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Gifts of the Naered

He is always there, always in the space between inhale and exhale.   When I pick up a rock, I feel the rough claws that have dashed over it, the gentle bare feet that brushed it. The steel that sliced it and ground it to gravel. The cool rivers that smoothed it, sparkling in sunlight thousands of years old. The lava that birthed it at the beginning of the world - yes, all of this in the history of a rock. Older than him. Ah, but the Shui wouldn't want me saying that. They like to say he's older... but I know. When he ran me through, I saw his birth...
Aisha Al Anbar on her ability and relationship with the Supreme Emperor
Origin
Naered
Affected Species

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We Crathlians know very little about the naered in general, but they are particularly secretive about their ability to gift or curse human beings with a power of the naer's choice. However, between my grandmother Aisha being cursed herself and my father being a Dissipator, I should think that I have a fair amount of expertise for a Crathlian Paragon.  

Mythical Source

According to Gift of the Serpents and the First Shapeshifter, the naered were given the ability to split their souls and place a piece into a human, who would then posess an ability of the naer's choice. According to the records in the Sacred Writings of the Cavern, The Creator intended the naered to strengthen their relationship with humans. Gifts also leveled the playing field with the introduction of shapeshifters to the aignaoithe, allowing the two species of dragon to continue their eternal stalemate.

Biology

Not much is known about the physical details of gifts. However, the studies done on my grandmother by Crathlian scientists have illuminated certain details. When the naer passes through its chosen human, it seems to stimulate the human's existing power carriers and mutate them. Power carrier concentration does not increase; however, greater power carrier concentrations than would otherwise be possible are introduced when a gifted human reproduces with a shapeshifter's descendant, such as in the case of my grandparents.

Abilities

A naer can choose the ability it embues in the human--we aren't sure what the limits are, but there seems to be a requirement for some level of specificity. The human will have this ability for the rest of their life, even if the naer dies. Said human will also retain a mental connection with the naer for the rest of the naer's life, until the human dies.   Naer abilities seem to fall into three broad categories, though there may exist abilities that overlap, and these may not be the categories that the naered themselves use. However, since we Crathlians use them and they seem to be useful categorizations, I use them here.  

Healers

As mentioned in the main Healers article, this type of gifted human can heal wounds and disease, likely by stimulating and manipulating the immune system as the aignaoi-descended versions do. The specifics of their abilities are shrouded in mystery; it is suspected that certain gifted humans specialize in particular types of healing. One might be able to heal sinus issues, while another might heal broken bones, for example.   It is estimated by the Crathlian government that there are some 500,000 to 1 million gifted humans of this type. If this is true, they likely make up the majority of gifted humans. I personally suspect that not all of these are first-generation gifted humans--ie, I believe that their parents were both gifted Healers and the power passed on--but this is a heavily debated subject.

Weapons

Gifted humans of this type are what is typically thought of when one pictures a gifted human--a formidable and feared warrior. Their specific abilities vary highly. Some can summon glowing shields made of a similar colored, glowing substance as the naered themselves. Some have enhanced strength. Some can change their facial features and alter their bodies (mimicking a very rare Paragon ability and a capability of shapeshifters). Some can explode what they touch. Some spread fires with a gaze. Some draw any surrounding water to their bodies (so that their naer can replenish and heal itself).   As indicated by the title, this type often functions more as a creature of mass destruction than a "true" warrior. This tactic has been in use for at least three hundred years, with previous records indicating that at least some of the gifted humans were semi-autonomous warriors. The "weapons" deployment is considered to be at its height in the Great War, in which children were "gifted" as weapons in order to deter human soldiers (such as the Dissipators) from killing them.   This type of gifted human seems to be uncommon outside of wartime, though gifted humans with the more deception-oriented abilities (such as face-changing) are believed to be used as spies at all times.

