On Magic and its Aspects
Contrary to the popular belief, magic is not categorized under labels such as destruction or creation. Just like a knife can be used as a tool or weapon, so can magic. The purpose, for the needs of this book, is irrelevant. It's all about the different types of magic, described below.
The most popular and widespread of all the schools of magic. Being the simplest to learn for as long as one sticks with a single element, elemental magic can be found nearly everywhere. Due to its incredible versatility and usefulness, most wizards and sorceresses undertake a certain degree in it, if not specialize it.
This type of magic has four basic aspects; one for each element: fire, water, earth, and air. Different elements can be combined to create additional aspects, advanced combinations of the basic elements, in which case the user needs to have sufficient mastery of each individual element. It must be said that, even though elemental magic in general is fairly simple to learn, it quickly grows in complexion as the user tries to master multiple elements. Mastery over all elements is extremely rare, and the vast majority of elemental wizards simply focus on a single element to achieve perfection.
Practical usage of elemental magic is very colorful. It has as many uses in utility as in attack or defense. Some people simply manipulate the elements to ease their everyday tasks such as lighting a fire. Others conjure missiles of fire or ice to attack, or protect themselves with an elemental shield. You are limited by your own imagination just as much as your skill level.
Force magic is similar to elemental magic, and thus nearly as popular. Many mages choose to master force magic in combination with one of the elements. This kind of magic is considered somewhat raw, as it works directly with energy and not necessarily through any of the elements. It's not difficult to learn, but it drains the user's own energy even more than standard magic use. Because of this, force magic mastery is both difficult and recommended in order to be successfully exercised.
In practice, force magic can be used to move things from a distance, be it objects or even people. It can break down doors for example, or push something out of way. A wizard who mastered an aspect of elemental magic can use it in conjunction with force magic. For example, one could send a bolt of energy infused with the element of fire to break through a barricade and leave flames behind.
Illusionary magic is all about deception and misleading, which makes it a favorite of assassins and other stealth types. What makes this school of magic unique is that it draws upon the Shadow Realm, allowing the practitioners to bend reality using Shadow and gain limited glimpses into it even without the knowledge of Shadowmeld (the art of walking the Shadow Realm). The mysterious Shadow Walkers traditionally all learn Illusionary magic, as it has tremendous synergy with their own abilities.
Practical examples of Illusionism are creating multiple copies of the user or even other people, the number of which is arbitrary but depends on the user's power. It is easier to maintain a few copies than many. Scholars of Illusionism can also twist reality to make things appear where they are not - such as making a bridge seem to be a dozen feet off from where it actually is. It is of course possible to create new illusions, but the size increases the casting difficulty. All illusions disperse upon contact with physical objects.
A more advanced use of Illusionism allows one to briefly hide behind Shadows, effectively becoming invisible. It is a matter of seconds, for remaining hidden can drastically drain a person's energy. Even the greatest masters of Illusionism couldn't support the effect more than a few minutes, and even so with the aid of heavily enchanted artifacts. It is possible for a mage to hide others as well. While hidden, a person might perceive fractions of the Shadow Realm, here and there, increasing in number the longer they remain invisible, though this is a very unreliable and exhausting (for the caster) method of looking into the Shadow Realm when opposed to Shadowmelding.
Considered dangerous, cruel, and without any sensible application, blood magic is forbidden in Asgard. It is also hard to learn and harder to master. Those who practice it have either learned it from another master or a corrupted place of power. And they do so in secret. Blood magic is punishable by death, for that is all it brings.
Practical uses include boiling blood, rending flesh and breaking bones from a distance, though at the cost of having to focus on a single or few targets. Blood mages often inflict self-injuries to empower themselves or perform dark rituals. Some records exist of terrible, bloody sacrifices in combination with dark magic like necromancy in attempts to summon otherworldly beings such as demons into this world.
A rare, uncommon kind of magic that allows limited power over time itself. In order to become skilled in chronomancy, one must have an inborn affinity for it. The greatest chronomancers are among the ancient human race of the Varden. In practical use, a chronomancer can look into the past or future. This ability must be exercised with caution, for it takes its toll on the user's mind. The effectiveness is greatly increased if there is physical contact with the object or person which is being focused on. Of course, the results vary and are not always what one would expect. The further one looks from the present time in any direction, the more unclear the visions become.
There are no records of a chronomancer significantly manipulating the course of time itself, but advanced usage of this kind of magic allows the concept of time to be altered on an individual level - for example to slow or quicken a person's movement.
This dark type of magic deals in curses and animation of dead beings. Its practitioners, the necromancers, are frowned upon by the society and their trade was officially forbidden (up until recently). But throughout history many have come to them in secret for whatever dark reasons. Though these wizards usually live in secluded, remote places, they are present in almost every big city throughout Asgard.
Practical usage of necromancy is first and foremost raising the dead. A thing not easily accomplished, and even so the animated corpses usually remain exactly that. They have no soul or recollection of their past lives, but rather exist as mindless vessels bound to eternal servitude to whoever brought them back from the dead. They are neither living nor dead, and are referred to as the undead. However, it is possible to summon actual spirits from the Shadow Realm and bind them to bodies, creating a more advanced kind of undead.
The second aspect of necromancy deals in curses of all kinds through complex dark rituals, and this is the reason why some seek the aid of necromancers; to get rid of someone without implying themselves. It could be a curse of slow death over time, or an energy draining curse, or simply bad luck. The list goes on.
Though not exactly magic in the same sense as the other schools of magic, enchanting involves enough of it to be listed among them. Enchanting is the skill of infusing physical objects with magical properties, thus giving them empowered properties. It must be said that the greatest masters of this discipline are the Dwarves. Their fabled Runemasters have perfected the art of enchanting over the centuries, though of course there exist individuals from other races who excel in the art no less.
Enchanting is interesting because it allows one to imbue an object with magic without first needing to learn or master the magic used. Instead, enchanters use runes which carry the magic potential. There are many different runes, and the process of enchanting something roughly comes down to inscribing the desired rune into the object being enchanted. There is more to it than just that of course, and not just anyone can do it. It is believed that the inner strength of the enchanter's spirit plays a key role.
In practice, a sword could be enchanted with runes of fire to both cut and burn on strike. Another example would be a shield with runes of force to not only deflect blows but push them away with force magic. But enchanting does not have to be strictly for attack or defense. An amulet could be enchanted to summon rain. It is worth noting that there are different strengths of enchantments, and it depends on the enchanter, the object and other factors to determine how the overall enchantment will turn out. Enchantments are usually permanent, unless the runes are removed or somehow neutralized.
The kind of magic called pure, or also raw, primordial, and even divine, is purely a theory that is both supported and disputed. Those who believe in it claim that it involves magic on a level so basic, so original and so neutral, that it's even more elemental than the standard elemental magic. In theory, pure magic is supposed to involve all of the other schools of magic and none at the same time. It can accomplish anything, its potential being infinite, and it has no alignment towards good or evil, and creation or destruction. It is a form of magic shapeless but able to assume any other shape.
This type of magic is purely theoretical, and there has never been a record of it being used by anyone. Followers of the Maker believe that this magic is in fact His own divine energy which he used to create the world and everything in it.