Solis Umbra: Wildfire
“I will never forget the day I witnessed an Ashen aroused to great anger, and it is an experience I hope to never again endure. They had seen one injustice too many, and could no longer contain their rage. So intense was the heat they radiated that I feared my skin itself would burst into flame, yet I did not scar. When the sun had risen that morning, a dozen buildings stood in the town square; by sunset, there was naught but ash. Ash and pain.”
– Architect Ferrethan, “Pilgrimage”
A fiercely passionate and independent people, the Ashen are living agents of change in Vulcanica. Driven by a loathing of stagnation, the Ashen eschew tradition and custom in favor of innovation and revolution—though peaceful, if possible. Their culture is, at least to the outside viewer, a tangled mashup of shifting allegiances, philosophies, and opinions that never holds its shape for long. And though anyone not well-acquainted with them or their ways would likely consider them unnecessarily chaotic, those who know the Ashen would tell you that there’s no better friend in a time of crisis.
Ashen typically stand around 6 to 7 feet in height, and often weigh in between 140 and 250 pounds, with the females usually being taller and possessing more mass than the males. Their skin is coarse to the touch, and often has a pale gray or white coloration—though some will occasionally be charcoal black—giving them the appearance of being coated in a thin layer of ash. Their hair color varies wildly, with red, orange, yellow, white, blue, black, and brown all being common, though it is almost always very thick and wavy. Though some males are capable of growing facial hair, this is uncommon, and most prefer the clean-shaven look. Most unique among their features, however, is that their faces, body structures, and even genders are constantly in a state of flux, making facial recognition something of a futile endeavor.
Ashen have extremely short lifespans, with 20 year-olds considered to be wise elders, and 30 year-olds seen as ancient; the average Ashen will die of old age around 17 or 18. However, they mature very quickly, and are usually completely capable of taking care of themselves within a few hours of hatching; by the time they first find another Ashen, they’re seen as adults.
Ashen do not reproduce sexually, though sex is known to assist in the process. When an Ashen is ready (usually around the first anniversary of their hatching), they will lay an egg, typically in a secluded area of wilderness. This egg, about the size of a closed fist, usually looks like a burnt rock, and, therefore, is usually ignored as such. Ashen will lay several of these eggs over the course of their life, and can effectively do it at will (it takes about 3 months for them to produce a new one—or 1 month if they are regularly mating with another Ashen—and can carry it as long as they wish until laying it). Then, anywhere from a couple of hours to several years after the Ashen dies, a new Ashen will emerge from one of these eggs, while the others will crumble to dust.
The process of re-hatching is tremendously painful for the Ashen, as the egg is consumed in a blaze hot enough to ignite pretty much everything near it. This process always inflicts painful burn scars, which the Ashen use as a way of identifying each other (as attempting to recognize faces is futile). Culturally, this is a very sacred rite for the Ashen, as though they believe change is both necessary and good, they also recognize that it is often very painful, and they must be careful to minimize the change they instigate to only affecting those people and places who will truly benefit from it.
The Ashen live to root out stagnation and rot (both physical and philosophical) wherever it lives and, in the least harmful way possible, destroy it. Once the way has been cleared, they take great joy in helping something new take its place, and seem to have a supernatural sense for not only finding those who have suffered, but for also helping them get what they need to build a new life for themselves. Ashen are deeply generous at heart, and, although many fear their destructive ways, they are truly committed to making the world a safer and happier place, little by little.
Because of the way their minds regard concepts like change and impermanence, the Ashen struggle greatly at maintaining any kind of historical records beyond fireside storytelling. They perceive time and its events as an ever-changing tangle of unpredictable discord, and, accordingly, struggle at approaching record-keeping with anything shy of disdain, often considering it a complete waste of time. As such, the only real history of the Ashen people exists in the eyes and collective memories of other people.
The Ashen language is incredibly complex and forever in a state of rapid evolution. Because of the speed at which its users adopt changes, their language fragments into dialects almost immediately, where they evolve at such a rapid pace that they effectively become their own language. Within a generation, two Ashen that previously spoke the same dialect can find their regional variants incompatible. It is for this reason that, when dealing with those outside their clan, most Ashen find it far simpler to just learn and use the languages of the locals.
As Delia’s agents of change in the mortal world, the Ashen have been empowered with a shard of her power, in the form of a magic called Cinder. Like her, Cinder is always in a state of flux, and the most powerful practitioners of it are those who have learned to fully embrace the reality that no matter how hard they fight it, change will happen.
You should play an Ashen character if…
… you like being driven and compassionate.
… you enjoy playing characters who act on impulse, and don’t waste time.
… you want a personal story that focuses on rebirth, rebellion, and small acts of kindness in an uncaring world.
… you are drawn to the concepts of change, generosity, and forgiveness.
If all the above appeals to you, head over to the Ashen Characters page to get started!