Prologue

Before 2026, the world was a different place. Some believe that the discovery of Magic was another step towards human enlightenment. Following the mindsets brought by the French “Lumières”, we should have strived to decipher the consequences of this brand-new discovery.

 

On the other side, many advised against studying its every aspect, worrying about the danger of esoterism. To them, there were many natural catastrophes in our history books that brought civilizations to their end, and Magic shared some of nature’s similarities.

 

Still, Humans have evolved mainly due to their curiosity. The invention of writing allowed for our most precious knowledge to survive so that we can avoid making the same mistakes over and over. The appearance of the wheel stimulated the economy, from traveling to selling goods. There are countless more examples of how our curiosity brought us where we are.

 

Without it, we would not be Humans. And this also applies to Magic.

 

So, scientists applied themselves to mapping out how our laws of nature were revolutionized by Magic. What they found was incredibly promising.

 

Humans were now in contact with an invisible, but self-propagating and self-replicating material. To honour Albert Einstein’s work, the community decided to name it “Ether”. It cannot be touched nor seen, except in rare circumstances, and flows through the air, even entering our human bodies.

 

Individuals that harnessed this new power and mastered it were able to bend the laws of physics to their will. By consuming the “Ether” inside their bodies, feats of power which were not normally achievable are now accessible.

 

Illusion Magic bases itself on how light can be reflected, which is akin to a mirage.
Healing Magic uses and accelerates a target’s cell regeneration to speed up recovery.

 

Most people know Magic as a way to fight, but to us, Magic is so much more. This is the main goal of this project: to record what we know so far about the theories of Magic. 

Abstract of the Encyclopaedia Thaumaturgia, 2063

Chapter 1

Arcane Magic

Tuesday, August 23rd 2063

Surrounded by bookshelves, a man rested in an armchair, the only place available to read with a bit of comfort. After reading its introduction, he closed the new Encyclopaedia Thaumaturgia and was thinking about the upcoming events. His gaze was set on the room, but his mind was elsewhere.

 

It was a mix between a workshop, a library, and a laboratory.

 

Spread all over the centre table rested traces of at least a dozen projects. From arrangements of vial to paper full of diagrams, the owner of the place was obviously in the middle of some important research.

 

With sparks in his eyes, the man eyed at the many books available here. Due to the importance of this place, some rare volumes and unfindable tomes were just here, at the tip of his fingers.

 

From all the books that took his attention, a huge majority of them were directly related to Magic. Since Magic allowed its users to bend the laws of physics to their will, a few studies on the physical representation of Ether also attracted his attention.

 

Even though he could satisfy his curiosity here, the seeds of impatience were starting to grow. Fifteen minutes prior, he had been asked to wait here for an unknown reason. Suddenly, someone knocked on the door, finally giving him the signal he was looking for. The man immediately jumped to his feet and walked out of the room with his gift in hand.

 

After walking through a corridor and a pair of stairs, the atmosphere grew a bit colder. After all, this place had been built underground to keep it secret, hence why he did not go past a single window. The light blue shade of the artificial lighting added perfectly to this cold ambiance. The man was walking fast, his long and white coat billowing behind him. He clutched his scepter tightly to keep it from catching the stone floor. The mask hiding his face showed no sign of how he felt about wasting fifteen minutes waiting.

 

As if he already knew where to go, he entered a spacious room, filled with art pieces on the walls, a few plants, and custom furniture.

 

The owner of the place was waiting for him, resting on a comfortable sofa. Without a single word, these two looked at each other intensely before the masked man broke the silence.        

 

       Elder Sage, it’s been a while.

       It’s good to see you. I should probably call you Master of All Magic, but I won’t.

     The Elder Sage was much older than the masked man, approaching his fifties. Wearing a white robe and an emerald circlet, an aura of power emanated from his calm demeanour. The Master of All Magic frowned following the Elder Sage’s mention of his nickname, and answered mechanically, like he had already done a couple of times. 

        Many people already called me that prior to the public’s knowledge. I decided it could have been much worse and rolled with it.

        I like it. It kind of fits your position well.

        My… position?

      The man in the mask looked at the Elder Sage in surprise, but came to a realization.

      You call that a position?

       Well… Indirectly, you’re a protector. No one knows what you do, and you don’t have any rewards, perks, or official title, but our society could crumble without you. That was my vision for you as a teacher.

      Former teacher.

