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Worldbuilding

Phoenixes in Mid-Hades

Posted Over 13 Years ago by Riven

[unparsed]I figure I'd post this tidbit, since this world is under development again.

Aside from humans and Yinti (and the sun-gods, of course), Phoenixes are the other sentient ones on Mid-Hades. Their appearance is that of a parrot-shaped flaming bird. They can control their fire, but can't put it out entirely any longer than humans can hold a breath. Their fire isn't really burning anything, it's more of a semi-magical radiance on their part. They're good to have around if you need a light for your Bortriza cigar, although using the rare phoenix as only a lighter is probably a stupid move on your part.

[b:9045c716eb]Death and rebirth[/b:9045c716eb]

The phoenixes (mostly) live in their own realm that they've convienantly misplaced from the rest of Mid-Hades. That misplacement and their radiance is a part of what makes them so goddamn special -- the fact that they have two lives.

Unless you have a phoenix as your guide, the only way to enter the phoenix realm is to be killed within their telepathic range (hopefully not by them, unless you want to spend the next eternity shoveling bird manure). The only way to get out of that afterlife halfway-house is to have a phoenix elder resurrect you.

Another option, if the phoenix is close by when you die, is that of them sacrificing one of their lives to save yours. If a phoenix loses one of its lives this way, or is killed (which is very difficult to do), it takes on its mortal form, that of an Ashstone.

An Ashstone is a black rock that slowly crumbles away over a period of months. If it crumbles away entirely, the phoenix is entirely dead. An ashstone, however, can be brought to a phoenix elder to revive it.

[b:9045c716eb]Phoenix religion[/b:9045c716eb]

Phoenixes are telepathic, even in their mortal state. Within their range of about three miles, they can send messages instantaneously to anything sentient. Their religion embraces, and adds onto that. During their time on Yardh, they learned the basic tenets of their religion from an asian-seeming guru who was almost certainly a crackpot. With some modification, and some thinking by their extremely limited phoenix elders of the time, they turned his half-mad theories into something very useful for their development.

Phoenixes hope, through their understanding and mental training, to achieve Enlightenment. Enlightenment for them is the state at which they have surrendered their mind to a greater whole, a superbeing connected by instantaneous telepathic links with what they believe to be infinite power. In their half-enlightened state as a species, they can produce only phoenix elders, which are still very powerful.

Their understanding is still very incomplete. They don't understand how dying works for them, or at all, nor do they understand their own telepathic power and fiery radiance and how it all connects to their death and rebirth. They at least know that they have two lives, and they understand the three fundamental "energies" that control them:

1. Araqi -- their magical ability, and qi in the classical chinese sense. With Araqi they can alter their flames, enhance their telepathic range, and come to broad intuitive leaps, as well as work a little actual magic here and there (but mostly because Mid-Hades is infested with K-waves). To become enlightened, they must master their Araqi.

2. Fuqi -- A phoenix's (or any other sentient being's) anger. Anger gifts them with energy and strength, and makes their flames grow hotter, but it isolates them from other phoenixes and their world. Unlike other sentient species, who can adapt to it, completely tapped phoenix anger can wreck their abilities permanently.

There are so-called "cardinals", the worst insult given by a phoenix to another phoenix, who have lost their telepathic link and most of their intelligence, trading it for extremely hot fire and near-immortality. They are easily controllable and even domesticatable by humans, who make a fortune selling them as ready sources of fire and dangerous warriors. And a chosen few "nice masters" who hope to learn phoenix secrets through them -- without much luck.

3. Pranaqi -- A phoenix's (or any other sentient being's) sexual lust. Again, it is a source of energy and attraction, and unfortunately still essential for phoenix life while they are capable of dying, but it clouds their judgement immeasurably, as well as lessening their flames and invulnerability. To reach enlightenment, phoenixes must cast aside their pranaqi.

[b:9045c716eb]The mark of the phoenix[/b:9045c716eb]

Humans are capable of adding to the phoenix's superbeing, as well as becoming enlightened themselves. Humans are also very useful to the phoenixes, as they can use Fuqi and Pranaqi without losing any of their Araqi. The benefit for the actual humans is a place of absolute sanctuary, and a place to pray or meditate on their own spiritual path.

Humans who have decided to "abandon the world" in this way are slowly gifted with the mark of the phoenix, which is purely genetic, giving them a mild telepathic link and an ever-so-slight fiery aura, which are benefits in themselves.

There has been a long misunderstanding on the phoenix's part about humans' path to enlightenment. They believed that humans were essentially the same as them, but able to control their energies better. In fact, however, humans must attain the highest levels of Fuqi and Pranaqi, in addition to Araqi, in order to become enlightened.

Before, children born to human acolytes were cast out, and the humans were shunned for a long time. Overly assertive humans, too, were cast out.. but all of that finally changed, a couple of decades before the setting of my story.

[b:9045c716eb]Phoenixalta[/b:9045c716eb]

In finally understanding that fact about humans, the phoenix elders created a relic that would cause one worthy human to give them a lot of the information phoenixes needed. That relic is Phoenixalta, a sword bound to a chosen phoenix and an "enlightened" human to wield it.

Phoenixalta must taste blood, as much as it can before the mortal human's life draws to a close. In having a direct telepathic link with an instrument of death, the phoenixes will develop an enormous understanding of the very cycles that run them. Phoenixalta can only be wielded by one with the mark of the phoenix, or their children (which get the mark automatically).

So, the phoenixes nurse a legend, barely a decade old, of a strong, extremely muscular female warrior who will take the sword, go out into the world, and be absolutely ruthless with human life, giving the phoenixes their precious knowledge to move forward to their ultimate dream. The legendary figure changes its appearance as those with the mark of the phoenix raise their young.

And no, this isn't the main plotline, this is a subplot, its consequences revealed very early on.

Thoughts?

There are 2 Replies


[unparsed]
I like it.
This is my second reading, and I still feel I need to be more thorough before I can make a better comment.
Thanks for letting us see it!

Over 13 Years ago
chiarizio
 

@Riven:
Is there more?
Are there more answers?
Are there more questions?

4 Months ago
chiarizio
 

Reply to: Phoenixes in Mid-Hades

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