Dark Magic and its Sub-Categories
This category was previously called occult magic, but the Wizard’s Council changed the name and classification many years ago. The name ended up sticking in the eyes of the public and most mages. It is also sometimes referred to as devilry or witchcraft, depending on who is using it.
While dark magic unlocks unnatural and rule-bending abilities, it has some troublesome requirements which the other magic categories do not share. First and foremost, dark magic cannot be performed without an incantation. Even the most powerful of dark mages have to recite the incantation in their mind before their spell can be performed. The second requirement is called cost. This is a sacrifice of some sort that must be made to perform whatever dark magic is being used. Examples of cost include rituals, sacrificial gatherings, infliction of pain on others, mental anguish, or self-inflicted pain.
A common misconception about dark magic is that only those with bad Anima can use it. The reason that so many believe this falsehood is that most costs of dark magic tend to push Anima further into bad territory; there are usually senseless killings or pain infliction involved. However, through self-inflicted pain or sacrifice, it is possible for those with good Anima to make use of dark arts. Hexzar and his band of Occultists are fine examples of dark mages with good Anima. However, it is far easier to inflict pain, suffering, or death onto others than oneself. This, combined with the Wizard Council’s efforts to enforce the idea that dark magic is purely and only evil, resulted in the misconception.
The greatest advantage to dark magic is that it allows the user to bend some of magic’s rules. Most categories will not allow a user to branch over into another category. For instance, an Elemental would never be able to Conjure something out of thin air no matter how hard they tried. It simply isn’t in their character or the makeup of their soul. However, a dark mage is the exception to this rule. Although they can’t necessarily use all categories freely and are more restricted than a master of that category would be, the combinations can be potent. When a dark mage branches out into one of the other magic categories, some of its properties are twisted into something different. The following are how the categories are affected by dark magic:
The controlled elements, when combined with dark magic, will exhibit qualities that are unexpected: Water that burns, fire that can’t be put out with water, lightning that cuts like a sword, metal that can turn from hard to soft in an instant… there are many unexpected things that can happen, but what defines this is how the elements are unnaturally changed when under the influence of dark magic. The Dark Wizard Oneth, for instance, demonstrates the ability to cut with his dark lighting.
Dark magic allows anything to be conjured with a soul and/or mind. This is what allowed the Mountain King to recreate the bodies of those he had previously killed with their souls and minds intact. It is also possible through this ability to give a normally inanimate object a mind or soul of their own. The Mountain King demonstrates this ability while fighting the Wizard Galin. There is a key difference between this and Shapeshifting an inanimate object: Shapeshifting does not give the object a soul, but it does give them a mind. They simply follow the orders of their master without question after the shapeshifting takes place. With Dark Conjuring, the object would have a mind and soul of its own, although they can be forced against their will to do what their master desires, as we find out with Henic when he became a soul salve. Of important note is that a Dark Conjurer cannot create a soul; no mortal can. They must have a soul to give whatever they have Conjured.
There is a slight overlap with this category and Dark Conjurer: Both are able to give inanimate objects a soul and mind of their own. However, a Dark Shapeshifter would be able to completely animate something that’s normally inanimate. Meanwhile the Dark Conjurer giving a mind and soul to something normally inanimate would have limited movement, if any at all. The weakness of Dark Shapeshifting is that it would be temporary, but they have access to other abilities, too. If they choose to transform themselves, there are no longer limits on what they can become. A normal Shapeshifter would visualize something and become the most realistic possible version of it. It can even be a fictional creature, but they need to have visualized and understood it to the highest possible degree. A Dark Shapeshifter could make up anything on a whim that neither they nor anyone else has ever seen before. In general, the result is taking a much more deformed and disturbing form than they intend. Without any limits, the mind can come up with some truly frightening things.
While a normal Summoner can summon things, people, and even themselves to any place of their choosing in the world, a Dark Summoner specializes in other worlds. This form of dark magic is the least understood because the rate of death and disappearance from it is by far the highest of any magic ability. At some points in history, it was banned; even at times when other types of dark magic had been embraced. Some Wizards believe that Dark Summoning was how the Dark Savior was originally brought into their world. It is also how the Cold World was discovered, and that is the central theme of Dark Summoning: discovery. Many Dark Summoners have been killed by the otherworldly creatures they’ve summoned or gotten lost and never returned by teleporting themselves to a new world. Dark Summoners can teleport to locations in their own world, but they are more limited in two ways: They can only open two vortexes, an entrance and exit, at once; and the more people or powerful an entity is being summoned, the larger the required cost becomes.
Perhaps the most malicious sub-category of dark magic, this allows the user to take complete control of living targets or forces of nature. An animal taken by Dark Nature will likely become rabid, but obedient to the spell caster. Trees, on the other hand, would become withered and unfriendly. While the other dark categories bear similarities to their natural counterparts, Dark Nature is the opposite of Nature; as there is a desire to control and use targets to the caster's advantage rather than work with others through the power of suggestions and love. Although the Dark Wizard gave Edith a fake incantation and tricked her, the idea of controlling Greed would have been an act of Dark Nature if they had succeeded. However, it would take an obscene amount of power and cost to control Greed, and so the idea wasn’t feasible at that time.
Similar to its Augmenter counterpart, a Dark Augmenter can enhance a person or object, but with one key advantage and two notable drawbacks. The advantage is that the target will not only be brought to their or its greatest potential, but will go beyond it for a limited time. For instance, if a man’s greatest potential strength was brought out by an Augmenter, then a Dark Augmenter could double, triple, or even quadruple that already enhanced strength output. The most obvious drawback to going beyond one’s limits, however, is the aftermath. Once the target is brought back to their or its normal state, depending on how far beyond their limits they had gone, there will be adverse effects to their body or its structure. In the most extreme cases, it can instantly lead to death after a living target returns to their normal state. At the very least, going beyond the limits will weaken them after some time, and it often shortens the lifespan. The second, less obvious drawback is that going beyond the limits will often turn the target deadly on accident. An enhanced flower, for example, would be large and life-giving. But a flower which has gone through a Dark Augmentation may secrete enough pollen to kill those around it. Dark Augmentation healing is similar in that a target will experience impeccable health and durability for a time, but when the spell wears off, they will be far more susceptible to injury and disease than the average person. The most dangerous to the user is Dark Augmentation of one’s mind, or becoming a Dark Psychic. This will grant the user intelligence and understanding beyond mortal comprehension, but the information is often too great to process and kills the user. There are no known living Dark Psychics as a result.
It’s important to note that there is no requirement to combine dark magic with the other categories; there is standalone dark magic, which is defined by anything unnatural which doesn't fit into the above criteria. One could call dark mages specialists, in that regard. An example is how the Dark Wizard imprinted a tattoo on Edith’s arm, then used that to project himself and speak with her once she reached the Gold Pit in Mt. Couture. In a well-played move, he even made her eat the cost for performing the spell: the searing pain which she felt. He also used dark magic standalone to tag Aldous as he traveled among the clouds, and then broke his focus, which caused him to shoot into the mountainside and get stuck.
It is widely considered impossible to master dark magic because that would require a mastering of standalone dark magic and all of its sub-categories. The majority of dark mages use standalone dark magic and are unable to branch out into the other categories. A proficient dark mage would be able to branch out into one other category; typically the type of magic that they most resonate with after the dark arts. Usually, a Dark Wizard with the ability to branch out into two different categories are considered dangerous enough to actively be hunted down by the Wizard’s Council. These occurrences are rare, however. The most powerful Dark Wizard in history, Wilhelm the Oppressor, was able to harness three out of six of the different categories in addition to his own standalone dark magic.