Thursday, July 11, 2013

Winged: Xenos

Little Penguins
Penguins are seafarers and Ice-Desert survivalists from The Cerulean Deeps, White-Encrusted endless oceans of Exuberance. They believe in Exuberance and Excitement as a form of life, pushing them forward to greater achievements. Rumours of them having connections to Great Beasts from the Infernal Depths are unfounded...

Rockhoppers are the Penguins' priests of exuberance - icons of excitement and experience. They are connected to the teeming intelligence ot the Ice, the Cyan, the Ocean, maybe the Tumult itself.

Albino Penguin
The Penguins' warrior caste, identified by their pale, scarred plumages - they are the ones touched by th Ice, by the Cyan, to be the champions of exuberance. Fonts of pent up excitement, Albinos are berzerkers of the highest order, delighting in all experience.

Emperor Penguin
Embodiments of the Cyan taken Winged form, Emperors have been changed by the power of Love. They are able to concentrate raw emotion into icy blasts, and exhibit strange... changes. Any relation between the tentacled Emperors and the great Krakens of the Tumult have not been explored...

Topaz-Hands Caste Hummingbirds
They are a Hummingbird, a devout and proud warrior & Violent Soul from the Bronze Ziggurats in the dense Torrid Vermillion Jungles at the centre of the Colour Spiral within the madcap, mayhem world of The Abyss.
The Bronze Ziggurat Cities are made of exactly that: huge bronze ziggurats, some colossal Hedron-like buildings, floating in huge columns amidst rivers of Golden light. This light is the Aurum, the River of Gold, the well of all Souls. The River might think their Stream of Consciousness is important, but the Aurum outshines it. Impossible to truly behold without being blinded, only Sapphire Caste may be permitted to enter it’s sparkling core, and seek audience with the Gods that live within.

Hummingbird Society is split into castes, based on the glittering plumage of the Winged:
Topazes are the slave caste, a sparkling brown or yellow plumage. All Hummingbirds are born Topaz, and must earn a greater caste through a Holy Act, or a great sacrifice, or many years toil. Topazes are expected to give their lives willingly, but many have other ideas. Many have exemplary knowledge of the fine cracks and alleys in the metal work of the cities, and many know great secrets heard from the whispering of the cobbles...

Emerald-Eyes Caste Hummingbirds
Emeralds are the craftsmen, signalled by their sparkling green plumage. Artisans and smiths, they make the weapons & armour for the warriors, great Artefacts for their kings, and keep the Ziggurats afloat. Only they know the secrets of the City’s workings...

Ruby-Blood Caste Hummingbirds
Ruby are the warrior caste, covered in gore identical to their glistening red plumage. Creatures of Holy Violence & Divine Bloodshed, Rubies wield their Macahuitls and shields in offering to the Great Gods of the Aurum.

Sapphire-Lips Caste Hummingbirds
Sapphire are the priests, sparkling blue like the sky to which they lift their offerings, or the water to which they offer it. It is with their Songs that the rain brings crops and the river teems with Emotion. It is, in the cities, only they that have the right to talk to the Aurum at the Ziggurats’ summit.

Fire-Crown Caste Hummingbirds
Firecrowns are the rulers, the Aurum born as man, resplendent in their Gold Plumage. The Fire in their Crown may be misleading - as elements transition from raging fire to mercurial water, so does the tember and view of the Hummingbird. To be the font of Power for the Aurum is to serve as a conduit, ever changing and flexible, yet always divine.
The Topaz work. The Emerald craft. The Ruiby kill. The Sapphire praise. The Firecrowns change. They are as mercurial as the river, as open as the sky, yet as scalding as the flame.
Gods amongst us, they are to be worshipped & followed, all their commands followed as Holy Edicts. Contradictory yet logical, open yet precise, to be Firecrown is to lead with the burden of constant change on your shoulders. We die for their cause, for their offerings, for their amusement if need be.

