In ages past, the Summoners of Zanarkand devised black magic as a weapon meant to be used in warfare and combat, in order to defend themselves against threats without the aid of the mighty Aeons. Its an ancient practise of magic, one which has been reimagined and reinvented many a time following its initial surfacing; once known merely to a handful few - now, more than a full millenia after it was bestowed upon the normal people of Spira by Yunalesca, its evolved to become one of the most varied and widespread arts of magic in the world.
Black Magic is one of the basest and simplest forms of Spiran Magic, its also among the oldest and most widespread forms of magic in Spira. Black Magic is a discipline of magic originally created for warfare and personal defense by the Summoners of Zanarkand before its untimely destruction by Sin. An event which marked the end to decades-long war between the cities of Zanarkand and Bevelle, later refered to by Scholars as the Machina War: named for how the Machina of Bevelle utterly devastated the city of Zanarkands forces, and its many powerful Summoners. Prior to the end of the Machina War, magic was an art most scoffed at, all seeing it as inferior and unnessecarily complex when compared to the refined weaponry and luxurious contraptions the world created - thus, the only widespread users of magic at that time were the Summoners of Zanarkand; whom had in turn refined the art over the course of several centuries to the height it was at then.
Following Zanarkands annihilation, and the ban on all Machina; the leaders of Bevelle received old scripts and texts which explained the secrets of magic which Zanarkand had learned in their time, given to them along with the Fayth and the secrets of Summoning. These secrets were handed to Bevelle by none other than Lady Yunalesca herself, the first Summoner to ever defeat Sin, and the daughter of Yu Yevon himself. The gifts of magic she gave the people were that of White and Black Magic, two separate disciplines of magic which would serve to create a foundation upon the Spiran study of spellcraft, and cause many other lesser disciplines to arise.
As the centuries passed, many spells and magical formulas were forgotten or created; and what had once been considered nothing more than an impractical oddity has now become one of the most important aspects of Spiran History - for the people believe that magic is their reward for staying true to the virtues of Yevon; and that, in due time - it will lead them to find a way to defeat Sin once and for all. The people thus refer to the ability to use magic as a "Gift of Yevon".
With all Machina being banned from use by the Church of Yevon - magic, and particularily black magic have come in high demand, and these mages usually have no trouble finding employment. Whether they offer their services up as mercenaries, defenders or even completely unrelated occupations such as pot-makers and the like there's always some use for their abilities. Indeed, black magic has come to be employed for completely trivial purposes at times, with black mages sometimes opting to use it for cooking, providing drinks and even powering mechanical engines at times.
In recent times, black magic has become a symbol of the Priesthood of Yevon, whom are often well-learned in the secrets of magic. Indeed, most black mages are Yevonites, for they've been told, as many have that the secret to vanquishing Sin once and for all lies within the study of magic. Black Magi are thus treated with quite abit of respect by commonfolk, whom both admire their prowess and research, but yet remain vary of the great power these mages can command at whim.
Black Magic takes root in the subtle evocations of water and flame, lightning and frost. and the art of wielding these primordial elemental forces is noted to be quite dangerous, as while black magic spells are commonly simple to cast - the art of controling them is the true challenge.
A System of magic is a term that denotes a certain way of practising, harnessing and directing magical power which, due to the particularities of each system almost invariably ends up being very different when compared to another system. With those untrained in the arts often misunderstanding two mages whom practise different systems of the same magical disciplines to be practising completely different magical arts altogether.
The Old WayEdit
When Yunalesca bestowed the knowledge of black magic upon the people of Spira, the old way was one of the first secrets she gave them. It was preserved in a variety of documents, spheres and manuscripts; all of which had been salvaged from Zanarkand prior to Sin's fateful attack by none other than Yunalesca herself. Following the end of the war, these items were given to the leaders of Bevelle for their use, along with the message of spreading the teachings of Yevon. The Old Way is the forefather for all forms and variations of black magic that has been practised ever since that time, a 1000 years ago; and almost all of these variations and expansions on the existing art can trace their lineage back to it.
