Many relate the pride of Stone aershaa to that of the Fires, but unlike Fires, their pride can cloud and corrupt their loyalty. Competitive and in many cases egotistical, Stone culture revolves greatly around proving one's greatness and worth and showing one's standing in the world. Superstitious and ritualistic, a Stone's ways are ancient and precise, practicing both daily and annual rituals of strength, honor, and personal rights. It is wrong to call them a hateful breed, however – once respect is earned in the ranks, it is a permanent place amongst a close community, often challenged, but never withdrawn.
Physique & Appearance
A Stone's appearance depends on its place of living, and not necessarily its place of birth. In cold climates, a Stone's sensitive wing membranes will grow a thick coating of fur, shielding the veins that would otherwise freeze solid in such low temperatures from harm. Northfur Stones are completely flightless, using their wings to shield them and their young from the wind, snow, and cold, like a built-in cloak.
Should a Stone, instead, live in the temperate, warm, or even hot regions of the world, their wing membranes will become exposed, shedding fur if they had originally hailed from the north, alongside the extra layer of fur in their thick coats. These are simply the Standard Stones, as most Stones you find will appear this way.
Winglessness is common in Stones like it is with many breeds of aershaa. Wingless Stones will appear the same in cold or warm climates, aside from growing an extra layer of fur in the cold, however it is not uncommon for both Standard and Wingless Stones to lose their manes in the heat of the desert.
Stones are a surprisingly colorful breed of aershaa. Though they are never highly saturated, they can range from earthy tones to various medium saturations of the rainbow. Only Stones born in the north will be found with a white coat, and blue is unseen outside of minor markings, unless there is impurity in their blood, perhaps from a Water or a Dark. Stones, however, don't tend to come in very dark colors. Medium hues dominate their pelts, with only the occasional dark color as an accent. Thus, pure Stones are also never found in pure black or pure white, landing in the gray and medium-saturation areas of the spectrum.
Much the same as body colors, but with the ability to come in lighter shades and slightly more saturation. Black is still mostly avoided, except in very small amounts.
A Stone aershaa has something called Biostone growing from its tail and shoulders, used both in combat and for display. It's a colorful, bone-like substance that comes in many layers, the protective outer layer making it harder than most rock. In combat, a Stone will typically charge with their weight on one shoulder, aiming to bruise or break a vital spot on the opponent's flank, be it prey or a rival. The tailstones, instead, are utilized by the flat, muscular tail like a giant, heavy paddle. A swift turnaround with folded wings and a swing of the tail, capable of turning itself 180º, can crack a skull or any other type of bone with just one good hit. Young Stones will practice this on trees, live and fallen, to develop strong tail muscles. A telltale sign of a nearby Stone pack would be the chest- and head-height divets in the trees.
Stones are not strong fliers, nor are they built for distance. It's a combination of the excess presence of biostone on their wings and their hefty weight that makes flying a difficult task, even for the strongest of their kind. Instead, Stones are either gliders or short-distance beaters, using their wings for a short-distance "sprint" to gain the advantage over prey or an enemy. At most, they could fly for a straight half-mile without resting, perhaps 3/4 of a mile with a fresh morning, a good amount of energy, and the wind in their favor. Their wings can also be utilized in much the way that Fires use theirs: powerful leaps allowing for attacks from above to pin and/or injure an enemy.
A Northfur Stone aershaa, on the contrary, cannot fly – their wings are instead used as extra protection against the cold for both themselves and their offspring. Therefore, a Stone who has moved from the north, even after shedding his or her wingfur, is very unlikely to be able to fly, with their flight muscles undeveloped and weak.
Normal Landspeed: 20mph
Wingless Landspeed: 25-30mph
Flight distance capable: 1/2-3/4 Mile
There is nothing spectacular to point out about a Stone's sight. Decent in the daylight and average in the dark of the night, they are primarily diurnal creatures with vision just slightly sharper than a human's.
Stones are prone to two different types of oddities. The more common of the two is the tendency to grow an excess of biostone growths on their flanks, tails, limbs, and even faces. A few extra can grow without problem, but Stones with excessive biostone growths can develop spinal problems, walking problems, or the inability to use their tails.
A less common oddity is for a standard, non-southern Stone to grow up without a mane. Though manes fall out commonly in the heat of the south, a Stone living in a temperate region should typically have a mane, but occasionally, it simply doesn't grow in.
When Stones and Airs breed, it is very common for the two types of mane to cancel one another out, resulting in a maneless aershaa. In the 8-9th generation of Stoneair / Airstone mizpups breeding, they will begin to lose their stature and progress to the Draian-like physique of today. However, it takes specific environments and climate to result in a true Draian, and it is very unlikely to happen by chance again.
