The Ailuro are a clan of half-breed felinoids, deriving from the union of the Andesian and Navitaria races, that possess the psychic gift of empathy and are known to be intrinsically tied to modern day understanding of life force energy and mysticism. Dating back to Anount's Age of Wishes nearly 20,000 Anootian Solar Cycles ago, the Ailuro Clan has risen to a position of prominence within Anootian society. But due to their past, they have a rocky, often tumultuous relationship with other Anootian races. More than anything, the Ailuro live their lives based around the concept of honor and their religious beliefs.
Generally, the coloration of an Ailuro's fur is a shade of red, ranging from dark maroon to scarlet to even pink on some rare occasions. It is known that some individuals fall outside of the average coloration, such as Xanthos, whose fur is a golden yellow. Individuals like this are rare, and are comparable to albinos in other species, and are referred to as Heitero. The eye colors of Ailuro are generally variations of green and yellow, but Heitero are known to have blue eyes. Some Ailuro possess tufted ears, while others may grow glorious manes as a show of femininity to attract potential lovers.
Members of the Ailuro Royal Family may possess black war paint markings on their face as a show of their position in Ailuro society, which usually are on their eyes or near their foreheads. Other individuals who may wear such markings are the members of the Ailuro Council, or war heroes. If an Ailuro is part of either of these groups, they are required to wear the markings on a mandatory basis. To be a part of these groups and not declare your status to the lower class is frowned upon by all members of Ailuro society. In fact, to decorate one's body with markings and not be a member of the upper class is a major offense.
Ailuro do possess tails, but these appendages are generally very short, and serve little use for the race besides helping to balance them. Masculine-gendered Ailuro generally do not wear clothing on their upper torso, but this practice can be bypassed if an article of clothing is of significant sentimental value. Feminine-gendered Ailuro are allowed to wear upper body clothing, and have a strong tendency to wear baggy pants and belt scarves. Whereas masculine-gendered Ailuro wear plain clothing and place emphasis on sentimentality and remembering the past, feminine-gendered Ailuro wear clothing that places emphasis on looking forward to the future and tend to be more extravagant.
Gender Identities and Reproduction Edit
Going into more depth about gender, the Ailuro gender is fairly in line with the type of position an individual wishes to partake in within Ailuro society, but this isn't always a constant. While gender roles are fairly fluid in adolescence, it is expected for an Ailuro to formulate their gender identity by the time they fully mature -- about age 75. It is at this point that an Ailuro's gender identity and subsequent position in society is declared by the individual. Certain fields are more masculine-dominated, such as the Exemplar secret police, while others are more feminine-dominated, such as the Ag'alma Sacellum. The genders in Ailuro society are a quintet, being divided by personal identity and relationship role.
Before exploring the gender identities in Ailuro society, it is critical to understand that biologically speaking, the Ailuro race is hermaphroditic. In other words, they do not possess separate sexes, and all individuals bear reproductive organs associated with both male and female sexes. Specifically, the Ailuro are sequential hermaphrodites of the bidirectional nature. While the Ailuro are born with both reproductive organs, they may act as a biological male or female during different stages of life. This shift is determined by the romantic and sexual relationship an Ailuro has with their partner. The more subordinate partner's male reproductive organs become more prominent, while the more dominant and assertive partner's female reproductive organs are more pronounced. The sexual identity of an Ailuro does not necessarily determine their gender identity, as we will now list:
1. Aoris - The gender identity of an adolescent Ailuro, the ever-abundant Aoris is the base standard for how an Ailuro may carry themselves. While most individuals declare their preferred identity by at least the age of 75, it is not impossible to see much older Ailuro that claim the Aoris identity. The Aoris is neither strictly masculine nor feminine, and resides in the middle of the gender spectrum. The Aoris may show preferences towards either masculinity or femininity as they see fit to themselves on an individual level.
2. Bapti - The gender identity of the more spiritually-inclined Ailuro, the Bapti is seen as absolutely feminine-gendered. It is the Bapti that are the impetus of social change, and they are known for thinking out of the box and pursuing progressive ideals. By pursuing what they perceive as bettering their lives and the lives of their loved ones, they believe they can achieve the Ag'alma's tenet of balance by creating a better society. Generally, the Bapti are attracted to the hierarchy of the Sacellum, but often come into conflict with the Optro.
3. Optro - The gender identity of those who are more inclined to secrecy and hidden, the Optro is seen as completely masculine, and are a fairly uncommon identity. The Optro seemingly have an obsession with maintaining status quo through their strong beliefs in the Ag'alma religion. They strive to keep what they perceive as balance in society, but they are prone to go about this in unorthodox ways. The Optro is often at odds with the Bapti that possess a more flexible concept of what is meant by maintaining balance.
