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A Practical Guide to Magic

- By Siobhan Drake, MPhil

Magic, in its own way, is very like a scientific procedure in that there are several clear steps it is necessary to undertake in order to cast a spell. It's worth noting, that unlike a science, this varies very much between practitioners, much like how it's possible to create the same chemical with different procedures and chemicals. Thus, I will of course be mainly discussing my own magical practices.

Magic or Majik?

While it is not my place to dispute how people wish to write about their own personal magical/majikal theory, I think majik looks decidedly silly, so I'm not using it as a "word".

Intent

This is, first and foremost, the most important thing is intent. The other steps are worthless, and in some cases actually irrelevant, without intent. If you can't visualise or express what you want to do, it's rather hard to use a spell. Nearly impossible, in fact.

Intent also helps to break the laws of physics in some ways. For example, let me take the example of a fire spell. Unless I will it to hurt someone seriously, the fire won't burn people severely, it will just leave them slightly singed. Ordinarily, fire doesn't work like that, but due to intent, I can force it to act like that.

Intent can take several forms. The most basic one is just thinking what you want a spell to do. For example, if I thought "set that tree on fire", it would obviously mean I want to set a tree on fire. However, I am unable to do it quite so simply. I need to visualise what I want to do, and picture in my mind me throwing a ball of fire, which then sets the tree alight, and I need to picture this briefly while casting.

There are some magic items which don't require you to know what you're doing, and in most cases, this isn't due to them breaking the intent rule, but due to maker including a feature that means it just works without too much input from the user. And, like all rules, there are exceptions too many to list. Cursed masks which don't work on their own, but have become semi-intelligent in their own right, bonding to the user's face, and taking control of their actions, have been documented. These don't require any input from the user, and in fact are a result of magical quirks and anomalies within the item's enchantment.

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A Practical Guide to Magic

Focus

Now, with intent having made it clear what you want the spell to do, a focus allows you to, well, focus the magical energy needed to perform the spell. Now, foci vary greatly, and for the purposes of this essay, include chants and gestures. While one might think of foci as rods and staves, a simple chant and hand gesture can focus the magic just as well for experienced magicians.

  • - Gestures and Chants: Simultaneously a boon and a hindrance to spellcasting, foregoing tools and casting with words and gestures is a useful technique to know. It means that, wherever or whatever you're doing, you can cast spells, even naked without a single item on your person. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to this approach. If you can't speak and gesture, you can't focus, and if you can't focus, you probably will be unable to cast. Binding and gagging a mage who casts spells this way will render them near-powerless.

    - Rods, Wands and Staves: This is easily my favored method of casting. Frankly, Harry Potter aside, it is a great way to focus your mind seriously. If you don't want to cast, you're unlikely to be pointing a specially carved length of wood, iron, or even more exotic material, at things. Now, rods can act as a replacement, or supplement, to other methods. Some just point and "click" with the wand to cast, some point and shout an incantation (yes, like Harry Potter), and some perform intricate gestures using the wand.

    - Amulets and talismans: While, yes, these more often take the form of enchanted items, I know of some who use these as foci. Much of what there is to say on them merely replicates the treatise on wands and staves, so I won't repeat it.

    - Ritual: Now, this is not so much a focus as a method of using foci to cast a spell. In addition to their usual method of casting, most mages can perform lengthy rituals to achieve magical effects, and many must use the ritual method. Gesturing and chanting is often invoked alongside a magical circle, often with other implements like rods, staves and pentacles. These rituals can be religious in nature, or simply magical procedures without a religious undertone.

    - Force of will: The province of the very powerful. Some mages can just cast by intent, without using a focus. Their will enacts the spell, and while they might point their finger at what they want to effect or something that resembles a gesture, it doesn't mean that they need the gesture. At that point, it is simply the knowledge of being powerful enough to have the luxury of showing off like that.

The important thing isn't necessarily what you use as a focus, but more that you're channelling magical energy. Without being able to tap into your magical talents, all the intent in the world won't matter.

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A Practical Guide to Magic

Magical styles and traditions

This is the, to pardon the immaturity, really fun part. While many take the whole mystic protector act seriously, and are solemn, frankly... shooting fire from your hands is fun.

