Republic of the Zule

Society

Flag Design of the Republic

Situated in the Aezrikka Zule which lends it its name, the Republic of the Zule is filled with a multitude of Aezkul. Life here is based heavily on personal honor, mutual respect, and overall cooperation. Every kul has a place in its rigorous social ladder and it is expected for inhabitants to know their place in the ladder before they're adolescents. However, as each Aezkul grows up in society, they forge their own place in the ladder, making personal achievements that might bump their place up in society. Those who have made the greatest steps in society have their wings painted with bright permanent colors to commemorate their achievements.

The place on the social ladder isn't changed by gender, however, though it is changed by race (See "Social Laddder"). Males and females are considered equals by the Aezkul, though most of each sex tends to gravitate towards different sides of society. Males end up taking most of the guarding, fighting, and physical jobs where many females take the social and mental jobs. Females tend to be the caretakers of the young and males tend to work or hunt while they do.

Of course this doesn't mean that males aren't very social. Both sexes are very communal beings and the society of the Republic reflects that. Families, especially siblings, tend to keep track of each other through their entire lives. It is a hard hit to any Aezkul to lose a friend or relative. This being said, friendships are a very important part of life. Many Aezkul forge long-lasting and caring friendships with others during their school years that last until the end of their life, keeping touch for as long as is possible.

Since these friendships are so strong, that also means that it is hard to forge them in the first place. While it is heavily frowned upon to be rude or aggressive to each other, being friendly acquaintances is the closest most Aezkul get to each other. It's uncommon for an Aezkul to have a very large group of friends as forging a true friendship can take years. Small, close-knit groups are the norm, even late in life.

Aezkul are very studious and adventurous beings as well. They work together to try and come up with new scientific discoveries in the world, leading the entire continent in medical research. They lag behind in forging metals, however, as they cannot achieve the heat needed to melt steel. Regardless, they keep researching into more advanced metals and construction materials to forever improve their mountain range.

Being so curious, the Aezkul often end up being the most known nation in the world; regardless of where you are, it is very likely that you can ask someone running by and they will recognise the name of the Aezkul in their tongue. The Republic has sent out explorers and scouts to all four corners of the globe, though many have not returned; those that venture south encounter the Blazkul and cannot push further into the southern lands, leading that half of the continent an entire mystery.

Understanding the limitation, the Aezkul instead primarily focus on forging relations with and mapping out the northern countries and landscapes. The Republic boasts some of the most accurate and complete maps the world has to offer. Those who become a cartographer end up rather high on societal rankings.

It is seen as very odd to not be curious and even weirder to have never left the Zule. It is expected for Aezkul to breach the borders of their nation and explore around, being courteous to those they meet. Regardless of aggression, the Republic pushes the policy that words should always come first rather than tooth or claw in an attempt to forge as many positive diplomatic relations as possible.

Despite all of these attempts to make contact and forge relations, the Aezkul are generally rather isolationist beings, keeping to themselves. They greatly fear warfare, especially with other nations, and don't want to provoke anything by intruding too much in other lands. While they are usually welcome, there are a few nations the Aezkul refuse to fly near for fear of death or capture.

Since they live high in the mountains, the Republic houses no stable population of lin. Many lin come and go as refugees or travelers from other nations and the Aezkul gladly welcome them as their nimble hands are extremely useful in intricate crafts. However, they aren't allowed up into the Wind Temples nor are they allowed to participate in government; they aren't truly citizens.

In the Republic, finding a mate is no trivial matter. Usually an attachment is formed in late adolescence to a close friend, but isn't acted upon until the participating Aezkul are both societal adults. Partnerships before sexual maturity are frowned upon as foolish or too fast. This doesn't stop adolescents from trying to hint to their possible future partner that they like them, though, and spend more time with them.

Courtship is considered a very serious matter in the Republic; once you find a partner, you are supposed to stay with them for life. Uncared for hatchlings can be a serious issue if the parents split up and refuse to take proper care or custody for them.

While the Aezkul are curious and courteous to other species, it is considered a stain on one's honor to take a mate that isn't another Aezkul, as Aezkul are few enough in numbers and cannot afford to lose an able kul. Interracial pairings are uncommon, but not frowned upon like mating outside the species is. Mixed hatchlings are considered an oddity but an interest to science, leading their lives to be full of curious stares and questions if they live in the Zule amongst other Aezkul.

Racial Differences

The Aezkul are very, very paranoid about equality and racism. Their entire election system is based upon giving equal representation for all races and wing types within each race, even if this representation is way out of proportion compared to demographics. Despite this, there are definitely recognisable social differences in how every race tends to act and live.

Aezrik

Usually, Aezrik are reclusive. They were always isolationist; this attitude dates back even to the war between the three racial kingdoms a thousand years ago. The Aezrik were not involved in the war until later on and never had a reason to enter it beyond fame and glory. This late entrance to the war, along with their ownership of the smallest peak prior to it, gave them their status as the 'lowest' race in society. Therefore, they keep to themselves and try their best not to step on others' paws. They do not wish to lose any more ranking in society than they already have.

The Aezrik also like to decorate their homes rather plainly. They aren't one for lavish goods or shiny decor; they prefer furs, hides, and other useful things for their residence. They are very logically minded and try to solve tasks with book smarts rather than common sense. Of course, this is only a generalisation and varies from kul to kul. They do tend to think the Aezser to be far too lavish, however.

Since they were so cowardly in the war and entered it late, the Aezrik prefer to avoid the topic and keep to themselves.

Aezkiel

The Aezkiel are always the middle ground. They don't really try to hide themselves, but they also aren't comfortable flaunting any sort of advantage they have around. They are not braggarts and like to be the most logical of those in any situation. Other races like to look to the Aezkiel as judges in everyday social or personal issues. The general consensus is that an Aezkiel is the most easily trusted of all Aezkul.

As for home decor, Aezkiel are very bare bones. They prefer only trickets with memories attached to them rather than any old shiny thing off the streets. Some, however, have a sore spot for the occasional gem. Some Aezkiel homes can be described as a design disastor because of this, however; trinkets with memories attached don't always go with the decor of a household, causing large clashes in design from one room to another. They can look rather disorganised and haphazard, but one is hard pressed to find an Aezkiel who cannot find something in their own abode.

The Aezkiel are also rather neutral on past events. They feel the war was just for their old kingdom, as it was a defense against an attack. They feel it is far in the past and should be swept away rather than the most important motive for actions in modern society. Many Aezkiel find themselves to be historians.

Aezser

Aezser are the most pompous of the races, but the most inclined to be respectful. They absolutely love anything frivilous and females like to decorate themselves with any sort of jewelry they can find. Despite this, many still live under the scrutiny of society. Since they are the 'highest' class, the Aezser are expected to be the best example of Aezkul behavior and society. Unless they are at home, they are on guard constantly against misbehaving or misrepresenting themselves. Many Aezser seem to be nervous or on edge.

Other Aezser like to get their societal power in their heads. They act like they are the crème de la crème of Aezkul due to their prestiguous pre-war holdings and beautiful contrasting scales. These Aezser wear the most jewelry and like to paint marks onto their own scale to accentuate their colors even more. These, however, are a minority and are looked down on.

This race also takes their shiny object obsession home. They like to place shiny and appealing objects on their walls in every room possible. Gems and metals are the most sought for wall decorations. Various paintings may also cover the walls of important rooms and the floors will usually be covered in only the softest and prettiest furs one can afford. If this style of living is mentioned to the Aezser, most will usually get defensive about it and try their best to insist it is not related to any sort of superiority complex. They simply have a thing for shiny materials. Of course, all of this is only if the Aezser can afford it; a poorer Aezser might just have their walls painted in bright colors with pretty marks on it.

When it comes to the war, the Aezser generally outright refuse to talk about it. They know their race was in the wrong first and tend to harbor guilt about it. Otherwise, they wish to avoid comments on their race's part in the war. They are also the most adamant about remembering the past and trying to reconcile for it, often clashing with the Aezkiel.

