Here's my idea for everyones favourite M-word.
Fate underlines all of the universes actions.
The caretakers of fate are the deities, or Gods, or powers. They work away from mortal eyes, spinning stars and planets. Yet sometimes, Fate encourages them in a supernatural direction, and they must use the most powerful crafting tool in the universe - known as magic in our crude mortal tongue - to bend the laws of nature and exact some profound new change upon reality.
However, not even the deities can fully control magic, and everytime it is used, sparks or debris fly from the rifts in reality and float around the universe. These are particles of potential possibility, waiting to be harnessed by a sentient mind and melded to its will.
The Mages of Arcana interpret the particles of unreality according to their cultural worldview. Hence, magic takes the form of fire, or water, or some element seen on Arcana. Chaos Magic is the closest to pure magic - being raw possibility - yet even their understanding of chaos magic is skewed by the mortal shell. Humans, Elves, Demons - all use magic, according to their subjective experience on Arcana.
The Language used to capture sparks of magic is sometimes known as the Godtongue. However, it is a chaotic language, opposite to the words used to describe common things - yet still, there is a universal element to it, for all words of magic share one thing: they are all designed to harness possibility, and all of them impress upon the same immaterial suprasubstance - magic!
Long ago, before the arrival of the Elves, an ancient race known as the Guardians, foresaw the doom of Arcana - torn apart by magic, and replaced by an infinite colourful sphere of disordered souls. So they created the nullstones, or Stones of Law, which would find streams of unreality and transmute them into nullstones in turn, or manipulate magic into some other harmless element. These nullstones are scattered around Arcana, and the greatest is buried far beneath the surface. The Guardians were even said to have created a subterranean race (the common ancestors to certain Arcanian races perhaps), with the sole purpose of guarding the nullstones, and not letting Arcana be torn apart by magical energy.
(This opens up the possibility for a story arc. Say a Dark Elf Lord who wants to destroy the nullstones and let the souls of all mortal creatures be released and battle it out in the heavens. Or the opposite, some megalomaniac foiled by magic wants to destroy it once and for all to bring total order to Arcana. Another story arc could have a group of supremacist mages see their fellow casters as above the mere nations and races of the unlightened barbarians. They want all Magic users to unite, and make Arcana a world ruled by Wizards worshipped as Gods *insert Muahahaha! here)
Just a few random quotes from various as-of-yet undecided magicians and scribes and such of Arcana (at least the ones people like can be!). All along a similar theme. Note, these are all subjective opinions of those living on Arcana. There will be all sorts of disagreement and such. I think telling the story from the view of the people in the world, can go someway to creating sympathy for them:
What is it?
Think of everything possible,
Everything else is magic.
Love, misery, regret and joy
These things are of no consequence to a magician,
Woman, man, girl and boy
These distinctions mean nothing too.
You can have morals
Or you can have magic
The two can never coincide
For the magician is neutral beyond sentience
And works for the eternal balance
Magic is everywhere you look
Yet nowhere you see.
The Pantheon themselves know not of Magic
It is that which is other than that which is now
Not even Gods can be something other than that they are
Only Magic has that privilege.
Magic is a shimmering pool of unreality
Tapped into by the talented few.
If it were ever understood
It would cease to be magic.
Magical mastery is outside of the biological organism
It is proof proper of the immaterial soul!
And those killed by magical means
What happens to them is beyond knowing
Magic can be stored in blades and helms
Or flung from fingers like jets of flame.
How it works, we know
Why it works, we do not.
Nullstones drain away magical power,
They exist to provide balance to the universe.
Without nullstones, magic would tear reality asunder
And cast it into an eternal flux
Of infinite shifting colour.
Ye arrogant rationalists,
Hidden high in Ivory towers!
Think ye masters of magic?
What of my Lore;
Coursing through my veins,
The body magic of feeling and emotion!
Is it animal to ye?
Pah! Face it!
Become a drop of fluxing ether
For one, tiny, fraction of a second
And you will be as magic
And you will know all there is not to know
And you will deduce all that is
And forever will be
Magic? No such thing!
You take that you do not know
And name it.
How can you name what is not there to name?
There is no Magic,
Only master manipulators of the real-weave
Fundamental sages of philosophical power.
The Language of the laws of Nature
That is what magic is!
A council of Magicians, that is my goal!
All of us caster-comrades, united beside the aether
All of us equals - scribes and sages
With the unenlightened
Of every race, creed, colour and gender
Cowed at our glorious feet.
Fire, air, earth and water
Magic is moulded into these things
Yet this is not what magic *is*.
This is our human interpretation of magic
The limits of our mastery of magic
Are set by our finite minds
Which know of material things and convert magic thusly.
Were we ever to harness pure magic,
Oh Gods, we would soon surpass ye.
Last one to fly
Is a rotten egg!
To a practioner -
Nations and loyalties
Families and friends
The eternal, unending chase
To know it, to grasp it, to yield it
The ultimate purpose of mastering Lore
Is never to use it.
Distant species hear my cry!
Were we to meet across the void:
Your body tendrils and tentacles
And mine dull flesh and bone
Yet speak the language of the universe
Magic will make the stars our home!
Magic does not exist for your personal use.
Ye who would use it to advance some political misdeed,
Kharma will catch ye,
And you will suffer for three eternities.
Magic is a mirage of the eye
A false voice in the ear
The scent of an unseen flower on the nose.
A three-winged crow? Magic
An eternal man? Magic
That which we haven't yet managed to explain?
Why, magic of course!
Only a Dragon can be master of the immaterial
For our short lives doom us to impatience.
Dragons have conquered mortality.
Conquer time, and you conquer all else.
Study formal magic?
One is far too wise.
A stone has seen more than every mortal being combined.
Talk to the stone;
You will learn more than you can comprehend.
Twere reality an anvil
Magic would be its infinite hammer
How does power corrupt our hearts so surely?