A tall and dark-skinned race of desert-dwelling people similar to humans, save for their strong affiliation with the Ristellan suns. They have dark tattoos in a variety of colors that are given to them as children, and are added to over the course of their long lives. They are found to thrive in sunlight, but suffer greatly without it, and have been known to die if kept away from the suns for long periods of time.
Name:: Sol'tera, People of Sun
Average Lifespan:: 500 years
Average Height:: 6'1
Average Weight:: 200 pounds
Location Found:: Primarily Ristell.
*all statistics based on averages; extremes in any direction, or found in odd locations, are always allowed.
House Prestige The sol’tera are a proud people, and in the ancient days, feuding between families was common. The settling of their society, and the fealty most of them pay to the ruling sphinx, has done nothing to dampen that pride. But the modern Houses they are a part of settle matters of pride in less destructive ways. Each House measures its worth by its prestige. Wealth, martial prowess, magical might, these things mean little if nobody respects you.
Now, the head of a House will count the services of gifted retainers as being of more worth than ten times their number in mere servants. To that end, each House will attempt to entice renowned, gifted individuals from all walks of life into their service, gaining prestige by doing so. A small House with as little as two swordmasters might be held in higher esteem than a House that boasts two thousand well-trained soldiers, but not a single retainer to their name.
House War/Conflicts Whenever relations between Houses break down, and it becomes a matter of blood, the Houses will negotiate the upcoming conflict to settle matters between them. The rules laid down by these negotiations are upheld to the letter, for no House would dare risk losing prestige by breaking them, as such a loss can see a House isolated, and shunned.
Retainers play a large part in these conflicts, either as negotiators, or as combatants, as it isn’t unheard of for a conflict to be decided by trial by combat, generally to first blood, to prevent blood feuds from forming, or destructive, expensive full-scale conflicts from breaking out.
Moonsick/Shadesick If a sol'tera is removed from sunlight for long periods of time, they may become very sick; any magic they have will weaken and disappear altogether, and they may fall into a deep depression. Moonsick is when a sol'tera is allowed out only at night, and the access to light is only from the moon - shadesick is when they are kept from light underground, or inside. If kept from sunlight for too long, the sol'tera will die.
Sunsick/Nightshocked An iahake who is kept from moonlight, or one that is forced to stay in the sun overlong, will become as sick as a sol'tera who is restricted from the sun. Sunstruck is when an iahake has an overload of solar energy, which may burn their skin and overload their senses. Nightshock is where an iahake goes a prolonged period without moonlight, which often leads to a dazed and lethargic sickness where an individual's energy reserves are reduced to nearly nothing. If kept from moonlight for too long, the iahake will die.
Sunstone Use Sol'tera sometimes trade with underground miners for sunstones; stones that hold light energy, and can absorb the light of the sun aboveground. Sol'tera nomads are those most commonly associated with the trade, though those living in cities may buy them for travel.
Diet This is what this species, and any variants, may eat at any given time.
Fruit, nuts, grain, cheese.
Red meat, fish.
White meat, tubers, shellfish.
Sol'tera tend to view meat as a luxury, preferring to dine most commonly on fruits, nuts, bread, and cheese since they get most of their energy from the suns of their home Realm. Dates are a common staple, and their dishes are commonly accented with special spices and sauces from the Arcadian desert. However, for special occasions, they tend to present a meat dish as the centerpiece of a grand banquet. They will not eat meat from the animal of their House, and tend to avoid predators completely should they go hunting.
Iahake tend to have more meat in their diets than their sol'tera cousins since they can't draw as much energy from the moon as their cousins do from the suns. Otherwise, their diets are very similar.
Species info credited to Verridith, Darkeh, and Fyfergrund.
Appearance Sol'tera are tall humanoids that can be found in a variety of darker skin tones, with eye and hair color ranging from any natural or unnatural shade. Most sol'tera are given dark-colored tattoos, commonly black, when they are children and tend to add upon these tattoos as they live their lives. Those of the three Blessed Houses will have more intricate tattoos than those in lesser Houses, or Houseless - banished individuals will often have part of their tattoos scored over in a different color, a mark of exile. Regular tattoo color is a solid or gradient color, always dark, and never sharply changed save for the mar-marks of punishment and exile.
