The Pearl Divers, or Curath, as they call themselves, do not remember much of their origin at all. Very little is known about these Madavian island-dwellers. Many within Anserona are not even raised by their parents, but rather brought up in the gladiatorial arena, or as a novelty by some Kenaki or Emrikalen noble. A long time ago, they sailed the seas, warred with the Jaheed, and hunted the treasures of the deep.
They believe that the oceans are trapped, and that the Machine contains the lost oceans. They say this is why the Machine gives out water, in contradiction to the true, provable reason it does this. Most of their original religion is lost, but they hold onto a strong, superstitious belief in the sea demon, Meskate, who they fear greatly, and blame for the destruction of the world. They say that he travels in the Mist, in a vast ship rowed by the souls of everyone devoured by the void.
Free Curath often associate with Norrish Jaunx. Most are enslaved. They are considered simply charming, which is a blessing and a curse. The popular opinion is that they are all sweetness and cheer, but this is not the case. They do not actually come to love their master by way of instinct. They are not carosen. They are simply good at making nice until the right moment. All who deal with curath and expect to continue to do so must know this.
They are about as tall as humans, slightly shorter, and are wiry and covered with short brown or gray fur, well suited to shedding water, but not to keeping out the cold. The conditions in Anserona have been a major cause in the decline of the Pearl Divers. They are otter-people. Their tails are thick and muscular, but not very flexible. Their fingers and toes are webbed. Their teeth and stomach are best suited to meat, but they will happily eat whatever they can get, and quite a bit of it. Naturally energetic, and somewhat instinctively inclined toward playfulness and friendliness, they are not necessarily jokers or extroverts, but many are.
They live for around a hundred and forty years, at most one hundred and seventy. They give birth after a seven month pregnancy, and reach maturity around twenty years.
The first luciens were created from the spirits of the sky, or so says the ancient legends.
We bear a passing resemblance to humans, but only in passing. We are shorter, slimmer, faster, and live longer than humans, and possibly everyone else but the kenaki. We have ties to the sacred animals, those who once formed the constellations, and those of us with the purest blood can change our shape to reflect which animal formed our ancestors.
Most luciens alive now are Emrikalen, rulers of Anserona, descendant of the old rulers of the northern continent. Our ancestors distinguished themselves almost as soon as the luciens were placed on this world, many thousands of years ago. They rose up and conquered most of the continent, and would have controlled it all, but the humans and the rest rose up against us. We have fought for our homeland again and again.
A thousand years ago, the telekan attacked Emrikal, and Scorrach gave them power. We took that power, the kenaki talisman, away from them, and they, recognizing Emrikalen superiority, hastily made peace. When our beautiful homeland began to disappear, the kenaki showed us Madavia, and welcomed us with open arms. We did not trust the kenaki. We still do not, but when Emrikal fell, we had no choice to come here, along with all manner of refugees.
Now we rule Anserona. The city is divided into five concentric districts, each ruled by one of the five noble houses and each house's serving house. The houses are, in order of importance, and proximity to the center of the city and the Machine's Tower - Milcona (Hawk), served by Dhalev (Horse), Savenneh (Crow) served by Rateshasha (Hare), Gerideg (Jaguar) served by Machderach (Bat), Everal (Jackal) served by Jaedar (Badger), and Atemessi (Fox), served by Vedigate (Bear).
High Emrikalen are pure blood descendants of one of the ten houses. The majority are not pure blooded, living in the polite fiction that they cannot shapeshift because they are not directly descendant of the nobility, and not because they have a bit of human blood. Despite the belief commonly held by other races, Emrikalens do not always hate humans. The number of recently born half-lusiens and humans with high amounts of lusien blood speak against that stereotype. If someone is more than half Emrikalen, they are considered Emikalen by all but the most conservative. Technically, lineage follows the mother, so to be considered a true Emrikalen, one's mother must also be considered one, in name if not in blood. Half-blooded High Emrikalens cannot be told apart from normal luciens.
Legally, things are a little stricter. Even if you are half-lucien, if your mother is human, you are also, in the eyes of the law. Only a legally recognized lucien can be a voting or elected participant in the government.
