Bael’s words enlightened Nisha.
When the elemental she purchased from the guild was just hatched, nobody had been able to perceive it aside from her.
This should be attributed to her [Spirit Sight], which allowed the dragon to observe ambient mana and aura in addition to what everyone else saw.
If it was a pure body of mana, it made sense that only Nisha saw it.
“To be precise, it is a special bloodline spirit.”
Gabriel chimed in, much to the displeasure of the green-haired goddess.
Bael frowned and looked at her sister, to see if she wanted to take over the explanation instead. Since her sister did not further elaborate, she continued her words.
“Elementals as a whole are nothing special. They are born whenever there is a dense concentration of mana from a special element.
As an example, the big temple in Thurgau is a gathering spot for all kinds of spirits from all seven elements. The believers gather, pray and the faith energy accumulates. Over time, low and middle grade elementals are born from this miasma of mana and faith.
Low grade spirits have almost no consciousness, they just flourish whenever there is plenty of food, namely the elemental mana they are born from. They can be used to refine weapon spirits, special potions and pills, even for inscriptions or formations.”
The green-haired woman’s words sounded cruel, to casually use these spirits as materials for different projects, yet these small beings were more than happy to dwell in different objects or fuse into creations made by sentient races.
Often the refiners did not even consciously pull them in to make a work, they did so on their own and enhanced the final product.
“Middle grade elementals are already a bit different. These fellows do not have a real mind of their own either, only their place of birth has a small influence towards their behaviour.
I reckon you have seen the spirits inside the temple before?
All of them are around the lower mid grade, nothing extraordinary.
But since they see themselves as guardians and objects of worship, they can take charge of the faith energy and have accumulated mana to work miracles if they are moved to action.
There is even a faint divine trace that connects them to the true gods they represent, so they can barely count as agents of a god.”
At this point Nisha realized why the twin goddesses had such a profound understanding of the topic. More likely than not, there were elementals under them that granted boons in their name and promoted faith to guide humans into being their followers.
“The remaining individuals count among the rarest of their kind, with a much more developed sense of duty and strong memory.
They are the high elementals. Sadly, they have no self awareness but with much luck and a bit of destiny, one of them can get born when a masterwork is finished and the will and life of the master artisan gather the ambient energy to the point where a weapon or tool spirit is born; or a sacred site goes through an important ritual and the culmination of faith manifests to answer their prayers.
Often these high elementals enter items off their own volition, since it offers them a good way to grow their powers.
To be honest, they are similar to kings for the other elementals and spirits, who in turn follow them as generals and soldiers. This is their greatest advantage, yet they also have many abilities aside from that, I won’t go into more detail right now.”
Bael made a gesture with her hand and the mana currents inside Nisha’s [Inner Space] stirred and carried the black and white elemental back into her hands.
This fine display of control shocked the elf much more than a display of brute strength. Each and every aspect of this place should be under her complete dominion, yet the goddess still had the ability to govern a part of her energy for a short amount of time. The difference in cultivation displayed an absolute strength that the dragon found hard to contend against. It made her itch and gave birth to the wish to struggle and rise above the two some day.
“You can look at the hierarchy for elementals as similar to a pyramid. Low elementals make up the base, middle elementals are a bit more rare and guide the lesser ones and on top are a few exceptional high elementals that rule over their kind like kings.
Don’t think I’m just babbling on and on, there’s still some reason for you to know about all of this.
This little fellow you contracted is a special rank spirit. Originally, they do not exist in the pyramid scheme I told you about, right?”
A flower shaped entirely out of life and death mana bloomed on the green haired woman’s hand, which in turn attracted the eager attention of Nisha’s contracted beast. It swirled around the blooming construct several times in the air, before starting to absorb the energy into its own body.
“Since spirits each have a distinct role, a special one means they disrupt this order. You can still find some high ranked elementals if you know where to look and how to communicate with them, but attempting to locate a special ranked elemental is close to impossible.
Not that they are more powerful or have great powers, it is just that no one knows what the conditions are that give birth to them.
Compared to even low spirits, their rate of learning spells can be considered slow while an exceptionally developed one can show greater potential than a king. Their strengths are all over the place and their innate talent is not fixed. To classify them is next to impossible. Hence they are called the special elementals.”
At this point of time, Gabriel stretched her arms into the air and revealed a generous smile. Her sister took the hint and handed her the small spirit together with the half consumed flower.
“To make a long story short, your little floating armor has quite a lot of potential, but it does not mean it might turn out amazing. What makes these elementals sought after and even placed above the highest grade is their self awareness. Instead of a mindless spirit acting on preset conditions, this fellow can understand and reason with you.
Furthermore, there is another part to its origin. After all, it’s called special bloodline spirit.”
Playing with the elemental, Gabriel studied it for some time and silence descended on their small gathering. Nisha did not mind the calm silence, it was not awkward or contained any impatience. Bael similarly refrained from interfering and quietly accompanied them.
If she did not talk or made nonsensical and impish actions, the green-haired goddess looked like a sacred and noble being. Inwardly, the dragon wondered how many of their friends suffered due to that gap and fell prey to her tricks.