4. Unami - The gender identity of Ailuro that is fairly common, this identity is primarily feminine-gendered, but inclusive of small amounts of masculinity. The military is where most of this gender go, as femininity represents the future, which a military must strive to move forward to. The masculinity represents remembering the past, as it is important to recall history and its mistakes, lest you are doomed to repeat it. But being primarily feminine, this gender identity does not let the past bog them down, and quickly learns from past errors to ensure a safer tomorrow. They also are quite numerous in the Tem-Voc fields.
5. Toria - This gender identity is primarily masculine-gendered, but inclusive of small amounts of femininity. Due to revering the past as sacred and the belief that it must be remembered, this identity is most inclined towards restoring older artifacts and are generally seen as historians. Their knowledge of the past means they are well-versed in its workings, and are often workers in the Tem-Vocs, though the field consists of any and all genders. Femininity helps them remember that times are always changing and one cannot be stuck in the past forever, or else risk losing touch with the present.
Sexual Orientation and Attraction Edit
The Ailuro lack the concepts of hetero- or homosexuality, as the concepts of sex and gender are so vastly different from our own human understanding. As for as romance goes, the hermaphroditic Ailuro can be seen as a pansexual race from the human perspective. Any of the five genders can romance any other gender, but to romance an Aoris and not be Aoris yourself is considered a taboo. The Aoris is seen as an adolescent and innocent, so for one of the other genders to romance an Aoris is seen as stealing that innocence.
Moving away from taboos, an Ailuro can only engage in a romantic relationship if a deep emotional bond has been made. Ailuro favor emotional and intellectual interactions, desiring to get to know other people and engage with them intellectually. Attraction for Ailuro is based moreso on personality and what or how a person thinks as opposed to a person's physical features. "Picking the brain" is often a tactic used to see whether or not a romantic relationship can be formed. The deep emotional bonds that are formed make it highly likely for complete commitment to making the relationship work, but platonic relationships are also possible.
Unique Abilities Edit
The Ailuro possess unique genetics because of their Navitaria parentage, whose existence as living life force grants their Ailuro some amount of naturally biological empathic powers. These psionic empathic powers can help an Ailuro sense emotions in their surrounding environment to keep their senses alert. Because their empathic powers are so keen and can pick up on even the slightest shift in emotional states, they are ideal lie detectors and are skillful in forging alliances when needed.
Ailuro of the Royal Family generally have stronger empathy powers, and are able to read emotional imprints left into environments or objects, predict an opponent's movements by reading emotional pulses, and even create empathic links with others. Their superior empathy is what allows the Royal Family to be so proficient in their jobs in society, and they often excel in other sectors of society as well.
The secret police, also called the Exemplar, also have notable empathic abilities that derive from intense study and meditation. Placing emphasis on the philosophical differences of each emotion, the Exemplars are able to both magnify and exploit the abilities of each emotion with relative ease. Through these studies, Exemplars wish to understand the still unknown powers of an individuals own soul.
The Sacellum's Scales of Hiota warriors have also honed their empathy into unique forms of combat that far surpass the average Ailuro by combining empathy with Astral Arcana, which grants a much closer relationship to the nature spirits that inhabit Anount. However, Astral Arcana have still only barely begun to be understood, and much about the art form is still being unveiled.
The Heitero Edit
A rare genetic anomaly that has only occurred three times in Ailuro history, the heitero is roughly synonymous to what may be called an albino. The heitero is notable for having golden fur as opposed to red fur, and blue eyes as opposed to the normal green. But beyond these visual differences, it is notable that each of the heitero has possessed an ability that transcends an Ailuro's empathy referred to as Physisoma. Each time that a heitero has appeared, they brought with them great social change to society in new and unique ways.
The first heitero was Anax, who led the Orythran Insurrection against an oppressive caste system and led his people to their eventual home of Arcasia. Anax was the inspiration for the second heitero, Harmonia, who tore down the old mafia-like lifestyle of her people and formed the Sacellum. She also was notable for bringing about gender equality in society and was well-known for being a strong believer in civil rights. The third heitero is Xanthos, who the people of Arcasia expect great things from. But because so much time has passed between Harmonia and Xanthos, there are those who are skeptical of whether or not he will do what history expects him to do.
Anax - The Herald of the Great Beyond
The very first Ailuro, Anax's birth marked the current age of Anount known as the Age of Wishes. Born from the union of the Navitaria warrior named Psole and the Andesian woman named Anastasia, Anax's birth was unveiled in the climactic final battle between the Navitaria and the Eorlan in the skies of Anount. With the Eorlan sealed across the galaxy, Anax's existence as a child of two universes solidified an alliance between the Andesians and the Navitaria. Although the Navitaria only stayed on Anount for a few solar cycles, it was long enough to have children with the native population.
