Cardinality is the essence of life, a substance from which consciousness is constructed. Any living being contains cardinality. While cardinality can be refined (and in fact must be in order to create Warforged and other sentient machinery), it cannot be produced. The Confederacy has depleted their cardinality reserves, and it is only mined now in Districts Mochizuki and Yamashita -- as a result of the blockade, prices have soared in recent years.
Though mathematicians and scientists have tried to come up with a description of cardinality, any scientific description defies divine or arcane truth. For this reason, no scholars have managed to develop a grand unified theory encompassing the physical world, divine knowledge, and arcane power (and some interpret this as implying that gods do not exist), though attempts at developing such a theory have been underway since the rise of the Cult of Akadeos six centuries ago.
Major advances were made in the years before the Divine War, however. Cafca the Aasimar, an Akadeoshi scholar of binding magicks, was able to successfully implement the somatics necessary to drain cardinality from Migalo and inject it into the minds of hundreds of demons, allowing him to control them. This was only barely possible, however, as he required hundreds of highly skilled mages to control the spell.
After the end of the war, General Frederick Guardian Gyro translated and published Cafca's notes, believing that such scientific knowledge must be made public, in four volumes:
- Construction of Vriska cardinals - Discusses the refinement of Vriska cardinals, manifestations of cardinality imbibed with the essence of Migalo.
- Global tenor field theoretic valuation - Contains the theoretical computation of the incantations needed to transfer cardinality without the blessing of a god.
- Canonical splittings of the soul lattice - Considers different techniques for splitting off pieces of a soul and replacing them with other soul fragments, in particular Vriska cardinals.
- Log-arcane computations and somatic foundations - Contains further computations, mostly of a practical and logistical nature, as well as the justification of the somatic components of spells used to transfer Vriska cardinals.
The full translation project took nearly a year and the final text, after deciphering Cafca's more idiosyncratic documents, was over 1500 pages long. A second edition was planned, including a fifth volume on "Topics in alien Tolkien binding, including Spell BB and applications to warfare" but at Frederick's urging was never published. As a result, the research done by Akadeoshi scholars into Tolkien binding, in particular the Spell BB that the Empire used against rebel forces in the Divine War, is widely believed to have been lost, though some conspiracy theorists believe that it is a Confederate military secret.
Cafca's papers were not fully deciphered for several years, because of the hefty preliminaries necessary to understand his work. Since then, the dogma has been that a grand unified theory may be untenable, but progress has been made in the transfer of cardinality. It is clear that the ability to transfer souls between bodies has widespread applications in medicine and robotics.