Author: Tevish Szat
Principles: (None Yet)
Known Information: Zent is home to the Aridon species, and a human society known as the Devotees of Will, described below. Zent is also known to be home to a race of elves.Aridon
Consider, if you will, a pocket watch. Such a thing as a pocket watch is an intricate combination of gears and springs, its every delicate detail precision crafted. If you were to walk along the beach and find a ticking pocket watch laying in the sand with the other stones worn smooth by time and entropy, it is very likely you would suppose that some traveler before you had lost his watch, and if you were to be more philosophical about the matter it would be even more tempting to say that, somewhere along the line, there had been a watchmaker who assembled the gears and the springs, and set it ticking, breathing life into the lifeless, artificial matter.The Devotees of the Will
But, for a second, suppose I were to tell you that there was no watchmaker for this watch. That, in fact, the watch had arisen out of natural processes and come into its shape in the same manner that the other stones sitting in the brine came into their shape. Instead of a watchmaker, the watch was forged by chance, countless stones melted just right, worn into the correct shapes by centuries of tiny eddies of air and water, rain on the mountains and the beat of a butterfly’s wings, until such a time as all the parts were in their shapes and indistinguishable from those same man-made parts, at which point the same processes that might bring a highland pebble or tropical coconut to this shore, distant from both mountain and tropics alike, happened to bring those exacting-nature crafted parts together, falling subtly into the very shape you see before you, that of a perfectly working timepiece.
You might be inclined to call it impossible. But is it really? Nature can from metal and stone carve any shape, after all, so perhaps call it unlikely – perishingly, horrifically unlikely that all those shapes would be carved at all, at the same time, and brought together in the correct order, just as we happen to walk by. It would be so unlikely that the odds of it happening would be like unto the odds that for no good reason the sun would refuse to rise tomorrow. I would agree. It is unlikely, so unlikely that for the most part you might as well call it impossible.
And yet… The multiverse is a vast place, so vast that not even the glorious and omnipotent planeswalkers of old would comprehend the fullness of its scale, nor hope to explore its every world and dimension. On countless of those worlds there exist the building blocks for a pocket watch, iron ore and silicate sand, copper and zinc and nickel, and is it just so happens. On countless of those worlds, more of them than all the planeswalkers of Dominaria could ever discover and name, nothing has come of it. On one at least, a smallish and relatively inoffensive plane referred to as Zent, something like what I have described did happen, and the evidence can still be seen.
They are called the Aridon. At first glance, a member of the Aridon species looks very much like a human. Somewhat, different, of course, as Kor and Elves have their differences from humanity, but not so much that they would immediately appear to be alien to your eyes. Their features are regular and perfectly summetrical, and their skin has odd casts to it: ruddy mixed with green or over gray, or shiny white seemingly dusted with black. The Aridon hold themselves tall, and stand all to the exact height of six feet one and five eights inches. Male and female, if there are such distinctions, are indistinguishable, and all seem to wear long hair and have gleaming, vivid eyes.
If you were to appear among a group of them, glancing about, a multitudinous ticking would be your first indication that they were not normal flesh and blood, ticking as though countless clocks and not bewildered natives were surrounding you. Then, on closer inspection, the nature of the Aridon becomes obvious: their eyes are faceted gemstones, their skin iron, copper, or silver that often takes on a patina or rusted tone. That hair that at first looked flaxen on one is fine golden wire, and you would believe yourself surrounded by the creations of a masterful artificer.
In all the expeditions to the plane of Zent, in every archaeological record and every history of the plane itself, the oldest of which are kept by the Aridon, predating the histories of the elves by some five centuries, and from every divination no creator of the Aridon has ever been revealed. Their presence is a quandary, their ticking, clockwork hearts resembling down to the finest detail a creation like those of Urza, or Tawnos, and yet they stand alone, self propagating, as though they always were alone. A watch without a maker.
Beyond this strangeness, the Aridon are a pleasant enough people if one becomes used to the ticking. They are, largely, what they eat, and so it is possible to tell members of separate populations apart by the cast of their skin and hair, whether iron or copper or silver has been the larger part of their diet, for they feed on metal chiefly and other stone and mineral ocassionally Though they have no gender, most have had enough contact with the outside world for the concept to have become relevant, individuals of the younger generation often insisting on referring to themselves as masculine or feminine and adopting mannerisms correlating to their “gender”.
