In this tome, I shall attempt to provide you with the rudimentary knowledge required to survive in the world of Falleron. You might assume, and rightly so, that such knowledge is hardly necessary. After all, you likely have survived up to this point with only the common knowledge available to you through your local temple school. Perhaps some of you are fortunate enough to have gained private education through a learned tutor or national academy of higher learning. And if so, good for you. Your knowledge of mathematics, languages, and the basic political, natural, and mechanical natures of this world likely have done you service in surviving to your academy orientation.
In rare cases, you may not be educated at all save through what knowledge you gained through direct and perilous observation the world around you. I assure you, should you lack in the aforementioned schooling you are far from behind in your studies. If anything, you are more prepared than your peers in surviving the trials ahead of you. No amount of political theory will allow you to out-plot a Fae, nor will your knowledge of the area of a triangle save you from the imminent explosion of a fireball. While both are useful in understanding these situations in retrospect, what will truly save you in both situations is something you likely already have in spades: instinctive reflexes. Trust your gut when the time is right, not your head. Thinking through problems of a magical nature usually is a luxury ill-afforded in the field and overly prized by many of our academy professors.
That said, it is best to avoid such situations entirely. Your time at this academy, and, indeed, the contents of this book, may assist you with doing just that. For example, a free nugget of wisdom: the best place to face a fiend is never to do so under any circumstances. There, already we are learning valuable, pragmatic wisdom. I hope you feel enriched.
Regardless of your scholarship, it is important to understand that at Versity Magical Academy we do not explore our world through the lens of the gods as in temple schools. While Alethia’s Wisdom (or Tamberlain’s, Amalas’, and so forth) may have presided over your education, it did so with a lens of perspective and reverence of the gods which will not assist you with understanding the true nature of the world. The gods and their temple servants are, after all, selfish and secretive and will prevent you from seeing greater truths, if they can. And rightly so. For what you shall learn will assuredly harm you and the gods tend to protect their chosen.
For those of you coming from the national academies or from the private scholarship of the nobility, kindly leave your political maneuverings at the door as you enter. While inter-college politics are, unfortunately, unavoidable at this institution I implore you to remember that such rivalries are driven solely by our approach to seeking knowledge, and not through a desire to advance a political or nationalistic agenda. The petty states of the mortal races hold no meaningful sway over the larger forces at work in our world and, like the ancient societies that have risen and fallen over millennia, will likely perish long before the knowledge gained by the academy.
As students, you may encounter knowledge in this tome that you may believe to have seen before, but I implore you: leave your preconceptions at the door. Common knowledge of the god and goddesses, national histories, and even the basics of some of our more advanced technologies are imperfect at best and, in many cases, are actively misleading you on their true natures. In this book we will discuss everything from the truth behind the mechanisms of common hedge magics to the nature fabric of this universe around us – and a great deal of practical knowledge in between.
Embrace this knowledge with the apprehension and respect it deserves, for most of this was hard-earned through the lives of innumerable scholars that came before you (many of which perished in novel and, occasionally, entertaining ways). Such information will also be provided in this tome, both as a caution and a lesson, hopefully, in humility when seeking out your own mysteries.
Let us begin.
Our world is a mysterious, and diverse realm filled with thriving kingdoms, ancient ruins, treacherous wilderness, and dire secrets. But if you put all those things aside for a moment, you might realize its true purpose. The Cosmos of Falleron is a sanctuary, with our little world at its core. If you are a poet, perhaps you might call it the yolk of a vast celestial egg. Or, if you are realist, an inescapable prison.
Scholars and archmages have identified that the vast multiverse must invariably exist in the vast beyond. But between us and eternity is a little thing we call the Shroud of Peace. This massive sphere of impermeable magical energy divides Falleron from everything else, and with one exception nothing has ever passed through it, inside or out.
We see the Shroud in the night sky, a vast blanket of darkness that surrounds us, with only the motes of lights of the various reflections winking back at us from the beyond. Because of it, the latent energies passing through our world have nowhere to escape to, and instead form on the shroud as vast reflections of our world. These points of light are innumerable reflection planes, each connected to Falleron in some powerful way. Each are projected onto the inside of the Shroud like vast countries clinging to the inside of an eggshell. Each are varied in their nature, and there are so many of these planes that I doubt humanity will ever truly map them all.
But, despite their vast numbers, these reflections are finite. While beyond the shroud arcane theory demands that there must be an infinite expanse.
Why the shroud exists has been a subject of debate or scholars and theologians since time immemorial, and I dare not begin that conjecture in detail lest this entire tome become dedicated to the various theories.
For now, let us just acknowledge that the shroud simply is. It’s safer that way.
Between us and the shroud two other great celestial bodies exist. The Moon, the Roaming Shadow, and the Sun. The sun is a vast source of warmth and heat, the moon a quiet mirror in harmony with the water and seasons, and the Shadow a passing darkness eclipsing all light at midnight. All spin around the World of Falleron in their quiet dance, with their powers rising and falling as they do. Occasionally their paths overlap and the sun’s light or the shadows darkness is blocked by the moon, only briefly, but to stunning effect both visually and through the currents of arcane energy that bind our world.
And, of course, at the very center is our world. Kept safe from harm far from the edges of the shroud, around which all of what we know revolves.