Following the first Parliament, Great Xenos Hunter Pokatua vowed to serve as Ambassador to The Red. Following that, many Kiwis have joined the Red as Hunters.
Originally from the Veridian Mesa, Kiwis are resourceful and tough Hunters, determined to never lose a prey.

Enemies of the Hummingbirds, the green & red Quetzals claim that they lived in the floating bronze Hedron Temple Cities of the Aurum first. Some terrible war, or fall from Grace later, and the Quetzals operate from ruined, collapsed Hedrons, remnants of both awesome technology & ancient power, left to rot and stagnate. Quetzals have the potential for great power and science if they would just look beneath their own feet... but too many are simply driven by an effort to reclaim the Aurum. Some claim they are the offspring of great, enormous terrible Gods from the Dream... others pick their words more carefully.
Obsessive, opportunistic, arrogant, ambitious. Quetzals thrive on personal gain, but enjoy the look or value of something expensive, rather than it's use. Quetzals do not have a caste system: all Quetzals are equal, although there is a self-designated Senate, where major decisions and quarrels are decided by knife fight. Quetzals often refer to themselves or other as Quetzal, believing they are one, unanimous people with a single great goal - individual names are only used in times of great anger, disappointment, or arousal.
Scarification and piercings are popular among Quetzals.
Rumours of attempts to summon the Avatar of their endless, terrible patron run deep. Although it seems unlikely, a terrible Avatar of Revenge intent on smashing the Bronze Temples haunts the fears of many Hummingbirds...

Known as Hoods because of their common need to cowl-cover their faces, Pitohui are a dark shadow in the Bright Xenos world. Often covering their bright Red & White markings, Pitohui are mercenarial assassins and poisoners, removing threats to the Vermillion Jungles for a substantial fee. Often working for Hoatzin, through Toucans, and wielding Emotion supplied by Kookaburras. Unlike the semi-Mythic Cuckoos, Hoods definetly exist, but there is no exact explanation why.
In a strange twist of fate, Hoods are excellent Poisoners and Corrosive Alchemists. Applied theoretical work between them, and Hoatzin could be devastating.
Rumours that Hoods have relations with the distant Empire of Dust are entirely unfounded...

Parrots are commonly considered the Scholars of the Xenos, collectors of Stories & Traditions, but Emus & Ostriches are also scholars, of History. Hard Fact. What has happened, who, how and why?

To Emus, life is a series of interesting facts, to be chronicled and recorded. They have a sense of irreverent humour, that belies their otherwise serious nature. Emus sometimes grow nasty claws, rumours abound that they use them to etch facts into stone.
Emus like loose-fitting, dark robes and jewellery. Their prominent colour is a sparkling black. Strangely, the concept of gender seems to be foreign to them, referring to each other by name - individuality & achievement far more important.




Rhea are those Emu whose delving into history has brought them closer to their ancestors, sometimes literally. Funerary ritualists, archaeologists and general experts of people past, these scholars find the concept of death fascinating: not the action, or killing, but what happens afterwards, to the Body, Soul, Memory, Belongings, Legacy. Rhea would much rather spend time with an ancient tome, or a mummified corpse, than another Xenos - when out of options, they'd converse with another Rhea, about death. Many Rhea have theories about the Xenos' closely guarded history, although no "papers" or stories have ever exited the parrots' archives - this has led to many rifts between the Rhea and the academic Parrots, who think their delving will uncover madness. Rumours of Rhea associating with, summoning, and even serving Lost are utterly unfounded. Although Rhea celebrate Death - dressing in funeral shrouds and removed plumage, adorning themselves with "memorial trinkets" and speaking on it with excitement - they cannot abide killing: they see Death as the act of coming to an end, to be remembered or forgotten, and intervening in this process can only cause Chaos.
Rhea culture is very basic, as opposed to the otherwise quite advanced and Idea-Song-Oriented Xenos Culture. Rhea live off herbs and distilled Emotion, often developed Alchymerically, much like their Moa ancestors. Their research is very hands-on, quite pre-Renaissance - lots of dissection and exhibition.
Rhea wear an object individual to each person they knew who has ever died. They do not see this as corpse-robbing, but hands-on research. Particularly well studied / elder / unfortunate Rhea are covered in small trinkets.
Rhea, like Emus, don't really do standard gender - they see others as either "Soft" or "Sharp", based on the image and reaction they portray. A Soft person drifts on through life leaving no marks, but a Sharp one leaves a mark. Soft subjects hold no interest for an amorous Rhea.

