Ixifar

Submitted by Jennifer K. on Fri, 1/13/2017 at 1:23am

The Ixifar or Phoenix Folk come from an ancient human tribe of the Deserts of Sirison.  This tribe was imbued with Prime energy when a phoenix named Ixifiah loved and bore a child with a human herdsman named Tamar.  Their son, Ixifar, founded a line of Prime-touched humanoids who bear his name and phoenix-like features.  Ixifar have a connection to the light and life energy of the Prime and live in modern Orn as travelers and desert dwellers.

Costuming

Ixifar characters must wear feathers in their hair or cover their head with a feather crest or wig.  Additional bird-like or celestial features, such as golden skin, beaks, decorative claws, bird like wings or tail and additional feathered features are also permitted.

Ixifar culture is inspired by nomadic travellers and desert dwellers; so head coverings, layered and loose fitting tunics and robes, sashes and scarves and light or jewel-toned clothes would be appropriate attire.

Nature

Ixifar are gregarious and genial.  They are literally “full of life”.  They are loyal friends, passionate lovers, caring parents, eager explorers and determined foes.  Ixifar value freedom and justice and willingly take a stand against those who would threaten or abuse the meek and helpless.  Ixifar have fiery hearts that will flare into rage at evil or corruption.  They have a connection to the Prime through their Phoenix ancestry and can tap into that link to fuel great acts of courage and mercy.

 

Ixifar live between 100 and 150 years.  As children they age at a rate comparable to humans and then after puberty remain hale and youthful until they reach the century mark.  Old Ixifar tend to be of the “wrinkly and bent but still spry” variety.  Ixifar are strong in mind and body throughout their lives  and seek out new experiences and skills as long as they live.  

 

Ixifar usually are born to Ixifar families.  These either live in villages scattered throughout the deserts of Orn, or travel together in a caravan or exist alongside or inside, but separate from, any of the larger cities in Orn.  Some non-Ixifar families will bring an Ixifar into the world,  but this is an extremely rare event.  

 

Ixifar couples pair off to mate and may establish a household if they wish and they can afford the expense of constructing the dwelling.  Ixifar may also pair up with non-Ixifar and their offspring (Ixifar or not) will always have a place with the extended family.  Ixifar view intimate relations between adults as a private matter, and as long as everyone is happy, they honor whichever choice of spouse an Ixifar selects.  

Ixifar weddings are joyful occasions which take place over a long night of feasting, dancing and singing.  These serve to reinforce connections in the Ixifar community and provide any offspring with kinship ties to both families.  Ixifar couples can choose to sever their marriage bonds as well.  This act frequently prefaces a period of wandering for one or both of the partners.    

 

Ixifar are cremated upon death and the families mourn the passing of their loved one by holding a vigil and eating a feast cooked in the ashes of the funeral pyre.

 

History

In ancient times, ages before the Shattering, nomadic tribes of humans lived in the deserts of Sirison.  In the way of humans, they were resourceful, if somewhat competitive, and travelled with their tents and herds of goats, sheep, horses and camels between the permanent oases and the seasonal grasslands of the desert region.   

 

Relations between the tribes were negotiated by a complex web of customs and inter-tribal family ties, with a little light raiding to steal animals or trade goods in lean years.  Water was the most precious commodity in the region and strict laws existed to protect and share this vital resource.  Indeed, defiling a water source was one of the few offenses punishable by death in the tribal culture.

The reason for the alliance between the phoenix and the people who would eventually become the Ixifar is now lost to antiquity.  Tribal legends tell of a great hero named Tamar who befriended the phoenix by saving it from a deadly serpent.  The friendship grew into love when the phoenix led Tamar, who was dying of thirst in the desert, to the hidden Golden Oasis.

 

After their defeat of the dragon, Sathh Quatil, which dwelled in the Oasis she assumed the form of the woman, Ixifiah, to care for him.  Their child was Ixifar, the first of the phoenix folk and he gathered the tribes together at the Golden Oasis and founded the first of the great desert kingdoms.

