Of all the elements it is 'Aether' that seems to invoke the most awe, curiosity and debate. We've discussed the elements four that precede it and those offerings have all been leading to this, but before we delve in horns-and-all some book-keeping must be observed...
It is with much respect that I come to DA amongst TLoS fans, and my purpose here is to join, to share, to entertain and to inspire. While I endeavour to share as much behind the scenes knowledge with everyone, along with established lore and developer insights, I'm mindful that there is an entire fandom out there that has for a decade or more told its’ own stories, created its’ own lore based on what is offered in the games, and has worked wonders with so many aspects of TLoS to make it beautifully its' own: and that is to be commended and celebrated. I've always encouraged others to create in this world, to not be held back by what might be deemed lore... for imagination is the right of everyone and every idea has merit. Indeed that was the core value of our concept art team on TLoS. I'm an advocate of creative expression, of the freedom to imagine what might be, and the worlds of TLoS, however dear they are to me, are not mine to govern as I will. I can merely share with you the direction we were heading in and my own intentions prior to the inception of Dawn Of The Dragon. What you read here pertains to Spyro's native element and 'the power of the Purple Dragon' as I thought it could be, and while 'Aether' was the name I'd given to that power at the time, and this was known within the team, the term 'Aether' was never repeated nor called out in DoTD as 'canon'. My one saving grace perhaps is that the icon representing this element is actually called 'Aether' in the game data; so it 'made it in technically' if not officially. (I cling to that nugget of truth!) So with the deepest respect to all, this is but one vision, however unofficial it may be, designed to entertain the possibilities of where it might have gone, and still could. My only hope is that you enjoy.
Whether you call it Aether or Convexity, all can agree it is by far the most complicated of the elements, for only by mastering the four primary elements can a Purple Dragon hope to attain it. It comes as a fleeting storm when need is greatest and the hour darkest, and only a focused soul can harness its' unfathomable energies. The name 'Aether' itself is derived from the Greek word of the same spelling, meaning "the material deemed to fill the region of the universe beyond the terrestrial sphere", directly referring to the aetherial space beyond our own planet. In Greek mythology 'Aether' was the personification of space and Heaven, and in more contemporary uses as 'ether', relates to the substance of which magic itself, or 'mana' is made. For me the name applied brilliantly and in a nutshell described the all-encompassing powers of the Purple Dragon; the master element to which all are linked.
A dragon's breath is essentially elemental magic, derived from nature, but in the case of Aether it is fuelled by cosmic mana. Aether's strength resides within this connection to the cosmos and specifically to 'spirit energy'. Relics from an age gone by left by the Ancestors in the form of Spirit Gems allow for a window in to this power on the terrestrial plane, as they galvanise the energy of dragons with a life suffusing essence derived from spirit life-force. Upon striking a Spirit Gem and transferring its’ power to him in 'A New Beginning', Spyro himself makes the statement that it was like "the power of a thousand suns surging through his body." I've always maintained, and it's clear in this instance that there is a direct link between Spirit energy and bodies of the celestial realm, in this case suns. In any case it described extreme spiritual and cosmic power. It was all the evidence I needed to suggest that Aether derived its' power from the world beyond the physical. As such it made sense that Aether deals in matters that exceed those of the terrestrial elements and draws on deep powerful magics of ancient celestial origins. This energy can be tapped, harnessed, and utilised to incredible effect, and is the most flexible, versatile and mysterious energy source there is. It is all about how Aether channels cosmic and spirit energy, as the Purple Dragon draws from the very well spring of the self; the Spirit, and the spirit of others...
In this way energy in its’ purest form can be projected, moved, repelled, altered and even transferred, (as might be the case with a Purple Dragon lending it's power or healing another by transferring its' own energy) and I'd proposed that the energy cannot be created or destroyed, only harnessed and directed elsewhere. The more energy dealt with, the greater the toll may be for the Purple Dragon that dealt with it. We see this toll exacted when Spyro temporarily loses his elemental abilities at the close of ANB in the Convexity world, and it's clear that Aether works through the transference of pure energy. Yet through Aether, in addition to lending strength, there would certainly be other aspects of a dragon's energy that could be transferred as well... or even taken.
