The word Remnant is always capitalized in the books. In the magic of Cradle, Remnants are key to the practice of Sacred Arts.
A Remnant is made of congealed spirit, madra. It’s what’s left behind when a sacred artist dies. However, the artist might need to be at least at the Iron level to form a Remnant.
A Remnant is not the person it once was. That person is gone. It’s only a faint echo of the Sacred Artist. A reflection, perhaps. Except, in rare cases, it is more “real” (see character section, below).
The technique you practice the most is imprinted into your Remnant, its binding:
Ziel shook his head. “They develop a thousand ways to use the same seven or eight techniques. When you practice a technique, it becomes engraved in your spirit in the form of a binding. With use, it grows, until it is far stronger than any new technique you could learn.” (Ghostwater ch 12)
A Remnant can be powerful, as it is also a technique solidified, but it has only a fraction of the power it had in life. The Remnant from the Sage of the Endless Sword was quite powerful, but not nearly as strong as it was when corporeal.
a Remnant forming
Sopharanatoth watches her sister die and form a Remnant:
The girl's lifeline was unraveling, green dissipating into aura, and her spirit had already started to congeal. Her Remnant was beginning to form.. . A golden serpent slithered away from her body, and Sophara stepped away, eyes closed, tears streaming down her cheeks. She couldn't look at her own sister's Remnant. She heard the Truegolds guiding the spirit away. They would use the Remnant to raise up another student, in honor of her sister, or else they would send it to the Soulsmiths to form it into a guardian treasure for their family, so Ekeri could add to the glory of the bloodline forever. Or a weapon, to be used against the one who had killed her.(Ghostwater ch 9)
Sword Sage’s Remnant
After the Sword Sage died, the murderers tried to take his Remnant. Yerin hated them and didn’t want them to defile her master’s last remains. She battled the Remnant and won. Then the Remnant became her Goldsign swords, brimming with sword aura. See Unsouled.
For over a year, Yerin tried to listen for her master within the Remnant. She expected it to still guide her on her Path. Finally she had to accept that her beloved master was truly gone. The Remnant was not the man. (See Blackflame, book 3)
More attacks landed, and he took another step. Another. His entire being fixed on the door, and his existence narrowed down to a singular purpose. He was going to that door, and these people would not stop Yerin from advancing. She would succeed him. Those were the two most prominent thoughts his Remnant inherited when it rose from his body. The door. And Yerin. (Wintersteel prologue)
A Viable Spirit
Humans, sacred beasts, and sacred trees / plants leave a Remnant behind when they die, but only if they have a viable spirit. The old Patriarch Jai Daishou could not leave a viable Remnant, because the Archstone had torn his spirit apart.
Dreadbeasts do not leave a Remnant, because in life, their spirit gets mangled up into their flesh.
In very rare cases, enough of the original person’s memories can be recovered, as in the case of Emriss Silentborn, the Remnant Monarch, who was originally a sacred tree before she died. This seems to also be true of the Remnant of the beloved Monarch, Tiberian Arelius (see section below).
- Many sacred artists use a Remnant to advance from Jade to Lowgold. See details of how this is done at Lowgold
- To advance to Herald, a Lord level artist —- typically an Archlord — must manifest his Remnant and merge with it, so a Herald becomes half-spirit.
- (But Yerin merged with the spirit of Ruby, instead, to become Herald)
- Remnants are also used in Soulsmithing
Remnant of Tiberian
Multi-colored lightning thundered out of the portal. . . A man’s face pushed through, and Lindon could make out clear features of his face. This spirit was at least as dense as Little Blue or Ruby, with a similar level of existence. He looked like Eithan’s older brother, with short hair and a short beard, and a deeper light crackled in his eyes. When he emerged, spiritual pressure pushed down on all of them. Even Reigan Shen flinched briefly at the tension in the air. This was a Monarch without months of hunger aura eroding his spirit. A true Monarch’s Remnant. As its gaze landed on Eithan, Lindon saw a golden collar encircling the Remnant’s throat. Runes on the gold blazed with power. “Eithan,” the Remnant said, with a voice like buzzing lightning. “You survived.” (Reaper, ch 16)