With the Navitaria returning to their home universe after a short venture to the Othryan region, the Andesians saw an opportunity to finally kickstart their own economy with the help of the young new race of Ailuro. At first, the servitude seemed fair enough, but the Andesians finally began to impose unfair rules and restrictions upon the Ailuro. Soon enough, the partnership between Andesians and Ailuro became indentured servitude, and eventually slavery. Anax, now at his prime, found he had a particular affinity for nature and would find himself often wandering forests without quite being able to figure out why.
It was after discovering his connection to the Great Beyond and being able to interact with nature spirits that Anax decided to bring his people to freedom. With the nature spirits helping him and several supporters from among the Ailuro and the Andesians, he successfully launched the Othryan Insurrection that overthrew the caste system that had oppressed his people. He then proceeded to lead them and several Andesian allied fugitives to the previously abandoned country-region of Othrya, where work plans were set into motion to build the city of Arcasia. As a whole, the relations between the Ailuro and Andesian countries were very poor, as the Andesians felt that their economy would continue to suffer because of the Ailuro's selfishness.
Anax himself somehow found ways to extend his lifespan several times beyond the normal Ailuro lifespan, but his eventual death was a monumental affair for the people that had looked up to him.
Harmonia - The Divine Connector
Born a few generations after Anax's death, Harmonia found herself entangled in a struggle of power between gods, demons, and in-betweens alike. She strove to become a rallying call for the divided Ailuro against the potential threat that now imposed itself upon them. She also reached out to the Andesian people, trying to mend their past relations with minimal successes. She found herself using the forces of both gods and demons to crush the war of gods, but was only successful when she rallied together the Andesians and the Ailuro as one. When she descended upon the battlefield, she used her gifts to present herself as a being that balanced the divine and demonic in balance.
Harmonia formed the Sacellum and Ag'alma when the battle had finished, erecting a large building in the heart of Arcasia as a beacon of her beliefs.
A special ability that only the heitero possesses, the power of Physisoma can be considered an evolved form of empathy. As opposed to being able to read and interpret the emotions of others, Physisoma allows a heitero to read and interact with the very soul that by which life force emanates from, ranging from the heitero's soul to the souls of others and even the souls of nature. According to Xanthos, everything has a soul, even inanimate objects. While the life force inanimate objects give off is minimal, it is enough for a practitioner of Physisoma to manipulate their mechanical characteristics, including malleability, density, fluidity, or even opacity. Only Anax made his special ability publicly known, as Harmonia and Xanthos have both preferred to keep that to themselves.
The soul itself is what exudes life force, which can be further manipulated into either energy or magic. Practitioners of Physisoma have abilities that do not quite neatly fit into the categories of energy or magic, and are thus labelled as "Life Force Abilities." A practitioner of Physisoma is not the only person whose abilities come from the soul, but they are arguably the most diverse. Each soul exudes a different life force color, which matches the color of a soul. Each color corresponds with an element, and to use a Life Force Ability allows one the advantages of an elemental power but also takes away the disadvantages. For example, Life Force Fire cannot be put out by water, while Life Force Ice does not melt under heat.
One of the more notable abilities that Physisoma allows its user is the manipulation of the user's own soul. The most notable example of this is Xanthos, who uses his Physisoma to 1) project portions of his soul into near-physical duplicates of himself that he refers to as Shadow Clones, 2) create optical illusions to be perceived as another person, animal, or object, and 3) summon other beings whose emotional signatures he has connected to. While useful, using his Physisoma techniques makes his soul exposed and vulnerable to outside influences.
Another notable usage of Physisoma was from the times of Anax, who had a strong affinity towards nature spirits and their wellbeing. His connection to the unseen was so strong that he could draw in a nature spirit towards his soul and temporarily ascend himself into a demigod-like state. By intersecting his soul with a nature spirit, Anax's physical form would take on traits of that specific nature spirit. Because nature spirits can all differ greatly in terms of origin (forest, river, volcano), this widespread diversity was what allowed Anax to overcome the wilderness that obstructed the path of his people to reaching Arcasia.
Harmonia was also known to be able to intersect her soul with the souls of others, but she often found herself utilizing the aid of gods and demons. By connecting her emotional signature to either a god or demon, she was able to form a contract with them that would allow her to utilize the given god or demon's abilities when she had need for it. She was more likely to utilize the contractual gifts of gods and present herself as a divine being. This outward representation is what formed the Sacellum and Ag'alma.
Social Structure Edit
Because of their exceptional skills in empathy, espionage and subterfuge, Ailuro were often hired as hit men, assassins, and spies in the past, much moreso in the Ailuro's early history. This resulted in the early Ailuro people to organize themselves in a mafia-like system, wherein different families of Ailuro competed with each other for control.