Although, not everyone can. Different magicians operate using different methods, and thus have different spells. I, personally, use the Wiccan elements of Fire, Water, Earth and Air, alongside Aether (alternately called Spirit). Yes, they need capitalised, because I'm not making fire, I'm making magical Fire. Alongside some rudimentary knowledge of magical wards and force fields (which I usually use as a defensive mechanism, but also use on occasion to create magical barriers to hold foes in captivity), this is my style. And it stems from my practice of the Wiccan tradition.

These are not dictionary terms, but merely how I am choosing to differentiate between two things: a magician's personal use of magic, and the spells they favor above all else. These form a mage's style, and there are precious few magicians who can cast freely without their preferences showing up in how they do it.

Slightly overlapping with this is tradition, the magical practices handed between students and teachers. These are not necessarily formal as the name implies, I learned my knowledge of magical wards from Adrian Eldrich, not from a formalised society of mages. And my use of natural, elemental forces, stems from the natural aspect of my religion of Wicca, and also from the fact that I identify as a witch, not necessarily a magician.

Different magical styles and traditions would make a good topic for a later essay.

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A Practical Guide to Magic

Putting It Into Practice

Ok, now you've got your three components: Intent, focus and style.

First, you solidify your intent through visualisation, thinking what you want to do, or what you choose to do for this step.

Then, using your chosen focus, you apply the magical energy you have to the intent and project it outwards.

This will then manifest itself as the spell you have cast, and the spells you choose to perform make up your style.

Now, some of these steps overlap, and work in different orders, which is where it gets confusing.

- Firstly, obviously style is both descriptive and proscriptive. While style describes the effects of your intent and focus, your own personal style will influence what you intend to do, and often what foci you use.

- Secondly, intent and focus can be the same thing. I have been known to use speaking in rhyme as a focus, speaking out loud what I intend to do, and thus merging the two steps into one.

And, here's the big secret: fact is, this is not a description so much as rough guidelines. Frankly, a lot of magic is intuitive, and even the best study is unlikely to accomplish much without talent, sadly. But practice is important, as is strong mental discipline so that your spells do work as intended, your intent doesn't change mid-casting and cause an accident, so that your focus keeps the magic focused rather than an unguided discharge, and so on, and so forth. Practice magic, don't use it only when needed, because then you may find you need it, and will struggle to use it.

Thank you for reading.

Blessed Be,

Siobhan Drake.

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[Scrawled on an old piece of notepaper in a thin, elegant script. Made using a thick felt tip marker.]

The Properties of Black Agate

- Used in rites to prevent against sorcery, demons and possession.

- Why agate? Other gems are known to protect against harmful magic, but I want to stop harmful VAMPIRES, and apparently early witches ground up agate in water and drank it to prevent snake bites. It seems appropriate.

- It's also a gem often used to represent Mercury, which is a planet whose purview includes the mind. And, as that's what I want to safeguard, again it seems right. Magic works on belief, not necessarily on logic.

[Written in a red Biro seemingly a while after the first set of notes]

- Why wooden rings? Because metal is expensive.

- It also apparently protects against physical damage. As I didn't know about this, and it's a bit late now, having made the rings... well, the belief-based nature of magic means they probably won't protect against physical harm.

[Apparently written much later, in pink ink.]

- Hate high heels. Hate, hate, hate.

Immunity 2 (Vampire mental powers) [2PP]

As it's not even enough to fill Device 1, it's pointless to have it be a Device rather than a standalone power with the Complication of being a ring.

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20Q, Questions 1-10

Interview with Joan Collier on the 1st of June, 2011

Siobhan shook her head as she approached the door. No, hold it together. This is the best course of action, plenty of superheroes have managed to do it... You made your bed now lie in it. She felt awkward and half-dressed, having donned her coat and garments she wore as Equinox, but without dying her hair or letting her magic glow forth from her eyes.

Another quick shake, and she had managed to assume her professional, "teacher" demeanor, rapping her knuckles on the door and poking her head around the door. "Mrs Collier? We set up an interview, I'm Siobhan Drake." She came into the office. "Pleased to meet you." She held out her hand to shake.


Joan's grip was solid as she shook Siobhan's hand, and she gave her a short smile back. "It's Ms. Collier, actually, and thank you. It's a pleasure to have you in my office, Ms. Drake. Or do you prefer Siobhan?" she asked, taking a seat so she didn't loom over her guest. Up close, it was clear how much Joan's file photo undersold her height and weight. "Do you mind if I record this?" she asked, taking out her little pocket recorder. With assent, she said, "What brings you to my office today?"