Social Ladder

The Aezkul are very based on respect. Every kul is expected to have proper manners and greetings to others of their race and to those not of their race or even their species. Bad manners and improper conduct is heavily frowned upon, especially to other species, as it gives the Aezkul a bad name.

Those in the lowest class - the Aezrik - are expected to honor the classes above them. Dipping of the snout or bowing of the neck is considered proper greeting between an Aezrik and an Aezkiel. To an Aezser, however, this is not considered enough - bending of the forelegs and spreading of the wings is also required in a proper first-time greeting. The Aezrik, despite being of the lowest class, did not draw the shortest straw in society, however. Classes are entirely social and respect-based. An Aezrik can have a very important job in society that outclasses an Aezser's without much issue. Yet, this Aezrik is expected to honor the Aezser just as much as any other.

For the Aezkiel, introduction to an Aezser is similar to the introductions from Aezrik to them - bowing of heads or dipping of snouts. When greeting the lower class, though, Aezkiel tend to just nod their head or bend their fores slightly in greeting. Aezkiel are often the mediators in social situations, as they are neither very low nor very high in society. Due to this, they're often looked to in times of conflict, even between each other.

The Aezser have it easy. Greeting an Aezkiel is just like them greeting the Aezrik - bending of legs or nodding and such. However, when greeting an Aezrik, the Aezser can just flick their tail or raise a wing in greeting. The Aezser are usually very well-mannered and tend to try to articulate their speech much clearer than either of the other two races. They know their status in society and try their best to live up to it, rather than letting it get to their heads, and are generally well-respected. Aezser are also the least common race, though, and are far outnumbered by the Aezrik and Aezkiel.

Within races, there are levels of respect, too. The Kra are the lowest, as their maneuverable wings are not as useful as the other two shapes to the Aezkul. Their wing shape is more for fun and games or maneuvering chasms than general survival. A Kra Aezrik has the absolute shortest end of the stick. Friendships, however, do not base themselves heavily on race, despite the respect levels, so those Kra are not alienated. Kra usually take the ground-based jobs of scientists, historians, and other such things. Due to this, the Kra usually are the best educated.

The Lan come next as their soaring wings are the best for scouting out food and tracking the movements of possible hostiles or food. Their soaring also allows them to be great for patrolling the skies of the Aezkul territory since they can hang in the air for hours upon hours at a time. Overall, they are the non-crucial messengers and scouts, sentries, guards, and hunters.

The Zier are the highest rank in their race. Their high-speed and long-distance wings allow them to scout out new resources and territory for the Aezkul, as well as making great discoveries that can help the kul in general. Their speed also allows them to be amazing messengers; if trained well enough, they can fly across the Aezrikka Zule in a matter of days. They may also end up being guards and sentries, if the position calls for it.

The most confusing part of ranks is that wing shape can precede race. A Kra Aezser will rank on the same level or below a zier Azkiel. Oftentimes, greetings and respects are just given based on race rather than wing, as trying to identify wing type while they are folded can be very tricky, especially between the Kra and Lan. In the most formal of situations, though, many kul will fold their wings in a way so that the two outermost digits are easily compared to each other. Thus an Aezkiel can see at a glance both the race and wing type and respond accordingly. If the outermost digit is by far the longest, it's a Zier. If it's smaller than the second, it's a Lan. If it's the same size as the second, it's a Kra.

Between genders, though, the Aezkul don't differentiate as much. Even though males tend to be the hunters and guards and females tend to be the gatherers and scholars, each gender has its own equal opportunities. The Aezkul are so small overall that they cannot really bear to have any sort of sexism - if they did, many roles would be left vacant. However, in families there is a notable difference. Males tend to be the head of the family, watching over and guarding his mate and clutch. He is tasked with the protection and health of both of them and is seen as a terrible drake if he fails either. The female is the caretaker, curling herself around clutches without moving for days to give them proper warmth and expecting her mate to get food for her.

On a personal level, an Aezkul might receive recognition for something they have done for the species as a whole. For example, discovering a new medicine or an important piece of history will earn them one of the highest marks of honor. Those with personal honors and recognitions will generally have specific designs painted onto the underside of their wings in black or blue to contrast with the normal light color. Since wings are usually folded, these honors cannot be seen most of the time. The paint is also not permanent and can be washed off easily, allowing the Aezkul to resume their natural coloring to blend back into the sky if needed.

For a rough overview, this is the social ranking system of the Aezkul, written as classes. In truth, these are honor levels, not income classes. However, it's easiest to interpret them as the latter.

  • Highest Class

  • →Zier Aezser
    →Lan Aezser
  • Upper Middle Class

  • →Zier Aezkiel & Kra Aezser
    →Lan Aezkiel
  • Middle Class

  • →Zier Aezrik & Kra Aezkiel
    →Lan Aezrik
  • Lower Middle Class

  • →Kra Aezrik
  • Lowest Class

  • →Lawbreakers

As noted on the bottom, any lawbreakers are at the very bottom of the social ladder. They must work their way up again, but it is a long and arduous process. Most never reclaim their previous position. The Kra Aezrik still rank above them in a class of their own, as they cannot possibly be mixed together in a way that would accurately represent them.

Anyone who leaves the Aezkul and the Aezrikka Zule's rule are placed a bracket lower than they normally would be. They then have to work their way back to where they were before, but with enough dedication and hard work, it's very possible.

Life Timeline

When Aezkul hatch, they're pretty helpless. They stay in their nests with their parents on guard until they're one, which is when they take their first nervous steps out into their home. However, they don't leave their home on their own four feet until they are three, which is when they start being socialized with other Aezkul hatchlings.

Between one and three, their parents teach them the general layout of the mountains in which they're born, giving the names of peaks and valleys. They help the new Aezkul draw little maps to be sure that it remembers its way home from anywhere in the city or outpost they live in. At three, the Aezkul hatchlings start to learn their own alphabet, but they don't learn to truly read or write until they're around six.

At five, however, Aezkul hatchlings are considered adolescents once they pass their initiation, a tradition that occurs monthly and that is attended by hatchlings turning five in said month, the parents of these hatchlings, and the local elders. Before this initiation, hatchlings aren't allowed to leave the ground. (See "Initiations" under "Society")

Once adolescent with the ability to read and write, the kul are enrolled in a more proper school. These schools are taught by appointed teachers, experts of their own subjects, who spend their days coaching the younglings. In the beginning, younglings learn arithmetic, history, and refine their writing and reading skills. As time passes, all Aezkul move on to more complex and everyday life-related topics such as hunting, airborne maneuvering, distance flight, speed flight, fighting, self-defense, and so on. At age twelve, Aezkul adolescents can also choose to specialize in a specific topic. Those that wish to be guards hone down on self-defense, fighting, airborne maneuvering, and other physical skills. Those that choose to be historians focus on history itself in various eras of time as the Aezkul have it written down. Doctors and other medical-related professions will study herbs and natural remedies for common illnesses or aids for wounds.

School ends at age fifteen, when the Aezkul are considered adult. At this point, an optional adult initiation takes place where the newly mature Aezkul can prove themselves exceptional to society. Whether or not they partake in this trial (See "Initiations" under "Society" for more information), the Aezkul can either step into a normal profession (hunter, guard, shopkeeper), or continue their education as an apprentice.

Professions that require an apprenticeship are, for example, doctors, metalsmiths, and architects. These jobs often reap the reward of higher respect in society by the end of the apprenticeship as well as greater rewards in the payment system. (See "Economy") However, they take a very long time to master and the Aezkul may have breached fourty years of age and practice before they're considered an expert, nevermind a master.

Outside of school, between ages five and fifteen, the Aezkul will generally venture further and further from their home and school, exploring new avenues and mountain peaks once they earn their wings. There are few Aezkul who don't take the time in their adolescent years to breach the boundaries of the Aezrikka Zule to the north, west, or east, exploring the vast world around them. However, very few go southward as the Flamewings are a real threat; many young who explore even the southern borders never return.

