Treatise on the Elements, Volume 1 (book)

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This is the first volume in a two volume series. For the second volume, see Treatise on the Elements, Volume II

Treatise on the Elements, Volume I

A Report by the GCMH, in the Year 370 BL

Table of Contents:

Introduction Chapter One: The Source of Elemental Magic, Elemental Mana
Chapter Two: The Elements, In Particular the Four Elements of Primacy
Chapter Three: Aether and Electricity
Chapter Four: The Planes
Chapter Five: Elementals, Their Existence Within Elanthia, Their Structure and Origins
Chapter Six: Blackfire, Void, and the Zaulfung Stones

Introduction to this Treatise

We of the GCMH, the distinguished Gealeranendae College of Magical History, have dedicated our lives, throughout the centuries since our institution was first founded during the golden age of the Seven Starred Empire, to the understandings of magical history and theory, with a particular emphasis on the type of mana known as Elemental Magic. It has long been our goal to understand with exacting precision the history of Elemental Magic, and how this type of magic functions in Elanthia and how best it might be expanded and utilized to enhance the lives of the people of the Provinces.

While we have taken part in numerous investigations on unusual magical phenomena and on powerful artifacts, and while we have written countless reports on historical occurrences and on magic theories, this treatise should be taken as the culmination of much of our research and the most significant work we have yet produced from within our institution. We have laid out here the most conclusive results that we feel are attainable, and we present our evidence, as well, to support our assertations.

Our findings have been diligently scrutinized by peer review, and so we hold them to the highest standards. Should any reputable scholar wish to bring a dispute against our research, though, he should establish contact with Sanaegweth Blodren, head of the GCMH's Magical Theories Department.


Chapter One: The Source of Elemental Magic, Elemental Mana

Elemental Magic, like all type of magic, derives its power from the energy source known as mana -- specifically in this instance from the specific subtype of mana we refer to as Elemental Mana.

Elemental mana is, for all intents and purposes, derived from the amount of raw elemental energy inherent to each area. The elements are present in each and every thing and in every place -- they are completely a part of this physical reality in every way. What are the elements specifically? Well, this is something we shall discuss a bit later.

Elanthia itself is made up of the elements -- the planet is given life through them, and all the actions and reactions of the planet and of nature, such as the wind blowing, volcanoes erupting, oceans moving, and so on, are powered by the energy of the elements -- and so naturally, they are a considerable source of energy. This pure, raw energy is drawn upon, enabling a magician to manipulate an element or elements in order to accomplish a specific effect.

We have been able to ascertain through rigorous research and experimentation that, among all the specific subtypes of mana, elemental energy best resonates with the physical reality, and the physicalities (IE, a resonation with specific physical objects) of Elanthia.

This is due in part to three different properties unique to elemental mana: first (1st), due to the significant presence of elemental energy within the physical reality of the Plane of Abiding itself, to levels of greater proportion than exist with the other types of mana such as Holy, Lunar, and Life; second (2nd), due to the significant presence of elemental energy within the specific physicalities of Elanthia, such as specific objects -- we would define this property as the nature of objects themselves possessing degrees of elemental energy, for instance the inherent level of the Earth element within a rock, or the inherent level of the Fire element within a flow of lava; third (3rd) due to the physical and tangible nature of this type of energy -- unlike other types of mana energy, Elemental energy is far more likely to manifest itself in some type of physical and/or tangible form, while the others will typically remain abstract energy.

One might ponder what the following riddle: if elemental mana is the source of elemental magic, then what is the source of elemental mana? In other words, whence does this form of energy come, and what gives it cohesiveness?

The first and most simple answer is, of course, the elements themselves, which have a verifiable and overwhelming presence within Elanthia itself as a natural part of the order of reality. They are the building blocks that make up the planetary system and its smaller, but still inter-related, subsystems, with almost all of the individual elements present in everything, to varying degrees. A rock, for instance, is composed mostly of Earth, with a smaller, though still significant presence of Fire, and almost no Air at all. So you cannot separate the elements from Elanthia, as to do so would unravel the pieces that give reality its physical form.

This is what we define as the elemental mana's Internal Source.

This internal source is constantly replenishing, never to be truly depleted, because the natural order of the world dictates that it be so. The air is a constant; it cannot be diminished. Water can be consumed, but not to the point of true depletion -- it will also be restored through a natural planetary cycle of rain. This natural cycle will always replenish the element in order to maintain the balance that is necessary for physical cohesion of the planet. Fire, likewise, will always be regenerated, outside of the control of mortal beings. While mortals can both consume and utilize fire, and can also replenish it in the form of creating fire, ultimately the existence of the element of fire is outside of our control, as its presence is dictated by a natural cycle. Beneath the surface of Elanthia, we have been able to verify the existence of layers of pure fire. This fire will be constantly returned to the surface of the planet itself through way of volcanic eruptions (which, needless to say, leads to the creation of additional Earth) and so on.

But there is also an additional source of elemental mana beyond the Internal Source. By this we mean that mana of the elemental subtype is derived from more than simply the raw elemental energy that makes up Elanthia. This is what is identified as the External Source, which consists of energy from outside of the Plane of Abiding, IE the Elemental Planes. This is a topic which shall be addressed further on.


Chapter Two: The Elements, In Particular the Four Elements of Primacy

Before one can adequately understand the concepts that have been laid out to this point regarding elemental mana and its workings, discussion of the elements is called for; to comprehend the intricacies of elemental magic and the theories and laws and powers behind it, one must first establish what, precisely, the elements are.

This is a deceptively simple topic, but it is still a cornerstone of magical theory.

There are four, shall we say, "primary elements," to use the defining term our department has developed. These primary elements, if you will, are: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.

