Magic in Mortalissar does not occur to anyone. To become someone with the ability to cast magic, one needs to first become attuned to it. In general, there are four stages in a wizard's lifecycle: Awakening, Apprenticeship, Mastery and Succession.
To become a wizard, one must first undergo the Awakening. This normally happens when the wizard is young (no more than 15 years of age at least in human terms). As the wizard gets older, his or her mind will be filled with a different kind of knowledge of the world, romance, relationships, etc. that may impede realizing his or her fullest magical potential (sometimes to a detrimental end). So the choice to become a wizard solely rests on the individual and the sacrifices he has to make once he chooses the magic path.
The Awakening can be as simple as having one's finger being pricked by a needle and the person becomes aware of the scent and potency of the drop of blood, or as complex as a slave being chained to a pirate ship, weathering thunderstorms and rough seas, only for the slave to survive and have his mind opened up to a new world of possibilities. Different parts have different names for this. They range from the Gift, Divine Path, God's/Goddess' Touch, Infernal Blessing, the Curse, the Mark to just about anything else you can think of. As you can tell, not everyone welcomes magic, and those who are found to be awakened to it may be persecuted and burned (so a wizard must know this before he or she travels).
After the Awakening happens, the wizard must then find a guild and a master to become an apprentice. This stage is called the Apprenticeship stage. Without proper guidance, the wizard will eventually loses his potency from repeatedly failing to improve his or her craft. A guild provides the support he or she needs to understand his or her weak points, then refined by his or her master's touch and guidance. There are many famous wizards' guilds in Mortalissar, including Malhagar Keep in Allastria, Ark Varanor in Variel, the Falls of Illyxia in Xerpathia and the Tower of a Thousand Lanterns in Issanto.
To become accepted into the guild, one must first perform a few challenges before a council or wizard elders. Once the wizard passes the initiation, he or she will be groomed to become part of a master's disciple. The apprentice-master relationship is unique as the bond isn't just limited to a mentor-student relationship, but more of a kinship. This is because of the magic system the Oeren wizards term as the Cores system, where everything and anyone is universally bounded by up to four key rings of existence.
The diagram above shows two concentric circles. The circle on the left is often used to portray the Cores of a living creature, be it a human, elf, dwarf, beast, tree or sapling. The idea of each living and organic matter having four Cores came from Verathgar the First Wizard, who felt that each of the four Cores are universally linked to one another. Remove one ring and the rest may unwound and dissolve into the ether.
When a wizard casts a spell like a Blast of Fire at another person, he or she must first know the symbols to cast the spell (emphasized through hand gestures and words). This becomes the layered stencil for the wizard to push the force of his energy through. He or she will then summon this energy from within his or her Cores, be it body, mind, spirit or soul, or a combination of them. The Core energy will power through that layered stencil and materialize in the real world, affecting the wizard's target (which in turn will have its own Core system). The fire-blast, if powered by the wizard's Body Core only, will affect the target's Body Core only as well. If the wizard had powered his fire-blast with both Body and Mind Cores, the target's Body and Mind Cores will be tested. The danger inherent in this system is that the attacking wizard is now exposing both his Body and Mind Cores to the target. If the target (or any of his or her accompanying companions) assault the wizard, the repercussions on the wizard's Body and Mind Cores will be damaging, let alone the pullback from an unfinished fire-blast (as the energy remains unused).
Anyway, when a master wizard takes in a disciple/apprentice, he or she will have to open his or her Cores to his student, vice versa. The opened bond between two Core systems allow the master to read the flow of magical energy within his students, and they in turn, can feel his essence when he performs the correct way of spell-casting. This concept is known as Permissioning. For a wizard to manipulate another person's or object's Cores, he or she needs permission from the other party. This can range from asking the person to kneel and open his or her mind to the wizard (eg. healing spell or mind reading) or extending his or her hands (eg. blessing or protection). Most times, Permissioning is impossible, especially when the target is a hostile object. The amount of Core energy and the type of Core to empower the spell will be higher without Permissioning, and the wizard should be cautious when exposing himself or herself like that.
The right image of the concentric circle diagram depicts the Core systems of most inanimate objects, such as a pile of wood, a house, a mountain or a piece of rock. Most students presume these are only just Bodies (the outermost Core), but master wizards know that not all inanimate objects are pure matter. Some of them do harbor spirits and souls (especially ancient waterfalls, old hills and a haunted house). Another example is when a wizard dies. He may leave his body behind and his mind may be gone, but his spirit and soul may still be trapped within his body (yeah it happens).
When a student has mastered as much as he or she could from the master, he or she would have achieved Mastery. At this stage of his or her lifecycle, he or she will continue to accompany his or her mentor on journeys and quests, but will be treated more like equals, rather than a master-student. The bond of their Cores would have strengthened tremendously by then, and a master-student can tap on his or her master-mentor's Cores, vice versa, if needed to get out of a sticky situation.
Say a student encounters a cave troll. His master isn't with him when the encounter happens, but is bonded to his master. He can cast a spell to crush the head of the troll by using his Body Core and his master's Body Core, to increase the impact on the troll. If the troll is somehow smarter (rarely but let's say it is), then the wizard will need to also include his Mind Core as the troll will be resisting the skull-crushing spell. He can tap on his master's Mind Core as well, but it also means both his master's and his own Cores are exposed to the troll (and any devious wizards hiding nearby waiting to cast a counter-attacking spell).
Finally, when the master-mentor dies or nears death, he or she should have chosen a successor. This is known as the Succession stage of the lifecycle. Before the master-mentor dies, his Cores remain intact and are still bonded to all of his master-students and apprentices. But when he chooses a successor, all of his bonded Cores are re-established to the new master-student, with the master-student's Core being the sole bond to the master-mentor. This means that a master-successor bond is the only thread remaining after the master dies, while his or her successor carries on the training of his other apprentices. So it is possible that there is a hidden bonded chain linking all wizards back to the very first wizard - Verathgar the First - a concept many may find promising but as yet unproven.
Should a master-mentor dies without naming his or her successor, then his students will need to do a ritual to speak to his spirit somehow (before he or she is truly gone from the Mortal Isle). The window will be small to do so, but it is definitely worth the risk. If somehow they are unable to locate their master-mentor's body or summon his spirit, the students will then have to shatter their bonds to their master and seek a new one (which can sometimes be challenging all on its own).
Well, I hope the above helps give a better insight into how magic is perceived within the world of Mortalissar (in most regions). There are other regions where magic is seen as a devil's spell (most of the Bridgeland nations) and there are regions where magic comes as a divine voice speaking to them in their own language (most of the Praemos lands). We will explore some of these unique magic systems further down the road. For now, the Core system is the more commonly acknowledged system within Mortalissar, especially in the Oeren regions.
About the World
This section highlights the world of Mortalissar in greater detail, especially her territories, countries, races, magic, calendar and belief systems. Occasionally, I will write short fiction stories relevant to a particular realm to define its unique characteristics set against a larger canvas. Hopefully, over time, the collection gives you, the reader, a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of this world, and her many qualities and flaws.