Words and Character Art for a Fantasy Adventure Story.

The world of Aether Torrent would be perfectly ordinary if not for all the magic and monsters.

Find here everything that newcomers need to know.

Elementalism -- The Elements -- Elementism -- Zoology -- Technolology

Zoology

Animals are all forms of life in the kingdom Animalia of the human system of taxonomy. Some animals are sapient, possessing mental faculties of subjective self-awareness and judgment in addition to ordinary intelligence. The world hosts multiple sapient species, but four currently dominate the rest in numbers and influence.

Human

Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primates Hominidae Homo sapiens

You are probably one of these.

(Edits by the FCC.)

Physical:

Humans are thinly-haired bipedal mammals who share a common ancestor with apes. Several superficial morphological differences have arisen as adaptations to climate ranges. Most humans reach from five to six feet (1.5 - 1.8m) in height, with males generally being taller.

Full adulthood tends to begin between ages 18-21, but earlier or later maturity is possible. Given optimum nutrition and safety (a rare combination), some humans can live over 100 years.

Psychology:

Enamored with borders. Introspective. Many humans derive self-identity from beliefs and associations which may change over time, making them adaptable yet open to manipulation.

Society:

In a word, diverse. Neighboring cultures may have entirely different laws, clothing, food preferences, social mores and/or forms of government, but all humans have the same distaste for murder, theft, adultery and dishonesty... at least toward their own culture.

No single political institution unifies humanity. The four most powerful are the Tergaian Nations (bureaucratic confederacy), the Imperacy of East Ragloa (republican dictatorship), the People's Democratic Republican Commonwealth of West Ragloa (communist dictatorship), and the Federation of Dorn (socialist democracy).

Useless.

Distribution:

One billion across three continents, making them the most successful (strictly terrestrial) sapients.

Design Flaws:

Evolved larger skulls before larger birth canals, and smaller mouths before fewer teeth. Respiratory and gastrointestinal systems converge. UV-sensitive skin. High intelligence often correlates with poor eyesight. Acute pattern-recognition skills commonly reinforce logical fallacies.

Raiza

Animalia Chordata Armosichthyes Syreni Raizae Raiza sapiens

One species, various morphologies.

(Art credit: LKD.)

Physical:

The only bipeds of the class Armosichthyes (or "hinge fish," named for articulate skeletons).

Raiza gestate for over a year and can swim and run (on all fours) within an hour of birth. They mature in proportion to food supply; a very well fed raiza can reach adulthood around age 10. Male raiza are comparable in height to human males, but female raiza are typically larger.

The four major "breeds" of raizan morphology are named for colors: Gray, Brown, Blue, and Navy. Each varies in fin shape, average build, native range, and of course pigmentation. Brown, for instance, are relatively small and prefer warm, shallow, tropical waters, whereas giant Navy prefer cold polar currents and average Gray enjoy temperate zones. Blue, who prefer oceanic depths, are notable for having their electrosensory organs on whisker-like appendages called barbels.

As might be expected, raiza can breathe underwater. Cilia in their lungs absorb oxygen from air, while cilia in the flat bronchial tubes from their gills to their lungs absorb oxygen from water.

Psychology:

Stable. Inquisitive. Raiza develop a solid sense of "self" very early in life and then seek ideas, employment, and communities which fit with it. Each raizan community is therefore broadly like-minded, whatever that mind happens to think. Rarely do raiza struggle with self-doubt, for they "know who they are."

Society:

Despite, or perhaps because of, their individualistic cores, overall raiza society is weakly linked. All raiza, from tribal fisher-gatherers to dwellers of human cities, have only two customs in common. The first is matriarchy, a deference to and favoring of females in most domestic and social matters. The second is a visit to either the North or South Magnetic Pole at least once in a lifetime, where the species-wide oral history is recited and occasionally updated. "Don't eat humans" is almost a third universal custom, but it's really more of a universal admonishment, like "Thou shalt not kill."

Raiza assimilate well into nearly all sapient cultures and are mostly respectful of their rules. For example, they wear clothes if there is any chance of contact with humans, even though by human standards they have nothing to see. (Their equivalent of pectoral muscles serve no other anatomical purpose.)

Intermixing their breeds is only common among raiza populations who spend most of their time on land. Humans claim credit for introducing them to that concept, though evidence of their assertion is shaky at best.

Hydrodynamic skin.

Distribution:

Over one billion raiza can and do live comfortably anywhere except in arid regions. Raiza in hot climates don't venture far from shore, even during high humidity. The polar continent Nhoarket and nearby islands are almost completely raizan.

Design Flaws:

Raiza cannot sweat, making them vulnerable to overheating during sustained strenuous above-water activity. They can lock water under their scales for liquid cooling, but it must be physically replenished. The bone-digesting strength of their stomach fluids makes ulcers common as age increases.

Ketzalral

Animalia Chordata Reptilia Penna Ketzalrae Avarus sapiens (disputed)

There's more brain in there than you might think.

(Art credit: ASM.)

Physical:

Feathery-winged, warm-blooded, serpentine reptiles with humanlike arms. They come in many colors similar to tropical parrots: green, blue, yellow, and red often feature in their plumage. A rare few grow black and/or white feathers, marking them as nobility. Their unfeathered scales are white or gray, and their eyes can evidently develop any color at all.

