With four of the seven Sept-Terrion revealed, some patterns have started to emerge and I thought I would take a crack at determining each of the seven’s roles and how they differ to one another from an elemental perspective. This will also be a summary of what we can learn from the existing Sept-Terrion and how we can use them to work out the function and basis for the remaining three. Furthermore, we are told that each of the seven tribes were gifted by Aidos based on the aspects of each treasure that best fit their entire civilization, and I wanted to have a crack at working out what each them did and the philosophies that drove those civilizations.
Part one: Higher elements
An important distinction I would like to make first is the line between the traditional, or ‘lower’ elements: fire, earth, water and wind in contrast to the ‘higher’ elements: space, time and mirage. It is clear the latter three have a special place in the Kiseki universe and are only active in times of great spiritual importance or unrest. It is likely these three are normally working in the background and rarely interact with what I will call the natural, every day world the inhabitants live in unless disturbed.
This idea seems to draw heavily from medieval cosmology, where the world we existed in was one of several concentric ‘spheres’, each affiliated with a celestial body. The Earth is centric to this model, and the universe resolves around it. The lower spheres were composed of the four traditional elements whereas the higher were composed of an entirely different element, ‘aether’. The lunar sphere was the boundary between these two, with higher spheres (translunar) having the ability to influence the lower. You can see the remnants of this belief in the English language today: a lunatic was someone influenced by the Moon, (mercurial to Mercury, Jovial to Jupiter, Saturnine to Saturn etc.) The higher spheres were the domain of angels and celestial beings.
So in Zemuria, we have the four elements composing the natural or mundane world, and the ‘higher elements’ which are analogous to aether, or the higher spheres. More recently, all the references to the ‘Outside’ imply there could be something even beyond all of that.
Even in game, these elements are treated as something special. None of the elements should be seen as wholly independent from each other. As I will explore, the higher elements have a special influence over the lower four.
Perhaps paradoxically, Space, Time and Mirage have to be considered together in order to determine what they do individually. I hope the following analogy will make it clear how I see the three higher elements and their roles.
Imagine a cube. It exists in three dimensions and has a value on the X, Y and Z axes. At this point, it doesn’t matter what the cube is made from, its mass, material or other properties (We’ll get there with matter and the Earth treasure); you can visualize it taking up ‘space’. But how did the cube get there? Has it always existed? These other fundamental aspects are governed by the other two high treasures.
So, this cube you are imagining- let us presume it is a finite object, in other words, it has always existed and at some point it won’t exist anymore. This is what time does, it gives you the starting and ending point for any given concept’s existence. This applies to things that are transient as well. Thoughts and feelings can start and finish just as physical objects come in and out of existence. Now let’s move on from a cube analogy and bring in a real life scenario. You tell a friend to meet you at a specific street corner and give precise directions. You go but they are not there. Why? You didn’t specify a time. You don’t exist in that location infinitely. At some point you will arrive at it-presumably to meet your friend- and at some point you will leave. This temporal coordinate is just as much a fundamental aspect as taking up space.
Now, what about mirage? How is it in any way relevant to cubes and street corners and being a fundamental aspect of existence? The medieval cosmology didn’t just assume the celestial spheres have been revolving since infinity; there was a ‘prime mover’ outside the spheres that set and sets everything in motion. Think of it like dominoes- someone has to tip the first one. So the outer spheres influence the inner spheres in a chain reaction sort of deal. It is a little bit more complicated than that but I’ll leave the theological implications of that slide for now. Back to you and your friend. At some point you decided you would meet them. It was a conscious decision, and depending on why you wanted to meet them, it created causality. Maybe you were lonely? It caused you to want to meet up with your friend. So mirage is that aspect of causality that influences objects to move in and out of existence. You want somewhere to put a vase? You decide to make a table. Your consciousness is the origin of the causality here.
The vase breaks. Why? It has all come full circle. Gravity has caused it to fall. You are not omnipotent and are still limited by the laws physics and the experiences of your past that led you to become who you are today. Mirage should not be seen just as some great starter of everything, it is influenced by the other two. So all three affect each other and need each other out of necessity. You cannot measure time without seeing its physical effect on space. The neurons and soul that allow you to be conscious and make decisions take up space (on this metaphorical plane or another). There are decisions you have made in the past and decisions you have yet to make. All three are fundamental.