Men are considered emotionally weaker than women, but valuable, as the ration of male to female births is naturally low. Women lead our society, form the bulk of elected and appointed officials, and rule most of the houses. An Emrikalen man may fall into traditional roles or actively rebel against them, but he is expected to be quiet, subservient and graceful. He is physically stronger than his female counterparts, and, when called upon, is expected to selflessly do battle for his family.
Though the other lucien races are rare, they do still survive. Among the refugees from Emrikal came the Amaree, the dwellers in the mountains and wild places, who never mixed their blood with humans before they came into the city. There have only been twenty confirmed reports of living Amaree today. I had the privilege, once of speaking to an Amaree woman, who told me that life in Anserona weighs upon them greatly. They wish to remain as isolated as possible, and are rumored to have small communities hidden in the tunnels below the streets. They are vaguely similar in culture to the Emrikalen, in a primal form, untainted by millenia of conquest and rule. The surviving Amaree form a tight knit house more akin to a large family than a governing body. Pure blooded Amaree take the form of wyverns, the most sacred of the sacred animals.
The Jaheed migrated from Emrikal to Madavia long ago, and established themselves here. They farmed and fished along the coast. They have a history of conflict with the Pearl Divers. There number is within the hundreds, perhaps a thousand. Those among them with pure blood can take the form of seals.
All luciens are four to five feet tall, slender of build, with large, pointed ears and large eyes, usually yellow, golden, blue or green. Our skin tends to be a dark tan. Our hair can be any color, light or dark. We have thin, hairless tails, which reach down to the ground. It has a tuft of hair at the tip, and is flexible but not fully prehensile. It is considered polite to keep this covered, but only as much as it is also considered polite to keep one's feet covered, and not as much so as certain other parts of the body. Our fingers are talons. Each digit is encased in flexible cartilage ending in a sharpened, hard point. Despite this, we have no difficulty using our hands. Dexterity is not affected. We live for five hundred to a thousand years, with the exact length of the lifespan depending on the purity of blood. The oldest lucien lived to be one thousand, five hundred and seventy years old.
Regardless of what the skeptics and the modern thinkers may say about the supposed divine origin of the lucien people, all with more than half-lucien blood radiate a very faint amount of magic, just enough that a skilled mage might be able to detect them. Luciens are affected by whitesilver, especially when in their half-animal or full animal forms.
"You are the one holding the strings. Your race long since lost the distinction of clan, and family, and even gender, and in exchange for all that, gained mastery of themselves and the realms of the mind. The early kenaki, before they became as you are, immigrated from some mysterious land to the far east, and colonized an island to the northeast of Madavia. That is where your known history begins. You do not know why your ancestors named the place Scorrach, nor where your language came from. Perhaps, as the Jaunx and the Emrikalens are fond of claiming of themselves, you were created by some higher power, but you have little faith in their gods. The power to create is fully achievable by mortals, and you suspect that, beyond the legends and religious dogma the others cling to, that the others were simply created by earlier intelligences. You suspect the dragons. You would like very much to learn more of the dragons' power.
A thousand years ago, your people found the source of true power. Through study of draconic hieroglyphics and decades of experimentation, the kenaki manifested the power of True Will upon the physical plane. It was this talisman that the Emrikalens stole, and this power that sustains the city today. If it weren't for the efforts of your people, not even Anserona would stand. The Emrikalens owe your people a great debt, and neither they nor the kenaki have forgotten this. They rule openly. The kenaki are aligned with them. Publically, they are subservient, but their talons are entwined with Anserona's politics. Your race's leverage is their knowledge. No one else understands magic as the kenaki. No one else can maintain the great machine that houses the talisman and milks magical energy from it.
When the other races waste their time on zombies and golems, your race possesses the knowledge of creating viable races. True races, as the dragons created before. The kenaki used their influence so that their creations are legally considered such, and not constructs. The kenaki are not without compassion, though this is as much out of arrogance as kindness. Many of their created races are still enslaved by the kenaki, or their beloved and first children, the khibakrhi.
