Beautiful. Majestic. Graceful. Airs are notoriously categorized as the beauty queens (or kings) of the aershaa race, with their vibrant colors, delicate but strong feathers, and graceful movements that often seem like a dance. Even though their massive wingspan, when fully spread, can make them cut an intimidating figure, they are lovers and thrill-seekers over violent fighters, and are unlikely to be looking for trouble.
Airs come in two variations, when it comes to size: Sungliders and Treedrifters. Sunglider Airs are Airs living on the mountains and plains. At the shoulder, they are only about 4.5 feet, but with wings spread at 12ft, stood on haunches, tailfeathers splayed, they can be more intimidating than the presence of an ice, taking up 8x12ft of space. This is both useful in fending off foes and for mating displays, as all their colors shine when every limb is stretched and headfeathers are raised. The same would be done by treedrifters, however they take up a much smaller amount of space, reaching only 3 - 3.5 feet at the shoulder with a shorter 8 ft wingspan to allow passage in the forested lands in which they dwell. Airs of both Treedrifter and Sunglider lineage will typically adapt to the size of their environment: smaller if in the woodlands, or larger if in open ground.
Airs have a double-coat, allowing protection against the sharp winds and colder heights of the mountains, though not enough to allow comfortable dwelling in northern lands like Siyari. Added protection comes from the cloak-like protection of their wings when walking, and the thick layer of headfeathers on their brow and down their neck.
Airs go through a molting season in early fall; they lose their feathers gradually in a sequence that still allows for flight. Moonlings going through their first molt, however, become flightless for a short amount of time, as even a few lost feathers can make flying extremely difficult. On both adults and moonlings, headfeathers are lost more rapidly, several falling out at once, so an early frost in a colder climate can cause great trouble for an Air.
Coloration can vary slightly from the standard within reason, but not greatly. Below are basic examples of the color allowed for different sections of the aershaa; these can vary in saturation and lightness.
Airs typically range from natural, low-saturation colors to highly saturated colors, and are often in light shades. A dark-colored Air is considered impure, as dark coloration comes from the introduction of another breed's blood into the bloodline. This does not include darker blues, which are considered a pure Air color no matter the strength.
Air tailblades are firm and sturdy but lightweight, aiding in the lift of their tail during flight, particularly in winged Airs. Their damage is akin to the blade of a saw, slicing longer and deeper with each passing blade, and used in a curved sweep at enemy flanks. The end two blades on a wingless Air are intended for piercing, as well as slicing, while on a flighted Air they work alongside the others for a long, deep cut, as well as providing added support to the tailfeathers.
Soar and glide, sweep and dive, there is no aershaa breed greater at flight than the breed of the Airs! A massive wingspan and two sets of tailfeathers allow for both stamina in long-distance flight and maneuverability in the air. An extra-long feathered tail serves as a rudder for turning on a pebble (on Earth, we'd call it "turning on a dime"). Airs ride the thermals in the air to achieve great height and distance, and without having to rely so heavily on wingbeats as other flighted aershaa do, they are able to reach heights of 5,000 feet (though only during migratory / long-distance flights). Airs prefer to travel below heights of 500 feet. Height requires energy that they wouldn't necessarily want to spend, as well as a high risk of hazards such as wind gusts or a muscle cramp sending them plummeting to the Drey.
On average, Airs travel at a 15-25 mph cruising speed. The longer the distance they're traveling, the slower their cruising speed, so as to conserve energy. (Remember, aershaa aren't jetplanes!) In pursuit, contest, hunting, or display, speeds can increase anywhere from 50-70 mph, and up to 100 during a dive, with their massive wings and tailfeathers able to serve as a parachute to cushion the impact. As higher speed requires more energy, speeds such as this would only happen over short distances. An Air couldn't fly from north to south Hasseran in a few hours using speed, for example; it would be a day or two's flight at cruising speed.
Airs have eyes made to see long distances, with vision sharp enough to see the whiskers of a mawz crawling in the grass of the plains at 100ft. This ranks Airs as the breed with the sharpest eyesight - however, their eyes are nearly useless in the dark, making them entirely diurnal aershaa.
Though called an oddity, the only defect an Air is known to have is an overgrowth of feathers on areas other than the wings, tail, and head. In their culture, this adds beauty to the aershaa, rather than making them "odd" or "strange." However, too much feather growth can weigh down their flight and shorten the distance they would otherwise be capable of.
