Elementals, Wisps, & Half-flesh

One of the least understood phenomena in the world of Thaea are Elementals.  They are rare to begin with, and generally exist in inaccessible places such as the far northern wastes.  With few exception they do not appear near civilized areas of the world, which is extremely fortunate.

Elementals are temperamental, and exhibit erratic behavior that borders on aggressive, but seems to lack any indication of even animal intelligence, though there is clear response to stimuli.  Druids highly practiced in elemental channeling have had mixed results controlling, or at least dissuading elementals away from exploratory expeditions.  Druids claim that the forces exhibited by elementals are always present, but kept muted and in check by the presence of living things.  A not unreasonable assertion given the nature of channeling practices, but with scarce solid proof.  Even accepting this assertion what leads to, and provides the persistent energetic expression of elementals is hotly debated.

A few cores have survived the disruption of their surrounding effects or “body” of the elemental.  These near priceless objects (only seven are confirmed to exist) are agreed to be comprised of attuned filaments, but their behaviors vary.  It is also not clear whether the core represents a true source of the elemental manifestation or merely a side effect – the precipitate as it were of the effect crystalized at the center of the phenomena.  No core has ever been observed to exhibit further responsive behavior after the disruption of the rest of the elemental.  That being said cores can be used in any number of clever ways depending on their nature.

The two most well studied cores are the Wind Stone of Nohlend, and the Ice Core of ‘Norbert.’   An unfortunate name given to the original elemental, and never explained by the woman Amalia Grey, an intrepid and determined explorer who was also known for odd eccentricities.  These two stones exhibit very different fundamental behaviors.  The wind stone produces a continuous breeze in its vicinity in the direction, and intensity that light is cast on it.  The Ice Core appears superficially to merely be a massive heat sink.  Yet obeying conservation of energy the heat lost manifests in excessive filament concentrations in an area roughly fifty feet away.

The past few centuries (following the Dragon War) have offered more opportunities to study the phenomena of elementals, as to the worry of many scholars and laymen the Corinthian Scar exhibits the relatively frequent formation of elementals.  Though these seem far less powerful, and aggressive than reports of those manifested in wild lands, and wastes.

For those not familiar with the Corinthian Scar one should perhaps not be surprised.  Outside of scholarly circles, and those telling ghost stories, most like to forget its terrifying existence, and the great atrocity that created it.  Largely centered on the formal capitol of Corinthia, the Scar in its original form was a ten mile area of scorched rubble that once housed some eight hundred thousand, though at the time of those terrible events more than half the population had fled the march of the Osyrean army, and their dragon tyrants.

Over the following century the scar expanded by nearly sixty times in land area, though significantly more along the primary ley line.   This expansion was initially of terrifying concern, and caused the suburbs of the formal capital, and an even larger area beyond the scar to be utterly abandoned.  Which given the nature of elementals to appear in uninhabited places almost certainly made the problem worse.

Though the exact area of the scar is currently debated, as is any possible continued expansion – it is almost universally agreed it is no larger than sixty by twenty miles.  Some resettlement has occurred around the fringes in small outposts, and unaffiliated groupings – the later of which are highly disreputable, and of great concern to surrounding kingdoms.

Even with a known area of occurrence, and with the exception of wisps the initial formation of an elemental has never been observed.  In fact there is heated debate if wisps are even technically elementals at all, or something more obtuse.  Wisps exhibit several traits that many argue are contrary to elementals.  They are ‘timid’ retreating from approaching observers, not advancing.  The occur in forests, fields, near town and city borders, and other places elementals have almost never been reported.  They are also vastly more common, though still generally rare.  Lastly their initial formation has been observed, if at a distance.

The formation of a wisp is as best described, both odd, and less than special.  Wisps appear to form out of an abundance of ambient filaments that gradually begin to coalesce into a luminous concentration.  They generally maintain a distance of a few dozen feet from the observer, both retreating and advancing as the observer moves, though with some latency.  Beyond this they bob, weave, and swirl about.  They are almost always observed individually, but a few dozen accounts exist of two, three, or even eight.

Wisps only seem timid about humans, and larger animals.  They ignore trees, and have even been observed to pass through them.  Their luminance attracts many night insects, including fireflies, which can create the illusion to the uninformed that a number of smaller wisps are following the larger.  Wisps are almost always blue in hue, and fire flies exhibit warmer colors.