The Old Way has fallen out of use over the centuries, with the inclusion of more refined and advanced ways to use black magic, but nonetheless remains widespread enough for most to have access to learning it; and instructions on its use is a vital part of any black mages training - with the old way providing the fundamentals for many of the basics of advanced black magic. The Old Way is today taught to a grand variety of people, due to its ease of use and its useful applications and spells; primarily these are magically adept people such as Evokers, Summoners or even other mages of color, whom, due to pursuing a different path of magic altogether are unable to fully immerse themselves in the craft.
Practioners of The Old Way summon their spells by calling upon elemental forces already present in nature, whom they then consentrate to reach enough potency in order to be capable of drawing upon its powers to cast the desired spells. Through practiced meditation on the essences of creation, the followers of the old way draw forth and absorb aether from their immediate surroundings; which they then, through the use of a magical implement such as a staff, rod, sphere or wand, helps focus and manifest into powerful destructive spells of great force. The use of an implement to direct and harness the spell itself is appearantly nessecary, for it provides both direction and focus for the powers manifested in this way. Spells cast without the use of such an implement are often chaotic and unstable in nature.
While most assume that its limitations outweigh the advantages it may have, the old way has remained widely distributed for the last millenium based on a variety of unique functions it grants the caster; which is the ability to freely regulate the output of their spells when they're cast, adjusting their force, pressure, intensity and volume as the caster dictates. Which makes the old way very useful when dealing with single threats and creatures whom would otherwise be naturally resistant to certain elements; as the continous barrage of magical energy tends to overcome most elemental resistances eventually and with much less effort than rival disciplines.
The spells used by those whom follow the old way are noted to be crude by fellow Magi, but yet highly effective in their own way, this lends them well to being taught; and as long as the practioner knows how to touch aether, they can commonly learn how to use these spells in a rather short time. However, because of the simplicity of their design - they're considered to be quite hard to work with, and customization is difficult, but hardly impossible. The Old Way being all about channeling the elemental forces as they are.
Mages are quick to belittle those whom make use of the Old Way - as they consider it vastly inferior to the more recent and more sophisticated of magical systems, and to them, anyone whom practise the old way are unskilled and foolish for clinging to the past. Infact, many magical guilds outright refuse to admit those whom practise the old way without proof of their skill as mages, a skill which even if proven is still doubted by every single mage in the guild.
The Entite SolutionEdit
During the time following Sin's destruction of Zanarkand; and the revelation of magic to the people of Spira - a new kind of creature had begun to appear, as a direct consequence of their useage of magic. Called Elementals by the people, due to the fact that each of these creatures used elemental magic in battle, but their spells were always of a single element and nothing more. It was uncertain where they came from, but it seemed like they would most commonly appear close to areas where black mages frequently honed their skills, such as in academy grounds or on former battlefields. For a while, Scholars were uncertain of why these creatures had appeared and how they came into being - but this uncertainty didn't last long, for it was soon discovered that elementals were given life when the power of elemental magics merged with pyreflies. Thus, elementals were living magic, whom, once they had used up the power that gave birth to them would naturally vanish on their own.
These studies facinated all practioners of black magic at the time, they were amazed at the fact that they, through their powers could theoretically be involved in the creation of new beings. Measures were soon taken to research these elementals and how exactly they coalesced into a single being; knowledge which they believe would revolutionize magecraft for coming generations and bring Spira one step closer in the ultimate goal of vanquishing Sin. Thus was the Entite Solution discovered, which even today, centuries after its initial discovery remains among the most widely used of all magical systems of black magic.
- "The mage concentrated, as an orb of vibrant flames was procured in his open palm. His sorroundings stirred then, as countless pyreflies materialized around him, drawn to the sphere of magical flames that he held. Like moths to bright light."
- —A black mage demonstrating the creation of an Entite
The Enite Solution takes basis in the creation of elementals, and the process at which its practised and employed is noted to be quite similiar. The fundamentals of the system deals with the manipulation of the pyrelies naturally present in the world around the mage, and how to bind this phenomena to their will and coax them to merge with the black mages own spells to form an Entite. The Entite is an unliving magical construct created when the power of pure magical energies merge with pyreflies; the process is different from that of elementals - whom are created from magical residue, as opposed to an actual spell. When shaped by the spell of a skilled mage, the Entite functions as a source of magic for the mage himself; whom harnesses its energies in a plethora of ways.
