Madra is a magical big deal in the Cradle series. Madra is the spiritual energy produced from vital aura in the environment and cycled into one's core and madra channels. Madra is necessary to follow a Path and employ techniques. Babies are born with pure madra. Gradually, a child’s core takes in the vital aura most abundant in their environment and they cycle its aspect — almost certainly not pure madra. When they die, sacred artists leave behind a Remnant made of madra.
- Read all about vital aura and madra at the main article: Madra
- Note: Unless creating a list or something, the word madra shouldn’t be capitalized. It is written hunger madra in the books, not Hunger Madra. Same with aura.
There are dozens of aspects, (see Madra List) but some are more relevant to the storyline:
- Hunger Madra - a key aspect in the entire Cradle series
- Pure Madra — a key aspect for Lindon and Eithan Arelius
Hunger madra is powerful. It is in the white binding of Lindon’s prosthetic arm. It is the driving impetus of every Dreadgod. It is the force powering the Archstone. There is an important relationship between hunger aura, hunger madra, Dreadgods, and the overweening ambitions of Monarchs. See also Sacred Arts.
Hunger madra is strong magic, an endless powerful craving. Wei Shi Lindon’s prosthetic arm gives him a good sense of the nature of hunger madra.
“He studied the arm. What he called hunger wasn't just that. It felt similar to hunger, but it was more textured, with deeper layers. He felt ambition, greed, gluttony, an endless desire to reach for more and more.” (Skysworn, ch 12)
Hungry hungry artifact:
The key to the western labyrinth, which Tiberian had once shown him. A shriveled, mummified, chalk-white right hand. Hunger of every kind passed through Shen. Hunger for food, yes, but also for recognition, for respect, for love, for attention, for success, for safety, for power. Greed flowed through him, and bloodlust, and plain old classic lust. He relished the sensations as, around him, the stone shook. Pebbles lifted into the air, drifting closer to the hand as its hunger warped even gravity. The Way stirred around him, affected by an artifact of such incredible significance. If he held the hand exposed long enough, it might manifest an Icon. (Bloodline ch 13)
Subject One says that all hunger on Cradle is connected — it’s all one (see Reaper, ch 21). The dreadgods are entities of hunger aura and madra. Each of the five Dreadgods hold a certain amount of power, and when one dies that beast’s power is distributed to the others. So, if Subject One dies, his power goes to the other four monsters, unless someone else successfully takes his power.
Black-and-white eyes met Lindon’s. “Hunger, you see, is all linked. It is one force, one entity, one. . . existence. As I spiraled out of control, so did our four greatest subjects. They escaped, contained as they were on the surface. . .but I was locked here.” (Reaper, ch 21)
He nodded to his pack sitting in the corner of the room. “What if we added a binding of our own? To the Shifting Skies arm, I mean.” That one was clearly the best selection, if only it came with a technique.
Fisher Gesha clearly understood what he meant, because she hesitated. “You should know that we've studied bindings like that one for generations. Dreadbeasts have plagued our lands long enough that we wanted to know what kind of madra created such monsters.” .. . “We never had a name for the white madra in dreadbeast bindings,” she continued. “Our drudges could measure some of its properties, you see, but not enough to identify it. These notes call it hunger madra, which is perhaps one of the most absurd names for a power that I've ever heard. Though it seems to fit.”
. . .“As far as we can tell, it's compatible with everything,” she said wryly. “Dreadbeasts attack us with madra of all aspects, and they all have one of those bindings inside them. Although it could be that the ones with incompatible spirits die off...” (Skysworn ch 7)
Father of Hunger Madra
About 2500 years ago, roughly, Subject One was a researcher and soulsmith. He may have lived in Sacred Valley but that’s speculation. Anyway, it’s said that he researched hunger madra, cycled from hunger aura, while experimenting with Dreadbeasts. “They say he virtually brought hunger madra to life.”(Reaper, ch 1). Research notes Lindon found in the Ruins support this interpretation:
“Generation Fourteen shows all the qualities we’d hoped for,” they read. “It demonstrates the capacity to devour and process madra with a high degree of efficiency, though each individual contains only one binding. If a sacred artist could cultivate similar techniques, our efficiency may double. . .” (Soulsmith, ch 17)
His work had unintended consequences when it resulted in the rise of the monstrous dreadgods. He unintentionally became the first Dreadgod, dubbed the Slumbering Wraith. He is known as “The Father of Hunger Madra” and is kept imprisoned in the Labyrinth.
The Ancestor’s Tomb was one of the most ancient structures in Sacred Valley, a blocky behemoth looming on titanic pillars. Once he made it inside, he could open the door to the labyrinth. The hunger madra would spill out, devouring everyone present. The Jades wouldn’t be able to handle the power, and he had to hope he could survive Subject One’s weakened techniques.(Wintersteel, prologue)
Research Goal: Hunger Aura
The research team wanted to deal with the problem of hunger aura. According to Subject One:
"Hunger aura is not a natural force. It is a corruption of the natural order of Cradle. A manifestation of ambition, of selfish desire, created by the presence of Monarchs.” In the time before the Dreadgods, "hunger aura drifted all over the world, and where it moved, all other aura weakened. It corrupted everything; Remnants, natural spirits, sacred beasts. Even humans."
He took a rattling breath. “We came to this Labyrinth as a secure location to perform our research. We were looking for a way to control the hunger aura.” ...“This site was old beyond memory, even to us. We used it as a trap to focus all the hunger aura in the world. Instead of running wild, it would be concentrated here, controlled by ancient seals. We researched fusing hunger bindings into animals, whose power would be suppressed by the great formation.” He laughed quietly, until Lindon couldn’t tell the difference between laughs and sobs. “We thought we had it under control.”
“The dreadgods will die only when there are no more Monarchs... Monarchs are too much for this world. A great weight. Sages like yourself are only half-ascended, which is within the scope of a world like ours. But when your body and your spirit have both grown too great for this world to contain, you must escape to a place that can contain you.” (Slumbering Wraith / Subject One, Reaper, ch 21)
Secondary Goal: Remnant
According to research notes Lindon discovered in the Transcendent Ruins (see book 2, Soulsmith), Subject One and his research team had another goal. They wanted to create Sacred Beasts with a viable hunger madra Remnant. So they manipulated various animals (perhaps maybe possibly a turtle, a tiger, and a Phoenix among them?). As master Soulsmiths, they would have then been able to forge powerful weapons and other constructs with that Remnant, just as they do with any other.
“These notes reference an origin for this madra, a single source from which they got all their samples. They were trying to breed sacred beasts that left Remnants of this aspect, but they never made it. At least, not by the time these notes were written.” (Skysworn ch 7)
Note: Unless creating a list or something, the word madra shouldn’t be capitalized. It is written hunger madra in the books, not Hunger Madra.