During these times, the Ailuro wanted to appease the Andesians for the past, and worked as second-class citizens for a substantial amount of time. Eventually, the abuse that the Andesians inflicted on the Ailuro collapsed the caste system in an Ailuro uprising, and the Ailuro returned to their birthplace of Mount Othrys to build the beautiful city of Arcasia.
Government Structure Edit
Originally, the Ailuro built a governing system under an oligarchy, in which power rested with a small group of people. Because their empathic abilities allow Ailuro to detect lies and understand emotions on a deep and complex level, the Ailuro knew that they could fairly elect individuals for a government. Deriving from their mafia past, the Ailuro place honor above all else, turning their oligarchy into a timocracy, wherein the leaders were selected and perpetuated based on the degree of honor they hold relative to others in their specific position in society. The leaders in the Ailuro government refer to themselves as the Inner Council, and each represent a different facet of Ailuro society. There are five groups:
The Royal Family's Archon
Derived from the first Heitero Ailuro known as Anax, the Royal Family are all upper class, and they deal with any politics and foreign policies that the Ailuro must deal with in Arcasia and their neighboring societies. In addition, members of the upper class must aid and care for the lower class. When caring for the lower class, the Royal Family uses their superior use of their empathy to assuage the darkness within their target's mind, restoring balance to their intended target. The markings that they wear on their faces help distinguish them, and members of the lower class look up to the upper class when they need help. Members of the Royal Family include the extended family members that are descendants of Anax, and a Royal Family representative can stay in power for as long as is necessary. The current Archon of the Royal Family for the Council is Hagios.
The High Anax
The religious leader that is part of the Council, the High Anax is a title derived from the Heitero Ailuro named Anax, and she often speaks for the general population as is needed during Council meetings. As the head of the Ag'alma religion that the Ailuro follow, the High Anax is often told the problems that may plague the lower class as a whole. As a deeply spiritual person, the High Anax is held in regard as a pinnacle of the Ag'alma beliefs and is always feminine-gendered, as femininity is associated with looking forward to the future. Arcasia has a large Sacellum building spread out at the base of Mount Othrys, where the lower class can find the High Anax. The current High Anax is also a member of the extended Royal Family -- Agathos.
A small group of honorable leaders that represent the work fields that Ailuro indulge in, the Guildmasters handle economic transactions and are largely in charge of trade that goes in and out of Arcasia. Because they are in charge of finances, imports, and exports, the Guildmasters must come from different areas of the Tem-Vocs (Temples of Vocations), so as to provide accurate depictions of where the Council should place their resources. The number of Guildmasters varies from four to six at the most.
This position is the highest rank in the Ailuro military, of which only one Justicar can exist at a time. This Council member is responsible for keeping troops in shape and prepared for anything that may come. The Justicar often works in tandem with the Vice Adjutant, who is the Council Spymaster, when operating in the field on missions. The Justicar must also coordinate efficiently with the Guildmasters to ensure that his troops have the necessary armor and weapons for when they engage in battle. Often, the Justicar is a war hero that sports the Upper Class markings that are common of the Royal Family on their face, and may choose whether or not they wish to involve themselves in the practices of the Royal Family. The current Justicar is a venerated war hero named Autarkhia.
The Vice Adjutant
The final Council member is the Vice Adjutant, who is in charge of the Exemplar secret police group, and deals with espionage and intelligence-gathering. The role coincides with the Ag'alma religion, as it explores the darker sides of honor in the name of justice. The Exemplars that the Vice Adjutant lead is known to be particularly cruel and without remorse, but is extremely efficient. The Exemplars will also act as scouts when operating in the field with the Justicar's military forces. It is also known that this position deals with any foreign influences that may jeopardize the status quo. Currently, the Vice Adjutant is Elpis.
Class Dynamics Edit
Within the Ailuro culture, balance and honor are the two concepts which are held above all else. And these ideals are two of the major factors that dictate class and social status. For the most part, the Upper Class consists of 1) descendants of Anax Ailuro, 2) the Sacellum hierarchy (from the Postulants upward), 3) the Ailuro Council, and 4) venerated war heroes. As such, the Upper Class is small in number in comparison to their Lower Class counterparts.
The Seminary is what holds the system in place, dictating who can be given access into the Upper Class. The position in society is not without consequences, however. In Ailuro society, the Upper Class must serve and aid the Lower Class, as the power of the Upper Class must be balanced by giving generosity to the Lower Class. In return, the Lower Class will produce what is necessary for the society to survive as a whole. The accomplishments of the powerful must help serve the needs of the less fortunate.
