Challenge #01262-C167: Going With the Flow

"Such unfortunate words you use for the Old Magics... 'beyond your control'. Why do humans seek to control everything? It seems to me that unless humans are able to give something purpose, use or station, it has no value to you. It is troubling in a way."

"You find humanity wicked, do you?"

"No. I find humanity to be very young, and as any youngling, they are both brave and foolish, fearless yet unknowing. Which is why when I hear you say 'magic beyond my control', I can only respond by saying that magic by its very nature cannot be controlled, at least not in the way you envision it. It can be directed and studied and sometimes employed, but to completely control magic? You may also attempt to control the stars, with equally poor success, I'm afraid." -- Anon Guest

"So how might magic be used? What's it good for?"

The Immortal smiled. "It is the fabric of reality. It is all that is. And it is in all that is. A blacksmith can turn a collection of rusty metal into fine armour by knowing how to use the fire, the anvil, and the hammer. Is that any less magic than knowing how to turn back rust?"

"Can you do that?"

"Yes, but I find that the blacksmith is far better at it. You can not tame the ocean, can you?"

Oli blinked at this apparent change of subject. "Er. No."

"And making it water your fields would poison the land."

"Er. Yes?"

"Yet the works of nature take water from the oceans, purify it in the clouds, and bring rain to the fields. You do not control that, but you use it nonetheless."

Oli thought she got it. "I get it. We can't make the rain fall, but we use it when it does. Is that how magic works?"

"In a vague sense, yes. You can direct little portions of it to your will. Like a dam in a river or a cut channel."

"Or a screw to make water turn uphill."

Another enigmatic smile. "You'll find that the practice of that concept is harder than it seems. You can not make the screw. You have to be the screw. The effort might kill you. Best to allow a flow you can use."

Oli nodded. Water was a good concept for her to understand. "Are there places where magic is rare? Like... a desert?"

"Worse," said The Immortal. "There are places where the magic is so rich and so busy that you dare not use even the tiniest portion. It would crush you if you tried."

Oli's next lesson was about to begin. "How can more be bad?"

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