Ether is the most basic aspect of existence in Wellspring.
Ether, despite being the most basic component of existence in Wellspring, is in fact a foreign entity to the Universe as a whole. Created thousands of years ago by ancient Humanity in the Old Universe, Ether required a safe haven to exist, as the Old Universe would simply crush the Ether into nonexistence the moment they came into contact. The Old Universe and Ether are opposing realities; when forced into contact, the larger of the two will destroy the other.
Ether is intangible and invisible in almost all situations, diffused throughout the entire world. While unaffected by physical materials, Ether can be manipulated through other means by any living being possessing a powerful enough Soul. Unlike the Old Universe's matter, Ether can be both created and destroyed, but destruction is a very rare occurrence. Creation, however, occurs naturally, as living beings naturally generate the substance throughout their lives. Pure Ether can take on a physical form under the proper conditions, but this is an unusual phenomenon, only occurring due to the overabundance of Ether stored in the planet's core. Physical Ether is highly valuable due to being an extremely potent source of fuel, one that can be utilized without needing a living being to channel Ether.
Living things can manipulate Ether via a Soul, and most learn to do so throughout their development, much like how one learns to move their hands to grasp objects. This base level of control amounts to little more than simply shifting Ether from place to place, an unimpressive and largely useless feat, on its own. When practiced and applied, however, amazing things can be done with Ether.
All forms of Control obey two different types of laws, Objective and Subjective, regardless of what other laws specific their type they might follow.
- Ether becomes more difficult to control the further away it is from the controller.
- Ether becomes more difficult to control as the amount of controlled Ether increases.
- Ether becomes more difficult to control as the intricacy of the control increases.
- Ether becomes more difficult to control as the proximity to another living being increases.
- Ether becomes more easily controlled as the controller's Soul increases in strength.
- Ether becomes more easily controlled as the controller's self-awareness increases.
- Ether becomes more easily controlled as the controller operates within his or her Aspect.
The Objective laws apply to all people equally, while Subjective Laws vary from person to person. The distinction between the two can be explained as such: Objective Laws affect how well an individual can perform a variety of tasks, while Subjective Laws affect how well multiple individuals can perform the same task.
- A Soul's strength refers to a quality much like that of muscular strength. This strength varies from person to person, and can be increased via repeated use of the Soul. Also known as Brightness.
- Self-awareness refers to an person's understanding of themselves as an individual. The Soul allows for control of Ether by acting as known ground in a sea of Chaos, so increasing one's knowledge of said known ground will naturally allow for easier Etheric control.
- Aspect is a broad term, similar to talent. Individuals naturally posses predispositions to certain forms of Control, and will perform better in these areas than others.
Etheric Control is a draining task, both physically and spiritually. Souls become fatigued with use, making Control more difficult, while the Controller's body also experiences slight fatigue spread throughout their entire body at the same time. Overuse of the soul can result in the complete exhaustion of the controller, and even death if pushed too far.
Types of Control Edit
Etheric Control is generally practiced under three different fields: Engraving, Shaping, and Enhancing.
Engraving is the art of imbuing Ether into the physical nature of an object. These Etheric Engravings provide no beneficial qualities whatsoever on their own, but when supplied with a channeled flow of Ether, exhibit some specified effect to the item upon which the Engravings lie. The type of effect granted by the Engraving differs depending on the Engraving's shape. One type of engraving may strengthen an object, for example, while another might sharpen it. In general, it is far easier to increase the existing properties of an item than it its to add new ones. An Engraving that provides sharpness will have a much greater effect on a steel blade than on an unworked hunk of metal.
Engraving is limited by the physical volume of an object, requiring a substrate to carry the Ether throughout the world. Applications of Engraving are thus limited by an object's size, as the size and intricacy of an Engraving increases with the severity and complexity of the desired effect. Skilled Engravers can reduce the space required by Engravings, but such processes are difficult, time consuming, and expensive. The type of material that composes the substrate also effects the amount of Engravings that can be applied to said substrate, with metals and pure materials generally being more accepting of Engravings.
There are two general types of Engraving. The first, Active Engraving, encompasses the vast majority of the art's applications. Active Engravings are completely inert until Ether is channeled through them by an outside source, at which point the Engraving becomes activated, and provides its effect. Passive Engravings, on the other hand, are Engravings that move Ether on their own. When coupled together with an Active Engraving, Passive Engravings can supply its Active counterpart with a supply of Ether, without the need for a living creature to channel Ether for it. While Active Engravings are a well-known and applied technology, Passive Engravings are quite inadvanced, requiring comparably vast amounts of space upon which to be Engraved, all for a meager supply of Ether.