Half-flesh are an even stranger phenomena.  There are five recorded over the course of a thousand years, six or seven counting either the Avatar, or Lady of the Sands who many believe deserve each a class to themselves.  The Lady of the Sands continued existence is also in debate – as she was always reclusive.  The nomads north of Osyrae continue to vaguely worship her, and swear to her continued presence.

Half-flesh exhibit as (generally) intelligent pseudo-elemental ghosts – or possibly highly intricate spells.  None have ever been overly willing to be closely examined, and most have eventually dissipated within a century or two of their formation.  They bare traits of both elementals, and ghosts.  None have ever observed the initial formation, though some come and go like ghosts.  All were once (reportedly) living people who possessed exceptional affinities for an elemental pattern.  All manifest in vaguely to fully human form, seem to experience sensation like humans, remain fully to mostly intelligent, but are made of elementally attuned filaments, or inorganic matter.

Here is a short list:

The Stone Man Cartith:

One of the only stone shamans recorded, Cartith was a disturbingly powerful gifted warrior who first fought against, and ultimately beside Emperor Corinth in his subjugation of the age of Kings.  Cartith’s practice was incredibly detrimental to his health in ways that were not well understood.  Though he did not generally engage in direct combat he was an almost grotesquely muscular man, and his bulk was largely scar tissue created by the straining he did while wielding his might.  Cartith died in battle not from enemy action, but from his heart literally tearing itself apart beyond repair.  The following day a human form made of shaped stones was found outside of camp.  Though the Stone Man was incapable of speech he could communicate in other varied ways from gestures, to scratches in the dirt.

Cartith served the Emperor through many further campaigns before one day simply walking away.  It is generally believed that Cartith’s mind slowly faded with time.  He became a mercenary, and eventually was believed to be little more than a pet to his pay master until one day he simply stopped moving.  Other than some trivial residual filament concentration nothing special was ever found about his remains.

Laset the Dancing Wave:

Laset’s existence is well enough documented through enough lands that her existance is almost certain, but she is more myth than fact.  A woman of Tethes she lived sometime around 400 B.E.  A water channeler of immense power she preferred the art of dance to war, but came none the less always to her peoples defense in times of conflict.  This in spite of her near ostracization for her flagrant disregard for social norms around clothing, sexuality, or propriety.  She was fond of seduction of lovers of either sex, regardless of their marital status, and hardly limited herself to individuals.

She was ultimately killed by the combined efforts of several mages in an invading Osyrean army.  The following day the Osyrean occupiers were all found drowned at their posts, or in their beds.  These are the only deaths attributed -strongly- to Laset, who was hence forth again known more for her former pass times.  Though a scattering of stories say that her return to her former pastimes of dance and seduction lured unsuspecting fools to their doom these are considered false by most scholars.

As an ascended being Laset by most accounts was even less restrained than in her mortal life.  So much so that records say that after a final falling out with the elders of her former tribe she left.  Records place her wanderings through half the world there after.  The seduction of princes and farm girls, great shows she put on for the amusements of Kings and Queens.  Her defense of the innocent under cruel tyrants, and thieves.  Long lived for a Half-flesh the last known report of Laset is from central Palentine along the North Sea.  Where she is recorded to have lived roughly seven years around 130-123 B.E.

Sixteen surviving accounts refer to the “Final Wave” or the “Fairwell of the Sea” when during the high day of the summer solstice Laset put on a seven hour show in Palace Harbor during which ribbons of water were woven through the air hundreds of feet long, and high, intricately in intwined in complex dancing knots that numerous famous paintings attempt to recreate.  At the end of her performance she gave a final bow, blew a kiss to her vast audience, and joined the sea.  No credible tales are recorded after.

Soren the Unliving Cold:

No one knows precisely who Soren was before he appears in Napir folklore around 500 B.E.  Even after he became a frozen corpse that still somehow moved he was reclusive.  His touch was known to kill, or at least gravely wound.  Weapons of any sort shattered against him like glass.  By 450 B.E. several ill advised attempts to destroy him by local Lords and Ladies were well recorded.  The Storm Queen of the day put a stop to this, and faced Soren personally.

Soren made no moves against the Queen, and the Queen after a few harmless shows of power decided instead to attempt to speak with him.  He was not overly articulate at first, his dialect seemingly very old, but he was clearly intelligent when engaged at length.  He expressed no interest in violence, only bewilderment at his own existence – and a sorrow of loneliness.  He had vague memories of a lost wife, and child, and claims of cities in the sky.