You are avian, a slender limbed, flightless, humanoid shrike. Your exact appearance varies with the changes you or your fellows have made to you. You may or may not have a physical sex. You may or may not have been born with one. Your people have the technology to recreate themselves, and many see no point in sloppier forms of reproduction. Still, your parent or parents probably sculpted your appearance, to make you unique, a work of art. To look like your creators would signify some tie to them, and your people do not want that. They have transcended that. Beyond the gift of life, and your uniqueness, and perhaps work, your creator gave you little else. Most likely, they mean nothing more to you than any other kenaki - but the kenaki look after each other, in their own fashion. Mostly, if it does not harm a kenaki to help or work with another kenaki, they will, but as soon as it's detrimental, they will go elsewhere. This is forgivable and understandable to your people, though it is a cultural imperative, not an instinctual one, and you may secretly yearn for true friendship or family.
Your feathers can be any color. Your beak is sharp and blunt, and your eyes are usually gold, though it's fashionable to produce other shades. Your feathers may be sculpted to form plumage as elaborate as an Emrikalen robe, or may be drab and utilitarian. If you were born with a gender, your feathers may still reflect this - in the ancient kenaki, bright feathers indicated the males, and brown feathers indicated the females. This was the only external difference between the two, and is now considered a mere antiquated throwback. You are seven to eight feet tall, with long legs and arms partially formed into wings. You have two fingers and a thumb on your hands. Your other two fingers are elongated and form your wing appendages. Your tail is bony, feathered, and prehensile, with a tuft at the tip.
There are not very many of you left. There doesn't need to be. With no concept of kin, it doesn't matter if you have children or not, only that you keep yourself and your legacy of work and art alive. This may or may not mean creating a child - of your own race, or some stranger, unique construct. There are perhaps two hundred kenaki alive today, most in the service of the powerful Machine or Construct Guilds. You might be a student of one of those guilds, or the personal apprentice of an independent kenaki who may or may not be your parent, and assigns that no special distinction. You might be impetuous and restless, and have drifted away from kenaki magery in search of your own fortune in the city. Many of the others treat you like something special and awe-inspiring by simple virtue of your race, affording you a high social standing regardless of your wealth.
Your race is physically weak, and even with centuries of deliberate modification, the kenaki have not quite overcome this. Until it can be entirely worked out of their stock, they focus on hiding it, allowing their creations to work for them instead of lowering themselves to common labor. What corrections the kenaki have done, however, will allow you to live for an unknown period of time. While kenaki have died since the walls went up, none have died of old age."
Jaunx are descendant of the rulers of the far south. Once, thousands of years ago, they battled the Vedrig for supremacy over the western coast of Madavia. They won, but only to be driven back when the dragons came, and driven back further when the Emrikalens conquered Anserona. They group themselves into three distinct nationalities, with tales of a lost fourth. Jaunx can easily differentiate between these groups by smell. The Vedrig can, as well, but often choose to ignore it. The other races aren't able to pick up on this. Some can eventually learn it through focused practice.
The Jaunx are bipedal felines. Their legends say that the Moon sculpted them from the most perfect of the cats, which were, themselves, the most perfect of her creatures. They believe that the other races were crafted by the Moon from less perfect creatures, and that the telekan were never crafted from anything. They, the Jaunx say, are still beasts.
They are similar to lynxes, and stand five to six feet tall, with fur of any coloration found among cats of any sort. Males have manes. They tend to keep those trimmed. Females have a fringe around their cheeks, and longer fur on top of their heads. They keep that trimmed to keep it from resembling a mane. Their tails are very short, and they tend to keep these hidden under their clothing.
They are almost entirely carnivorous. They occasionally crave roughage, but it's not considered polite in their culture to eat plants in public.
Breeding is regulated by instinct in their race, and doesn't interest them much beyond that. Female Jaunx give birth after a year-long pregnancy, and often give birth to fraternal twins. They live for about two-hundred and fifty years, with a maximum of three hundred. They reach physical maturity at thirty.
They are especially resistant to cold, having adapted to high altitudes and low temperatures. They are very comfortable in the city, which is rare, if not unique, among the races.