Taking a seat, Siobhan forced a small smile. "No, Ms Drake is fine. I'm not overly fond of Siobhan, to be honest. And yes, feel free to record this."

Then, taking a deep breath, she continued. "I came here today, to go public with the fact I'm the superhero Equinox. I..." She paused to think briefly. "I had a bad run-in in a small town, where some kids had to hide their pagan faiths, and the fact they were practitioners, and I think a positive example needs to be set that I can't in all good faith uphold if I myself am hiding away my identity."


"I see," said Joan. While Joan herself was something of a skeptic about the theological implications of magic, she certainly didn't deny its existence. She'd seen too much of arcane power in play for that. "Are you a practioner of so-called 'pagan' beliefs yourself?" she asked. "I don't say that to sound dismissive," she added a moment later, "but I'm sure you know that pagan is a very broadly used term in our popular media. I was wondering if you were comfortable defining it in terms our readers would understand."

"Well," shrugged Siobhan. "Yes, of course, I identify as a practicing Wiccan. The problem here, of course, is that pagan is used as a broad term, because it is, but also used inaccurately. Paganism is less a faith, more a collection of them. A druid or Wiccan will self-identify as pagan in conversation a lot more than a Christian, Muslim or Jew will identify as a follower of an Abrahamic faith. There's also the issue of impressionable teenagers identifying as pagan when, really? They don't believe in it."

She had by this point lapsed into the more neutral accented, clipped tones she used when teaching classes. "There's also the issue that Wicca and the other neo-pagan faiths, while based on old ideas, are very new religions, and haven't been defined concretely yet by different believers. Which makes it very difficult to comprehend for those who aren't already familiar with the concepts."


"Ah, I see." Joan hmmed at that. "So you draw your super-abilities from your religious beliefs?"

"Yes and no," said Siobhan, frowning slightly. "The important thing to remember is that not all Wiccans are witches, and not all witches are Wiccan. I can do magic because I'm a trained witch, not because of my faith. The problem here is that, to an extent, yes, my faith will affect my magic. Self-confidence, belief and willpower are all elements important to maintaining faith, and they're also elements important to magic. So a loss of faith may well result in a loss of magic, and a stronger sense of faith may make my spells more potent."


"Okay," said Joan, who was far too experienced a reporter to react to that one way or another beyond the same concerned interest of any journalist. "How is one trained as a witch? Is it available to anyone with the right worldview?"

"Well," said Siobhan, blushing slightly. "Not to sound arrogant, but I'm actually very, very powerful compared to your average witch." In demonstration, she clicked her fingers and a small flame burst from her fingers and immediately extinguished. "For most, it's more a ceremonial practice which, levels of belief and skepticism aside, isn't aimed at producing the sort of magical effects I can do. It's a combination of skill and talent, which while you can be taught to an extent, is inherently limited by how naturally skilled you are, otherwise half the neo-pagans on the planet would be running around slinging magic like I do, which is clearly not the case."

"As or how to learn it, there's a few options. I've tutored a couple of fledgling mages, for example, and there is the more common option of intense studying and reading on the correct mindset and incantation required to cast spells. Discipline and learning by rote is the usual option for all but the most inherently talented."


"Interesting," said Joan, whose eyes had widened right on cue at the fire. "You mentioned that you were prompted to 'come out' by witnessing prejudice against those practicing a faith like your own. Would you say prejudice is a problem for magic-based heroes, and if so, is it something you've encountered in your line of work?"

A haunted look entered Siobhan's eyes, and she nodded. "I was in Stratford, Pennsylvania. There were these kids, unsure of their faith, and unsure of their magic, and the locals weren't especially trusting of us magic using types even as we tried to help out. I mean, luckily, I'm Freedom City born and bred, we don't have such problems on such a scale. Even as superheroes in other towns, we've got a bit of leeway. But some people aren't in Freedom City, and even more people aren't superheroes, and they shouldn't have to be. It's a hard life to lead, and we can't force it on anyone. But these kids especially, they need help, support, and someone who is willing to speak out for them."


Joan lit up, suddenly becoming much more attentive to her subject's words. "Do you think you'll be able to bring about social change for your people, then, using your work as a springboard?"

