.”

“And neither did you become a priest to help others!” the mage retorted.

“Certainly not, certainly not. I became a priest in order to live a life of servitude. I wanted a life where I would be a part of something far greater. I am a follower of Palantharis. That’s why I became a priest. Now why did you become a mage?” The question was posed quietly. The mage realized he had lost his temper, and he sat down opposite to the priest, gathering his thought before he answered.

“I became a mage because I wanted to control my own destiny. I never wanted to be a follower, but neither a leader. I wanted to realize what I was capable of, what I am capable of. I really believe that I am worth it, as a person.” The old priest nodded slowly, which was annoying to the mage.

“And the people you’ve pushed away to get to where you are?” inquired the old man.

“I haven’t pushed anyone away!”

“Not anyone unknowing of that hazard, I’m sure. But how many people are accepted as initiate mages every year? And how many would like to join?” The mage frowned and spat back:

“Don’t tell me you don’t have outcasts from the church.”

“Oh, we do have people who never learn to channel their faith into magic, certainly. But doing that is just a very minor part of being religious. We don’t decide who gets to be a direct servant to the miracles of Palantharis. Some do, and some don’t. But everyone is still religious once the choices have been made.”

“But there has to be some sort of decision-making. We can’t all be mages.”

“Everyone who wants to be religious is welcome.”

“Weak souls should never wield arcane magic. It would be dangerous.” The old priest smiled in a fatherly way as he took up the thread, still to the annoyance of the mage.

“Oh, you mean that people like the arch mage Ezron of Coya should never have been trained?”

“Exactly. By letting only the most fit be trained, we can... decrease the number of people like him.” The mage realized that this was no strong argument, but hoped it might be allowed to stand anyway. Fewer evil mages was better than more.

“Tell me about the early history of arcane magic, before the mage guilds. Were there fewer or more evil arch mages?” asked the priest with a humorous glitter in his eye. The mage sighed before he answered.

“There were fewer. But there were also fewer mages, so perhaps the ratio is better now.”

“I think not,” said the priest, once again going back to his neutral expression. “It seems likely that people with the skill and the will to become arch mages could find ways to attend guild training. In fact, the guilds do not exclude people on grounds of ethics, only on grounds of ability.” The mage sighed.

“That’s true enough. But priests are just as capable of doing evil as arch mages. Think of the High Priests of Bain through the ages. They’ve caused much more suffering than all mages combined.” The old priest nodded in acceptance:

“Certainly. That part, however, is more blurry. After all, much of the suffering caused by the priests of Bain was done in defence. Imagine a line of mages as powerful, and as willing to dominate; they would have cared even less, and caused much more anguish. On the other hand, priests of Brutus would have truly horrific events in store for the world if they were in power. But in the end, I am not accountable for what Bain priests choose to do.”

“Why, then, should I be held accountable for what other mages have done?”

“I did not train to wield the forceful power of mighty Bain. I trained to be religious, and I humbly accepted the power of Palantharis. That power is not mine, it was bestowed on me by the God of Justice, no less. I can do no evil with it. If I woke up tomorrow and tried to use my powers for evil purposes, they would be stripped from me. But if you wake up tomorrow and decide I’ve been a nuisance, there’s nothing to stop you from destroying me.”

There was a short period of silence, before the mage took up the argument again.

“Palantharins do not reserve a similar hatred for warriors, or orcs, or hobgoblins. They are just as capable of destruction as I am.”

“No, they are not. Not even nearly. A warrior can, with the swipe of a sword, kill a man. You could, with a mumble and a gesture, summon a pack of demons from the dark side of existence. The ramifications of the actions of a warrior are nowhere close to those of a mage. There are so many more warriors in the world than we can number, and yet they are unable to overthrow it, although many of them try their best.” The old priest sighed before he went on: “When a mage comes up with a means to fly, he makes use of that means, even if it means the enslaving of a spirit of air. His power is enormous, but it comes without guidelines.”

“We don’t use that spell anymore, and when it was first invented we didn’t know it enslaved anyone.”

“And they didn’t care to check, either. It all seemed innocent enough, but it wasn’t. And that is exactly my point.”

“Magic has done so much good in the world. With magic we found out how some diseases spread, and we can prevent it.”
”And promptly that knowledge was used in warfare.”

“But the inventor can hardly be held accountable for that.” The priest smiled and shook his head in agreement.

“No, he meant well. But think of a more typical example. What is the most devastating spell you know?”

“The elves can cause mountains to uproot and throw them on their enemies.”

“Well, the elves aside, then, since we both know that elves never actually did that.” The mage thought it over.

“There is a spell that can open a magical gate, through which a stream of magma will flow. The damage is greater than even very powerful volcanic eruptions.”

“How was that spell invented?”

“It was meant to be another combat spell, one that struck a certain area. Testing was needed to see just how powerful it was.”

“So the mage who made it didn’t really know what it was? The most destructive spell at your disposal was invented more or less by accident?” The mage looked down and nodded. The priest continued.