Most lasting friends are made during the school years of ten through fifteen, though most will have a childhood friend that sticks with them from the very first excursions out into public.

Once an Aezkul reaches adult, they may also choose a mate and vote in any upcoming elections.

Initiations

The Aezkul go through one or two initiations in their lifetime. The first is the necessary adolescent initiation, which takes place every month for hatchlings that turn five in said month. This initiation includes, essentially, jumping off a cliff and hoping you fly.

This may sound brutal, but the practice is tradition and mostly safe; hatchlings at that age are usually able to fly, but just in case, adults circle around the midway point of the cliff, catching any hatchlings that fail to catch the air properly. It is rare that a hatchling dies from this trial.

It is considered a bad mark on their personal honor if a hatchling doesn't pass this trial on the first go.

The second initiation is the adult initiation, undertaken only by those who wish to prove their worth as something greater than the average adult in the Zule. Any willing adult is tasked with going out into the world and making a discovery, big or small. Be it a new medicinal herb, a new region, an updated map, or a new kingdom, it doesn't matter; it just has to be new. The bigger the discovery, the more honor it brings. If one comes back empty handed, however, it's still seen as a good attempt; all adults have to spent at least one year out in the wilds before being allowed to come back. Surviving that long on your lonesome is considered honorable on its own. The maximum duration is two years.

Religion

The Aezkul do not have much of a religion. In fact, they have no creation story nor believe in any tangible diety. However, they do have respect towards the natural elements, especially the wind.

To the Aezkul, the wind is much like a mother. They believe that many thousands of years ago, the wind dropped non-corporeal, but alive, beings onto the world. As they bred, their differences multiplied and spread. Eventually, they became colorful and heavily diverse and, at some point, became kul. Basically, the Aezkul believe in a sort of evolution theory.

Earth, fire, and water are just other elements to the Aezkul. They respect them as the power elements they are, but do not believe they created animal life. Earth always had the grass and trees on it in their eyes, as that's just such a constant it's hard to imagine life without them. They know the trees and flora are alive, though; they believe that the wind gifted the earth's creations life. Flora didn't go through the same developing process.

Fire is a raging and difficult element. It's always creating resources and sizzling in the planet's core as lava and magma, surging up in the Sacred Lands. The Aezkul do respect fire, though, as they believe the element gave them their gift of fire breathing that often helps them hunt and defend themselves.

Water is respected for what it does - give the Aezkul something to drink. Otherwise, it's just another element like earth.

The wind is respected enough to have some rare temples built to it, though. Within the tallest mountain peaks, the Aezkul carved large temples with empty spaces in them that catch the strong winds just right to play a tune. On the windiest days, what almost sounds like music can be heard echoing from the peaks due to these oddly shaped temples of stone and wood. Within these temples, the Aezkul pay their respects to the wind and thank it for its gift of life and for its care.

Holidays and Ceremonies

The Aezkul have a few holidays and ceremonies throughout the year, most relating to their history and religion. During these times, most of the Aezkul have the day off; those that don't are guards and sentries.

Singing Zule

Most notable of all the ceremonies is that for the Singing Zule. "Zule" is short for the mountain range the Aezkul live in. The "singing" portion refers to when the Wind Temples play their song. (See the Wind Temples under Architecture). At a certain time of the year, every year, the wind changes just right to play a specific tune through the mountain peaks. Every large temple plays the same or similar tune, making the range resonate with mysterious music. During this, the Aezkul take to the skies and perform very, very complex aerial dances and maneuvers in tune to the old music. Starting at adolescence, most Aezkul learn the tune and the dances out of choice. Those that can't fly yet will waggle their wings in wonder or be carried by their parents into the air to join.

During this day, the entire mountain range is alight with simultaneous bursts of fire and flashes of wing. All of the races coordinate and spin and swoop in the air, creating the most fantastic aerial show that one may ever see. The ceremony begins at noon and continues through the night, the dances become more and more complex until sundown, where they become more mysterious and slow, lit by bursts of fire.

Tragically, the Flamewings of the Blazkul enjoy this ceremony, as well; they like to pick off celebrating Aezkul from the darkness. According to Flamewing prisoners, they see these attacks as a sort of sick game. In recent years, more and more sentries have been posted nearby cities with large enough shows to try and prevent these sort of attacks. The Flamewings seem to only find more fun in this, however, much to the frustration of the guard and militia of the Aezkul.

Ivus vo Aez

The name meaning 'Peace in Air', this iconic day in the beginning of spring refers to the unification of all of the races of Aezkul that took place nearly a thousand years ago. During this day, the Aezkul will pay their respects at the Wind Temples to those who have lost their lives fighting those years ago. At sundown, the Aezkul usually will gather and thank their forefathers for the society they have now and the peace that they currently enjoy.

Language

The Republic of the Zule speaks Aez as the national language in which everything official is spoken and written. However, most Aezkul are expected to learn at least one other language. Many choose to learn Riz or Hoz, the languages of their trading partners, but some may also learn Trez - a more widespoken trading language - or Blaz for the sake of simplicity as the language has its roots in Aez.

Aez as a language is very fluid and quickly spoken; it has a lot of words and can be very hard for foreigners to learn. The Aezkul, specifically, prefer to use a lot of words in their sentences and overall try to sound a bit more elegant or sophisticated if possible. Especially in literature, the Aezkul enjoy using a variety of words; their vocabulary expands every day.

The Aezkul sound very musical in their words, using lilting tones and talking almost to a tune. It can be a bit mesmerizing to listen to them speak for a while with how they form their sentences. To others, it may just be flat-out annoying; it depends on the listener.

Government

The Aezkul of the Aezrikka Zule are headed by a council of nine kul that consists of three of each of the races. These three represent the three different wing types, as well. This council creates laws for the society to live under, manage intercity food stores in hard times, and make important decisions that may affect multiple cities and outposts at once. These council kul are elected via votes by their officials of their race. However, none truly run for office - city officials elect kul (primarily elders) who they believe would best represent them from their city's population. All the officials then narrow down the choices until they can agree on three. Thankfully, these councildragons serve until they die, or else every bunch of years there'd be calamity on refreshing the three. When a councildragon dies, it can take up to a year for a new one to take their place due to arguing within the officials that elect them.

These councildragons also decide on diplomatic actions with other species. They choose either one of themselves or a fast kul from the society in general to deliver messages of peace or negotiation to other species if needed. Usually, contact is kept to any kul species that wishes to stay at peace with the Aezkul. If a species goes dark on them, the councildragons alert the nation to stay on its guard against them. If a species never accepted contact, the council will determine if they are a threat or not based off of their actions.

Within the council, all kul are considered equal. Every one has only one vote and one say in things despite the social ladder in society. When it comes to deciding whether a new law goes into effect or not, each councildragon will say 'yes' or 'no' to it. If they say no, they may state their reasons and ideas for change. A 5-4 vote is required for a law to pass.

The laws of Aezkul society consist of the basic things - do not kill, steal, rape, etc - along with other less straightforward rules; do not irritate the other kul species, do not maim your neighbour, and so on. Generally, there aren't many lawbreakers. The Aezkul are peaceful by nature and would rather talk than fight. When they do fight, they always fight on the defensive and prefer to use the mountains to their advantage. Due to their strategic position, most species wouldn't even consider bothering with them.

Below the council kul are the city and outpost officials. Each are elected by their individual outpost or city via a public vote. They are of any race and wing type and are chosen based off of their social ranking, competence, and willingness for the job. They take care of more city- or outpost-wide business, such as intercity trade and local squabbles. Any courts are headed by judges appointed by these officials. Law enforcement is also appointed by them. An official oversees all initiations.

