Sanryu, the grounds for
many different arts, arcane, martial or otherwise, is one of the most basic
principles of life, be it sentient or not, that is said to be able to grant
amazing power. Though the idea of Sanryu is not fully understood even by the
most accomplished pracitioners, the Sanriers (see Blood Magic section for
details), it is a concept, which is very essential to the functioning of
various organisations located mainy on the continent of
Nybelmar and especially to Marmarra, where
the idea originates.
Sanryu, as was once called "The Fuel for Function" by Gairus Meitarel - one of the most historically important Sanriers due to his advances in the limits of Blood Magic - is a force, which according to the oldest Pyrunai teachings is present in all living creatures, found in their blood. Though many hypotheses exist to explain fundamentally what "Sanryu" is, none have been confirmed as the definitive explanation to this mystery.
Sanryu is a principle which is central to various arts and practices of
Western Nybelmar, in which it is very
important. Most of these practices (including the more famous ones, like
Blood Magic) are performed in the Zhunite
citystate of Marmarra. Sanryu itself has, therefore, become a very integral
part to Marmarran life. It is hard to escape in Marmarra the influence that
Sanryu has had on the Citystate, even up to the buildings that exist. Some of
the most imposing and magnificent buildings of the City are dedicated to
Sanriers (the name given to those who practice
Blood Magic), perhaps one of the
most iconic being the "Pyrunai Sanrier Institute" - established by the three
In fact, the building's nature is very similar to the common perception of Sanryu-orientated arts in Marmarra. The building itself is the hub of the most powerful organisation of Sanriers on the continent, and people respect the grounds to a very high degree, some see in it even some sort of religious sanctuary. And despite the most accomplished Sanriers being showered with affection by the people, there is always an aura of fear around them. For as with all great power, there is also danger. Though the institute is very strict about its practices being kept secret, stories leak out. Sadly, these stories seem always to be about dangerous new techniques which help a Sanrier cause more pain with greater ease, or worse, tales of ambitious (or power hungry) Sanriers losing their lives from malpractice. It is due to this element of danger that some avoid Blood Magic and other Sanryu arts, though it could be suggested by ardent followers of the art that these people are just reluctant to drink blood to enhance their power (see Blood Magic entry for details). All in all, the general impression of Sanryu on Marmarrans can be summed up into "Great Power, Great Danger".
Outside of Marmarra, there are very few Sanryu orientated arts except the more widespread "Sanryu Mariksu" martial art, and the "Raiyorn Children" cult. These exceptions though are almost always within the Zhun area. The other Zhunites though tend to view Sanryu as something evil and untrustable, due to it being a Marmarran 'invention' - and Marmarra isn't known as the "City of Witches" for no reason.
Theory. The actual definiton of "What is Sanryu?" is still a disputed topic. Most take it that Sanryu is the bonding force between an individual's spirit and their physical form. These people seem to believe that Sanryu acts as the "knot" between the threads of "Spirit" and "Body", which thus defines a sentient being. According to this interpretation life and death of a person are directly linked to Sanryu as well. People that trust this idea believe that when a person dies, they lose their Sanryu (or rather, the person dies because they lose their Sanryu) and thus their body and spirit are seperated.
At a more in-depth look, one can assume that when someone controls their Sanryu flow to strenghten a certain aspect of themselves, they are in fact increasing the intensity of their spiritual and physical linking. The Zhunite men (who the Marmarrans as the "discoverers" of Sanryu are a part of) see the "Spirit" as the pure core of existence. They feel that a spirit is something of great power, though it requires a "shell" to function in effectively. This "shell" takes the form of the physical body. The body though is something highly limting for the ability of the spirit. Therefore, a lot of Zhunites/Marmarrans believe that the control of Sanryu simply strengthens the spirit's prevalence over their "shell", allowing more of its true potential to be released. For a more detailed discussion on the Zhunite concept of "Spirit", please refer to the Zhunites Religion Entry in the Compendium.
The Sanryu Flow System. The most recognised idea within the whole of the Sanryu concept is that of Sanryu flow: "The Sanryu flow system exists in all beings, animal or sentient, and is what allows all bodily functions, from the lowliest blink to sprinting leagues" - Giran Pyrunai, The Eldest of the Brothers.
In the following we summarise the explanations and ideas that make up the system as it is taught in the Pyrunai institute, its details created by the individual Pyrunai brothers, Giran, Fedor and Mwita Pyrunai. The Sanryu Flow System works by relaying Sanryu around the body using beacon-like points called "Mydri" (Zhunite combination from the words "Myi" which means "important" and "dria" which means "point"), of which there are 41 on the human body. Please note that different species are said to have different numbers. Each Mydri is a point on the body (almost all of them points inside blood vessels) that receive Sanryu that flows around the body. The Mydri work as "gates" and cause the Sanryu to move around the body, until they reach the next Mydri. However, the points are isolated from each other, and so the Sanryu, which they receive and send, has no way of travelling. Though nobody is completely sure what property or quality of blood allows it, but Sanryu is capable of moving from Mydri to Mydri through blood. Due to the sheer mass of Sanryu in a normal personís body there is always a certain concentration of Sanryu present in the blood.
