Lore: Children of the Six
In the Aetherion’s infancy, when the Sky Within first formed from the aftermath of Gaia’s Sacrifice, nature was in chaos and the newborn worlds were tender and fragile. Upon Gaia’s last breath, she gave birth to twenty-four ancient dragons - the Primals - tasked with protecting the realms.
Together, the Primals realized their gift of creation to aid their cause. With a breath of life and a tiny sliver of crystal, they created their first children. Tiny, blind, and helpless, the little “beans” were not much, but their determination and curiosity was enough to carry them across the Sky.
The Primals tasked them with one purpose: to discover one special little aspect of their element - an Essence - and to dedicate their lives to it. Upon the discovery of their Essences, the beans surged with power and grew to become formidable elemental creatures, their magic coursing with the blood of the Six. These are the Aetherlings: guardians of the elements.
Aetherlings are draconic, crystal-covered elemental creatures that represent the aspects of creation. Every aetherling was created by one of the ancient Primals, and every aetherling has one Essence it is destined to protect, nurture, and thrive upon.
The Essence Quest
An aetherling’s life is devoted to an ongoing quest of discovery and exploration that can be roughly split into three stages.
The Seeking: the first chapter of an Aetherling’s life. Born a tiny, blind creature called a ‘bean’ that is small enough to fit in a Manu hand, an Aetherling is set out into the Sky by their Primal with a singular mission: discover the Essence that calls out to them.
The Discovery: the Aetherling is first exposed to their essence and grows instantly into their fully matured form. Their magic is still fresh and unstable, and it will take time and training to master it.
Guardianship and Mastery: The Aetherling sets out to fulfill their birth-mission however they please. this can be in the form of collecting or hoarding sources of the essence; binding, scattering, spreading, or enchanting the essence across the realms; or guarding a particular source, such as a location or even a person. at any time during this phase, the primal may contact the aetherling with a directive if the aetherling’s particular skills are needed. aetherlings are always expected to heed this call, and to do otherwise is to displease their primal greatly.
During this time, an Aetherling's unique experiences change them. On some occasions, these experiences cause the Aetherling to begin learning how to master a secondary element. This secondary element often also connects to the Aetherling's essence and gives them the ability to evolve new traits.
Should an aetherling’s works greatly please their primal, a rare few are selected to be taken in again by their creator and trained to become a Paragon. This training is rigorous and harsh, involving challenges which may even kill unworthy aetherlings.
There are three types of Essences: Natural, Spiritual, and Artificial.
Natural Essences are physical, tangible aspects of nature, such as minerals, flora, parts of creatures, weather phenomena, and natural forces. Natural Aetherlings tend to collect and spread these Essences or guard locations where they are plentiful.
Spiritual Essences are intangible concepts such as emotions, ideas, memories, and experiences. These Essences are derived from creatures that experience these Essences firsthand, and Spiritual Aetherlings tend to keep close to such creatures to either benefit from their Essence or cleanse the creature of it.
The last type are Artificial Essences, which are much rarer and only tend to happen as mistakes or by sheer chance. These Essences are mortal-made objects that cannot exist in nature on their own.
Note: Artificial Essences are reserved for legendary Homunculus Aetherlings.
Aetherlings derive their magical power from the elemental forces held within their crystals, combined with the natural elements in their surroundings. They are formidable masters of pure elemental magic, moreso than most mortal mages. Because their magic is dependant on the presence of their elements, they often keep sources of it onhand, such as candles, vials of spring water, or enchanted objects.
An aetherling’s essence is their life source and what they need to charge their crystals with power. The crystals act as magical ‘batteries’ that store magic and sustenance for the aetherling. Without the presence of their essence, the aetherling’s crystals will slowly fade until they perish. To keep themselves safe, they love to collect and wear their essence in some way, either physically if it’s a Nature essence, or bound to enchanted items if it’s a Spirit essence. Aetherlings tend toward a hoarding habit, much like their draconic creators, so they love to adorn themselves.
Their magic sparks from their crystals and travels through their leyveins, which lace across the crystals like a lattice on their bodies. Their magic can either be cast from their hands or exhaled from the mouth like a dragon’s breath. When casting, the Aetherling’s crystals and leyveins glow brightly.
