Monday, December 31, 2007

Godtouched Races: Phoenixes

Phoenixes are among the most intelligent and wise of all the godtouched races, second only to unicorns. They were created by Vau, the god of the sun, to be his holy warriors and messengers. Despite their intelligence and wisdom (or perhaps because of it) they live as animals, creating no culture of their own and being one with the natural world.

Giant birds shaped as herons with rainbow-colored plumage, they are effectively immortal with only 144 individual phoenixes living on the planet of Aarn. There are three types of phoenixes, with 48 of each. They are grouped by the type of elemancy they can perform - fire elemancy, light elemancy, and electricity elemancy. Those with a fire element are more red in their multi-colored plumage, with long yellow crest-feathers coming from off their eyes. Phoenixes with light-elemancy are more golden colored, with a single red crest coming off of the back of their head. Those with electricity elemancy are darker, with colors more in the purple and blue ranges, and have three white crests, one coming off the the center of their head and one coming off the top of each eyebrow. Electricity phoenixes seem to have the least standing, and light phoenixes the most.

Despite their immortality, phoenixes can be defeated in combat and "killed" - when this happens, their bodies self-immolate in their governing element and become a pile of ashes. Any detached body parts, including molted feathers, will also burst into flame, light, or electricity and reduce themselves to ash, regardless of how far away the body parts are at the the time of "death." Many phoenixes give their few friends feathers, so that those friends can keep track of the phoenixes' health.

The key to their immortality is that every 1000 years, the wind, guided by Vau, carries the ashes to the tallest peak in Yessha, near the center of the Aarnian supercontinent. Any surviving Phoenixes will make this trek themselves, dropping all of their business and ignoring everything, even friends they have made. At the last sunset of the old millennium, all the surviving phoenixes self-immolate in a giant conflagration of fire, light and electricity at the peak of the mountain. At the next sunrise, there will be another conflagration - and born from the ashes will be 144 new, baby phoenixes. It takes 50 years for them to mature fully, but when they do they regain their memories of their past lives, retaining their wisdom and knowledge from the very birth of their race. Until then, they behave as birds, acting as animals with above-average intelligence.

Phoenixes themselves have amazing vocalization skills, and can mimic the sounds of other animals and godtouched, similar to a parrot. Baby phoneixes are known to develop small vocabularies of words, and are sometimes even able to communicate effectively with other godtouched, though they rarely have a sense of self-identity. A mature phoenix can speak and learn any language, and can even communicate in the native tongue of the valdrex.

Occasionally, magical curses or resurrection spells can pull an individual phoenix temporarily out of their thousand-year cycle of death and rebirth. A ressurrection spell cast on a phoenix's ashes before they are carried away by the wind has a small chance of causing the phoenix to be reborn fully mature, and a larger chance of causing the ashes to burst into flame and produce a new, baby phoenix.

A full grown phoenix is usually 50 feet long, with a wingspan of 75 feet. They are quite light for their size and usually weigh between 300 and 400 pounds. They are slightly larger than Rocs, and are occasionally mistaken for these giant animal birds. Rocs however are shaped as eagles, and phoenixes are again shaped as herons, so it is easy to explain the biological differences to someone, even if they have never seen either bird before.

Phoenixes have no known sexuality, though magical experimentation has suggested they are biologically female. Despite this, when speaking with a godtouched they enjoy using the voice of whichever sex is more powerful in that godtouched's culture, be it male or female.

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