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Elemental Essence Degradation

Elemental Essence Degradation (or "degeneration") is a health issue that usually only affects Mages or those with Myst Sensitivity. To explain it fully, we need to understand what Elemental Essence is, its "shards" and how/why it degenerates.  

What is Elemental Essence?

A non-qalathian Mage may understand this in terms of "mystical energy" or "magical reserves". The physical body needs physical energy, the mind needs mental energy, the spirit needs spiritual energy and the need to perform sorcery requires "magical energy". For the non-qalathian, this is usually a capacity determined by the levels of all the other energy types just mentioned - especially mental energy.   However, within Qal'ath and those trained by the Crystal Circle were those with Myst Sensitivity, where oftentimes an alignment towards one or more of the six accepted Elements existed. During incantantation or meditation, natural Elemental Energy was taken from one element and output in a different Element or Elements, with the Mages' corporate responsibility being to keep things in balance, as much as that was feasible.   Elemental Essence therefore was a type of energy from which Myst Sensitive magecraft drew. And it related to, and relied upon, how close the alignment to their "Natural Element" the Mage was at any given time.   ^ Article Sections

Essence Shards

While Elemental Essence is a form of energy it has been likened to that of a crystal with the aim of helping Mages to understand the need to replenish what they have spent. When one spell-casts using a natural element, it is easy to forget that one is part of nature and that oftentimes, the potency or manifestations of incantations are determined by the person casting them. In short, each spell cast is a personal sacrifice, not just one from the world around.   With that in mind, the term Essence Shard was coined. If the brightest gemstone is slowly chipped away, shards break off and the whole loses its beauty until nothing more remains. While most gems and crystals cannot be reforged from shards, Elemental Essence, given time and opportunity, can be. The Elemental Mage must always be aware of their connection to their primary Element(s) so as not to over-spend, or under-replenish, so they do not lose who they are because of what they are doing.   ^ Article Sections

Normal Use and Restoration

Before delving into Elemental Essence Degeneration, it must be stressed that ebbs and flows, peaks and troughs were normal for the practising Mage. In this, it is no different from physical energy and indeed, it needs tending to in similar ways.  

Normal 'Spend'

To keep this simple, let's say your Myst Sensitivity alignment is Ousii, or Waters. Perfectly normal ways your Elemental Essence would be spent are, for example:
  • In casting of water-based spells
  • Influencing a body, or flow of water
  • Preventing yourself, or someone else, from drowning while under water.
  • Being separated from your primary "focus" (if you have one), be that a Crystal, Shard*, or brand/branch.
As with other Elements, simply having an extended time away from the natural manifestations of water would also "leak" Essence. The Elemental Mage must live in tune with nature and within nature, to maintain their influence and communion with her.  

How Is Elemental Essence Restored?

If you take the natural 'spends' and reverse them, then it's easy to see how to restore the balance within the Elemental Mage. But as a summary:
  • Time not spellcasting with your primary aligned Element.
  • Rest time while being in possession of your primary "focus" tool.
  • Time spent within nature near the natural manifestations of your primary Element.
  • Rebalancing an area depleted of water (that would ordinarily have it, we mean) due to an abundance of a conflicting Element (where it would normally not be1).
A less-than-intuitive (read: under-studied) method has been experimented with: spellcasting using either different Elements or Element-agnostic incantations. Those that support this argue that by using a different "reserve", you give space for your primary one to replenish. Though this is at the cost of mental and/or physical energy, a discussion for another place at another time.   ^ Article Sections

Elemental Essence Degredation

Having covered the basics then, Elemental Essence Degredation (EED from here on) is where the restoration or replenishment methods are broken or significantly slowed, to a point where the Mage is at risk of separation from that Element. Common causes are usually self-inflicted - i.e. over-spending, or excessive Essence Leaking.   ^ Article Sections

Causes

While the cycle is technically short-term, it depends entirely on the cause and how swiftly action was taken to remedy it.  

Self-Inflicted

By "self-inflicted" we do not necessarily attribute "blame" but that the Mage themselves are the cause even if necessity was the driver, for example. That's not to say Mages were never to blame, of course.  
  • Prolonged periods of spellcasting from primary Element(s).
  • Extended time cut off from the physical manifestations of primary elements. i.e. natural water, breezes, light, fire etc.
  • Being deprived of the Mage's primary focus (brand/branch/crystal), where one existed, for a long time.
  • Attempts to influence the Element in a way counter to the way it ought to be used - e.g. to inflict harm.
  • Not giving adequate regeneration time between periods of spellcasting.
  • A fundamental loss of self-belief in the area of spellcasting.
 

