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Drake's Dozen
 

Revolution is coming


Industrial, magical, political; the dual-moon planet of Neyush is on the precipice of change.

People of many different species, reeling from the effects of the Great War almost two centuries ago, are accelerating into a new age, fueled by innovative discoveries and forgotten secrets. The event that ended the war and decimated an entire people is referred to as The Blink.

No-one knows how or why it happened, though many have theories.

Little fish, big pond


The Blink also brought change to the Dozen.

Empty metaphysical Spheres of existence, or the homes of unknowable, ancient gods? Opportunities for life-enhancing magitech, or eldritch traps waiting to ensnare the curious? Aspects of reality as normal as time and gravity, or complex creations of the Drake herself?

Whatever the Dozen truly are, something is different now. Something changed with the Blink. Something is coming to Neyush.

Are the secrets behind the Dozen the key to saving it, or the catalyst for its doom?


Message me on Discord (Pan#1034) if you want to say hi.

 

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Vena

Not 'elves'. Please stop calling us that.

Most at home in the icy northern areas of Pfemba, vena are the oldest intelligent mammalian species on Neyush.

Biology

Anatomy

Like all people on Neyush, the vena share the same basic bipedal skeletal structure as the oldest intelligent species, the Tilkens, with two legs, two arms, and a head. As mammals, they are most similar to Humans, standing on average a few inches taller.

They are easily distinguishable from humans thanks to three characteristics. The first two are their usually snow-pale skin and almost black hair. The third is the most striking - vena ears are longer, stretching out almost horizontally from the head. They also end in a slight point, emphasised by a tuft of hair reminiscent of a lynx.

Vena tend to be slightly taller and slightly thinner than humans, despite the cold environments in which they thrive.

Biological Traits

The most distinguishing biological feature of vena is their life span. All other species struggle to reach a century, but vena regularly live for multiple centuries. Although they only mature slightly slower than humans, they are usually not expected to take on adult responsibilities until their 50th birthday.

Due to this longevity, vena tend to count their age in decades instead of individual years. The oldest vena currently alive on Neyush is either 130 or 140 decades - they themself have lost count.

Long Memories

The Blink occured 157 years ago, bringing an end to the Great War and prompting most cultures on Pfemba and Chezri to start calendars fresh.

The vena are perhaps the only people on Neyush who remember the War and the Blink. Seeing as they also lost the most people during it, many hold familial grudges against other species.

Old Souls

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. 7 decades old, barely a young man.
— A vena consoling a confused human on the loss of their 73-year-old father

Vena operate on entirely different timescales to other species. Most feel some sense of pity that other people live for such a short time, while some think that they are the superior people; adults in a world of children.

A whole line of human descendants may keep in touch with the vena who was a good friend of their great great great (etc) grandmother, and it is not unusual for a vena to spend decades travelling on a sabbatical. What might be a life's achievement for a monoduga engineer may just be a chapter in a curious vena's life.

Newprints

On the subject of monoduga, only one person outside of their society has ever studied their impossibly complex Newprints well enough to understand them without a psychic link, and they are a vena. Granted, they are also a Seeker Speaker, but they would likely not have been able to achieve such a feat without the length of study that a centuries-long lifespan allows.

Ecology

Despite their slender appearance, vena are incredibly well-suited to cold temperatures. Pale skin helps to make use of as sun as possible, and a thin but insulating layer of body hair keeps more heat in (this hair is particularly noticeable on forearms and ears). There may also be a magical reason for their aptitude for the cold, but no vena does this consciously so such a theory is very difficult to test.

Magical Affinity

Most methods of Channeling require one to either be born with an innate talent, or to spend years studying to become a Speaker. Both methods can be honed through further practise and study, as the budding mage becomes more and more familiar with the specific Plane from which they draw their power.

Knowing this, it makes sense that vena would be naturally-inclined to be proficient mages. Tilkens are still the most magically-adept people on Neyush, but this is arguably only because they have historically been using magic for much longer and have therefore developed a stronger innate biological link to the planes.

Planar Affinity

Of those vena who do use magic, most find a natural affinity to the Hand. This was evident during the Great War as the mythical Vena Berserkers tapped into Hand magic to enter a brutally powerful battle state, gaining the power to single-handedly take on dozens of enemies each.

Interestingly, those vena who survived on Rudeska since the Blink have since found a greater affinity with the Absent. The chirkemev teleporters use Absent magic to somehow tap into a Nomad Sphere Stone, and the Spectres are world-renowned for their incredible stealth and assassination abilities.

Civilisation and Culture

Language

Shik tozhu dyozhik ari eliveth pirae
— Elveña excerpt

The vena are currently small enough in number that they mostly share the same main language, Elveña. As this modern language shares many of the same roots as the Common Tongue, most vena pick it up easily, except for some who choose only to speak their native tongue, fearing that it would die out if they did not.