When the Maji arrived in 423 B.E. Soren sought them out, and proved an adept student of magic – further he became a teacher himself, and was granted the title of Magus.  A young woman of the Maji fell madly in love with him, and by all records concocted spells to protect herself from the intense cold Soren exuded.  By all accounts she touched him by surprise, and to initial terror on his face.  Then to his further bewilderment she kissed him.  Yet unlike most half flesh records say he found that he could not feel even this.  This stripped from him his last hope in life, broke his heart, and several days later a spell fire burst several hundred feet high was observed from an open rocky area.  No one witnessed the event directly, but no credible record of Soren exists beyond this day.

Amir the Living Wind:

Amir is believed to have originally come from the lands north of Osyrae – though little more is known of his mortal life, for few tales claim he ever said.  Amir is a strange sort among the Half-flesh.  He had no tangible, or visible form, and some scholar try to write him off as a myth carried by the Maji in their travels.  Dating however of many tales, all reporting the same name Amir, occur centuries before the track of the Maji reached many lands.  Further while Amir is recorded in the oral histories of northern Osyrae, he does not appear in any early Maji writings, nor in any oral traditions of central Osyrae where the Maji originated.

Beyond this it is all but impossible to sort fact from fiction.  Amir is recorded as benevolent, mischievous, clever, tender, and lustful.  He is credited with saving people from terrible falls, and blowing about women’s clothes to their embarrassment.  Stories have him playing spy against invading armies, leaving warnings written in the dirt of coming attacks, and intervening in critical battles.  There are stories of the song on the wind, and numerous women who claimed to have a ghostly lover that came on the breeze.

Given the truly abstract nature of the tales around Amir it is no more clear when he stopped existing than when he started.  Tall tales continue into the modern age, but their frequency dropped off some time around 350 E.R.

Geneve the Rapture of Light:

Geneve’s origin is somewhat well recorded.  A witch of the wastes north of the modern area claimed by the Clarion Ascension she was already an outcast of sorts, but her skills were far too prized for the local tribes to stay away from her for long.  By all accounts of her works, and unlike many historically recorded ‘witches,’ Geneve was more accurately an enchanter.  As all witches her practice predated the path of the Maji, living some time around 750 B.E.

In life what Geneve was known more for than her spell bound wares, was her absolute distaste for men.  Being a witch already marked her an outsider from any tribe, her intolerance for the presence of men more so, and lastly her well recorded affinity for women further.  In addition to her enchantments, Geneve was known as an illusionist.  Though she made her home in open land, near a lake that could be seen from half a mile away people would get lost trying to walk straight towards it.

Only a lone woman could pass her illusions, and reach her home.  There they would be offered tea, sometimes a meal, and barter for her wares.  Few claimed to have given in to her seductions, but few denied that they were made.  After all, if the known lustful woman did not try, it would be an affront to one’s beauty.

Some would not return for days.  Often offering excuses that they could not easily return through the same illusions that lead people astray approaching.  This was a very necessary claim for fear of being shunned, though most considered the seductions of Geneve witchcraft of the highest order.

It varied under the leaders of the surrounding tribes if only virgin girls were sent in an attempt to sway her, or only widows to not sully the honor of some poor girl.  All together the stories remained on average the same.

One day, in tales dated to circa 610 B.E. a young boy was dared to challenge the illusionary maze by his friends.  He walked straight through.  There in her bed was found an old woman, dead in likelihood of natural causes, and age.  Though Geneve appeared in the tales of her life to always be young.

Over the following centuries begin the tales of the Rapture of Light.  A seductive glowing woman who lured young women into the night, and whispered lustful thoughts in their ears.  That her caress was warmth itself, and her voice a song that felt like bells of light ringing in the ear.

Were it not for records of the Magus Garlen, a respected member of the Maji troop that arrived in those lands in 223 B.E. Geneve might be written off as nothing more than a legend.  Yet her two recorded works (one poetic, one scholarly,) each banned in devoutly Clarion lands are detailed, and often frank accounts of her long dealings with Geneve.  What the troublesome spirit asked for her knowledge, and good humor, and also the powers observed.

There are further accounts by other Maji who observed her interactions with the glowing spirit, and also records of other young female Maji who interacted favorably, or otherwise with her.

The Lady of the Sands:

There are well documented encounters with the protector of the northern wastes all the way up to 150 E.R. and countless myths surrounding her.  If she ever speaks is a mater for debate, but the most well recorded events were battles, all of which were lost by the side that faced her.

