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Alchemic Elementals

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In (Western) Alchemy, there were believed to be four Natural Elements that matter could be reduced to: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. These four elements have corresponding Elemental Embodiments associated with them: Sylph (sometimes replaced with fairies or djinn/genies), Undine, Gnome (often replaced with Golems), and Salamander (sometimes replaced with Efreet), respectively.

Except for the Salamander,note  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. When these embodiments show up as a collective group, they make a Classical Elements Ensemble. See also Elemental Powers which these beings tend to have.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Birdy the Mighty: Christella Revi's Praetorian Guard are very clearly a Classical Elements Ensemble that is inspired by the alchemic elementals as each one is specifically named for one and has the corresponding elemental power. Salamander manipulates fire. Slyph controls wind, often manifesting as blades. Gnome possesses unimaginable strength on par with that of Ixorians. Undine controls water and is nearly unstoppable in an aquatic environment.
  • In Black Clover, Spirit Magic allows a wizard to summon an elemental creature to aid in elemental magic and at higher levels allow the user to merge with them to allow for extremely powerful spells. So far Yuno has the Sylph, Fana and later Fuegoleon have Salamander and the Queen of the Heart Kingdom has the Undine.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, the party encounter an undine in the lake level. It resembles a floating mass of water and is said to be made up of short-lived nature spirits. After Marcille runs low on mana, they make it into a soup to restore her.
  • In Digimon Frontier the "main character" Takuya's Digimon forms are all fire based of a dragon nature. Two of his Human Form's attacks are (in Japanese) Burning Salamander and Salamander Break, and his Character Theme is titled Salamander.
  • EDENS ZERO: The Rutherford siblings both use wind-type Ether Gear, and are both codenamed after a wind elemental: "Jinn" for the older brother, Kris, and "Sylph" for the younger sister, Kleene.
  • Natsu Dragneel of Fairy Tail is nicknamed "Salamander" as a Fire Dragon Slayer, although he's the only example of this in the series, as most other Dragon Slayers (except for "Black Steel" Gajeel) are simply nicknamed after their elements like "Sky Dragon" or "Poison Dragon". The word "Sylph" also shows up, but only as part of a treasure-hunting guild's name, Sylph Labyrinth.
    • The 2003 Pilot of the series, Fairy Tale, features four elemental tribes whose rulers are each named after the elementals: Salamander (the hero's father, whose name would be used as Natsu's nickname), Undine (the heroine's mother, whose design would be reused for Aquarius), Gnome, and Sylph.
  • Four Knights of the Apocalypse: Holy Knight Chion is able to command elementals to fight for him. So far, three out of four have appeared: Sylph, Gnome and Salamander.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the original transmutation array for Roy Mustang's Flame Alchemy features a salamander, as do the simplified transmutation circles on his gloves.
  • Monster Rancher: The Undine and Salamanders show up as villains.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi 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 card game in the Tabletop Games folder.

    Comic Books 
  • The Defenders once fought giant gnomes summoned by a sorcerer. These gnomes were made of living rock and were tough enough to give the Hulk a run for his money, but would dissolve into lifeless mud if they ever got wet. Once the Sub-Mariner discovered this weakness, he made very short work of them.
  • 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 controlling earth, water, wind, and fire respectively.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld's version of Russia, new Witch Alexandra Mumorovka is challenged by an over-confident Sylph to deduce, and tell her, its true name. Fortunately, Alexandra has recently read a thick guide to the folklore and nature spirits of Rodinia and has a good memory. Based on what she has read about the Court of the Wind Gods, she uses the approved three guesses to narrow it down to a name which is based on deduction and inspired guesswork. After the enraged Sylph calms down on realising it's been had, it becomes her Familiar as per magical tradition. They later become friends. Lexi and her familiar Zephoroschka appear in the tales of A.A. Pessimal.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Frozen II, Bruni is clearly a Fiery Salamander, giant stone golems take the place of Gnome, the Nokk takes the place of Undine and "Gale" seems to be an invisible Sylph.

