An in-character lecture written by the Archmage Aetyleus.
To some, magic is utility, a tool, a means to an end, a method to achieve a purpose. To others, magic is more symbolic, metaphorical, and even philosophical. To understand magic, we must understand its origin. It is theorized that magic , in its most fundamental form, was birthed as primal energy at the ordering of our universe. Here these primordial forces exist on an infinitely large scale as pure volatile energy twisting back and forth in a magnificent maelstrom of chaos and order.
When in its pure concentrated state, Arcane resembles a brilliant white or violet light. When casted in conjuration of a spell, the Arcane changes color to match the spells characteristics, for example with Chronomancy being Bronzeish-White in color, and Necromancy being a Blackish-Purple.
Mana, on the other hand, is the ‘power’ behind Arcane. A phrase coined by the brilliant minds of Dalaran goes along the lines that ‘if Mana were water, then Arcane would be steam pressure,’ and while this is true in a generic sense, it isn’t entirely correct. Mana is the ‘energy’ or the base-subsistence, for the lack of a better word, that forms Arcane. To best understand it we must think abstractly, and this helps if one has a basic understanding of engineering technology pioneered by the Gnomes called a ‘battery.’ As Professor Rex once put it; “imagine mana is like light, not Light magic, but typical everyday light. The light’s energy created by the stars is all around us, and some organisms are capable of harvesting its power for fuel, like plants or algae, in a phenomenon known as photosynthesis - effectively acting as biological batteries. As magi, we are capable of tapping, and storing, these energies as mana, either in ourselves or in reagents such as gems, powders, fluids, and so forth.” And as a battery eventually loses its power, so do we. Without recharging, or in our case resting and recuperating, we cannot cast magic infinitely. Every spell, no matter how significant or minor, consumes this energy within us or the vessel of which its syphoned from.
Arcane on Azeroth is primarily delivered through what is known as Ley Lines. A Ley Line, much like our own blood vessels, are the veins of Azeroth that carry Arcane energy’s under its surface and across the planet as a whole; and where these lines cross are known as junctions, or anchor points.