 

Ixifar led the tribes in battle against the vengeful spawn of the dragon and the encroachment of marauding monsters.  He also forged alliances with bordering human and elven kingdoms.  His children expanded and strengthened these alliances, and established vast trade routes that crossed the world of Orn.  Ixifar instilled in his offspring a belief that their special nature was a gift and that it also conferred a set of responsibilities.  Ixifar are subtly taught from their earliest days that they must prove themselves worthy of the Primal gift of their Phoenix ancestress.

 

In their desert homeland, the Ixifar cities became centers of travel and commerce.  Travelling Phoenix folk brought treasures and tales back to enrich their kingdoms and peaceful travelers of other races were welcome to share, and add to, the life of the cities.  

 

The cities of Sind, Kalf-Gi, Goa and Perrasson were also immensely strong fortresses, with huge underground cisterns and storehouses.  More than one army withered to bleached bones outside the desert strongholds of the Phoenix folk.   

 

Ixifar caravans provided one of the few safe means of travel across the lands of Orn prior to the Shattering.  Adventurous souls could earn a good living as caravan guards, and areas where the caravans regularly traveled quickly attracted settlements and the other trappings of civilization.

 

Sizeable Ixifar communities also grew up in the major cities along the trade routes.  These enclaves were intentionally insular, designed to maintain their own customs and traditions, but were always courteous and law-abiding.  They are often described as  “nests of Ixifar” built on the “tree” that is the city.

 

The Shattering stuck an especially hard blow to the Ixifar.  Families and communities were scattered across the Shards.  Caravans were destroyed and lives were lost when the ground crumbled beneath their feet.  The Golden Oasis, a wonder of the world and site of pilgrimage for the entire race, vanished back into the desert sands.  And the scattered enclaves and traders, once linked to the heart and strength of their people, were now stranded and shiftless refugees.

 

In the centuries since the Shattering, the Ixifar of the Shards have adapted to their new way of life.  Traders quickly adjusted their routes, and in fact their continuing supply routes kept many other fractured communities from destruction.  On some Shards the Ixifar have founded new desert strongholds after the fashion of the ones in their homelands.  And in their original lands, they have returned to the life of the nomadic herders they once were.  The desert fastnesses remain, but without the caravans to supply them, they are only used in times of need.  

The Ixifar ache to be reunited.  A few hearty explorers have risked crossing the Spans, with some success, but the many dangers of this path prove a substantial barrier to regular travel.  Some of the more spiritually inclined Ixifar have been seeking a route through the Prime Realm.  A rumor has recently spread that the Golden Oasis can be reached through the Prime, but this is an impractical path at best.  

 

Bloodlines

Ixifar, the legendary son of Ixifiah and Tamar had five children.  Most Ixifar can trace their ancestry back to one of these five.  Ancestry is figured through the mother’s line.  Ixifar have been known to be born to non-Ixifar mothers.  These Ixifar form a special sixth group called the Kindled.  An Ixifar female with a non-Ixifar spouse has a 50% chance of producing an Ixifar offspring.  An Ixifar male with a non-Ixifar spouse has a 5% chance of producing one.  A non-Ixifar family has a .01% chance of bearing an Ixifar child.

 

The first son, Samir

Samir was born a child of the desert.  His feathers were white and gold, and his skin was the tawny color of the sands of his home.  He became his father’s war leader.  Samir disdained mounted combat and trained his followers in the use of the bow and the scimitar.  In between campaigns he would travel alone deep into the desert and legends say that he was one of the few ever to encounter a sphinx and answer her riddles correctly.

Samir’s bloodline often have his white feathers and his love of their homeland.  Many of the ancient caliphs were of Samir’s line for they chose settling and strengthening their homes over the wandering life of others.  Samir’s children are the rarest Ixifar to encounter on other shards and the most affected by melancholy homesickness when they are.

 

The first daughter, Rhalanna

Rhalanna inherited her grandmother’s red plumage and her grandfather’s gentle heart.  She was the first Ixifar disciple and cared for the old couple in their final days.  When Tamar passed, Ixifiah was consumed in flame, leaving behind an egg that Rhalanna took into the desert and hid according to her grandmother’s wishes.  She served out the remainder of her years as her father’s advisor and healer and she is much loved in Ixifar songs and legends for her wisdom and mercy.

