Let's learn mage skills from Nak-su too
Yes, I know we are all here and eager to train and learn to be a Daeho mage, after the cliffhanger ending of Alchemy of Souls Season 1.
So, that's what we will do in this casual tutorial on grasping mage skills — no results guaranteed though :). But first, let's understand the basics — where did all the magic come from?
There is only one reason why Daeho mages can wield magical energy and charged swords — Lake Gyeongcheondaeho. It is source and origin of all magical energy in Daeho.
Without Lake Gyeongcheondaeho, there will be no Songrim, Jinyowon, Cheongbugwan, Unanimous Assembly, Ice Stone and all those magical relics like the Gwigu.
No magical factions that can counter the King's army and rule. In other words, Daeho will only be a simple kingdom ruled by the royal family.
However, Lake Gyeongcheondaeho exists and still effuses magic so we can still learn about the magical techniques that Nak-su and Jang-uk are about to teach us.
As Nak-su (Go Yoon-jung and Jung So-min) explained to Jang-uk (Lee Jae-wook) in Episode 3, for most common mages, they will train to master three levels of magical attainments — namely and in order of level, Jipsu (집수), Ryusu (류수) and Chisu (칫수).
The rarefied few masters, such as Hemp Master Lee Cheol, may achieve magical breakthrough and master Hwansu (환수).
But what do these levels really mean in terms of tangible and practical action? Let's find out — we will throw in a lesson on Tansu for free as well. :)
The purpose of Jipsu is to be able to gather one's magical energy, accumulated from years of training.
However, before a mage is able to gather any magical energy, his "energy gates" must not be blocked or closed. The gates must be open so that the mage is able to focus and gather magical energy at the gates.
In short, these energy gates are similar in concept to the notions of energy gates in practice of Qigong which focuses on circulating and strengthening the "qi" or "chi" (meaning life energy) in the body.
Initially, Jang Uk could not perform Jipsu as his father had sealed off his energy gates. Fortunately, Master Heo, in a bid to save Jang Uk's life when he was poisoned, opened Jang Uk's energy gates with his own (Heo) burst of energy. As a result, Jang Uk was able to utilize the energy to attain Jipsu and Ryusu in a short span of time.
The Ryu (류) in Ryusu refers to "flow".
With Jipsu, the mage gathers energy at the energy gates. With Ryusu, the mage harnesses and directs the flow of energy to his actions, such as unsheathing a magical blade or charging a pair of bow and arrow (in the case of Park Jin).
In Episode 4, Jang Uk was able to harness and channel the energy he received from Master Heo to his act of drawing out Jang Gang's sword. However, due to his lack of skill and training, he was unable to control and wield the sword according to his will during his first sword fight with the Crown Prince.
It took several days of training at Danhyanggok for Jang Uk to later master Ryusu.
Since Jang Uk was able to draw out a powerful flow of energy now with Ryusu, Nak-su saw an opportune moment for him to learn a powerful sword technique known as Tansu (탄수).
While Chisu is needed to properly and safely practise Tansu (탄수), Jang Uk's version of Tansu requires a physical drop of liquid to execute. With Ryusu, a mage can direct the full flow of energy, through his sword, to the point where the liquid droplet is "slashed/sliced", unleashing an instant and powerful burst of energy towards his opponent.
In Jang Uk's fight with the Crown Prince, Nak-su cut her palm to flick out a drop of her blood for Jang Uk to execute Tansu with an instant blast of energy that floored the Crown Prince.
All is good so far with the theory, we hope. Now, onto the most challenging level that most mages will encounter — Chisu 칫수.
The purpose of Chisu 칫수 is that instead of using one's magical energy, the mage can harness and control the magical energy that is naturally occuring.
As the air in Daeho is charged with moisture/magical energy from Lake Gyeongcheondaeho, Chisu allows the wielder to control and use magical energy in the atmosphere. This act can be visualized by manifesting a body of water energy on one's palms.
According to the masters of Daeho, a mage who has mastered Ryusu will take many years to learn Chisu. Even Songrim leader, Park Jin, took 10 years to fully understand and master Chisu, while Master Lee Cheol himself took 13 years and Master Heo Yeom took 26 years!
With Chisu's ability to self-manifest water from the atmosphere, the mage will be able to execute Tansu seamlessly as well. To master this level, Jang Uk received guidance from Master Lee who brought him on a fishing trip at Lake Gyeongcheondaeho.
Jang Uk successfully mastered Chisu by catching the mythical golden fish which is really a body of water manifested from the energy of Lake Gyeongcheondaeho.
The Hwan (환) in Hwansu (환수) refers to change, switch or more specifically, in the terms of alchemy, transmute.
In other words, the level of Hwansu is the pinnacle of mage training, attainable only by a rarefied few.
The practice of Hwansu also approaches the art of alchemy, as masters of Hwansu will attain the ability to transmute water energy to other forms of energy such as fire.
Thus, Hwansu lays the transmutation foundation for one to be eventually able to switch bodies by shifting one's soul to another body and that body's soul to the mage's body, enabling a skilled mage to lead an immortal life.
Master Lee Cheol was able to stay youthful-looking despite being over a hundred years in age as he had practised and executed Hwansu, albeit unintentionally and inadvertently, on a dying young boy.
You have learnt the ways of being a skilled mage. Unfortunately, you do need to be a resident of Daeho in order to access, gather, harness, manifest and practise the wonderful magical skills.
So, I guess, knowing about it is good enough for us non-magic persons or "Muggles" in Harry-Potter-speak and allow us to better understand the Alchemy of Souls jargon in Season 1 and Season 2.
Meanwhile, hope it's been a fun read and how let's wait patiently for the December release.