Military

Since the Aezkul are not a militaristic sort, they do not have any sort of large standing army. However, they do understand the need for self defense and so have both a trained fighting force for defense as well as various local militias that can be called upon in times of need. The latter is generally made up of local guards, sentries, or hunters, as they have the general skills necessary to learn and deal with fighting other kul. The militia is mostly voluntary and only in times of absolutely drastic measures would the Republic force its inhabitants to fight regardless of personal choice.

The defense force of the Zule - or, as the Aezkul call it, the Krro zie Zule - is not the best fighting force in the world by any means, but it is also not a helpless force. While it is not a secret what techniques they practice within the Republic itself, most outside forces have little clue what they might be facing if they are to fully attack the Republic itself.

The methods, formations, and tactics taught to the Krro date back to the Aezkul civil war between races. The knowledge was passed on by the ancient generals in case the Aezkul would ever need to protect themselves. Unfortunately, none of these generals live today to continue telling their story. They have, however, written many hundreds of tomes and instructions on all of these tactics and the methods of war. Such knowledge, gained over a thousand years, is protected viciously in the highest Wind Temple.

The Krro fights primarily aerially, making use of the three wingtypes to put them at an advantage. Lan wings are used for scouting and managing supply lines, kra for harrying and strafing, and zier for swift strikes that are over before one even knows it hits. Zier also can scout forward and manage communication lines but, due to their rarity, generally are only used in such fashion if in a dire situation.

If ever caught in a war, it would surely be a defensive one. However, the Aezkul are not cowards; they won't hide and wait to die in tunnels like their ancestors. Trained to take advantage of other kul in the air, the Aezkul would take to the open skies and defend the mountain range to every last drop of blood left in their veins. They do not take lightly to their homeland being taken, especially after they have shown no outward aggression to any other nation in the world.

As for equipment, the Aezkul rely on bronze to protect themselves. The militias are armored in various bronze pieces of armor just to hold back claws and some flame from their scale. Wings hang free, but the rest of the body - especially the back and shoulders - is clad in armor. Weaponry mostly includes claw sheaths made of sharpened and hardened bronze that slip on over the claws. Clubs and scythes attached to the tailtip are also used as less common weaponry due to how they can hinder flight ability. The only exception in this equipment scheme is for the Wind's Guardians; as a sign of good will, the Firehorns created a set of armor and weaponry made out of steel for this one force.

The Wind's Guardians

The Wind's Guardians is the only active and deployed force the Republic has had to use in the reigning years of peace following the Thousand Year's War. About seventy years after the founding of the Republic, this unit was created as a show of peace and unity amongst the Aezkul. Made up of Aezkul of all races and backgrounds, the Wind's Guardians were sent out to protect the Republic against the ongoing Flamewing threat, which escalated in the years following the end of their recent war.

In the beginning, the Wind's Guardians numbered only about thirty kul, flying around the Republic and clashing talons with unruly bands of Flamewings. In recent times, these numbers have swelled to about ninety, splitting up into three groups of thirty to be better managed. Each group is sent out to protect specific parts of the Republic. The most experienced protect the capital and its surrounding districts, whilst the other two protect the other large peaks that originally served as capitals of the racial kingdoms in the Thousand Year's War.

Due to the size and importance of this unit, this means that the Flamewings generally have free reign on any Aezkul that live near the borders of the desert far from these peaks.

To join the Wind's Guardians, one must have at least twenty years' experience in the Krro, proving themselves both physically and mentally capable of taking on the large fiery Flamewings. They then go through five years of intense training nearby the borders of the Zule, fine-tuning their senses to listen for any Flamewing advance, be it claws scraping on rock or wings beating in the air. Many do not make it through this phase due to the Flamewings themselves killing the initiates. However, once successful, the kul is brought into the Wind's Guardians as a fledgling member, ready to prove themselves and protect the Republic against anything. To be a part of the Guardians, despite the Aezkul's generally pacifist look on life, is one of the highest personal honors one can achieve, leading to every single kul bowing.

As part of a recent deal with the Firehorns, the Wind's Guardians are the only force in the Republic that is clad in form-fitting steel armor, expertly smithed and taken care of by the Firehorns themselves. This combined with their experience makes them a menacing force to be reckoned with.

Ranks and Organization

The Wind's Guardians and the Krro are organised slightly differently, but follow a similar scheme. The Krro, being such a larger force, is split into many more pieces than the Guardians.

Organisation of the Krro:

  • Aez-Zar:

    Absolute head of the Krro zie Zule. He commands the entire force as one, laying down plans and looking at any battle as figures on a map of the entire Republic. As there has been no war, there is currently no Aez-Zar, but one would be chosen from one of the Kerkuz.

  • Kerkuz:

    Kerkuz lead the largest divisions of the Krro. There are currently five of them, each containing one hundred to two hundred kul. Each division breaks up into five 'spans' of kul.

  • Shiervar:

    The Shiervar each lead a singular span, which number anywhere between twenty to fourty kul. Spans all have very similar mixtures of wing-types to be sure their functions are made use of in every part of the Krro's many sections. Each span breaks up into six to twelve wings.

  • Azzar:

    The lowest leading rank is the Azzar, which each lead a wing. A wing is a small unit made of only three or so kul who are meant to look out for each other on the battlefield and coordinate to best deliver tactics. Wings are usually made up of close friends or family members to be sure that each kul has an honest reason to look out for the other. The Azzar of a wing is usually the most experienced of group.

  • Gzat:

    "Gzat" is the Aez word for the common warrior within the Krro. It would likely directly translate to "soldier" or "warrior" and means the exact same; the common fighter.

Organisation of the Wind's Guardians:

  • Aez-Lok:

    Absolute head of the Wind's Guardians. This kul is the absolute most experienced general in both forces and oversees everything to do with the Guardians. He works under the Aez-Zar, but the Zar knows better than to ignore any suggestions from the Lok, leading the two to often work in unison. There are three 'talons' beneath him, each made of thirty kul.

  • Servark:

    Servark lead the individual 'talons' of the Guardians. They oversee the condition of their individual talons and their equipment, keeping them in line and focused. These are also the kul that make sure the Guardians stay up to snuff with their training, often sparring with their charges. Each talon is made up of wings of about three to four kul.

  • Ki-Azzar:

    Leaders of the wings within the Wind's Guardians. Usually the most experienced and respected out of the wing. Due to how selective the initiation process is, wings are generally just made of close friends or respected comrades rather than family members.

  • Aezsiora:

    The everyday fighter under the Wind's Guardians. "Aezsiora" is an amalgation of the words for "air" and "care" that is interpreted as a protector of the wind or Aezkul.

Diplomacy

Aezkul are very peaceful but also very knowledge in their diplomacy. They know a rotten trade deal when they see one and aren't very willing to trade their knowledge or medicine to anyone they feel may abuse it. It can be hard to strike a proper deal with this nation unless suggestions favor the Aezkul themselves or are balanced either way. The only thing Aezkul are willing to splurge on are things they need but cannot gather or create on their own, such as steel armor and weaponry or certain medicinal herbs from forests or jungles they cannot reach.

In diplomatic meetings, the Aezkul are generally very polite and address their partner with honorable terms and titles even if the other does not reciprocate it. They're experts at hiding any distaste or excitement, whiping emotions from their face when making deals or speaking of politics.

Foreign Relations

The Aezkul are at peace with all of the other kul species, as far as they know. They have not waged a war since the unification of all of the races as they really have not needed to. The closest the Aezkul come to fighting with other kul is when they encroach on foreign territory without permission. The Hozkul at the base of the Aezrikka Zule may become aggressive if an Aezkul gets too close to their secretive and guarded underground entrances, but usually they keep their peace.

The Rizkul who do not have trade deals with the Aezkul also have occasional issues with them as the kul require wood for their structures, but the only place to get it is the jungle. Certain parts of the jungle are considered part of Aezkul territory as it grows in the mountains, but the territory lines are never clear. The Republic attempts to only gather from places where the trade deals are in place or the territory within Aezkul land, but shifting borders makes this very difficult.

