Those who are wise in the ways of magic see little difference between “green” magic–that which is meant to help and heal–and the “black arts.” Few would argue that one was good and the other bad. They judge magic and those who practice it by three central values: intention, result, and balance.
Balance is a vitally important concept, for an herbal potion that cures can also kill. Intention matters for several reasons, not the least of which is the importance of focused will to the study and practice of magic. Like a sword, magic is neither good nor evil, but the intentions of the sorcerer or witch are only the beginning of the tale. The result of magic determines the nature and value of its use.
One of the old magical traditions, now fallen into official disfavor, was called Ravenwing. Its practitioners were priestesses as well as witches, and they sought the will of their goddess through ritual and potion-induced trance. The potion was concocted primarily of a tiny black mushroom known as Ravens’ Blood. Ingested, it created a state of mind that allowed the priestess to “fly” between the lands of the living and the dead. There they would seek to know the future or find answers to troubling dilemnas. No one but a priestess dared to drink Ravens’ Blood. The girls chosen for this life spent years training, building up a mental and physical tolerance. Those who lacked this preparation would either die of the poison or go mad.
Of course, the adepts dismiss the entire cult as mushroom-induced madness, and the practice of Ravenwing is strictly prohibited. It’s not an issue of great concern to them, for Eldreath all but obliterated the Ravenwing order during his rise to power; in fact, his (cynical and entirely self-serving) campaign against the “black arts” gained him considerable support during his early years. But rumor suggests that a single woman survived the sorcerer’s purge, and that she has been quietly training a successor.