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  • A I R

    A I R

    Air permeates. It is the element of freedom. Its presence is often forgotten, rarely perceived - until it leaves or explodes into thunderheads of rage and fury. Air can be felt but not seen, moved but not held. Its essence runs in the veins of the grandchildren of Mela, Caller of Clouds Accordant to the Call of Battle - so the Immaculate Philosophy says. The legacy of this element is not the sole domain of the Dragonblooded of the Realm, however, for there are many peoples, places and objects across Creation and throughout history who offer obeisance and veneration to the air itself.

    So let us talk about the air. Its many manifestations and activities, those it touches, where it comes from and what it does. Those whose lives are touched or even shaped by it. Let us draw on canon, fanon and pure idle fantasy. From the Dynasts of the Realm to the myth of Zephyr and Vayu, from Hearthstones to Fuujin's bag of wind. I want to be immersed in this element and explore it in its purity and how it is inextricably linked to the other four elements, needing them just as much as they need it. What directions, stones, metals, natural phenomenon, herbs and other materials have been linked to air? How has it been used to dramatic or meaningful affect in media (written, cinematic, interactive)?

  • #2

    I have had two fictional loves over the last near-decade: Exalted and Avatar: The Last Airbender. I've also been studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism for longer than I care to admit. So this is a very interesting intersection for me to explore, personally. One that I've tried to touch on in things I've written, games I've run and even in my everyday wardrobe. Most of us are familiar with the Avatar series - most of us know that the Air Nomads were unique among the elemental nations in that everyone born into the Air Nomads was an airbender; this is attributed to the deeply spiritual nature of the Air Nomads. Air, in this series, is described as being free, peaceful and evasive. The Air Nomads detach themselves from worldly concerns and find peace in freedom. This notion draws on Buddhist ideas - the idea of non-attachment from worldly sense-pleasure that allows the mind to settle and clear of its self-grasping habits.

    Fans of the show love watching the light, evasive style of Airbending, based on the real-world martial arts style Bagua Zhang with its distinctive circle-walking techniques. Aang utilizes circle-walking throughout the series to evade those who would cause him harm, and the image of circles and spheres are ever-present in the shape of bent air.

    I've always wanted to create a small nation of Air-Aspected Dragonblooded who lived in the north-western mountains of Creation who were like a blending of the Air Nomads and the Tibetan monastics of the pre-Invasion eras. I was never quite sure how to make them seem interesting, cool or meaningful. I mean, what do monks do? Well, they meditate, study, debate and teach. They have beautiful monasteries with amazing, colourful works of art. They have elaborate, intellectual texts on everything from how to treat a fever to how to uproot the very causes of suffering itself. To make such a group interesting, they'd have to do more tacitly interesting things - with the element of air there is certainly no shortage of awesome potential.

    I sometimes imagine monasteries with shining rings of blue jade that float among the snowy mountain peaks. I imagine artisans using lightning or air itself to carve stone into elaborate temples and statues. How about monks chanting the words of their sutras and drawing on the thunder-like resonance of their essence-charged voices to fill entire mountainous valleys with sounds. Cloud-walking masters practicing their circle-walking meditation at dangerous altitudes. In The Legend of Korra there was an ancient Airbending master, Guru Laghima, mentioned who was said to have unlocked the secrets of weightlessness and, as a result, for the last four decades of his life his feet never touched the ground.


    • #3
      A S S O C I A T I O N S

      Blue Jade is the magical material associated with air. It has, in artifacts, been used to reduce the weight of heavy objects, increase an objects speed, to generate or channel lightning or a variety of other effects. As far as mundane materials are concerned, there are other stones and metals associated with this element: Citrine, diamond, mica, opal, tiger's eye (interesting note: the Dalai Lama's personal prayer beads are made of tiger's eye), topaz, turquoise, sphene, white/clear fluorite, zircon and others. Most of these stones are white, clear or blue in colour (with tiger eye being a clear exception) and this falls in-line with Exalted pairing this element with blue jade.

      Air is also considered to be an intellectual element: One of mind, memory, reason, intellect, awareness and communication. Airborn Dragonblooded also have a list of "aspect markings" that appear on their body or around their person as their mastery of Essence progresses: frosty or misty breath; hair colouring that tends towards white, grey or even blue; green or grey eyes; a constant small breeze surrounding their bodies; a thin sheen of frost on their skin or hair; eyes that flash with lightning during heightened emotions, and so forth.

      These Dragonblooded are also associated with subtlety - stealth, larceny, deception or general undetectability being that air is seldom noticed.


      • #4

        In the snowy mountain paradise
        You're the source of good and happiness,
        Powerful Tenzin Gyatso Chenresig,
        May you stay until Creation ends.


