The Books of Shallice

The Disbanding of the Wizard's Guild


Andrew Norman

In the year 895 of the first age, long before the Dragons were known by the human-like peoples to be intelligent creatures and when the Elves and Men knew very little of each other, there was an elf living on the outskirts of the elven city of Selannar, in the nation of Lamesthe. This elf was named Senelas, and he had lived since the year 452 of that age.

The city and its surrounding areas were inside a great forest called Tywnei by the Elves and Larrian by the Humans. Structures were built both at the bases of the trees and upon the branches of the trees themselves, with bridges and stairways leading from one to another. In a clearing outside of the city, Senelas had built a garden with many beautiful trees and plants with many fruits, but he did not share those fruits with any other elves. He built a wall around that garden and did not allow any to enter. And he spent countless hours within the garden, and his activities were unknown to those within the city of Selannar.

One day, Senelas called for a gathering of the elves of Selannar. Many of the elves were intrigued, for Senelas had never before called for such a gathering, and he seldom attended those that were called by others. So the elves of the city gathered on a meeting platform that was in the branches of the trees and awaited Senelas' announcement.

He came before those on the platform and said to them, "I have something that I wish to show to all of you. It is very important and it will benefit all of us."

He then set a candle on a table for everyone to see, and he held his right hand to the left of the candle, with his palm facing the sky. A small fire came out from his palm, and those watching were amazed. He then placed his left hand to the left of the fire in his right palm, with his palm facing the fire. Out of his left palm came a wind, and that wind blew the fire onto the wick of the candle, which caught the fire.

"How did you do this?" one of the elves asked.

"It is called 'magic'," said Senelas. "Through alchemical experiments in my garden, I have discovered a supernatural power that has given me control over the elements and the energies. With toil, I may yet be able to advance this power further. Even now, I can share this power and teach others to use it."

Senelas then closed his hand to extinguish the fire, and when he opened it, the elves saw that he was not burned. Then they saw that water began to gather into a sphere above his hand, and it moved above the candle and fell, extinguishing the fire on the wick.

"Come to my garden," he said, "and I will allow you to become a wizard, as I am."

So the elves followed him into his garden, and before them was a basket filled with many fruits.

"Eat them," Senelas said, "and you will be able to wield the power of magic."

The elves ate the fruit, and together they found that they could control the elements as naturally as they control their own hands. As young children learn to control their own limbs, the elves learned how to control the new energies that they wielded.

Senelas said to them, "The fruits' power is limited. They will only last for seven days, and after that, you must return to the Garden to continue to use magic.

"Thank you for allowing me to share this with you, wizards. Together, we can use this power to better our people and to help each other."

Before the passing of three nights, every elf in Tywnei had partaken of the fruit, and for each, Senelas personally gave the fruit to them. The Garden soon became the most important location in the forest.

An elf woman named Navalas was among those on that first day in the Garden. She was known among her people to be a great healer, and she had intention to learn of any healing power that magic may have. After developing her own magic, she discovered many healing properties, and she wrote many tomes teaching how to use magic to this end.

Navalas was but one elf among many who used their magical abilities in their own practices. Magic was developed to strengthen one's own mind and body, in construction of new buildings in the branches of the trees, in music and arts, in the growing of plants, in training animals, and a multitude of other practices within the forest. Senelas quickly became greatly revered by the other elves.

An elf hunter with the name Aeredhel was another that used magic in his own practice. He used magic to ensure that his arrows would travel straight. One day, while Aeredhel was hunting, Senelas came upon him in the forest.

"Hello, wizard," said Senelas.

"Hello, Senelas," said Aeredhel. "What brings you to the forest this day?"

"I often walk here. It is very calming to my soul."

"To mine as well, friend."

"I saw you hunting before. Your arrows fly very straight and swift."

"Thanks to your help, my friend."

"I see. You use magic in your hunting?"

"Yes, I do. It has helped me to bring much meat to families in the city."

"Is the fruit not enough for your needs?"

Aeredhel knew now that he should choose his words carefully.

"Certainly it is," he said. "But meat is still a part of our heritage, and it is very pleasant to the taste."

"And the fruit is not?"

"Yes, it is. But one of the greatest parts of our lives on Elian is experiencing more than one kind of pleasure."

"I see. I understand that, but I'm afraid that I must ask you not to use my magic in your hunting. I consider the animals to be my brethren, and I cannot supply you with the means to kill them."

