Of War, Sorcery, and the Passion for Power (essay)

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: Of War, Sorcery, and the Passion for Power

Author: Joshell Jolenn

Preface

This philosophical disquisition on Sorcery and the nature of power has been a long time in coming. Although I've written numerous times on various topics, over the years, this is my first formal writing on Sorcery. For a long time I was simply unwilling to write on this particular subject—for very clear reasons. I have always considered Sorcery an Art, a personal one at that. It is the Art of Power in its purest form. Over the years I've always felt that ponderings on power should be kept to the ponderer so as to maintain the general purity of the Art.

However, I recently had an epiphany on this matter and writings on Sorcery in general. In this epiphany I realized that my writings would not dilute the purity of the Art but only serve to strengthen it for but one simple reason. Those who are able to understand what I am about to write already understand the concept of power and the meaning of Sorcery; and they always will, regardless of my writings. Those who are unable to understand my writings do not understand the concept of power and the meaning of Sorcery; and they never will, regardless of anyone's writings.

One might then ask what is the point of these writings if some already understand the philosophies I am about to put forth and those who don't will never be able to. The point of these writings is also clear. Many true sorcerers already understand these concepts on some deep and subconscious level but have not yet brought these concepts to the forefronts of their minds. It is these sorcerers who I seek to enlighten.

That is not to say that those who live by these concepts every day should not read this work because it will not serve them in any way. If nothing else this writing will serve to quantify and organize pools of your most deeply held thoughts into fluid order.

One cannot have the wisdom needed to understand Sorcery and Power imparted to them by a treatise. One must be born with this wisdom. I can only bring this wisdom to light. With those words I embark on what I consider my greatest work yet.

Introduction

The greatest victories come from wars that never have to be fought. Why should one waste resources and time fighting a battle that can be avoided if your would-be opponent is cowering in a corner somewhere in ghastly fear? You have as much power as you are perceived to have. Some may actually hold the power that many believe them to have. Whether you do or not is of little concern if this power never comes to be tested.

A sorcerer's power comes directly from the way he carries himself and the image he creates for himself. One can never achieve true power through hunting or the flaunting of his spells. In fact the flaunting of Sorcery as if it were paltry magic only serves to weaken the Art. How feared can a power that is commonplace be?

Rare is That Which is Never Seen

Even the simplest of Sorcery must be treated as if these were magics only able to be wielded by masters of the Art. An implosion cast once only a hundred years is far more effective and intimidating than one cast every day.

The Faendryl, the geniuses that they were and are, knew this when they molded Sorcery into what it is today. In history, the Faendryl have only brought their most powerful magics to bear on three occasions in a time spanning millennia. Other than those three occasions no power, be it great or small, has dared to war with House Faendryl. They accomplished this through precise and ingeniously executed uses of the Art of Sorcery. This is not to say, of course, that the Faendryl do not actually wield these great powers; they just choose to use intimidation as their weapon. Again, the greatest victories are from wars never fought.

Commoners and adventurers alike must gawk in awe and shiver in great fear and trepidation when seeing the Art wielded. It is only with mindful use of Sorcery that this may be achieved. Those who use their spells in the paltry ways as say some wizards do shall never truly be sorcerers and never truly attain a means to power.

Fear as a Means to Power

The greatest tool that a sorcerer has to use in his Art and that a tactician has to use in war is the mind of his opponent. Mortal frailty is governed by the weakness of mortal minds. It is only through domination of the minds of others that a sorcerer may come to power.

Any highly regarded sorcerer will quickly tell you that a nightmare causing your opponent to shudder in fear and beg at your feet for mercy for hours upon end is a hundred times more effective than any lightning bolt or weapon through the skull.

A sorcerer must understand the mind of his adversary and then he must bend it to his will. Fear is what all mortals and immortals alike have in common. Even the Arkati are bound to this primitive emotion. It is this emotion that every sorcerer attempts to control in himself and in others. It is only through careful use of this emotion that a sorcerer may manipulate others. Every emotion, simple or complex, returns to this one. Love is simply a fear of loneliness. A passion for survival is merely a fear of death. Hate is the fear of the power of others. The examples are numerous; fear is the most basic element of any emotion.