“And was it ever used?”

“You know it was. The Yontarian cities of Zaragon, Lluger and Enordinár were destroyed by it.”

“And some of the suffering caused by the High Priests of Bain was made to ensure that such a spell could never be cast against their cities again.”

They sat in silence for a while, the mage nervously looking about and into the flames, gathering his thoughts. Finally he broke the silence.

“Still I can’t believe that you should tell me how to live my life. Marlin worshippers and elves, your close allies, all argue that everyone has freedom to choose.” The old priest nodded his agreement again.

“Yes, that is certainly true. And look how well elven society works: Everyone is a responsible, good individual. Priests of Marlin use this as their prime example. But elves are not humans. We accept elven mages, because elves are who they are. Their spells are never used to wipe cities out. That is certainly within their power, but they would never do such a thing. All other practitioners of magic have demonstrated their will to cause enormous suffering. If mages were free to test and try, it would just be a matter of time before some capital disaster would strike. Maybe there a hole would be torn in the Chronos, and Entropy would destroy all. Or a great flame would engulf the lands. None of this is beyond the potential power of mages, and if left with enough time, something would go wrong. Somebody would test a new spell without knowing exactly what it would do, or someone would go insane and deliberately try to destroy the world.”

“But I wouldn’t do that,” replied the mage, albeit a bit meekly.

“No, I’m sure you wouldn’t. But let’s face it: The first time you successfully cast a spell, you didn’t know precisely what you were doing. You followed instructions, and you let loose energy that you couldn’t control. It’s the same with each new spell. When you develop new magics that have never been seen before, you can’t be sure about how they behave until you’ve tried. And even then you can’t tell what will happen under strange circumstances. You’ve been taught to use this method, and it yields plenty of results. Everybody wants to move forward, cover new ground.”

“What good would it do for me to stop? Someone else would make the advance.” The old priest shook his head.

“That is probably the poorest reason in the world for doing anything. For one thing it’s egoistic. You want to be first. Apart from that, if you knew that somebody would kill me for being annoying, that shouldn’t lead you to do it before anyone else.”

The mage never did catch much sleep that night.

←- The Death of an Elf | The Coya Crisis -→

DateNameComment 
2 Jan 200445 Lindsey M. Butler
Aha! A moral lesson hmmm? I think the dialogue flowed very well and with the exception of a few typos I saw nothing that wrong. The pace is quick so I re-read parts to soak it all in but overall I liked it. I'll keep my opinions on the subject matter to myself 12

Glad to see something new Erik.

:-) Erik Jensen replies: "Won't be much of that any time soon, I'm afraid. It's a wicked world. Thanks for the comment."
4 Feb 200445 Christopher Hammer
On its own, this is good. It helps to provide deeper and better insight into your fantasy world. The diversity of opinions, as they are played out, adds more personality to your inhabitants so to speak. What I mean is that characters/inhabitants become more authetic, at least to me, when they act or convey their opinions compared to merely being described as "doing this or being like this", a vacant application of adjectives.
Regarding the debate - I can fairly say that I'm on neither side. But I can't help boiling it down to the essentials, namely religion vs. science. It's positive that your stories have a meaning, it is loaded so to speak - keep up the good work.
Still, some of the arguments elude the complexity of reality.

:-) Erik Jensen replies: "A 'vacant application of adjectives'? *chuckle* Can I use that sometime? I'm glad you like it. Anyway, you're right that the priest doesn't live in our world. I think it was former Head Rabbi in Copenhagen, Melchior, who said that 'In religion, we are allowed to be naïve.' The main problem for the mage, of course, is that he agrees with the priest on most levels. He just won't acknowledge what this belief requires of him, if he is to be consistent. If you argue without religion and without ethics (as many scientists do), then the priest has no case."
11 Nov 200445 Isabel. S. Reade
A very intriguing piece! You have incredible control over dialogue, which is not something that is easy to come by. I often find myself bored with stories that consist wholly of dialogue, but this did quite the contrary; I'm impressed.

You have displayed the subject matter in a captivating way, and raised some interesting issues. I won't plague you with my opinions, but this is certainly something that interests me.

One thing: I found it a little hard to follow which character was speaking in places, though this could simply be due to my lack of sleep.

I'll certainly return when time permits to read more of your work. =)

:-) Erik Jensen replies: "Thank you very kindly for your comment. When I recently reread the piece I had to agree that it could be somewhat confusing who was speaking at any one time. I'm thinking about using different fonts for the two characters, but I'm not sure it's a good idea. Anyway, you've come down on me just as exams are coming down as well, so you will have to excuse my lack of return-comments. Christmas is coming, though."
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'Arcane Magic':
 • Created by: :-) Erik Jensen
 • Copyright: ©Erik Jensen. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Discuss, Evil, Good, Mage, Magic, Neutral, Priest
 • Categories: Angels, Religious, Spiritual, Holy, Elf / Elves, Magic and Sorcery, Spells, etc., Wizards, Priests, Druids, Sorcerers...
 • Views: 764

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