Shaping is the Etheric Art of transforming physically intangible Ether to some tangible form. Shapers reach out into the Ether, collect an amount corresponding to what they desire to Shape, and focus on their desired creation, bringing it into existence. Anything can be created via Shaping, provided the Shaper is skilled and powerful enough to create it. All things that are Shaped, however, will eventually return to being simple Ether without fail. The time it takes for a Shaped object to return to Ether varies, depending on two possible means of extending the object's existence.
The first of these means is to simply maintain a connection to the object. If the Shaper continues to exert control upon the Shape, it will maintain its form. This is a simple solution, albeit somewhat costly. Having to constantly devote some part of one's mental and Etheric capabilities on a Shape is draining, and extraordinarily difficult in combat.
The second mean is to design longevity into the Shape's very being. A Shape created with this as a factor will exhibit a half-life where it can exist completely free of any outside influence. Doing this, however, will take longer to do than Shaping something with no half-life whatsoever. The longer the desired half-life, the more taxing the creation process.
Shapers are naturally better at Shaping certain substances over others, a tendency referred to as an individual's Aspect. This quality also works in reverse, as people will find some substances to be harder to shape than others. Shapers are also capable of Shaping their Aspects to be beyond their normal properties. A skilled Ice-Aspected Shaper, for example, can Shape an icicle stronger than steel that still retains the normal properties of ice.
While Shaping and Engraving seek to control the outside world, Enhancing turns its gaze inward. Practitioners of this Etheric Art bring Ether into their own bodies, strengthening them beyond the normal limitations of their flesh. Enhancing is not limited to mere strengthening, however, allowing for nearly all aspects of the body to be improved. Skilled Enhancers can Enhance their eyes to see great distances, or harden their skin to the point of stopping a blade from piercing it. Like Engraving, Enhancing works better when improving existing qualities. Out of two individuals, one more muscular than the other, the muscular one will exhibit much more Enhanced strength than the other.
Enhancing is a difficult art, due to the interference caused by one's Soul when bringing outside Ether into the body. Most Enhancer's attempt to alleviate the difficulty in this task by tying their gathering of Ether to their breath, making the process as natural as possible and fooling the Soul into accepting the foreign Ether. Once this is accomplished, the collected Ether can be sent along certain pathways developed by the controller to whatever location is to be Enhanced. As such, Enhancers are dependent upon their breathing, causing multiple schools of thought to arise over how best to draw breath.
Due to the physicality of Enhancing, the technique is often practiced alongside martial arts, but many other utilize it for a variety of purposes. Many great artists have been Enhancers, using the technique to increase their dexterity and deftness of hand, some without even realizing it.
Magic refers to the form of Etheric Control practiced by a certain Demonic sect. This type of control more resembles traditional magic than its counterparts in Wellspring.
Magic users store a pre-recorded sequence of Etheric actions which can be invoked at any time by reciting a corresponding incantation. This incantation can be any sequence of vocalizations, providing that they clear the requirements of the intelligence that governs stored spells. Incantations increase in length as the complexity of the stored commands increases, as it reduces the chance of spell being cast accidentally.
This is made possible by the existence of an ancient human terminal, through which members of the sect register as System Users, giving them access to the Spell System, one of Mankind's many experiments. This process is not fully understood by the sect, which views it through a heavy veil of mysticism. When casting a spell, the System takes on the burden of moving and processing the Ether for the User. All the caster needs to do is supply the correct amount of Ether, allowing the caster. This reduces the strain on the magic-user by a great deal, and allows them to control Ether to an extent far beyond what they would normally be capable of.
The number of spells a magic-user can register is unlimited, but only a certain number of them can be active at any given time. This limit is artificial, imposed by the sect leaders to maintain control over their members. Changing between available spells is a time consuming and concentration intensive process, rendering it functionally impossible to change spells during combat.
When a Spell is used, it mimics the way Ether was controlled during its recording exactly, with no variation. For example, a Spell used to summon a barrier in front of the user cannot be used to summon a barrier behind the user. As a result, magic-users try to prepare a variety of Spells in order to increase their ability to react to a variety of circumstances. In addition to this, magic-users supplement their actions with more normal types of Etheric control