When an Air crosses with another maned breed, often the two mane types will cancel each other out and leave nothing but a furred head. Likewise, the two manes can mix and mesh, with feathers sticking out through the fur. The problem with this is that these mizpups won't go through the molt that they need to in order to replace damaged feathers, so when they reach a certain point of adulthood, the feathers get ratty, and can often fall out.
Treedrifters: Treedrifters are found in temperate forests around the world, mainly in Jiskadar and Hasseran, though sometimes also found in the tropics of Sundast.
Sungliders: Sungliders are found outside of the forests, preferring to den at high vantage points that allow for easy take-off and long-distance gliding, as their name implies.
Like all aershaa, they den within a few miles of at least a small water source, like a stream or a small pond.
Culture & Religion
Airs are equal worshippers of S'feena, when raised in a Safikhan family, and of the essence of the wind itself, believing that Air, the first mother Air aershaa, dwells within the wind itself and guides their wings. Elaborate dances in mid-flight are used as dispays of worship, courting dances, and in competition, for leaders in particular must show not only strength of mind and heart, but also strength in flight. In Air culture, after all, the more beautiful your flight, the stronger your soul and the healthier your body.
On Dreyrull, there is a species of insect that aershaa know as bonedust pyres. These small creatures live in mounds much like ants, and swarm by millions at the scent of a fallen creature. A body laid on a bonedust pyre mound will be nothing but dust within half a sun's time. These creatures densely populate both the plains and mountains of the world, yet do not emerge during winter. A fallen Air's body will be laid on the mound of a bonedust pyre, and the dust left behind will be collected in tailblade-hollowed and -shaped wood to be scattered into the winds at the highest possible attitude. When winter falls, the assistance of a Fire or furr is sought to burn the body so that the ashes may be scattered in the same way.
Airs are most compatible (and most likely to breed) with other Airs, Waters, Fires, and Lights. There is an interesting compatibility between Air and Stone demeanor that makes them a commonly mixed pair. Some say it's the more focused nature of the two breeds. Others attribute it to the Stones' common desire to fly like Airs. Unfortunately, after the 5th generation of Stone x Air mixes of either variety, their offspring develop a form of dwarfism; this is how the Draian breed originated.
Incompatible with: Barren
In human society, Airs are used most commonly as hunters, often with similar techniques of falconry, but they are also widely prized for their beautiful feathers and colorful coats, and so are the big stars of the showla, or "show airla" world. A perfect show Air has neatly kept, un-frayed feathers, a vibrantly colored coat, plentiful in variation, and lacks the presence of any blacks. It must be maned, winged, and of pure lineage. Alterations in the shape and length of the multitude of feathers are acceptable in many show circles, so long as they are kept in attractive condition.
Wingless Airs are occasional hunters and guardians, but are most often used as family companions due to their gentle and fun-loving nature. However, they tend to be overly talkative and loud for most high-class family homes, and thus are the breed which suffer most from having their voices silenced by magic, and occasionally by the new practice of cord-clipping. The magical silence is preferred due to the high risk of infection and failure in the medical procedure.
Airs do not have any particular naming system. Naming is typically family-based. So, if an Air family has a tendency for tribal names (Sunspot, Whitewing, etc.), the children will assume them as well. However, Airs are not known for having very long or extravagant names, and prefer to keep them simple and easy to speak.
Growth & Aging
Airs begin to fly earlier than other breeds of aershaa, able to start gliding as soon as their tailfeathers come in at the end of their pup days. Otherwise, they follow the standard progress most aershaa do.
Read more about aershaa aging here.
Both offensive and defensive magic can come from manipulation of the wind. It's a common stereotype across the drey that air is the weakest element in magic – a rumor spread by those who do not understand the inner workings of the element. Working with wind is all about direction, concentration, and speed. For instance, air can be concentrated to a fine strip and funneled immensely fast to create an invisible blade thrown straight at an opponent (typically directed by a wingbeat). Air can also be spread thin and dense over an area to create a defensive bubble for a certain period of time. However, the wider or longer the area where the magic is concentrated, the less dense it becomes. One couldn't, say, crush an army with an invisible block of air. Instead, one could make a wide gust to knock some of them far into the distance, or a small, concentrated amount of air to the head to completely knock one out. The greatest advantage of air magic is the element of surprise – this is one magic you can't see coming. An opponent would have to understand how to read the movements of the aershaa to know what kind of attack to expect.
Ostrydeo 23:10, August 28, 2012 (UTC)
Edits: Candle at 21:39, Aug 27, 2013 (UTC)