Competitive and determined, Ostriches are very fast and very strong, with naturally vicious claws. They may seem like perfect Soldiers, but armies do not breed the pure competition that they thrive on. Instead, Ostriches are all athletes: right from their earliest memories, all chicks know exactly what sport or activity they want to be The Very Best at, and spend the rest of their lives excelling at. Sprinting, Hurdling, Discus, Swimming, Pugilism, Javelin, Synchronized Dancing, Weight Lifting, Archery; Almost all sports and physical activities have, in Xenos history, been invented by determined young Ostriches, simply wishing to be the best at it. Sometimes, these sports and challenges become... extreme, as each athlete tries to outdo their compatriots. Sprinting... under threat of fire.
Hurdling... over vicious Aquatic Memory beasts.
Discus... with a bladed disc.
The greater the threat, the greater the challenge, the greater the thrill for all involved: Ostriches love watching sport as much as taking part.
Ostriches let nothing stand in their way, not even disfigurement: the more & more extreme the sports get, the more likely it is to become mauled or wounded. This can lead to lost limbs... but that's never a stop for Ostriches, simply something new to accommodate. These "Alter" Ostriches (to a challenge prone Ostrich, there is no such thing as handicap or disability) are treated no different to any other Ostriches, although it is not uncommon for these Alters to become elders in Ostrich society, known colloquially as "Judges" - it is they that have, hands down, achieved the hardest challenges, and often the most.
Ostriches *never* turn down a challenge: walking away is failing, coming last is... coming last. There's always room for improvement. They are incredibly honourable, sportsmanship being their lifeblood. They like to party hard.
Every time the Colour Spiral rotates a "Silver Moon" (A phenomena occurring from light coalescing around the Golden Stream of the Aurum), the Toucans and Ostriches ally to host and run the Argentum Games in the centre of the colossal Silver Bazaar. A huge series of sports games, winners of each game are lauded and celebrated, and even "losing" participants are showered with respect. The great finale comes in the form of the mind-blowingly dangerous Tetrathalon. Those who... do not "finish" the four challenges are given a Hero's funeral, complete with ecstatic parties.

Who would dispute the rightful thrones of the Magnificent Peacocks? Dressed in gleaming blues & greens of only the most expensive threads, these masters of sword & bow, these righteous Princes are adored as bon-vivants and happy rulers of the beautiful Dawn Lakes of the Xenos. Their plumage always on show,a celebration of their birthright. Just and beloved Princes, although lofty in their position, the Peacocks adore parties and celebrations, a chance to mingle and show-off. Cocks surround themselves with harems of Peawives, and the finest Flamingo fashionistas, only the best for these glorious Maharaja (or even Maharanee). They are fascinated by the Winged of the Dream, and if not eager to directly ally, are at least eager to entertain and learn from them, experimenting in wearing Winged Fashion and experimenting with Winged ways & sports & games (to the ire of their Flamingos).
"Cock" and "Wife" do not directly relate to gender - a Cock is merely the entitled ruler (a holdover from the days before Princess could prove to their Brothers & Fathers that they were Equally Magnificent), and a Wife a beloved member of his circle, a far distant enough relation that it is no longer icky.
Peacocks love jokes. A common prank is to, once every new Wife, sweep up a common member of the Xenos (or now, Winged), and elevate them to Prince for "a day" (With full surprising access to treasure, estate & Wives).

