The Elemental Supernaturals (or Deva, as they call themselves) are most closely tied to witches. In fact, there is a theory among Witch and Ortho anthropologists that Deva/Ortho interbreeding produced some of the first witches. The Deva themselves have not confirmed or denied this theory.
Deva are out and accepted in society, though individuals often choose to keep their supernatural status to themselves. Most Witches and Orthos have had limited interaction with the Deva, as most live in secluded enclaves in the People’s Confederation. The Deva have long been allied with the People, though their agreements and enclaves are considered state secrets. Details are known only to Council members. Individuals and families sometimes live freely among regular people (both in America and in the Confederation), though again, they tend to keep their supernatural status quiet.
Deva correspond to the elements, same as Elemental witches. There are Earth Deva (dryads and weres); Air Deva (sirens and peri); Fire Deva (djinn and sila); and Water Deva (naiads and nereids). Deva are connected to their element, can feel and manipulate it to some extent; these are called meta-skills. The extent of elemental manipulation depends on the individual. All Deva, witches and other, are stronger in their home areas. Deva can interbreed with Deva not of their Element, though this rarely happens. If children are produced, they can possess witchery or the meta-skills of the dominant element. However, the child of a cross-elemental pairing will always be sterile.
Deva can also be witches. However, possessing the talent of witchery minimizes their supernatural abilities, most often the active meta-skills, though it also lessens some of the restrictions of regular Deva; it’s a power trade-off. Deva witches do have access to some of the passive meta-skills, though not always at the level of their ortho-Deva counterparts. Deva witches do have familiars, and Deva witches are almost always Elementals, of the element corresponding to their supernatural nature (i.e., a dryad or were witch will be Earth). Deva witches are known to be weak in the meta-skills, relying instead on their witchery to control their element whereas a non-witch Deva would exercise control via their metas.
Earth Deva – dryads & weres (ailur)
Weres are all are feline. They call themselves ailur (singular ailuran); the terms “were”, “werecat”, “shapeshifter”, etc. are considered vulgar by the clans, though the terms are still in common use among human witches and orthos. Ailur are out in society, but rare and secretive. They tend to keep to their pride lands in the Confederacy, preferring densely wooded or mountainous areas. Few ailur live in America, among humans.
Ailur are born, not created. They are, unfortunately, on the verge of becoming extinct due to a low birth rate and an unstable genetic line caused by inbreeding. Ailur can interbreed with humans, both ortho and witches, which makes the offspring more fertile, but the therianthropy gene is recessive. A mixed-race ailur will more often than not be a witch, though they will carry both therianthropy and witchery genes. However, the offspring of a mixed ailur will have the same chances of possessing the ability to shapechange as the offspring of two pure ailur, whether both parents are mixed or just one.
Ailur shapechanging is not tied to the moon, nor to any other external factors. However, an ailuran must spend prescribed periods of time in their alternate form. The amount of time an ailuran can go between shifts depends on the individual’s strength; some ailur must shift once or twice a week, some can wait as long as a month before needing to shift. The amount of time that must elapse before an ailuran can resume its human form also varies from individual to individual. An ailuran witch does not possess the ability to shift shape.
Ailur society is a pride structure, wary of outsiders. Each clan is an extended family; several clans will affiliate to become a pride. Each pride looks to a Matriarch and Patriarch (one is a witch, one a shifter) and a Council of Elders, evenly split between witches and shifters. The number of Elders depends on the size of the pride. The entire ailur society is governed by the High Matriarch and High Patriarch, and their council of High Elders, chosen from among the pride matriarchs, patriarchs, and elders. High Matriarchs and High Patriarchs each serve one ten-year term. The High Matriarch and High Patriarch may not be from the same pride. Convocations are held every ten years for the purposes of electing the High Matriarch and High Patriarch and their Council, and to study, validate, debate the genetic records and plan for the future of the species. Marriages are arranged for genetics and politics, and in order to strengthen the gene pool. All clans keep precise and thorough genetic and marriage/offspring records. Keeping, storage, and preservation of these records is one of the primary responsibilities of the Matriarch and Patriarch and their council.
Ailur active meta-skills consist mostly of shapechanging and the ability to tell another’s home earth. The passive meta-skills consist of heightened hearing and smell, along with enhanced speed, endurance, and flexibility. They have no discernable physical differences from humans, so are able to blend into society, though they do tend to be aloof, much like the cats that are their alternate forms. They do not need to form a temporary bind to a place, but they do need space to change and roam, so will usually avoid large cities.
