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Alchemic Elementals

Elemental by Fi Bowman

In Alchemy, there are believed to be four elements: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. These four elements have corresponding elementals that are associated with each element: Sylph (sometimes known as Silpheed), Undine, Gnome (often replaced with Golems), and Salamander (sometimes replaced with Efreet), respectively.

Except for the Salamandernote , they first appeared in the alchemical works of Paracelsus. From there, these elementals took root in popular imagination, and frequently appear as a set representing their respective elements. They are the most common form of Elemental Embodiment for the classical elements.

Subtrope of Elemental Embodiment. May be a kind of Nature Spirit. See also Elemental Powers.

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Natsu 'Salamander' Dragneel of Fairy Tail. Although he's the only example thus far.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the original transmutation array for Roy Mustang's Flame Alchemy, which he later destroyed by scarring Riza Hawkeye's back, which it had been tattooed to, features a salamander, as do the simplified transmutation circles on his gloves.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima! Chao summoned fire spirits are called salamanders, surprisingly the wind equivalents are called valkyries.
  • In Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL, Yuma received some support monsters that are based on these beings as part of a Batman Gambit on the part of Vector. There are some more examples in the "tabletop Games" folder.
  • Monster Rancher: The Undine and Salamanders show up as villains.
  • ARIA: The gondoliers who act as tour guides are called Undines. Those who crew the weather stations that regulate Mars's weather and keep it warm enough are called Salamanders. Those running the underground relativistic machinery that keep Mars's gravity at 1G are Gnomes. And those who ride one-man anti-gravity flyers to provide delivery services are called Sylphs.
  • Berserk eventually features elements once Schierke shows up. She is able to commune with the elemental spirits (the Earth spirit appears to be a golem), and gives the others elemental weapons: Isidoro gets a fire dagger crawling with tiny lizard-shaped things, Serpico gets a wind-infused cloak and rapier, and presumably Guts would have gotten an earth-infused axe if he hadn't turned it down in favor of his Dragonslayer.

    Comic Books 
  • A group of superheroes known as "The Elementals" appear in Superfriends, the members are one man and three women named Gnome, Undine, Sylph, and Salamander, whose powers are controllong earth, water, wind, and fire respectively.

    Literature 
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series has all four. They will serve those who have a talent for their respective elements, and cooperate with mages with a complementary element, but dislike and avoid those with opposing elemental affinity.
  • Tanya Huff's Quarters series has them all, as well, as a kind of Nature Spirit. They can be "sung" (controlled) by those with the proper elemental affinity. Most have only one or two affinities, but some rare individuals can control three or even all four kinds.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's short story "Magic, Inc." mentioned all of the standard 4 types (undine, salamander, gnome, and sylph).
  • All four are mentioned as possible afterlives for women in The Rape of the Lock, depending on personality.
  • Books of E. T. A. Hoffmann present all types. Some of whom were in very close relationships with humans and other creatures. Generally, upsetting even benign ones is a catastrophically bad idea.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, at one point, one character sneers at Paracleus for having gnomes instead of oreads. Eramus explains that the original document had had oreads, and the Circle of Solomon had tampered with it to prevent that knowledge getting out — you see, gnomes don't cause earthquakes. Other than that substitutions, they are the typical four.
  • In Deverry they are collectively known as the Wildfolk, and are Invisible to Normals. There's also a fifth type for the fifth element of Aethyr. Commanding Wildfolk is one of the most common ways a Dweomermaster (sorceror) influences the physical world - lighting or extinguishing fires by gesturing to Salamanders, encouraging Gnomes or Sylphs to lift or push objects, asking Wildfolk of the Aethyr to create a glowing aura, etc.