"With respect, friend, I am not using your magic, but my own. Did it not become mine when you gave it to me?"

"No. It is still my magic, and I am the head of your guild. Continue in this activity and you will find yourself banished from the Garden."

Aeredhel stood and looked at Senelas, and he said to him, "I understand your wishes, guildmaster."

"Very good," said Senelas. "I hope to see you again in the Garden soon." He then walked away.

Aeredhel was uncertain of how to proceed from this point. He had been anxious to see how his hunting may be improved by magic, and he had already told an elder of the city that he should be able to bring more food to their tables. He continued hunting without magic for the rest of that day, but in the evening he labored in thought over how he should respond to Senelas' threat.

It had long been the belief of the elves that the eating of meat was no sin, and was, in fact, necessary. Aeredhel therefore concluded that his duty to the city was greater than his friendship with Senelas, therefore he must continue to use magic when hunting. He would be careful, however, to see that Senelas would not know that he was doing so.

Three days later, Aeredhel came to the Garden and was met by Senelas at the gate.

"No. I think not," said Senelas. "You have ignored my wishes and used my magic against my brethren. For that, you are banished from my Garden."

"I am sorry that you learned that," said Aeredhel, "and I apologize for my deception, but I do not apologize for my actions. My duty to the city demands that I use every means at my disposal to find food for our people."

"My magic is no longer at your disposal. Leave now. You are no longer welcome."

Aeredhel then left the gate and returned home. Now, Aeredhel was a close friend to Navalas, who also greatly desired that he use magic in his hunt. Therefore, Navalas would take fruit out of the garden to give to Aeredhel.

Yet Aeredhel found that his magic was failing, and he realized that Senelas had used his magic to put a curse on him, that he may not gain magical power from the fruit. He then informed the elders of the city that he therefore would not be able to fulfill his promises as he said, but he did not tell of his conflict with Senelas.

Aeredhel would still hunt in the daylight hours, and he was still the greatest of hunters even without his magic, for the other hunters learned of his banishment from the garden and were afraid to continue use their own magic.

During the next month, Aeredhel would lament that he could no longer use the magic that all other elves were using. And many of the elves pitied Aeredhel, and though they would help him, they would not use their magic on his behalf, for Senelas had forbidden it. For his great abilities, he remained a respected citizen of Selannar. And the elders wished for Senelas to again allow Aeredhel into the Garden, but Senelas refused. And Senelas created more ordinances for the elves of the Garden to follow, forbidding travel to foreign lands and fraternizing with dwarves, and he would not allow humans into the Garden.

But one day, as he was attempting to draw his bow, Aeredhel found that his hands were unsteady. As he continued through the day, his vision became obscured. And when he lie down to sleep in the night, his body ached.

The following morning, he was feverish and hardly able to stand. And he went to Navalas in her hall of healing, and he said, "Navalas, I need your assistance. I am ill, and I do not know the cause."

And Navalas replied, "Come, lie in this bed, and I will help you."

She then attempted to use her magic to heal his fever, but it was of no use, for the curse of Senelas did not allow her to do so. She then retrieved her alchemical herbs and instruments, but her treatment did not slow his illness.

And she studied the cause of the disease, and had some certainty that Aeredhel was in withdrawal after being denied Senelas' fruit. She also believed that if he did not soon receive some of the fruit, he would die.

So she went before Senelas in the garden, and she said to him, "Aeredhel is ill, for he has not eaten of the fruit in some time. Because the cause is magical, no herbs will heal him. Please lift the curse, so that I may give him some fruit, or so that I may heal him with my magic. It will be of no burden to you."

"No," said Senelas. "I will not allow my magic to be used by or in support of Aeredhel for any reason, for he would not follow my ordinances."

"Should he die," said Navalas, "his blood will be on your hands."

"His blood would be on his own hands," said Senelas. "Continue to question my judgment, and you will find yourself banished from the garden, as well."

Navalas then left the garden and returned to her healing hall, and she found that Aeredhel was not there. And she sent many search parties for him, and asked about him throughout the city, but none had seen him.

And she went before the elders of the city, and she said to them, "To cease to eat of Senelas' fruit is to surely be the cause of one's own death. I ask that you require Senelas to allow us to heal any who do so, so that we may prevent death."

But they said to her, "This is beyond our power, for all are afraid to defy Senelas for fear that they may be banished."