Rhalanna’s bloodline have red plumes and are the Ixifar most likely to possess wings.  This is attributed to a last gift from Ixifiah to her faithful helper.  Legend also says that the secret of Ixifiah’s egg is passed along by the daughters of Rhalanna’s tribe and in the moment of greatest need for the Ixifar, one of her daughters will go and fetch it to save them all.  Others say that since this didn’t happen in the Shattering it’s obviously not true.  Many Ixifar disciples are of this tribe.

 

The second son, Mahmed

Mahmed was a darkly handsome man with black and purple plumage.  He was his father’s vizier and eventual successor to the Caliphate of the Golden Oasis.  He could often be found poring through his books and scrolls looking for the answer to the problems that faced the Ixifar.  He was an accomplished sorcerer and wizard, combining the two magics in weird and wondrous ways never seen before or since.  It was Mahmed who imprisoned the Ifrit Aqtam Nar in a golden box and sealed that box away in an adamantine coffer and buried that coffer in the heart of a living crystal cave.  Mahmed never died.   Rather he vanished one day from his workshop in the heart of the Golden Citadel.  His children searched in vain for him and his daughter took up the mantle of Caliph in his place.  Some say Mahmed’s spirit transcended mortal flesh and entered the Aether.

The children of Mahmed inherit his dark plumes and talent for sorcery.  Unfortunately, the curse of Aqtam Nar seems also to be on this tribe, for they have often fallen to dark and dangerous forces.  The dreaded Ixifar necromancer, Al’hariq, was a child of Mahmed.  Those who can avoid the curse often rise to positions of authority within the enclaves, towns, and caravans or become scholarly hermits, fiercely guarding a trove of power or source of wisdom from evil forces.

 

The second daughter, Dinah

Dinah was born with golden skin, clear green eyes and plumes of blue and green.  She was the songbird and the delight of her embattled people and many of her songs and dances are still performed today.  She and her sister Rhalanna cheered their father’s heart at the loss of his beloved wife, Selah, and stayed his wrath against the baby she died bearing.  Dinah was valiant in battle, using her songs and bardic tricks to hearten her allies and confuse her foes.  

The children of Dinah’s bloodline have sweet voices and charming ways.  A caravan with one of Dinah’s children as its agent is extremely fortunate, for these Ixifar are almost supernaturally charming and persuasive.  They are also extremely adaptable and enjoy travel.

 

The last child, Tarvek

Born with all the colors of his siblings, Tarvek was closest in looks to his father, but as the boy’s birth was also the occasion of his mother’s death, Ixifar refused to have anything to do with the child.  Tarvek was raised and loved by his sisters, with some help from their grandparents.  He stands as a symbol to many of the strength of the extended family that is the Ixifar race.  From early days, the little boy would take on the form of a bird and fly around the palace.  He must have learned many things doing this, but he always kept his own council.  He was careful to stay out of his father’s way, but he forged firm friendships with each of his siblings as he grew.  Eventually Tarvek struck off on his own, leaving with one of the first caravans.  After that he travelled for many, many years, first scouting for and then eventually leading a caravan of his own.  He was the first Ixifar Trade Master and the bittersweet tales of his wanderings comprise some of the most popular Ixifar ballads.

The children of Tarvek’s bloodline are the most restless of the Ixifar.  They are always striving and seeking.  Popular wisdom holds that they seek to prove their line in the eyes of their legendary ancestor by someday bringing lost Selah back to the Homelands.  As this is an impossible quest, they must keep moving and searching.

 

A word about the Kindled

Kindling an Ixifar in a family of another race is a sign of great fortune.  But the child itself is a blank slate.  Other than being Ixifar it is not tied into any of the racial traits or lore of its ancestors.  This is both a great burden and a great opportunity for the young Phoenix child.  Ixifar clans are happy to take in a Kindled child and will offer to “adopt” the family of any that appear even if the parents choose to keep their child.  Ixifar children are not substantially different from human children of the same age, except that they tend to be more outgoing and fearless.

