Essentia (エッセンス Essensu; Latin for "Essence") is the central power source for the spells and other fantastic abilities used in Wild Hunt. Its connections with real life dark energy are loose at best, due to dark energy being a widely speculative force.
Essentia is considered by those who are more spiritually aware as the power of creation, or a "divine force." This is because when it becomes channeled through a sorcerer, it creates magical effects. Normally, this allows the sorcerer to create things from nothing, thus enforcing its affiliation with the powers of the divine and their ability to create and manipulate the environment around them. For those whom are more logically sound, essentia takes on the same properties of dark energy. Essentia's ties with dark energy stem from the fact that essentia is confirmed to permeate the entirety of the universe; be it the vacuum of space, entire planets and stars, or even living beings, such as humans, animals and yokai. Essentia can exist within air, water, magma, trees and even man-made structures, like buildings and robots.
Essentia functions like most forms of energy. It flows from one section of space to another, and cannot be inherently created nor destroyed. It naturally passes through landscapes and living creatures harmlessly every day; causing no noticeable changes and leaving no obvious traces behind. As a result, many people are ignorantly unaware of the existence of essentia. Yokai in particular seem more knowledgeable and observant of essentia and its effects within the universe; with humans, animals and artificial intelligence seemingly less aware in comparison. Those unfamiliar with essentia and sorcery often believe users of this strange energy are witches, wizards, warlocks and other dangerous beings with malevolent, inhuman powers; often associating them more with destructive and foreboding yokai than with humans and other entities. Those whom are more in tune with essentia and sorcery lack these ill-perceived notions.
Essentia is used primarily through accessing the essentia found within and around the sorcerer as it flows through them. The sorcerer will ingest essentia into the core of their being, manipulate it, and then release it back into the natural world as magic. What this "core" is depends on the perspective of the sorcerer. Some refer to their core as their soul, while others believe they focus their essentia within their mind. What both parties can agree on is that this fusion of essentia and their core is the necessary catalyst in creating magical spells. It is this mixture of souls and essentia that causes spiritualists and religious followers to label and treat essentia as the very essence of creation and the gods themselves. It is then believed that as sentient beings whom have been endowed by the divine to create as they can, essentia and souls are rock-solid facts that the gods do exist.
As essentia is a form of energy and abides by the laws of energy, it cannot be created nor destroyed by conventional methods; only changed from one form into another. However, as it behaves differently from other forms of energy, such as heat and light, it doesn't become consumed upon usage. Instead, it is absorbed, interacts with other forms of energy and matter, and is then expelled back as natural essentia; acting as if nothing had occurred between the time it was ingested and then released. The strange properties of essentia and its reaction to being manipulated make it a highly valuable and favored renewable resource. Due to its functions, sorcerers can perform spells and other outlandish feats with essentia without exhausting any internal supply they may contain within themselves. This is then balanced out by the ranged difficulty of certain spells; ranging from easy and simple, to complex and hard.
Additionally, essentia reacts to other energy and matter in unusually specific and different ways; depending upon factors such as usage, or whether it's even used at all. When dormant, essentia freely passes through energy and matter without causing any major physical changes. And yet when it's distorted and altered by sorcerers, it creates unique results per person. Through coming to analyze, study and understand essentia, it's discovered that essentia reacts to the matter making up the sorcerer's body on an intensely genetic level. This means that just as each person in the world is considered an individual due to their bodies, minds and personalities, so too does their magical arsenal become intrinsic to who they are. One sorcerer may be able to augment their physical abilities while another may be able to produce fire from thin air; and neither sorcerer will be able to easily mimic the other's magic. This makes the teaching and transfer of one's magical powers to another almost impossible.
However, this does not mean it's unheard of. There are certain cases where, thanks to years of discipline and hard work, sorcerers can learn to wield spells and other powers belonging to others through the usage of essentia. How this is done is not fully understood though. The ability to learn another's magic is such an amazing feat, that those with the power to do so are considered powerful and skilled in the use of essentia.
