Friday, January 10, 2014

Concept101: Celestia and Its Shadow

Wizard101 Celestia Concept Art

Every now and then, I like to take a look at old concepts. Not only because not everyone here was around at the time some pieces were released, but also because I would hope Concept101 has inspired you to take a closer look at KingsIsle art, and revisiting old pieces can offer a new perspective... especially with high-quality versions.

Wizard101 Celestia Concept ArtCelestia and Morganthe

Long ago, the Astral Wizards of Celestia created powerful magic using the energy of the Stars, the Moon, and the Sun. The sorceress Morganthe, a Queen of the Shadow Web, wanted the secrets of the Celestian magic at all costs. The Celestians Refused her, so she raised a Dark Army and sent it against Celestia. After Decades of battle, the Astral Wizards realized their world would fall. They summoned the Storm Titan to defeat Morganthe’s legions and to take their world to a place of safety.

The Storm Titan betrayed the Celestians by Sinking their world beneath the Waves along with Morganthe’s invading forces. Realizing they were Doomed, the Celestians raised mighty Domes to protect some of their treasured city from the waves, though it was too late! They Perished along with Morganthe's invading army. Celestia was lost to the Spiral, its Spiral Door closed forever.

Centuries later, a team of brave explorers from the Spiral Geographic Society, led by Sir Thurston Plunkett, re-discovered Celestia. They landed with an Air-Ship and built Exploratory Undersea Domes to explore Celestia’s ruins. Plunkett and his fellow explorers soon realized that Celestia was now inhabited by a strange new culture... the Crustacean Empire. Unfortunately, the explorers did not come alone to Celestia. Morganthe’s followers, the Shadow Weavers, stand ready to take Celestia’s magic for their Queen.

After receiving the Spiral Geographic Society’s Distress Call, Headmaster Merle Ambrose of the Ravenwood School for Magic seeks any young Wizards brave enough to journey to the undersea world of Celestia and discover the secrets of its Lost Magic.

Wizard101 Celestia Concept Art

To this day, the world of Celestia remains to be one with more lore than just about any other in the Spiral, leaving it to be a pretty big kick-off to a new arc. Its history and relics, along with the past doings of the people in the once-great and advanced civilization, have left an impact across the Spiral, including those exclusive to Pirates. In another Concept101, Origins of a Water Mole, I talked about the fact that the one place we'd seen a lot of these creatures was the Floating Land in Wizard101's Celestia, and they'd now joined Skull Island's long list of factions. Hmm.

Morganthe was an evil Wizardess long before she discovered Celestia. We saw evidence of that in Ghost Avalon, a look into the past. When she finally attacked, as the story explains, the Celestians knew that their only chance was the Storm Titan, who betrayed them and sunk their world, which they attempted to preserve with huge, underwater domes, though the Spiral door was sealed. Now, Morganthe continues to desire this Celestial magic, but seems to be pursuing it in new forms. 

Celestia's Magic and Its Secrets

In an interview with Fred Howard, Jason Durell, and Justin Wingard, reported that the "background for Celestia comes from a broad survey of material about sunken worlds from history, myth, and literature, ranging from ancient Greece’s Boura and Phanagoria; the mythical Hy Breasil, Lyonesse, Ker Ys, and Cantre’r Gwaelod; and on the literary side, H.P. Lovecraft’s R’lyeh as well as Roger Zelazny’s Rebma. We wanted to evoke a lot of these, but also do something fresh and new and tied with the Astral schools of magic, so we devised a culture that would naturally look to the stars for their magic and the source of their learning."
Wizard101 Celestia Concept Art
And in reading further, we learn about Astral Magic: "The original builders of Celestia certainly have an origin that places them from among the stars, but we also wanted to pair that with something ancient and a bit more mysterious, and the notion of turning this futuristic, advanced society into an ancient ruin at the bottom of a sea seemed the way to go. The Astral schools of magic figure into the story ultimately as the source of Celestia’s downfall. As players learned through the Celestia preview quest line, and will learn in Celestia itself, long ago a powerful Wizardess named Morganthe came to Celestia seeking to learn all the magic she could. She knew that the Celestians had secrets of magic beyond anything that she could learn from the teachers at Ravenwood, and she demanded they teach her the greatest of their secrets... power that could remake the Spiral according to her whim!" (I don't remember those kind of spells on the Astral trainers... unless you count how the spells have added debate and chaos to the arena...)

