Magic is a supernatural ability to manipulate forces within the world against their preferred or natural state. Within the world of Dusk, magic could be considered the manipulation of a spirit, whether it be a spirit inhabiting nature (i.e. daemons) or one's own soul. The current magical system is called the Obligation due to its compulsory properties.
In a para-scientific sense, magic functions by acting upon thaumic energy, which is theorized to be a specific and unique type of acoustic radiation originating from Dusk's star. Thaumic particles reach the Dusk primarily at the subsolar point, where they are scattered and evenly distributed across the majority of the world by the Gale. Thaumic energy disperses quickly in the absence of movement, relying on the winds of the Gale to constantly feed energy into the thaumic particles to remain functional--thus, magic can be entirely disabled by sealing a room against the wind and allowing the air within to perfectly still. Thaumic particles also cannot penetrate water without immediately dispersing all available thaumic energy.
The magic used today is the second variant of magic to take root on Dusk. Before the creation of the second Gale, magic was a religious or ceremonial practice in which practitioners would pray to a daemon to curry favor or protection with varying levels of success depending on the daemon, the practitioners' relationship with the daemon, the daemon's mood, etc. Within the court of Cymaria around the time of the Gale's creation existed Alain Duvent, a man known to be extraordinarily attuned to daemons. In the year 0 AV, Duvent became the first Magician and was bound to the service of the first Nobleman, King Éduin Aster of Cymaria. All Magicians and Noblemen today can trace their lineage back to Alain Duvent and Éduin Aster.
|“||Your ability to command Magicians is magic. It is a different expression of the same power. They share the same origin.||”|
The "Command" is an acoustic form of magic unique to Noblemen. It is purely verbal and must be heard and understood by a Magician to take effect.
When given a command by a Nobleman, a Magician must obey the command as they understand it (with the understanding varying depending on the clarity of the command and the Magician who receives it). For example, the vague command "bring me [person's] head" could be taken as the connotative "kill them and bring their detached head as proof" or the more literal "bring the head; optionally the live body may still be attached".
As the command must be heard and understood, commands given in writing have no effect, and commands given in a language not understood by the Magician do not take hold immediately. However, as long as the command was verbal, it will still exists within the Gale; therefore, if the Magician learned the language of the command fluently enough to understand the command they were given, it would take hold immediately. For example, a Magician given the command "faire le déjeuner" would only be Obligated starting from the moment they learn the words "faire" and "déjeuner", and then would proceed to make lunch.
Once a command is given and understood, a Magician must immediately seek a method to complete the command. If a path to completing the command is discovered, it becomes an Obligation and must be completed according to the decided path. Once the Obligation is set, the path to completion cannot be changed unless external factors render the original part impossible, forcing the Magician to find a new path to completion. To violate the chosen path without significant change in external factors is, in itself, a violation of the command.
True violation of the command is rendered an impossibility within the instincts of a Magician, similar to the instincts one feels against walking through walls or unaided flight. Truly impossible commands may be given with little adverse effect, only a persistent nagging feeling on the part of the Magician. However, should an impossible command become possible, it immediately sets as an Obligation. Two commands that are independently possible but mutually exclusive are conflicting commands and have extremely adverse effects upon the recipient Magician.
Command paralysis is a condition in which a Magician is Obligated to a command which has multiple equally-tenable solutions with the most reliable or preferred solution in constant flux due to external factors, the Magician's own changing preference, or uncertainty regarding the solution's compliance with the command's intent. It may also occur when all solutions to complete a command become undesirable or appear to potentially violate the Obligation, but none of the solutions are actually impossible or in direct and clear opposition to the Obligation. For example, given command "A", solutions "B" and "C" are equally possible solutions. The Magician finds "B" more agreeable at the time the command is given and that path is set. Shortly thereafter, external factors or new information make "C" a better solution, but the Magician's path is already set on "B" despite a new strong preference for "C". This differs from a conflicting command in that while the paths to complete the command differ, the outcome of the command is the same, whereas a conflicting command involves two simultaneous commands with two mutually-exclusive outcomes.
While suffering command paralysis, a Magician will still follow the original path set until the original option becomes truly impossible, rendering the command void, or if new information or circumstances render the original path a violation of the command, but may feel extra stress due to the dichotomy between their Obligated actions and their preference towards the new-but-unavailable solution. At worst, the Magician may become entirely unable to act for a short time—thus the term "paralysis" to describe the effect.
A "conflict" in the context of the Obligation is a combination of two or more mutually-exclusive Obligations that share a timeframe. For example, if a Nobleman captured a Magician of a rival court and commanded that Magician to kill their own liege, assuming the Magician is bound by liegeoath, that Magician would succumb to a conflicting set of commands: "do no harm" and "harm". Unless one of the commands is rescinded, a conflicting command will result in the death of the Magician, likely due to the sheer stress of being unable to obey either of the commands. The time until death varies, but in general the closer a Magician is to completing one of the commands in the conflict, the faster they succumb to the effects as the other Obligation pulls them into not completing that command.
Violating a command is not the same as a conflict. If a Magician is made to violate a command while unconscious or by accident, there is no consequence. If the command is made impossible by the accidental violation, it falls off as if an external factor rendered it impossible. If the command is still possible to follow despite the violation, the Magician is compelled to continue following the command as soon as they are able.
Conjuration is a type of magic that involves commanding wild daemons. Within conjuration, wild daemons can be made to act in ways their basic nature--and sometimes physics--don't normally act, such as controlling the movement of water, fire, plants, etc. More recently, conjuration is used as a weapon, but it also has many beneficial uses such as supporting a farmer's crop yield, managing animal herds, or--as an in-story example--raising a bridge over water.
Like Magicians when given a Nobleman's command, daemons are compelled to follow a Magician's command. In contrast, however, a Magician's commands over a daemon are purely based on intent and motion.
Enchantment is a form of magic which manipulates wrought daemons. By intentionally creating a wrought daemon within an item, a Magician can grant certain useful effects to that item. Many enchantments borrow inspiration and attributes from wild daemons. For example, an enchanted shawl might borrow a fire daemon's warmth, or a bird's weightlessness. Conversely, some enchantments are built to be antagonistic to wild daemons, such as a garb enchanted to repel water.
Not all enchantments are intentionally made, and they do not require a Magician to create (although a Magician can speed the process of creating one tremendously, and a Magician's guidance is required to imbue an enchantment with a specific effect). Wrought daemons such as city and castle daemons arise naturally over time. As this is the process of a wrought daemon inhabiting a thing (the thing being a place), this, too, is considered enchantment.
Law magic is magic over one's self. It can be used to manipulate a Magician's own mind, body, and soul in various but usually subtle ways. For instance, a Magician might be commanded to change their eye color--the magic of law would make this possible, although there are limits (e.g. a Magician cannot be commanded to turn into a different species). The compulsion to follow commands is also a variant of law magic.
Liegeoaths are a type of Obligation specific to the relationship between a Court Magician and a Nobleman. The command given is usually as follows, although some variants exist: "Do me and my household no harm, nor allow us to come to harm." This command ensures that the Magician is bound to protect the liege, their family, and any other members of the Nobleman's court. Once given, the Magician is considered a Court Magician and the Nobleman their liege.