The three cultural groups are Keaffte, Norr and Frajerrex. Many Jaunx are of mixed heritage, as well. Keaffte are the dominant Jaunx culture, controlling much of the southeastern quarter of the city by force of personality and wealth. Norrish Jaunx are the few surviving remnants of a nomadic coastal people, and are usually found in the southeastern part of the city as well, and associate heavily with the surviving Pearl Divers. Some Norrish families joined and even intermarried with Pearl Diver families, though no children, of course, could result. Culturally, they're more like Pearl Divers than Jaunx, focusing on family and artistry in one's life. Thus, while their population is the smallest of the three, they are the fastest growing population of Jaunx.
The Frajerrex are a longtime rival of the Keaffte. Both consider themselves the true rulers of the Jaunx homeland, though since that's gone, their animosity has simmered down to futile gang warfare and aggression between guilds. Despite this, Keaffte and Frajerrex are fairly similar culturally. Their clan/pride structure lends itself well to the guild system, and to underworld organization as well. Keaffte tend to operate in legitimate guilds, and are on better terms with the Emrikalens. Frajerrex tend to align themselves with criminal organizations, and control much illegal activity within the southern half of the city.
Gythe are single minded creatures, with minds capable of grasping every complexity of mathematics and logic, but lost to the basic nuances of creativity or emotional expression. Their people once flew in flocks across the grasslands of Madavia, preyed upon by nearly sentient, and quite telepathic, giant pig-like carnivores. The Gythe came to resist these monsters by changing the way their minds work. This saved them from the monsters, but when the other races came to their homelands, many thousands of years ago, they were easily enslaved. This is oft justified by saying that the gythe could care less about this, and this may be true. They don't have much of a concept of freedom or captivity, only function. They derive pleasure from doing something well, regardless of the task. To their masters, this makes up for their seeming inability to appreciate kindness or fear of punishment.
Regardless of what is said, Gythe are provably sentient. They feel pain, and they do have emotions, albeit strange ones. Action is happiness. Boredom is sadness. Anger is the frustration of being prevented from performing a task. Humor is a situation that works out even though it didn't happen as they thought it would.
They are two feet tall, and of a rather delicate build. Their bones are hollow to facilitate flight. They resemble gargoyles - humanoid, reptilian, and winged, though they are not actually reptiles. Their skin is leathery and pebbled, like the featherless skin on a bird, and usually gray or tan. The claws on their hands and feet, their horns, and their teeth are formidable weapons, but they are not inclined to act out of rage.
They give birth to live young, unlike birds and reptiles, after a five month pregnancy. After the first two months of pregnancy, Gythe are unable to fly, and protected by the father of the child. Father Gythe leave the mother when the child is old enough to be cared for by the mother alone. They are physically mature at ten years, and can reproduce in the early teens. Many Gythe are raised by their masters, instead, and trained in some specific task, such as scribing, translating, or some other task suited to their unique capabilities.
They live for about three hundred years, and do not loose memories. They literally remember everything that occurs over the course of their life, from about one year of age onward.
Gythe are completely immune to telepathy and mind controlling or altering magic, whether harmful or no. They are also extremely resistant, but not totally immune, to other types of magic. Their language, very developed in communicating complex concepts of logic, probability or abstract mathematics, is nameless, but called Gythetic by the other races, and used in its written and spoken form by some as a form of scientific notation.
Vedrig originate from the deep southern forests of Emrikal. At some point in the far past, they also established populations in Madavia. It is unknown how long the race has been on either continent, for there are recorded accounts of the Vedrig in the earliest documents of recorded history.
Vedrig are, on average, six to seven feet tall. They are covered with fur, and are largely canine in appearance, though they are capable of a greater range of facial expression and, of course, intelligence. They have dog-like tails, and have pads on their fingers and feet. These do not limit their dexterity, but they must trim their claws to keep them out of the way. Vedrig are, racially, stronger and faster than the average lucien or human, possessing an uncanny agility and legendary endurance. Most live for one hundred and fifty years, and can live, at most, to about two hundred.