“Instead of overloading you with information like a certain someone, let me tell you a story instead. Have you heard about the people living deep in the south of the continent?”
Nisha’s contracted elemental got over its fears and happily gorged on the flower construct, taking away a greater amount of energy as time passed. Nisha could have also sworn that the black parts of the armor got deeper while the white parts got even brighter and a faint grey pattern emerged on both, yet she was unable to clearly see them even with her [Spirit Sight].
“Yes, I know that some tribes have their homes in the far south. It’s a land of ice and snowstorms, with hardly any contact or trade due to their nomadic nature with the exception of a few gathering points where the traders made camp.”
The great library held many books regarding the traditions and geographical nature of the continent on the first floor, many of which the elf had previously read. With her fantastic memory, nearly none of the knowledge managed to elude her, and before coming into a city for the first time she had established a good foundation of common sense after living in the forest for over ten turns.
“Indeed, the tribes hold a tight rule over the icelands, especially the stronger clans. Due to the extreme living conditions, nearly every single individual of these clans mainly practices aura cultivation.
The arts and traditions for cultivating mana are in the hands of an exclusive minority, the shamans. Out of several hundred warriors, there exists maybe two or three shamans.
Naturally there are also advantages and other ways to make up for their extreme way of cultivation.
Since each warrior focuses only on improving the body and raising their aura, the shamanistic ways are needed to fend off the attacks of beasts living in the deep south, which usually means spiritual ice attacks, the luring draw of ice madness or death banshees.
What do you think about these people, Nisha?”
Gabriel’s story conjured images in the air of a desolate wasteland made completely out of white, with tiny snowflakes descending on the ground and trains of people trudging through the endless horizons with their belongings packed on giant sleds, pulled by monsters with fur so dense that their figure vanished entirely out of sight.
After the focus went to their warriors and the few shamans, giant men and women armored in furs of all kinds with metal strips holding everything together stormed through the frozen plains. Their muscles blazed with heat and steam escaped their cobbled armor, while a scrawny hooded figure waved a staff behind them and infused these warriors with a blessing while they fought without regard to losses or life against a herd of snow wolves.
Finally the scene ended in a giant circle, where nervous youths approached an altar carved from bone, as white and eerie as the snow falling outside of the circle where the entire clan watched the ritual.
It aroused Nisha’s curiosity and fanned the flames of passion to go on an adventure and visit all the strange places in Ator, learning more than just the knowledge left behind in books and stories.
“Since you already gave me some hints and intentionally talked about this story after introducing the elementals, I guess there is a connection to my contracted armor spirit.
I’m not too clear on the details, can you enlighten me, Aunt Gabriel?”
The blonde woman in question nodded in satisfaction, teaching a smart student was always a teacher’s joy.
Indeed, there is a very important connection here. Due to their lack of magic education— and therefore an urgent need for soul defense against magic spells and guiles— the shamanistic path they follow developed in the direction of bloodline spirits.
It is not a unique discovery nor a divergent path from the orthodox methods. Many more primitive tribes in other places, and to some degree elite warriors for special occupations, go through a ceremony in order to bind an elemental into their body.
This can range from complete possession to a mild augmentation effect. The bear clan, one of the larger ones in the deep south, worship the [Giant Frost Bear], an advanced beast that can to some degree call down ice storms. When their shamans baptise the children going through the ceremony, water spirits and their derivative, ice spirits, are created or attracted from the strong density of faith, ambient mana and the ceremonial fervor.
Since it is hard for a normal shaman to estimate the rank of an elemental, it is more or less a gamble which kind the candidates bond with.
Those that receive a minor elemental are the majority and make up the bulk of regular warriors. With no major deviation, they can learn some minor spells like [Frost Shield] or [Reject Cold] when their bloodline spirits reach the appropriate level.
A smaller portion obtain medium rank elementals and can be called the elite class for warriors in a tribe. Instead of passively relying on their bonded partners, these superior fighters with some luck can comprehend more abilities and call out the elementals from their soul, entering a berserk state under a possession effect. It’s hard to find a better fighter than a native frost spirit in the south, especially since these spirits take on the form the tribe believes in during the baptism ceremony.
For the high grade elementals, it is more than hard to find a suitable body to reside in. Aside from the low chance of being generated in the rituals held by a small clan, high class elementals would rather act as the guardian spirit than bond with a warrior without the suitable aptitude.
In the rare case it does happen, the respective man or woman can ascend to the level of a king in their clan, the highest elite and chieftain with absolute authority.”
Nisha had to agree, learning through an example required less effort for twice the result.
Just by reiterating the situation in the southern frozen wastelands allowed her to build a preliminary understanding of elementals and bloodline spirits.
“Then what about a special bloodline spirit? It means my little armor here is of an even higher ranking than a king class, right?”
The elemental in question had finally consumed the entire flower construct made of mana and happily floated back to its master, resting in her lap and enjoying the afterglow of growing larger. Due to the absorbed energy, the white parts of the armor grew to a bright ivory while the black sections were as dark as top quality obsidian.
“Indeed, the high class elementals already show some difficulty in merging with a suitable human.
For a special ranked spirit, this issue grows even larger.”