        • #5

          I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~


          • #6
            Ever since the early days of Second Edition I've been trying to come up with adjectival words or phrases that could take the place of the term "Air-Aspected". I intended to come up with such terms for each of the Dragonblooded, but I wanted to start with Air (for reasons which I hope are obvious by now).

            I've contemplated Airborn but that already has a specific meaning in English (although spelled with an e at the end), and it just doesn't sit right. Neverborn and Creation-born are terms that work, they sound right. Air-Aspected sounds clunky to me like referring to people as humans or all those homo-sapiens out there. It sounds downright clinical and I'm sure that's now how the descendents of the Elemental Dragons would describe themselves. The sobriquets given in the corebook are a little clunky, too, in my opinion, but they're really nice to have around for the flavour.

            I have also once used Windwalkers but that's a pretty specific word and not all Air-Aspected person is going to be an avid air-treading traveller. I've thought about how cute it could be if there were an Air-Aspected person who was terrified of heights.

            Windseer is also too specific; I like that it can play into the way Air-Aspected Dragonblooded naturally favour Awareness as an Ability.

            Perhaps the solution isn't to look for a single word that doesn't sound as clunky, but to use a variety of them to describe functions among those who have mystical aerial blood flowing through them. Legions of Windwalkers, Enclaves of Windseers, Airborn Nomads...


            • #7
              This thread.........kinda come out of nowhere, isn't it ? But here are a bunch of like for using Tibet and the Potala Palace as picture reference !

              The no.1 fan of Demetheus. I also draw Exalted things and is looking for commission works ~


              • #8
                You're right, it is kind of "out of the blue". It's something I've wanted to start for a long time anyway and I had wanted to wait until the new edition to draw on its take on the Air-Aspected Dragonblood. I figured, "why wait?"


                • #9
                  I'm glad you decided not to wait. I love seeing new cultures to use in Exalted, especially those featuring non-Realm/Lookshy Dragon blooded. As for euphemisms for Air Aspects go, how does "sky touched" sound?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Two-Shadows View Post
                    I'm glad you decided not to wait. I love seeing new cultures to use in Exalted, especially those featuring non-Realm/Lookshy Dragon blooded. As for euphemisms for Air Aspects go, how does "sky touched" sound?
                    That's a great one! The word "touched" itself is light-sounding which is perfect for Air. It also makes me think of people who spontaneously become magical. How interesting would it be to take a page from the present season of Korra and to have ordinary people who have previously shown no magical disposition, suddenly Exalt as Skytouched (Air-Aspected) Dragonblooded people (or, at least, have the appearance of such)? What a grand mystery!


                    • #11
                      A S S O C I A T I O N S

                      Aspen, frankincense, jasmine, lavender, lemongrass, myrrh, pansy, peppermint, primrose, sandalwood, vervain.

                      In the Air Temples of the Patola Mountain range in Creation's north-west, the halls of the Skytouched monastics are scented with fragrant, night-blooming jasmine flowers. These flowers are, along with sandalwood incense, what constitute the majority of offerings made at these temples' statues of spirit protectors, enlightened masters and Mela herself. The incense itself, being exotic to the north, is particularly expensive and difficult to come by. The monks and nuns typically trade beautiful and intricate blue jade carvings with caravans who travel the long route from where sandalwood trees can be found. These carvings, in turn, make their way south where they help to keep people cool in the extreme heat of that direction.


                      • #12

                        City-Temples located in paradisal mountain valleys.


                        • #13

                          Ferocious guardian-beast


                          • #14
                            Here's something I wrote up that touches on AIR:

                            Far in the West, beyond the lands of my birth, the Cloud Dancers play in the skies of the Boarder Marches – a pristine azure untouched and unmolested by god or spirit. I saw one once as a young girl, swept into creation upon a Wyld Fog, I watched as bolts of lightning and cracks of thunder stuck the beast and its clear blood spilled like steaming rain. I believe I wept that day – it was a beautiful creature. Since studying at the feet of ‘The Marked’ I have come to learn many mysteries and have found I have the tools and the mind to uncover many more. So it came that I delved into the myths, legends and truths of the wyld beast I saw over a decade ago.
                            They have never been sighted outside of the West, the other Directions too dry for their get. Their gossamer baleen combing through the tress of cloud with a lovers touch – caught in the bristles a wealth of minute invisible life. Their bones are hollow as a birds and in place of the dense oils and fats of our pedestrian whales, the Cloud Dancer is largely hollow. There is so little left when rot takes hold that near to no skeletal remains exist within Creation. Such harmless plodding beasts – that the gods of air strike them down with such zealous rage only speaks to the degradations of the systems underpinning Creation. Change is needed, humanity, the gods, all of it has become banal and decrepit. There is much these beasts might offer the West, as poor as it is, if such hide-bound traditions were allowed to pass.


                            • #15
                              Such a beautiful and strange thing. I enjoyed reading what you wrote on these creatures, thank you!