Game of Realms
Realm & Rulership
|Races: The Aracoix|
Of all the new creatures encountered since the Turning, the avian humanoids who Men have come to call Aracoix are the most remarkable. At first many thought them to be nothing more than a strange, sorcerous fusion of Man and Hawk, perhaps created by the Elves to use as slaves and soldiers. Others thought them to be old creatures previously undiscovered, who had lived in some isolated corner of the World but now roamed far through the use of the Runegates. Magi and Loremasters now believe Birdmen are creatures from another World entirely, who have journeyed to the fragments of our World by methods unknown. Civilized and noble, the Birdmen are a race barely understood by the other Children of the World. When first encountered, Humans judged the Aracoix to be primitive and savage aberrations, but time has proven these assumptions completely incorrect. Hunted without mercy and driven into hiding, the Aracoix are fierce warriors and brilliant hunters that bear little love or trust for any of the peoples of the World. Rumors tell that the Aracoix disdain all Gods and religions, and are profoundly suspicious of all Magic.
Like the Centaurs and Minotaurs, the Aracoix combine the physical features of Humans and animals, in their case, hawks and eagles. The bodies of Birdmen are very similar to those of Humans, only with a large, Avian head atop the shoulders and a pair of broad wings sprouting from the shoulders. Instead of hair, Aracoix possess thick coats of feathers that cover their heads and wings, forearms, upper chest, midriff, and lower legs. Aracoix stand taller than Men, and their body frames are so heavily muscled that it at first glance it seems impossible that such a creature could fly. Yet fly they do. Aracoix tend towards dark, stern plumage of scarlet, brown, or deep black, and their faces resemble hawks, with large, keen eyes and wicked beaks. Aracoix also have remarkably light bones, and weigh less than a Man of comparable height. Light as Aracoix bones are, they are still remarkably resilient, and many tribes among the Twisted Breeds cherish Aracoix bones, using them to fashion weapons and armor.
Perhaps the greatest and most obvious feature of the Aracoix is their ability to fly. The Birdmen's broad wings can easily carry them into the air, even when fully armed and equipped. Aracoix fly faster than a Human can run, and are capable of brief bursts of speed where they can outrace a horse at full gallop. The Aracoix are clearly, however, more Man than bird. They glide more than they fly, and they are incapable of a hawk's dives or aerial acrobatics. Flight is solely a means of transportation to the Aracoix, and they must return to the ground to enter battle. Unlike many birds, the Aracoix spend most of their time with their feet firmly on the ground. Limited as the Aracoix's flight may be, their wings have still freed them from any concerns about terrain, and hunting wings of Birdmen can move faster than any grounded army, for they travel as the crow flies.
Aracoix are the only race who can compete with the Elves in terms of nimbleness and agility, and are also surprisingly strong. Some Aracoix are also remarkably tough, and flight requires that Aracoix have as much or more stamina than the average Half Giant. Mentally, Aracoix seem at first to be little more than savages - their beaks and throats are incapable of pronouncing any language spoken in this World, and their skittish nature defied all early attempts at communication. In recent years, however, the Children of the World have discovered that the Aracoix are as strong in Mind and Spirit as the Sons of Men, and very adept at fashioning buildings and tools. The silence of the Aracoix has also finally been broken: recent reports indicate that an Aracoix can, if it is willing, project its thoughts directly into the mind of a "listener," provided that the Aracoix can learn to fashion its thoughts into forms that beings of this World can recognize. As more and more people have begun to communicate and even befriend the Birdmen, the true picture of their nature has emerged.
Two factors dominate the Aracoix mindset and stand as the pillars of their culture, and are the keys to understanding the ways of the Birdmen. First, Aracoix fear and mistrust any and all enlightened beings different from themselves. Hints dropped by wandering outcasts seem to indicate that the Aracoix were the only civilized race to inhabit their homeworld, and that they therefore regard all "heavy ones" (any beings who cannot fly under their own power) as dangerous pests to be subjugated or destroyed. Secondly, Aracoix possess profoundly ordered minds, and tend to be highly meticulous, fastidious, and stubborn. The few Aracoix who have left their people behind tell tales of the Law, a compilation of laws, rules, and customs that dictates every aspect of an Aracoix's life. Most Aracoix are absolutely devoted to the tenets of the Law, which fosters a sense of duty, honor, and absolute loyalty to family, empire, and species. While some younger Aracoix have rebelled against the Law's restrictions and turned their backs on their people, most Birdmen are bound to it with a fanaticism that rivals that of the Irekei.