The Blazkul provide more constant issues with the Aezkul, however, as some initiates of their tribes feel it's necessary to murder an Aezkul or raid their nearby outposts to prove themselves. They also prove a nuisance when passing through some of the valleys of the Aezrikka Zule to get to the jungle, as they give no warning and are technically trespassing. Usually, the Blazkul that make themselves a nuisance are part of the Flamewing faction and race.

To all species, however, the Aezkul are generally looked at favorably. Due to their advances in medicine, they are able to heal the ailments of many kul who come to them terribly ill or mortally wounded. The medicine is so advanced compared to some species that the kul may consider the Aezkul magic, but all have a sort of awe and appreciation with the generosity in treating other species.

The Aezkul have also come up with the idea of embassies, a building that is placed within the national territory of two willing nations who wish to keep diplomatic contact. They offer this privilege to any non-aggressive nation, but so far only two have accepted.

Relation Chart
Nation Relation
Hoz Kingdom Peace; trade; cooperation
Rebel Kingdom No contact
Riz Tribes Cold war; peace; trade
Sozkul Clans Peace
Sozlin Tribes Peace; trade
Treztown Peace; trade
Truzlin Tribes No contact
Gren Kingdom Cold war
Sokan Empire Peace
Blazewhips Cold war
Emberspikes Cold war
Fireclaws Cold war
Firehorns Peace
Flamewings War
Wolshak Packs Cold war; peace; trade
Public Opinion

The Aezkul look outside of their nation to others with general curiosity and respect for differences in culture. However, they look down upon violent or warring nations, seeing them as primitive for reverting to violence to solve issues.

Any nation that pursues peace and prosperity is looked at in a kinder light, however, and the Aezkul may be inclined to travel to the nation someday if allowed. Pursuers of knowledge are also encouraged and may seek tutorage with the Aezkul, though they fear sharing all of their secrets as they know better care for wounds and illness can lead to more long-lasting wars.

As the Aezkul are very territorial and protective of their homeland, they've gained a deep instinctual hatred for the nations that dare try to push the boundaries on their homeland, such as the Flamewings and some Blazkul younglings. The Gren Kingdom has also shown issues with killing stray Aezkul in the past, causing tensions, especially with how the Gren look at kul. The Sokans are also looked at with disfavor for enslaving and breeding kul against their presumed will.

Treaties

Hozkul Trade Agreements: The Aezkul have varuious trade agreements with the Hozkul. They exchange knowlege for knowledge and wood for metal parts, for example; other surface goods change paws with the Hozkul for various underground curiousities as well.

Hozkul Non-Aggression Pact: While they had no worries of war beforehand, the Aezkul and Hozkul put it into writing to make it official for future generations and as an act of trust. The Hozkul have an embassy in the Aezkul capital while the Aezkul have an embassy in an outer tunnel that links to the giant cave systems of their kingdom.

Rizkul Trade Agreement: The Aezkul trade medicines for wood with the various nearby Rizkul tribes.

Firehorn Non-Aggresion Pact: With some suspicion, the Aezkul accepted a non-aggression pact from the Blazkul race of Firehorns. This also allows them an embassy in the Aezkul capital, while the Aezkul have an embassy on Desert's Reach, a floating trade platform off the coasts of Firehorn-controlled deserts.

Firehorn Weaponization Treaty: The Firehorns, as an act of kindness, have equipped the entire Aezkul Wind's Guardians force with steel armor and weaponry. This equipment is mostly used in defense against the Flamewings. The Firehorns have also agreed to replace, refine, and repair any armor that requires it into the future.

Economy

The Aezkul do not really have any sort of currency. Their economy is based on a barter system; luxury goods are on the highest end of the scale for worth while general things like raw wood and resources are at the lowest. The exchange rates are constantly changing and can even vary from vendor to vendor, who compete with each other to have the best deal. There are not really many rules as to what can be bought or sold, but there's a general consensus between the Aezkul that things such as drugs are outlawed.

Professions

While the Aezkul are expected to take jobs based on their wing type, they really can do any they can pass the qualifications for. Guards, sentries, and hunters make up the most of the working class. Builders, gatherers, and other labourers are below them while artisans make up the absolute least. Since the Aezkul have no currency, work is rewarded with access to the food stores. Other various objects of value - raw metals, tools, and skins - are also offered to workers as incentives, depending on the boss.

Since having no job reflects badly on themself and their honor, an Aezkul will often pursue a job even if it has terrible benefits. Just working is enough to give them a bit of a base in life to work off of.

Trade

The Aezkul trade resources intercity and with any species that wishes to due business with them. They are fair and just, not wanting to cheat their trading partners out of anything, while also being very intent on what the value of trade goods are to not be cheated themselves. Currently, they trade with the Hozkul for raw metals and some refined iron and with the Rizkul for access to some of their jungle wood. The Aezkul offer medicines to the Rizkul and surface resources to the Hozkul, such as wood, charcoal, and various types of spices and herbs.

The Aezkul will also often offer resources in return for knowledge as a one-time deal, or ongoing if the knowledge requires teaching. This way they often learn about species around them. The most notable deal of this is with the Hozkul, where they trade knowledge for knowledge. Both are heavily interested in the world around them and are isolationist when it comes to outside affairs; they mix very well.

Exports

The Republic exports very few things as the mountains are not very rich in resources they feel comfortable trading to other nations, not wanting to supply or provoke warfare. However, the Zule does supply a lot of rare metals within its surface caverns and exposed cliffaces, which the Aezkul sometimes offer up for trade. Aezkul sometimes also shape the metals into jewelry or ornaments as a luxury good. In exchange for bigger or more expensive goods, the Aezkul may offer their more advanced medicine or a piece of knowledge. The Aezkul export books to the Hozkul as well.

The Aezkul also offer some average surface goods like wood, herbs, spices, plants, and so on.

Imports

The Aezkul import refined iron and raw metals from the Hozkul and have access to parts of Rizkul territory for wood. They also 'import' knowledge from the Hozkul, learning various subjects from the venerable species. From the Hozkul, they also import books.

Illegal Wares

The Republic outlaws the importation of slaves and damaging or mentally incapacitating drugs.

Demographics

The population of the Republic, overall, is rather low in comparison to other nations of similar size. The wars of the past decimated their overall population, causing their large territory to be rather sparsely populated. The population is rapidly rising, however; the youth outnumber the old three to one by now, though males and females are very balanced.

Literacy rates are very high - an overwhelming majority of the population knows how to read and write as it is a basic requirement in school. However, many do not know how to do complex computations the engineers of Aezkul society would know. Most only know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide; anything beyond that or solving for a variable in a very simple equation is out of reach.

Most of the Aezkul population is of the Aezkiel race, followed closely by the Aezrik. The least are the Aezser, who were rather decimated in numbers during the 1000 Year War and are still having problems recovering through all this time. Wing shapes popularity, in order, is lan, kra, and then zier. The last makes up less than ten percent of the population's wing type, while the first takes up nearly fifty.

Overall, there are about 6.000 Aezkul currently living in the world with approximately 5.000 in the Zule.

Technology

The Aezkul, despite their advancements in society, live in the bronze age. While they have access to raw iron via trade, they have no clue how to smelt it. Their tools are made of bronze and/or stone. Building supports and armor or weapons are all made out of bronze. They also have access to basic advancements such as the wheel, lever, and pully. They've also achieved the technology of very basic automated power; they can create windmills out of woven thatch and wood that turn wheels to spin something. This something can, for example, grind down wheat into flour. Of course, the Aezkul have no need for flour, so it's used for grinding large quantities of herbs with medical value, primarily.