All body parts seem to notice Sanryu, though some more so than others. Muscles and organs seem to be the most likely to react with Sanryu, whereas other organic materials, such as bone are harder for Sanryu to work with. Despite varying responses, every part of the body is able to function when Sanryu is Ďabsorbedí into them. Whenever Sanryu flows past a certain point, the said point is animated. This animation though is fundamentally different to the animation that one may use, lets say, to create a zombii. In the case of the zombii, the matter is unnaturally animated, the magic of its creator allowing it to move. However, in the case of the Sanryu being used to animate flesh, the flesh is naturally alive.
In addition to flesh being responsive to Sanryu, flesh also is able to notice the amount of Sanryu present. This is a vital element to what is known as "Blood Magic". It basically means that flesh is able to use Sanryu accordingly to the amount of Sanryu that is around. In the case of muscles, a more on Sanryu will make them stronger etc. This also means though that in unresponsive materials, Sanryu is unable to affect them. A stone wall, for example, will not be strengthened if more Sanryu is applied to it. So to summarise - Sanryu has natural harmony within the body, but when used outside has limited possiblities unless you have a substantial understanding of its workings.
Other Ideas for Sanryu Definition. Though as mentioned above there is a more recognised explanation of what Sanryu is, there are many others that exist. One is that of the "Raiyorn Children", a group of Sanriers who use their gift to perform acts of powerful healing, that are often labelled miraculous. They are a part of a small cult that worship the God "Raiyorn" - the Son of the Shadow and the Light. The Children of Raiyorn think Sanryu represents the "Divine Breath", or simply "His Breath". They believe that at every birth Raiyorn "breathes" onto the individual, and that this is what grants them life. They also believe that due to the inferior design of the "Children" (as humanity is called), "His Breath" eventually escapes, causing death. For a more detailed look at the religion of the "Raiyorn Children" please refer to the appropiate entry.
Practices. Sanryu is involved in numerous practices, some more well-known than others, such as Blood Magic or Sanryu Mariksu ("Sanryu Exploitation"). In Blood Magic, a Sanrier (a Blood Magic pracitioner) controls their own Sanryu flow to enhance own abilties, heal themselves or others and even survive fatal blows. Blood Magic also teaches individuals how to increase the amount of Sanryu in their body safely.
Image description. Landaria Celene, one of the most famous mistresses of the formidable Red Sisters. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.
Easily the most reputed practice of that involves the theory of Sanryu and its application, Blood Magic - a form of magic that involves improving physical abilities to a inhuman degree and manipulating the body's own Sanryu to perform various feats. A system which has near limitless applications and possibilties it is popular and feared. It is stated you can never take a Sanrier at face value - for he may be a compassionate healer that prevents limitless casualties on the battlefield, or he may be a seasoned associate of murder who can kill you with a simple touch. One should not be fooled though, Blood Magic may grant you amazing abilties but it remains a grisly practice. For one thing, the individual must overcome their own squeamish tendencies if they wish to continue to the higher levels in this art - since it is considered common place to drink blood to raise your amount of Sanryu.
Blood Magic has a central place in the minds of many Marmarran citizens, who often hear about the workings of various groups of notably dangerous Sanriers - the Infamous Red Sisters for one. In fact Blood Magic is not just a matter of the arcane for Marmarrans, but one of political concern, as it has proved to be on many occasions in Marmarran history.
Sanryu Mariksu (Martial Arts)
In the martial art, Sanryu Mariksu (which literally translates as "Sanryu Exploitation" from Zhunite), the individual hits various points on the body which are linked to the Sanryu flow system. Through the manipulation of these points the fighter can disable parts of the opponents body, send into a state of paralysis and - in the cases of the seasoned masters - kill in no more than seven hits (supposedly). Sanryu Mariksu though is notoriously difficult to learn due to its basis learning 41 points on the body and memorising endless combinations of points to achieve the amazing effects.
Arts of San'jur (Body Balancing, (Medicinal Practices)
Sanryu is also part of many medical practices. Various potions and concoctions have been formulated which can help stabilise the Sanryu flow system, which (in theory) can temporaliy induce effects found in Blood Magic or cure blindness, among other things. The market of Sanryu potions though is famous for being wrought with scams and fakes which promise amazing effects at extortionate prices (that of course they never happen).