Naming Conventions Edit
The Ailuro, unlike many other Anootian races, combine their given name with their surname into a singular name that they are called by others. The surname represents what familial branch an Ailuro comes from, but does not generally serve an active role in determining societal status. To give an example of the naming convention of the Ailuro, Elpis -- the Vice Adjutant -- is a descendant of the House of Is, and his given name is Elp. Ailuro do not address each other by given name alone, however, and doing so is considered incredibly rude. The Houses are each derived from the first Ailuro to stand by Anax in the Ailuro Insurgence against the Andesians. Notably, there isn't a House dedicated to Anax, as the Ailuro feel that one House named after the first Ailuro would be blasphemous. While there is a wide range of familial branches, three houses in particular have the most notoriety.
The House of Os
The current Royal Family, the House of Os has enjoyed a long reign in their current position, managing to be the longest Royal Family Line in history. For generations, they've been powerful shapers of Ailuro society but recent developments over the years have threatened to end the Os reign. The House of Os has been pushing for stronger Ag'alma control over society in order to foster a sense of solidarity for the coming storm.
The House of Is
An old House, the Is had been lax to intervene with societal squabbles for generations, but territory advances by other societies has forced them to be more militant and assertive in their stance on foreign policy. The Is seek to have a control over the Ailuro society from the shadows, and many of their people join the Exemplar, regardless of personal interest.
The House of Ia
The house from which Heitero Harmonia made infamous, this House takes great pride in their role in history, and tries to ensure it can continue playing a role in shaping the future. Now that Autarkhia has become Justicar, the House of Ia has been trying to push to control Council decisions through her, which has caused friction not only between Ia and the other Houses, but Ailuro society as a whole.
Religious Beliefs Edit
The Ailuro of Arcasia follow the religion of Ag'alma, which is an animist religion that was born in the early days of Ailuro society. The Heitero Ailuro named Anax, son of the Andesian woman Anastasia and the Navitaria Psole and the first Ailuro, led his people on a revolt against the Andesians, declaring a speech that would later on be named the "Rite of Anax." It is from this speech that Ag'alma was born, as Anax revealed his unique power of Physisoma that allowed him to speak to the very souls of nature that he had communed with since his birth. It is with this realization that the Ailuro begin to deify the spirits of nature that Anax spoke of, forming three cardinal tenets that form the basis of Ag'alma:
1. There is to be balance in all things. No light shall not have shadow, and no greatness can not have corruption. Find balance within the self, and balance from the Great Beyond shall calm even the most chaotic of waters.
2. As all things are living, all things shall be treated in a manner that by which what one does for a friend shall be returned in kind. Ensure that others can exist with balance in their own hearts, and they shall see to it that balance remains in your own. Disrupt the balance in another's heart, and you place your own house into a state of bedlam.
3. It is not the actions but the intentions behind an individual acts that are important. If the intention is an act is self-promotion at the cost of others, balance will eliminate those who hide behind false smiles. If the intention is an act of selflessness at the cost of the self, balance will ensure that your life in the Great Beyond will be forever rewarded.
These three tenets are what the Ailuro live by, and most individuals of the modern day interpret the tenets as to say that one should live an honorable life and in harmony with the spirits of nature. However, only Anax could commune with these spirits, and his eventual death meant that no other Ailuro could quite interpret what Anax had meant. Even so, the Ailuro of Ag'alma try their best, and have raised a large Sacellum at the base of Mount Othrys as a memorial for the High Anax to reside in.
The Sacellum Edit
This building is the largest in Arcasia, and the city's crowned jewel. Equipped with long halls stretched deep into the mountain's base, the Sacellum is the living quarters for the High Anax and her hierarchy. The Sacellum has established a few smaller branches throughout the country-region of Othrya, where smaller communities have formed. These smaller branches deliver practical services to the community that has formed around them, such as caring for the sickly and providing hospitality for travelers. Ag'alma has spread fairly wide through the Sacellum buildings across Othrya, a notable achievement for the relatively young religion.
The terms "Sacellum" and "Ag'alma" are often used interchangeably, but the physical location is referred to as a sacellum.
Ag'alma hierarchy Edit
At the top of the religion's hierarchy is the High Anax, who is a deeply spiritual feminine-gendered Ailuro that has been elected to serve as the leader. The High Anax, unlike the other positions of power, will remain in power until death, as her election to the position and subsequent years of power dictate that she must follow through with her promise to serve. The High Anax is addressed to as "The Most High," or "Our Honorable" when speaking, but when in writing it is acceptable to use "Her Honor."
Below the rank of High Anax is the Imperator, of which there are three so as to represent the three main tenets. The job of the Imperator is to enact the will of the High Anax, which may involve journeys to other country-regions or presiding over the smaller Sacellum. If an unexpected death were to befall the High Anax, it is tradition for one of the Imperators to take her place, if elected capable. The Imperator is addressed to as "Most Noble."