Leather curing and the use of leather to create tools and objects is also common. Leather replaces a lot of what fine fabrics would be used for, even if it's tougher, since the Aezkul have no draklings to help them; they cannot make fine thread that fabric uses. Most of the time, though, leather is used for carrying satchels that hook around the forelegs, hindlegs, neck, and tail. It's the most effective way of singular kul transport. Due to the trade agreements with the Hozkul Kingdom (and thus the Hozlin population), objects made with fine thread are available, if rare; they are a luxury good and are really only available to more wealthy Aezkul.

The Aezkul also have access to lanterns. Using their fiery breath, they light a slow-burning type of wood that is stuck into sand or dirt and held in a small container. They have a handle that can be held between the teeth. Since the Aezkul have amazing night vision, it's not used as a portable object for sight as much as it's used to read at night. Seeing script on a page is much harder at night, no matter your level of night vision.

The Aezkul are the most, if not one of the most, medically advanced species. They have tested and confirmed the use of many hundreds of plants in various roles, such as curing common diseases or stopping blood flow in wounds. Some numb feeling when placed in an open wound. A certain type of flower can knock a suffering victim unconscious for the duration of their transportation. These, and various other advancements and discoveries have been made by the Aezkul.

The current level of medicine the Aezkul are attempting to break is surgery-style treatments. If fragments of weapons are stuck under the scale or an indigestible object is ingested, the Aezkul have found it useful to create incisions and wounds to remove them, as it does less harm than leaving the objects within the body. This is very new, though, and oftentimes the patient will die anyway due to the lack of proper stitching. Incisions are just held shut with bandages and the patient cannot move for days. If an internal organ is cut, a kul might seal it off with a type of herb that can be ingested safely that is also very sticky. Due to the high risk of this surgery, though, the Aezkul prefer to explore every other avenue before trying it. Even then, it's usually only done on otherwise fatal injuries.

Being a doctor in Aezkul society is probably one of the most high-stakes and terrifying jobs simply due to the level of advancement hindered by the level of technology. Notes of medical herbs aren't concentrated well enough and most doctors have to memorize what does what. A new doctor will often work as an apprentice to others for years.

Since medicine is so advanced, as well, the Aezkul population is growing steadily. Diseases previously killing off hundreds now can be quelled, allowing the kul to flourish. Of course, though, since clutches are so small and so few in between, the number only grows so fast.

The Aezkul have also invented various things. The windmill is one such technology, but they also are the inventors of the written kul language. Paper also began with them, though it is still rather primitive. Books and libraries started on the plateaus of the Aerikka Zule and, of course, various medicines began here, too.

City Structure

The Aezkul do not have a lot of area to build on and therefore only have so many cities. Each city houses about eighty to one hundred kul and there are only fifteen of them among the Aezrikka Zule. These cities are ruled over by officials, as noted in Government, and are the bigger congregations of the Aezkul. In the center of these cities is the food store that houses all the reserves of food for the inhabitants. Hunters visit here once or twice a day to drop off their daily catch before returning home, while others will barter for what they need from it.

Around the food store is where most merchants and artisans sell their wares. The area is shaped much like a circular plaza, the stone smooth from so many kul feet walking over it. There are often a lot of torches and fire pits around to light the place up at night, making it a beacon in the mountains. Away from here are the residential blocks of houses and in the higher cliffs caves are dug out.

The city official lives near the food store in a larger building marked with a seal. Visitors are welcome as long as the sun is up; they may make complaints, suggestions, or reports to the official here. When it is time for a councildragon to be picked, the city officials may offer a kul of each race and/or wing type from their city.

The largest city of all is the capital. It resides on the huge plateau that is in front of the old Aezser peak, the highest of all. It houses one hundred and fifty kul and is managed by two officials instead of one. Otherwise, its layout is generally the same. This is where the ceremony during the time of Singing Zule is held.

Outposts are the next step below cities and have only thirty to seventy kul. They are generally built on sloping ground or up in the mountain peaks, often comprised mostly of caves. Large kul-made landing platforms are created if there is no solid ground for messengers to arrive, supported by thick bronze pillars rigged into the mountainside. Outpost officials cannot offer councildragons.

Below outposts are singularities. These small congregations are mostly just one family of a mate and their offspring. They are expected to hunt for themselves, have no direct way to influence the voting of councildragons, and are generally left on their own. There's something like seventy-five of these around, usually on the outskirts. Only in singularities may mixed-breeds live.

Architecture

The Aezkul are not heavily advanced in architecture, but their structures are not unimpressive. Their primary building resource is stone mined from the mountains around them. Wood, acquired by trading medicines and such with the Rizkul at the base of the Aezrikka Zule, is also common. Roofs are made out of woven thatch, dried leaves, and clay gathered from streams, which keeps out the rain well enough. Heavy winds can harm the structures, though, so many are reinforced with bronze wherever possible, held together with rough rivets and nails.

Since they live in mountains, the Aezkul can only easily build their structures on plateaus. Thankfully, the Aezrikka Zule has many of such plateaus. More important documents and most libraries are placed in natural caves in the mountain, however, as structures cannot be trusted to not blow over eventually. Beyond the public libraries, which are magnificent in their own right, the Aezkul have some notable structures generally attributed to them.

Notable Structures
Bridges

Huge rope-and-wood bridges span mountaintop to mountaintop, linking different peaks together at large distances. These bridges are constantly inspected and made sure they are in tip-top shape as they are created for the hatchlings that cannot fly just yet. In high winds, these bridges are not allowed to be used for they sway too much. They are wide enough for two fully-grown wind kul to walk side-by-side and are anchored into the stone with heavy bronze plates and nails.

Wind Temples

These giant temples of stone are the only structures built into and on top of the highest peaks. There are three of them; the largest is carved into the highest peak, second largest on second, and so on. They are painstakingly cut into the mountain peaks themselves, long tunnels and open corridors shaped perfectly to catch the wind.

In protected side spaces, there are libraries full of novels written on history and technology. They are guarded day and night, as the novels they contain date back many hundreds of years. The oldest, possibly reaching into the thousands in age, are cut into stone slabs with a chisel. No fire or portable light is allowed into these areas. The only light available is what comes through large windows in the ceiling, protected by panes of translucent glass put there as a group effort when the Aezkul were first unified. Theories on how the glass was created vary, but most believe that the stone was cut away halfway before being filled with sand. Many Aezkul then breathed flame onto it at once until the sand melted into molten glass. They left it to harden, then cut away a slightly smaller hole underneath it into the structure, allowing light go through, but not the wind.

One library in each temple is filled with history tablets of stone with studies on other kul species on them, keeping track of their histories as they appear to the Aezkul. Sadly, one collection of these were destroyed back when the Aezkul races were still warring each other; the temples were just another battleground. The other two collections remain untouched, but many hundreds of years were likely lost in that one raid.

Due to the shape of the hallways, the Wind Temples "sing" when the wind is just right. High speed winds cause the mountaintop to vibrate with high-pitched whistles through small tunnels and low-pitched moans through the larger ones. Rarely, the winds hit the mountain face just right to play what almost sounds like a purposeful song. During this, the nearby Aezkul will usually drop what they are doing to admire it, listening carefully.

The Labyrinths

Left over from the thousand-year war between the races, these labyrinths were created to protect the young, old, and sick against attacks. They are heavily fortified and showcase some of the first applications of bronze in the many hundreds of years prior to present day.

Initially natural cave systems, these gate-and-trap filled tunnels were expanded deep into the peaks. The traps are either broken or disarmed these days, but the confusing structure of the tunnels can end up with kul getting lost within, only to be found weeks later, wandering the halls aimlessly.

The absolute deepest tunnels were the last to be dug and haven't been touched for many hundreds of years. These old caverns are covered in clawmarks on the walls and bloodstains from slaves driven to dig the caves, old shackles, chains, and kul bones adorning the floor. These old places are too morbid and depressing for even the strongest of heart to explore, nevermind the labyrinth that must be traversed to get there.

The tunnels closest to the surface are still maintained and often lived in, however, with young families who prefer the cave-life over house-life housing clutches in its shallowest reaches.

