Once the war broke out and the world began to fall to ruin, it was left up to the Immortals to bring back what was nearly extinct. This included the human lives that perished in the fires of apocalypse. Among those resurrecting humans was Audrae, the Immortal of Deception, Secrecy, Shadows, and Fear. Like her mother, wickedness thrived within her veins, so much that no one truly knew how deep the darkness within her heart reached.
Before the war began, Audrae had secured a section of humans that dwelled within the southern regions of Idalos. They did not know of her nor her plans for them, though she watched and visited their thriving village frequently. When the world fell apart, the men of the village were sent out to gather anything they could to help the village survive, even the boys were taken on the great hunt to save their home and families from withering away. It was too much for these people and as the lands broke open to molten rock and fire, many were swallowed up by the caverns.
Many of the women in the village perished and the few who survived did so until Audrae’s return, though faded away quickly afterwards. Drawing upon the darkness of the world, of her heart, and of the ether laced within her being, the great Immortal resurrected the human women, the ones who were fortunate enough to die atop land rather than beneath it.
However, these humans didn’t return in the flesh. They were morphed in shadows, sinister creatures that fed on the life of those around them. At night, pure darkness allowed them to move throughout the lands unobstructed by any and all obstacles.
They murdered and they fed.
They sought revenge in the darkness of night, where the shadows were their world to manipulate and maneuver. Audrae was pleased by her creations, exacting a certain level of control over her shadow beings that plague Idalos with nightly terror. However, Treid, an Immortal of moral value, saw through Audrae’s secret creations and spawned within the world three moons that would snuff out the darkness for all but a night. A night that would not arrive but once every 10 Arcs.
The light of the moons in the sky smothered the creatures till they could no longer move at night and could not exist during the day. They were trapped.
Angered at Treid for his annoying intervention in her plans, Audrae compelled upon the soil of the village a blessing that would humanize her shadow creatures, though just barely. Her ether woven into every plant, animal, and ripple of water, Audrae gave to her human puppets symbols of the ancient language they could use to disguise their true form with enchanting beauty like no other.
The shadow creatures populated the village, tattooing and painting the symbols upon every part of their bodies, enchanted with bewildering beauty like no other. The ether in the soil, in the ink used to tattoo the symbols and the symbols themselves allowed the shadows to exist during the day and within the light of the moon.
A Naer’s truest form is a shadow that is only ever seen in complete darkness. They may choose to crawl from the illusions the ether provides into their shadow forms, but this is only possible with the absence of light.
The shadow forms, if seen, appear blank of features except eyes that refract light and nails that are menacingly sharp. They are long and curved while their arms appear wispy, unnaturally long, and thin. Their shadow forms can appear as anything they want really, from horrific to comfortably human, but they’re still shadows. When light eventually hits them, the illusions held up by the ether in the tattoos they are marked with take hold and the Naer appears just as any other human. Due to what they are, the Naer have no problem seeing in the dark, whether in their shadow form or illusion form.
If a Naer is caught by light (with damages tattoos or no tattoos) in their shadow form, they will begin to dissipate, fading and dissolving slowly into the light around them till they eventually become nothing. At this point, they vanish from existence and die with the only thing left behind being their blackened bones.
Those that live within Augiery do not need the tattoo to conceal themselves with illusion since the city is spelled with it. However, if one wishes to venture beyond Augiery, they must tattoo themselves with symbols from the Ancient Language.The tattoo each Naer gets to conceal their true form is started by bathing them in a mix of minerals found within Augiery- minerals that have been soaked with Ether to prevent shifting. Once they are covered, usually in mud, this outlines the ‘form’ of the Naer. That artist may then begin tattooing the symbols on the flesh. Multiple tattoos are needed to make the Naer’s illusion appear more ‘beautiful’ to the eye, this means multiple sessions of tattooing.
The psychology of the Naerikk mirror the Aukari in a sense, but are more primitive than militaristic. The Naer focus on survival as it’s been ingrained in the very blood since the days of old. They have a fierce sense of independency, loyalty and dedication to their kin, and an aura and attitude of superiority, whether they blatantly show it or not. From an early age, the Naer are brought up to fight their own battles and fend for themselves. They are taught to adapt to their situations, to think quickly, and to strive to be the last one standing or last woman alive. By the time these children reach adulthood, they are hardened and battle ready. Aggression becomes a common trait and a tool used to intimidate predators and people to their claim of things.