     Having his responsibilities thrown in his face ticked the Master of All Magic off. He, who has been standing up until now, sauntered around the sofa and sat in front of his former teacher.

       I know perfectly well what I do: Providing favours in exchange for unknown Magic secrets. If one of these secrets needs to be kept away, I do the dirty work.

       I sense you are angry.

      A bit. This is not a position. I want to further my skills in Magic, and I am ready to make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. That’s all.

The Elder Sage remained silent, analysing the implications to what his former pupil just said.

       Are you unhappy? Most people would exchange their pitiful lives for yours in a heartbeat.

       I am neither happy nor unhappy. I do what is expected of me, as I have done my entire life.

A vague sense of sadness filled the Elder Sage’s heart. It had been years since the last time he saw his former pupil. He was starting to question whether or not the path he had put him on was the right one.

 

The old man did release the Master of All Magic into the world with a mission, and was now worried it could have taken a toll on his mind. He was interrupted by the Master of All Magic. 

     Talking about perks…

The masked man tossed the Encyclopedia Thaumaturgia, which had been resting in his hand for some time, to the Elder Sage. He instantly thought he made the right choice after seeing his former master’s eyes wander to the volume.

(If I wasn’t here, he would probably start devouring it…)

Brushing this thought aside, the Master of All Magic gave a few more details.

       You’re a hermit, so you never go out of this place. I know you have your means, but you could not possibly have this: A volume of the brand new Encyclopedia Thaumaturgia, signed by the whole team. I’m keeping a normal copy for myself, so you can have this one.

Conscious of the value of this gift, the Elder Sage bowed down in thanks. Then, with a subtle smile, made a proposition.

       Down for some exercise? Your new skills in action always give me goosebumps.

       Let’s make a bet then.

The man in white robes was not an easy target to surprise, but he still raised an eyebrow.

       I’ll bite. What can you possibly want?

       I want a promise. A promise of complete honesty regarding the matters that are bringing me here.

       Let me think…

The atmosphere turned from playful to serious. This was an important promise that he could regret making later. A minute passed before the Elder Sage chuckled.

 

He just understood that he had been trapped. Either he accepted the bet, taking the risk to reveal whatever truth his pupil was looking for, or refused, acknowledging that there was indeed something worth hiding. Whatever happened, he would be giving a valuable piece of information.

 

There was only one topic the Elder Sage absolutely did not want to talk about. The risk that the Master of All Magic was here to discuss this specific matter with him was slim. The safest choice in his eyes was to accept the challenge.

 

Still, he fell for his former student’s cunning once again, which reminded him that he himself seriously lacked the ability to trap people with words. 

      Follow me.

The owner of the place took the lead, followed closely by the sounds of a scepter hitting the floor. A minute of walking was enough for them to arrive in front of a door, which slid in the wall to let them pass without even the push of a button.

 

After walking through, the door shut itself, alongside some noisy clicks.

 

The room the Master of All Magic and the Elder Sage went in was spacious enough for two people to fight. The floor was made from an immaculate grid of marble, but strange installations were hanging down the ceiling and attached to the wall.

 

Tanks of water, huge vents pulling in and out wind, as well as enormous disks holding grand flames decorated the area. The Master of All Magic smiled, remembering how hard he trained here during his younger days. But something was bothering him. 

      We are not going to fight?

      No. For two reasons. One, as you know too well, the Underground Palace would collapse if we were to fight seriously. Next, I am not really in the mood for pulling some punches. Instead…

The owner of the Underground Palace took a purple scarf out of one of his pockets.

      I’ll tie this to my waist. Only one round; if you get a hold of this, you win. You can use the elements in this room if you want, but I’m expecting you to showcase some of these new Magic spells.

The masked man massaged his forehead and asked for five minutes to think, which were given to him immediately. He put his scepter away, not planning on using it. Some form of plan was starting to form in his mind.

 

Five minutes later, the Elder Sage took out a golden coin from his inside pocket. He was waiting for the Master of All Magic to plan his offensive, playing with the flash circle at the time. However, his actions did not seem to please his former student. 

       That’s how you use the Coin of Knowledge I gave you?

       I have no use in that little network of yours, but that’s a nice trinket.

With a scarf attached to his left waist, the Elder Sage took a defensive position before launching the coin in the air. Moving through the hot breeze, the piece of gold made multiple flips before landing on the ground with a tinting noise. The Elder Sage and the Master of All Magic did not move a muscle, which slightly surprised the former. 

       How anti-climactic… but you’ve always been the prudent type.