I've already introduced the concept of 'The Aethercrest', the sigil that represents the Purple Dragon as the one who brings balance between light and dark, good and evil. It is to the world of Spyro what the Yin-Yang symbol is to Chinese Taoism. Indeed, this symbol depicting both halves of the weighted spiral joined at the center (see center image) can be found throughout TLoS, not least of all about the Dragon Temple in the training dojo, and in a slight personal variation upon the statue of Malefor himself (made before his decent into evil) within that same temple in 'A New Beginning'. It is this darker aspect to Aether that makes it unique among the elements, one that brought about Spyro's transformation into Dark-Spyro in 'The Eternal Night'. Dark Aether is dangerous business if left unbalanced by its’ opposite, and it leaves a tainted mark, to which Cynder can attest. When Malefor corrupted her, the darker aspects of his power were transferred, aging her, rapidly accelerating her growth, granting Cynder access to the wild darkness that was ordinarily beyond her nature. In this way it is plausible that the very ember of the Aether ability (in this case Dark Aether) became known to Cynder. By this token, other powers in addition to the transfer of energy could definitely exist. The ability to share life-force, impose will or even gift powerful abilities would not be out of the question. Furthermore, the ability to strip dragons of their elemental power through the redirection of it makes for some intriguing story concepts...
Being a more all-encompassing ability, Aether is unique in the power it can access as its' magical source stems not from the natural world, and comes directly from the celestial spirit plane beyond. In short you could justify almost anything in the name of 'space-magic'.
As a view on Dark Aether specifically, I've always maintained that Malefor, despite what he would tell you, diverged from his 'true calling' and embraced the nature of the destroyer. He is deeply tainted, the unbalanced embodiment of evil; for sure I'd say he is most definitely 'Dark Malefor', though he's learned to use it, and not have it use him, yet. He seems in full command of the dark powers and upon inspection his eyes are not the vacant white orbs that we see when Spyro or Cynder 'go dark'. His eyes have pupils - he is in control, so far... only his voice betrays the presence of the taint, that 'Aether Blight' I was talking about a while back. By contrast, when Spyro triggers his darkness to become Dark Spyro, the power pulls at his consciousness, it seeks to usurp him. We see this in 'The Eternal Night' and he is not himself, nor is he able to easily control this power or exit this state without assistance. He needs some kind of emotional anchor, like 'love' to do that. The same applies to 'little Cynder'. The darkness has a very real taint that stains; it is a tangible thing much like an essence, and it is the well-spring from which poison and fear rises. Only Aether can effectively combat it and counter its’ effects. For me, Malefor is definitely in his Dark state, which begs the question: what could he look like when stripped of his Aetherial darkness? Aether certainly is the element of possibility after all.
I welcome the day when a fully grown Spyro, with the might of Aether at his command, will face off again against the fierce dark majesty of Malefor in an epic display of raw cosmic-spirit power. Beams of purple plasma split the sky as the powers of 'Holy' and 'Evil' duel for supremacy. Suns would implode, and comets collide in a light bending singularity unequalled in the history of the Dragon Realms! One day I hope to see just that...
Spyro from the GBA was so much better than the spyro that is right now. It would have been better if they let him keep all of his powers and not just his ability to shoot fire from his mouth. I mean like the dragon could shoot Ice, thunder and earth, not to mention that he had all those upgrades from those totems that allowed him to do a ground pound like mario.
1. With Cynder being exposed to the darkness, she had the capability to use Dark Aether. What's to say that another dragon tainted by the darkness could have the capability of unlocking this power?
2. As you stated, The Aethercrest is a balance between light and darkness, similar to what Yin and Yang is in the Chinese Taoism. What would happen if one side of the Aether was prioritized over the other? Would too much Light Aether (What I'll call Aether) be bad for the Purple Dragon? Would the Purple Dragon need to balance both Light and Dark Aether?
As unlikely as it is, I'd say he's tailor made for Smash compared to his classic counterpart who has only three or four moves. TLoS Spyro has many varied elemental and melee abilities, and Aether Breath would without a doubt be the best choice for the Final Smash, given that its concept, damage output, and sound design make it a fitting choice with a feeling of incredible power.
A majority of the fan-made moveset predictions I've seen solely focus on the classic version and some of the moves seem made up and stale. Charging works more as a dash attack than a side special which I'd replace with the earth flail as it could be more powerful on a turnaround or overhead swing. The neutral special as fire breath obviously makes absolute sense. Headbash is more of a down air attack than a down special which I'd replace with the electric orbs or electric sphere. As for the up special I'd go for the blizzard Move in DotD.
Final verdict, a Smash moveset would have no hope of being complete without him. So I'm totally with you there.
As like many others, I too have many more questions that have yet to be answered, but perhaps in future games, or from other people and their ideas, good answers and explinations may rise up.
P.S. This element is also a good representation of what people in real-life face. The real battle is not against flesh and blood, but from within along with the realm that moves unseen.