Practice of Magic: Destruction, Lesson Two


    It is popular, especially among young upstarts who wish to establish themselves as intellectual contenders, to dismiss the study of harnessing the destructive potential of magicka as crude or simplistic. Those who embrace this argument prefer to spend time researching obscure theoretical topics instead of the more practical applications of magic.


    Alright, mister - Grulmar thought and looked at the title of book Destruction or Distraction, right under it was the name of the author - Humius Acidinus. Convince me that Destruction isn't crude or simplistic. Because right now, my hands are tuskin' burned from simplistic fire spells and it hurts as freakin' Oblivion.


    In truth, these pedants accomplish little beyond writing tomes of their own to refute the postulations of their contemporaries, wasting their time arguing hypotheticals with no basis in practical magical study. They are so distracted trying to outwit one another in their imaginary field that they never produce substantial advancements. It is my conviction that this self-indulgent behavior obstructs progress (concrete gains such as spell discovery) in arcane studies.


    I do not deny that magic is deep and complex, and our understanding is far from complete. However, I question the value of arguments over theories with very little basis in observable phenomena before we fully grasp less complicated subjects. In my years of practice, I have found that studying manifestations of magicka that seem the simplest often provides the clearest look at the nature of magic. Without a complete understanding of what seems to be basic, how could anyone advance magic and bring benefit to practitioners and Tamriel at large? I implore you, reader, to take care that you do not fall into the category of the fruitless intellectual.


    Yeah, thanks. I've studied that basics of Destruction closely enough. He had been training with Faralda for two days since they met and he was able to conjure a weak fire spell, but no matter what he did, he wasn't able to protect himself from the fire's heat. It was actually quite frustrating in comparison to his progress in Alteration School. No matter how hard he tried, he was able to summon the energy, to conjure the fire, but it burned him each and every time. He had to see Collette on Faralda's urge, to get some patching up.


    Maybe I really don't have a talent for that shit, he thought with frustration taking over his mind. He wanted to show J'zargo who was the real mage here, but he wasn't able to control even the simplest and smallest flame spell. It was making him angry. Tuskin' Scorch. He got me in there and now I have to follow through that, because givin' up would just give him more reasons to mock me. He took another book, Response to Bero's Speech and opened it, rubbing his tired eyes before delving into it.


    On the 14th of Last Seed, an illusionist by the name of Berevar Bero gave a very ignorant speech at the Chantry of Julianos in the Imperial City. As ignorant speeches are hardly uncommon, there was no reason to respond to it. Unfortunately, he has since had the speech privately printed as "Bero's Speech to the Battlemages," and it's received some small, undeserved attention in academic circles. Let us put his misconceptions to rest.


    Oh, the guy certainly had to get under someone's skin when Bero's Speech to the Battlemages got a Response to Bero's Speech. Mages, Grulmar shook his head. Why don't ya just blow yerself up? Oh, wait. I'm one of them. Us. Tusk. Am I?


    Bero began his lecture with an occasionally factual account of famous Battlemages from Zurin Arctus, Tiber Septim's Imperial Battlemage, to Jagar Tharn, Uriel Septim VII's Imperial Battlemage. His intent was to show that where it matters, the Battlemage relies on other Schools of Magicka, not the School of Destruction which is supposedly a Battlemage's particular forte. Allow me first to dispute these so-called historical facts.


    Zurin Arctus did not create the golem Numidium by spells of Mysticism and Conjuration as Bero alleges. The truth is that we don't know how Numidium was created or if it was a golem or atronach in any traditional sense of those words. Uriel V's Battlemage Hethoth was not an Imperial Battlemage -- he was simply a sorcerer in the employ of the Empire, thus which spells he cast in the various battles on Akavir are irrelevant, not to mention heresy. Bero calls Empress Morihatha's Battlemage Welloc "an accomplished diplomat" but not "a powerful student of the School of Destruction." I congratulate Bero on correctly identifying an Imperial Battlemage, but there are many written examples of Welloc's skill in the School of Destruction. The sage Celarus, for example, wrote extensively about Welloc casting the Vampiric Cloud on the rebellious army of Blackrose, causing their strength and skill to pass on to their opponents. What is this, but an impressive example of the School of Destruction?


    Oh, shit. Vampiric Cloud? When do I get one? That sounds absolutely awesome! I want the strength of any tusker that comes near me.


    Bero rather pathetically includes Jagar Tharn in his list of underachieving Battlemages. To use an insane traitor as example of rational behavior is an untenable position. What would Bero prefer? That Tharn used the School of Destruction to destroy Tamriel by a more traditional means?


    Bero uses his misrepresentation of history as the basis for his argument. Even if he had found four excellent examples from history of Battlemages casting spells outside their School -- and he didn't -- he would only have anecdotal evidence, which isn't enough to support an argument. I could easily find four examples of illusionists casting healing spells, or nightblades teleporting. There is a time and a place for everything.