Ketzalral reach sexual maturity at age five and only stop growing when dead. An elderly one can reach twenty feet (6m) or more in length. To compensate for their lifespans of about 40 years, they are prolific breeders, and the power of flight lets them travel easily.

Psychology:

Ketzalral are detail-oriented to an almost neurotic degree. They love organization, classification, regimentation, and shiny things. Little else is known about how they think. They do not consider other species worthy of knowing them well, and have never taught others their native language. Linguists and cryptographers have yet to translate their writing.

Their genus name Avarus means "greedy," "covetous," or "grasping." It was as kind a classification as human biologists could agree to give them.

Society:

Ketzalral civilization is uniformly theocratic, organized by a complex hierarchy of religious officials into thousands of well-armed forest cities under the rule of a fortified forest metropolis. The species' flying ability and natural affinity to elementalism makes most forms of technology moot, though they have made energetic use of what electronic components the Quarantine allows them to trade for.

Distribution:

Just under a hundred million ketzalral live in the forests of Renvul'rana with isolated pockets of outcasts in the desert. They are restricted to their continent and monitored for signs of belligerence by a blockade, the "Quarantine," of armed forces managed by the other major sapient races.

When human explorers landed on the shores of Renvul'rana, they alerted ketzalral to the fact that there was land beyond the sea. For the next four hundred twenty five years, ketzalral terrorized and colonized nearly all the world's continents in a history-pivoting war: the Conflict, or simply "the Con." Only the rise of industry and the popularization of magic saved humans, raiza, and lurutts from permanent subjugation.

The last ketzalral were evicted from Tergai, Dorn, and the Ragloas just over one hundred years ago.

Design Flaws:

Wing muscles require high calories, but eating adds flight-prohibitive weight, and high-calorie foods are not fortifying. Maintaining the balance is difficult. (Most ketzalral are fantastic cooks, and/or just use Air magic.)

Monsters

The ziz, world's largest flying bird.

Some animals may be monstrous in appearance, such as the forest-lurking hearteater (Tamandua dirus), but true monsters are a class apart.

Monsters are animals which are born with elemental magic focused in their bodies. They control magic of their birth element as if it were an appendage. Most monsters belong to their own species, such as the ziz (Argentavis procellae). All zizes are Air monsters and always will be.

A rare few monsters are mutants, one-off elemental creatures born to ordinary parents of an ordinary species. Presumably, all monster species originated with highly lucky and/or highly fertile elemental mutants. Science is at a loss to explain what exactly causes elemental mutations to arise.

Certain monster species possess such superlative elemental ability, they can shapeshift. The carnivorous water horses known as kelpies (Backahasti nix) are notorious examples, but kelpies are wild. They can take the forms of sapients, but only as glamors -- elemental disguises. Kelpies can only truly transform into an oily polymorphic gel.

Sapient shapeshifting monsters, those whose alternate forms resemble ordinary sapients, are as apart from ordinary monsters as ordinary monsters are from animals. They even have a special classification.

Sacred Beasts

An female three-pinioned wind tiger. (by ASM.)

The most feared and revered of all monsters are sapient shapeshifters called Sacred Beasts. Humans, raiza, lurutt, and ketzalral all have legends of Sacred Beasts taking on their respective species' forms and walking, swimming, or flying among them.

Most such creatures are now extinct, or perhaps they never existed at all. That is not the case for the humans' Sacred Beasts. Humans are blessed (or cursed) with the unmistakable evidence that theirs are alive and well.

The serpentine dragons (Lung princeps) rule the deep reaches of the ocean from the undersea kingdom of Ryūgū-jō, roughly equidistant to the three human-populated continents. They once had very convivial relations with the native population of Dorn, but time and conflicts eroded the friendship. Within the last century, raiza armed with Water magic have eaten away at their territory, reinforcing a rivalry apparently as old as time.

Wind tigers (Panthera sylphigris) roam the skies of territories that may be as big as countries and must therefore be shared. The extent of that sharing varies immensely. Some practice tiger-like retiring solitude while others roam as small nomadic family units, between which feuding is as common as mixing. Those few who assimilate into human society do so on their terms, which always involve travel or outdoor work. The number of sensory crests and wings varies between breeds.

Phoenixes (Phoenix phoenix) are an all-female race of, at last count, four individuals. As in legends, they immolate upon death, leaving behind an egg which becomes the next phoenix. Three times over untold millenia, a phoenix left twins. The two youngest phoenix sisters are motion picture celebrities, enjoying a level of public adoration very rare for monsters. The oldest sister acts, by choice, as their guardian. The trio travels the world together, making a holy nuisance of themselves. They do not speak of their remaining sister.

Great tortoises (Gigachelone terrae) can reach 15ft (4.57m) tall with a shell 20ft (6.1m) in diameter. Their human forms, obeying conservation of mass, are extremely dense, durable, and hardy. They live reclusive lives of idle browsing and meditation in deep forests, preferably on or near mountains. They enjoy whatever company happens to find them, but they make no effort to seek it. A census of living great tortoises is therefore impossible to take, but their population is believed to be under one hundred.

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