The attitude of his pupil sparked something inside the one holding the scarf. He was starting to think his visitor was up to some shenanigans. This was the precise moment the Master of All Magic chose to slowly walk towards one of the two water tanks. The closer he got to water, the larger the Ether grew on his right arm.

 

Although the air underground moved upward naturally, the vents here had not been activated for some time. This gave the room a hot but humid atmosphere. The most concentrated humidity could be found near the two water tanks.

 

With a swift move of his right hand, a huge wave of hot, humid air rushed towards the marble floor. The clash of these two materials created a dense fog, spreading and taking over the entire room. It was now extremely hard for both fighters to distinguish one another from farther than a few feet away.

 

On the other hand, the Elder Sage had the reflex to protect his face. He instantly made a decision, privileging sound over his sight. Traces of Ether slowly crept up to his face, which allowed him to cast a Magic spell to increase his hearing abilities. To him, being able to distinguish the sound of a single footstep could make the difference between winning and losing. Even though the Elder Sage knew he should not be moving, paranoia got the better of him and he made a couple of side steps.

 

All of a sudden, he heard a couple of noises on his far left, to the side where he tied his scarf. Due to his experience, the owner of the Underground Palace was focused enough to see the form of a hand reaching towards him. Getting close to his former student was the last thing he wanted, so he dodged with precautions. 

 

Seconds after the Elder Sage’s movement, the vents activated, clearing the fog and the battlefield. Still being on guard, the Elder Sage had a straight face, mimicking the serious look on the Master of All Magic’s eyes. 

       A Magic that creates fog? How useful. Unfortunately, you haven’t even touched me, so this is my win.

The Master of All Magic, who was in front of him, said nothing before fading into nothingness like a mirage. Ten meters away, near the water tank, the Elder Sage’s former student appeared out of thin air, waving the precious scarf in his hands.

 

Dumbfounded, the owner of the Underground Palace looked at his left waist to see that this was not a fluke. The scarf was not there anymore, and he did not feel a single thing. 

       Illusion Magic?

The Master of All Magic grabbed his scepter before giving away the answer.

       Yes, but not only that… A combination of four Magic spells, including two you never encountered before.

On their way up to the main hall, the winner of this battle explained his plan.

 

The Master of All Magic had instantly ruled out a casual mud fight because the Elder Sage had wished to see some new Magic. In addition, the visitor noticed the room temperature and the water tanks as soon as he entered the room. Though he managed to grab the scarf in time, the vents activating and dissipating the fog were not part of his plans.

 

While regular Illusion Magic was based on definite patterns, Free Flow Illusion Magic allowed for more freedom and imagination. It had one main downside, the requirements for its activation; meaning concentration, Ether, and time were more complicated. Furthermore, the Master of All Magic needed to hide his casting to keep the Elder Sage’s suspicions at bay.

 

He asked for a little time not to plan, but to cast away from his former teacher’s point of view.

 

Covered by fog, the Master of All Magic cast his Free Flow Illusion Magic which created a double of himself that he threw at the Elder Sage. Seconds before sending the double, he disguised himself with Invisibility Magic and Silent Step Magic. With these in play, he was free to move around the battlefield and grab the scarf without being seen or heard.

 

Without knowing it, the Elder Sage aided the magician by sidestepping close enough to him. At that point, he had been close enough for the Master of All Magic to grab the scarf.


Silent Step Magic was new to the older man, who showed quite an interest in the technique. It was similar to Active Noise Cancellation technologies, which opposed a sound to his exact opposite in order to cancel it. Even with Ether enhancing his hearing, there was simply almost nothing to be heard.

 

Upon returning to the main hall, the Elder Sage sat down on the couch. As he listened to his former student explain the Magic spells he discovered, the older gentleman began to piece hidden information together. 

       Free Flow Illusion Magic… Did Eleanor teach you this one?

The Master of All Magic sighed.

      Yes.

      And what did she want in exchange? The last time you mentioned her, she wanted a simple date.

      Eleanor wanted intimacy, so I gave it to her. I can take a couple of nights if she is willing to share her secrets. I’m keeping an eye on her to see if she decides to brag about what we are doing, but it does not seem to be the case.

The attitude of his former student broke the Elder Sage’s heart once again. A couple of years ago, there were some symptoms of his coldness, but he did not expect them to grow worse.

