Have a heart!
Miriliel the Burnished is one very busy Aetherii. He has a little brown circus girl and a winged warrior to seduce - not to mention a deathless demon to kill.
Believe me, he's working as hard as he can on all his projects. ;-)
This encylopedia is his life's work and he's adding more entries all the time. Don't forget to check back often!
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One of the hybrid races, avian-human. Most authorities believe the Aetherii were created as aerial scouts by the Firsters, using the magical craft referred to in the ancient texts as "gene-splicing". (See Firsters - Magic) Aetherii are winged and tailed. Plumage and skin may be any color found in Nature. Various other physiological adaptations suit them for a life lived partly on the wing. (See Aetherii - Anatomy)
The Aetherii tail is an extension of the human spine, comprised of twenty small bones, connected by a continuation of the spinal column and banded together with tough ligaments. As sensitive as a finger or a tongue, but as strong as an arm, the tail functions as an extra limb. It can be used as a weapon, a tool, a flight stabilizer, even a means of expression.
Aetherii - Religion:
Aetherii cosmology proposes a universe comprised of an all-consuming fire. Only the Veil of the sky protects the world from complete annihilation. What others among the Ten Nations see as stars in the night sky, the Aetherii believe to be rents in the fabric of the Veil where the light of the fire shines through. It is commonly referred to as the Tattered Veil.
Aetherii - Religion - Funeral Rites:
The Aetherii give their dead to the wind and the sky. Funerals are intensely private matters, taking place on the remote mountaintops. Bodies are cremated on pyres of scented yool wood and the ashes scattered.
Aetherii - Society:
The Aetherii prefer life in the cool, clear air of their mountain eyries. The thriving Aetherii economy means they can afford to build sprawling mountaintop palaces or excavate extensive cave dwellings in cliff-faces.
Aetherii - Society and Customs - Mating:
Aetherii are capable of mating on the wing. A true Aetherii Mating Flight, is however, another matter entirely, requiring absolute love and trust from both participants. It signifies a lifelong commitment. Only the Aetherii are privy to the actual details of the rite.
Alchemy - Hellfire
The compound commonly known as hellfire exists as a liquid or a gel, depending on its temperature. In either state, it is highly corrosive, capable of etching solid metal. It should be stored with the utmost care, as it is extremely unstable, exploding if shaken or dropped.
Despite its dangerous properties, hellfire has a variety of uses-for example, as an explosive for demolitions or in deep mines. Fortunately, it is so problematic to transport that no army has yet succeeded in making use of it in warfare.
An interesting footnote: Diluted, hellfire can be applied in a poultice to cauterize footrot in large herbivores such as vranee or herdbeasts.
Assassins' Guild - History
The Assassin's Guild of the Kingdom of the Leaves of the Sea is believed to have been the invention of King Marake VIII. Given that he was poisoned in a manner so efficient that no trace of the culprit could be found, many historians assume he was the victim of his own creation.
Assassins' Guild - Operation:
The Guild owns a number of training establishments. Trainees move up through well-defined structure of levels of master. Penalties for failure are severe and occasionally terminal. Qualified Assassins wear a tiny dragon tattoo, usually on the underside of the forearm, though females sometimes carry it in surprising places.
Small, furry and warm-blooded, bunrats are insatiably curious. They are also plump and tender eating. This would spell disaster for the bunrat species were it not for their agility and extraordinary speed of reproduction.
High Priestess of Lufra, famous for Her Ten Precepts of Sensual Pleasure - for example,
Precept 1: The seat of sexual pleasure is in the mind. This is the one incontrovertible fact no shaman or priestess may be permitted to forget.
Precept 8: Judge carefully. Pain in the right measure produces pleasure. But too much pleasure is pain and too much pain just - hurts.
Precept 9:True submission requires not only trust, but great courage. Should they be blessed with such an incomparable gift, those who desire to master must bow down and thank Lufra with heart and soul.
Children of the Mother - Government:
The Children of the Mother are ruled by an elected Council of five Matriarchs. All citizens over the age of twenty-five may vote, both male and female, but only women over the age of fifty are eligible for the Council. The Matriarchs employ advisors on an ad hoc basis and gender is no bar. In fact, the Battle Commander of the Children is often male.
Decorative Arts - Bond Torques:
Bond torques are not common even in their Feolin culture of origin, the majority of couples choosing a less binding form of marriage. Whether jeweled or plain, a matched pair of torques will be made of the braided hair of the Bondmates and their immediate ancestors. The torques are said to create a psychic connection between the partners.
Decorative arts - Featherpearls
Only top grade featherpearls retain the body heat of the original Aetherii donor. Not only is the technique extraordinarily difficult for even the most skilled artisan, the feathers must be plucked live, a painful process indeed. For this reason, first grade featherpearls are hugely valuable. A string of them is an intensely personal gift, considered among the Aetherii to be the equivalent of a declaration of love.
Decorative Arts - Tattoo:
Among sailors of the Leaves of the Sea, a tattoo is a symbol of courage as much as a personal enhancement. Elaborate designs, taking years to complete, may cover the subject from waist to knee. The Feolin, in contrast, look on the pain of the procedure as a homage to their goddess. Only shamans or priestesses have their bodies decorated in this manner.