Stones can be proud to a fault, and often very vain and egotistical. They are a breed built on proving their own worth through strength and beauty, which has been engrained into their personalities for generations. However, it is just as common for a Stone to be a solitary, focused individual, often sharing the territories and habits of the Ice aershaa.
It is odd that, for such a competitive, stern breed, many stray from the path when living near packs of Airs. It is unknown where the unusually strong connection these two breeds comes from, or why it is so common, but many Stones have an unusual affinity, fascination, and even love for the grace and freedom of Airs, particularly in the last decade or so. The existence of Draians alone, however, proves this to be an affinity spanning hundreds of years at least.
An extremely diverse breed, Stones can be found almost world-wide, coming in the double-coated, furred-wing Northfur varieties, to the single-coated, leather-winged standard Stones, to the thin-furred, often maneless Stones of the desert. The common denominator is a love for rocky areas with holes and caves to den in, and an area without a great deal of moisture - Stones don't do well with humidity, although if they are raised in such an environment, they can adapt. That being said, this is the only breed of aershaa that is nearly 100% adaptable to whatever climate it finds its home in, thusly being the breed most likely to travel in a nomadic pack.
Culture & Religion
"A Stone who can prove nothing, is worth nothing." These are not a breed of aershaa to be fancy with words, to skirt around the point, or to be very lenient. This saying expresses a great deal of the Stone beliefs and values; proving one's worth is everything in Stone culture. Weak pups are not allowed to survive, and the strong are celebrated. A coming of age ceremony is held at a young age, while a Stone is still in their moonling years. A common example of such a ceremony is the pack herding in the strongest beast known to their region for the moonling to take down with his own strength and power, but in regions where the pickings are slim, it is often a battle with one of the high-ranking aershaa of the pack, to fatigue or near-death. The victor arises a true adult, an an honored member of the pack, while failures are unsparingly dragged out of the packsite and left for the carrion, for they have been proven too weak to be worthy.
Stones are also believers in Khan, for it is he who carved them from the Drey and gave them strength enough to fight. A particularly religious pack will spar often, not just to prove their own worth, but for the amusement of their god. They believe when Khan's eyes close – that is, when the two moons are new moons – their god has become bored, and they must battle to prove their worth and provide Him with entertainment.
A more ancient Stone belief that still exists in small, scattered groups is the drawing of power in blood. Dying in battle is not always shame and dismissal - there is a "worthy" death, when two strong opponents come face to face, the battle lasting hours. To the victor goes the spoils - the winner of the battle with lap the opponent's blood, eat their flesh, or consume their heart, believing this to be a way to absorb the opponent's strengths and abilities. However, it is found that the Stones who still practice this have episodes of psychosis, hallucinations, and are otherwise mentally unstable in one way or another.
The celebration – or lack thereof – on a Stone's death differs by how their lives were lived. A few practices have been mentioned: weaklings are left to be pecked by the carrion without ceremony or celebration, and in rare spots of the world, the practice of consuming one's greater opponents still lives on. But an ordinary Stone funeral is oddly humanlike. The drey is opened up via magic, and the body is dropped within a crevice, before being covered by large stones – at least one from each member of the pack, or by a few companions if a large pack is not present. They are given a cairn grave, as tall as they were in life, moved by magic in a moment of silence for a fallen comrade. The ceremony ends with words of passing from the Alpha, speaking of the fallen aershaa's achievements in life, and granting him passage to his respective god in death.
Stones are a popular airla in the sporting world in both weight-pulling competitions and in ring-fighting, but are also valued hunters. What they lack in speed is made up with what they have in pure muscle strength, able to take down both massive prey, such as the popular groburr, and powerful opponents with their immense size and mass. Though notoriously stubborn, even after mental-wiping, once put to a task that takes a great deal of their time, focus, and interest, they are determined and as unmovable as the stones for which they are named.
Stones are not commonly used in show, but not entirely unheard of. Their coarse fur and stubborn demeanor makes them immensely difficult to train in the graceful, obedient world of showla, but those who are able to be groomed and put to show are further admired for the trainer completing such a challenge.
A Stone's name often reflects that of their parents and ancestors, however, specific naming structure, be it Dreyrullian Standard or Tribal, varies entirely based on the region. For example, it is common for Stones in the north to have names reminiscent of old-Earth Russian names. Tribal names in Stone aershaa are exceedingly rare, but not unheard of, particularly in certain stretches of Hasseran.
Growth & Aging
Stones grow as most aershaa do, covered here.
Stones are Elementalist mages that practice Stone magic.
Ostrydeo 14:36, August 24, 2012 (UTC) © 2012-2013 The Realm of Dreyrull