|“||Shinsu is the world itself.||”|
—Lo Po Bia Ren discussing Shinsu
Shinsu (신수 (神水), shinsu, literally "divine water") is a substance that flows through and is produced by the Tower. Each Floor has areas of varying amounts of Shinsu density, increasing with each Floor. In lower concentrations, its density makes the substance act like a gas, but in higher concentrations, it behaves like a liquid.
Shinsu's most significant difference to air is the laws by which it operates. Unlike air, which uniformly conforms to the laws of pressure when flowing, Shinsu has no unifying laws. It flows entirely differently in different places and Floors, at both its own whim and that of the Guardian of the floor. The flow of Shinsu determines its qualities, allowing it to appear as water, fire, light and other phenomena and materials. Shinsu has no singular property or feature, and is rather the very basis of all energy and things within the Tower.
Shinsu is essential for living in the Tower, as it allows for breathing and provides moisture for the inhabitants. Lero-Ro stated that within the Tower, Shinsu replaces air and carries out all the processes that air would.
According to Lero-Ro, Shinsu is said to have no limits. Through Shinsu alone, one can attain eternal youth, immortality, control over the elements and even the powers of a god. Also, there is a rumour Enryu is able to create life using Shinsu.
Shinsu and magic are individual concepts, and follow different rules. Of the two, the mechanics of Shinsu are more commonly known and accessible.
In Ashul Edwaru's "Of the Tower's Weapons", it is mentioned that Shinsu is created by the Tower and even exists in sealed areas. What Shinsu is created from, is unknown. In turn, the Guardians control Shinsu on each Floor. Since the Guardian of the 43rd Floor is dead, Shinsu on that Floor is very weak.
Sometimes when people start to handle Shinsu, their growth stops before they become adults.
Being able to directly control Shinsu is a very rare talent and it can be said that this talent itself is an absolute necessary requirement in order to become a Ranker. Basically, most, if not all, Regulars have some degree of control over Shinsu, although this does not mean all Regulars can become skillful manipulators of Shinsu. While Wave Controllers specialise in using it, all positions have to learn it eventually to pass the tests, to fight successfully or to use it to strengthen their bodies.
Irregulars, who have entered the tower on their own power, have a natural affinity with Shinsu, which leads to them being extremely powerful - one of the reasons they are considered to be so dangerous.
Shinsu Resistance is a natural resistance against Shinsu, allowing the individual to resist attacks consisting of Shinsu, move around in areas with certain amounts of Shinsu density and so on. It seems to be inborn for Tower inhabitants.
Air and Shinsu
Much research in the difference between air and Shinsu has been made by Ashul Edwaru's book:
- "First, the common point is that they both let living beings breathe. And they both exist all throughout their worlds. It is also noted that they both are powerful enough to threaten living things when they flow harshly.
- Then the difference? The biggest difference is indeed the characteristics that vary by concentration. In Shinsu's case it's more like a gas when it's in low concentrations and more like liquid when it is in high concentrations. However, it seems air cannot be liquefied, even in high concentrations.
- The second difference is the circulation. The circulation of Shinsu is very fluent but there is no common law and the movements are all different, depending on the Floor of the Tower you are on. However, it is said that there are set laws in the circulation of air. (I want to study some more about the laws, but the research is slow because none of the Irregulars that I have met are knowledgeable enough about the laws of air.)
- The third difference is consumption. Shinsu exists everywhere inside the Tower. So Shinsu exists even in a room that is completely sealed. Shinsu does not flow in from somewhere else, but is rather created from the Tower. Thus, Shinsu even exists within a vacuum. Air is not created from sealed places and, if a being is locked inside a sealed room, the being will consume all of the air and die. (It seems very uncomfortable.)"
Ashul states the readers might find it strange that he starts a book about weapons by speaking about Shinsu. However, that only means that they are ignorant about how weapons in the Tower function and are made.
Manipulation of Shinsu
There are two ways to control Shinsu: control through an item or direct control. Generally speaking, when one says "manipulating Shinsu", it usually refers to direct control.
Shinsu manipulation abilities vary greatly among individuals, although members of the 10 Great Families have a large chance of being born with the talent of Shinsu manipulation. Branch houses that originate from the main houses of the 10 Great Families are no exception to this probability of having the talent at birth. A few unknown members of these branch families keep the origins of their blood a secret, maintaining the passing down of the talent of manipulating Shinsu.