The Faendryl realized this principal before anyone else and used this to their advantage. They developed an art centering around the manipulation of the mind. They sought to study fear, understand fear, and control fear. They succeeded. This is why Sorcery itself is the most feared Art on the face of Elanthia and the only true means to power.

Despana understood this as well. She had in her arsenal the Tome of Tormtor which contains many unimaginable magics. There were any number of magics she could have used in her campaign against the Elven Empire. Yet, she chose to use the Undead as her main weapon. This was because of the immense horror the Undead inspire in many of the inhabitants of Elanthia. Prior to this, Undead were legends and wives' tales. Despana knew full well the dread that her creations would inspire—and she used this to her advantage. Even a simple-minded dwarf living during Despana's time was able to see this, as evidenced by an entry from the journal of this dwarf:

"Thousands of them! Ghouls, zombies, and worse, all blackened and half-rotten.
They poured into the valley, an endless horde of screams, blood and stink.
Now, we were all veterans of the orc wars, and we were ready for them.
But nothing could have prepared us for the banshee."
-Rhak Toram, Warrior of the Dusk Mountain Clan, survivor of Maelshyve

Know Thy Power; Know Thyself; Know Thy Enemy; Know Thy Sorcery

Only by knowing the bounds of one's sorcery can one choose to expand them. Sorcery is first knowing yourself; then it is knowing your fellow sorcerers; then it is knowing your Art. Then, finally, a sorcerer must know his enemies. A sorcerer knowing these things is secure.

A sorcerer must inspire those around him to great deeds. If he cannot inspire them he must manipulate them into great deeds. These deeds are great in their amount—not their virtue. The only virtue the deeds require is that they are in the sorcerer's interest.

The subject of manipulation has yet to come up in depth until now. A sorcerer who wishes to manipulate those around him must rely on his deadliest tool, his intellect. There are numerous methods and ways; all are correct as long as they follow the principle that morality holds no place in successful sorcery.

The ends need not justify the means, they must only seem as if they justify them. Most importantly the desires of the sorcerer and his ascension to power must take precedence over the morality of the means. Morality is the defensive mechanism of the weak.

The successful sorcerer must be able to integrate within himself both caution and haste to action, passion and indifference, desire and restraint. A sorcerer must never act out of anger or pure emotion but only out of intellect and careful calculation, but when a sorcerer decides to move to action he must have swiftness, it is only the swift that gain power. A sorcerer must have a desire for his Art and power, but only after he understands how to control this desire. Dead kingdoms do not rise again; dead sorcerers do not walk again; cautious sorcerers become even more powerful.

Sorcery for its Own Sake

An unwise reader of my essay thus far might come to the conclusion that I advocate Sorcery as a tool by which one may come to power. Nothing can be further from the truth. Sorcery should be studied for its own sake. One can never achieve power through the study of Sorcery if one's intent is simply power.

The only true way to study Sorcery is for its own sake; for the knowledge gleaned. It is undoubted that a sorcerer who studies the Art for the sake of the magic shall gain power beyond his wildest dreams and desires as a byproduct of his Sorcery; this is the purest form of Sorcery.

It would be foolhardy, for you the reader, to blindly chase power. You will not find it. Chase the ideals of Sorcery and endeavor to practice Sorcery in its truest form. Then, and only then, power will find you; and make you her sovereign.

Since the beginning of time elf has always known that power is fleeting. One may keep it for years, hundreds of years, even thousands, some for even their entire lifetimes but in the end power is still fleeting. Sorcery is eternal.

Conclusion

I had originally intended for this essay to be only for the elite of Sorcery of my time. It is only they who know what to properly do with this document or to even understand it properly. However, after much thought, I have decided to give this essay to the masses. It does not matter if I give this work only to those for whom it was intended or to the masses as a whole. Only those who it was intended for shall be able to understand the concepts within.

As stated, a sorcerer who remains true to the ways of power, war, and Sorcery as outlined by this treatise shall fulfill the predictions made herein. One who listens to what I have said shall undoubtedly be successful; one who does not shall fail at Sorcery, Power, and War. I lay before you, the reader, what it has taken me years to acquire: the wisdom of power.

Finally, I dedicate this work to the Royal Academy of Sorcery in New Ta'Faendryl.

Sorcery is the art of power. Deception is the art of keeping power…

Contributor's note:

Taken from the House Chesylcha library, c.1999.