Attire usually involves loose and baggy clothing, often baring the chests and arms of men and the arms, backs, and stomachs of women. Sol'tera are fond of Ristellan jewelry and bands of metal; gold, silver, bronze, and brass are common, though rarer metals - such as platinum, mythril, and darksteel - are generally reserved for Kings, Queens, and Pharoahs in the different Blessed Houses. Thick metal collars, arm bracers, armlets, belts, and other such things are prolific among both city-bound sol'tera, and nomads.
Culture Embedded in sol’tera culture are two forms of leadership: the spiritual and the governing. Priests of Azcen, the primary deity of the sol’tera, work in advisory positions to the noble Blessed Houses that form the governing body. Those in service to the lion god are considered immune to the rival affairs of the Houses; their duty is to protect the sol’tera in line with divine wishes, and to guide them in expanding their strength in a way that minimizes danger to their way of life. Priests will often select child acolytes to join their ranks (though this is always a choice on the part of the one requested), and do not discriminate based upon social status.
The governing body, however, is slightly more strict. Three Blessed Houses (the Mau, the Mir, and the Khu) form the largest and most powerful noble families among the sol’tera, with cities named in their honour. Lesser Houses, often linked to the Blessed through some distant form of relation, are considered younger and more prone to collapse; and the nomadic tribes of the deep desert aren’t considered to belong to any House at all, making them the lowest in terms of social or economic value.
The head of each Blessed House is an inherited position, male or female, with the direct line of descent being highly valued - the firstborn heir is forbidden to marry outside of the House, while younger siblings are permitted to choose their bonds among the other Houses, though moving outside of one’s social circle is heavily discouraged. Illegitimate children found to have parents in rival Houses, or hybrids of sol’tera and other races, are chased out of the city upon discovery or sometimes outright killed. Particularly proud Houses will sometimes hunt down these offspring, considering them a stain upon their history.
These measures come as the result of a very highly specialized people. The Blessed Houses are not only elevated by name, but by strengths.
Mir House: The Mir have some of the most talented mages in history within their ranks, and have taken the symbol of the earth tiger for their House; they are gifted with battle sorcerers and healers, valuing both, with all of their direct inheritors being particularly skilled in natural or earthly magics.
Mau House: The Mau, by contrast, are warriors; their House is made up of those seeking to prove themselves and prominent young men and women often earn their place by performing a stunning feat of athletic or warlike skill. Tournaments are a common way for the Mau to rank themselves. For their symbol, they have taken a fire lion, and all their inheritors are said to hold the “fiery heart of Azcen” in their breast.
Khu House: Lastly, the Khu are are an economic giant, with their members being particularly shrewd, intuitive, and wealthy people. Much of the sol’tera workforce follows the whim of the Khu House, but they are considered fair nobles, with extreme poverty being a rare circumstance in cities where their presence is strong. The Khu value the brilliant, and their inheritors, gifted with dominion over the air, are trained to be masters at problem solving, with an annual competition held (much like the Mau tournaments) where their House members test each other in puzzles of increasing complexity and scope. The symbol of the Khu is a wind cheetah.
Abilities The suns of Ristell, or the sun of any Realm they find themselves in, is uniquely important to sol'tera; the energy absorbed from it fuels their lifeforce and reiatsu, fortifying both body and soul. Without it, sol'tera become weak, gravely ill and may eventually die. The tattoos that they are given in their childhood are enchanted to enhance the absorbed energy and convert it better, and those sol'tera who, for whatever reason, do not have tattoos do not often survive past adolescence.
Physically strong and very swift, sol'tera are able to outmanuever multiple other races, and are quite similar to elves in general dexterity. Sol'tera may have any abilities, elemental and not, but reiatsu is most common among them; so are abilities involving offensive variants of the light element. However, at night and in places without sunlight, they may often be unable to access any magic, and over time become so weak that they are unable to physically fight. Some sol'tera are able to use their lifeforce directly at these times, providing a very brief and powerful period of magical ability, though they are left so weak afterwards that most perish.
The three Blessed Houses have elemental affinities that are very common among its members. The House of Mau often has elements of fire and heat; the House of Mir often has elements of earth and nature; and the House of Khu often has elements of wind and air. Shapeshifter sol'tera in these Houses often hold an affinity for their House mascot, though other shifters have been noted as well.
Once, long ago in Ristell, Azcen wandered the desert as he was oft known to do. The suns shone brightly in the sky, and his fiery pawsteps melted glass prints into the sand. It was warm and dry here, and he enjoyed watching the mirages come and go, and shared wisdom with the occasional passing sphinx.
