Plane of Air
Air Rifts: winds from beyond
Like the onset of madness in a sane man, Telara may be scourged at any moment by evil from its very air. The sky could split above an open plain, or crack over the highest peaks. Crisp, serene air twists into a hateful storm, winds whipping and swirling with such fury they tear boulders from the earth, whirling them about like a mad juggler’s toys.
The fortunate who stumble into the radius of an Air Rift are crushed by these boulders. Others have their flesh scoured away by debris born on the razor winds, or are snatched up by the storm, cooked by the lightning, and rent limb from limb by the monsters flying through the shimmering rift.
Plane of Air: the merciless sky
The Plane of Air is made up almost entirely of its primary element: an endless, turbulent sky. Cloudscapes replace landscapes, roiling and writhing, crashing together like continents. Air elementals and djinali ride the lightning that arcs between thunderheads, while rocs cruise the twisting wind, feasting on winged serpents.
Chunks of the thunderbirds’ prey can fall eternally, or splatter upon the floating islands that spin through the sky. The Plane of Air’s few land-bound creatures make their homes here, isolated for eons until the winds push two islands together and the denizens fall to xenophobic warfare.
Of wise Won Odego, the first Paragon, the Bahmi tell this tale.
Won Odego had a pupil, his sister’s daughter, strong and swift. She fought with the unpredictable grace of a hurricane, and her mind likewise was fetterless and wild. So the master bade his student make tea every morning, at just the same moment, just the same brew, just the same heat in summer or snow.
“Why?” asked the pupil. But Won Odego only smiled.
The student made the tea right, but without care – for a mistress of the sword, how trivial a task to brew the same tea every morning?
Then one morning, Won Odego sat down to tea that scalded his lip. He crossed his swords behind his neck, catching his student’s blow, then spun and met her onslaught. For days, blades sang on blades. This white-eyed puppet had the pupil’s strength and skill, but none of her inventiveness. Eventually she lay still, Odego’s slash across her throat.
“She who revels in the storm must keep one toe on the ground,” said Won Odego, and the wind brushed the tears from his eyes.
Airtouched: riders on the storm
Like the pitiless sky, creatures from the Air Rifts are uncaring, arrogant, entirely heartless. They are the wind that twirls a falling man end over end like a shiny bauble, letting him crash against the rocks without ever raising him aloft.
Griffons, rocs, and harpies fly Telara’s skies, lifting cattle back to their mountain nests—and only cattle, if the cowherds are lucky. Brutish gargoyles crouch on the parapets of abandoned castles, while cockatrices nest in towers, the filthy scavengers ready to swarm the unwary with plague-ridden claws. Vespids—wasps the size of horses—venture from their barrow-hives, hunting for mortal bellies in which to lay their eggs. And yetis barrel down from the mountain peaks, shrieking like the wind, hungry as a yawning crevasse.
Dragon of Air: the Broodmother
When the dragons first arrived on Telara, Crucia united entire armies under a great hive mind that spread like the wind in one coordinated assault. Were it not for the brave deeds of Telara’s heroes, every mortal being would be thrall to the white dragon.
But the Ward cracked, and with it, Crucia’s prison. Still trapped, the Broodmother plots within her icy tomb, manipulating anyone anywhere she can, but happy to strike like a thunderbolt force when necessary. Her Storm Legion has allied with and betrayed all the other dragon cults at one time or another, for such is her way: through manipulation, coercion, or direct mind-control, she will bend every will in tune with her own, till all creation sings in perfect, matching monotone.
Cult of Crucia: the Storm Legion
Once, Crucia possessed a vast empire, unflinching armies, and the most sophisticated spy network in Telara’s history. Now, the Storm Queen can merely invade and overthrow the minds of mortals who lack the monumental will to resist her.
A lifelong friend suddenly changes expression and becomes a deadly assassin. Children turn against their parents, and kings are killed by their consorts, who the night before swore love eternal. Crucia cannot fully control everyone in her cult, but once touched, the thrall remains something of a blank slate, easy pickings for further control. Crucia has worn their minds smooth, as the wind scours the mountainside.