I thought I’d write up a quick overview of the magic system used in the novel.
All of life in this world requires Aether to function and live. Aether surrounds and permeates everyone and everything, similar to the Force from Star Wars.
There are ten elements of Aether: Light, Dark, Air, Lightning, Fire, Metal, Earth, Wood, Water, Ice. When a person or creature is born, it will have an innate amount of Aether along with an affinity towards one or more elements. If more than one, the affinities are almost always grouped, i.e you could have affinity for Air and Lightning, but probably wouldn’t have Air and Earth without having everything else in-between as well. Once a person reaches a certain point in growth, which for humans is around 14 years (due to time differences, that’s about 16 years for us), their center develops the ability to gather and channel Aether. Additionally, every person has a system of meridians that is used to move Aether from their center throughout their body, though everyone has a different innate set called talent that is easily openable. Alchemy can be used to expand on that set, often giving people a two factor talent level, such as 1/5 or 9/17. The first number is the easily openable talent, which is where someone with no external assistance can reach, while the second number is what is currently possible to open with Alchemy. The average talent is 3/7 for people, with 1/5 being common and anything over 7/13 being exceptional.
Once their center has developed, a person will attempt to sense the Aether around them and gather it into their center, taking ownership of it and absorbing it into their center and meridian system. At this point, they have become a gatherer and stepped into the Aether Gathering level. The Aether Gathering level is divided into five stages, each with a low and high, called Vapor, Mist, Haze, Fog, and Smoke. The stages refer to the density of the Aether gas stored in their meridians. In this stage, people can use the Aether to increase their strength, their speed, and their healing abilities, but they cannot project it beyond touch without external tools.
The next level occurs after someone has reached Smoke Aether Gathering. At Smoke, the Aether is now dense enough to attempt to condense it into liquid, leading to the next level being called Aether Condensation. Condensation has five stages: Initial, Foundation, Expansion, Threshold, and Completion, all of which refer to the density and completeness of the liquid conversion as well as the application of Aether throughout the body.
After all of a person’s Aether has been converted to liquid and the body has been completely adapted, they can attempt to form a Core, an Aether crystal. There are four stages in the Core Formation level: Seed, Partial, Complete, and Perfect. The vast majority of people will never reach this level, and of those who do, the majority cannot or will not make the jump from Complete to Perfect. Most stop due to fear, as those who fail the transformation are usually severely injured or die. There are levels beyond, but these are the only ones commonly known.