Below the Imperator reside the Paragon, who reside over the smaller Sacellum and are in charge of spreading the religion of Ag'alma throughout the rest of Othrya. They are, as their title suggests, the paragon of honor in their particular region. Each is appointed by the High Anax herself, and they are naturally responsible for administrating and overseeing the spiritual balance of the members of their appointed Sacellum. The Paragon is addressed to as "Most Eminent."
Below the Paragon is the Postulant, who fill the roles of monks in the hierarchy. The Postulant is the primary worker under a Paragon, and they must be handpicked by the Paragons they will serve under. Becoming a Postulant allows access to the Upper Class, but can only be achieved by months of emptying one's mind beyond what Ailuro generally are used to. It is believed that by pushing away the excess activities of life, one can begin to understand what the Heitero spoke of in his speech. Some Postulant even claim that the spirits of nature will speak to them during this state and show them a glimpse of the Great Beyond and all of its awe. A Postulant is addressed to as "Most Hopeful."
The bottom of the hierarchy are the Officials, who have taken vows and sworn oaths to dedicate themselves to the service of the Sacellum. This group is the most numerous, with most Officials working in Sacellum under a Paragon and Postulants. As this is the bottom of the hierarchy chain, all Ailuro that have sworn themselves to Ag'alma are considered Officials. An Official is referred simply by noting their title before their name, such as "Official Aerios," for example.
The Scales of Hiota Edit
The holy and divine warriors of the Sacellum, the Scales of Hiota do not quite fall into the normal hierarchy of the religion. They generally answer only to the Paragon of their local seminary, although they may take some advice from the Postulants. The Ag'alma religion places balance and harmony as a critical foundation for good societies, so there are those among the Sacellum that believe the patron deity of Ag'alma should be Hiota. Because the religion is animist, there are some who oppose this, but many others agree that the goddess of inner peace and solitude should have some kind of place in the Sacellum.
The life of the Scales of Hiota is that of constant training. Each warrior must simultaneously be a swordmaster, an adept empath, and an expert on the inner workings of channeling spiritual energy. Each of those elements may take years to master; to put them together is to put together a training regiment that only the most driven are able to maintain on a consistent basis.
The Exemplar derives their power from strict mental discipline and intellectual development, but this isn't the case for a Scale of Hiota. The Scales rely moreso on the power of raw emotion for their psionic development, and pursue the use of their psionic power with great zeal -- occasionally enough to trigger surges of power far beyond their usual capabilities, but at the price of psionic feedback that may cause long-lasting, if not irreversible, damage.
Scales of Hiota are generally Ailuro who come from military backgrounds, and as such, generally fall under the Postulant or Official titles as a result. They generally are unable to make time to climb the ranks further, but there are sometimes exceptions to this rule.
The Scales are chosen involuntarily by Nature Spirits that deem an individual worthy. A Paragon, during moments of meditation or rest, will be contacted by Nature Spirits to recruit more Scales of Hiota as warriors of balance and harmony. While the title of being a Scale is one that many aspire to, it is only achievable by a select number. The Paragon will invoke a ritual to allow Nature Spirits to bind themselves to a prospective Scale that has been found worthy, if both Spirit and Scale are willing to go through the process. By being bound together, the newborn Scale of Hiota is two spirits harmonized within one body, granting the Ailuro empath the ability to channel the spiritual powers that have been bestowed upon them.
A Scale whose body is unable to complete the binding process becomes a Husk, a psionic abomination that the other Scales will put down so as to not endanger the innocent. Another notable enemy of the Scales of Hiota are the HexSpawn that form after HexBlights occur on Anount. Eliminating the HexSpawn is the goal of all Scales, despite the HexSpawn outnumbering them 10-to-1. Past deeds are of little consideration when it comes to fighting HexSpawn -- whatever it was before, it's a monster now. There's no middle ground. In any case, the Scales are celebrated and loved in Ailuro society, and they'd like nothing less.
The Paragon, while not necessarily a Scale of Hiota themselves, is integral to the recruitment process of these warriors. They allow prospective Scales to be bound with a Nature Spirit, an irreversible process, so that the Spirit can teach the Scale beyond what is known to other individuals.
The Scales of Hiota do not have a specified hierarchy within themselves -- they answer to the Paragons alone. In the field, an individual who takes charge may only do so if they are the most knowledgeable on how to proceed, not because they may be the senior member or the most martially skilled. Leadership falls upon who is most qualified, and the Scales may know whomever the individual most qualified will be in a heartbeat.
The Scale, as it is sometimes called, blurs the line between empathic energies and martial prowess, marrying the two skillsets to be prepared in any situation. Enemies who underestimate Scales never get a second chance, since the Scale doesn't need to switch between empathy and combat skill -- they can use both at the same time. The power that the Scales draw from is actually similar to the concept of the HexSpawn Remnants that haunt the darker corners of Anount. However, Scales couldn't be more different.