Externally manipulating Shinsu to change the environment, to attack an opponent or to carry out other actions, such as flying or levitation, is known as Shinsu manipulation (신수 조작 (神水 操作), Shinsu jojahk; "divine water manipulation"). Depending on the group or region, it also goes by several other names such as "water mastery" (수역 (水役), sooyeok; "to make water a servant") or "wind technique" (풍술 (風術), poongsul; "wind skill").
The first person who began to systematically organize Shinsu was one of the heads of the 10 Great Families, Po Bidau Gustang. All of the language (jargon), standards and units related to Shinsu that are used today all originate from Gustang's work.
Shinsu can be used to enhance physical abilities, to create barriers and as a formidable destructive energy. As mentioned above, there is even a rumour that Enryu can even use it to create life.
The Exact Definition of "Wave Controller"
- Main article: Wave Controller
Technically, the term Wave Controller does not actually refer to just Shinsu manipulators, but rather something more specific. However, the two terms are often used interchangeably in the Outer Tower.
In terms of battle positions, the Wave Controller refers to a position that utilizes Shinsu manipulation in order to participate in battle. However, this is merely a traditional definition and very few individuals actually fit these conditions. Most Wave Controllers have other direct battle abilities and commonly fill other positions.
In order to manipulate Shinsu directly (without the use of an item) within the Inner Tower or Outer Tower, a contract with the Guardian of the Floor must be made. In regards to items, only items that already have a contract made with the Guardian can be used. For example, an item that has a contract with the Guardians of the 2nd~30th Floors cannot be used at the 31st Floor.
Because one has made a contract with the Guardian does not mean one can manipulate Shinsu anywhere on that Floor.
After a contract has been made with a Guardian, one must uphold several terms and conditions. If one violates any of these rules, the contract is considered to have been broken and one's rights are taken away, making their contract null. The strictness of these rules varies between class to class. In terms of the contract that Rankers and High Rankers make with Guardians, it can be said that they are nearly completely free of restrictions.
It is not impossible to manipulate Shinsu without a contract. Simple manipulation of amounts below a certain standard is possible without a contract. Also, an innate resistance to Shinsu, a body strengthening ability that utilises Shinsu or other similar skills are all natural abilities that one can have and thus do not require contracts.
The 10 Great Families, their numerous branch houses, and a few other families have a higher chance to be born already able to manipulate Shinsu. In the 10 Great Families, this does not actually mean they do not have a contract, it occurs because they are considered to have a contract at birth. (Note: When they make a contract directly with Guardians, their Shinsu manipulation obviously becomes stronger.)
Baang, Myun and Soo
The basic unit of Shinsu manipulation is called Baang (방 (放); release), the size of the Baang is called Myun (면 (面); surface) and the density of Shinsu that goes in a Baang is called Soo (수 (水); water).
Note: The Company used "room" for Baang. However, room is actually 房(fáng) as opposed to 放(fàng). They used "room" because the whole explanation is easier to understand if you imagine it using "room / wall / mass". e.g. imagine some Rooms and each has a certain size (specified by Wall). But having many Rooms with big Walls doesn't mean it's strong because you also need to count Mass (basically density of object).
The Baang is the basic unit in which Shinsu is measured by and made up of. The more Baangs one can control, the more skilled at manipulating Shinsu one is judged to be. However, this does not mean one can manipulate greater Myun and higher Soo with many Baangs. As the number of Baangs increase, control becomes more difficult. Overdoing the handling of Baangs can physically and mentally exhaust the manipulator - in serious cases, this may lead to death.
If supported by a Lighthouse, the manipulation of the created Baangs can become much easier, but this does not mean the number of Baangs increases. The control of three or more Baangs appears to be rare for an E-rank Regular, to the point where out of all E-rank Regulars, there are only about 10 who can control 3 Baangs.
SIU has said that High Rankers normally control between 30 and 50 Baangs.
Myun refers to the size of a Baang. Specifically, it refers to the surface area that Shinsu is spread out across, regardless of height. 1 Myun is equal to 1 pyeong (평, 坪), which is equal to around 3.306 square meters of Shinsu. When discussing the size of a Baang, the height is not considered because its range of fluctuation is large and heavily depends on the situation, which makes it difficult to discern. (Height is not involved in the calculation of the size of the Baang. The height is dealt with by converting it using the numerical value of the concentration of the Baang in question.)
It can be said that the wider the Myun one can control, the wider the area in which Shinsu can be applied. Those who can control a large Myun are closest to what the traditional Wave Controllers were, who controlled the flow of the battlefield. Since they had to be able to control Shinsu throughout the whole battlefield, the Myun the Wave Controller had would have to be the size of the battlefield.