Brightly colored, carnivorous lizard, generally found in wooded areas near water. Fareng mate for life and both sexes incubate the eggs. Fareng venom is secreted on spikes in the tail. By paralyzing the lungs of the victim, it produces a quietly painful death. It is therefore a popular tool of the trade in the Assassins' Guilds.
Predators of the plains and forests, fellwolves hunt in packs. The beasts are hunted for their magnificent pelts, particularly the so-called "twilight" furs, a dark gray with blue undertones, shading to silver on the belly. A common motif in folk tales is the character who is cursed to live as a fellwolf until released by the power of true love. (See Ballads - Traditional). Fellwolves mate for life.
Firsters - Origin:
All that is known is that the Firsters came from beyond the stars. Estimates vary, but most scholars agree that this was more than fifteen thousand years ago. No traces remain of their ships that sailed among the stars, nor is anything known of their world of origin.
The Straight Church, and others, reject the concept of extraterrestrial settlers, insisting that human life is a gift of the gods. However, there can be no doubt of the strange science-magics left by the Firsters. Moreover, there are flora and fauna on Phoenix that are clearly not native to this world. (See Firsters - Introduced Species)
The Feolin economy is essentially agrarian. The citizens are ranchers and herders, though they have a thriving industry in luxury art goods like jewelry and fine fabrics. Settlement is decentralized and so is the economy, with no large market centers. The Feolin have a fiercely independent streak which does not lend itself to over-regulation.
The patron deity of the Feolin, Lufra is a goddess of love in all its forms. She may be depicted as Maiden, Mother or Crone. However, her most popular aspect, particularly among Feolin men, is as a divine Harlot, the Lust Dragon - the personification of sexual excess.
In summary, Lufra embodies the eternal female principle.
Feolin - Religion - The Law of Lufra:
The Law of the love goddess Lufra states that no man may take his pleasure inside any part of a woman's body, unless she has climaxed first. Each time, every time.
Feolin - Religion - The Great Rite:
Shrouded in secrecy, the Great Rite of the Feolin is performed infrequently, and only on the Day of the Dark (See Sun and Shadow - Celestial Movement). Participants are driven literally mad with lust, the object being to engender a spiritual connection with the Goddess that will gain her favor. Death or insanity usually results. Little more is known, save for salacious speculation.
Hssrda (sing. Hssrdan):
Hybrid race, saurian-human. Most authorities believe the Hssrda were created as slave-soldiers by the Firsters, using the magical craft referred to in the ancient texts as "gene-splicing". (See Firsters - Magic) However, popular legend recalls a single individual, the so-called "Mad Mage". (See Ballads, Traditional)
Hssrda - Anatomy:
The scaly, armored bodies of Hssrda are vulnerable at two points only-under the jaw and in the armpit. Their sheer bulk and strength, together with natural armaments of talon, fang and spur, make them almost impossible to kill.
Lady Chelisand: - see Chelisand, Lady
Library - The Royal Library of Valaressa
The Library was a personal project dear to the heart of Queen Ezaretta II of the Kingdom of the Leaves of the Sea. Due to her charming, but relentless enthusiasm, the tower housing the Library was built in less than a decade, its design the result of a kingdom-wide competition. Hammaliel the Bronze of the Aetherii, the winning architect, pierced the tower with numerous windows and cunning apertures, but added the entry foyer and staircase only when forcibly reminded by an irritated monarch.
Lufra: - see Feolin - Religion
Mountains of Morn:
The Mountains of Morn separate the Sitariat-Gillen Tableland from the Empty Lands. Running roughly east to west, they stretch for fifty miles. The highest peaks remain snow-clad and cloud-wreathed, even in summer.
Star Ship Codex:
The Interim [Council?] names this planet Phoenix [note: meaning unknown] in recognition of the hope it represents. In this new world, may humanity rise from its own [ashes? fire? ruins?].
Translation of a Firster text by Miriliel the Burnished. (The fragment is preserved in the Royal Library in the Kingdom of the Leaves of the Sea.)
Straight Church, The - Religion - Moral Teachings:
Of the Ten Nations of Phoenix, only the Brethren of the Straight Church take a moral standard on manlove, castigating it as an evil Crookedness befouling the Straight Way, abhorrent in the eyes of their Ruler God. No figures are available, but there is evidence that in the last fifty years, the Ecclesiastical Court of the Straight Church has had an estimated twenty men hung for the crime of sodomy.
Outside the Straight Church, such relationships are not a matter for remark.
Ten Nations Fair, The:
The oldest and largest of the traveling fairs, operated by a population of several hundred Travelers. (See Travelers - Society and Religion) The Fair offers a diverse range of entertainments, prominent among which are a circus, a tavern and various sideshows. Despite a dubious reputation, there is much to enjoy for the visitor with his wits about him.
The god of the Travelers has two faces. As the Traveler, he is a deity of good luck, whose cheerful charm and cunning wiles protect his worshippers. In his darker aspect, however, he is known as the Twister, the Great Liar - manipulative and heartless. It is the Twister who "runs the con", fleecing the helpless and preying on the weak.
Plant with reddish stalks and thick, white bulbous stems. It can be cooked in a variety of ways. Trintri have a sweet, nutty flavor that complements fareng meat. (See Fareng)
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© 2008 Denise Rossetti
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