 

But the worst of it was that he probably knew what made him grow one emotional barrier after the other. His “position”, as he called it, forced him to be in contact with both the best and the worst humanity could offer. Even with the best of intention and morality, being close to such lows could change someone, and usually not for the better.

 

Nonetheless, this was not the proper time for an investigation. The Elder Sage was intent on honouring his promise. 

       I intend to keep my end of the agreement. Speak.

Instead of speaking, the Master of All Magic took a rectangular piece of metal with the letters “GLASS” imprinted on the back panel and put it on the table. A simple wave of his hands woke up the device and a holographic screen appeared, floating in the air.

 

The GLASS displayed some kind of journal, with many entries sorted by dates.

 

Panic swelled in the Elder Sage as he took in the GLASS’ content. This was precisely the only topic he never wanted him to mention. Sweat was slowly appearing on his forehead. 

       Where did you find this?

       I’m the one asking questions here.

       Right…

The Master of All Magic’s tone grew colder.

       What is Arcane Magic?

       Do you really want to do this? There is no coming back from it…

The man in the mask was not going to leave without an answer. Facing that much determination, this was the Elder Sage’s worst nightmare, but he had to come clean.

       A long time ago, I also had an exceptionally strong master that taught me Magic. He was indeed so strong that he pushed the boundary of what was possible with Ether, pushing boundaries to cast even more powerful spells. I saw him do it once or twice, handling the purest form of Ether I have ever seen… I questioned him and my master called it…

       Arcane Magic.

The Master of All Magic knew from both the journal entries and his former master’s attitude that he was telling the truth. At the thought that a brand-new world of possibilities was opening to him, the hair on the man in the mask’s arms stood on end.

 

Still, a tiny piece of his soul felt angry and disappointed. 

       Why did you lie to me?

The Elder Sage sighed heavily before closing the holographic screen.

       I was hoping to have some more time, to keep you in the dark a little longer.

       Why?

       Because you would crave that power. It makes you dangerous.

The Master of All Magic stood silent because he knew the owner of the Underground Palace had more information to give.

      Despite his overwhelming powers, there are things even he could not handle. Healing Magic accelerates cell regeneration, which also means diseases. He grew sick and chose to bestow the knowledge of his power to one of his two apprentices.

      And you were chosen.

He was reliving and explaining to his former pupil the last day he had with his master before his death. In bed, his master had made him promise to keep his duties as the Arcane Magic Keeper.

Number 1: Make sure that Arcane Magic remains hidden from the world.

Number 2: Practice Arcane Magic and add your own experience.

Number 3: Pass your knowledge to someone with potential and morality.

The Elder Sage chuckled and stared at the Master of All Magic.

       As far as potential goes, I see no problem.

       Do you have so little faith in the morality you taught me?

A grimace made its way on the older man’s face.

       Duty number 3 conflicts with the first one. You will continue to be out there, granting favours in exchange for Magic secrets. You are not fit to lead the life of a hermit. How long will it be before you decide to break your vows and use Arcane Magic to get out of a situation? Using it once is already too much, and it makes further uses even easier.

There was sadness in the Master of All Magic’s eyes.

       Ironic… the path you set me on prevents me from going further. I do understand your points from a logical standpoint. It does not change the fact that I am disappointed by your lies.

       I was planning to make you my successor, but I needed you to gain a bit more maturity. I needed to make sure you would understand the duties of the Arcane Magic Keeper.

They both fell silent for a second, with the Elder Sage thinking that it was going down better than he expected. However, his former student was not done. 

      Can you expand on the feats of power doable with Arcane Magic?

       I failed my duties hard regarding adding my own experience… Actually, I have never been able to cast it, and I think I never will. I’m focusing on keeping it and its theory hidden.

The Master of All Magic did not fail to notice that his interlocutor had avoided the question.

       What can Arcane Magic accomplish?

       My master mentioned things like over-the-top destructive Magic, or mass-mind control, but there’s probably way more to discover.

Even though he had been put on the spot, the Elder Sage instantly regretted answering his final question. The Master of All Magic instantly stood up and stared deep into the eyes of the one who was now his master again. He bowed down, and asked politely for what he always searched for: the missing piece of his soul.

       I call forth our traditions as master and student. I want to learn Arcane Magic. Feel free to set up a challenge to gauge my worthiness.

The Elder Sage’s whole body tensed up. His worst fear had now come to life.

       This is a mistake. You understand my logic, but are selfish enough to still ask for it…

       I know I am selfish… but…

The Master of All Magic bowed down ever further.

       I need it.

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