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THE NINE SPECTRAL ELEMENTS

Briyal Legarde and Madame Leiliana Legarde by @lucas_concept_art

ORIGINS

Nearly 10,000 years ago, deep in the forests of Ondala, a baby girl named An'tumbe was born holding a shimmering silver stone. Never before had anyone seen such a thing, nor could anyone in her tribe explain it.

With radiant silver eyes and a calm disposition, An'tumbe spent much of her youth wondering why she was able to see, and hear, and even feel things that nobody else in her village could seem to perceive. So unusual was she considered, in fact, that only one man in the entire village dared marry her when she finally came of age.

Not long after, An'tumbe gave birth to eight beautiful children - an even split of boys and girls. Born holding a luminescent stone, each a different color, the children quickly grew up and discovered that they, too, could perceive unusual things that the other villagers could not.

Taking the time to hone their abilities, An'tumbe's eight children each learned how to control one distinct aspect of the spectral world as they neared the age of twelve. But when they finally dared demonstrate their gifts before the tribal council, they were all banished into the jungles and forbidden to return.

For the rest of their lives, the eight children of An'tumbe fought to survive and to master their unique gifts. And when the time came, each was amazed to discover that all of their children possessed the very same abilities - every single one of them born holding a colorful stone made of spectral glass.

In the millennia since, countless souls have spent their lives refining those abilities and the powerful spectral they could use those gifts to control. That is how a total of nine spectral elements came to be recognized throughout most of the world. 

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Chapter illustration from book one. "The Oculum." By David Perez.

THE NINE SPECTRAL ELEMENTS

"Every child with a soul is born holding a birthstone," said Alder Brent. "And for far too many generations, people have chosen to believe that the birthstone's color somehow reflects the character that child will have when they grow up. Now imagine how eager some parents are to change it whenever they do not like what they see."

In the world of the Ildarwood, nearly everyone is born with some alignment towards one of the nine spectral elements. Over time, their life experiences may cause those alignments to strengthen, to weaken, or even to change over time. This is never more true than while someone is attempting to complete their Trials in the years after they turn twelve.

Since each spectral element has the ability to alter reality, behavior, or perception in a number of ways distinct to that element, some abilities are more highly respected or sought after, while others are considered an indelible stain on that person's life or reputation - though only to those who dare not glimpse beneath the surface.

THE ELEMENTS OF MORALITY

Three elements in this world exist, according to some, solely to demonstrate the purity of one's soul. But depending on one's culture of faith, which is "good" and which is "bad" are matters of interpretation.

In the Astyrian Empire, purity of faith is paramount to all, and any alignment other that one towards Asterlight is considered a sign of corruption or imperfection. Such souls are summarily destroyed, and the husk of the Broken individual left behind is used solely for slave labor. Individuals with this alignment are called Dovenites and are typically committed to faith above all else.

In some parts of Ondala, however, the darkness of Nightsmoke is considered a sign of purity, strength, and protection. All other alignments are considered weaker by comparison, and an alignment toward Asterlight is sometimes seen as a symbol of oppression and hate. But in other parts of the world, this element is associated with indulgence and corruption, thanks in no small part to its abuse by those seeking a release from their suffering. Individuals with this alignment are called Onynites.

And then there are lands like those protected by the Nacoryn, where souls born with an alignment towards Silverblood, itself, like An'tumbe, is considered the ultimate sign of spiritual balance and attunement with the spectral world. Silverblood is, after all, the lifeblood of the soul and the basis for the eight other elements. Individuals with this alignment are called Silvanites, and though they cannot typically perform any remarkable tricks like those with other alignments, some truly gifted individuals have used their close spiritual connection with the Ildarwood to learn how to control the forest itself.

* It is worth noting that some cultures in this world consider the number nine taboo for religious reasons, so they will go to great lengths to avoid ever saying or writing it. As a result, sometimes Silverblood - or "Silver" as it's called informally - is considered to be the default state of spectral matter and not one of the distinct elements resulting from its "corruption."

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Asterlight
"Shine Despite the Darkness"

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Silverblood
"Wisdom. Vision. Balance."

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Nightsmoke
"With Darkness We Thrive"

THE ELEMENTS OF ENERGY

Three elements in this world exist as a representation of a soul's ability to harness the energies of the spectral world itself.

Goldenfire has long been worshipped around the world as a symbol of power - so much so that dozens of cultures encase it in Ildarglass coins for their currency. It is the spectral element associated with passion, fury, and inexhaustible energy. Individuals with this alignment are referred to as Feronites.

In many parts of the world, an alignment with Stormspark is seen as a precursor to insanity or instability. Long associated with an energetic yet unstable soul, some of history's greatest artists, diplomats, and inventors were able to harness the true gifts of this element. Others were far less fortunate. One consistent attribute of Iyonites, though, is their unique ability to convert their suffering into their greatest strength.

Considered by some cultures to be the sign of a logical mind, an alignment with Frostwater is often associated with a cold indifference to emotions. At the same time, however, Iconites are renowned for their ability to endure some of the greatest hardships in history - a testament to their ability to keep a cool head and persevere no matter what.

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Goldenfire
"Forged by Fire"

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Stormspark
"Unbroken by the Storms"

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Frostwater
"Endure Any Winter"

THE ELEMENTS OF STATE

Three elements in this world exist as a representation of a soul's similarity to the physical states of matter and reality.

In all the lands of this world, there is no substance more invulnerable to damage that Spiritstone. Geonites typically take pride in their physical strength or their ability to withstand all forms of spectral or emotional harm. But the symbol of this alignment has long been a very specific variety of Ildarwood tree for a reason - such remarkable feats of strength rarely come without a terrible price beneath the surface.

Long the alignment of rulers and diplomats alike, Kingswash has been used for centuries for its ability to quell even the most restless souls. Serenites are typically renowned for their ability to remain calm even in a crisis, but those with more sinister motives have learned how to convert this element into a potent spectral toxin that poisons the soul while leaving the body intact. This particular element is often infused into beverages like vino viola, a popular alternative to wine in many regions.

The spectral element most often associated with illusions, Crimsonwind has a complicated history throughout this world. Though those with this alignment are often respected for their ability to entertain or to add beauty to the world, the abilities of some Aeronites to deceive the eyes, the hearts, and the souls of others has left their reputation stained in many cultures. This element is used most remarkably to conceal the Hidden Cities of Aurenia.

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Spiritstone
"Stronger Than Our Faults"

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Kingswash
"Calm in Raging Tides"

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Crimsonwind
"Rise Above the Rest"

The nine elemental emblems were designed by Dejan Gotić for the Trials of Ildarwood series.