- Spiritual Channeling: Due to their half-Spirit physiology, the Scales of Hiota are able to see and interact with Spirits and souls, although to a lesser extent than an individual with Physisoma. Scales can detect how much Life Force a target emits and sense the wellbeing of other Nature Spirits. The latter sub-ability makes it useful for Scales to track down HexSpawn during raids on the HexSpawn caverns.
- Psionic Arms: The most noteworthy ability of the Scales of Hiota are the psionic weapons they can craft. They are able to forge blades or bows of semisolid psionic energy and infuse it with the essence of spiritual forces to boost their overall psionic power and deal lethal strikes. As a Scale of Hiota practices this unique talent, they learn to reach beyond the sky and create formidable weapons that can extinguish injustices. Because they serve the Sacellum, the Scales act on the principle of balance and harmony in all things, and therefore strive to bring such inner peace to others. Individual Scales have their own personalized Arms -- some prefer long distance archery, others prefer close combat -- but all are gifted in combat.
- Psionic Constructs: A more advanced ability, Scales of Hiota can craft more intricate objects through methods similar to crafting their Psionic Arms. While not used as much, Scales of Hiota are able to craft semisolid wings that allow for flight, construct tendril-like limbs for additional appendage needs, or even more incredible feats. There exist Scales in the past who have made psionic platforms to walk upon or even created remote constructs to act as a distraction.
- Martial Prowess: It is incredibly important to remember that Scales of Hiota are also incredibly gifted combat specialists, and can fight for days on end before running out of stamina. They have physical strength on par with an weaker Terran Andesian, but certainly enough to hold their own. Their martial abilities are enhanced when they surge past their normal limits and achieve feats greater than their average capabilities.
Law Enforcement and the Justice System Edit
The Ailuro abide by the beliefs that honor should be held above all other virtues besides harmony. Thus, it is common for Ailuro to police each others actions to ensure that others are living as honorably as they potentially can. However, as in any society, there are always deviants who oppose this. In cases such as these, it is not uncommon for deviants and delinquents to suddenly vanish overnight without a word. Such individuals are generally unsavory for society's standards, and questions are not usually asked about individuals who do not live honorable lives.
After a few days, it isn't unusual to see said delinquents and deviants once again in the streets in a daze, not sure what happened to them or where they had been. But their character has changed. Whereas they may have been deviants before, these individuals now conform to the society's standards, although the general population may not know why. Members of the Inner Council are the few that know the true mystery of what happens to these individuals who are taken. Under the leadership of the Vice Adjutant, the Exemplars are the ones responsible.
The Exemplars Edit
To the members of the Ailuro secret police, the phrase "know thyself" is not just a saying but a road to power and a way of life. Through the Ag'alma teachings, the Exemplars believe that knowing oneself will help bring balance and inner harmony, and each Exemplar agent spends many hours a day in meditation, studying the darkest recesses of their own minds through their empathic powers. The power of each emotion that they feel in each moment and the strength that can be drawn from it are among the studies of Exemplar agents, as are the methods to exploiting the weaknesses of different emotions.
Exemplars hone their psionic ability to a deadly focus, gaining a heightened perception that can take advantage of the slightest distraction to make vicious attacks. The Exemplars ability to avoid detection by normal means, and to lie in wait until the moment of opportunity arrives has made them an efficient law enforcement organization within the Ailuro society. The Exemplar recognizes that their mind's potential is their greatest weapon, and they will do what must be done in order to keep peace.
Members of the group recognize that there must be a balance for those that disturb the peace, and that the ideal lifestyle that the Ailuro society strives for will naturally cause shades of darkness. The Exemplars are those who eliminate the darkness that lurks under the surface, knowing that they must live the darker side of what it means to be honorable.
The path is chosen by an individual whose dedication and conviction to achieve their goals has evolved into a personal code. Potential recruits who have formed an unknowingly strong reputation for their drive are sought out by Exemplar agents that leave a thought-provoking scavenger hunt throughout their local town to the Exemplar's strongholds, where their hunt is rewarded by the prospect of their new occupation. It isn't uncommon for established Exemplar agents to keep an eye out for those who are also capable of joining the cause. The training performed in these strongholds is governed by each town's Exemplar Saints, the head of each Exemplar branch.
At the top of the Exemplar organization is the Vice Adjutant, an individual who best represents what it means to shoulder the darker meanings and connotations of honor. The Vice Adjutant is always situated in Arcasia so as to participate in discussions with the Inner Council.
