Breath (Clockwork Jungle)

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The Clockwork Jungle

Cosmology

Races

Gheen · Iskites · Tahro · Umbril

Regions

Obsidian Plain · Mosswaste
Netai · Black Circle · The Wash

Entities and Creatures

Bestiary · Saffron Moss · Cogs
The Forest · Aras Tay

Society

Factions · Trade and Currency
Language · Calendar

Religion and the Occult

Powers · The Breath · Cults
Elder Wyrms · Creation · Afterlife

Lore

The Artificers · Antiquity
Age of Prophets · Recentering

Technology

Metalworking · Dendronautics

Like many cultures of Earth, the peoples of the Clockwork Jungle believe in a "breath of life," a unifying and ever-present vital substance that is integral to life itself. This is nothing unique to this world; the concepts of qi[1], prana[2], pneuma[3], and so on all translate into "breath," "air," or similar concepts. As with every culture, the races of the Clockwork Jungle have their own interpretations of this force, which grants not only life, but powers we could only describe as magic.

The universal breath is known by many names, all of which have approximately the same translation. In the Luminous Tongue of the Iskites, it is shola (“wind”) or s↓ss (An onomatopoeia of breathing; it is pronounced with a sharply inhaled "s" followed by a longer exhaled one that trails off). In Gheen dialects it is kheel (Red Gheen), khey (Shield Gheen), jeel (Chalice Gheen), or something similar. The Umbril have their own word, veth (or vath in the Netai dialect). To the Tahro, it is undu (or a similar word), which refers specifically to "continuous air" or circle-breathing.

This concept is not an esoteric one. It is not ancient lore, or the sole dominion of philosophers or sorcerers. On the contrary, it is as well known as breathing itself. It is understood as both physical and metaphorical; shola is both the actual inhalation and exhalation of a living being and the essence of life, energy, and motion. For the four races, it is an integral part of everyday life. Shola, in some form or another, forms the basis of ancient and modern theories of medicine, music, metaphysics, and even martial arts.

Channeling

Main Article: Channeling

Just as air circulates in and out of bodies and from one being to another, the Breath moves constantly. Every living thing makes up but a single drop of a vast river that flows continuously. For most, this is an unconscious process, but just like breathing itself, one can choose to move this process from the unconscious to the conscious mind. One can decide to master one's own body, and through it, one's own universal breath. The conscious use of the Breath is known as channeling, and those who have learned it, channelers.

Non-channelers often do not distinguish the effects of channeling from various miracles, disasters, or happenings attributed to magic, and may lump all supernatural occurrences together as "sorcery" without recognizing between the conscious use of the Breath and various superstitions.

Breath, Cogs, and the Breathless

To us, Cogs would appear to be machines, not living things. In the Clockwork Jungle, however, Cogs are perceived as at least "pseudo-living" – just like organic creatures, they subsist off the Breath, though they do not experience it like other living things do. Instead, they function off a subtle siphoning effect by which they draw traces of the Breath from the currents created by channelers. The barest trace of the Breath used in this way can sustain a Cog for months. Many forms of channeling are thus equally effective on Cogs as they are upon organic creatures.

Some creatures appear to channelers as a "void in the Breath," a space of stillness unaffected by even the most powerful channeling. Such breathless creatures, such as daemons and abominations, do not seem to take any part in the life-force and yet exist and move by some unknown force.

The relationship between the Saffron Moss and the Breath is murky. The Peril's abominations are breathless, as is the physical matter of the Saffron Moss itself. Some theorize that the Saffron Moss controls a "fell breath," a counter-force that is analogous to the Breath but originating only from the Peril. Because masters of the Breath cannot perceive this hypothetical force, however, it is impossible to say for certain. A few have suggested that the powers of divination bestowed by the Peril through the Oracle Tree were expressions of this counter-force, and that its existence explains why the Peril is able to animate Cogs that it grows upon.

Though they have never been confirmed, there are tales of "Perilous masters," Saffronites who can use the "fell breath" of the Saffron Moss like channelers use the Breath of life. If such power exists, it is uncertain whether it is restricted to the foresight of the Prophets, or whether a Perilous master could reproduce the powers of a channeler as well. Certainly this power is not something any sane person would seek; the Peril granted its power once before, and those who unwittingly took it ended up slaves to its will.