The Shattered Spectrum: Fragments
The Knighthood of Aiephoria
The founding Aiephorian peoples are historically believed to have been the Aarakoorans. Due to the remote, cliffside terrain, the flight-blessed were for centuries the only creatures able to thrive in “The Spires”. However, they are accepting of all races, and are willing to integrate any with the zeal and drive to join their ranks. Members of all species are welcome in the land of Aiephoria, so long as they are willing to live by the tenants of the Knighthood.
The Spires are massive rocky edifices reaching into the sky, with plummeting falls between the high slender peaks. Over the centuries these peaks have been carved and hewn into majestic castles and aerial cities. The grandest, being the seat of power for the Knights of Aiephoria, the capital city of Concassen.
The Aiephorian peoples are guided by their noble guardian God Orin. Orin is said to take the shape of a mega-avian, and has historically been associated with aid and protection. Other gods from other peoples have smaller followings in Aiephoria. Their worship is not discouraged or made illegal by any means, but the primary deity of Aiephoria is Orin.
They are ruled by a meritocratic stratocracy. Service in the military is compulsory for citizens of Aiephoria. All who wish to claim citizenship must at minimum obtain the first military rank of “Primo.” During their training, they are first trained at home in one of the Spire Tip Academies. Secondly, for any who wish to raise their standing, they are sent in teams or alone, to train abroad. They serve as a mercenary force; offering their skills at arms or in strategy to kings, queens, emperors, or whomever possesses the coin, and is willing to agree to the terms of honor set by the trainee.
While abroad, many Aiephorian people wear facial coverings called qalts. Traditionally this came about after a terrible disease was introduced to Aiephoria that decimated the Aarakooran population. The numbers of which are still in a slow recovery. These facial coverings are often customized specifically to the rank and position of the knight that wears it, and can reflect the service to which they have bound themselves. A side effect of this practice, is that Knights of Aiephoria have served on all sides of various conflicts. Often removed their qalt and replacing it with another when changing sides to reflect their new allegiance.
The goal of the Knighthood, in a philosophical way, is not to arbitrarily fight in meaningless battles, but to learn to resolve conflicts with as little bloodshed and loss of life as possible. The nature of war is ever the same across the ages, but by helping to end them quickly they serve Orin by protecting as many from its ravages as possible.
Their grand vaults, a secreted and protected library, are rumored to contain records going back through all of written history detailing conflicts and wars through the ages.
The Knighthood is separated into Stratums, with accomplishments and training allowing one to rise through the ranks. When first enrolled in the academies, the soon to be Knights are referred to by the colloquial rank of “Zot”. Upon successful graduation from the academy and their true initiation into the Knighthood, they take upon themselves the Stratum of “Primo”, the lowest rank of service. The ranks to follow are, “Secondo”, “Terzo”, “Quarto”, “Quinto”, “Sesto”, “Settimo”, “Ottavo”, and the penultimate rank of “Nova”. While a young and inexperienced knight of Secondo or Terzo ranking may fetch a fee of a couple hundred gold, the rarified strategic service of Ottavo’s and Nova’s often fetch millions and can change the fate of wars.
The land of Aiephoria itself is incredibly difficult to maneuver without the power of flight. For this reason, the native Aiephorians, the flight-blessed Aarakoorans, are born into a position of social privilege. Their natural advantages allow them to rise to positions of power more easily than their flightless comrades. Those without the power of flight are in some ways second class citizens in Aiephoria. Many strive to reach the rank of Sesto, whereupon they are granted the honor of a flying mount. For those that do not possess the capacity for flight, zip lines, sky gondolas, and treacherous cliff-hewn paths are the only roads to the freedom of travel.
The raising and training of flying mounts is considered an incredibly revered and exalted role. Though rarely partaken in by the native Aarakorans. Giant Eagles are the most common, but over the centuries the handlers of the Knighthood have mastered the care and raising of many species as a matter of pride. Griffons, Pegasi, Hippogriffs, and even the gargantuan Rocs have all been bestrode across the skies by exemplary members of the Knighthood.
There are undertones of racial tensions between those with flight and without. Some that are born into wings believe themselves chosen by Orin for the great deeds of their past lives. They often believe they are obligated to fulfill Orin’s will because of this honor that has been bestowed upon them.
Their arable land is slight, and this has led to a traditionally lean population. The animal husbandry of Aiephoria has focused on the breeding and domestication of a hardy breed of mountain goats. These beasts provide the primary source of meat, milk, and textiles.
There are many festivals held yearly. These are often celebrations of Orin, or of great deeds of past and current Knights. Raucous and bawdy affairs, they have recently integrated the colorful explosive innovations of the Imperium to their traditional shows of aerial grace and agility.