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The Sacred Arts are Cradle's magic system. This page provides a quick overview at a glance.

Get Spirit!

On Cradle, humans, animals, and plants can engage in the mystical practice of sacred arts. All humans are born with a spirit and pure madra, and thus they typically catch on naturally in childhood, at least at a simple foundational or Copper level, if there is even just a little vital aura in the environment.
However, animals and plants first need to develop a spirit, and therefore leave behind a Remnant when they die. That takes years. Animals and plants do not develop a spirit until they are old. Very old. Centuries. Most die young. So only some beasts, and even fewer plants, become spirited, and thus sacred.
If an animal or a plant lives long enough in an area rich in a specific vital aura -- earth, stone, water, life, lightning, blood, shadow, fire, force, etc. -- they can absorb enough of the stuff to develop a spirit and cycle madra. Then they might begin to experience the magical sacred arts, albeit in their own way.

(Ps. This is similar to how natural spirits like Sylvan Riverseeds develop, except their environmental aura must be in perfect balance. A natural Sylvan glade, for example. A fresh-water pool surrounded by a forest. See Little Blue)

Sacred Beasts

Sacred Beasts are animals who live at least a century or more in an environment rich in a specific aura and develop a spirit -- thus a Remnant. Then they can cycle madra. One such beast is the ancient snowfox Elder Whisper in Sacred Valley, who absorbed the abundant light aura from Mount Samara for centuries. Lord-level sacred beasts can change shape, such as Orthos does in book 9, Bloodline. Some make it to become Monarchs, such as the sacred lion Reigan Shen, and the sacred dragon -- who changes into a boy -- Seshethkunaaz. When sacred beasts die, they leave behind a valuable and powerful Remnant, especially if they are advanced in the sacred arts.

Sacred Plants

Plants, especially long-living trees, can do the same, but for them a spirit take at least twice as long to form, compared to animals. Eventually they do develop a spirit -- leaving behind a valuable, powerful Remnant when they die. An example is the ancestral orus tree that Lindon finds in book 1, Unsouled. Far away from Sacred Valley, trees live for centuries in the life-aura-rich southern jungles of the Blackflame Empire. These trees age, sucking up aura, and develop a spirit, with possibly sight, speech, mobility. Some can walk, or even fly. Talented refiners at Lastleaf Fortress change these sacred plants into elixirs. (See book 4, Skysworn). Wei Shi Seisha, a soulsmith, refined Lindon's orus fruit Remnant into an elixir for the family.


Perhaps the most remarkable sacred plant on Cradle is Monarch Emriss Silentborn, who began life as a tree.

Plants had to live much longer to advance than animals did. If a fox or a turtle survived their first century, they would absorb enough vital aura from the world around them to ascend into sacred beasts. These animals cycled madra, advanced in power, and left Remnants just as humans did. The oldest of them could even speak, and legends said some could take human forms. Plants did the same, but it took several times as long. Some trees had to stay undisturbed for five hundred years or more before they absorbed enough vital aura to develop a rudimentary spirit... (Unsouled, ch 2).

Vital Aura

In the world, vital aura gathers around the elements it belongs to; for instance, stone aura gathers around stones and rocks, and water aura gathers around rain and pools of water. Dream aura gathers when we sleep. Light aura gathers in bright places, and around Mount Samara’s ring in Sacred Valley. Life aura gathers around newborns and green plants and all living things. The more of an element that is present, the more aura gathers there. Slowly, and at different speed for different elements, the elements themselves will start to gather the aura, and if left undisturbed for long enough, these veins of vital aura are refined into a higher state. Pools of water will turn into sacred pools, which are often used to refine elixirs, and Titan's Bone, which comes from stone, is almost unbreakable.

Hunger Aura

"Hunger aura is not a natural force. It is a corruption of the natural order of Cradle. A manifestation of ambition, of selfish desire, created by the presence of Monarchs.

In the days before researching hunger aura and accidentally creating the Dreadgods, "hunger aura drifted all over the world, and where it moved, all other aura weakened. It corrupted everything; Remnants, natural spirits, sacred beasts. Even humans."

Hunger aura becomes hunger madra and is used to create Magical Items including weapons like the The Archstone and the Ancestors Spear, and can even power a Dreadgod.

Madra

Madra is spiritual energy from vital aura in the surrounding environment. Madra is created by cycling vital aura into the body — vital aura of the specific type or aspect the body has adopted. Vital aura from water becomes water madra when cycled into the body. Vital aura from fires in the environment, cycled into the body, becomes fire madra. There are many types of vital aura, and many aspects of madra. A sacred artist will use one or two, typically. Akura Mercy cycles shadow aura into shadow madra. Wei Shi Lindon Arelius cycles fire and destruction aura to mix it into black flame madra for his Path of Black Flame.

Madra is the magical energy running through our bodies and stored in our core. It is used to power techniques, and “cycling” it and using it for techniques is what we call practicing the sacred arts.

Your body is built up with a madra core in your center, usually placed just beneath your navel, and madra channels, looping from your core through your body and back. This mimics blood veins, but for madra. There are three ways to replenish and expand your madra pool. One, you can cycle it. Two, you can draw in vital aura from around you. This does have to be aura that is either pure, or of the same type as in your core. Three, you can use elixirs and pills to gain more madra.

Hunger Madra

Hunger aura becomes hunger madra and is used to create weapons, and can even power a Dreadgod. "You understand the allure of hunger madra, I see. Endless power.” He gave a humorless chuckle. “We were wrong about virtually everything.” (Slumbering Wraith / Subject One, Reaper, ch 21)


Cycling madra

As a default, a newborn baby will have pure madra. This madra is the only one that doesn't have a corresponding vital aura. To get your core to another kind of madra, you have to cycle vital aura of the chosen element(s), which will slowly turn your madra into that kind, until your body at last produces that kind by itself. There are multiple ways to cycle madra. One can cycle to take in and process aura, one can cycle to use a technique, one can cycle to restore lost madra, or one can cycle to refine and control the madra you already have. All of this will be done at different time throughout your life, as you use your madra.

Remnant

A Remnant is made of a being’s spirit, or madra, and it’s somewhat like a ghost, for lack of a better word. Anything with a spirit leaves a Remnant at death, including humans, trees, and beasts —- except Dreadbeasts. Remnants can be powerful. They are used in various ways, including advancement to Lowgold. (see Ranks)

Example: Yerin’s master, the Sage of the Endless Sword, left a Remnant in Soulsmith, book 1. Yerin absorbed the Remnant into her own body and advanced to Lowgold.

Techniques

There are four basic types of techniques. Often, a technique will be a combination of multiple technique styles. As you use a technique, it will get engraved into your soul over time, which make a technique stronger and more versatile. Types

  1. Striker -- Strikes your opponent with madra from a distance.
  2. Forger -- Creates stable, physical manifestations or objects of madra.
  3. Enforcer -- Empowers your body or something you are holding. Depending on madra type and technique, the benefits will vary.
  4. Ruler -- Uses madra to control vital aura to create an effect around you, for example control wind or trap your opponent within illusions.

More Details:

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