So Navalas continued to research a way to cure the magic withdrawal, and she desired to do so for her own sake so that she would not be bound by Senelas' ordinances. And she was always under the watch of Senelas, though she did not know it. And he considered banishing her from the garden before her studies were finished, but without the aid of magic to cure the withdrawal, she made little progress.

Some time later, an apprentice blacksmith, an elf woman named Vyralas, was hunting in the forest, and she was young and inexperienced in battle. And as she drew back her bow, she heard heavy and fast footsteps, and she turned and saw a minotaur charging towards her with a great hammer, for minotaurs detest the human-like creatures such as elves and men. She turned her bow towards him and released her arrow, but the arrow did not pierce the thick hide of the minotaur. So she ran from the minotaur, but she was unable to outpace him, and he struck her with his hammer with such strength that she was thrown against a tree, and when she fell to the ground her leg was broken.

The minotaur approached her, and he spoke to her angrily in the grunting minotaur language, but she did not understand him and said nothing. So he yelled a battle cry, and lifted his hammer to kill her, but she held up her hands and created a powerful fire that she directed towards the minotaur. He then dropped the hammer on the ground and ran from her, screaming, and still aflame.

Vyralas then tried to use healing magic on her broken leg, but it had no effect. So she called for help, and after some time, some other hunters heard her call. And their magic also had no effect on her injury, so they took her to Navalas, who set the leg with a splint, and, hearing Vyralas' story, immediately went to Senelas in the Garden without telling her of the withdrawal that was to come.

"Vyralas feared for her life, and you would punish her for protecting herself?" she said to Senelas.

"She defied my ordinance. I will not have my magic used for combat."

"You will let her die, as you did Aeredhel?"

"Her death or her life is of no concern to me. I am concerned only with her participation in the Garden."

Other elves in the Garden heard this, and they were already afraid of Senelas' ordinances, but one elf, Niredhel, was angered, and he came and said to Senelas, "You have deceived us from the beginning. We were not made aware that by participating in the Garden, we must be bound to your ordinances. Look at the people of our fair city; we are afraid of you and your rule."

"You are perfectly capable of leaving the Garden," said Senelas.

"There is no other place to turn. Leaving the Garden invites certain death."

"That is not my concern. I am only concerned with what is within the Garden, not what is without. And if you are to be a wizard, you must follow the ordinances of the guild."

This caused Niredhel's anger to grow, and he said, "You have enslaved us!"

"No," said Senelas, "I have freed you. This is a new kind of freedom. Freedom from hunting. Freedom from combat. Freedom from travel to foreign lands. Freedom from mingling with the dwarves. Freedom from giving magic to the humans."

"We were free to abstain from those before, but now we have no choice. What freedom is that?

"You use words that might otherwise be spoken by a benevolent ruler," continued Niredhel, "but your actions have demonstrated to us beyond any doubt that benevolence is merely a pretense for you. You wield a power that must not be held by a single person, but only by the Sprites themselves. I see now that you model your garden after one of their stories. But you are no Sprite. You are an Orc."

Then Senelas was wroth with Niredhel, and he stood and held out his hand, and a strong wind threw Niredhel against one of the garden's walls. And Senelas again held out his hand, and another gust of wind threw Niredhel through the gate and out of the garden. Senelas then walked to the gate and said to Niredhel, "You are forbidden from entering the garden again."

Navalas watched, unable to stop this from happening, then she saw two men appear before her eyes, behind Senelas.

And Senelas turned and saw them, and he said to them, "Who are you? You are not allowed to enter this garden."

"We are from the city of Litarun in Thidil," said one of them. "I am Marus, and this is my brother Tadreus, of the Symcara family."

"Why are you here?" said Senelas.

"We found an elf running through our fields," said Tadreus.

And there, before the eyes of Senelas and Navalas, appeared Aeredhel next to the two men, alive and well.

"He was ill, and appeared as though mad," continued Tadreus. "We held him down, and with great effort, we found that he had been running from this elven city."

"So we came here under the cover of darkness," said Marus. "And we scaled the walls of this garden, hoping to find something to cure this elf."

And Senelas became angry, and he held out his hand and tried to use wind magic to throw them over the wall. But Tadreus held out his hand, and the wind split in two directions and went around the three, leaving them unharmed.

Then Marus lifted his foot and slammed it against the ground, and a pillar of earth sprang up underneath Senelas and threw him into the air, and he landed on the ground before them in great pain.

"Why do I not feel your presence?" said Senelas. "Why are you able to resist my magic?"

