Istari (Crystal People)
The Istari are a seafaring crystal people whose primary territory is on the island that they call Calena.
Created by Inu, whose corporeal form is a diamond the size of a skull deep in their mountain stronghold, the Istari are composed entirely of a very strong, transparent crystal. They can manipulate the facings of their bodies substantially at will, creating reflective areas and effects like frosted glass. It is customary in their culture to keep the appendages ‘frosted’ when not reflective, but their aversion to clear limbs is much less strong than our own towards nudity. The Istari do not have to eat as we do, but they drink substantial amounts of seawater. They have recently learned how to extract the salt from seawater, which they take with them when any mission requires their absence from the sea for more than about a week. The Istari suffer no adverse affects from a lack of seawater for up to about ten days, after which point they experience increasingly debilitating pain on movement until they can replenish themselves. At this point they also struggle to control their appearance, and frosted and reflective forms become much more challenging for them. Much like humans, their natural inclinations make it impossible to forget to feed themselves properly.
Individual Istari look very similar to outsiders, and those who spend significant time among other peoples have taken to the convention of distinguishing themselves via ‘frosted’ markings. They are hominid in shape, although their features somehow appear more rounded without appearing feminine.
The Istari are masters of crystal work, and all of their structures are built of a crystal very similar to their flesh. They grow these crystals in farms, and they can grow structures in several parts and attach them into one seamless piece. They cannot, however, take parts that were never intended to connect and combine them seamlessly. The joints in these pieces that were not originally intended are much weaker than the surrounding crystal. Crystal growing occupies a central place in their economy, similar to that of agriculture in ours. The only other “essential” functions of their economy are the new suppliers of salt tablets for overland travel.
Because of the materials they build with, all of the structures of the Istari are beautiful. This has led them not to appreciate the arts in any form, as all of their creations are inherently beautiful. As an indirect result of this and their biology (discussed later), the Istari are a highly logical people who see no purpose to the emotions that other races display. The Istari sail in crystal ships with a unique propulsion mechanism. The crystal itself intakes water at the bow and ejects it at the stern, propelling the boat forward. Highly trained pilots work the crystal at the stern to steer by controlling the direction of the outflow.
Istari-made tools are incredibly durable, and are traded among many peoples. The Istari trade primarily with the Har Cid and the Amb He peoples. They will trade with the Cid He and the Ambisa, but more cautiously as they are concerned with the possibility of cultural hegemony by these larger empires. The Istari also trade with the Daeyang and the Bushi primarily through the colony city at Shenia.
The Istari have three colony cities, easily recognizable because crystal construction is rare on the mainland. Shenia, on the western coast, is their farthest outpost. From there they trade easily with the Daeyang and the Bushi. Keza, on the southern tip of the continent, was originally named Kyzia. It was renamed after the Fremon destroyed it with sand worms, and the Istari no longer travel there. Ekia, on the western shores of the great bay, sits just north of the desert and just far enough south to be navigable without Ambisa weather-casters. It is by necessity a smaller settlement, as it is hard to navigate to, and only the most accomplished pilots make the journey. It is much less successful as a trading outpost, but does still house a substantial Istari population.
On Calena, Istari settlements dot the entire landscape. While other races find it uninhabitable due to the color from outer space, the Istari simply reflect the color away from themselves and continue about their day. In the center is the city Calenia, and next to that rises the mountain stronghold containing Inu.
The Istari are genderless, and while their consciousnesses are not immortal, their bodies reused by the next generation if they are not destroyed. Inu controls their numbers be extruding new bodies or absorbing the old, but for the most part when an Istar (singular) dies, its body is reborn as a baby. Individual Istari volunteer to train the new ones in society for the first 10 years, but because they are born with adult bodies and minds the concept of parenting is slightly foreign to them. Each Istar is born with the understanding that it is only logical to adhere to the wisdom of its trainer, who clearly knows more than it.
The lifespan of an individual Istar is around 120-140 year, and can be divided roughly into four phases. For the first 5 years, Istari live in the mountain with the older members of society, who mentor them. They also work in the growing mines at this time. From age 5 to age 60, they continue to work, either in the growing mines or in salt extraction. From 60 to 100 year old they tend to be adventurers. This is their physical peak, and the Istari army is drawn exclusively from these ages except in times of total war. At the age of 120, surviving Istari move back to the central mountain, where they mentor the younger members of society and serve as master craftsmen in the crystal growing mines until they pass away and their bodies are host to a younger Istar. (Note that they are not reincarnated; there is not, nor do the Istari believe there to be, a relationship other than co-spacial between Istari who happened to live in the same body). Bodies of those who die before returning to the mountain do not host younger Istari, and Inu allows those bodies to decorporealize.
Istari society is highly orderly. The crystal growing and salt extraction facilities move with almost machine-like precision, as do their armed forces. There is immense social pressure on Istari to conform to the standard ages at which the phases of their lives are bounded. They are, however, free to choose other and novel ways to carry out each phase after the first. Bands of Istari who adventure together tend to form similarly regimented parties, although many Istari adventure on their own or with companions of other races.