Rataer's Grave

The gravesite of the late Rataer - the Aezkul who ended the Thousand Year War - not only exists, but is still well-kept. Flesh flowers and notes of well-wishing can be found on his grave at least once a week, deposited by grateful Aezkul from far and wide.

The grave itself is nothing more than a pile of stones on a cliffside overlooking the site of the final battle of the Thousand Year War; a now-serene valley full of life and flora. The stones are arranged in a t-shape, as the kul's body was supposedly arranged as if he were in flight; wings spread and tail outstretched. In front of where his snout would be is a large slab of stone engraved with these words:

Remember, my children; there is always another way.
Do not let fear blind you; make a difference.
The world is only cruel without your intervention.

The inscription is said to have been written by Rataer himself, though there are no written records of such. Nonetheless, the words are known to every Aezkul and repeated as idioms in everyday speech.

History

Peaceful Segregation (ca. 1500 br)

Thousands of years ago, the Aezkul were numerous. They lived around the three largest peaks of the Aezrikka Zule, each race calling one and its surrounding area their own. The Aezser owned the tallest, the Aekzier the second, and the Aezrik the third. For many hundreds of years the races lived in peace, trading and communicating knowledge with each other. Each race was ruled by a king and queen, power shifting down the royal line to the eldest male.

The Aezser were the mightest of all. With their navy-blue scales and Zier wings, they ruled the sky and easily kept watch on the surrounding races. Their prowess struck fear even into the hearts of the Rizkul and the outposts of the Hozkul worried about intrusion. Thousands of them made of the guard alone and thousands more flew around the peaks, scouting and keeping order on the surrounding areas. They were all-powerful and they knew it.

The Aezkiel were less impressive, boasting Lan wings and large numbers. They envied the Aezser and their tallest peak, wishing for it to become their own. The Aezrik had similar feelings towards the Aezser, but neither acted upon them; to attack the Aezser was to wish death upon oneself. Peace, if only peace by fear, reigned for hundreds of years.

The Thousand Year's War (1000 br - 0)
Lost Princess

One fateful morning, a furious king of the Aezser demanded the location of his daughter. Overnight, she had disappeared and left no trace. He, with his armies, demanded answers from the other races, assuming that it was they who took his precious daughter away. Angry at the blame, the other races denied anything to do with it; it had to be another Aezser, perhaps lusting after his precious daughter, who took her away. The Aezser king would not take this. He flew to his ancient Temple on top of his mountain and brooded for months.

His daughter never returned and the king grew only more and more furious. He demanded the Wind itself for answers, demanding that it turn over the truth to him for her was the leader of the mightiest kul of the mountains, the Aezser, rulers of the sky and, yes, even the Wind! He, of course, got no answer from the Wind.

Ancient tomes regarding these events differ on what happens next; some say the king sent out intruiges to find his daughter and discovered she was just hiding with another Aezser, as the lesser races suggested. Others say the king snapped and blamed one race or another.

Assault

The first battle of a long and bloody war was not neglected or unclear, however. The Aezser, scales painted black was night with charcoal mixed in with water, made their way to the Aezkiel peak. Thousands upon thousands of them flew in formation, wings beating in unison and eyes set on the target. Large Zier wings blocked out the sky as the king roared for the return of his daughter from the darkness. No response was given, and pandemonium ensued.

The king called for an assault and the Aezser obeyed. Hundreds of groups of trained Aezser split away and dropped onto the peaks, slaughtering every Aezkiel in their path. Many escaped, however, and sprinted into the caves they called home. From there, they were able to defend their home against the assault, using the confined spaces to their advantage; flight was impossible here. The advantage of the swift Zier wings were lost and thousands were slaughtered as the king ordered them to storm the cave systems. Bodies piled so high that some entrances were blocked entirely before the Aezser themselves rebelled against their king. Trusted generals turned, called the king's obsession for his daughter pure madness, and ripped him from the sky.

"Look, my king, look at what you have done! Think of what you have caused; the Aezkiel will not let this go unavenged! You, of all of the Aezser, no longer deserve to be embraced by the Wind's caress, ground-dweller! Fall, fall from the sky, heathen!" The ancient general Zurikk screeched at his king before tearing the membranes from his wings, causing the kul to plummet to the rocks below. The king was dashed on the rocks below and fell down hundreds of meters of mountain slopes before coming to a rest at the edge of Blazkul territory. His fate is unknown.

The Aezkiel, infuriated by this attack, would not let the retreat and loss of the enemy king stop them. They lost thousands of kul in a night; what will stop them from losing more? As the Aezser retreated, furious Aezkiel followed them. The night was lit with fire, daylight breaking over the mountains far before the sun rose. Kul fell from the sky in droves, both Aezser and Aezkiel, before the battle was finally over. The sun rose on a mountain range red with blood and black with scorch marks.

The Endless Cycle of Revenge

The Aezkiel followed the retreating Aezser forces, now decimated, back to their mountain. The remaining Aezser fortified themselves into their mountain and temple, fighting for dear life. The Aezkiel met nearly the same fate as the Aezser; wave after wave of roaring kul fell before cave mouths and mountain peaks, the area far too fortified and naturally defensive to allow any true assault. They soon retreated, simmering in fury.

It almost looked like the war was only two battles for a few months. This changed when the Aezrik, seeing their chance with the two races weakened, launched an offensive on the Aezser. Their maneuverable Kra wings gave them the edge, zipping to and fro throughout the mountain peaks. In some caves they could even fly, giving them an edge over all the cowering Aezser.

Alas, even their attempts were met with death: tunnel mouths can only allow two or three kul in at once, not an army, and so assaulting forces were easily picked off. Blood ran in rivers down the Aezse tunnels, leaving dark stains visible even today. Huge piles of corpses lined the base of the mountain where the caves opened up as Aezser tried to clean their exits.

Angered, the Aezser kept back and nursed their wounds. Soon enough, another generation was raised in the dark of the caves; another generation ready to launch an offensive against the Aezrik and Aezkiel. Another offensive to be avenged by the races, and more battles to be fought. Battles often overlapped, causing Aezkiel and Aezrik to fight each other and cause blood fueds between them. A murderous and decimating cycle of attack and counter attack formed, lasting a thousand years or more as generations grew and died for a cause long lost.

End of the War

What ended the war is passed into legend and has been recounted many ways by various different historians. However, all agree on certain parts of a similar story so rediculous it sounds like a myth; it may be, for all the Aezkul know, but it's a prized peace of history nonetheless.

A rogue pair of Aezkul, living far away from the war, hatched the first - and last - albino Aezkul to live beyond the eggshell. Lacking any racial markings and having no distinctive color, he may as well have been a scaled Truzkul. The kul grew to be a mighty creature, his wings mighty Zier wings showing that he was not a fake from another race; he was a true Aezkul. Named Rataer, the drake learned of the bloody war his brethren were fighting. He left his comfortable life in the wilderness and flew to the peak of the Aezser first, hoping to reconcile with them.

He was almost murdered at the front step by an Aezser using brand new technology; bronze shaped into claws to cut through scale easier. He dodged the kul and flew into the nearest cave, snapping his wings shut and sprinting down in a white blur. The populace, scared and intrigued, asked his name; he gave it and demanded conference with their leader.

The new Aezser king, nephew to the lost daughter, gave him an audience. Rataer claimed he was one of them, spreading his large Zier wings to prove it. "I am but albino, born in the wrong scales, but I have come to lead your armies into a new future; a better future and one ruled by the Aezser," he claimed, bowing to the king. Tired of the war and desperate for anything to atone for his grandfather's mistakes, the king accepted Rataer's offer. "There is but one catch," he said; "You must fly with me, my king, and see that my deeds are fulfilled. Meet me at plateau below this mountain in a fortnight and you shall see what I have done." The king, still desperate but suspicious, cautiously accepted the offer.

