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"Spirit" refers to any sapient being made of mana. They are technically a type of monster, but for unknown reasons they do not share regular monsters' aggression toward humans. Most spirits are capricious and shy, preferring to avoid direct interactions with humans whenever possible, making them difficult to study.
Spirits are made of large amounts of pure elemental mana, mixed in very specific proportions. It's unknown if there are any other requirements, or if any monster who condenses with such an elemental makeup will become a spirit. Either way, since pure elemental mana rarely occurs in nature and most spirits are elusive in nature, seeing a spirit is a very rare occurrence; only a dozen spirits have been irrefutably proven to exist, including the Great Spirits.
The first historically recorded spirits - the Great Spirits - appeared about 800 years ago. They were very powerful beings who were willing to help humanity in a time of crisis, leading them to be worshipped as gods. A strong tradition of spirit worship persists in Empyria to this day.
When enough pure elemental mana gathers, it condenses into the associated Great Spirit. From lowest to highest density threshold, the spirits are Sylph (air), Undine (water), Salamander (fire), and Gnome (earth). Unlike other spirits, they are very social and have frequent dealings with humans.
Every time one of the four types of mana condenses, it condenses into the same individual. For example, if Sylph already exists and air mana condenses again elsewhere, it will become a second body for Sylph, and they will have the same memories and personality across both bodies. Similarly, if Sylph is destroyed then later condenses somewhere else, they will remember everything that happened in their previous incarnation. Due to lack of data, it's not clear if this is a property unique to the Great Spirits or just a feature of spirits in general.
The Great Spirit of air. Since air mana's density threshold is so low, they have thousands of bodies at any given time, and often appear as a flock of birds speaking in unison. Their shrine is located in Valefar, and they patrol the plains surrounding it, keeping them free of monsters and bandits. They're a big fan of people-watching.
The Great Spirit of water. She shapeshifts the most out of all the Great Spirits, but is usually depicted in art as a dragon. Her shrine is in Kimaris, but she hasn't been seen there in some time; being a somewhat capricious spirit who does as she pleases, the city's residents aren't sure if they should be disappointed or relieved that her latest whim has taken her elsewhere.
The Great Spirit of fire. He takes the form of a dragon as well, despite his distaste for Undine's antics. His shrine in Phenex has been converted into a fire-belching factory, after he took an interest in the production of magitech. He's not much for the whole traditional trap maze thing; if you want to see him, all you have to do is fill out the requisite paperwork and wait for a time slot.
The Great Spirit of earth. She takes the form of an enormous mole cricket. Being the spirit of the least malleable element, she cannot shapeshift at all and causes terrible earthquakes when she tunnels, so she's stuck in her underground shrine beneath Ronwe. Has recently decided to give being a girl a try, and is enjoying herself so far.