Name of race pronounced as [ʌd'əs]
Ad'es is the third of the Divided Folks that, unlike their brethren ar'the and en'hi, haven't left the territories currently known as the Yellow Vale after the Dissipation of darkness.
Given where the majority of ad'es found themselves upon awakening, they weren't warriors while living as elthear – rather, they were commanders, tacticians, quartermasters or even mages that were situated near the final battlefield yet not at it center.
Upon shedding the stasis and regaining clarity of thought ad'es started looking for their ilk among the survivors – thankfully, discerning elthear and achthear posed no issue back then. As they gathered in one place, they formed their first communion that helped them find much-sought serenity and hopes for safety, however fickle. As a semblance of a camp was constructed, ad'es discussed their current predicament and thus it was found that some of them retained memories of their former lives while others remembered nothing. Those whose minds weren't afflicted by the Division started calling themselves the Reminiscers.
The Reminiscers took upon themselves duties of setting up laws and organization in the communion while simultaneously trying to figure out how everything came to be this way. Back then still speaking elthear dialect, they started calling their amnesiac kindred “adais”, “clean ones”.
First days of ad'es peaceful independence were already marked with three serious troubles.
The first of those was the instability of flows of magic caused by the darkness bursting into the reality. Now said flows got attracted to the center of the continent and were located above its denizens' heads, and their magical energy became incredibly volatile and unpredictable. Out of six attempts made by ad'es to regain control of it via old elthear methods and techniques four yielded no result while two took lives of a few participating mages. The energy of the flows ceased serving the race that once prospered thanks to it.
The second issue was uncovered soon after the first. It was “The Gift of the Forsaked” - the curse cast by the Maker discovered by the Emergence and the Division of darkness. The Gift caused all metal held by ad'es to rust or melt and crumble if held for too long. As weapons held by the communion's guards faded away in their own hands, it has caused a despair close to a panic. Even the Reminiscers' words of wisdom and reassurance were unable to quell it.
Later a third problem was discovered, and this one hit ad'es the hardest. Adais have begun to notice various peculiarities in the behavior of the Reminiscers that have survived all the woes and kept their mind clear. They… began to forget. Slowly, but gaining pace, memories have left their minds, beginning with knowledge and skills and following up with names of their relatives and of the simplest things. They've rapidly lost control of themselves, became apathetic and slow-minded or vice versa – aggressive and unpredictable. This agony always ended the same – sooner or later the Reminiscer's body forgot how to breathe or pump blood through the veins. It happened to all of them, but not simultaneously – this has allowed those who retained their sanity to pass their knowledge on to their kindred.
All of the story of the ad'es is a never-ending battle with woes of life, environment or own weakness. During the first decades after the Dissipation a third part of the adais have gone rogue due to treating half-mad Reminiscers as dead weight and wishing to start new life in the woods. Those who remained were destined to found the “urban” communion of ad'es, but not before experiencing the cruelty of the new world...
* * *
A short dated chronicle (The calendar era starts appr. 5-7 years after the Dissipation and is called the Age of Fading)
23 – the Schism between ad'es results in forming of communal ones and free ones (the forest ad'es)
29-136 – Communal ad'es participate in the war between Kihur and Gazrt (future kavs)
222 – The founding of Kindred Branches.
254 – The last Reminiscer dies.
1380-1410 – Kav slaves revolt at the Kihur khanate. The Branches, seeing that slaves overpower their jailors, in secret betray the khans and support the revolution. Thus they gain relative freedom as the rebels win and retain their lives and wealth, yet lose all titles and possibility to influence the royalty.
1410-1430 – Brutal oppression and racist behavior at the hands of kav queen Azgrani-dar cause a new rebellion to erupt that with support from ad'es leads to her dethronement. Ar'the also join the political stage of Logratd, intent on avenging the assassination of their fifth Hirran by Azgrani. They destroy all literary mentions of the Gifts that have existed in kav lands.
1430+ - After signing a mutually beneficial treaty with Dargor, the former rebel leader and the new king (henceforth of the Yellow Valley kingdom), ad'es reclaim their lands and titles, thus becoming the second power that is in the Vale.
By current times (~2980) nobody aside from the ad'es themselves remember anything about the Gifts of the Forsaked in the Vale, and their “amiable disposition” along with fast-talk and guile are treated by other denizens of the Vale as a given.
The name adais got corrupted into ad'es due to kavs unable to pronounce consecutive vowels, thus the original name got shortened in everyday speech.
After the Dissipation ad'es population amounted to circa 2000, but these days their numbers are a bit less than 800.