"My people?" asked Siobhan, raising one eyebrow. "No, I want to help bring enough change so that they can be their own people, without fear of recrimination or prejudice. There's a lot of ignorance out there, and I'm not so low profile that trying to rectify this would just get ignored. For example... the pentagram. The 'Satanic symbol'... only Satanism uses inverted pentagrams, and inverted crucifixes, yet kids get looked at funny for wearing a pentacle. It's things like that, people need to know about. There's no way I can force my views on others, but at the very least, I can educate them."


Is this what I sound like to other people? thought Joan, cocking her head as she looked at Siobhan. "That's very interesting. Why don't you tell me more about yourself. Where are you from?"

Siobhan let out a bitter laugh at this one. "Well... half of America. I'm a military brat. As a kid, my father had to move between military bases a lot, so my mother and I went with him. A lot. Until they realised I utterly despised it, so we moved back to Freedom City, because I was born here and my mom's brother could help out when my father was away."

"Basically a long-winded way of saying... I'm a native Freedomite."


"That's very interesting, given the career you've ultimately adopted. Do you think your military childhood prepared you for discovering magic?"

"Frankly? No," said Siobhan in a brusque voice. "I wasn't happy, with all the continual moving around. I wasn't in a good place during it, and I only really started learning magic properly after I got out of that situation." Albeit for less than shining reasons... The witch took in a sharp intake of breath. "I suppose it is possible to use and manipulate magic in a negative environment, but unhappiness and magic mix together in ways that, well... the products of it are often people I have to fight." She ran a hand backwards through her hair. "I suppose it's possible I picked up a bit of self-discipline from it, but in the long run, I'm not entirely sure if I would have developed it naturally or not."


"Ah, I see. That's interesting, particularly given the government's feelings about magic. What led you to magic?"

The government's feelings on magic? I wasn't aware they even had policy on this. "Well, when you were a little girl..." smiled Siobhan. "Did you ever pretend you could do magic? Well, when I did it, I kept going, I never properly grew out of that phase. It's always felt right to me. But I didn't actually get into actual magic until I was a teenager. A lot of people dabble with ouija boards and other weird paraphenalia when they're young, then abandon them when they, well... don't work."

"But for me, that sort of thing will actually function, because even then I had enough magical talent to operate them without training. So, from there, as I tried to figure out why all this worked for me, I ended up studying to become a witch."


"Why a witch? Why not one of the other magical traditions?" It was a wiser question than most mundane reporters would think to ask, but not one out of their reach. For Joan, who had actually known sorcerors and seen Nicherin sages perform their mystic deeds, it was not too strange.

"Really? Because it hasn't really got an inherent belief system to it. A lot of magical traditions come with a lot of religious and spiritual baggage," explained Siobhan. "Witchcraft... I mean, there's a thousand traditions, some of them tied to a religion, some not, most of the different practices not even mutually exclusive. But they're all witches, and they all perform similar practices. It emphasizes the responsibilities and ethos of you, not necessarily of a religion. I am religious, and it is a religion heavily associated with witchcraft, but I could tomorrow easily decide to be one and not the other."

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20Q, Questions 11-20

Interview with Joan Collier on the 1st of June, 2011, continued

"Do you find your training brings you into conflict with other magical traditions?" Joan added, "Besides the evil ones, that is."

Siobhan shook her head. "No," she said for the benefit of the tape. "Not a lot of practitioners are very big on the whole 'follow my beliefs or else' practice." She smiled faintly. "In a way, because we're against that. A few of them play faster and looser with mental spells than I'd prefer, but that's just my personal opinion. Once you get past those doing outright vile things, and assholes on the Internet, I find different magical traditions are at least cordial to one another."


Fusion understood assholes on the Internet better than Equinox could have known, but that wasn't something she felt inclined to share. "Mm-hmm. Of magic superheroes familiar to my readers, which ones do you find particularly inspirational?"

"Well..." frowned Siobhan, obviously deep in thought. "I'd have to say the obvious answer to that one is Lady Celtic. I mean, she wasn't just a blatant pagan figure in a time when that was frowned on, and she wasn't just a skilled mage. She wasn't just a superhero with a pretty public identity. If you want to focus on gender, she wasn't just a superheroine, either. She was all that, at once, and she did it in a warzone." The witch shook her head and smiled wryly. "I don't think it's possible for me to not look up to and admire that. I wish I could have met her."