 

Organization

Ixifar live in extended family groups, either in their homelands, in enclaves in towns and cities across Orn or as travelling caravans, bringing goods and news between settlements.  Ixifar families are hospitable in a boisterous way and always have a meal and a tale to share with a polite stranger.  Ixifar clans are loosely democratic.   All adults in the group have a say in important matters.  Most groups also have a family captain or “Chief” who serves as the clan’s ambassador to outsiders and takes command in times of crisis.  Ixifar of all ages also travel between clan groups and usually get in a little adventuring along the way.

 

Ixifar enclaves and caravans are well protected.  The Phoenix folk encourage a proactive approach to safety, arming themselves and training to address any hazards.  In areas with weak or corrupt governments, the local Ixifar may align themselves with other freedom-loving souls to create a safe haven protected from both monsters and more mundane threats.  They do not seek power, but will take control if they and their families are threatened.

 

The Ixifar are renowned as skilled and powerful healers.  This tradition is encouraged among the Phoenix folk and young Ixifar with healing aptitude are singled out for special training and duties.  They appreciate the honor and freely share their healing magic with all in need.

 

Culture

Blessing

Ixifar are friendly, outgoing folk.   They feel they have been blessed by life and they seek to extend that blessing to those less fortunate.  They value family and home, but also freedom, so most Ixifar spend part of their lives deeply immersed in the daily life of their clan and part of their life travelling, meeting new folk and having adventures.  They feel this approach grants them the best life possible.  The warm home life provides a good foundation and a safe space of return, and the adventuring broadens and deepens the individual, making him or her worthy of his or her gifts.

 

Virtue

Ixifar are law-abiding, provided laws are just and fair.  They endeavor to be good neighbors and tend to be quite tolerant, but they have no mercy on those who violate the sanctity of the family or the innocence of others.  This behavior they liken to supernatural evil and they will root it out and destroy it with the purifying flame of their Phoenix ancestor.

 

Serpents and the Sea

Ixifar have a deep hatred of dragons and snake-like creatures.  They associate these with poison and death.  They are not overly fond of salt water, either, and will not take a sea voyage unless there is no other choice.  Due to their affinity for fire and their bird-like features, the cold, wet sea is a very uncomfortable place for an Ixifar.  The salt and spray clumps up on their feathers.  They are poor swimmers as well.    

 

Family

Ixifar view one another as “cousins” and are happy to extend that designation to worthy friends as well.  Most Ixifar settlements are comprised of several related families (siblings or close-cousins) and their accumulation of additional “cousins” (second and third cousins, relatives by marriage and adopted friends).  Ixifar will always rise to the defense of their family.  

 

Travel

Ixifar are drawn to travel and adventure.  They will grow restless if remaining in one place for too long.  Ixifar do not fear the unknown and seek out challenges to conquer.  Ixifar tolerate the stress of travel and combat better than most other races of Orn.

Relations

Ixifar are tolerant of most other sentient creatures.  They deeply loathe undead, dragons and the creatures of the Pit due to their alignment with the Prime.  Ixifar enjoy the company of humans as their cultures are most compatible.  They can understand and respect the ties that the Small Folk and the Sylvan have to the material world.  They find Empyreans inscrutable, but interesting although they pity their star-touched cousins’ lack of family ties.  They distrust the dark origins of Cambions, Revenants and Urdoeq and will remain wary of these creatures’ motives.  They enjoy the Angori’s enthusiasm for living, but find their bloodlust and cruelty distasteful.  They appreciate the capricious nature of the Fae and have enough good nature to laugh at themselves when they are the targets of Fae “humor”.  They dislike the reptilian Shriss as serpents and scaly creatures are bad omens in their culture.  Other Feral are considered interesting companions.  The act of forcing life energy into unliving matter to create a Simulacrum comes too close to dark magic for most Ixifar to feel fully comfortable with these creatures.  As creatures with similar planar alignment to their own, most Ixifar would consider a sprite to be a worthy companion.  Ixifar recognize a Prime kinship with Yteyra but disdain the latter’s pacifism as cowardice.