"We did not eat your fruit," said Marus.

And Senelas was afraid to attack them again, knowing that their power was independent of his.

"They found where the magic actually came from," said Aeredhel. "Your fruit is merely a carrier, not the source. You were right when you said that it was your magic that I was using. You created objects imbued with magical power that would facilitate me, help me to use your power. I see that now. But now I know that I may create my own magical power."

"Please," said Marus to the elves in the garden, "Please, I ask all of you, gather your elves so that I may tell you how to use magic properly."

And Marus left the garden through the gate, and he stood before the gate when he spoke to the congregation before him.

"My brother and I found Aeredhel running through our fields in a state of madness. In brief and fading moments of lucidity, we learned of this garden, and we came in after nightfall, and we found Senelas' private writings, and we learned from where magic originated.

"Using magic properly comes from a mental strength. A strength of mind allows one to grasp a deeper knowledge of this world, and beyond, to the very foundation of this world. And this knowledge allows us to utilize the same power that makes up the Sprites, though to a much lesser degree than the Sprites themselves.

"Senelas used this power to make his fruit. His fruit allowed you to use his knowledge of the foundations of this world, even though you did not grasp it. For that reason, he was able to sense every time you used magic, for you were interacting with his very soul in a way that you did not comprehend. His fruit also contained within it a magic poison that would slowly kill you should you stop eating it."

At that, the crowd began to murmur, but Marus continued.

"Yet you need not depend on his fruit. You can grasp the power of magic yourselves. Some of you will have more of a strength of mind than others, and more training, therefore some of you will be greater wizards than others."

And Marus continued to teach the elves present how to use magic. He taught them how to concentrate on the power that creates the world so that one may use that power, a power that came before the physical laws that were created by it.

And Marus taught them of spoken spells, and how a greater wizard may create a spell, to be written in the Book, kept by the Sprites, that may be used by other wizards or by himself. And Marus warned the elves to encode spells in secret languages that cannot be understood, and share them with few, for when one uses a spell, the caster interacts with the author's soul, and it may be taxing upon the author, even long after death. Marus also taught them of patterns and icons used in geometries, that may similarly be written to be kept in the Book and used by wizards, whether by other wizards or by the original author.

As Marus was speaking, Senelas frequently would shout while standing behind the protective gates of his garden, "Lies! They are thieves! They have stolen my power! I gave you this power, not them!" But Senelas was ignored, for Marus demonstrated his magical abilities independently of Senelas, and everything that Marus said was soon proven to be true, including the poison in the fruit.

Navalas was anxious to learn of this new magic, and upon learning it, she returned to her healing hall with haste and healed Vyralas of her injury, and healed her of Senelas' poison.

After Marus was finished teaching the elves in front of the gate to Senelas' garden, he and his brother were asked to appear before the elders of the city, and Senelas was brought by force.

And the head elder said to Marus and Tadreus, "Our people owe you a great debt. We want you to know that we are grateful, and will help you and your people if ever you need it. Though we do not normally have visitors, know that you two are always welcome in Tywnei, that you call Larrian."

Then the head elder spoke to everyone listening, and he said, "Let wizardry no longer be locked behind the doors of the garden. Let magic explore the nations, and let any who desire become wizards. The Wizards' Guild is no longer, but wizardry will now live on in all who practice it.

"Great evil may, nay, will come of this, but we must prevent this evil from ruling over us as Senelas' evil did. It will now be the responsibility of wizards everywhere to do battle against those that use magic for evil purposes. We must continually protect righteousness, and let none presume that this is not his own responsibility."

And knowledge of this magic spread throughout Lamesthe, and the elves cured themselves of Senelas' poison, and they prospered greatly with the new magic, and they found that they had a greater affinity for magic than did humans. And the magic practiced by elves and humans became known as elven magic, for it originated in Lamesthe, an elven nation, facilitated by humans. It was distinct from dragon magic, which had already been practiced for some time unbeknownst to the elves or humans, and distinct from dwarvish magic, which was made by both elven and dragon magic some time later, and distinct from the crude orcish magic, which had been practiced since the beginning of time in a faraway land unbeknownst to elves or humans.

Senelas was convicted of poisoning by the elder council, and forced to stay in his garden for one hundred years. And after that one hundred years, Senelas fled to the Mortus Selian, and it is said that he founded the first village of outcasts.

The history of magic that followed this occasion contained both great evil and great good, but very few have ever lamented Senelas' garden.