The other four elements do fit into this paradigm as well (mostly concerning matter) which are affected by each of the three elements I have outlined, hence why they are the ‘lower’ elements. It’s a one way system with the influence.
The Space Tribe: Inhabitants of the Liber Ark+ Auslese Family
The Aureole itself shows the powers of manipulating space, manifesting objects from nowhere, influencing the four lower elements (which I will hold to be Physical matter, souls, mind and emotion) and creating alternate dimensions to assist itself. It is likely that it was capable of manipulating the other elements to a certain extent, but spatial manipulation was its true and most potent ability.
(as an added note : the shape of the Aureole is in of itself a set of concentric rings spinning around each other: further evidence they are pulling from the celestial spheres cosmology?)
Once again, I am pointing out that each of the tribes based their civilizations on the ‘ideal’ of their treasure, in this case that would be mastery over physical space. A civilization seeking to master this aspect of existence would be capable of creations whose existence would seem to challenge the very laws of physics (i.e physical space). This is evidently clear in everything the Treasure and this civilization has done, and epitomized in the floating city itself- What says we have mastered space better than having a city that chooses whether or not to obey gravity?
The city is adorned with floating decorations to further this point, as if they were trophies of their mastery of the aspect. The Ahnenburg, Tetracylic Towers, Holorail, and lakeside underground laboratory are further examples.
Being a higher element, the Aureole civilization made use of the Gospels which interceded with the treasure for them. These were tied genetically to the Liber Ark Civilization’s bloodlines, suggesting that was some innate ability they passed on.
The Mirage tribe: The Crois Family
This one is a bit harder as we never got to see one of their creations at full power or even the original form of their Sept-Terrion.
The Demiourgos’ aspect would be causality, specifically consciousness as it would need to be conscious for the tribe affiliated with it to be able to interact. Therefore, its powers allowed it to create a consciousness for itself, as well as see future events by means of interpreting cause and effect. Ultimately, it wasn’t able to deal with what its tribe was doing and ceased existing, re-emerging as the Azure-Demiourgos centuries later via alchemy. The Blue Pleroma also concerns a heightening of consciousness, allowing consumers to perceive things that they normally wouldn’t be aware of.
The Crois family use alchemy, but it is mentioned they turned to this only after losing their original treasure as a means to restore their power. Nevertheless, it can be expected that the Mirage civilization would strive to master causality and consciousness as their ‘ideal’. Ultimately, we see their innate talent for this through their centuries long manipulation of Crossbell and the series of events that led to KeA and the Azure Tree. I would expect a member of this tribe to be excellent at predictions or foreseeing where things may end up, with borderline precognitive powers of their own at the greatest extend of their powers.
It is difficult to ascribe what belonged to the ancient Mirage civilization pre-collapse and what came about as a result of alchemy in the years to follow, which is why I am not going to delve into the bells or forts.
The Time Tribe: Possibly the Church of Aidos?
I would expect a tribe with Time as their ideal to be concerned with the creation, continuation and destruction of concepts and physical matter. Exactly how this ideal could be ‘mastered’ is quite possibly beyond me but judging from the clues we have so far, I would hazard a guess it is about preservation of things.
There have been hints and theories galore that the Church of Aidos are, or are related to in some fashion, the original Tribe of Time. To name a few: the association with stars, the number of 12 Stigmas and the fact they never exist at the same time, the clock shape of Arteria and its existence since the great collapse.
I speculate that the original form of the Time tribe was something akin to a clan of archivers, who would meticulously study the start and ends of all phenomena, and as such, master their ideal through having a flawless knowledge of the beginning and end of all things. Their Sept-Terrion will likely have had the powers needed to enable this, perhaps allowing them to view past and future events as a bystander (or even participant?) It’s not hard to imagine something also went wrong during the great collapse and their ability to do this was compromised in some way. Perhaps someone was a bit too ambitious and tried to view the beginning/end of the world, Sept-Terrion, or Aidos herself, and in doing so, brought about catastrophe and the countdown to the end of everything.