The individuality of essentia and sorcery can even depend on what species the sorcerer is. Revenants, otherwise known as undead beings, are a class of yokai whom stick out from the others due to their explicit inability to use sorcery. Therefore, zombies and creatures like them have no magic powers to speak of. Vampires are a rare exception to this rule, as they've managed to uncover a wholly different method to tapping into essentia and casting spells, despite being undead. The reason revenants cannot make use of magic is because of their very nature as soulless, animated corpses. As they lack a soul, and therefore have no core to draw their essentia into, they are unable to manipulate their essentia into spells. This doesn't mean though that they lack essentia within them. Essentia can still flow through revenants and reside within their bodies. They simply lack the necessary core to manipulate essentia with. Vampires developed a way to work past this however. Being one of the more powerful revenants, vampires can steal the essentia from the world around them by directly eating and digesting it as nutrition. Once inside their stomachs, vampires will mix the newly acquired essentia with their own; amplifying the essentia within them. Once fully charged with essentia, vampires can then release their pent up energy in the form of spells. However, because of the way in which they draw power, vampires run the risk of losing the renewability essentia would otherwise provide; making them hunger for more essentia and more power as a result.
The way in which sorcerers manipulate essentia is as follows: One uses their core, be it their soul or mind, to enforce their will upon the essentia currently passing through their body. Through concentration, forcefulness and a strong desire, the sorcerer makes the essentia their own. Upon achieving that step, they then bend the essentia to their will and transform it into the spell they wish to execute. The sorcerer will then recite the incantation of the spell and eject their essentia in a single burst. Variations can exist, but for the mainstream sorcerer, this is the only way to make use of sorcery.
Furthermore, certain spells can control essentia itself, and turn it into a practical, tangible force to be used. In most cases, sorcerers will summon and condense their essentia into weapons for combat; be they energy beams or energy weapons and armor. Other sorcerers can even infuse material goods with magical properties; some of which will react to the owner's fluctuating essentia and change accordingly. Then there are those who will use their core as a conductor not only for their essentia, but for whatever they wish to manipulate, such as is the case with Resonance Sorcery.
As stated before, essentia is Latin for essence. The name reflects the way in which casters use, view and treat essentia, as some believe it's a divine power, while others contest it's a natural phenomenon. Those who are more inclined to believe in the supernatural see essentia as the essence of the gods themselves, and thus see the use of magic as a way to exercise a divine privilege bestowed upon them. Those who see essentia more as a form of dark energy treat the force as an underlying essence of the universe itself. And so they believe that by casting magic and harnessing essentia, they are borrowing the power of the entire universe itself.
Types of EssentiaEdit
Throughout Wild Hunt, other forms of essentia have been revealed. These essentia types can be formed by a variety of means, and tend to possess underlying effects that deviate from traditional essentia. With the rise of technological advancement, more essentia types are being discovered. And while each variant of essentia may have its own distinct effects on the world around it, they will still behave as essentia does; by flowing from one space to another and never being used up as fuel.
Amartia (罪 Tsumi, Greek for "Sin") is a corrupted version of essentia, which like its counterpart, permeates all of existence. Amartia stands out for being a natural yet perverse form of essentia, and for existing for far longer than anyone on Earth can record.
In truth, amartia came into being thanks to the birth of Yami, which happened billions of years prior to the appearance of life on Earth. Due to Yami's inherent existence as the embodiment of evil and the rejection of the world, and because of the twisted negative emotions which created it, Yami has tainted essentia with its mere presence, and converted it into a destructive dark force known as amartia. The gods themselves consider Yami to be the creator and spreader of amartia, much as they themselves exert essentia into the universe. Therefore, as long as Yami exists, so too will amartia and destruction.
Being a dark foil to essentia, amartia has been labeled to be the "essence of destruction," whereas essentia is the "essence of creation." This is due to the fact that while amartia can be used to fuel sorcery and create other magical effects, it uses this power to primarily destroy and kill. In order to do so, amartia grants even greater strength and power to the spells and effects it bestows upon sorcerers and amartia users, which in turn makes their abilities far more powerful than those generated by essentia. However, amartia is a dark and evil force and will not freely grant greater powers without taking something in return. In this case, it saps away the mental stability of its user; slowly eating away parts of their personality until hardly any resemblance of what they once were is left. What does remain is usually a deranged being; one that can range from psychotic and violent to cold and manipulative, and everything in between. The more amartia is relied on and the longer it's used, the more it takes from its user. In time, an amartia user can become nothing more than an evil counterpart of what they one were. While seemingly sane and normal on the outside, they often hide a destructive, greedy and malevolent streak within.