But he found the desert to be somewhat empty and boring. The lion god batted at a tumbleweed and watched, amusedly, as it burnt to a flicker of ash in a moment, before sitting down to ponder the desert and everything in it.
The desert lacked life. It was too hot for almost anything, save for the sphinx, to exist here - and unless he destroyed a sun or two, that was unlikely to change. Huffing a sigh, the lion gave the suns a disgruntled look.
The suns set as he watched them; night came, and the suns rose. For three days, the god of suns watched his creations come and go, feeling the sand-glass beneath his fiery paws, the heat in his flames, the light upon his glistening land. On the dawn of the fourth day, he rose, and gave a mighty roar.
Ristell's suns suddenly stopped. Azcen looked up at them and smiled, then began walking in a wide circle, glass pawprints gleaming as he did. Eleven times he walked, until there was a solid ring of glass to reflect the sunlight back up in a great and wide column that shone for miles in every direction. Moving out of the circle, the god breathed fire into it, and watched as the center exploded into flame, surging upwards from the ground in a dancing tornado of shimmering oranges, reds, and yellows.
Come to me, my child of the sun, he said with a smile. A single figure, crafted of flame, stepped from the tornado - and as it passed through the veil of sunlight, it gained solid form, that of a tall and slender humanoid. The man's skin was dark, almost black, as if burned by the fires of creation - but no marks nor blemishes scarred it, and his eyes shone with the oranges and reds of flame. His hair was long, and black, and he knelt before the god of suns and bowed his head. You are the first of your people, my sol'tera. From now until forever, you will be known as the People of Sunlight; the sol'tera, in the tongue of the gods. Your dark skin will absorb the rays of the suns, and give you life; but be warned, for walking from the light will wither your soul, and lead to your death.
More forms walked from the fire, then, and gained physical bodies as they passed through the sun-veil and out into the open. All were dark skinned, though their colors varied, and they looked up at the suns, and at the lion god, with nothing but awe and reverence. Go now, and live in the desert as you will, Azcen said. Bring glory to your families, and praise the suns now and always! And then he leapt into the sky, and the suns began to move - the glass circle vanished as if it never were, and the sol'tera wandered the vast desert sands, as at home in the heat as the rays of the suns themselves.
This Ancient First was a sol’tera of dark skin and blazing eyes. Quiet of tongue but strong and brave, he led his people in a nomadic exploration of the desert, taming or conquering whatever else they encountered. Invigorated by the sun, he would draw such power from its heat and light that his people called him the Son of the Lion.
Classification: moon-bound sol'tera. Location: Ristell.
Blessed by the goddess of the moon in Ristell, iahake are a rare, nomadic people that live deep in the desert plains. They tend to move in nocturnal cycles; during the day, they shelter in whatever natural fortifications they can find, or, at worst, will reside in the shadow of a dune. At night they come alive, performing their ceremonies, hunting, and traveling along routes that carry them from oasis to oasis. Occasionally they will visit populated regions of Ristell in order to trade goods or learn of any important events. Though they can appear reclusive at first, iahake are a surprisingly generous people, and often rescue lost travelers from the harshness of the desert. Those who have the fortune of making friends among their clans are granted a boon that displays their kinship to all iahake.
Affiliated as they are with Nirni, all iahake possess extremely dark complexions, deepening to an almost violet gloss in some cases. The shade of their skin is broken by complex white tattoos that range in patterning from tribal patterns, to those that closely resemble the constellations; these tattoos are given to them when they are young children, and often play a part in any surname the bearer might earn. In rare cases, iahake children and adults (never infants), may develop what is referred to as the "blot"; large patches of their skin will turn white, interrupting the tattoos, and their connections to traditional elements of darkness and water will weaken. After confirmation of the blot, they are referred to as "twilight walkers," and will fall under the command of the eldest twilight walker in the clan. Rather than exiled, they are put through rigorous training and expected to pray to Nirni after each sunset, for whom they believe they are marked in order to fulfill a task that will be revealed to them in time.
With the exception of the twilight walkers, all iahake are heavily affiliated with dark and water elements, the majority of them possessing a natural skill that assists their survival in the punishing desert. An iahake man or woman is at their most powerful during a full moon; their ceremonies at this time are often marvels of magical whim.