Consorts to the Peacocks, Peawives are those Peafowl who have married a noble Prince (Or Princess), and become part of their Harem of Wives. Sometimes these marriages are based on love, sometimes lust, sometimes necessity or arrangement. In front of their Maharaja (Or Maharanee), they are perfection: quiet, patient, beautiful (or handsome), often skilled dancers or singers for entertainment.
However, behind closed doors, outside of the eyes of their Consort, life is very different. Politics impregnate every depth of Peawife Harems, with factions forming based on friendship or necessity, a definite social ladder being erected and constantly fought over. Backstabbing, snide remarks, deadly rumours and even assassination ensure that another Wife might find themselves drop in favour.
Sometimes, in the right circumstance, it is to ensure a child is produced for the Prince, ensuring heirship and thus power for the lucky Wife, and that requires character assassination on behalf of the other prospective Wives...
And Sometimes, when the gender is incompatible, it becomes a race to become the closest of-the-same-gender to the Prince, so that, say, following their untimely death (usually a shaving accident, from behind, with a knife) the Throne defaults to them...
And Sometimes, it is based on true love, either fighting for the reciprocation of your emotions, or simply for the happiness of your beloved, at the cost of your own bliss...

Parrots in training, Research assistants, librarians, students and narrative scholars without a book to their name (yet).
Parakeets are much the same as their more intellectual (and thus, higher-ranking) cousins, only with more excitement, more willingness to explore, get their hands dirty, and ask many, many questions in awkward, dangerous situations. Parakeets find knowledge (and Song) attractive, in both a studious and emotional way. Their new place in the Waveafrers is natural to them, sailing the mysterious tumult ("Exactly how deep is this?"), accompanying nefarious Gulls & Frigates ("So... does that technically belong to you now?"), being waited on by Puffins ("Exactly how much endurance do you have, on a scale of 1 to More?") and encountering mind-boggling Krakens ("Would you describe your appearance as Maddenning? Yes or Yes?").
Parakeets are always looking to uncover a full story never before recorded - Start, Middle and End - so they can pass theirthesis on to the Golden Libraries and achieve the Title of Full Parrot.

Top of the Parrot Intelligocracy of the Golden Libraries in the Vermillion Mesa, Macaws are fonts of both Wisdom & Intelligence, geniuses and wisemen. True Sages, Macaws make the most educated and researched decisions they can, often discussing their thinking process out loud. Macaws are not flawless - although in Parrot society it is rude to show-up a Macaw's shortcomings outside of formal procedures (see below) - they will concede being wrong, but in the most fair and erudite way possible.
Ascending The Library is a big deal in Parrot society, and constitutes a great formal occasion. The current Macaw will gladly step down from their position to any contender (no non-Parrot has ever succeeded), if they can prove the newcomer is smarter than the Macaw. This can take any form, from quizzes, to battles of wits, to puzzles. The final decision is always in the hands of the current Macaw.
Macaws don't need weapons. If the Library-Throne-Room of master-swordsman Parrots & Cockateels, and the occasional spear-wielding Cassowary don't stop you, the Macaw, simply willing you on fire, will.

A Hoopoe speaks only when spoken to: Silence is a virtue that enables those blinded by commotion to see true.
A Hoopoe never, ever stops: a spinning blade does not need to falter, simply change it's trajectory.
A Hoopoe is not to be touched: purity comes without stains of lust or violence, the White Hand are right on this matter.
A Hoopoe is to be enjoyed: the dance never ceases, simply changes it's pace, from the blade's sweeping curve to the jewelled, bell'd hips and stoumach.
A Hoopoe's history is not to be discussed: Colour does not always mean a Spirit who tore at us, choked us & blinded us in the Abyss.
A Hoopoe is to be aided: even two skilled blades need a shield to protect them.
A Hoopoe is to be respected: they have given their all for the Eye.
A Hoopoe is to be trusted: a holy warrior to serve the Condors, Eagles & Falcons.
A Hoopoe is to be denied: they should not want, never want. Their life is to serve as blade & jewel, not take.
A Hoopoe is to be observed from a distance: in fervor, those blades bite whoever is in their way.
Artists and Imagineers, Critics and Snobs of the highest calibur, Flamingo culture is based on image. Immaculate, perfect and without flaw. Deviation from beauty results in being ostracized. New forms of art and beauty are ever rising and falling in Flamingo society, so their hierarchy of image is ever changing. Flamingos only associate with themselves... and only the very elite of other Societies, none of the riff-raff or scum.