Due to amartia's risks and dangerous side effects, it is banned from ever being used, and will be deemed a criminal act if one is caught channeling it; not that this deters certain people from doing so anyway. If one has been lost to the side effects of amartia, they can still be redeeemed and saved through rehabilitation and abstinence of amartia. However, the crime of amartia use will still be expected to be met with punishment and legal action; though there are situations and circumstances where amartia usage has been covered up or ignored.
The most commonly seen use for essentia is magic and spell-casting. Those who use the art of magic are called sorcerers, and the use of magic is known as sorcery. Typically, the use of sorcery has to be taught from teachers to students before one can freely harness essentia and sorcery. This training period is considered long and difficult, as it takes a while for an individual to be aware of essentia, bend it to their will, and then produce magical effects as a result. Another important aspect is learning the unique powers essentia provides to a sorcerer; especially since passing spells to another sorcerer is a highly advanced and rarely successful technique. Once a sorcerer learns of their inherent powers, they can spend the rest of their life developing spells revolving around their specific ability, as well as strengthening their already existing spells.
The use of sorcery can be as wildly varied as sorcerers themselves, and the spells they wield. While it is easy to see sorcerers conjure spells for battle and war, it's also just as likely to see those who would rather profit off of sorcery through mundane acts, petty crimes or pragmatic support. These can include things such as powering vehicles, deceiving and robbing others out of material goods, or even clearing blocked paths. Even still, some will use sorcery to entertain others, such as by putting on staged magic shows; and some may pursue knowledge or moral and philosophical insight through the use of sorcery and essentia.
Classifications are also designed to keep track and organize the large assortment of various forms of sorcery throughout the world. Examples include the nature manipulation powers of Resonance Sorcery, and the power amplifying nature of the vampires' Consumption Sorcery.
Humans tend to represent the basic, fundamental effects of essentia on living organisms. Made up of matter, and with varied genes making up their bodies, humans are typically the ones who end up receiving tailor made spells just for them. Likewise, they find it difficult to pass on their spells to others without external support; be it through non-human forces or even technological means. Naturally, as not many people possess strong wills and rely more on technology to make their lives easier, that creates few human sorcerers who're capable of harnessing sorcery to its fullest potential. Those that are capable of sorcery are usually notable and remarkable in their societies, due to the rarity of human sorcerers in general. In particular are Paladins; knights trained in the art of military combat and sorcery.
Despite their innate setback, humans are still resourceful and creative by nature. Using their adaptability, ingenuity and technology, humans have been shown to bypass their lack of skill with sorcery by manipulating their environment and themselves. Of particular note is the process of man-made possessions, such as what happened to Kyu, where humans will implant the core of a yokai into another human or even themselves in order to strengthen their own essentia control, as well as tap into the sorcery possessed by the yokai in question. Other methods include gene manipulation and the use of memory chips, which can give sorcerers more spells beyond their usual assortment, as well as Charm Sorcery, which allows human sorcerers and warriors alike to make use of magical items instead of traditional sorcery.
A less traditional method of empowering human sorcery is the process of giving birth to human and yokai hybrids. As yokai are more closely tied to essentia than humans are, this allows the human hybrid to gain a much easier access to essentia control, and in turn make use of sorcery with less effort than full-fledged humans. However, as yokai can be feared and misunderstood by humans as dangerous monsters, the practice of purposeful human/yokai hybrids is highly unpopular.
Humans who use sorcery can sometimes be mistaken for yokai themselves; often being labeled as witches and wizards. This is a false accusation, as they are in fact fully human, but with magical powers.