Behaviorally, they retain many canine traits. The concept of family and rank is instinctively important to them.
Vedrig from the continent Emrikal hail from the eastern coastal region, with populations bordering Abion and the Gennek mountains. There are two main groups of Abioni Vedrig: Tashari and Ralshari. Tashari resemble wolves and Ralshari resemble wolfhounds.
They prefer Emrikalen culture to the ways of the Medrelan Vedrig. Emrikalen house hierarchy is based on birth rank, a concept they don't resonate with, but the concept of the senate appeals to their practice of leadership based on merit.
Leadership in any particular situation depends on who is best at dealing with that situation, or, at least, whoever can convince the rest that they are. Judging worthiness in any particular situation is a practiced skill among Abioni. To an outside observer, they seem to quarrel almost constantly, but this is not actually what's going on. They are at ease among their own kind, who understand why this goes on.
Medrelen Vedrig have three sub-races: Koshan, Sailakan, and Vedkan. Note that in this case, the 'an' suffix is from their own language, and marks no lack of status in Emrikalen society.
Koshan resemble course-furred hounds, stocky, with less for on the muzzle, chin and cheeks as Ralshari. Sailakan have smooth, short fur. Vedkan have long, soft fur, and especially thick manes, though all Vedrig sport some form of hair-like mane.
Medrelen hierarchy is determined by strength of will, action and mind, with the added limitation that those already in power take pains to keep others from challenging them. This is most pronounced in the gender conflict - there is no size or strength difference between male and female Vedrig, but males are instinctively more aggressive and more likely to assert themselves as dominant. Early Medrelen culture was male dominated, and increasingly so, until, some time ago, the women demanded equality and finally turned the tables. In order to maintain equality between the sexes, they believe, they must control their more aggressive counterparts. A Medrelen man, regardless of actual aggressiveness and ambition, is expected to defer to females. They are not permitted to make eye contact with a woman, and are pressured to wear a hood that hides their eyes, and jewelery which prevents them from bearing their teeth.
Males may hold any position of power they are qualified for, but their equally skilled female counterparts will most likely be given preference, because men are culturally discouraged from proving their aptitude. Abioni men and Medrelen women do not often get along, especially since many Medrelen men have taken to Abioni ways and clothing, which traditional Medrelens consider shameful.
Medrelen was the name of the old Madavian Vedrig empire. At its height, it covered most of the northern coast, and reached as far south as Davien lands. The Medrelen Vedrig in the city, now, used to rule the area that is now the northern third of Anserona. A decade before the walls went up, this area was forceably annexed by the Emrikalens, and the Medrelen Vedrig lost all political control of their home. Vedrig still make up the bulk of the population in the northern part of the city, and form a number of guilds closely watched by the Emrikalens for signs of subversion.
Abioni culture contains the earliest recorded mentions of the god Ginjan, and all Vedrig are strongly aligned to this god. They are quick to act, and often considered rash and impulsive. Traditional Abioni consider the other gods to be aspects of Change in Motion. Traditional Medrelen consider other gods delusions. The vast majority of Vedrig are elementally aligned toward Ginjan, but this is not always the case.
The oldest group among the Daviens are the Hadra, the wanderers, who, up until the walls of the city were constructed, went freely in their caravans around the continent of Madavia. As they traveled, occasionally, a family or a troup would constrict their territory or settle down in an area, spreading their race throughout the land. All trace themselves to the Hadra, no matter what they call themselves, no matter where on Madavia they are from.
The Hadra, themselves, remain, as much as a wandering people can be said to remain if they can no longer wander. They live with the other Davians. They teach their children the ways of the oldest mysticism, and teach them the old language. Hadran is a very old language, indeed, predating the arrival of the Emrikalens by thousands of years. It has changed much over the millenia, but the core remains.
Each letter in the Hadran language has deep symbolic meaning. Every word in their language is a meditation on the meanings of those letters. Their songs are prayers and spells. Do not ever trust a whispering Hadran.