However, because one can control a wide Myun does not mean one can manipulate a certain concentration of Shinsu within the Myun. Normally, the centre of a Myun has the highest concentration of Shinsu and the circumference has the lowest concentration, but skilled manipulators can make the outer layer quite dense. There are also some who can control the concentration within the Baang quite freely, although this is quite rare.
Soo refers to the concentration or mass of Shinsu within a Baang. Only the concentration of Shinsu in the most concentrated area of the Baang is used to calculate Soo. There is no numerical unit used on Earth that can be related to Soo. The measurement of Soo can only be done using a Lighthouse, Observer or specialized senses. The higher the Soo, the more effective and destructive a Baang is. This is why controlling a high Soo is extremely important. Normally, the denser the Shinsu in the environment, the faster the Soo in a Baang can be increased. However, there is a limit to the amount of Soo that can be pressed into a Baang and this limit depends on the person. The environment has no effect in overcoming this limit whatsoever.
The concentration of Soo within a Baang is not uniform, either. The value of Soo changes depending on the Myun, so there are big differences in regards to Soo between individuals who manipulate Shinsu. If one has very good mental concentration, it is possible to manipulate a high Soo of Shinsu within a small Myun. If one is very good at distributed data processing, it is possible to manipulate a certain amount of Soo within a large Myun.
Baang, Myun, and Soo
Basically, when discussing the Baang, Myun, and Soo an individual can control, Baang would actually refer to the maximum number of Baangs one can manipulate simultaneously. Myun would actually refer to the maximum Myun one can manipulate if they created only one Baang and Soo would actually refer to the maximum concentration one can press into a Baang, regardless of the Myun in this case. For example, let's say someone can:
- control 4 Baangs at once, but they're not very big or dense
- control 100 Myun if they create only 1 Baang and focus everything on it
- gather up to 30 Soo into a single Baang
Despite the fact that they are unable to do all of the above at the same time, they are still evaluated as being able to control "4 Baang, 100 Myun, 30 Soo".
Baang, Myun and Soo are very closely related and, when supported by a Lighthouse or some other form of aid, large differences can be seen. Normally, the more numerous the number of Baang, the smaller the Myun and lower the Soo that can be managed and the larger the Myun, the lower the Soo that can be managed. Soo therefore heavily depends on the numerical value of Myun and Baang, as an increase in either means a decrease in Soo. Fundamentally, this is known as the "minus tendency" (마이너스 기질 (氣質), maineoseu gijil; or "minus constitution"). Sometimes, there is a special case in which the numbers of manageable Myun and Soo instead increase as the number of Baangs increases. This special case is known as "plus tendency" (플러스 기질 (氣質), peuleoseu gijil; or "plus constitution") and is an extremely rare talent.
The minus tendency can be overcome with improvement from training and support from external aids, which helps in reducing the amount subtracted. However, one can never become a plus tendency. Also, being a plus does not mean one can produce an infinite number of Baangs. Pluses find it equally difficult to increase the number of Baangs.
Until now, the person who has handled the largest numerical value of Shinsu is Enryu. Although the accurate number is not recorded, it's clear that it surpasses other recorded figures greatly. According to a Light Bearer who could record Enryu's combat, Enryu is known to have handled over 9000 Baangs during combat.
Types of Shinsu Manipulation
There are two major types of Shinsu manipulation:
- Flow Control (흐름제어, 흐름制御, heureumjae'eo)
- Reverse-Flow Control (역흐름제어, 逆흐름制御 ,yeokheureumjae'eo)
Flow Control is reading the original flow of Shinsu and manipulating that natural flow. On the other hand, Reverse-Flow Control refers to completely altering and even reversing the flow of Shinsu to produce an effect.
Flow Control is reading the flow of Shinsu and manipulating it according to that flow.
Although there is no exact predictable pattern to the flow of Shinsu, Shinsu does momentarily flow in certain directions, so one can efficiently manipulate Shinsu by reading and encouraging the flow in desired directions. Once one begins to control Shinsu in one direction, it is difficult to change direction.
The greatest advantage to flow control is that it allows the manipulator to control a large amount of Shinsu without much effort. Compared to reverse-flow control, flow control is much faster and the user can control larger amounts of Shinsu.
Sometimes, one can take advantage of the flow of the enemy's Baang of Shinsu to make it their own. Of course, the most important part is reading the current flow of Shinsu and finding the optimum point - the best way to use it.
This also applies to Body Reinforcement (신체강화, 身體强化 , shinchae gahnghwa; or "Physical Enhancement"). Every living organism within the Tower has an individual flow of Shinsu. By using this flow, one can heal themselves or others, enhance their physical capabilities or grant numerous other abilities.