Because the pyreflies which together coalesce to form the entite lack self-awareness and any particular purpose; mages have discovered that they're inexplicably drawn to supernatural things that have one, such as the bitter souls of deceased humans and the intent and willpower which lies behind any successful spell. By refining this knowledge and using it to further their craft, skilled black mages have learned how to tap into the powers of Entites and wield it like it were their own. However, for them to be capable of creating an entite at all, all users of the Entite Solution are taught to become highly skilled in the Old Way - which is used as a base through which they gain ever greater powers. Therefore, even in situations where the much more sophisticated Entite Solution is inadaviseable, all practioners of this magical system are capable of using the Old Way instead in battle.
- "The orb of fire in his hand then soared up to meet the pyreflies; and the instant it connected with them, a blinding flash of energy shone across the room. In the place of the orb, was a large sphere of flaming crimson energy."
- —The completion of a Fire Entite
Entites are noted to require great skill to control, for once the pyreflies have coalesced into the form of an elemental construct - they're considerably harder to influence, and they will not abide the conjurers magical abilities alone, but require something more for guidance. For Entites abide only by the language of somatic movements, but not random waving of hands and fingers - no, they require elegant and precise somatic gestures guided by the casters own visualization and ability to touch aether. There's however no set way to manipulate an Entite - and most casters usually perform wildly different movements with their hands to tap into the Entites power. Scolars of magic believe that this is because these somatic movements must somehow represent the effect the mage wishes to employ the Entite to invoke in their mind, in order for the Entite to manifest the desired effect. Because of the difficulty of controling them, many mages yet inexperienced in their use very rarely use them for direct battle until they're certain they can properly channel and direct their energies.
- "The mage reached out towards the large sphere of flames, but rather than touching it, he instead made gentle beckoning motions towards it - and to the spectators amazement - tongues of scarlet fire appeared in the air around him, drawn from the Entite itself. Coiling around his form like serpents waiting for permission to strike."
- —A Black Mage showcasing the art of drawing upon an Entites power
The Entite Solution remains extremely popular in the world of Spira, this is because not only is it considered a mark of great skill to be proficient in the use of Entites - but its applications are appearantly endless; and mages are often astounded at the feats of their own creation, and likewise surprised by the feats of rival mages. However, each Entite has a finite amount of elemental power which it uses in varying measures depending on the effect its creators wants to invoke through its use. The exact amount of energy contained in each Entite isn't only dependent on the power of the spell originally used to create it (Fire, Fira, Firaga, etc); but also the casters skill, their proficiency with that magical element and the concentration of aether and pyreflies in the sorrounding area. Once this supply of power is depleted, the Entite will disipate instantly, at that point the caster must fall back on The Old Way or conjure another Entite.
While most normal magi whom practise by the Entite Solution are only capable of maintaining, and employing a single Entite of any given magical element at once; and even this is a feat which is enough to afford them remarkable renown. The greatest users of this system are not only capable of maintaining several Entites at once, but are also able to maintain several of different elements altogether; a feat which is exceedingly difficult, due to the need for the caster mostly relying on symbolic imagery and somatic gestures to manipulate them, all which are related to different, sometimes even outright opposing elements. Its unknown how these individuals reach such immense mental clarity. Furthermore, individuals very proficient in the use of a particular element AND the use of Entites; are sometimes known to possess a strong enough mental image, and enough experience with Entites overall to be capable of making them perform effects without the need for somatic movements at all, simply by pure force of thought.
There are few mages in the world whom have mastered this magical system; and the world at large remains grateful of this fact, for they are considered to be among the most powerful and dangerous mages in the entire world. Being capable of not only manipulating Entites of differing elements, but even drawing upon both simultaneously to perform combined magical attacks of truly fearsome might.