The mind of the shadow creature also dictates their behavior. Mischief runs in their blood and any disrespect, betrayal, or otherwise unfavorable act against a Naer will spark revenge. The Naer will never let their targets go so easily, should they choose to take up revenge on someone.
Perception of the World
The world is viewed as a land to conquer. Though they are not bound to Augiery, the Naerikk seek to expand their city, their lands, and their population. They seem themselves as the contained nightmare, having already claimed the shadows of the world. Now they wish to claim the light of it as well as the darkness.
Treidhart is a place most Naerikk snicker at due to their Great Immortal and her dark ways. The day of Treid’s incapacitation is widely celebrated and nearly all Ellune are looked upon as pitiful and pathetic. Even the Eidisi warrant negativity from the Naerikk for their connection to the Ice Immortal and his peaceful giants.
The sourthern lands are the Naerikks’ domain and any who attempt to settle upon them are treated as threats. Many attacks have been made on Desnind, though Moseke and her giant wall of trees have caused all of them to fail.
Most people tell of the Naerikk as nightmarish fiends, at least as they were when they were shadow creatures living only by night. Horror stories mostly involve the Naer and their twisted appearances, ending in gore and grief that effectively keeps children in their beds at night. As for another looking into the life of a Naer, it is a very rough, odd experience, especially dealing with the culture if one isn’t use to it.
What may seem rude, abrasive, and a bit on the abusive side is common within the Naer culture. Their families press upon instinct and survival which most races don’t wholeheartedly focus around. Thus, most outsiders will see a Naer as uncivilized, arrogant, backstabbing, and dysfunctional. However, these adjectives are used only when someone does not understand a Naer’s reasoning for an action taken. Outsider’s often misunderstand the Naerikk, however, they do not attempt to correct the unfavorable view society presses about their culture, nor do they help it by the many fist fights the Naer take up with outsiders.
Currently, the Naerikk inhabit Augiery, a city that is not widely known throughout the world but is densely populated with a number of races gearing up for war.
Clothing and Grooming
Contrary to popular belief, the Naerikk are not savage, uncivilized beasts that occupy the forests with the Sev’ryn freefolk. They are well groomed with unblemished skin, dark hair, and vivid colored eyes that range from different shades of purple, blue, or yellow. They take great pride in their appearance because it is often used as the most effective tool of deception. Their hair color ranges as well, from deep shades of purple, blue, sea green, pink, blonde, and black to screaming shades of white and silver. To say their style is colorful is an understatement, given that the illusion covering their true forms is made to present each Naer with eye catching beauty, regardless of whether it’s subtle or not. Most Naer hair is extremely soft and surprisingly durable. Due to this, some of the women use their hair to weave personal trinkets like bracelets or fashion their own hair into items or instruments. There are many uses they can find from it, which is why most tend to keep their locks long. It should also be noted that the Naerikk do not age past twenty five arcs. This is due to their appearance being made up completely by illusions.
The tattoos a Naerikk wears are symbols of the Ancient Language cut into their skin by ether soaked ink made within Augiery. The Naerikk don’t know of the language itself, but each tattoo is personalized to the Naer.
Naerikk women also try to keep their nails long and pointed. This tendency relates to their shadow form and is also an excellent tool for survival as there are special hardening salves the Naer coat their nails with to prevent them from bending and breaking.
Clothing is made up of an inner layer of tight leather, with suitably places straps to holster an assortment of daggers, poisonous vials and other weaponry. Over this, a Naer will typically drape herself with colorful dresses, cloaks, scarves and the like, made of silks and other opulent fabrics. During battle, the finery is discarded for the sake of practicality.
Queen of Shadows
Audrae is the preferred if not only worshiped Immortal of the Naerrik. She is their mother and creator, ruling even if another, more mortal, being sits on the throne of Augiery. Should Audrae venture home, the seat is always offered to her as is anything she needs or wishes. Faithful Naer do not tolerate any insult or disrespect to their Immortal. Their loyalty spawns fights over the simplest of insults and wars have been fought due to laws preventing her worship in certain areas of the southern region. Should anyone wish to anger a Naer, nothing is more quick to do so than insulting Audrae.