These four elements have always existed, and Elanthia -- or more accurately, the Plane of Abiding itself -- is composed of these elements. Should they not exist, our reality would not exist. They are the foundation of existence.

So what are these elements? Simply put, they are the greatest source of energy our world has. Raw elemental energy, which is the source of elemental mana, is drawn from the existence of the elements. This form of energy covers the planet, being constantly replenished.

But, as was stated, they are also "the foundation of existence," and all objects on the planet are composed of these elements. And so they are not merely a form of energy, but are rather also a physical manifestation of that energy. In other words, there is not just an energy associated with a lit candle -- the flame as a raw source of elemental mana -- but there is also a physicality in the flame itself, which one can touch.

These elements exist in all things, in every thing, from rocks, tables, plants, steel weapons, and mortal bodies. Thus it is important for any aspiring elementalist to recognize the true depth of the powers he is dealing with, and to contemplate that significance.

One must note the relationship between Elemental Energy and Elemental Physicality -- IE the raw energy of a flame, which energy is used as the source of elemental mana, and the flame itself which exists as a physical object.

They exist in a cyclical relationship. Which is the source of which? Does the flame draw its strength and its existence from the raw energy? Does that energy power the flame? Or is that energy actually derived from the flame itself? This is a series of questions we have been unable to answer, save to say that they exist in tandem, each giving power to the other. It is impossible to say which is the original power.

Each of these elements is also tied to one of the six Elemental Planes as well; on that topic, we shall be discussing more later.

There are, of course, two other elements beyond these primary four -- Aether and Electricity. We shall discuss them in our next chapter.


Chapter Three: Aether and Electricity

Aether and Electricity are both Elements as surely as Fire, Water, Air, and Earth -- their presence amplifies elemental mana and they both exist as separate Elemental Planes conjoined and interconnecting with the Plane of Abiding. However, there are a number of unusual traits to these two elements, hence the additional attention we are giving to them in this report.

Whereas the four primary elements have always existed and have always been recognized and incorporated into the usage of elemental magic, this is not the case with either Aether or Electricity.

While we can estimate that both have always existed in the sense that they were neither spontaneously created, though perhaps they were gradually created through processes outside of our capacity for study and understanding, they did not always exist in the sense of being recognized and utilized. Both of these elements were, for lack of a better term, "discovered."

Popular myth has it that the element of Electricity was first discovered by the Wind Elf, Windstrider -- this is, of course, inaccurate. While he certainly was the first to put it to so drastic and impressive a display, Electricity was known to have existed before.

Prior to this discovery of the element, the Clerics had always maintained that lightning itself was a divine phenomena -- a power utilized by the gods themselves when they were angry and wished to express their wrath upon Elanthia. Thus it would not be classified as a natural or elemental occurrence, but rather a supernatural or divine one, as a manifestation of the Immortal will and power.

Through practical research and experimentation, we have disproven this foolish Cleric notion.

The Electricity element was in fact discovered by watching and studying Trollish shamans, who for some reason, seem to have had an affinity for Electricity -- they were very much in tune with it, you could say, and so utilized it with great regularity and proficiency. This was a magic the elemental mages were unfamiliar with, but seeing it utilized by such a lesser creature led many to question the diktat of the Clerics, that electricity and lightning were of a divine province. It was, of course, not recognized as an element at this point in time, but through study and observation, the elemental mages were able to come to understand the spell patterns being manipulated by the Trollish mages; this ability to discern the energy streams the Trolls were using as well as to understand the spell patterns convinced them that what they were watching was the power of an element at work.

It wasn't long before methods were discovered allowing them to duplicate these works and create their own, more advanced Electricity magic. The final threads of the Clerical beliefs regarding lightning were laid to an undignified rest by the study of the Suur Pillar (see GCMH report "A Study of the Suur Pillar") -- while the Clerics maintained, perhaps accurately or perhaps not, as this is beyond the nature of our focus or care, that the Suur Pillar was a creation of the god Firulf... it was still established to a magical fact that, regardless of the origins of the pillar, it functioned as a link to the Elemental Plane of Electricity. Through the pillar, we at the GCMH discovered this plane for the first time, establishing once and for all the nature of the Electricity element.

Aether was discovered by the prominent arcane researcher, Archmage Hh'reshh. Originally from the S'Kra Mur city of Muspar'i, located in a desert area rich in concentrated pools of strong elemental mana -- certainly a significant enabling factor in much of his high yield research and experimentation -- Hh'reshh later left his home kingdom in order to locate himself in a very distant and isolated portion of the Velaka Desert.

Here, engaging in painstaking mundane and arcane research, as well as rigorous tests and experiments, Hh'reshh was able to ascertain the existence of a sixth element, what we identify as Aether. The evidence, and the work Hh'reshh engaged in in order to obtain his evidence, is laid out in his exemplary tome, "The Principles of Elemental Magic." We will not restate his arguments here, except to reiterate that much of the argument Hh'reshh laid out has become justifiably accepted as magic theory canon.

Many questions remain, however, regarding the nature of the Aether element, which is not so corporeal and physical an element as the other five, putting it very much at odds with them. These are questions we are not at present able to answer. Be aware that further research into the nature of Aether remains one of the GCMH's top priorities; a study should certainly be forthcoming.

It may be the case that our study of Aether and its nature will be greatly aided by the magics used by the Bardic Guild; their enchantes seem to heavily utilize Aether to enhance the natural primary elemental properties of their songs.

As two elements have already been "discovered" beyond the initial primary four, it remains a possibility that other elements yet exist, remaining undiscovered by mortal mages and researchers. Tests are ongoing to ascertain this hypothesis.