Not Self-Inflicted

Only a brief explanation will be provided here, as we do not wish to proliferate information that could damage a Mage's wellbeing, or potentially their life. Suffice it to say that battles between opposing Mages, certain magical shields or weapons, familiar's aura may weaken regeneration in the short term.   The real danger for an Elemental Mage (apart from themself) is a non-Elemental Mage who cannot be punished by the Elements for acts against Nature. Thus those with Myst Sensitivity and especially the Crystal Circle must also study and be aware of those who spellcast but seem to have no "natural presence", in order to adequately guard themselves.   Finally, and this one is key - and likely not a surprise to anyone capable of rational thought: being separated from one's Elemental Crystal (or Shard) can trigger EED. What is likely a genuine surprise however is that a threat of such separation occuring may initiate symptoms of EED. While there have been few cases of this to observe, it is understood in terms of Nature warning the Elemental Mage to be on their guard.   ^ Article Sections

Symptoms

  • Weakened Incantation Effect
  • Shorter casting range
  • Reduction or "naturalisation" of senses that are usually enhanced by their primary Element(s).
  • Excessive tiredness when casting spells which would otherwise be normal.
  • A lack of desire, or perceived need, to reconnect with their primary Element(s) within nature.
  ^ Article Sections

Treatment

The "treatments" that really worked were only effective if diagnosed very early on. There is an extreme treatment, which we will discuss shortly.  

Short-term

If diagnosed quickly and the afflicted is willing and able, then the following works with near-complete restoration:
  • An extended break from spellcasting near the natural manifestation of their primary Element(s).
  • If a "focus" has been lost, either restoring the original or forging a replacement is paramount.
  • Time away from duties that necessitate the use of their primary Element(s).
  • Community (read non-combat, non-experimental) time with Elemental Mages: time spent with those of similar alignment works well, but equally time with multiple Elements can help restore balance.
 

Chronic/Long-Term

The longer the Mage suffers from EED, the less effective the above "treatments" will be, or the longer restoration will take. If the afflicted Mage is somehow crucial or currently irreplaceable then there is only one known treatment: Shard Transferance.   This is a process where, a group of Myst Sensitive Mages gather around the Mage with EED and through an Ur or two of meditation and focus, transfer some of their shards into the sufferer. As a group, they try to bring balance where before it was weighted against the Element of the EED-afflicted.  
Only for Master Mages
Anyone of lower experience must not oversee, or be a "sacrificer" in Shard Transference. The risk is they miss the "balance point" and create more afflicted Mages than they had before the process.   ^ Article Sections

Prognosis

This depends entirely on how quickly EED is diagnosed and treated. EED should not be fatal, but there are exceptions (see below):  

Residual Side-Effects

If caught and self-treated early on then full recovery is, and has been shown to be, possible. Usually, though, it leaves residual side-effects:
  • Reduction in mental energy.
  • Longer recovery time required after periods of spellcasting.
  • Chronic fatigue and poor sleep when away from the natural manifestation of primary Element(s)
 

Weakened or Severed Connection

If it is not diagnosed early, or the Mage refuses to believe they need treatment, or Shard Transferance is either not available or appropriate then the Mage may suffer from a weakened or severed connection.  
Weakened Connection
This is a permanent degredation of Myst Sensitivity alignment affecting the potency, range and complexity of Element-aligned incantations.  
Severed Connection
Whereby a Mage is permanently cut-off from casting anything that draws from their former primary Element(s). Though this can lead to a sense of identity loss, this should not be confused with loss of Myst Sensitivity and it does not prevent the afflicted from learning to align themselves with another Element - or to practice Element-agnostic arts. However, they will be unable to use cross-Element casts and will therefore require a Mage possessing their former Element's alignment whenever it is required.  

Premature Death

It must be noted that even shards of Elemental Crystals grant minor extensions to a "natural life" - and this is more so for Guardian Mages. Thus if weakened or severed connection results from EED, and they are beyond a "normal" lifespan and/or have other health conditions, the shock of internal change may result in death. Thankfully, this is rare, but it must also not be underestimated as a possible outcome.   ^ Article Sections

Sequela

If a Mage does not - or cannot - commune with their primary Element, then they are at risk of Person-World Disconnect. This manifests in a perception of being separated from the world around the patient. This does not make loss of life more likely, but it can greatly extend the recovery period - if full recovery is possible.

Affected Groups

Any Myst Sensitive- Mage, regardless of gender, race, background or culture.   ^ Article Sections
(1) This does not mean, for example, changing a desert area into a lush, verdant grassy plain. Attempting that would be either futile or temporary. If Nature intended a desert, then a desert it should be. In fact, if it suddenly became water-drenched, then rebalancing against Ousii in favour of Fyr and likely Orma and Ethkiel would be the correct course of action .
Article Sections
If you're on a larger screen, hover over the one option you can see to unfurl the menu.  
Type
Magical
Origin
Magical
Cycle
Short-term
Rarity
Uncommon

Affects
Myst Sensitive Mages
 
Symptoms
  • Weakened Spell Potency
  • Shorter Range
  • Naturalisation of Enhanced Senses
 
Treatments
  • Cessation of Aligned Casting
  • Rest Time with their Natural Element
  • (Non-combat/training) time with other Elemental Mages
 
Early Diagnosis
Prognosis: Good to Complete Restoration
 
Late Diagnosis
Prognosis: Weakened, or Severed Connection

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