Naer are able to worship other Immortal beings, however, they must do so in secrecy for it is a sign of faithlessness should one take of the favor of another’s power. Those who are found to be worshiping other Immortals are often assaulted and kidnapped. They then have their skin peeled off, thus removing the illusion, and are often tossed into places of bright light.
Gift of Shadows
Each Naer possesses an ability they are allowed to call upon no more than three times per season. This ability is their "gift of shadows" so to speak, as the gift encompasses any the Naer chooses in their own shadow essence. The Naer's shadow form is projected from them for an instance of time and cast upon an individual or several to incapacitate them for a quick escape. The gift of shadows is only effective as an escape ability as the closer the Naer gets to the targeted person or people, the faster their shadow essence will return to them. The Naerikk are not able to use this ability as a means of ending a life due to the fact that they cannot get close enough to their prey without their shadow returning to them, thus giving up their location. Long ranged weapons are also not effective. The Naer may use this ability within several feet of their targeted person or people, however, if they want the ability to last several bits, it is highly recommended they run away as fast as they can. Otherwise, it will take mere seconds for their shadow essence to pull back to them. The longer they run, the longer it remains until the Naer cannot bear it any longer.
The "Gift of Shadows" may remain for as long as the Naer can bear it. Keep in mind that it is their own shadow essence they use to envelop their target(s). The longer they are away from it, the weaker they get until they pass out. This may take thirty minutes at most, if it is one individual, or a few minutes, if it is a large crowd. When a Naer awakens from using this ability, they are extremely weak for several days thereafter with an overwhelming need for seclusion.
As for what the "Gift of Shadows" does exactly, it envelops the Naer's target(s) in shadow that removes all sense from them: Sight, Smell, Taste, Scent, Touch, and 6th sense communication. Unending darkness is the only company they know, something that could quite easily leave their minds fractured. Only true legends of meditations, champions of Immortals, and mages that have completed a revelation may hope to break through this ability.
Reproduction, Aging, and Death
The Naerikk live beside several races within Augiery, though these races are looked at as less than second class and just above slavery. They are an all female race due to the circumstances of their revival from death all those arcs ago. A Naer may seek a father from any race and may even produce sons, however, if a daughter is produced, regardless of the race of the father, the shadow genes dominate anything else and spawns a Naerikk. If a son is produced from a Naerikk, they are considered a human, if the father is a human, or a human mix, if the father is of other race.
A pregnant Naer will always be restricted from traveling outside of Augiery’s soil. Any Naer that becomes pregnant is suggested to return to Augiery for the birth and raising of their child. If they are unable to do so, special circumstances must be made to send ether soaked minerals to the mother as well as a Naer to tattoo the illusion designs onto the newborn's flesh. Oftentimes, this is horrid for the child, as they must touch up their ink as they get older and quite possibly have the tattoo peeled off their flesh later on in life, so that a new one may be placed with a stronger, more appropriate illusion.
Tattooing a newborn has extreme risks, including death of the child. It also warrants unwanted curiosity from the surrounding world and does not maintain well on growing skin and bone.
Naerikk live much longer than humans due to their genetics. After they reach the age of absolute maturity, which is roughly 80 or 90 Arcs, their illusions begin to mesh with their true shadow forms and a constant, misty aura of shadow radiates off their skin. This shadow lightens to an almost grayish color until the Naer reaches their final arcs. When they die, their illusion disintegrates as does their shadow and all that's left are blackened bones.
Language, Script, and Names
Grovokian is the common language spoken between Naer in Augiery. Another common form of language used between Naerikk is Euthic Sign. Subtle facial expressions and hand positions mean the most among Naerikk. The words spoken in a conversation between Naer cannot be taken as fact, because the words coming out of their mouths and the meaning explained in their gestures can be completely different. Naerikk are masters of saying one thing and meaning another. When speaking with outsiders, their methods of communication remain the same, but the disdain for non-Naer is evident in their formal manner of speaking. In addition, Naerikk talking with outsiders will often use "we" or "us" pronouns instead of "I" or "me" as a means of elevating themselves above outsiders.
First names tend to be three syllables long and hover around six letters. Vowel pairs like ia and consonant pairs such as nl are frequently used in names, and the letters s and a are common. Some examples include Asani, Namira, Glykare, and Ioelle.