To name a child, the Hadrans, and many other groups of Daviens, will roll letter cubes to determine the letters. Thus, their names might not have a meaning within the language, as it were, but a meaning all their own, determined by which symbols the dice reveal. A further discussion of the Davien alphabet would warrant an article of its own. However, some examples must be given.
They make no distinction in names between masculine and feminine (culturally, the sexes are entirely equal save in that their men, of course, cannot birth children) However, certain suffixes indicate birth rank.
ha - first child
na - second child
ga - third child
gha - fourth child
mha - fifth child
meh - last child (when a parent dies, the youngest surviving child takes on this suffix to honor the dissolution of the life-bond between his or her parents. Having this suffix in one's name is considered a great honor to the dead, and a boon to the one who possesses it.)
I have met Daviens with the names Anha, Ragmegha, Merihna, Ganehha, and so forth.
They have remained slightly more independent of Emrikalen cultural influence than the Bardasti. Many Daviens are proud of their lineage, and wear clothing influenced just as much by their traditional dress as the common clothing of the city. Many groups are fond of both piercings and tattoos, which has, in the past few years, begun to catch on in certain parts of the city. The most common piercing for a Davian to possess, male or female, is the spot right below the lip.
The Daviens, as a whole culture, put much stock in the magic of chance. They believe that nothing happens without a reason, and that creating ways for messages to appear is sacred. They work with dice and cards, and are often aligned with Ginjan and Lun.
Bardasti humans, as stated, come from the Bardast region of Emrikal. Many Bardasti will claim that Emrikal was a region of Bardast. This is because of many centuries of land disputes and warfare. At various points in history, the borders of Bardast and Emrikal fluctuated, so that one or the other controlled most of the northern continent. At the time of the exodus to the south, Emrikal held almost all of the old territory of Bardast.
Bardasti are patriarchal, with the lineage following the father. The father is the head of the household, and the oldest man is considered the head elder of a particular family group. Age is generally respected in both sexes as a mark of wisdom and endurance, for the Bardasti' lifestyle was not always as easy as it was by the time of the exodus. They are a warrior people, used to the cold climates of northern Emrikal. They only adapted well to life in Anserona because they had lived for two hundred years prior to the exodus in permanent cities along the southern border of their territory, doing trade and interacting with more civilized races. They are also physically well-suited to the cold, able to fare better here than some.
They had domesticated the reindeer, an animal which I have never seen, and which was unsuitable to life here. It is extinct, but its impact on the culture remains. They had followed their herds around their territory, tending to their beasts and drawing sustenance from them. Their names, translated from the old language of their people, reflect their way of life. Traditionally, their children are given a personal name, and also take the name of their clan, indicated by the 'de', translated as 'child of'. 'Da' indicates 'son of', and is a mark of relation to the head of a particular clan. There is no special indicator for female nobility.
Iana - weaver
Asa - fawn
Keeasa - little fawn
Kye - hare
Elsbata - white fox
Asander - father stag
Atven - fox hunter
Kyrund - archer
Waylund - shepherd
Clan Names: There are hundreds of surviving clan names. Bardasti trace their lineage to many more which are, themselves, lost.
Abioni: The Abioni are a branch of Bardasti humans inhabiting the southwestern region of Emrikal, comprising the furthest human settlement on that continent. They had interacted far more with Emrikalen culture, and the influence is strong throughout their more recent history. They had lived here in the centuries before the Great War, farming and hunting, and began to develop more complex cities in the first years of Emrikalen rule after the War itself. They were long distant from the northern Bardasti, and the cultural distinction still remains. Abioni are less tied to their elders and to the patriarchal structure of their ancestors. They do, however, continue to honor their dead ancestors, who they consider to remain with the family after their death.
The Abioni, for the most part, adopted Emrikalen costume and ways of life. Now, in the city, both groups of Bardasti have adapted to the fashion and general Emrikalen culture. Many who survived possess some degree of Emrikalen blood.
As a break from my last article - a necessary break, since at this point, a description of the city would require a description of the races who inhabit it, and create its religious orders and factions.