Just as their “northern” relatives, ar'the, ad'es never age in body or mind, physically exist on the second Real Plane of Existence (but are unaware of it); can feel and see auras of the living beings and intuitively control their life force without harming themselves.
Their common traits are tanned skin with noticeable golden glint, crimson or even orange blood, absence of cold eye and hair colors and enlarged (compared to ar'the or kavs) irises.
Height of male ad'es rarely exceeds 165 cm, and most ad'es women are taller than 170 cm and are much stronger and sturdier than members of the opposite gender. These sexual traits have long ago planted the differentiation of crafts between ad'es – men embraced knowledge and diplomacy whereas women practiced fencing and martial arts.
Ad'es barely see in darkness yet can notice fluctuations of the Shadow Plane or magical flow despite having little to no understanding of both.
Anatomy of ad'es is similar to ar'the due to inheriting elthear traits: claws instead of nails, long fangs, “thear” eye shape with a distinctive "scar" starting at the inner corner, pointed ears (with different traits, however) and incapability of accumulating excess body fat.
Due to assimilating into the society of less gifted or advanced races (kavs, kitztaoch, gerkhens etc.) ad'es have wasted most of their natural abilities' potential. Compared to ar'the they are less agile or able-bodied; are incapable (due to the lack of skill) of snow-walking; can't “adjust” their organism to sustain itself on life-force only and can use said life-force only intuitively. Weaving even the simplest magic is incredibly hard for them due to the lack of practice and capability of using magic flows.
Ad'es' gender balance peculiarly mirrors that of the ar'the — one male for five or six females.
The Gift of the Forsaken
Ad'es have manifested their Gift as the ability to destroy every kind of metal by touching it with any part of their skin. The destruction happens in two different ways – women melt the metal while men make it corrode or rust until it turns into dust.
Ad'es thought of trying to research and control the Gift as Dargor and his successors granted them the peaceful time they needed. As matriarchs and elder ad'es found out, the metal corrupts only if touched with any body part for a while; gloves or other clothes didn't prevent the damage but only prolonged the time before total corruption for a few moments. The Gift also provided a sort of protection from fire and heat – molten metal didn't hurt ad'es' hands, and they've proven to be able to endure open fire and scorching sun for much longer than others. The Gift wasn't of magical nature given that it didn't waste mana or life force – else the caster would either get exhausted from constantly supporting the spell or would simply die due to instability of magical flows above him. The Gift has shown varied power depending on the ad'es yet hasn't yet proven to be overtly useful (for instance, ad'es couldn't manage to melt metal quick enough to use it in blacksmithing or destroy enemy equipment in the midst of combat).
A possibility of controlling and subduing the Gift was discovered by Matriarch Sonltaritall who, finding herself in dire straits – namely, as an ambassador invited to a feast gathered by Gerkhen merchants – imagined that her Gift is concentrated in her feet instead of hands, and reminded herself of that each time she picked up a utensil or a goblet. The result impressed her – none of the silverware suffered of her curse. As the matriarch came back from her travel, she began experimenting with her discovery and after achieving even more shared her knowledge with her kin.
The only material that protects metal from ad'es' destructive touch is the skin of fire salamanders – tiny crimson-gold lizards inhabiting an archipelago of volcanic isles at Gamath sea. Why it is so is a mystery for all ad'es researchers that have looked into this phenomenon, yet most of the hypotheses are based on the fact that salamanders are magical creatures, not living, and thus their skin can withstand both the volcanic heat and the power of the Gift that can't measure up to what the salamanders are used to.
The Reminiscers and The Day of Remembrance
The Matriarchs and the Kindred Branches
The "Reminiscers" was the name of those ad'es who remembered their elthear lives after their reawakening in the wake of the Dissipation of darkness. At first they amounted to one quarter the number of survivors and were exclusively male.
The life of any Reminiscer after the Division can be called a true waking nightmare. After all, they've found out in feeble bodies that were no match for their old thear ones. Now the former elthear couldn't weave and use complex magics, control their life force, discern flows of magic, project their minds onto the Shadow and Time Planes. Furthermore, some of them noted the fact of the so-called “identity loss” - partial absence of memories and experience that severely impeded their daily life and most likely was caused by the Division.