Cursed

Dissenters in Shui Lu, particularly heretics who refuse to worship the naered as gods or those who question their rule in any way, are punished with a curse. These curses are often related to the specific crime, or draw from a particular fear of the dissenting human.   For example, my grandmother Aisha was cursed to see the past of everything she touches, including that of her own skin and bones. This means that she has to relive her parents' executions throughout her life; they were killed before her eyes for heresy.   Other examples of curses include killing any human that the cursed human touches, being unable to eat any food, being unable to rise from a bowing position, muteness, and being eternally on fire.   It is believed that during the Great War, rebellious humans were made into weapons as detailed at the left, unable to control themselves and forced to fight on the side of the naered. Thus during wartime, the distinction between a curse and a useful weapon for the naered becomes blurred.

Cultural Perception

All over the world, gifted humans of any type--and their benefactor naered--are feared.

Shui Lu

As the naered themselves are viewed as gods, their gifted are viewed as holy and untouchable. Weapons never mingle with the general public, being as sequestered and hidden from them as the naered themselves. Occassionally, Weapons are brought forth, and their abilities are shown off for the populance as a reminder of the great power of the naered in order to reinforce the fear that they rule with.   Gifted Healers are more commonly seen, working within the major cities and travelling through remote villages to heal the ill and injured. They are treated with the utmost respect and honor.   Cursed are released back into their communities to suffer and die, often leaving destruction in their wake. Even more than the Weapons, they are a reminder of the great power of the naered and serve as a deterent to questioning the "gods" of Shui Lu. They and their often-horrific fates are feared above all else.

Crathlia and Other Enemies

Here in Crathlia and other aignaoi-influenced countries, we tend to focus on and study Weapons with the goal of defeating them in battle. The variety of abilities that they can be given does make this challenging; however, there do exist some relatively common ones (such as shield-making) that we've learned to strategize around.   Gifted Healers are coveted by the rest of the world, with the exception of Crathlia, whose Paragon Healers are mostly sufficent for its population. The Lumen Empire in particular raided Shui Lu for its Gifted Healers during the Great War. The Lumen victory over the Shui earned them a tribute of a hundred Gifted Healers per year.   Cursed are feared and dreaded. However, typically, naered don't curse foreigners, likely because of the mental connection opened by the piece of the naer's soul. The Supreme Emperor has certainly come to regret cursing my grandmother Aisha Al Anbar instead of killing her.

History

From the Crathlian perspective and perhaps even the Shui perspective, even the relatively recent history of gifted humans is shrouded in legend and rumor, and it is difficult to find the truth.   Primary sources before and during the Colonization are mostly lost, destroyed, or of doubtful veracity--and keep in mind that I have access to all of Crathlia's secret records. What is left is contradictory and difficult to piece together. Many accounts, both in art and in diaries, reference gifted humans as riding upon the backs of naered. Considering that this does not seem to be possible given the naered's semi-incopereal form and the fact that a naer's mist burns human flesh, these accounts have long since been viewed as artistic exaggeration. However, the commonality of the reference seems suspicious to me. Perhaps it is possible, but the naered of today don't want us to know it.


Cover image: by ReachingForStardust

Comments

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
16 Aug, 2021 08:37

Well, those naered are a lot nastier than the impression I got from previous articles :p I wouldn't want to live in the country under their "protection"... I'm curious to learn more about Cordelia's grandmother and what happened to her to get cursed :D

Feel free to check my ship challenge article.
28 Aug, 2021 19:08

Haha yeah, I certainly wouldn't want to live under their "protection" either. I guess the Healer article was your main previous source of information previously? Still need to make those edits you suggested XD I'm glad you're curious about Cordelia's grandmother! She'll eventually have her own article! :D

In Gormhan, an ancient magic-using nobility clings to its power in a high-tech 1950s-inspired world. There are dragons too!
16 Aug, 2021 17:26

This is a lot more terrifying than I thought it would be going in. I can't imagine seeing the history of everything that I touched, like Aisha did. That must have been awful.   Really interesting.

28 Aug, 2021 19:12

Seems to be a trend of "more terrifying than expected" - which is good since they are quite scary haha. Yeah, Aisha has it quite rough, poor thing :( Despite that she's a very strong woman and very excited about continuing to spite the naered through her descendants.

In Gormhan, an ancient magic-using nobility clings to its power in a high-tech 1950s-inspired world. There are dragons too!