Below the Vice Adjutant is the Exemplar Saint, of which there are five for each town that the Exemplars operate in. The Saints must run and maintain their respective town's stronghold and train any recruits that they gain.
The bottom of the hierarchy is the Exemplar Initiate, who are the most numerous. When on mission, they generally act on their own, but mentor/apprentice relationships between older and younger Initiates isn't uncommon.
An Exemplar can't stand up well to a bruiser well, but their mental talents can help them to excel at taking the slightest opportunity and turning it to their advantage. Their ability to slip under the notice of nearly any observer make them capable lone hunters, but their greatest strengths are found through interaction with allies in the field -- they can use their enemy's slightest distraction to deliver vicious attacks. The Exemplar lives in darkness, but seeks to expose their enemies to the light of justice.
- Heightened Perception: An Exemplar's finely tuned control of their psionic empathy is useful when infiltration and information gathering through subversive means are needed. Through careful observation of a target's behavior, mannerisms, and movements, an Exemplar can accurately predict a target's movements by reading their emotional pulses and body language. Their perception allows them to pick up subtle details and see through vision-imparing screens such as fog. Their perception can also alert them to any hazards in the area, but only in a general sense.
- Shadowmeld: The Exemplar's greatest strength is the ability to hide in plain sight, making this ability undeniably useful for them. Because of their intimate knowledge of the mind and emotions, Exemplars can erase their presence from a target's mind, if needed. And in a crowd, finding an Exemplar is a nearly impossible task due to their empathic abilities. They can erase any trace of their identity from any number of people, if necessary, in order to conceal themselves. Shadowmeld also allows an Exemplar to conceal their motives from prying minds, making themselves less likely to be compromised while on a mission.
- Empathic Inundation: A skill not every Exemplar is proficient at, some Initiates master the ability to induce an overwhelming flood of emotions or feelings into a target. By forcing the target to experience all of their deepest sentiments at once, the Exemplar can leave a target susceptible to mental pain or render them unconscious. There have been reports in the past of Exemplars flooding a target with emotions so traumatic that they've left victims comatose, or even dead.
- Clairaudience: Some Exemplars have displayed the ability to not only feel emotions, but also "hear/see" the heightened thoughts associated with those specific emotions. An Exemplar can only get visionary "echoes" related to certain emotions, but not full memories. An example to portray this ability - An Exemplar sees two spouses aiming a lot of the emotion of hatred toward each other. The Exemplar would, upon focusing directly on those individuals and their emotions, would receive an echo of that emotion in their mind with a visual/auditory memory that summarizes that emotion.
- Telempathy: Building off of clairaudience, an advanced Exemplar is not only able to sense others' emotions, but can send their own emotions to others. Exemplars can communicate with each other on an emotional wavelength, and if skilled enough, can send "echoes" (a term meaning a quick glimpse of an image) of images back and forth. For example, an Exemplar can project the emotion of love to a target, and the receiver would see an image of a close loved one.
- Psychometry: An advanced ability only attainable by mastering Telempathy, very few besides the Exemplar Saints and the Vice Adjutant are known to be strong enough to master this art. Some places have constant emotional residue (due to major events happening in the area such as war, death, historical moments, etc.). Some Exemplar are able to tap into these emotional imprints and re-experience those emotions as if they were happening in the moment, letting them actually relive history. If skilled enough, an Exemplar can also see the emotional echoes (images/residual ghosts) still there, which remain only in cases of strong concentrated emotional energies.
- Gambits: The Gambits are a small list of different skills an Exemplar can use to gain the upper hand in combat or in reconnaissance. Although few in number, the Gambit skills are absolutely necessary for an Exemplar in the field if they want to succeed in their mission.
- Living Echo: Based on the knowledge of emotional echoes (images/residual ghosts), an Exemplar can project an emotional echo from themselves to perform a singular task, such as scouting ahead or acting as a distraction. These echoes can be seen by anyone, and visually resemble the Exemplar practitioner. When formed, an echo possesses limited corporeal form and lacks its own mind, but rather it acts upon the singular directive that its Exemplar has given it. With enough force, an echo can be destroyed by outside influences, such as physical combat, but any memories or images that an echo collects are transferred back to the Exemplar.
- Empathic Illusion: Based on the principles of shadowmeld, an Exemplar can form minor visual illusions upon an object a target sees. This skill can help "transform" a target into another person, animal, plant, or object, all of which help an Exemplar's concealment.
- Empathic Teleportation: By locking on to the emotional signature of another individual, an Exemplar can teleport their physical form to that target, or teleport the target to them. This requires a deep emotional bond to form beforehand, so that both parties are familiar with each others' signature. When teleporting, a target will feel a buzzing sensation at the base of their head before the teleport begins. When completed, the buzzing ends.
Justice System Edit
Societal Systems Edit