Gradual memory loss, or “Oblivion” as called by the Reminiscers themselves, became the affliction that spelled their doom. The Reminiscers have managed to pass some of their knowledge on to their “pure” kindred, and those who managed to survive the wars that shook the new world in its first centuries, used the wisdom accordingly. Yet “The Oblivion” hasn't left any of the Reminiscers alive and what remains of them are just tales and the memorial erected near Berkh by the Matriarchs' will. Said memorial is the only holy place venerated among the ad'es, and once every three centuries all their eldest gather there for the Day of Remembrance – a ceremony of paying respect to the Reminiscers.
The Matriarchs were chosen from the eldest, the most skilled and the most socially active fighters of the adais that were well-respected and informally lead their ilk even before their nominal designation. They've also created four “Kindred Branches” - clans united by blood ties close and distant. Each of the Branches was distinguished by a particular hair color inherited by the child from their mother. The eldest branches were four and as follows: The Rose Branch (burgundy color), The Garasta Branch (golden color), The Matelrus Branch (red color) and The Latay Branch (orange color).
They've spread their influence over four regions back during the Kihur reign: Gantard – gold-and-copper-rich hills west of the Vale; Kargor – a trade sea port at the southern coast; Avgroth – lumber-rich woods at the eastern coast that needed protection from Untaorr attacks; Berkh – fertile lands with thriving game animals that formed the center of the Kihur khanate.
The names given to children is another peculiarity of the Branches – they consist of the names of the mother and father that are sequenced according to the child's gender. Why is that so and who came up with such a weird idea is lost to ages long past...
Eloquence and magical affinity
Relationships with other races
Ad'es have thoroughly researched their natural diplomatic abilities which they've discovered almost immediately upon making first contact with other races of the Vale. This useful ability has many times helped its users in saving their own lives, solving conflicts or gaining profit. The only ones immune to the eloquence were the ad'es themselves, as well as the ar'the. Thus the ad'es came to a conclusion that this is another trait inherited from the elthear the side effect of which was total immunity to it.
Despite a common misconception not all ad'es prove to be able to “fast talk”, but the trait is distributed with similar ratio both among men and women. It's quite hard to resist the temptation to use it, and none of its users actually resists. The only rule the Branches have imposed on their “gifted” scions is to balance out harm caused by such charm with good deeds, as well as to use the eloquence to punish frauds and cheaters. This has caused a peculiar myth to appear in the cities inhabited by ad'es. Said myth is worded as an innocent-sounding proverb:
«If a poor man meets a red, red will feed him wine and bread. If a rich man meets a red, red will rob him blind instead.”
It perfectly depicts the relationship between kavs and ad'es, as well as ascribes “reds” with magical tendency to “bring luck”. Not to all social classes, however...
* * *
There's little known about magical abilities of ad'es. Mostly due to the displacement of magical flows above the Vale. Through the first decades of the Age of Fading the Reminiscers have tried to tap into those magical weavings they still had access to, yet those attempts resulted only in the mages' deaths. Seeing the results, the Reminiscers quickly understood the issue and, never coming up with a solution, refused to pass this knowledge to adais.
These days ad'es have limited access to magic – they can use only weak kinds of mental interference like hypnosis or coercion (that, however, produce great results when coupled with eloquence), aura perception and minor healing magic. These spells tap into the life force of the users instead of surrounding magical flows and thus they're harmless and safe for the casters to use.
The ad'es keep amiable relations with most of the Nar'rah's' sapient races, in no small part thanks to their eloquence, and often serve as ambassadors or diplomats if needed. Thus they've managed to forge peace between the Vale and aggressive Untaorr invaders that have pestered kavs for long even before the Emergence of darkness. They've also managed the question of mutually beneficial sharing of the lands with orcish nomads famed for their top-notch horses and lugns, as well as setting up profitable trade with Gerkhen – an alliance of independent cities whose rulers are well-known for quarreling and disagreeing with each other. Also of note are sea trade routes that were set up mostly by the Rose Matriarch herself.
Also worth noting is that the Fair that happens twice a year near Berkh is also an invention of ad'es who intended to strengthen the Vale's trading routes and allow merchants from various places to meet one another and trade in one place.
However, ad'es' friendliness and peacemaking never evolve into something more. They can't view other races as objects of sympathy or love – the best a foreigner could hope for is spending a few nights with a red. And then the poor sod will imminently be left like a toy that failed to pique its owner's interest any longer.