    Myths and Folklore 
  • The Salamander is a special case, as one may have noticed, of the listed creatures, it's the only one that is an existing animal. The Salamander and its associations with fire is one of the longest lasting myths in western civilization. The Romans believed Salamanders could extinguish fires by touching them. The Talmud lists the Salamander as a creature of fire, whose blood makes one immune to fire. Leonardo da Vinci wrote that Salamanders have no digestive organs, only needing fire to feed themselves and regenerate. The exact reason for all these stories and the length of times through which they survived is often theorized to be due to a behavior of Real Life Salamanders. Being amphibians, they seek lair in humid locals, like stacks of wood kept outdoors. People would then use that wood to make fires, which would wake the Salamanders and cause them to flee for their lives, leaving people convinced the creatures had been "birthed" by the flames through abiogenesis. As wood remained a primary source of heating for humans till the industrial revolutions, such events, though rare, would keep reoccurring, ensuring that the myths of the fiery Salamander would live on.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Several of Chaosium's games had them.
    • Stormbringer/Elric: The standard 4 types.
    • RuneQuest: The standard 4 plus Shade (darkness)
  • Dungeons & Dragons had the Elemental-Kin, which included the salamander and sylph.
  • Various Yu-Gi-Oh! card feature one of the alchemic elementals as monsters. The most notable one is Genex Undine, a Steam Punk version of Undine.

    Video Games 
  • Arc Rise Fantasia has the four elementals as enemies, but in this game all of them take the form of floating magic wands that casts spells of their respective elements.
  • Lost Magic has each of the Alchemic Elementals as capturable/summonable monsters for their respective elements.
  • Multiple titles in the World of Mana series (including Sword of Mana, Secret of Mana, and Seiken Densetsu 3) feature Undine, Gnome, Salamander, and Sylph as spirits that you can take along to help you by casting spells of their respective elements. There are also 4 other unrelated spirits: Shade (darkness), Dryad (wood), Wisp/Lumina (light), and Luna (moon).
  • In the Final Fantasy series, Salamander and Sylph appear as summons periodically, especially in the Ivalice games. Undine and Gnome have never appeared in the series; the honor of water elemental summon almost always goes to Leviathan and the earth domain is typically split between Titan and Golem.
    • The exception being Final Fantasy XII, which features the Entite class of enemy, in which all four alchemic elementals are represented.
    • Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings features Salamander, Sylph and Gnoam as Rank 1 espers (fire, non-elemental and earth respectively), with Rank 2 water esper Siren possibly standing in for the Undine.
    • In the PS1 version of Final Fantasy I, the Earth Elemental was translated as "Gnoma".
  • Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Phantasia had summon spirits of certain elements and had Gnome, Undine, and The Sylphs, and Salamander was replaced with a Djinn-like creature called Efreet. Additionally there was Maxwell who had providence over the four nature spirits, Shadow the summon spirit of Darkness, Celsius of Ice, Luna and Aska of light (The Moon and the Light specifically in Phantasia), Volt of lightning, and Origin of everything.
  • Pokémon: Charmander and its line of evolution appears to be based on the salamander's association with fire. Its first form is obviously named after salamanders, and it ultimately becomes a fire-breathing dragon.
  • Marin from Brave Soul can summon all four of them. Undine is spelled "Windy" due to a tranlation error.
  • In Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, the four elemental Summon Magic spells are named for them.
  • Typically, these are a special form of demon in Shin Megami Tensei, which have unusual effects when used in fusions.
  • In Monster Girl Quest, Luka has to find and defeat Sylph, Gnome, Undine and Salamander, the four elemental spirits, in order to absorb their power.
  • Appear in Drakengard as your allies' pact-creatures. Leonard gets a sylph (a Small Annoying Creature), Arioch gets Undine and Salamander (who appear as a glowing blue/red orb respectively), but Seele gets a golem so huge its fists fill up the screen.
  • Averted in Golden Sun, where the elementals are called Djinn, Mon-like creatures with different appearances depending on their effect (in Dark Dawn, the previous games gave them all the same appearance). However, the standard elementals (gnomes, salamanders, faeries and a merman) do appear as enemies.