    Bero's argument, built on this shaky ground, is that the School of Destruction is not a true school. He calls it "narrow and shallow" as an avenue of study, and its students impatient, with megalomaniac tendencies. How can one respond to this? Someone who knows nothing about casting a spell of Destruction criticizing the School for being too simple? Summarizing the School of Destruction as learning how to do the "maximum amount of damage in the minimum amount of time" is clearly absurd, and he expounds on his ignorance by listing all the complicated factors studied in his own School of Illusion.


    Oh, wait. Destruction isn't about maximum amount of damage in the minimum amount of time? Call me surprised. It seems to me that these days in Skyrim it's all about that. Haven't seen a mage castin' subtle Destruction magic. Hm. Or maybe it was so subtle I didn't know about it?


    Allow me in response to list the factors studied in the School of Destruction. The means of delivering the spell matters more in the School of Destruction than any other school, whether it is cast at a touch, at a range, in concentric circles, or cast once to be triggered later. What forces must be reigned in to cast the spell: fire, lightning, or frost? And what are the advantages and dangers of each? What are the responses from different targets from the assault of different spells of destruction? What are the possible defenses and how may they be assailed? What environmental factors must be taken into consideration? What are the advantages of a spell of delayed damage? Bero suggests that the School of Destruction cannot be subtle, yet he forgets about all the Curses that fall under the mantle of the school, sometimes affecting generation after generation in subtle yet sublime ways.


    Alright...that doesn't seem nearly as simplistic as I expected...


    The School of Alteration is a distinct and separate entity from the School of Destruction, and Bero's argument that they should be merged into one is patently ludicrous. He insists -- again, a man who knows nothing about the Schools of Alteration and Destruction, is the one insisting this -- that "damage" is part of the changing of reality dealt with by the spells of Alteration. The implication is that Levitation, to list a spell of Alteration, is a close cousin of Shock Bolt, a spell of Destruction. It would make as much sense to say that the School of Alteration, being all about the actuality of change, should absorb the School of Illusion, being all about the appearance of change.


    It certainly isn't a coincidence that a master of the School of Illusion cast this attack on the School of Destruction. Illusion is, after all, all about masking the truth.


    Don't know about ya, oh, wise mister master smart mage, but isn't all magic about changing reality and thus basically all Alteration? But what do I know, right? I'm just some dumb Orc mage wannabe.


    And what was that above? He traced back a little, his finger and eyes scanning the letters until he found what he was looking for. “Whether it is cast at a touch, at a range, in concentric circles, or cast once to be triggered later.” Hm. So do I get it right, that every spell has several variations on how they can be cast? So, not only is there a difference between casting with hands, words and mind, but also this. Touch spells should be easier to cast, and more subtle, but one has to get close. Concentric circles sound very diffucult, but spells that can be triggered later should not be that hard, eh? I'll have to ask Pigtails about that later.


    He was still trying to wrap his head around why he wasn't able to get a hold of Destruction spells. Most of the Orcs he knew were very good with Destruction or Conjuration...but the truth was he wasn't like most of the Orcs. Have you seen Broody castin' Destruction? Hmm, nah, not really. Nor Shiny. But that old crone that was yer grandmother, Atub, knew Destruction spells. As well as the other wise-women.


    But the real question was: What predispositioned mages to certain schools? How was it possible that a mage versed in the School of Illusion wasn't really good at Conjuration? Personality? Racial dispositions? Ancestors? Or was it just random? But there was the undeniable truth that certain mages were more attuned to different flavours of Magicka.


    He scratched his beard frantically and looked around the Arcaneum. It was quite late, he saw only Urag categorizing books, checking if they were ok and generally being Urag the Crazy-Librarian. He saw Drevis shuffle at the entrance, but otherwise most of the mages were already sleeping. Hmm. Or just studying in their rooms. It was one of the things he noticed. Mages slept somewhat less, which was curious. He understood that during sleep the Magicka in them regenerated faster, but he noticed that even he needed less sleep than before. Before he went to College, he didn't mind catching up on his sleep, but not so anymore. He was still up late at night, reading, or practicing spells and he woke in the morning more or less fresh.


    He sighed and in the dim light of a candle opened another book. On the Utility of Shock Magic.


    As Tamriel's leading wizard, I have often been called upon, usually by individuals of royal birth, to impress them with some demonstration of my magical skills. When I ask what they'd like to see, they nearly always reply, "Throw a fireball! A really big one. I'd love that."


    Well, I wouldn't mind someone askin' me that.


    This just shows how poorly educated Tamriel's aristocrats are about the magical arts. The Flame spells have their uses, of course, but the true magical scholar gives pride of place in his grimoire to the Shock spells. For whatever reason, manipulating arcane lightning is easier than forcing magical flame, and it can be employed for a greater variety of effects. Here are just a few:


    —The mage can cloak himself in an aura of lightning that will turn aside certain physical and magical attacks, as well as shocking nearby enemies.


    Already seen that spell in variations of both fire and frost. And since when is shock manipulation easier?


    —Lightning can be cast on a surface in the form of a rune that will explode if touched or after a certain delay.


