Like water, magic can be found in three states: Quintessence, maki and quari.
Quintessence: The refined form of magic is called quintessence, and is used for spellcasting, performing miracles, enchanting objects and fueling magic items, (and on some worlds, fueling mundane appliances and even starships as well). Once stored within the body, Quintessence has been blamed for many serious health conditions that plagued adepts and shapers for centuries, resulting in the creation of a storage reservoir and eventually the power template itself, which floats beside the magic wielder, protecting the user from the quintessence’s taint. The art of using magic without the aid of some sort of power template has been lost to the civilized cultures, but this is not a concern as power templates are considered to be an irreplaceable tool in every mage’s arsenal.
Magic wielders regularly perform cleansing rituals to ensure they are not retaining unhealthy amounts of quintessence within their bodies. Improvements in power template design have also helped shunt quintessence into the template’s storage reservoir where it can be safely tapped as needed.
Some creatures, like arcane terrors and dragons, are apparently unaffected by the presence of quintessence stored within their bodies and seem to be able to even refine magic internally, and demonstrate a number of magical talents. Recently, scientists have observed quintessence during spellcasting, and have noted that especially complex and powerful spells seem to cause quintessence to lose cohesion and change states more quickly than with lesser spells. Even so, with all that is known about magic in recent years, much still remains a mystery.
For example, immense regions of quintessence have been discovered in every known dimension, but it is unknown how it came to be refined. Furthermore, it is not generally understood why certain configurations or clusters of quintessence react differently than others, causing consistent effects under proper conditions. While such mysteries have not diminished its popularity among spell casters, scientists in many circles question the use of quintessence as a valid fuel alternative, especially commercially, due to stability concerns. Even so, quintessence has been labeled the new green energy on more than a dozen worlds, and has seen considerable implementation both commercially and industrially in recent years.
Maki: A less refined state of Quintessence, some refer to it as magic residue, left over from a fading spell, but there’s more to it than that. Maki is very useful and can be safely stored internally and controlled without the need of a power template. It can be found readily wherever quintessence may be found. It can be reabsorbed and used again and again along with ambient maki, without significant loss of quality, since it is not used as a fuel for spells or miracles and therefore breaks down more slowly, remaining stable for a great length of time. Maki’s primary purpose is to activate and control certain magical devices, most notably, power templates, but it can also be used to perform minor miracles and other weak magical effects.
Maki, like quintessence, permeates everything it touches. Hence, it can even be absorbed through consuming food, though creatures who have not been trained in the magical arts or who do not possess magical talents some creatures enjoy, cannot make use of maki in any meaningful way.
Unless artificially inhibited, an adept, shaper or other magic wielder will absorb and expel maki as desired throughout the day, harmlessly, unlike quintessence. After a time, a shaper wouldn’t even realize she’s absorbing maki throughout the day, any more than she would notice that she’s breathing, unless she focused on it. Many objects are built with the capacity to absorb maki from the air and sometimes even quintessence.
Quari: Magic’s raw state, Quari, is in the most abundance in the universe, but is apparently useless for casting spells without first being refined. When found near large concentrations of metal, it seethes with magical static. In this state, it can be very disruptive to spellcasting, rendering unexpected results. As quari is difficult to detect, most mages are usually only aware of its presence by detecting the presence of magical static or when a spell goes haywire. Others who are more attuned to magic can sense magic in all its forms when concentrating. Whether magic has any purpose in the quari state or not is anyone’s guess.
Some have suggested that quari comes in many variations, and has different characteristics, depending on its proximity to sources of power, such as gates, artifacts and dimensional rifts or dimensional borders. It is said that quari resonates with a dimensional frequency and psi harmony that is still only barely understood by the casual magical practitioner. Adepts tap quari found on their deity’s home plane and channel it into their prayer templates, but also rely on ambient magic as needed, while most shapers tap quari wherever they can find it and store it in their arcane templates.
The Cosmothereal dimension is teeming with quari, quintessence and maki, and is considered to be the birthplace of all magic, which apparently seeped through rifts and other openings into the rest of the universe and dimensions over time. Whatever the case, by the time a shaper has completed his training, he has learned the art of absorbing and refining quari using a power template, though quintessence and maki remain their chief focus.