|Common Nicknames||Ghost-Bird, Death-Song, Fruit-Flies|
The Aphed is the most common avian species of the Ashal Isles, but was presumed completely extinct before the Asha returned to their Asha States. Acting as part of the complex Dewamenet infrastructure yet being a complete mystery to both the Asha and foreign researchers, Aphed form an integral part in the cycle of life and death for plant life on the Ashal Isles, only existing there. The Aphed are also a visually unique species of bird, because all parts of their body including their intestines and bodily fluids are see-through blue and luminescent, thus making the whole bird appear more like a ghost than an actual real animal, though it definitely is a real animal. Aphed also have a quasi-religious symbolism to the Asha, who believe that they feed the land and then herald the death of Asha, and as such are a stalwart and dutiful companion to the Asha their entire lives. It should come as no surprise that the Asha consider the Aphed a protected species, and killing an Aphed is considered a capital crime in the Asha Kingdoms.
Aphed were non-existent on the Ashal Isles or indeed anywhere else in the world during the days of the Allorn Empire. Some ancient ruins of the Dewamenet Empire still show some of them as hieroglyphic depictions, but the exact relation between them and the Dewamenet Asha is unclear, as these hieroglyphs usually depict history and relations between things metaphorically. Additionally, Aphed were considered so normal and all-over the place during the Dewamenet Empire, that nobody actually took the effort to write down the intricacies of the Aphed and the Aphed Sanctuaries.
Aphed returned to Aloria as a species, when the Asha returned to the Ashal Isles and re-activated the Dewamenet infrastructure. The cornerstones of this infrastructure are the Mewer Pyramids that convert desert sand into potable water and spew forth the stuff of life to irrigate the deserts, the Khem-Henqet mills that produce air pressure to keep the sand away from the cities, and finally, the Aphed Sanctuaries, which automatically breed Aphed inside an enclosed cylinder tower, and nurture them until they can fly freely. Most of these infrastructural monuments are barely understood, and many of them inaccessible out of fear of their accidental destruction. The Aphed Sanctuary however has portholes on all sides of its tall cylindrical architecture, thus allowing some modicum of spectating its insides.
When the Asha re-activated all the infrastructure, the Aphed started being bred from the Sanctuary, and within a matter of weeks, Aphed started flying out of the portholes, spreading seeds of plants, flowers and fruits across the land in their waste. The earliest populations of Aphed returned to the Sanctuary for food, but as the seeds began being spread further and further, the Aphed could survive on their own in the wild without ever coming back. Now, the Aphed are merely bred and released from the Sanctuary entirely based on an automated process that requires no input from the Asha.
The Aphed appear similar to storks in most Ailor countries, roughly the size of a small 5 year old child, and walking on tall thin legs, with a long narrow beak. The Aphed has feathers on its head that curl upwards when male, and curl downwards when female, though the biological distinction of gender does not truly matter as Aphed have never been seen to reproduce in the wild. Aphed, as they fly, produce a small trail of blue glow and glitter, a sort of bioluminescent dust that is excreted from their see-through feathers. This dust and glow seems to also deter predators whenever any get near them. Individual features beyond describing an Aphed as a stork are difficult to make out, as their entire body is see-through, including their organs and their bodily fluids. While mildly distorted, it is possible to see someone’s hands through an Aphed as they hold it, making an Aphed’s translucency almost comparable to that of colored glass.
All Aphed more or less look identical, or at the least, their minute differences cannot be told apart due to the fact that all Aphed are see-through. The only slight distinction that exists is the aforementioned curling of feathers to distinguish males and females. Across all Ashal Isles, the Aphed are identical, even if they are bred from different Aphed Sanctuaries on different islands. This is likely because all Aphed sanctuaries are fed by the same Mewer Pyramids and the same Living Metal infrastructure left behind by the Dewamenet. Scholars often argue whether to consider the Aphed an actual animal, or part of a machine like a gear or a screw.
Lifespan and Development
Aphed birds live for roughly five years, and that is only a number that came about after some guesswork when someone spilled ink onto an Aphed that had just left the Sanctuary that somehow never washed off, and stayed with it until it died. Aphed are rarely seen in their juvenile stage, which is why not much is known about them when they have just hatched from their eggs, though they are known to exist in the Aphed Sanctuary for about three months before flying off, as this is the average schedule on which the Aphed Sanctuary releases new birds. When Aphed die, they fall to the ground, and the blue color in their body is replaced with a gray-ish color. This is likely because the blue dust and glow is a natural bodily chemical reaction that ceases on death. This has led many to assume that Aphed are actually gray colored without their see-through characteristics, but this can never truly be confirmed.
Aphed are immensely domesticated, yet also wild animals. What this means is that Aphed are mindful of the Asha, and never engage in behavior that obstructs Asha work or life, unlike for example the Regalian pigeon that drops its waste all over Regalians on a daily basis. That being said, Aphed cannot be held as pets as chains seem to always inexplicably slip off them, and even when captured in a box, the box is inexplicably empty the next day. Aphed also try not to interact with those living on the ground as much as they can, spending the vast majority of their time in the sky except when feeding. Aphed usually travel in groups and feed in groups, plucking berries, seeds and flowers from any plant they find. Generally speaking, most plants on the Asha Isles are not assisted by bees in their pollination like other regions of the world, but rather by Aphed eating their seeds and then dropping the waste across the land as they travel. Their waste is also generally high in nutrients, giving the seeds natural fertilizer along with the extremely clean Mewer Pyramid water that is fed under the ground of the Ashal Isles. If attacked, Aphed act like cowards, quickly taking to the skies, though never making a sound besides the movement of their wings.
Territory and Groupings
Aphed do not have territories and mostly seem to just randomly criss-cross the countries they reside in while dropping the seeds all over the place. They have never been witnessed being hostile to one another, different flocks, or indeed even different animals. If anything, the Aphed can best be described as completely apathetic to everything around them, content to just eat fruits and flowers and berries, and leave everyone else be. Aphed however avoid the oceans like the plague, being largely the reason why they have never moved to any other lands beyond the Ashal Isles, even while imprisoned. If this is because the ocean has no flowers and plants to eat, or because the Aphed were somehow programmed this way, is unknown.
- When Aphed die and fall to the ground, their body tends to decompose at a rapid speed, being gone within several days. Aphed also uniquely do not die anywhere near urbanized areas. They seem to only choose to die in the deserts.
- What causes Aphed to die, is unclear. Most of them just fall from the sky randomly after healthily flying around, or die in the middle of eating, falling flat on the ground.
- Aphed are considered religious in a sense because an Aphed can always be seen perched on a rooftop of a window when a nearby Asha breathes their last breath, before flying off when they are dead. This has largely given rise to the idea that the Apheds warn of impending death.