More is known about her powers than either her origins, or her personality.  She commands both wind, and sand in raw physical form.  She assumes the shape of a woman, sometimes seemingly naked, or draped in flowing gowns – though it can be hard to tell either apart as her feet rarely fully form, instead tapering into the sand bellow.  She is far from limited to either human scale, or form.  She can call up great waves of sand, from hands large enough to grab hold of a dunewalker, and strike with more than enough force to kill.

In addition to these powers of brute force she is able to whip up terrible whirlwinds, by some reports gale force storms, and scatter the shapes she makes of sand into the wind becoming deadly sandstorms.  Her primary area of appearance is in the region above the North Sea, and her most recurring failed adversary kings of Osyrae, including by all reports Osir himself, who tried to spread their influence east.

There are seven recorded battles with the Lady over the thousand years since the reign of Osir.  The last two decades before Osyrae relented to join the Empire rather than be an isolated power without hope of expansion, or trade.

Though the Lady of the Sands is amongst the most powerful beings ever recorded, and capable of devastating effects, she has generally been credited of using little more force than necessary.  The most casualties recorded in a battle with her were during the determined campaign of King Omal the Mad in 342 B.E. who ordered his army to continue to fight until his own son slew him to end the madness.  Even then only fifty soldiers died, though roughly three hundred were seriously wounded.  Other encounters in spite of grand shows of force by the Lady never exceeded casualties of between seven, and twenty, though injuries were always vastly more plentiful.

Beyond records of battle only one well recorded treatise exists on the Lady of the Sands, among the many works of Joshua Caust, an Imperial Researcher who spent several years seeking out the Lady from 147-150 E.R.  Joshua is generally well regarded, and the work is largely held up as genuine, though many besmirch a few thinly veiled passages that allude to her having been somewhat “amiable,” and an experience described as “corse, but not the least unpleasant.”

More over he does write at length about attempting to communicate with the Lady on the few occasions his shaman guide was able to lead him to her, or summon her.  His writings indicate that while she never once spoke she seemed able to understanding meaning, and intent, if not words themselves.  That she presented an air of intelligence, and behavior ranging from aloof, to curious, cautious and even “coy” and “playful” when called “beautiful.”  A statement he writes to have, “said at first in all earnest awe at the majesty of a living spell more intricate than any mortal being, and more powerful than the beating sun above, but from the look on her face, and the amused shift in her stance, I knew she had little doubt other aspects of her beauty had struck me almost as profoundly.”

No one has challenged the northern wastes with military force in centuries, and no other researchers have been able to gain audience with the illusive being.  As such it is hotly debated if she still exists, though unsubstantiated reports of her presence persist.

The Avatar:

Though baring no relation to any specific element precisely – some argue life, or throw out some sacrament about holy energy, aether, etc.  The Avatar is something of a singular, and strange spectacle.  Once a mortal Paladin who fell – or as it were ascended 0 in battle he is the exception that proves the rule about none witnessing the formation, or that he is not half flesh at all by other arguments.

The Ascension of the Avatar is one of the most well recorded events in history.  When his shield gave out under the flame onslaught of the Black King of the Osyrean Dragons, shortly after the destruction of the city of Corinthia for a moment some new shield held against the fire.  When that failed his flesh burned away.

Thinking his job done the Dragon King relented his assault, only to watch in bewilderment as flesh reknit with bone.  As light swept across the battlefield of his fallen comrades, and by some accounts tendrils from as far away as the smoldering ruins of the city.  The light consumed the frail form, and the man rose above the field of battle.  The next jut of flame washed over him like nothing, a perfect sphere around him impenetrable.

With a sweep of his hand the Avatar tossed the mighty dragon back, though his claws found purchase, and his wings slowed him.  He charged the Avatar again, only to be attacked by his own brother, another great black dragon who wounded his neck.  His loyal followers drove back his brother who fled reluctantly, and for the first time in the Dragon War the Osyrean army retreated.  The Avatar did not follow.

The Avatar appears to primarily work in pure kenetic energy, and sometimes light.  A few mages claim that what he does most closely resembles magic, but at once far more delicate in construction, and brutish in power.  His true nature is openly debated, but it is generally considered that he mostly likely is the amalgam of many lost souls from the battle of Corinthia, and possibly from the destruction of the city itself as well.

There are a few scarce reports of the voice of the Avatar, but these are fleeting at best, and not well recorded.  It is said his voice is like that of thousands all speaking incoherently to some how form words from the way they overlap.   That it is terrifying, unnerving – and yet oddly comforting in contrast to these things – that more readily describe the experience.

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