"Mm. Of course, she was active back in the Second World War. Do you think attitudes about magic use have begun to modernize in recent years? "

Siobhan grinned widely. "As I seem to end up saying a lot, yes and no." She shrugged her shoulders. "I mean, your average person now has read or seen Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings. There've been a fair few magical superheroes. Magic isn't thought of as unusual in the media so much as it was. But... can any one of those people tell me how to cast a spell? To make this even simpler, how many of those could tell me that while the film doesn't state it the Lord of the Rings wizards wer closer to angels than actual spellcasters."

She leaned back in her chair, having become more comfortable with the interview. "So, yeah, magic isn't as unusual. But it's still not understood in the slightest."


"Is that something you hope to change?"

"Definitely," said Siobhan with conviction. "I firmly believe that prejudice can be combated through knowledge. Even if the layman can't cast a spell, even a rough understanding of how and, perhaps more importantly, why magic is performed will go a long way to making it less scary. It also shows that magic users aren't fueled by the devil, and that besides one extra skill we've got... we're all just humans. We can laugh, love, enjoy a beer with our friends, and work a normal day job, just like everyone else."


"But some magic is fueled by the devil," Joan pressed, "or by entities who use that name, at any rate. What does the magic community plan to do about infernalism?"

"In a word... nothing," said Siobhan bluntly. "Before my words get twisted, I'll tell you why. I'm a superhero, therefore that's my job, and I will fight demons and sorcerers to protect others. But for some people, that's their religion, or their hobby. Not every church goer is going to go exorcise ghosts. Not every kid with a chemistry set is going to try and cure a disease. It doesn't work like that." The witch flicked a lock of hair out of her eyes. "It's the job of the authorities, and the responsibility of those calling themselves superheroes to hunt down and fight infernalism. The wider community isn't going to fight demons, not because they want people to get hurt by them. But because they lack the power or the training, and to ask them to do so is to ask them to die. And I will not allow that."


Joan actually smiled. Heh, here I thought she was just another obnoxious hippie witch. This lady seems all right. "Interesting. Do you think it's possible for abilities gained through so-called infernalism or other 'evil' magics to be used for good?"

The witch shook her head. "No. I mean, there are records of those descended from demons and other... less savoury things who have fought their heritage and done great things. But they were born that way, and so could choose their path. Those who traffic with demons and the undead are choosing to do bad things even if they think the reasons are right."

A thought occurred to her and she went to clarify further. "Although it's worth noting that some forms of magic aren't necessarily evil. Necromancy, for example, can refer simply to speaking to the dead to gain information. In fact, it's what the word actually means. There are a minority of necromancers who aren't raising the dead, or eating souls."


"I see. Do you support the recent campaign for undead rights undertaken by certain superheroes?"

"Well, like I said about half-demons, they can't help it. Very, very few undead chose to be that way, to my knowledge. They can think, they can act for themselves. Why not treat them like people? I don't see why they can't be productive members of society." The witch gave a sad smile. "If any member of the undead is obeying the law, I can't see any problem with his living and working in this city."


"Let's go back a bit. What do you believe powers magic?"

Siobhan laughed. "Well, that's... well, that's a good question. Honestly, I'm not sure what powers it. I believe it's a part of nature, we can just access it through talent and willpower. But as to what is ultimately fueling that is beyond me. Maybe it's like gravity, or magnetism. It's just a fundamental part of the universe."


]"If that's the case, why do you think science hasn't yet mastered its intricacies? Or at least, mastered it as well as it has gravity or magnetism?"

"Because the scientific method won't work. How I cast a spell isn't necessarily the same as how another magic user will cast that spell. Magic is usually pretty consistent within the same person, and often within the same tradition. But as a concept... it's just not especially consistent, perhaps because of the human element to it."


"Your own case aside, do you support the existence of secret legal identities for superheroes?"

Siobhan nodded. "Out of all those people who think superheroes should go public, I very much doubt even one percent of them have ever risked their lives, and as such, they're not entitled to an opinion on the matter. We lead very dangerous lifestyles, and you should not be legally obligated to have that risk 24/7. As for those who have got experience in the matter... I'm not sure why their choice should necessitate the removal of choice for the rest of us. Legal secret identities are there so the people out there trying to do their best for the world don't have to bring friends and family into their struggle."

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A Dictionary of Magical Practitioners

[scribbled in the margins of the neatly typed page]: We really need a guide on this subject out there, to clear up somewhat the mire of different words for spellcasters.

Bokor: Voudoun sorcerers who use Right and Left Hand magics. Not necessarily evil, especially in the context of voudoun. Characteristic traits often include the creation of zombie servants, and the binding of spirits into ouangas (talismans).