Many races survive within the city. The most common are humans. There are two main groups of humans, considered by many outside of the human population to be two seperate, though closely related species. As the humans consider themselves to be one species, and are able to freely interbreed, they are, here considered thus. Humans are, firstly, short lived, though not as much so as a few of the others. They live, on average, for sixty years, and are able to live to be at most one hundred and twenty. They have four fingers and a thumb on each hand, and lack any sort of actual claws, having small nails instead. They reproduce normally, usually giving birth to one child, at most three (and that is very rare), after a nine month pregnancy.
Bardasti are humans from the Emrikalen homeland. They are taller than luciens, usually, the tallest I've seen being six and a half feet tall, most falling somewhere between five and a half and six feet. Their skin is light, occasionally freckled, with light hair ranging through pale browns, blond, and occasionally red.
Davien are humans from Madavia, the region that once included Anserona. They have skin darker than Emrikalen lucien, with thick red, brown or black hair. They are, on average, the same height as luciens, around five to five and a half feet.
Davien and mixed humans are more accepted than pure Bardasti. This stems from old conflicts between the Bardasti and the Emrikalens, stretching into the centuries before the Great War. Still, the conflicts are old, and all that remains is the prejudice itself.
The populations of Bardasti, Davien, and mixed-herritage humans are roughly balanced within the human population. Humans can breed and produce fertile children with luciens, and mixed human-luciens do form a significan number among the population, as well. Many Bardasti, whether known and acknowledged or not, have lucien blood. There are a few who claim to be of different groups, and occasionally, sport a different appearance to back up that claim. It is hard to determine such things in so small a population, and with how short the humans' lifespans are.
A "mage" is any individual who works magic. One does not have to be a mage to use magic. Magical items can be used by anyone, though more complex items require some knowledge of how to activate the effect. The difference is in creation. Many people know how to read, and some people do not, but not as many people know how to write a book.
A mage can sense magic, whether in the form of a spirit within the Wandering Circle, or inside a magical item, construct, or possessed individual. This perception of magic is likened both smell and touch, falling somewhere in between. A mage aligned with a particular element or plane can furthermore detect the specific presence of her elemental energy, and the element in opposition (The presence of Tidem magic is irritating to Ginjan mages, etc.) A mage of any alignment who trains this ability may differentiate between all different magical currents.
There are two broad types of mages: those who operate as members of a religious organization, and those who do not. The distinction is arbitrary. Both groups are capable of working magic as well as the other. It all depends on talent, practice, and dedication. Faith is a focus which is helpful to many people, and the old methods have stayed with us because they work.
There are four churches working in tandem, officially dedicated to the four elemental gods. The Churches of Ginjan, Duro, Tidem and Lun are the largest religious organizations, with the most members, and the most available resources.
A mage of the church of Ginjan is referred to as a "blue" mage, Duro mages "red" mages, Tidem mages "gold" mages, and Lun mages "silver" or "white" mages.
The bulk of church members are not themselves mages, though all priests of the churches are. Within each church are several orders filling out different functions or philosophies. Notable among them are the governmental operative orders within each church. These orders, officially knighthoods of the Empress, act as liaisons between the churches and the state, and act out important missions as best suited mages of a particular order for the government. These orders are the Sword of Ginjan, the Axe of Duro, the Crown of Tidem, and the Mirror of Lun. I am a member of the Sword of Ginjan, which is largely dedicated to research projects under the banner of house Everal.
Other religious orders are numerous, together adding up to a significant number of members throughout the city to rival the membership of the official churches, but none individually as large. Many of the non-lucien races have their churches, some with their own gods, and own styles of working magic. These will be dealt with individually, later, along with more detailed, individual articles on the four official churches themselves.
Secular mages come in just as many types, some drawing from the teachings of the various churches, having stripped away all but the practical application, some employing the godless techniques of the kenaki. Secular mages may or may not have an elemental alignment. They will also be dealt with in individual detail.
Different types of mages will work magic differently, in accordance with their training. There are many effects which can be achieved with magic, ranging from healing the sick to building artificial matter, to traveling planes, to automating a vehicle. Magic is like a material, a piece of metal. What is done with it depends entirely on whether one is trained as a jeweler, a roofer, an engineer or a sword smith.