E101: Introduction to Energies — How to Not Blow Yourself Up
The instructor is not a large man–nor a particularly intimidating one, for all that he wears black as his outer-robe. Slightly built, almost birdlike, with a hooked nose that could indicate Trivestean or northern Darronwayn blood; black-haired like both those folk; blue-eyed like few in the east. Not unkempt but certainly not neat, with that unruly hair and loose outer-robe that shows the dark blue one beneath. Both robes plain but for faint silver embroidery on the edges, unusual for a magus of his station.
Unusual, too, the scar in his right brow. Not a puckered thing–more like a white line etched through slightly warmer flesh. He touches it sometimes when he’s thinking, and right now he rubs the upper part of it as if he already has a headache from looking at the class roster. The blackboard behind him reads
E101: Introduction to Energies
Instructor: Energies Archmagus Shaidaxi Enkhaelen
Pay Attention or Die Horribly
The latter phrase has been underlined many times.
Two corkboards bracket the blackboard, pinned with all manner of diagrams and formulae, including sketches of arcane apparel and human anatomy. The desk on the teacher’s dais is black basalt, like the floor and the dais itself–and like the walls and ceiling would be, had they not been whitewashed. The students’ desks are similar unadorned slabs, each separate from its neighbors by several feet in all direction, with an iron circle inset into the floor next to each. The seats are padded stools, some slightly scorched from prior classes.
The instructor reads down the roster. The names he calls reflect all regions of the Phoenix Empire and a few lands beyond: the usual gathering here at the Citadel at Valent. Thirty students to the class, an auspicious number. All raise their hands when called.
The instructor nods to himself. Sets the roster aside and steps in front of the desk to lean against it slightly, gloved hands laced before him, looking over the class. For a moment that stretches into discomfort, he simply watches the students, and though his face is placid, there is something in it that keeps the students silent when they might snicker, still when they might fidget. They are young–apprentices all, some in their twenties and some barely teens–but even the arrogance of youth is momentarily quelled by those knife-like eyes.
Then he smiles and claps his gloved hands together briskly, and speaks.
Welcome, welcome. You’re my third session for today so I apologize if I become brusque. These introductory parts do bore me, but once we reach the practicum we shall no doubt diverge from the other sessions; I have been told that this class was assembled with an eye toward advanced aptitudes in the preliminary testing.
I am Energies Archmagus Shaidaxi Enkhaelen, as you might have noticed on the board. A brief biography: I came to the Citadel in 150 IR, having served my apprenticeship privately in the Imperial City and taken my journeyman sojourn in Kriskhen, in Gejara. Lovely place. Blisteringly cold. I passed the Adept exams in the same year, Magus exams in 155, secondary Magus examination for Wards in 157, tertiary for Artificing in 158. I claimed my Energies Archmagus title in 162. After much research, many journal publications, five theses and a handful of duels, I was appointed to the Energies chair on the Archmagus Council in 165, and have held it despite several challenges in the seven years since.
A swift trajectory, you might think. Most Magi study for years before they earn their Archmagus title, and the Archmagi themselves often wait decades for a chance at a Chair. All I can say is that sometimes a new idea comes along that neatly unseats the old and shakes the foundations upon which the Chair itself stands. I was both perceptive and fortunate in that I recognized the flaw in our old Energies technique and was the first to move for a change.
We are not here to stand as sentinels over some ancient, immutable knowledge. We are not here to age into hoary grey-haired sages. The art of Energies is ever-changing, ever-evolving, and if we try to fix our minds upon a single way of doing things, a single path, we will swiftly fall behind our enemies–behind the shifting flow of magic itself.
Energies is the heartblood of the arcane arts. Without the power we draw from the earth, the air, the primal elements, there is only the power of the mind, and while that is vast on its own, it is incapable of the direct manipulation of the world. All other arts act through the application of Energies, which is why many of you are here today despite not having opted for the Energies discipline. Most new students are required to pass this course before they can proceed to the higher magics, and though I do not teach every single session, I have set the curriculum and I administer the final exam.
This is to ensure that no student falls through the cracks. The motto on the board is not a threat, it is a warning; should you fail to heed these lessons, you will open yourself to catastrophe. I saw too many promising young mages burn themselves out through the old system, and with the Emperor’s wars still on, there will be a constant pressure for all of you to fall back to the sloppy method of Energies magic we used to follow. You don’t even need to be taught that style; it comes ‘naturally’ with the flow of energy in your body, and if you are not paying attention, there is always the danger that you can fall into it.
Our bodies were not meant to handle the amount of energy we can draw. Free-casting in such a manner will destroy you and all around you, as it destroyed so many of your predecessors. For this reason, this class is restricted in its power-supply until you can prove to me that you have the will, the persistence and the responsibility required to wield magic safely and effectively.
Hopefully I have your attention now. We shall proceed with the first lesson.