Aio

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A lesser Aio anticipates the power he will gain after his ululation of Chaos.

Before an invasion of the Communions or the Throes, an aio may arrive and seek out the greatest enemies of Chaos — to present himself as an unquestioning servant with the hidden aim of corrupting his new master, or more often, mistress. An aio appears as a powerfully strong man, completely bald with irises of orange-red. The voice, manner, and appearance of an aio are thoroughly handsome and soothing—and they often seek to seduce women of high station and influence. Like their masters, the communions, the aio are averse to clothing—they wear but one type of vestment only to fulfill their ends—and such vestments are dazzlingly beautiful and enchanted. Such a vestment is called a jisseen — it appears as many garments, but in fact is one intricately fabricated piece that wields powerful magics on those who glimpse it and also serves as magical armor to an aio.

The aio may use no weapons or offensive spells—if they wield such with violent intent, even in self defense, they die instantly—for the communions wish the aio to enlist cleverness until the last moment of their missions. Rather, an aio employs his charisma, guile, and the fabulous powers of his jisseen. The aio have no females among their race, for they must breed with human and humanlike women—and the offspring of such unions is always a full aio male. An aio child appears as a prodigiously attractive human boy with no hair and orange-red eyes. Similar to other greater throes, an aio can see into other realms. An aio has the power to ululute — a terrifying sound that calls the races of chaos to battle. But the aio is loath to do such, for it reveals his true nature and leaves him greatly weakened—he uses his ululation only when his work is done. An aio also has special chaos glyphs on his private quarters. An aio may employ his magic or his jisseen to conceal with illusion the telltale traits of his nature, his baldness and his orange-red eyes. The animal servant of an aio is the mallegrin hound. Sometimes the orange-red eyes of an aio are mistaken for the demi-mortal eye trait of true Arathracians.

Combat

The gods of chaos refuse to permit an aio to employ a weapon or spell to deal direct harm, until after he yells the ululation of Chaos. If he attacks prematurely, he dies instantly. Thus, an aio must deal in subterfuge and deception, often conniving or flattering others to fight for him. The aio may employ another to defend him or even pose as a pacifist. The mallegrin hound is the servant of an aio and he may command such a pet to attack in his behalf without invoking the curse of his chaos gods. Once the aio ululates, he is too weak to attack, but may do so any time thereafter, should he regain his strength, for his mission is complete and the threat of instantaneous death is gone.

Until the Middle Ages, the deeds of the aio were generally unknown and many rulers fell victim to their powers. Since the time of the Isbajutha, the foul subversions of the aio have become well known and the gods of chaos rarely ever demand their services on Asdar. If they do so, the aio must work monumentally hard to conceal his true nature.

Female Aio

The female is thought to be extraordinarily rare, although some researchers insist that female aio are only rare in our realm. The heart box of Prince Ulcanov of the Shattered Waters was reputed to have been protected by a female aio whose singing drove the listener mad.

See Also