Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a great story from enderandrew. It is entitled
Diary of Bob the Wizard
Reality is defined by our perception of it. Magic is the art of altering reality. If I can subvert their perception of the world, then I’m altering their reality. In that sense, I am a wizard. I just use different methods than most.
Some accuse me of chicanery and legerdemain. Technically that is true, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing magic in my own way. The minor tasks I’m frequently employed for can usually be accomplished by mundane means. People are just too lazy or insecure to do so without the belief that they have magical assistance.
So when I tell people I’ve enabled them with ritual or some magical fetish, I am helping people. How dare they accuse me of fraud or theft? The ungrateful vulgarians!
I may not be entirely honest in all of my phrasings, but people looking for magical solutions really only want to be baffled and assuaged really.
I don’t think they realize that magic is more rare these days than past tales indicate, though those could all be falsehoods. Scholars and historians like Joorus the Scribe believe magic was fundamentally altered with The Fall and the cannibalistic consumption of a sister moon that led to Daedalus.
That is possible. But does it matter what magic might have been in the past if that magic is now unobtainable? Either we can discover new magic now, or we do our best to fake it to placate the masses in exchange for gold.
There are worse professions out there. Those that are so eager to hand over their coin for baubles and reassurances will do so for someone at some point. Why shouldn’t I then be the one to relieve them of their gold they are so wont to spend?
There is a funny thing in pretending to be an expert in something. The more you know about a subject, the more convincing you are in pretence. You’re encouraged to study the skill you approximate. With anything else you might reach a point where it is easier to just legitimately learn something, but magic isn’t so simple. Not everyone possesses the initial spark and I doubt if it can simply be learned.
I’ve been a bit defensive in the past in this journal. I’m not sure if anyone will ever read it. I keep it private currently for obvious reasons, but perhaps someday a historian will inquire about my work. If I am slandered I hope someone will uncover this in time and allow my version of events to defend me.
I may not have any actual control over arcane arts, but I have spent considerable time studying any text I can on the subject. I figured that if what I said was consistent and accurate with what any other wizard said, then I would simply be that much more convincing.
But now it is becoming an obsession. I’m a little jealous now that there are pioneers rediscovering magic who can do some truly incredible things. I’ve been improving my illusions and tricks to mirror some of their feats. But I must admit I’m also hopeful that if I study enough I might unlock some latent talent in me.
The concept of magic has always fascinated me. I’ve always seen myself some day wielding great power.
I have a plan. To date I’ve only spoken to rubes to make money with my act. I’ve never tried to convince real practitioners of magic of my ability. I’m thinking of hosting and assembling a magical symposium in Rift’s End.
If I gather magic users, I can study them directly up close. If any of their magic appears to be driven by physical talismans and fetishes, I might be able to purloin one. It will also be a useful test to see I can fool my would-be peers.
If this is the last entry in my journal, then it will be readily apparent that this was not a good idea. But fortune favors the bold. Risk can lead to great breakthroughs.
My last entry was somewhat prescient. It was not my last entry. But there was great payoff for my gamble, and it was somehow simultaneously a terrible idea.
My act held up well enough. It was easy enough as an organizer to constantly ask questions of others and divert away any serious attention from myself on having to demonstrate real magical ability. On the few occasions that someone asked me to demonstrate my approach or ask about my methodology, I would chuckle and deflect the question by saying “my methods are fairly well covered in my early texts. I’d be a poor host merely flaunting my own findings. I am here to be a humble host by seeing what I can learn from alternate approaches.”
Of course my early texts are intentional vagaries designed to create the appearance of competence so I can sell my “magical” services to anyone ignorant enough to hire me. No one called me out on referencing my early works. Had they cited any ambiguity, I would have claimed to have even earlier works than those that perhaps they hadn’t read.
I think most of the attendees were genuinely excited to speak with each other and learn. Magic in New Britannia had been effectively reset since The Fall four centuries prior. Either the nature of magic was truly changed on a fundamental level as many had claimed, or it was just that all prior knowledge was lost with the cataclysmic event and the chaos that followed.
In the Age of Survival, literally more pressing needs for food, shelter and security pre-empted more academic pursuits. In the Age of Warring Cities, rediscovering magic suddenly became a concern but most had little to start off with. Some of the earliest success was with Chaos magic, but was understandably unpredictable. (Note, if I am ever really forced to prove my ability, I will use the unpredictable nature of Chaos magic as a further excuse).
It was in the third age that magic really came to life again. Many of the biggest advances came from a group that history hasn’t treated too kindly, the Obsidian Cabal. I’m not one to judge morality too harshly given my career path. But Obsidian magics are so reviled by historians that I have never been able to study one of their texts.
I’ve long desired one of their tomes, but I thought it out of my reach. But then a funny thing happened.
I noticed that one of the attendees at my symposium never once took notes, and rarely spoke up. Some wizards are known for exceptional memorization techniques and not everyone cares for social niceties. But this man was not shy or obtuse. I found him often staring intently at others, but usually not the given speaker at the moment. He was sizing everyone up. He wasn’t here to learn new magical techniques because he was that confident that his own prowess and methods must already surpass all of them. Furthermore, the way he sized them all up suggested to me that he might find himself at odds with them.
I could think of only one group that would find everyone as an enemy and would be that confident in their magical knowledge. This man must be an Obsidian, as impossible as that sounded! Some had speculated that the Obsidian Cabal never truly disappeared, but merely went underground (metaphorically or literally).
I knew immediately that if there was one attendee I wanted to steal from, it was him. Since he was visiting Rift’s End and staying in temporary accommodations I knew his security would not be as good as his home lair. A dishonest life has led me to acquire several skills of questionable legality and morality. Picking his lock was not difficult.
I must have set off some magical security however as some elemental pet was instantly summoned to the room. I found myself exceptionally lucky that as it lunged forward to attack me, I was able to aim my wand right in its open mouth and fire the fireworks charge hidden within. It was stunned enough for me to finish the job with quick dagger strikes.
I scanned the room looking for my prize. I found a tome and a large gem, wrapped several times over again in cloth. I ran and have been running since.
More than a few nights since I’ve survived only because of my ability to hide. But I’ve seen some of the creatures stalking me. I know that if I was ever found, I would suffer greatly.