The ar'the have managed to earn special place in ad'es' eyes after a variety of events that happened ever since ad'es found out about them at circa 1000 A. o. F. Of course, ar'the existed in adais' memories even prior to that since the Reminiscers told tales of the “white-skinned brethren” to their children, yet they were closer to a fairy-tale than to some truth. Yet as the fifth Hirran and the ette'in appeared on the royal banquet held by Queen Azgrani-dar, the ad'es were amazed just as kavs and other attendants were. With his manners, appearance and incredible tales of the Ironwood the Hirran has proven to the Matriarchs that the snow folk has vastly outdistanced their red brethren regarding the quality of their life. And, most importantly, ar'the have had their own homeland where they could safely dwell without relying on other races for protection or aid. They had what ad'es always lacked.
One can't say that ad'es hate their white-skinned brethren for this independence. Neither they hate themselves for not listening to Shaas and refusing to join them long ago. However, a spark of spite-less envy always lights up when an ar'the approaches an ad'es. Since the War of Shadows the ad'es have made contact with the snow kin, made an eternal agreement of mutual help and constantly exchange messages and knowledge via the Fair. Sometimes the ad'es even accept invitations to the Ironwood – however, reaching it is another question altogether, given that reds are vulnerable to the everlasting cold that reigns over the woods.
In stark contrast with their northern relatives the ad'es are totally unfamiliar with the concept of monogamy, and are rarely faithful to their other half or have stable relationships. In their society promiscuity and changing partners or lovers (of any race) over short time is deemed a norm, as well as having children from varied mates, not marking their unions with any rituals and, for that matter, expecting an infatuation to last longer than a few years.
Childbirth is a touchy subject for ad'es much as it is to their pale brethren, yet due to other reasons: there's no threat of stillbirth or maternal death, yet the chance of conceiving a child amounts to five percent at best. Thus many ad'es couples that decide to have a family are most often doomed to lose interest in one another than to succeed in this arduous beginning.
Among the ad'es there's a well-known “growth control” phenomenon, which allows any ad'es to halt their physical development at-will. However, it's treated as an affliction rather than a boon. Properly raising their child for the ad'es means subtly nudging them towards full physical development of the child's body and mind, lest they cause troubles to themselves by refusing to grow up. Voluntarily stopping own development in adolescence or at young age is rare among the ad'es and usually signifies a mental trauma or deficiency of proper attention and care from the older relatives.
As ad'es got used to clinging to powers that be through the story of the Vale, these days they too cling to the “top” of the kav society. They take on administrative work, manage mining and foraging, preside over craftsman guilds and sometimes become mayors of small towns. Thus ad'es de facto hold all of the Vale's economics in their hands without allowing others to meddle in their affairs. Weirdly enough, the royal dynasty seems to be perfectly content with that.
The Branches closely monitor how young ad'es behave in the society and offer them needed help in starting their own “business”. The only ones devoid of such support are “adventurers”, mercenaries and other “world-walkers” not bothered by their wealth or status – most ad'es believe that such antics are a waste of time that won't benefit neither the Vale, nor the ad'es, nor the young ruffians themselves.
Thoughts on death
Despite being gifted by eternal youth and unfading sanity ad'es nevertheless value their lives much more than many fleeting races do. Rarely there are avid travelers among them, and if one needs to venture outside the city borders it's rarely done without a retinue and lots of guards. However it's well-known that life of the ad'es wasn't safe for many years and thus since the very beginning of the Age of Fading they've come to peace with own mortality and invented burial rites for their fallen.
The ad'es' ritual of farewells to the dead doesn't really differ from ar'the one – the body is incinerated at the pyre and the ash is scattered on the wind. The main difference is that ad'es don't deem mourning an insult of the deceased's memory. No evidence of souls of their departed brethren remaining in the world to wander around while resting of their bodily burdens exists as well.
Ad'es also have no tradition of erecting monuments or tombstones in honor of the departed given that all such memorials are fleeting and vulnerable to time compared to the longevity of the eternal folk. The only exception that confirms the rule is the memorial of Remembrance which, having existed for almost three millenniums already, was restored by ad'es no less than ten times.
The main weakness that defines all ad'es (including forest ones) aside from the Gift of the Forsaked is their vulnerability to cold. When exposed to temperature below near -15С they begin to feel cold, and amount of warm clothes barely can help them battle the cold. Other signs and consequences of the “freezing” are sudden waves of fatigue, drowsiness, pain in different parts of their body (most likely due to severe loss of life force), blurred vision, loss of spatial orientation. Ad'es can die from cold if they're exposed to it for a while (about a month) – this time will be enough for their life force to become depleted and incapable of sustaining their body and mind in working state. Severe hypothermia will follow, and then – failure of all internal processes. An ad'es that has begun to “freeze” can be saved at any stage of their predicament by bringing them into a warm room and near a source of heat.