The Church would then reform itself as a means for preserving the world, sending out aid to the other civilizations whose Sept-Terrion were affected in a chain reaction. Perhaps the urgency with which they seek out ancient artifacts comes from their archival past, or a desire to reclaim their lost knowledge of the beginning and end of all things.
Part 2: The Lower Elements
The traditional elements have always stood for more than just Air, Water, Earth and Fire; these were merely symbols to illustrate the ideas/concepts behind them. Fire and Earth have been revealed, and I believe it is possible to conclusively extrapolate the remaining two based on what we know so far. I believe the elements correspond to respectively:
- Earth: physical bodies
- Fire: souls and the spirit
- Water: emotions
- Wind: Mind and thought
The Paradigm for body, soul emotion and mind can be found everywhere in traditions and many common phrases make use of them (“with all your heart and mind”, “body and soul” for example.)
This idea is not unique to the tarot, being found in antiquity and other traditions like Wicca, but seeing as the series is clearly pulling from its motifs for the enforcers and in the Three and Nine story, it is almost certain they know of or are pulling from the themes of the elemental suits as well.
These elements individually represent the ‘ideals’ each of their respective tribes strove to master. They were also found in opposing pairs: the physical vs the spiritual, the logical vs the emotional. They do not exist independent of one another- in fact, one influences another. All are needed to form a complete human existence. They are opposing in the sense that they can contradict each other: your mind and logic may dictate you take one action whereas your heart and emotions take implore you to take another. Some monks are known for forgoing ‘earthly pleasures’ in favor of focusing entirely on the spiritual etc.
Each of the four civilisations took one of these ideals to heart and structured their civilisation around it. Whether doing so gave them glaring weaknesses (and led to their collapse) is your interpretation. I hope the following thoughts will illustrate what the following civilizations looked like at the height of their strength and power.
The Earth Tribe: The Gnomes
Lost Zeum has dominion over physical bodies. The descendants of their tribe, the Gnomes, have exceptionally good craftsmanship and knowledge of technology and raw materials.
Earth as an element represents the physical form and physical actions. It represents solidity and firmness and being well grounded in reality. In Tarot it is represented by a coin, which can be seen to be material wealth which suits the Gnomes and their Black Workshop aptly. The Artes card of the Earth elements depicts grapes, grown and harvested with labour, as well as a mountain encased within a globe- easily associated with physical matter.
The Gnomes strove to master this ideal, and in turn became masters of working with physical materials, engineering and craftsmanship, to the point where they can understand a piece of technology or material intuitively. The Black Workshop is known for its cutting edge technology and wide range of physical applications. You can expect them to be exceptionally great physical laborers, scientists, engineers and artisans. The Nord Ancient Quarry is likely another one of their ancient settlements, and their way of life would be about a living life full of physical pleasures and the creation of wondrous items and buildings of interest. They possessed great ‘fortitude’, likely relying on their defensive structures, stamina and staying power to outdo their foes. Their way of life focusing on the physical rather than the spiritual would almost certainly brought them into conflict with the tribe of fire. The stat raised by Earth is also defense, representing this fortitude or physical stamina.
At the height of their power, the gnomes were able to work with materials that let them affect physical space, as seen in the Reverie corridor. They created Spirit Shrines that produced the highly desirable Zemurian ore. Their greatest Creation: The Tuathá de Dunan takes the principle to the extreme, projecting immense physical power across the battlefield. Even hundreds of years ago, their tribe took to the battlefield wearing ornate armour and weaponry in contrast to the robes and staffs of their foes.
The Fire Tribe: The Hexen Clan
Ark Rouge has dominion over souls. The descendants of their tribe, The Hexen Clan, possess the ability to cast spells intuitively without the use of an orbment and safeguard ancient knowledge.
Fire as an element represents the spirit and soul. When I speak of spirit, I speak of the underlying values that determine the core of your personality such as your core beliefs, sense of ethics and morality, and what you value. There is also the spiritual or religious side of your soul, the idea that it allows you to be more in tune with the world or a higher power. The tarot symbol for fire is wands, which fits the magical nature of the witches perfectly. The Fire Art card depicts a king, potentially Dreichels, known for his unyielding spirit, force of will and appropriately, the reincarnation of his soul. The flaming sword can be said to be a symbol of his will or courage, and appropriately, passing the ‘torch’ as his values were the foundation of modern Erebonia and in particular, Thors School.