Cultural Heritage

With such long lifespans, vena naturally go through changes in tradition and language slower than other species. Before the Blink, this also meant that vena culture was more homogeneous than some of the other species (aside from the monoduga, most of whom see individuality as a negative trait).

When the Blink happened, the vena were obviously the most-affected. What seemed at first like a magical genocide has only become more mysterious over time, as it slowly turned out that, while a lot of vena did die during the event, many were spread across the planet and even to the neighbouring planet of Rudeska.

Modern People

Now, vena culture can be broadly categorised into three groups of people, all of whom banded together and dealt with the catastrophe in their own way.

East Pfemban Vena

Part of the Blink Treaty gave tilkens sovereignty over a lot of land in east Pfemba, putting the vena who survived there in very close proximity to the the people with whom they had been at war for decades.

As a response to this, eastern vena tend to be much prouder and often hostile compared with other vena, holding onto their traditions and protecting their way of life. Many used the political upheaval of the Blink to take up important political positions in the newly-multicultural Pfemba, particulary in places like Yenagun.

Humans generally don't take to magic as easily as some other species, and the vena and tilkens used this to their advantage in moulding the political shape of modern-day Pfemba.

West Pfemban Vena

The vena who remained in western Pfemba have mostly integrated with the humans who populate most of the continent. The tilkens struggled throughout the war to reach a lot of western Pfemba, having relied on their naval superiority to invade eastern Pfemba, and the only land they were officially given from the Blink Treaty was in eastern Pfemba.

Although eastern vena may look down on them, the western vena have arguably thrived thanks to their willingness to adapt and share with humanity. Western Pfemba has since been the birthplace of the first known half-vena (or half-human, if you ask a vena).

Rudeskan Vena

For decades, it was believed that all the missing vena had simply died during the Blink. Recently, it's come to light that many actually survived on Rudeska.

The infamous Spectres operate from Rudeska, and those who know about the Spectres often assume that every vena on Rudeska is one of the magical assassins.

This is a misconception, but an understandable one, given that Spectres are the only Rudeskan vena that actually visit Neyush. Such travel is not very-well understood, as communication is impossible between planets, but it is infrequent and temporary.

Taboos

Not elves

The word 'elf' is often used by other species to refer to vena. Both 'elf' and 'vena' derived from the same root of 'Elivena'. Thousands of years ago, humans and vena must have encountered each other infrequently enough that they made it into each others' stories and fairy tales without having their societies integrate properly. Not knowing any better, 'elivena' became 'elf' over time in human stories and the term stuck.

This human-originating word has spread in usage across Neyush, even among many non-humans. Carrying associations of fairy tales and magical tricksters, most vena find the term distasteful, although many put up with the slur in day-to-day conversation.

They've got them pointy ears, they live forever, they've got all those wizards and stuff.

I know my history - that's elves, that is.

It is considered rude and ignorant, if not downright insulting, to refer to a vena as an elf to their face. However, most people who use the term so brazenly are simply ignorant of its negative connotations.

Interspecies Relations

Although it's difficult and often inaccurate to talk about inter-species relations when each species has such diverse people, there are certain prejudices and opinions that can be found among many vena.

Humans

Vena opinions on humans are heavily divided across cultures. Western vena tend to be much friendlier with them than Eastern vena, but all share a sense of pity regarding their shockingly short lifespans despite vena and humans otherwise being the two most-alike species.

Tilkens

The Great War was almost 2 centuries ago. Many vena alive today remember it and still resent the tilkens, almost none of whom are old enough to remember it themselves.

 
Trolls

Most people on Neyush doubt that trolls exist, as all are currently on Rudeska. For the Rudeskan vena, trolls are viewed as dumb brutes (which is incorrect) to be enslaved for manual labour.

Monoduga

Monoduga rarely travel to other continents, so most vena have little to do with them. However, the monoduga's hivemend mentality and strive for constant innovation both clash with the sense of tradition and individual expression that a lot of vena value.

 
Kliasta

Like the monoduga, kliasta prefer their mountainous homeland and don't often travel. Unlike them, they value personal freedom above all else and don't hold grudges. Despite them fighting alongside tilkens in the Great War, a lot of vena find that they have a lot in common with the kliasta people.

Cecaelia

Cecaelia are the most alien species to most vena. As they live underwater and prefer warmer waters near the equator, vena rarely run into them and usually don't have strong views regarding them.


Comments

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30 Dec, 2020 15:00

The style of the prose through the article was very nice to read! I loved the amount of details and information you poured into the Vena, they sound like a very interesting group of people.

Author of Arda Almayed - check out my SummerCamp articles here!
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
30 Dec, 2020 18:38

Thanks for the kind words! I've been meaning to write this article for a while now.   There will be more to come on the vena and other species soon, so watch this space :)

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