Druid: Mages/priests whose powers are based around harmonizing with and respecting the natural world. Due to a lack of records of what ancient druidism actually consisted of, modern druid revivals tend to focus on similar fields to shamanism and witchcraft. Animism is a common belief in some circles. Spells used tend to vary, although natural and elemental magics are common. Shapeshifting is not unheard of.

Houngan/Mambo: Male and female voudoun priests respectively, focusing more on the religious aspects of voudoun, tasked to preserve relationships with the spirits and the community.

Infernalist: Practitioner who conjures up and deals with demonic forces to gain power and knowledge. Obviously, not often highly thought of by other practitioners, but there are records of those battling evil with hellfire taken from the same demons it is used to combat.

Magician: Another somewhat vague term, often used in a very similar manner to 'wizard'. Magicians often tend towards ritualist, circle based rites, sometimes dabbling in infernalism (the prime example being the demons mentioned in the writings of Solomon).

It is also commonly used to refer to stage magicians, who don't actually use magic. This isn't to insult them, as they are exceptionally skilled in deception, escape artistry misdirection and sleight of hand. Some members of the occult community often find it necessary to laugh at them, in spite on the act they are skilled, talented individuals.

Necromancy: Literally, "dead body divination", necromancy traditionally focuses on speaking to the spirits of the dead for information, or to ask for aid and arcane power. Nowadays, the meaning has expanded to bodily reanimation to have undead servants. Like infernalism, has an unsavoury reputation. Unlike infernalism, traditional necromancy can in fact be a perfectly acceptable practice, seeing as it involves talking to, not enslaving the dead.

Practitioner: General term for those who practice magic, at varying levels of skill, dedication and power.

Shaman: A term for a spellcaster whose focus is more on ancient, primal spiritual beliefs. Many shaman operate by invoking spirits for aid, and acting as intermediaries between the mortal and spirit realms. Many focus on acting as medicine men and women, in many ways being similar to traditional witchcraft in terms of what shamans do, rather than how.

Sorcerer/Sorceress: A somewhat vague term, which has been used to refer to warlocks, wizards, witches, bokor, and many other practices. It carries the definite implication of Left Hand Path tendencies, namely the use of evil destructive magic for selfish purposes.

Warlock: Literally "oath breaker", but colloquially used more often to refer to a specific style of spellcasting which involves making pacts with outside entities for power, such as demons or Cthulhoid monsters. Doesn't necessarily mean the practitioner is evil, and in some circles it's considered ironic to smite demons using demonic magics. Note: not a term for a male witch.

Witch: A specific school of thought on spellcasting, often involving the worship of a Goddess figure in its modern uses (the primary example being Wicca). Its practitioners tend to use more rustic forms of magic, including herbal healing and scrying through pools or crystals. A male witch is still a witch, it's not a gender specific term. Some folklore holds them to be able to do complex curses and shapeshifting (which I am not yet capable of doing).

Wizard: Normally, a wizard is a spellcaster who learned how to use magic through intense magical study, often focusing on the invoking and manipulation of primal elemental forces. Often a wizard is a sort of arcane dilettante, using a variety of different styles of spells. While the term implies a male spellcaster, I suppose a woman could just as easily be a wizard, or the more clunky sounding 'wizardess'.

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[Scrawled frantically on a piece of notepaper in blue felt tip pen, the writing barely legibly and clearly written in haste]

I did it! I mean, seriously, did it!

4th July, 2011, at midnight, I achieved possibly the most impossible thing I've ever seen done with magic.

Everyone knows about magical swords. Forged of steel in the finest forges of the kingdom, then enchanted by the most powerful wizards. To take a step up, even forged by gods in their forges, and then empowered by them. I've done something somewhat different altogether.

I forged a sword not out of steel, but with my willpower and magical force. I shredded magically conjured iron into a long blade, then used the hottest flame I could conjure until it glowed red hot. Aeromancy handled the issue of beating it further into shape, and sharpening the hot blade. Finally, I conjured water to cool it down into a steel blade.

[The writer here takes a break, and returns later to write more in a firmer hand, in plain black ink]

Finally finished testing of the spell. Anyway, after I'd forged the blade with my magic, I let it dissipate back into aether... and reconjured the exact same blade, over and over again, until I was sure I could do it easily. Then came the most difficult working of magic I've ever done.