In direct contrast to the Gnomes, the Witches can be expected to have forgone physical delights in favour of the spiritual. Their mastery over magic can be attributed to their spiritual mastery, and indeed, their most powerful spells include the ability to dive into another’s soul. They have a hermetical life, living secluded from the world and perform their duties diligently, drawing parallels with the asceticism of monks who seek spiritual enlightenment by removing themselves from society.
At the height of their power, the witches were presumably a lot more liberal with their use of powerful enchantments and spells. Lucifen Lied, the song Vita used to summon the Infernal Castle and Emma’s Soul magic showing some of their more extreme potential. The fire tribe was said to possess ‘unrivaled courage’ suggesting their spirits were unwavering in any circumstances. Their devotion to the spiritual would have drawn them into conflict with the Gnomes who focused on the physical. Attack is the stat associated mostly with fire, again representing courage. The Infernal Castle, speculated to be an ancient fortress of the Witches before falling to the End of Vermillion, embraces the principle of the soul by unleashing an energy wave from the pinnacle that attacks the spirits of people directly. Furthermore, the castle is full of objects possessed by fallen souls such as the haunted swords, and Ebony pawns.
The Wind tribe: Unknown
Wind represents the Mind, wit, intelligence, logic, rational thought and decision making. The tarot symbol associated with the wind is a sword. Wind is represented by agility/evasion and art defense, likely a reference to how if you are mindful of surroundings or a good tactician, you can evade easier. The Art card depicts what appears to be a large eye with several streams of air flowing around. Could this be a reference to the ‘mind’s eye’?
I would expect a character that is a descendant of the wind tribe to be notable for their intelligence, quick thinking or wit. They will be good decision makers and debaters. To follow their ideal, they would hone their minds to be the best they could be, perhaps studying extensively. They can be expected to forgo or be oblivious to emotions if not dismissing them entirely, preferring rational thought processes and logic. They could also be very witty and unmatched at wordplay. Yet another possible way they could follow their ideal is by being very level headed, open to viewing the situation objectively and displaying detailed insights. The concept of movement is also integral to the wind element and as such there could be a connection to the nomadic tribes.
At the very height of their power, the wind tribe may have increased their mental capabilities to the extent that they have some degree of psychic powers (mind over matter) which could include telepathy, telekinesis or precognitive abilities. If the wind tribe has an ancient stronghold, I anticipate it has some kind of power over the minds of humankind.
The Wind Treasure likely enables their mental abilities in some way, perhaps acting as a network of minds so to speak. The Septian Church teaches about how there is an entire subset of fiends that prey on the mind which could be very relevant. The labyrinth of Light and Shadow, and the Mistwald Forest under the influence of the Gospel manifested several of these fiends.
The Water Tribe: Unknown
Water represents emotion, reaction and the heart. The tarot symbol associated with water is the cup (a vessel that can be filled just as the heart is often likened to). Water is represented by both HP and Art strength, bringing to mind the healing power and association water has with life but also perhaps hinting that emotions have some effect on your art strength? On the Art card for water, we see a partially clothed woman pouring a vessel of water. I remain inconclusive but it’s possible this is alluding to either the more carnal side of emotions or some sort of state of emotional purity.
To master the ideal of water and emotion, you would need to master the matters of the heart. Someone striving to meet this ideal would have a strong grasp of their own emotions and feelings as well as those of others. I would expect characters of this nature to be charismatic and diplomatic, persuasive and emotionally stirring. On the flip-side, they could embrace emotions, displaying great outbursts in reaction to external stimuli. They will be caring and compassionate to others, and lean towards actions that their heart feels in contrast to what logic would have them do. They will be adaptable, flowing around an obstacle as water flows around a rock, or wearing down at a problem slowly, but surely.
At their strongest, they may display abilities such as an intuitive understanding of others and their feelings. They could even be empaths, directly channeling the emotions of others nearby or having the the ability to influence others with a touch (Think of Mantis from the Guardians of the Galaxy).
The Water Sept-Terrion likely enables this in some way, perhaps making people more open to the emotions of others or allowing one to influence how others are feeling. If the Water civilisation have an ancient stronghold, it may have a similar ability.