To Flamingos, Image, and especially costume & jewellery is everything to these disciples of beauty. They have been known to stop fights and potential diplomacy in order to give the other party a make-over, unable to deal with them otherwise.

Traders, dream-engineers, idea-merchants and auctioneers, Toucans can get the Xenos whatever idea, weapon, artefact or device they need. For a price. Toucans flourish as the neutral party willing to host to both sides, but devote to neither. Suave and in demand, highly reliable but absolutely untrustworthy, unless you've purchased their services. Some Toucans eventually make the "right" decision, swayed by morals or an underdog's attitude. Many more don't.

If Toucans are the traders and engineers, Kookaburras are the suppliers. Somehow distantly related to the River's reliable Kingfishers, Kookaburras are brilliant emotionallists and collectors of every emotion, common or foreign, and even stuff. Only, they have a personality quirk... being exposed to such large amounts of emotion constantly have left them... odd. Whether it's megalomania, rage-driven psychosis, obsessive-compulsion, or all of the above, or a number of other strange quirks, Kookaburras are never entirely all there. This never makes them idiots however, far from it.
Many Kookaburras believe in a view absurdism - treating the world as a joke and laughing at whatever problems come their way.
Regardless of their sanity, Kookaburras often engage in same sex relationships. It's just how they roll.

Alchemists and Scientists of the Xenos, Hoatzin hold a unique mix of position and mentality. Believing that knowledge of an outcome firsthand is worth far more than mere notes or observation, Hoatzin experiment their new poisons, venoms, drugs and visions on themselves. This results in a Hoatzin acting as host to a number ailments, resulting in the popular view of them as, well, 'pungent'.
Many Hoatzin take the position of beggars and paupers, noting the social reactions to their experiments. This, combined with physical ailments, is the reason for the Hoatzin's common dress of bandages.
Most Hoatzin are content to be practical observers as Scientists, while a few are more willing to take their experiments, especially Venoms, to a wider audience. Talons and Bows are the delivery mechanisms of choice.

Watching from the pale edge of the Colour Spiral, Roadrunners are envious of the Dreamscape Winged take for granted. Roadrunners want to run free & fast, without the regulations and responsibilities the culture of the Spiral places on them as escorts, caravans and travelling traders. They want to be able to do whatever they want - run, steal, fight, defend, hunt. Most are willing to take freedom in small bursts when and where they can get it, but some break away entirely, following Pokatua's footsteps and running away into the Dream, especially the Fugue, for a life of unrestrained, wild, unpredictable tomorrows.
Roadrunners are fast. Not only in footspeed, but in metabolism, attention span, wit, dodging, gun-drawing, bow-pulling and every aspect of their life. They are fascinated by Idea Technology, especially in any way it might speed up their life, or make it entertaining. Especially pistols, which make a nice alternative to their traditional bows.
Roadrunners enjoy occupations as rustlers, escorts, shepherds for Dream-flock (everything from Nightmares and Crabs, to Human-faced-Screaming-Llamas), bounty hunters, sheriffs, jailers, mercenaries and hired guns. Anything that'll provide an exciting life. Roadrunners like to tell stories around campfires, mostly about the exciting things they, and their ancestors, got up to. Many of these tales are recorded and guarded by Parrots, who claim they now have exclusive rights to them. Whatever. Don't tell them, but 'Runners tell those tales better anyway...