Dryads are also Earth Deva. Unlike the ailur, who are free-roaming, dryads are bound the earth and plant life, usually the larger varieties, in much the same way that naiads and nereids are bound to their home water. They can blend with human society, as they have few physical differences; what differences there are are miniscule – dryad hair and eyes come in many shades reflecting the plant life to which they are bound and which are not the norm for humans, ortho or witch. Dryads can also interbreed with humans and witches, with the offspring most often being a witch.
Dryads tend to be more loosely governed than the ailur. Dryad social structure is the grove. Dryad groves are smaller than ailur prides, usually consisting of only two to three extended families. A grove is headed by a Matriarch chosen by popular vote; she may be witch or ortho-dryad. Each family unit in a grove provides two members to the Matriarch’s Council; both male, one a witch, one an ortho-dryad. The witch tends to be from the older generation, the ortho-dryad advisor from the younger generations, but not always.
While groves are largely self-governing, dryads do have a loose form of overall governance. Every twenty years, dryads gather for a Caucus, to elect a Grand Matriach, a Vizer, and a Council. Elections are held by popular vote. The Grand Matriarch and Vizer are both female, one witch, one ortho-dryad, while the 20-member council is all male, evenly split between witch and ortho-dryad. All offices are chosen by popular election, and any dryad in attendance at the caucus has a vote. Grand Matriarchs and Vizers serve only one term.
Many groves live in Confederacy lands, but dryads also live in human society. Any large area that also hosts a substantial amount of plant life can home a grove of dryads, though they prefer forests. Dryads travel, much like naiads, and will temporarily bind to an area if they choose to stay somewhere for a while, though most dryads will eventually return to their home earth. Dryads are centered on their bonds with their groves, their home soil and chosen plant life.
Temporary binds are created using home earth and plants native to that home earth and the dryad’s individual bond. Keeping the home earth and plant life in pots is not enough for a temporary bind. The home earth and plants must be mixed with the earth of the temporary home. Therefore, roaming dryads will keep tiny gardens, usually in a raised bed to keep their bind enclosed and secure. Even if temporarily bound to a site, a dryad must return to their home ground periodically or they will suffer the Withering, much like the Water Deva.
Rooting a new grove is a different process than a bind; the dryads must petition the Grand Matriarch and Vizer for permission, and have proof that the site can support a grove – acreage, water supply, ecosystem studies, etc. Rooting has to be accomplished through a combination of ortho-dryad meta-skills and witchery. If permission is to root is granted, the new grove must appear at the next Caucus to be prove that the grove has rooted successfully and to be ratified.
Most dryads roam in order to attend college to obtain degrees in such fields as ecology, environmental conservation and agriculture, both for their own groves and to help out newly-rooted groves.
Dryad passive meta-skills include the capacity to sense another’s home earth, and chosen flora-bond, along with great strength and endurance, and some immunity from cold and heat. They can feel blight and disease, and dryad witches are always looking for new workings to combat these things. Dryad active meta-skills include causing seeds to root and grafts to take, and speed up or slow down the growth cycles of plants, though they don’t like to mess with the natural order unless they are rooting a new grove. Dryad active metas also include the capability to move, shape, and alter the composition of soil and stone. Dryad witches lack the active meta-skill to alter the life cycles of plants or to move, alter, or shape soil and stone. They accomplish these things with workings. However, a dryad witch doesn’t have to establish a garden to create a temporary bind; they can get by with a bit of soil and a plant slip in a small pot, and they do not have to return to their home earth as often as an ortho-dryad. Witch dryads are stronger and more durable than witches and Orthos, though not always as strong as their ortho-dryad counterparts.
~~to be continued
James says: I am loving this! You might not realize it, but we — the Perfect Coven authors — are exploring this world as much as our readers are/will. One of us creates something and the others add to it, the originator adds more, we all change things around to make them fit into the rest of the world — and suddenly we have something that bears almost no resemblance to the original idea. And we have a new aspect of the world for us all to explore. The Deva are one excellent example of that. We have all contributed so much to the ideas behind what Sid is posting that it is no longer possible to recall or determine who came up with what. And it doesn’t matter. Because the work of the three of us is creating a rich world in which our stories are coming to life. For more of the Deva, look for Book 2 — Cursebreaker’s Dance and Book 6 — Cat’s Cradle, as well as others yet to be announced.
Mickie says: Whew – lots of information. I hope we’re luring people in with our very diverse world. The Deva are going to be an active part of future stories and I’m looking forward to writing them.