Now Morganthe is deeply involved in Shadow Magic. But just look at our first forms - they deliberately draw from Astral schools. The Eclipse Tower, full of moon symbols, should be our first hint. And then, that the three spells to learn are transformations. Of course, we must learn to control these, but the concept is the same. At the end of Khrysalis Part 1, we learn of another type of Shadow Magic - the Sun form. Then it can only be assumed that we'll get some sort of shady enchantments and auras down the line. But that's some theorizing for another post. (I'm also curious if, in the third arc, the third great titan will make an appearance - the same one that sank Celestia.) To understand Shadow Magic and the end of the Morganthe arc, we must first understand Celestia.

A Closer Look at Old Art

I found the largest version of this art at West Karana, and later an analysis by the Friendly Necromancer that I enjoyed. Here's my own look at a few of the more interesting parts of the art.

Wizard101 Celestia Concept Art

This particular part of the image contains a concept within a concept... Concept inception! Each one is used as a photo in the drawing, and this particular one has a few strange captions - first, the fraction "8/7." As Cret92 would say, Fractions101 is practically undeniable. It also reads "Their's is a wanton of life," though we lose the "e." Wanton would not necessarily be my choice word here, but used by an alternate definition of deliberate and unprovoked actions that are cruel and violent, it could fit the Celestians.... right?

This almost gives off the impression that the Celestians themselves are cruel beings - a very orderly and oppressive society of high-class intellectuals, and perhaps "wanton" is used to describe their interactions with the unpleasant, undersea creatures... under the Umbra queen's upbringing? (For the sake of the u's)

Wizard101 Celestia Concept Art

The second image is a bit more clear. It has either #216 or #2/6. It then reads "Celestia Underwater Fortress." Now we know this isn't actually a fortress, just a fortress of sorts to protect the remainder of the Celestians and their civilization. It appears that we have the "hub" area with the Spiral door and entrance location on the far left, and then I'd assume that the double dome further back is part of the Science Center, though the representation here may be inaccurate. 

Wizard101 Celestia Concept Art

At the edge of the parchment is writing. You can clearly make out Celestia. It looks like three words are underlined above, though Friendly believes it says "Where is Celestia?" which certainly makes sense given that the piece of art is all about the search for the world. 

Wizard101 Celestia Concept Art

This next bit is part of a sketch book and is actually quite interesting. The crab here is a real concept - a released one, too. This is a black-and-white version complete with weapons and text, that has been placed onto the parchment paper of a book. The writing is particularly hard to read here, though it seems that the second line has an "-effer" word. 

Wizard101 Celestia Concept Art

The final image is of a stone. There are two pictured in the photo, though the other is tougher to see and cut off. It has a Spiral design of what almost looks to be breaks in the rock, and some sort of magma showing through, as whatever the substance or color is has some reflective quality. While I don't believe the circles or Spiral design itself is significant, I have to wonder about this rock... I don't recall any... more natural type rocks in Celestia like this. That leads me to wonder if this is or was a warning. Symbolic in some way. Of corruption and of Shadow Magic. Morganthe's influence stretched far and wide at the time of Celestia, and after obtaining her Deck of Shadows in Zafaria, she once again gained access to her Shadow Magic... what terrors does she plan to unleash with it?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral! Credits: Thanks to West Karana for the high-quality version of this photo and the Friendly Necromancer for a little friendly inspiration.

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