Encyclopaedia Arcana #23: The Concord (Part Four)

The third and fourth clauses of the Concord cover the relationship between mages and normals, and can be looked at together.

The Third Clause:  Non-Interference

The third clause of the Concord prohibits mages from large-scale involvement in national and international politics beyond what is necessary to maintain the other clauses of the Concord.  The clause was a direct response to the widespread destruction of the Gate Rune War, and its purpose was to avoid bringing different factions of mages into conflict.

At the time the Concord was written, the theory was that there needed to be a barrier between magic and mundane politics:  if mages became too closely involved in government, then in the case of war between nations (which would inevitably happen sooner or later) mages would be drawn in once again, reigniting the wars the Concord was supposed to prevent.  Mage historians still argue over whether it’s worked or not, but at least there hasn’t been anything on the scale of the Gate Rune War since.

Absolutely every Light Council in the world breaks this clause from time to time.  It’s just too tempting not to.  However, they tend to follow the spirit of the law, not so much out of principle as out of enlightened self-interest, and as a result there haven’t been any major magical wars stemming out of mundane ones.  The exact relationships between Light mages and national governments are highly complex and vary from country to country, and will be left for later entries.

The Fourth Clause:  Secrecy of Magic

This clause prohibits any action that would grossly compromise the secrecy of the magical world.  Unlike the second and third clauses it applies to everyone, not just mages – most people don’t believe in magic, and the secrecy clause is designed to keep it that way.  The clause isn’t new:  laws saying basically the same thing were around in the prewar era and for hundreds of years before that, and when the Concord was written the law was grandfathered in.

The clause only prohibits gross violations of secrecy.  Telling one person about the existence of the magical world doesn’t break it – isolationist mages might get upset, but the majority of mages couldn’t care less.  Even telling a dozen people doesn’t break it, not least because odds are they wouldn’t believe you anyway.  What this clause is designed to prevent is things like mages going on daytime television and casting fireballs in front of the cameras, or giving magical lessons via public videos on Youtube.  It’s not isolated incidents that are a problem, it’s deliberate, persistent attempts to make people believe in magic.

Why The Masquerade?

Most new apprentices who learn about this law wonder why it’s there.  There are two answers:  the official one, and the unofficial one.

The official answer is that keeping magic secret isn’t difficult (since normals are strongly disinclined to believe in it anyway) and makes mages’ lives much easier.  The secrecy of magic gives mages an enormous advantage over normals, which makes mages richer, safer, and happier.  Revealing the existence of magic would cause widespread chaos and a general mess.  Much simpler to leave things as they are.

The unofficial answer, and the real reason this law exists, is that deep down mages are wary of normals.  Mages might have magic, but normals have technology, organisation, and most of all numbers.  A mage is more powerful than a normal human.  They might even be more powerful than ten normal humans.  But they’re not more powerful than tens of thousands of normal humans, and that’s what the ratio is.  There have been wars between mages and normals in the past and at the back of all mages’ minds is the uncomfortable awareness that if it ever came down to an all-out war between mages and everyone else, the mages would lose.  And so the majority of mages, both Light and Dark, keep to the law, because as long as magic is hidden then that possibility can stay as nothing more than a possibility.

Not all mages support this clause of the Concord.  There are a small minority (mostly the Weissian faction of the Council) who want magic to be made publicly known.  They’re greatly outnumbered by the faction that support the status quo, who have made it clear that any attempt to break the secrecy of magic will not be tolerated.  So far the Weissians and their allies have reluctantly toed the line, but if they ever decide to break ranks the results are going to be messy.

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4 Responses to Encyclopaedia Arcana #23: The Concord (Part Four)

  1. I’ve always wanted to call this one the Pitchfork Protocol. 😀

  2. Shecky says:

    AKA the Pitchfork Protocol. 😀

  3. Benedict says:

    Thats one way to look at it. 🙂

  4. Normals are like piranhas – one of us is pretty laughable, annoying at most. A whole school of us, aware of you and hungry, is an entirely different thing. 😉

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