They are exceedingly long lived, perhaps immortal barring accidents as rust and decay, wear and tear may be repaired, but do reproduce rarely. To produce offspring, two or more Aridon engage in a ritual outsiders are not usually permitted to witness, the product of which is a foot long metal egg that, fed on the Aridon diet of metal and stone, will soon develop into a small member of their kind, which then quickly grows depending on how well fed the youngster is, to the full six feet in height and adult mental capacity. Even when renegades have agreed to perform the ritual of birthing for artificer and planeswalker observers, it remains mysterious, indecipherable: metal and gemstone sometimes appearing to come from nowhere, as though they were always there.
The society of the Aridon is one that heavily rooted in this world: they do not believe in higher powers or other lives, their ritual for the rare dead to mourn the ending of a life and melt the body down to join the metal stores for work and food alike. One might expect this, though, considering they seem if not incapable of than at least inclined against abstract thought. Though they have come far enough in their dealings with to understand falsehood and its uses, they have no appreciation for fiction and do not create it – their art, for its part, is occasionally wholly representational but more often geometric: breathtaking, to be sure, but also appearing more like schematics or mathematics than what we typically think of as art. Their emotions are very subdued, and they are prone neither to rage, nor to grief, but more often to annoyance, longing, or harmony
For a canny Planeswalker, summoning a member of the Aridon of Zent can be profitable indeed, for though no member of their race has become truly exceptional in the art of war, their knowledge of science and metallic nature makes the masterless constructs adept artificers themselves, as well as great manipulators of the physical world. The exceptional among them are indeed powerful, and their mechanical nature means they have no tie to any color of mana so great that it is required for the summoning
While interest in the Aridon is what draws most planeswalkers to Zent, if any are drawn there, they are far from the dominant culture. From any township of the Aridon or village of the Zentish elves can be seen dark clouds on the horizon, or closer the outskirts of what must be a grand city. Wherever the land is good enough to support it and not claimed by some other race determined to hold it, these cities have sprung up across the plane of Zent in the last hundred years, gleaming cities of metal and stone populated by the native humans.
They call themselves Devotees of the Will, and their cities are the visible result of a philosophical belief in working towards greatness, the force of an individual will rising above its peers.
This is the image that the Devotees, common and leader alike, wish to present: A society where any being may rise from the basest of ranks to the highest through hard work, or fall by failing to maintain their power. Every being in Devotee society has its fate on its own shoulders, and will succeed or fail by its power alone
Certainly, the constant straining for individual excellence has resulted in great advances for the culture: many wonders of what would be called artifice have they produced, without even the barest touch of magic, great rails of lightning moving men across the skies, and their steel and stone cities raised up at a frightening pace. Devotees have even flirted with the technology of firearms, and produce some of the finest cannons in the mapped multiverse.
However, the Devotee philosophy has long ago destroyed itself: the upper classes, those devotees who worked their way into power and control of lesser men, realized that part of having power was maintaining power, and if their own wills were to continue to be heard and recognized, they would have to find a way to subjugate all the rest striving to rise above them. As such, the leaders moved away from one another, founding more and more cities to insulate themselves from their nearest rivals while setting up fanciful hoops and tasks for promotion. Power begets power, and nowhere can that be seen better than in the failure of a disadvantaged but dedicated Devotee to rise to the level of his ability, while a lord who begins his life with his father’s power needs do relatively little to maintain it.
In this way, each of the grand cities of the Devotees of the Will has its own lord, and the lords squabble amongst one another to build the grandest cities and have the most followers supporting them with wealth and glory, while the underclasses toil on in the deluded belief that all is right with the world and they will get what they deserve in good time. It is a truly rare event to see a change in the order of the power, some new devotee dedicated or more often devious enough to overthrow his current lord and take his place among the lords and ladies. Perhaps it happens once in a generation for every handful of cities.
Interestingly, the Devotees of the Will maintain the laws of their early days, laws that seek to in no way prohibit personal advancement: theft is entirely legal as the old owner of a thing was not good enough to keep a hold of it if it was stolen, and publicly claiming, with at least two witnesses, to have committed murder entitles the killer to all the victim’s worldly possessions, assuming the possessions are still there to claim, while killing in defense of one’s own life or property will be treated similarly. The lords, such as they are, therefore maintain their wealth and status by force alone, and by false promises of advancement and reward entice their populations to the great civic works the Devotees have become known for.
Style Guide: (None yet)
Other Information: (None Yet)