Of course, the opposite is also possible. If you strengthen or speed up the flow of Shinsu within your own body, you can strengthen and speed up your own body, but you may also inflict a proportional amount of internal damage on yourself. This also applies to others. If you control your enemy's flow of Shinsu beyond its limit, your enemy will be reduced to nothing but a sack of skin, like a popped water balloon.
Let's take a look at the case of Eurasia Blossom, who was the most talented and destructive in the Tower's history. She once proved that just by "accelerating" the Shinsu in one area, she could instantly kill 99% of the population living there.
Reverse-Flow Control is controlling Shinsu by forcefully changing its flow. It is slower than flow control and thus generally means the user can only control a smaller amount of Shinsu in comparison to flow control, but allows the user to completely dictate the flow of Shinsu, allowing them efficiency for the amount of Shinsu used. Reverse-flow control is mostly used to destroy or stop the enemy.
Reverse-flow control requires more caution when compared to flow control. In fact, to use reverse-flow control, you need to be able to read the flow of Shinsu more accurately than you need to for flow control. You instead break, block and shatter the flow and make it your own. Changing the flow of Shinsu in the wrong ways can be unintentionally destructive, requiring caution. Even though this may sound very destructive, flow control is actually better for destroying things.
Is wiser to not make situations where you need to use reverse-flow control, but if you ever fall into a situation in which you must use reverse-flow control, listen to the wise words of Lightpen (라이트펜, Raiteupen), the current vice-president of the Research Association - "There is only one thing needed to defeat an enemy using reverse-flow control. You just have to be overwhelmingly more powerful than your opponent."
A Combination of the Two Kinds
A few talented Wave Controllers in the Tower are capable of the magnificent feat of utilising Flow Control and Reverse-Flow Control at the same time. A simple analogy would be the talent of being able to play table tennis against two opponents at once holding a paddle in each hand.
This does not mean the same thing as just making two Baangs of Shinsu. Of course, using different kinds of control in each Baang is a difficult task, but you are only considered to have this talent if you can use both Flow Control and Reverse-Flow Control in the same Baang. While difficult, mastering and using both forms of control provides a massive boost in efficiency and power.
The best example is Floral Butterfly Piercing Technique, a technique only taught to FUG members. This technique is a very destructive "Damage Technique" (타격술 (打擊術), tahgyeoksool). Once your body is in contact with your opponent's, you forcefully "reverse-flow control" the flow of Shinsu in your opponent's body by accelerating the flow of Shinsu inside your own body. You then "flow control" the returning shock inside your own body to protect yourself from the backlash. This is a dangerous technique that destroys everything in contact with your body while leaving you completely unharmed.
Shinsu controlled by few special people contains special qualities. The properties of Shinsu are dictated entirely by how it flows, allowing it to behave as heat, light and the innumerable phenomena of the world. When Shinsu develops a flow that causes it to behave as one of these phenomena, it is said to have a Quality. It is exceptionally rare for one to be able to cause Shinsu they control to manifest Quality, but the benefits are extreme, as a Shinsu quality that suits it's user is easier to use, and can be concentrated into a Bang easier, with even greater density. One may have more than one Shinsu quality (like at least Electricity and Ice for Koon Eduan).
- Quality-manifested Shinsu Control: Shinsu quality can be manifested externally.
- Internal quality Shinsu Control: Shinsu can also be exploded inside the body to obtain power. An example of this would be the Lightning Pill. 
Tension is the ability to pack a lot of power into a single Baang. If you concentrate a lot of power into a Baang, you get a ton of power when it explodes. V had the greatest Shinsu tension among the 12 warriors who came with Zahard.
Notes and Trivia
- While the possibilities of Shinsu are said to be without bounds, limits still exist depending on the wielder. A Regular also can't use Shinsu to their rank. Shinsu clearly cannot be used to swap the locations of the 10 Great Warriors and Zahard. Shinsu can't be used to magically discover the top Floor of the Tower. It can't be used to change the species of a character, like changing Androssi Zahard or Ja Wangnan into a giant rabbit or flying bat. As a result, Shinsu has close to no limits or no known limits. But in other situations, it is bound by several conditions.
- Shinsu Manipulation does not always work. (Notably on the 43rd Floor.)
- If the Regulars or Rankers did not make an eternal life contract, they all age. It is just pace that differs from a person to person. But once they get into the Inner Tower, the aging process does slow down. And actually, even if you made an eternal life contract, not everybody stops aging. Growth just ceases at some point.
- (Korean Translation) Shin-su
- Shinsu (Line)
- ("神水") Divine Water or God Water