Young Aetherlings’ magic is unstable and weaker, but still strong enough to shape an area’s landscape. Often, this magic is used to rebalance damaged elemental energies, cleanse an area, reshape the land, or heal creatures. Ancient Aetherlings become strong enough to shape a Pearl over time if they choose to, and can even lend their power to mortal mages by breaking off a sliver of crystal. This crystal is then bound to the mage, either directly into their skin, or worn in the form of jewelry.
Sometimes, Aetherlings give one of their enchanted items to another creature whom they trust deeply. This is not done lightly - an aetherling is loath to part from their hoard. This item retains a bit of the Aetherling’s magic and can be used to summon them again in a time of need.
Roleplaying Aetherlings in the World
Clever, resourceful, and adventurous, aetherlings play diverse roles in society. Like all Aetheria, bear an inherent ability to shape-shift; their humanoid form is called an Aethrin and is readily used to mingle with mortalkind. Social aetherlings, especially of the Aether element or Spirit Essences, often play the part of adventurers, wanderers, mercenaries, merchants, guides, or other jobs that enable them to wander and meet diverse people. Aetherlings’ ability to generate elemental magic is a handy trait for certain occupations that have them in high demand, such as in powering magiteck engines or enchanting items. Some even voluntarily serve powerful mortals for some benefit. Aetherlings of more nature-based Essences can sometimes be reclusive and mysterious, preferring life on rugged, wilderness Pearls where they can be close to their magical lifeblood.
Mortalkind often see Aetherlings as strange and wondrous beings. They are relatively rare to see; only a handful of aetherlings exist for every thousand Mana, and they are most often only seen by the most adventurous of mortals. Some Aetherlings like to bask in this reputation, putting on an air of mystique and giving themselves elaborate names and titles, finding strange quirks and jobs, and so on. Others prefer to blend in, taking Aethrin form and downplaying their true nature in the interest of seeming more approachable to mortals. Others shy away from mortal contact altogether, either to do their work on the outskirts of society, or out of a cynical distaste for mortalkind and their destructive ways.
Aetherlings of the Void element are treated with distrust and fear by most mortalkind. The well-educated know that Void Aetherlings are the only true Voidal beings to ever have been studied, but even then, their origins are mysterious and their intentions often unclear. The most destructive and malicious of Void Aetherlings, who in the past have caused great calamity, color the reputation of all others. This leads to most Void Aetherlings existing on the outskirts of society, or associating with the most seedy of mortalkind. Not all Void Aetherlings are evil - though some do enjoy causing harm, others simply see chaos and unrest as a necessary part of life. Other Aetherlings who dedicate themselves to maintaining balance see Void Aetherlings as enemies or rivals, but many Void Aetherlings don't mind being painted as a 'bad guy' if it helps them with their goals.
Aetherlings tend to get along well with other Aetheria, and often find the goals of creatures like Mogi and Nebulon admirable and worthwhile, even going out of their way to befriend and aid them at times. If a very reclusive Aetherling chooses to associate with anyone, it will likely be with another Aetheria.
Aetherling naming conventions are diverse. Many simply name themselves after their essence (such as "Parhelion", or "Cinna", for Cinnabar), while others go by titles related to their reputation or magic (such as "Darkling"). Aetherlings raised in the company of mortals might be named by a close friend or caretaker, or adopt a name similar to ones mortals use (such as "Ringo", or "Francois").
Creating an Aetherling
Note: Creation of Aetherlings is restricted to those who have a make-your-own (MYO) permission; they are a closed species.
Creating an Aetherling requires selection of a Primal, Element/s, and Essence. An Aetherling's Primal determines their primary Element. Secondary elements are rare, but possible when an Aetherling's journeys affect their elemental composition, giving them mastery over a second type of magic.
Reference the General Traits guide for anatomical features and rarities. Reference the Elemental pages for features exclusive to each Element. The Gods page of the Book of Lore has a list of Primals to choose from; consider how the Primal might connect to your Aetherling's story.
Selection of an Essence is permanent once confirmed; Aetherlings do not change Essences once they reach the Discovery phase of their lives. An Essence can be just about any small aspect that fits into its category. However, Essences should not be the element in its pure form (such as "Flames" or "Wind"), should not be a full creature (such as "Fish", although animal parts like "Bones" is OK), and should not be of an artificial substance unless the aetherling is a Homunculus. Substances derived closely from nature, like incense, food, and art, are OK.