Aracoix fear of outsiders and their absolute devotion to the Law have combined to create an incredibly warlike, regimented society. Birdmen live in small communities called Aeries, each inhabited by a Kh'ree (the closest translation into any of our World's languages would be 'squadron'), an allied group of families related by marriage. Every Kh'ree is ruled by a commander with absolute authority, and the roles and duties of every member of the Kh'ree are rigidly defined by the Law. Flight is one of the central aspects of Aracoix architecture: their Aeries consist of tall towers with elaborate landing platforms and walled compounds without gates. In recent years, the Aracoix have constructed even larger Aeries as their influence has spread. Aracoix unable to fly due to injury or disease are immediately abandoned by the Kh'ree and given a ritualized funeral. Defense is paramount in Aracoix communities, for every Kh'ree must function not only as a social entity but as a military unit as well. The commanders of every Kh'ree defer to a supreme commander, a Grand Marshal of sorts, to which of all the Aracoix in our World are held accountable. This Marshal, it is rumored, is subordinate to some kind of supreme council or emperor on the Aracoix homeworld, the closest thing the Birdmen have to a god.
It may be that the first Aracoix that entered the World came as conquerors, not explorers. Their lack of magical ability led to the initial defeat of the Birdmen, but in years since the Aracoix have withdrawn to their unapproachable Aeries, gathered their strength, and recently renewed hostilities, showing a tactical and strategic acumen worthy of the Centaurs. Slowly and methodically, the Birdmen are extending their territories through conquest. Aracoix are highly disciplined in battle, and perfectly willing to go to their deaths for the success of their squadron. They employ some means of communication that is not yet understood but seem, in all accounts, to be fast, easy, and silent. Aracoix show an almost uncanny organization in battle, and are able to easily coordinate even the most complex battle Laws and assaults. Masters of hit and run tactics, the Birdmen disdain large engagements, preferring to wear their opponents down through lightning raids. Most Aracoix become Warriors, and even those Birdmen who serve their Kh'ree as providers or craftsmen must spend a portion of their time in military service. Aracoix seem to despise organized religion and the study of magic above all else, and single out both temples and arcane libraries in lands that they conquer for particularly brutal treatment.
Recently, a new phenomenon has swept through Aracoix society, a trend that has indirectly provided the peoples of the World with all that we know about the ferocious Aracoix. Hundreds of young Aracoix have renounced the Law, decrying its restrictions and endless regulations. Apparently, this is the first wave of dissent the Aracoix have encountered since the Law was formulated untold millennia ago. Exiled from their people, these young outcasts have wandered far, mixing with the other peoples of the World and charting their own destinies. They have revealed much about the culture of the Aracoix, but have also kept quite a bit hidden.
Even these rebellious Aracoix refuse to reveal any of the secrets of their people, or talk of their homeworld. Hints and inferences seem to indicate that their entire world is ruled by one vast Aracoix Empire, but no more details have been forthcoming. Even when enchanted or tortured, Aracoix reveal nothing of their original homes. These outcasts have also proven unable to shed any light on the Aracoix disdain for gods and religion. They are certainly familiar with the concept of deities, but will not comment about religion, other than dismissing all gods as dangerous. Some comments seem to indicate that the Aracoix may practice their own forms of the magical arts, but so far no hard evidence has been reported. Finally, the Aracoix are absolutely silent when asked why they have come to our World. Given the attitudes and activities of most of the Aracoix who have come across so far, their plans for the World are likely far from pleasant.
Sixty years have passed since the War of Talons ended, and now the Aracoix are on the move. Agents of the Empire, including dreaded Skydancer attack troops and Savant mindlords, have come in secret through the Runegates. From the shadows, these intruders have organized the Birdmen into new legions, the first Kh'ree to darken Aerynth's skies in decades. A few Aracoix agents have been captured, and the Conclave of Wizards has managed to wring from them more of the secrets of the Runegates, expanding the Traveler's arts. The other aims of the Aracoix Empire remain unseen, but it is clear the Birdmen are looking for something. In the deeps of the deserts, the Aracoix have found an ancient citadel of the Ardani, a ruined library filled with arcane texts unread by any in thousands of years. What secrets do the Aracoix seek there? The few ancient scrolls and tablets brought back by plunderers and adventurers hint at magical arts and theories unseen since the birth of the world. The Aracoix claim that their Empire shall soon take new Glory in the conquest of Aerynth!
Many among the Wise are worried by the new machinations of the Birdmen, but few of the Nations pay their warnings any heed, for the face of Aerynth is aflame with new strife. Working tirelessly, the Dwarves have managed to reopen the ancient Mines and Lodes of old! Gold, enough to maintain empires, lays waiting for those with the patience to exploit it. Greedy for the wealth these new resources offer, the warlords of all lands are scrambling to claim and hold these goldmines and every mine is now the scene of constant raids and daring struggles. How will this new gold rush reshape the face of Aerynth? Which Nations shall gain the most in the fight for Glory and Gold?