The Patrons walk among us. The Paradise is God in Dream, perfection and beauty in all forms, wisdom and omnipotence. The Paradise must never be questioned  so beautiful & flawless - behind the mask, does the flesh even matter? The face of the God is all that matters. That metal carapace is the visage of an eternal, an immortal being to be worshiped and respected. Whoever was before is gone, and the immortal Paradise remains. Every word is gospel truth, every breath an edict. A life to be protected & devoted to, at all costs. When the flesh breaks, The Paradise must live on. Their face must be worn on new flesh, immortality awakened...

Paradises are treated as living Gods. Everything they say and do is treated as the utmost importance and utterly infallible. Many Xenos treat the mask as the important part, knowing that whoever wields it is God On Dream. Others realise the importance is the image - it's not a tool for a bloodline to keep control, it IS the bloodline. The Paradise has immortality, not because it has a constant stream of bodies to wear it, and act it, but because it's image and presence is burned into the minds of it's people forever.
It can't be long until a Paradise's role is subverted, and a Winged attempts to take their place as a new God, or is worn by the broken & angry to lead revolt. The Xenos are not stupid - they can tell when a metal mask rides a different body or speaks a different tone - but perhaps they are faithful enough to follow wherever that image goes...

Raptors refuse to accept the truth: Harpies are Eagles, big, proud, ruthless, just, overseeing Eagles. But they are Xenos: Bright, Monochromatic, strange, alien Xenos. So there are far too many questions to be asked, far more questions than simply snubbing them.

Simply put, Harpies are Amazons, big proud unstoppable female warriors and heroic adventurers skilled in axe & bow. Descending from heights, screaming their terrifying warcries and divebombing their prey amid a shower of arrows. To see them in action, you would be forgiven for thinking that they are matriarchal like Moorhens, but it's simply true that their culture is different to ours. Woman are warriors, while men raise the young, teach, record history and cook. Harpies take their gender balance very seriously, with monogamous relationships paired as early as possible: when they reach age, Men must woo their bride with sensitivity and intelligence, while women prove their dexterity strength, stamina & wisdom, usually felling some hideous beast.
Yet still, they are definetly Raptors, Eagles even: they are very fair, charismatic, caring, prone to defending their family & culture with their lives. Whatever links this means, if any, between the Raptors & Xenos can only be speculated...

What needs to be said. Cassowaries are perfect guards. Debatably, even more so than Geese. Strong, Fearless, Armoured, Resilient, Fast, Proficient with Spears & Swords, Terrorfying. And sometimes able to breathe golden flames. Cassowaries are, simply put, Tough.

But why? Why are Cassowaries like this? Why are they so cruel and heartless compared to their close relatives, the Historian Emus & Ostriches? What do they guard in the Cage? What keeps them so preoccupied? Why are they so strong? What are they prepared for? And on those few occasions, why do they leave? Are they on some mission for the Xenos Patrons? Are they on practicaL leave, fulfilling their hobbies of violence? Do they yearn for more? Does the darkness of the cage trap their feelings too? How do they feel to being separated from the rest of their people? Do they even know? Why do they wear the colour Gold? Why would they rather die than fail? Why do they explode in glory? There are simply too many questions...
Like Emus, gender seems unimportant to the Cassowaries: it is someone's moral achievements, their innocence or guilt, their determination that defines them.


The easiest way to describe Potoo is to compare them to Rabble - both are immature, tribalistic, potentially savage but mostly child-like. The difference is that Rabble grow up.

Potoo are recognized by their bright yellow eyes and skin patterns, their savage weaponry, childlike curiosity, and most importantly, their lack of language. It seems Potoo have discarded the use of a common tongue, instead creating their own "idiot speak". Recognized snippets include:

"Babu" - Would you look at that baby!
"Bingabinga" - Repeatedly applied aggression should be able to solve this situation.
"Dabudabudabudabu" - I am withdrawing from this situation in a physical manner, at full speed.

Indeed, it is from Potoo that society has adopted the informal term "Babu" for babies.
Attempts to teach them standard language have resulted in a series of hot, sweaty events in the Vermillion Jungles, culminating in extreme disappointment.

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