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
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.
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primates Hominidae Homo sapiens
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.
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).
Animalia Chordata Armosichthyes Syreni Raizae Raiza sapiens
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.
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.
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Penna Ketzalrae Avarus sapiens (disputed)
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.
Their genus name Avarus means "greedy," "covetous," or "grasping." It was as kind a classification as human biologists could agree to give them.
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.
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.)
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.
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.