Rataer then flew on to the next kingdom; the Aezkiel. His wings almost murdered him here, the complete opposite of saving it they did before. He demanded an audience with the king and claimed a similar story; "I was born with the wrong wings, my king, and the wrong color; but look, my lord, and see that I bear the spikes of an Aezkiel!" It was true, for her did bear the spikes of an Aezkiel. Historians looking back on this now place Rataer was being one of the Aezkiel due to these stripes, possibly with an Aezser parent for the wings.

The king of the Aezkiel was in a similar predicament to that of the Aezser; he was sick and tired of war, wishing for the days where his people could lay out in the sunlight and see the sky like their ancestors. It was killing them all to be cooped up in caves day-in and day-out; there have been generations that never saw the sun or felt the wind on their scale. Rataer, again, promised victory and a better future for the Aezkiel if they only meet him at the plateau beneath the Aezser mountain. The king accepted, cautiously.

Finally, Rataer flew to the Aezrik. He claimed he was one of them by the color of his scales. "I bear the spikes of an Aezkiel and the wings of an Aezser, I know... but I cannot be mistaken when I say I bear your color!" He gestured to the light coloration of the kul around him and the king, intrigued, listened to his story. As tired of war as the rest, he accepted Rataer's repetitive offer.

The fortnight passed swifter than expected and Rataer almost was late for his own meeting. Sitting on the plateau, Rataer watched as the three kings descended with a force from three different places. Only confusion and a few strategic blasts of Rataer's fire prevented the meeting from becoming a bloody feud.

"What is this?!" The Aezser king roared, snarling at his enemies. "You fool! You've tricked me, king of the mighty Aezser! You will face our wrath, Kul!" He screeched angrily, advancing on Rataer. The other kings roared similar insults and anger, turning on him as one.

Rataer reared up and roared for silence, spreading out his mighty wings. Moonlight caught on his scale and reflected slightly, giving him a slight glow. Apprehensively, the three kings stopped their advance. "What is the meaning of this?" The Aezkiel king hissed. "You bear our spikes, yet you betray us... what do you wish to accomplish?"

"I bear your spikes, Aezkiel. I bear your wings, Aezser, and your color, Aezrik," Rataer claimed, nodding to each individual in turn. "I am all of you as all of you are me; we are all Aezkul, living under the grace of the Wind and the light of the sky. What does she think, watching us slaughter each other in the hundreds? What does she think of us, her loyal subjects, as we murder hatchlings in their own homes? She is angry, Aezkul, very angry! She howls through these peaks in rage and yet all of you ignore her! Have you not noticed that the Singing Zule has not happened since this war began? Have you not seen her dislodge boulders with her sheer fury? Have you not seen how horrid the world is becoming as she tries to show her endless rage and disappointment in you three races?" Rataer paused, snarling. The kings thought, backing away slightly. It was true; the winds were changing and the Zule hasn't sung for a thousand years. How could they have not seen?

"The Wind herself has sent me, brethren! I bear the traits of all of you, yet the marks of none, and I have been accepted into the court of each one of you! You have listened to me without evidence and followed without a fight; you have yet to slaughter each other on this night and now, my friends, listen to the wind. She is not howling! She is still, listening, waiting; she wishes to hear your response, your verdict. She wishes to know if you want to continue to ignore her angry pleas and war with each other, paint these glorious mountains red with your blood. She misses your wings in her up drafts, my friends; this war must stop!" Rataer examined his audience, keeping up his regal pose. The forces that followed the kings were listening and watching intently, waiting for any cue from their kings to murder their neighbor.

The Aezkiel king's lips peeled back from his teeth as he snarled, canines gleaming in the light. "While I love the wind as much as the next kul, she does not understand! We were attacked wrongly those thousand years ago, our ancestors slaughtered in their own homes under the maniacal beliefs of a deranged Aezser!" The king pointed his wing towards the Aezser across from him, who returned the vicious snarl. The Aezrik king kept silent, wings tucked close to his flanks. He listened intently. The wind was picking up.

Rataer slammed a paw between the snarling kul. "ENOUGH WAR! ENOUGH FIGHTING! ENOUGH DEATH! I DECLARE THIS DAY, IN THE NAME OF THE WIND, THE DAY OF PEACE! THE DAY YOU THREE DECIDED THAT FEUDS THAT BEGAN THOUSANDS OF YEARS BEFORE YOUR TIME ARE NOT WORTH GIVING THE LIVES OF YOUR CHILDREN FOR! I SAY ENOUGH!" He roared, his voice echoing off the nearby mountains. The wind carried his voice far and wide, echoing into the caves above and the distant vallies below.

Silence on the mountaintop.

The kings stared at each other. It was true; what were they fighting for? The Aezser, continuing a war over a princess long since taken by time, if not by claws. The Aezkiel avenging the victims of a murderous assault led by a deranged king who was already murdered by one of his own. The Aezrik joining a war that has nothing to do with them, a war that was only perpetuated by their and their fellow's greed.

The soldiers, listening, symbolically laid down their arms; bronze claw tips and helmets dropped to the ground in clicks and clanks. Aezser looked at Aezkiel who looked at Aezrik; they turned on their kings, advancing in a circle. Rataer stayed silent, but eyed the crowd.

"Even your subjects see your faults. What will it be? Peace or death on these ancient peaks, staining the ruined earth with more blood?" He hissed softly, voice threatening.

The kings exchanged glances.

"Peace. I declare peace."

Postwar Recovery

The Aezkul united not too long after the long and bloody war ended. Tired of being cooped up in caverns carved by slaves of their own kind, they flew into the air and rejoiced. The Zule sang for the first time in a thousand years, symbolically welcoming the Aezkul into years of peace. The first celebration of the Singing Zule was held, all races flying disorderly in tune to the music, blasting fire into the air and occasionally smacking into each other.

The kings laid down their rights to the overall throne and worked together to end the racial feud. They became the first council members, one kul of each race and wing type. The council grew over time and the lower organisation became more refined as the years passed. Racial tensions were still high despite this seemingly bright time and occasionally fights would break out in public.

The fear of unending war kept down most full-scale assaults, however; some did happen between soldiers who refused to lay down their arms after so many years of fighting. They did not want their warring and loss of brothers to go to waste. Unfortunately, these usually ended up in mutual slaughter.

Present

Presently, the Aezkul are a very progressive society. Led by an elected council, equally representing all wing variations of all races that have popped up over the six hundred years since the war, they march into the future with heads held high.

The old war still affects them, however; racism is a terrifying concept to the Aezkul. They refuse to do anything that could even be slightly racist and try their best to be colorblind when talking to anyone. However, levels of respect based off of the times before the old war still exist. The Aezser, despite being the smallest group of kul today, are still respected the most for holding the highest peak. The Aezkiel come in next for their peak and the Aezrik last. These traditions are hard to shake - and likely won't be shaken off for many years to come.

The details and memories of the old war that were not written down are lost to time these days. No Aezkul from that time period is left alive today, each taken away by the winds of time.

Important Historical Figures

Aezzier Rataer: The first - and last - albino ever to be born to the Aezkul, Rataer is the kul famous for having ended the Thousand Year War. He moved on afterwards to become one of the first voted-in councildragons of the republic. He was the only tenth member ever to be had, as he never was truly proven to be any specific race. Rataer was voted in and re-voted in until he retired in his later years. His funeral was attended by most of the Republic. His final resting place is still a place of interest today.

King Serzier Arikktos Verios: Original king of the Aezser who led the initial assault against the Aezkiel in the night, searching for his lost daughter; died in the battle from his own angry generals.

General Serlan Zurikk Arikos: General of the Aezser who betrayed and killed his king on the night of the first assault in the Thousand Years War.

King Kielkra Terak Nyure: King of the Aezkiel at the beginning of the Thousand Year War.

King Riklan Ranerk Wiral: King of the Aezrik at the beginning of the Thousand Year War.