Yokai are far more advanced and gifted at using essentia and sorcery than their human counterparts. It's to the point that while yokai have learned to assimilate, develop and make proper use of human technology, their sorcery prowess makes technology seem almost pointless for a yokai. While this means yokai societies can live off of essentia alone, some have become wise enough to use both essentia and technological goods to make their lives twice as better as it may have been without either factor in their lives. This is most prominently seen in elven cities, where technology is fueled by essentia and various magical spells and items. On the other hand, creatures like dragons may go their whole lives without so much as using a single invention to support themselves.
The reason for the yokai's natural affinity for essentia is because they are spiritual beings who're more closely tied to nature than humans are. Additionally, a yokai's body is not comprised of true flesh and bone like a human's; instead, it is a massive collection of condensed essentia which has latched onto and fused itself with elements of the natural universe to mimic organic life, such as humans, plants and animals. Because of this, while yokai must still require air, food, and clean water to survive (among other things,) and while they can still give birth, they lack the same genetic code humans possess. Without the highly individualistic genes of a human, yokai can access and manipulate essentia and sorcery with more freedom than the humans do. This grants yokai the ability to master spells quicker than a human, pass on their spells and forms of sorcery to other yokai with much greater ease, and they can possess many different forms of sorcery as opposed to humans, who may only normally have one sorcery type at least.
The downside to this however, is that due to their intense closeness with the natural world, yokai can become sensitive to changes done to essentia; mostly seen in erratic changes in behavior when too much essentia builds up in one place. Some may act sick and receive flu-like symptoms, and others may shy away or act outright cowardly when faced with large pools of essentia. Others may become savage, bestial and violent if essentia becomes amartia; and if the essentia within a yokai can be twisted and manipulated just so, the yokai may behave in any number of different ways, ranging from acting possessed to receiving entire personality changes, whether or not they're even aware of what's going on.
To mitigate their essentia sensitivity, yokai can possess other lifeforms like animals and humans to shelter themselves from harmful essentia or amartia. The genes in the possessed victim's body naturally filter out the more dangerous traits, and allow pure essentia in. Thus, it is popular within certain societies to take control of human bodies for a multitude of purposes and for indefinite periods of time. In much the same way, yokai/human crossbreeds lack the sensitivity of their yokai parentage. And while this may grant more personal freedom to yokai and yokai hybrids, they are far from perfectly safe while encased in their genetic suits. Yokai can still feel essentia and wield sorcery far more easily than a human can, and so they can still feel differences within essentia and spells nearby. At the very least, if a yokai is in the presence of a dense gathering of essentia for example, then they (like humans and other lifeforms) will feel invigorated and lively. At worst, if a sorcerer were to use amartia or more sinister spells that are strong enough to influence hiding yokai, the yokai in question can be coaxed out or have their possession completely defied against their will.
Between yokai and humans, it's the yokai who naturally appear more educated and talented when it comes to using, studying and developing sorcery. More civilized yokai, such as the elves and fairies have been shown to archive their knowledge of essentia and sorcery in libraries, and experiment the effects of spells and essentia manipulation in labs. Other civilized yokai, such as the dwarves, have also learned to market sorcery for a living; selling magical items and knowledge of spells and essentia to those who're willing to buy them.
- Essentia's name was suggested to Wyvern 0m3g4 by one of his close friends, Lvdoomien, who considered using Latin as the basis for the word's origin, since Wild Hunt made Lvdoomien think of Latin and medieval times.
- Originally, Wyvern had considered calling essentia "honshitsu;" the Japanese word for essence. He ultimately changed his mind due to disliking how honshitsu sounded and preferring how essentia sounded to him instead.
- Likewise, amartia, essentia's negative counterpart, while considered to be used by Wyvern, had its name ultimately suggested for usage by another of his friends, Zeon1. This was due to the fact that Wyvern felt referring to the energy as sin on its own sounded unimpressive and bland, and wanted to call it by a different language. Zeon mentioned using the Greek word for sin, as it still sounded cool while also sounding closer to Latin, which was the root language where essentia took its name from.
Dark Energy - Wikipedia article on dark energy, which was half of the inspiration behind essentia