  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy has djinn as "spirits of air and fire" (afrits are apparently solely fire-based) and golems as embodiments of earth. Not much is known about water elementals, though one is used as a weapon in the first book.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 James Herbert's Once, the inter-dimensional faerefolkis, said to inhabit "the spirit of nature", include undines, seen to inhabit a forest lake.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's short story Magic, Inc. mentioned all of the standard 4 types. The main character's enchanted building supplies are destroyed by a summoned undine, salamander, and gnome, and he goes to a witch to convince them to restore it all.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, at one point, one character sneers at Paracelsus 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 from getting out — you see, gnomes don't cause earthquakes. Other than that substitution, they are the typical four.
  • 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.
  • All four are mentioned as possible afterlives for women in The Rape of the Lock, depending on personality.
  • They feature in The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, especially salamanders, which are used for all domestic and industrial heating, and sylphs, which are used to empower Flying Carpets. The book's World of Pun approach to Magitek is featured heavily with the sylphs — systems to prevent them from acting up include sylph-control and sylph-esteem, and sabotaging a carpet is sylph-abuse.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Salamander is a special case, as one may have noticed, of the listed creatures, as 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 locales, 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 
  • In Battletech, the names are used four the first Clan Powered Armor developed after the iconic Elemental: True to their names, the Sylph could fly, the Undine could propel itself and fight underwater, and the Salamander was armed with flamethrowers and a napalm missile and was immune to fire and flame-based weaponry. The Gnome didn't have any special Earth-related abilities, other than being larger and tougher than standard Elemental suits.
  • Several of Chaosium's games had them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons had the Elemental-Kin, which included the salamander and sylph. Gnomes and Undines aren't included, but they're plenty of other strange elemental beings to fill in the gaps.
  • Ironclaw has elementals using Paracelsus' names as beings that Elementalist wizards can commune with and bind to talismans. Gnomes look like anthropomorphized boulders.
  • Pathfinder and Starfinder use Sylph and Undine as the names for the Air and Water Geniekin. "Gnome" was already in use, as was "Salamander"(though that monster is from the Plane of Fire), so the Earth and Fire geniekin get called "Oread" and "Ifrit" instead.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Various cards feature one of the alchemic elementals as monsters. The most notable one is Genex Undine, a Steampunk version of Undine.
    • Speaking of Yu-Gi-Oh! there are two Mermail monsters named Abyssdine and Abyssmander.

    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 cast spells of their respective elements.
  • Alundra 2 has 4 elemental summons that are based on the alchemical elementals - pixie (air), siren (water), dryad (earth) and newt (fire).
  • Marin from Brave Soul can summon all four of them. Undine is spelled "Windy" due to a translation error.
  • Chantelise: Chante, with Elise's help, can use Summon Magic to temporarily acquire spirits of the four elements the fire and wind ones are named for the classic Paracelsus elementals of their element: Salamander and Slyphie.
  • Appear in Drakengard as your allies' pact-creatures. Leonard gets a sylph (a Sidekick Creature Nuisance), 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.
  • 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 PlayStation version of Final Fantasy, the Earth Elemental was translated as "Gnoma".
  • Averted in Golden Sun, where the elementals are called Djinn, Mon-like creatures with different appearances depending on their effect (in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, the previous games gave all those of the same element the same appearance). However, the standard elementals (gnomes, salamanders, faeries, and a merman) do appear as enemies. The Mars lighthouse represents each element with fish (water), humans (earth), birds (wind), and dragons (fire).
  • In the Guilty Gear series, one of Dizzy's sentient wings takes the form of a blue skinned female humanoid named Undine. True to her name, she has power over water and ice.
  • LostMagic has each of the Alchemic Elementals as capturable/summonable monsters for their respective elements.
  • 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.
  • Typically, these are a special form of demon in Shin Megami Tensei, which have unusual effects when used in fusions.
  • In Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, the four elemental Summon Magic spells are named for them.
  • Various games in the Tales Series will have summon spirits representing a certain element. Gnome, Undine, Sylph, and Salamander having been replaced with a Djinn-like creature called Efreet. Additionally, there's Maxwell who has providence over the four nature spirits, Shadow the summon spirit of Darkness, Celsius of Ice, Rem of light (Luna and Aska represent light as well, but also the Moon specifically in Phantasia), Volt of lightning, Sekundes of time (Chronos in Xillia 2), Lorelei of sound, and Origin of everything. Other spirits that have appeared either represent a different element or the same one as another spirit.
  • Vagrant Story references these through the gemstones that Ashley can use to improve his gear, which include the gnome emerald, sylphid topaz, undine jasper and salamander ruby.
  • Multiple titles in the World of Mana series (including Sword of Mana, Secret of Mana, and Trials of Mana) feature Undine, Gnome, Salamander/Salamando, and Sylphid/Djinn 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).

  • Sleepless Domain's protagonists have them as names (although with the exception of Undine and Tessa, the names used are deviations from the respective being). They correlate to the element of magic used (except Tessa, which uses Aether, which has no elemental) Sally uses Fire Magic, Undine uses Water, Gwen uses Earth Magic and Sylvia uses Air magic.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "Flight to Cloud Castle", the ponies partner up with a gnome who has magical control over earth and stone, and battle an undine (here depicted a burly merman) who can shoot jets of water and a fire-slinging salamander.