Inaugural Novice Lecture (Year 3119 intake)
Uncertainty and the Realm of Fire
Pyrinius of Dhauria
Greetings. I am accounted a gruff old man and this reputation is well deserved. I do not dispense advice readily, especially not to new students who are most unlikely to understand it. You will, nevertheless, attend carefully to what I tell you, so that in times fullness you might recall the flavour, if not the substance, of what I say today.
You have heard it said that to operate in the Realm of Fire is the greatest privilege accorded the children of righteousness. Magic, you call it in your whispered conversations when you think no-one is listening, even though you have been told time and again since childhood that the Realm of Fire is not magical. You eagerly await the knowledge that will allow you to possess this power, so that any time you desire you can shape the world to suit yourself.
You are wrong, you are wrong, you are wrong. In every respect, at every point, you are wrong.
Your parents were right; the Realm of Fire is not magical. It is, in fact, a way of thinking about yourself and the world around you that allows you to interact with the world in fundamentally different ways. Until you grasp this simple yet extraordinarily difficult concept you will be nothing more than conjurers, no matter how powerful you think you are.
You do not possess the power to shape the world. We cannot teach you to possess it, for we ourselves do not possess it. Hear my words: you will never possess it! The Realm of Fire cannot be used like a machine to achieve your will. It is organic, not mechanical. I am sure that many of you see the Fuirfad as following a simple cause-and-effect logic: if you apply the power, you will create an effect. I will demonstrate how this is not so. Cause and effect suggests that if I hitch a cart to a horse, the horse will pull the cart. Correct? No! If and only if I hitch the cart correctly behind the horse, for example, and not in front of it then the possibility that the horse will pull the cart is created. But the horse is not a machine. It may decide not to move. It may be sick or injured. It may take a dislike to me! By the Fire, it would not be the first stubborn animal to do so! Thus we see that even if I do everything right, I may not achieve the desired effect.
Operating in the Realm of Fire involves recognising the conditions under which something propitious or inimical may happen, then allowing those conditions to occur, or preventing them from occurring and still allowing for the unpredictability of all the factors that contribute to those conditions. The Fuirfad works with possibilities and probabilities, seeking to enhance and direct the natural inclination of nature and people alike.
This way of thinking should be familiar to you, for it is the way you operate in your everyday lives. In the privacy of your homes, with your families, you beg, wheedle, cajole, lie, exaggerate and demand in order to make things happen, and still many times you fail. Yet when you achieve what you want, do you call it magic? Of course not! You do not expect always to be successful, and are well acquainted with failure at a personal level. You do not command the fundamentals of your own life. You who have so little control over yourselves, whose time of death is uncertain, whose next meal is uncertain, how can you expect certainty in the Realm of Fire?
You do not like uncertainty; nobody does. The appeal of magic is that it promises to remove uncertainty. I am here today to tell you that the Realm of Fire is filled with uncertainty. It operates in uncertainty. It is predicated on uncertainty! If you persist in your search for certainty, the Realm of Fire will remain ever closed to you.
Before the rebellion of the Destroyer and the destruction of Dona Mihst the Realm of Fire was commonplace, a matter-of-fact activity that no-one thought twice about. The greatest privilege enjoyed by the children of Sthanes righteousness is the right to live here in Dhauria among the ruins of such greatness. Alongside this, the search for magic is but a trifle. You do not agree with me, that is plain from your faces. A few years in the world outside this cloistered valley would convince you otherwise! Let me repeat it for those of you who cannot hear a thing if it is said only once: the Realm of Fire is our natural environment, from which we have fallen because of our narrow thinking. It is not a privilege, it is a necessity.
Kannwar the Destroyer was not prepared to accept the commandments of the Most High. He went and searched the world for his own truth, and returned with a measure of control that doomed him. The sin of Kannwar was in his search for certainty, a search we are guilty of continuing here in Dhauria. Every time we construct a machine to make things happen again and again the same way, we remove the glorious uncertainty upon which the Realm of Fire is built. Should we ever build a society where mechanicals do our daily tasks, the Realm of Fire will disappear. Behold the foolishness of men! We have a machine called a lathe that allows our carpenters to turn wood exactly the same way every time to create our furniture. Then we hire our best carvers to create individual patterns on these identical pieces of furniture. Can you not see the irony of it? We mechanise the uncertainty out of our lives, then carve it back in! Students, we are all guilty of Kannwars sin.
Why is it that tradition tells us that simple societies are closer to the roots of magic? Why do the best practitioners of the Fuirfad often withdraw from our society and live solitary lives? Because certainty and mindless repetition are the enemies of the Realm of Fire. Have you ever wondered why there are a disproportionate number of musicians and artists among you, as there are among every new intake of students? Because these pursuits encapsulate the uneasy dichotomy of pattern and chaos that makes up our uncertain world.
Make uncertainty your friend. Welcome it into your life. Stop dreaming about prophecies and power. Then, when you are empty of your own understanding, the Realm of Fire will begin to suffuse you.
On behalf of the scholars of Dhauria all of whom disagree with me, by the way, on many of the points I have outlined to you today I bid you welcome to the uncomfortable and frustrating world of the novice. And to the two or three of you who will one day understand what Ive just said, I name you scholar, and may one day name you friend.