Firetouched

Those kin of all shapes who have lived long on Sunside inevitably become firetouched. It is seen as a sacred mark of belonging by many, but a shameful affliction by others, especially the more traditional-minded of The Returned within The Protectorates.   Becoming firetouched starts as small marks of colour on the skin, not much different from moles or freckles. They appear at first as a faintly reflective sheen, nearly imperceptible except upon close inspection or where they may catch the light. People who are only slightly firetouched may seem to glitter and sparkle, and this is often a mark of youth across the peoples of Sunside.   Over time however, these marking grow into a myriad of patterns of spots, stripes and swirls which can cover the entire body of the person. The colours range from bright yellows, through all shades of red to deep purples.  
"Glitterskinned" is a common, and mostly friendly, jibe among the Motu to refer to someone who has acted in a particularly foolish or gullible manner.
 

Signs of identity, expression and wisdom

For many peoples of Sunside, firetouched markings are signs of age and wisdom. The more intricate markings and the deeper colours often bring respect and honour.   The patterns created by being firetouched tend to be random, and in many cultures they are used as forms of identity. Individualism is prized and famous 'skins' recognised and celebrated through art and story.   Across the Shimmerlands, people have learnt to design or guide the way the markings manifest. They do this to their children from birth, through daily ritualised applications of masks and paint to hide parts of the skin from the sun. Through this method, easily recognisable patterns can be created that identify their family, tribe, station and ancestry.   Others, especially in places like the Circle of Malama and Camp Thrifty, will augment their firetouched patterns with tattoos, piercings and other body modifications.

Signs of shame and fear

Among The Protectorates, being firetouched is seen as something shameful and to be avoided. Much superstition surrounds the markings, with many seeing them as a reminder of the damage caused by their ancestors through the Destruction, and a sign of failing to resist the ravages caused by it. For many of The Returned, becoming firetouched is to be feared and disparaged in equal measure.  
Some see it is a disease, or sign of weakness. Among the most bigoted it can be seen as 'losing one's mind' or 'going sunside', and they will tend to shun, or at least disrespect, those who exhibit the markings.
  Among the vilest rumours spread is that to be firetouched means you have been marked by dark forces, and that your soul has become forfeit. While most treat this as the most baseless of superstitions, it nevertheless persists.   Many across the Protectorates who could not avoid the markings, nor afford the 'treatments' have been shunned, or forced to move beyond the borders to more accomodating locales in the Shimmerlands , Camp Thrifty or the Circle of Malama.  

Avoidance and treatment

Much cosmetic industry has been built around the avoidance or treatment of being firetouched - especially within the upper classes of New Lafaelle. These range from thick make-up to protect the skin, or to mask any markings and to the wearing of veils, literal masks, and thick clothing.   Treatments have included the magical for the most wealthy, and many charlatans selling the dodgy ointments, or even the dangerous use of bleach and acids. Sometimes the 'cure' is worse than the condition, and many have become scarred for life simply because of the cultural shame placed upon them.

Changing attitudes

The shame and vilification of those within the Protectorates who have been firetouched is slowly changing as they have more contact with the peoples of Sunside, and the growing numbers of The Returned who have become firetouched themselves.   In particular, many sub-cultures are emerging in the cities of New Lafealle and Helton, where being firetouched is becoming a fashion statement or sign of rebellion among the youth - much to the horror of their more traditional minded parents.
Type
Physiological
Rarity
Common

Comments

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5 Jul, 2021 12:38

Wow, so this must create a lot of social tension in Sunside as some like and some hate the condition. Well done.

5 Jul, 2021 19:58

Thanks Soutti... yes, I’m enjoying how these tensions are emerging as a theme across Shadowfire. I’m glad you like it.

Check out my world Shadowfire and my Summer Camp progress
5 Jul, 2021 13:33

Nice article! I love how different cultures have very different opinions on the condition. Especially like how some try to influence the patterns to make them recognisable as belonging to a group.

Feel free to check out my latest challenge article the Avaronian Empire if you want to see what I am up to!
5 Jul, 2021 20:04

Thanks for the nice words, and yeah, whenever I get to building the Shimmerlands, I’m looking fed to exploring this more.

Check out my world Shadowfire and my Summer Camp progress
5 Jul, 2021 14:38

I really like how you've tied it into cultures, superstition and changing norms in various aprt of the world. The last part about it becoming fashion and rebellion is a great detail, and it really helps anchor the condition in the world. Really well done :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
5 Jul, 2021 20:07

Thanks Q! The youth of today threaten the very fabric of society... gods love ‘em.

Check out my world Shadowfire and my Summer Camp progress