    Yup, this one too.


    —A wizard can cast a bolt to a nearby target and then instantly "ride the lightning" to that destination.


    Alright, this I saw only once, and really only in lightin' variation. Tuskin' Thalmor assholes.


    —And, of course, lightning bolts can be cast directly at enemies in a number of variations.


    No shit.


    It is possible, I suppose, that ways to manipulate Frost and Flame will be discovered that make those elemental magics as flexible as Shock—but if I haven't discovered how to do it, who else could?


    Grulmar hit his forehead with the book few times and groaned. Grulmar, ya are such an idiot. Why didn't ya pick shock over fire? He looked at his bandaged hands and frowned. glad that it's fire. Ya probably don't want to know how it would look if lightin' rode ya. Plus...ya are in Skyrim. It's tuskin' freezin' out here. Fire has more utility. Right?


    He set the book on the slowly rising column of already read books and grabbed next and last one for this evening. Mora'at's Theory of Lightning.


    By Mora'at the Lesser, Wizard of Corinthe


    It happens to every amateur or apprentice mage: that first time one miscasts a shock spell. It recoils upon one, and one lets out a yip as all of one's fur stands up straight and sparks jolt through one's form and out the tip of one's tail. And one wonders seriously for the first time: lightning—what is it?


    Sure, that happened to me too. My fur stood up as the sparks jolted out of the tip of my tail...


    Listen to Mora'at, for this one is in a position to explain. After much hard study and many repetitions of the entrance exam, Mora'at is now an officially-recognized Journeyman of the Corinthe Mages Guildhall, and therefore in a position to speak with some authority on magical matters. This one has been doing research into this matter of lightning—specializing, as we scholars of the arcane do—and have also given the matter a not-inconsiderable amount of thought on his own.


    As a result, this one has a Theory.


    Shock, like Flame and Frost, is an expression of magical power that takes the form of a natural force. Everyone has played with this force when one was a ja'khajiit, scuffing one's feet across a rug and then stinging a sibling with a small spark from an extended claw, or rubbing an inflated rat's-bladder against one's fur until the hairs stand up and the bladder "sticks" to one's chest or arm.




    So it was apparent to this one, even from an early age, that shock was an inherent property of fibrous matter, a property stimulated by friction into sparks. This also explains lightning, as clouds, which resemble nothing so much as huge Tenmar cotton-balls, generate shock when storms cause friction through colliding masses of buoyant fiber.


    Therefore, when one of we mighty wizards of the Mages Guild casts a Shock spell, what is actually happening? This one explains it as follows: the reality of the Mundus is a great tapestry woven of strands of matter and magicka. A Shock spell channels and manipulates magicka through the local warp and weft of the tapestry, agitating its fibers. This generates sparking, which coalesces into magical lightning. Yes?


    Perceptions such as these come easily once one is a skilled mage. When I present this theory to our magister, this one anticipates well-earned praise and encouragement. In fact, now that Mora'at is a bona fide magical scholar, this one may even have another theory tomorrow!


    Khajiit, Grulmar scratched his forehead and rubbed his eyes. But the cat has a point, and it raises a question, doesn't it? If fire is created by increasing the speed of Magicka, what is the difference? The storm clouds, the rug. There is somethin' in these that has innate static properties. When ya comb yer hair and then put the comb close to them ya feel them stand up. Friction, the proper friction.


    This meant that to create fire one had to increase speed between two random objects, which was friction too. But to create lightning, friction between specific items with specific properties was required. So in order to cast lightning ya have to find in the air the right matter and Magicka and create friction between them. Hm. Doesn't sound really easier than fire to me. But if ya won't try ya won't know, right?


    Sources used in this Lesson: Destruction or DistractionOn the Utility of Shock MagicMora'at's Theory of Lightning




5 Comments   |   A-Pocky-Hah! and 10 others like this.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  January 12, 2017
    I can't get over how well you've done this Karver. there's so much in depth detail here which fits so well into the TES universe. I just hope my own attempts at explaining magic follow your lessons. 
  • The Sunflower Manual
    The Sunflower Manual   ·  January 9, 2017
    And now my favourite element! *runs amok cackling throwing lightning bolts everywhere*

    On a serious note, I wonder how Mora'at's treatise was received...
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  January 7, 2017
    I will love this appropriately when I am done with work. :D
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  January 7, 2017
     ". . . rubbing an inflated rat's-bladder against one's fur until the hairs stand up and the bladder "sticks" to one's chest or arm."

    Yeah, Grulmar's reaction basically sums that up. 
    Best part about read...  more
    • Shadow Arm
      Shadow Arm
       ". . . rubbing an inflated rat's-bladder against one's fur until the hairs stand up and the bladder "sticks" to one's chest or arm."

      ...  more
        ·  January 7, 2017
      I actually think that books about magic are basicaly something like: "Look how we tusked up the game by not adding all this cool stuff, but don´t worry, this is Lore, not what´s in game."... yeah