Spirit of the Air

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Spirit of the Air
Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Any
Intelligence:Average (8-10)
No. Appearing:1d10
Armor Class:4
Movement:12, Fl 24 (C)
Hit Dice:11 (50 hp)
No. of Attacks:2
Damage/Attack:2d10 (×2)
Special Attacks:Initiative bonus, control winds
Special Defenses:+1 or better weapon needed to hit
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:L (8' tall)
Morale:Fearless (19)
XP Value:4,000

Spirits of the air are minions of powers associated with wind and air - most of these deities are elemental in nature, but any god who can create and control the wind can create and control a spirit of the air. These creatures are fierce in their desires to obey and serve. They may be mere messengers or full-fledged proxies.

Spirits of the air appear to be large batlike creatures with black skin, large wings, clawed feet, and tusked monkey heads. They dress in resplendent, shimmering fabric that would put the finest silk or spider thread to shame. Their clothes are more colorful than the rainbow, in ever-shifting hues that are impossible to name. Their voices are melodiously sweet or gratingly harsh, but never are the same at once.

Spirits of the air are born white as the chills of winter, but each endless day under the sun loads their essences with the colors of the world. At night their colors wash away in the silver of the moon. The cleansing tickles their spirits until their laughter is heard wafting through the night. With the dawn their burdensome colors return like the sighs of the morning breeze.

Combat: Spirits of the air fight as 11-HD creatures. Their range of weaponry is broad, but a typical choice is a longbow or darts for missile attacks and a two-handed sword or footman's mace for melee combat. Although these weapons have no magical bonuses, they are imbued with the might of their patron and can strike creatures requiring +3 weapons or better to hit. This property is inherent, so no such power is gained by other creatures who would wield their weapons.

Their greatest combat advantage is in their maneuverability. They live in the air, constantly and forever. Even when they fight their feet never touch ground. When battling “landlings”, spirits of the air enjoy a -2 modifier on all initiative rolls. When fighting flying creatures of maneuverability class B or less, they have a -1 initiative modifier. It is only when faced with a creature as maneuverable as themselves that the spirits of the air lose their combat advantage.

Every spirit of the air radiates a 30-yard-radius magical aura in which the spirit can control winds at will, provided its attention is not occupied by combat. Beyond this restriction, the spirit of the air can control winds while performing virtually any other activity.

Spirits of the air can be struck only by weapons of +1 or greater enchantment.

Habitat/Society: Spirits of the air are not aggressive beings. Unshackled by their own pleasures, they would ignore the world to revel in the sheer joy of flight, for they have no need of anything else. They are, however, not so free. The spirits of the air serve the powers - good, evil, lawful, chaotic, or neutral - without question. It is their duty, bound upon them by forces long forgotten.

An ancient legend describes their lot in life:

When the powers made the multiverse, they looked at all the work they had done and knew that it was complete, except for its final destruction. The annihilation of their work was all that remained to be done in eternity, the last thing left to “create”. This eventuality was a sad fact for them, and yet it made them happy, and they said, “Truly we are omniscient, for we can visualize the end of all we have made. Since we have foreseen this end, we do not need to create it, and our creation will live incomplete forever.”

But the powers were not truly omniscient, for they had never seen the source of their own creation. This error hid many others from their eyes, yet it soon grew plain to them that they had erred, for after they spoke, they realized the very breach of their words had given life to the air around them. Before they could stop them, the creators' words took shape and flight, becoming silvery little beings who mocked their parents' hubris.

Such disrespect by their children angered the powers who, still being powerful, (but not omniscient) drew in their breaths, stealing back some the life they had given. Thus, the spirits of the air were bound by the will of the powers. Hence, the wispy children forever hear within themselves the breathing of the gods, whose rhythmic sighs carry secret messages to their aerial messengers.

Although they live free and follow no single power, the spirits exist to carry out the will of the wind gods, the breath of all creation. Any power related to the winds, be it good, evil, or otherwise, can demand obedience from a spirit of the air. Refusal is impossible, for the spirits are no more than the breath of the gods. On the other hand, spirits of the air are as free as a breath released from the lips. Sent like a heavy sigh on its mission, a spirit of the air finds its own time and means to fulfill its master's desire.

It is said that in the small space between the drawing and releasing of a single breath, the spirits of the air are free of their bonds. In that space, quicker than the hand can follow the eye, they plot and rage against their parents, forming thoughts, word by word, and preparing deeds, thought by thought by thought, for their chance to break free. It is said that in this way they live two lives hidden from each other - slave and freeman, all in one. Each spirit imagines it courts and marries, builds cities, and fights great wars in those collected instants, believing their servile existence is nothing but a dream. Each life is as rich and detailed as the others, so who can say which is the lie?

It is in the midst of these dreams that a spirit of the air reaches out to adventurers, sometimes including them in a bittersweet and surrealistic vision of a life that never was, and sometimes begging them to save it from the power who would kill it with a word - or rather, with the withdrawal of a word.

Ecology: Creatures of the gods, the spirits of the air have no ecology mortals can understand. They feed upon the happiness of others, sharing it like bread freely broken at the meal, and they sleep amongst the sunbeams. When they die, their bodies release the burdensome colors trapped within, arcing out rainbows to paint all things around. The colors give forth bright implings full of play and mirth, who last no more than a hour or two. These can't be commanded or charmed, nor can glass contain them. Born without knowledge of the world, they have no interest in it. They merely play parts in the spirits' dreams of another life or whirl about adventurers' heads, gibbering and laughing in high-pitched, high-speed voices.