What are Flames?
Flames are the core of Flameverse - hyper-specific powers that bolster a person's natural identity, sense of self, and magic. They grant incredible powers related to their passion: the conceptual wavelength that they resonate with. As a Flame burns hotter and gains more power, they raise up the ranks of Heats, enabling their host to use stronger versions of the power, use them for longer, or gain additional abilities.
In the context of Numbers....
Flames are augments to Magninium - in a sense they're an over-expression of one of an individuals' conceptual wavelengths. Unlike most conceptual wavelengths, these are fundamental to the individual, define them at their core, and are not changed through identity shifts or trauma. When a Flame is passed on, this over-expression ceases in the original individual, and is instead induced in the new owner.
They work alongside traditional magic, though they can be used with no understanding of magery. A Flamed mage is generally more powerful than an equally-trained Unflamed mage, as Flame begets higher magic pools, but it is not a wide margin.
Flames induce Immortality when their heat is at or above Glory. Flames below that heat have an extended lifespan, ranging from 100-300 more years depending on race. Natural Immortality still occurs in some individuals.
Where do Flames come from?
No one knows for certain where the original Flame comes from (I know, though). Each major world religion has their own ideas and myths regarding the origin of Flame. The concept of the 'fire divinity', or the idea that Flames are inherently divine/godly, is also hotly contested. The Ardor and Fervor give this as their Flame-related beliefs:
Ardor - believe that Flame is an inherent part of Yerxes' soul, and their gift to mortalkind. Flames of the Ardor deities are indeed part of them, and when bestowed upon mortals, show great favor for that individual, elevating them to nearly godly status.
Fervor - believe Flame is simply another force of the world, akin to gravity, sunlight, the wind, etc. Powerful Flames may be granted to pious individuals in a new cycle, but are not divine in and of themselves.
However, this isn't a pressing question in many people's mind. Flame is normal to them, and its presence isn't often questioned. They understand the basics of how Flame works - how it is transferred, how to make it stronger, and what it 'is' - and that is good enough for them.
Can a Flame...
become stronger or weaker? Yes, though generally only in one direction. This process is called stoking and is detailed later on; it is essentially the way to make a Flame stronger. It is rare for a Flame to become weak, but if one abstains from their Flame's concepts for long enough or has some sort of magic-wasting disease, their Flame could cool and eventually be snuffed out.
be without an owner? Yes, for a limited time. Flames, as an expression of Magninium, must feed on more Magninium to sustain themselves. This is called stoking when a Flame is within someone, and is generally accomplished by doing things aligned with the Flames' concepts. When a Flame is free in the world, it consumes all magic and lesser Flame around itself. If that supply runs out, the Flame will waste away into nothing. This is generally why Flames are best kept within 'hosts'.
be paired with a separate Flame in one person? Yes, though this is rare, and the Flames typically are of the same heat. Hosting Flames of significantly different heat will result in the higher heat consuming the lower. Otherwise, though, this is seen as an incredibly powerful feat and somewhat godlike. The two (or more, though this is much much rarer) Flames will still give their host their original powers, but will also "mix" together and grant a third ability that is conceptually an extension of the two combined.
be transferred? Yes, in a few ways. During childbirth, the mother can choose to pass on their Flame to their child harmlessly. This is the most common method of Flame transfer and completely removes the mother's Flame, instead placing it fully into their child. Flames can be manipulated during this process, sometimes to a higher heat or attempting to combine two Flames. There are other methods of shearing Flame, which range from murdering the host and consuming their Flame, to painlessly cutting it out of their chest. These are more secretive techniques and difficult to learn.
be purchased, sold, or traded? Yes, though rarely, in wealthier countries. People who are not often in contact with Flamed individuals are often fascinated by the concept of Flames, and may seek to attain them on their own. However, the process for removing Flame while keeping the host alive are difficult tasks and obscure knowledge, and so many resort to purchasing weak Flame from dying individuals.
belong to someone and they don't know it? Yes, especially weak Flames or unstoked Flames. Only a soot-seer can tell if someone is Flamed, and if one never visits a soot-seer, they may never discover they have a hidden passion for... idk barbecuing.
not be unique? Almost. Every Flame is unique, except for any Flame produced by another Flame that copies Flames. In other words, Ionsyl is the exception, which is why his Flame is notably powerful - it allows him to birth children with mixtures or copies of the parents' Flames without shearing them. Otherwise, each Flame has a unique color and power associated with it. Even identical twins 'shear' a Flame in half when born, meaning that either only one twin is Flamed, or they have fractions and reinterpretations of the original Flame.
seen as status symbols? In almost all countries, yes. They are socially incredibly important in part due to how fantastical and awe-inspiring their powers may be. Not all countries venerate Flame as divine or godly expressions, but do see Flame as generally powerful and worthy of respect. Some think Flamed individuals must be held to higher standards than Unflamed due to their greater capacity for power and ego.
be corrupted or damaged in some way? No. Flames are not inherently corrupting, evil, or consuming. One might use their Flame for 'evil' or selfish reasons, but the Flame itself is not marred by this, weakened by it, or necessarily strengthened... unless they have a Flame of destroying others or the like. Flames are most vulnerable during transfers, when they can physically be touched and prodded with. Flames physically look like clumps of dense, colorful gaseous Magninium.
Flame • hereditary boons that are specific to bloodlines and individuals, supplementing their natural magic with various unique powers. Most mortals of this universe have Flame too weak to use.
Heat • how "hot" a Flame burns; dictates how powerful it is and how often its powers can be called upon. From strongest to weakest, the heats are: Dominion > Harbinger > Throne > Glory > Pillar > Wings > Servant.
Passion • the unique powers of a Flame - what its conceptual wavelength resonates with, broadly describing the powers it bestows. Passions can be incredibly specific, or very broad (ex. the Blue Flame of Victory). Every passion has a unique color associated with it.
Stoking • the act of making a Flame stronger, potentially enough to increase its heat into another. Not all Flames can be stoked. 'Stoking' generally involves doing things that align with the Flame's passion (ex. a Flame of art is stoking by creating, appreciating, or collecting art).
Shearing • the act of passing a Flame on, usually by having children (though there are other means of separating someone from their Flame). The process 'shears' and weakens the original Flame, usually almost completely.
Soot-seeing • the practice of reading an individual's internal Flame to understand its color, and therefore its passion. Soot-seers can also vaguely tell if a Flame is capable of being stoked. It is a difficult and imprecise art.
Trivia & Misc
- Flames that are related to fire, heat, etc. are not seen as more "right" or "better" in any fashion - the term 'Flame' is an abstraction and is understood to not quite be literal. Moreover, many Flames whose passions involve fire itself are actually involved in the manipulation of Flame itself, especially other people's Flame.
- All individuals alive have some amount of Flame in them, but in 'Unflamed' individuals it is too weak to use and often too weak to stoke. Exceptions are made, of course, but are exceedingly rare.
- It is exceptionally rare to be capable of stoking a Harbinger or Dominion Flame on one's own. Typically, the highest passion any individual could stoke to is Throne, though not for lack of trying - the gap between Harbingers and Thrones is immense, and the gap between Dominions and Harbingers impossible to fathom.
- The same Flame can express differently in different people as it's passed between them. Flames are personal expressions of identity and will generally be of a same or similar passion, but their results may be vastly differed. For example, the Blue Flame of Victory in Emperor Remeyan's possession enabled him to win battles, duels, and chess; in Emperor Peaches' hand, it allows him to intuit what to speak during meetings and politics and "win" socially instead. It will always remain the Flame of Victory, but what that 'Victory' entails is unique to each host.