Other races can find Ixifar to be somewhat impulsive and headstrong.  Their connection to the Prime is unsettling to those with ties to opposed forces.   Ixifar are known for their healing magic and many seek them out to administer justice or mercy.  

 

Immortals

Drathenix--The ancient dragon is viewed as a symbol of the essentially evil and bestial nature of all dragons and similar creatures.  His name is never spoken aloud as no Ixifar wishes to attract his attention.  His plight is held up as the ultimate example of the virtue of swift and final mercy, as this is the only appropriate end for such an abomination.

 

Istensia--The Radiant Maiden is well loved among the Ixifar.  Some Ixifar tales relate that she split her essence at the Shattering and housed some of her spirit in the Prime, waiting to empower an Ixifar not yet born to become a champion of the race and the restorer of the Golden Oasis.

 

Hexadus--Followers of this patron of tyranny and slavery have crossed paths (and swords) with the Ixifar on more than a few occasions.  Most experienced Ixifar are familiar with her lore and signs so as to be able to assist those under her sway.

 

Ivelis--The Wanderer in the Winds has a popular following among the caravans of the Ixifar.  His symbol is often carved into the woodwork of their wagons to bring his blessing on those who travel within.

 

Lemesin and Arkrist--Have become the patrons of several groups of Ixifar crusaders and adventurers.  Ixifar who band together to fight evil creatures or to oppose tyranny will call upon the support of these Immortals.

 

Syflare--The evil serpent is despised by the Ixifar and his domination of the seas is seen as one of the reasons that the Ixifar never developed a maritime culture.  Ixifar are reluctant sea travellers at best and many have never set foot on a boat.  Salt water, as it is not potable, is considered bad luck and an Ixifar who is doused in the stuff wants to wash it off as quickly as possible.  Some Ixifar even claim that salt water makes one's feathers fall out, a terrible blow to one's appearance.  Ixifar tales relate that it is the malign influence of Syflare that makes oases dry up or turn brackish.  Any snakes found near an oasis or well are considered his agents and are instantly killed and carried far from the water to be disposed of.  Some cautious Ixifar kill every snake they encounter, just in case.    

Avaren--The news of the Ascension of the Ixifar Hierophant Haven Melrose to become the Chosen Immortal Avaren flew as fast as her people’s tongues could carry it.  Everywhere the news spread, Ixifar began taking up Avaren’s call to care for the sick and injured.  Many Ixifar enclaves constructed Warrens adjacent to their homes, so as to better care for those in need and Ixifar caravans began transporting those in need of healing to settlements capable of providing it in special wagons fitted with cots for more comfortable travel.  The Ixifar people have quickly grown to love Avaren, not only as an Immortal of their own race, but for her deeds in life and for her clarion call to tend to the wounds of the world.

 

Adventurers

Ixifar are born adventurers.  They combine a generous spirit, a taste for adventure and supernatural vitality with an upbringing that hones and perfects their talents.  Almost all Ixifar adventure at some point in their lives and it is considered a noble pursuit. 

Ixifar often bring impressive healing, magic and/or combat skills to an adventuring party.  They are adaptable and willing to learn new skills as well.  Their good nature can also serve as the "glue" that holds a diverse party together.  Ixifar can be impulsive, but they are not flighty and they are always courageous companions.

Parlance

Between the Pit and the belly of Aqtam Nar — A choice between terrible options

Walk four days for three coins — An unprofitable venture

Not worth his/her water -- A worthless or shiftless individual

By my grandfather’s downy feathers – A general oath

In the days of the Golden Oasis… – a long/mythical time ago, most stories of Ixifar and his children start this way.  Tales of Ixifiah and Tamar begin "Before the Blessing..."

Spoken with the voice of Dinah – very persuasive or convincing

The red daughter’s gift – mercy

A snake/wyrm--an evil or untrustworthy person

Heart's ember--beloved

Ashed/wearing ash--in mourning

Scaly--unpleasant

Fangs and scales!--A stronger oath

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Abilities