I conjoined the spell with the ritual carvings in my wand until, when conjured, the sword was created using the wand as its hilt. Some minor wood magic converted the thin, straight wand into a longer hilt and crosspiece, still adorned with the same carvings.

My final act was to weave a near-impossible enchantment into it. Now, using magic to destroy other enchantments and workings is not a new concept, nor is weaving that form of spell into a solid object. I worked a spell designed to temporarily shatter any magic into a sword created solely by magic, and managed to do it without having the sword unmake itself. A quick field test shattered my wards, and split my door and threshold in two (later to be repaired with some wood magic, to avoid incurring the wrath of the landlady).

The only real problem? Most people I know are out celebrating the 4th of July, so I've got no one to show off to.

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[Scribbled on a post-it note stuck on Siobhan's fridge]

Magic Words

OK, so the rhyming couplets weren't working out. Here's the list of the faux-Greek I've improvised thus far:

Pyrokagius: Conjures a gout of flame. Derived from pyrkagias (πυÏκαγιας), Greek for "fire". I also use the variant fuego-pyrokagius, which means fire-fire, prefixing the Latin for fire onto the Greek for fire, for more destructive blasts.

Fotiakagius: Conjures a big burst of fire. Derived both from pyrkagias, and from fotia (φωτιά), another Greek word roughly meaning fire.

Kinesi: Literally, "move". All-purpose incantation, does everything from lift objects to cause seismic activity. From kíni̱si̱ (κίνηση)

"Spiti, James": "Home, James"... teleports me home, obviously. From σπίτι, the Greek for home. And James, the English for James.

Astrikos: From αστÏικός, the Greek word for "astral", this spell lets my astral form depart my physical body.

Drosisteíte: Literally means "cool off" (δÏοσιστείτε). Was improvised in an attempt to look cool in front of Nick. Didn't really work.

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I found this saved on my laptop. Apparently the damn furrball can work machinery now. This worries me somewhat.

How Hayley Met Equinox

Hmmm... laptop? Big screen, lots of buttons, with letters. Siobhan at work. Heeheehee. Bombs go boom when you click them.

I am Hayley! I used to live in a tree, but now I live in an a-party-ment. That's the place Siobhan keeps all her books and smelly ash trays. But, tree. Nuts and berries are tasty. But one day, hear girl crying. Mumbles some things about other girls being mean. Didn't think anything of it at time. She had sandwiches. I like sandwiches.

So I go and look cute. Girls give you food if you look cute. But then she looked at me, and... things went funny in my head. I don't know what happens over next few days, but Siobhan tells me it wasn't Girl's fault. She was scared and alone, and made me want to be her friend without meaning to.

One day, tall woman in big black coat shows up as I'm trying to be friend, and hug Girl. Siobhan does funny things, and mutters a lot. Things about 'having to switch the spell some place else, because it's not turning off'.

Next thing I know, her voice in my head. And she takes me back to the a-party-ment. She makes me bed, and gives me food, and by the end of it all somehow know human talk, and know what Siobhan did. Souls are tied up now, and I'm a familly-ur. But then there is shouting. Didn't mean to eat all the cookies, but they tasted good. Didn't mean to rip up dress, but I got all tangled in it. And I hide in a corner because I don't like the shouting, and don't really know what's going on.

Next night, Siobhan is upset and on laptop. She ends up putting it down, and starts crying. I feel bad. Did I do something again? But I go up and prod her, to find out. She isn't shouting. She just picks me up, and gives me a hug, and we sit and eat cookies and she speaks to me, and there isn't shouting. I fall asleep, but in the morning, I wake up and I got to sleep on her bed with her. She told me she was sorry, and she wanted to be friends.

I like Siobhan. I don't know humans well, but she's nice. Except when she opens the big box thing she keeps bread in, and I'm in it. That makes shouting.

That was a really, really bad day. I'd just gone public, and then I opened up my emails, and there was just... so much abuse, about how I was evil, and leading people astray, and there were lots of comments about my appearance. Then my mom called, and we had another blazing row. Any one of them I could have dealt with. Any ten. But there were much, much more emails and comments, and then that big fight, and I... well, I was on the verge of quitting before I'd even started. I'm not proud of it, but having an annoying little constantly hungry thing running around your apartment when you're used to only having yourself there... I did shout at her. And I'm really, really sorry about it. She stopped me from wanting to quit.

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