After the flying city of Avanost crashed during the Starfall, the survivors fled high into the Little Condor Mountains in southern Gildanesti. There they discovered one of the abandoned ruins of the ancient elven city of Sirenethel. Taking their good fortune as a blessing from the gods, the Avanesti tore down the rubble and rebuilt a new city from scratch. Helionost is now the only home in Avanesti society, and although scouts are being sent out to map the surrounding territories and discover what dangers and lesser peoples are nearby, plans have begun to make Helionost their new flying city.
Life and Society
With the exception of the youngest Avanesti, the winged elves have lived most of their lives in the air, rarely sitting foot on Adlatum itself. Helionost resembles the lost city of Avanost in many ways, except that since this city was constructed after the creation of the Avanesti, there were no stairs built. All of the towers have either exterior access or passageways into long shaft-like interiors to allow elves to fly from one level to another.
The Avanesti are xenophobic and do what they can to keep other races away unless there is a necessity. No one of any other race is allowed into the city or even close to it.
Dedication to the cause of good and upholding the Avanesti standard of living is a requirement. Many mistake the winged elves as angels, divine agents of the gods, but the Avanesti have come to recognize their similarities to the beings of legend and believe they must keep themselves as devoted to what is good more so than even angels would. Those who do not keep themselves to their society's strict standards have their wings cut off in the Ceremony of Descent and exile them, permanently severing them from the sky.
All Avanesti worship the gods of light, whether they want to or not. The seven gods of light are the source off all righteousness and glory in this world, and the Avanesti, being the self-proclaimed beings of purity as they are, will not tolerate any corruption in their society. As such any religion outside of faith in the seven gods is forbidden by law. What religions one can keep private and hidden is another matter.
The Speaker of the Skies rules above all in purity and light. This is the first and last law governing the Avanesti, however any word or order spoken by the Speaker is absolute and becomes part of that law. Although the nobles may advise the Speaker, his or her decisions guide the city. With the Speaker realistically only in charge of the single city, the governing by one has presented little in the way of problems for the Avanesti. However it has also led to an extreme amount of arrogance from the office. By the letter of the One Law, the Speaker is only required to uphold his office in a fashion that exemplifies what is righteous and good. Only by disregarding that standard can a Speaker be deposed.
Many Avanesti also believe that the Speaker of the Skies is the only true ruler of Krynn, under the gods, and may have final say over any matter regardless of land or local (so-called) rulers. However with so much of the world corrupted and decayed, they understand the need to keep distant from the waste.
The Divine Wing is the military arm of the Speaker. Many are skills in archery, magic, and aerial combat. For most of its history, the Divine Wing acted as a police force for the city. Their only major military campaigns were during the initial war with the ogres, the Avanesti Civil War, and the Days of Darkness. The Divine Wing is lead by the Archand, who follows orders directly from the Speaker.
The Wing has been struggling over the last forty years to learn military techniques for ground operations, especially in mountainous terrains and in forest.
Magic and Mysticism
Arcane magic is a common way of life among the Avanesti. More than half of the population is formerly trained as white wizards, although only in the last several decades has sorcery become a tolerable replacement. With the return of the moons, sorcery is now seen as unnecessary and an affront to the gods. There has been some discussion of making the practice of sorcery a punishable offense.
Divine magic is also highly prized. Clerics of the gods of light have been seen as the only true masters of the Avanesti people beyond their own leaders. No cleric of any other gods are tolerated within their society, and any such follower discovered would be exiled and put through the Ceremony of Descent swiftly. Between the Starfall and its undoing, the practice of mysticism came to be accepted in Avanesti society. However, upon the gods' return, it was not shunned in a similar manner as sorcery. Although many Avanesti believe mysticism to be a form of heresy, a growing percentage of the population now argue that the purity of their way of life has opened the door for the Avanesti people to use divine magic of their own, rather than from the gods, thereby reflecting their own elevated and now partially divine status in the world. Regardless of which side of the debate an Avanesti is on, a vast majority do admit that any non-Avanesti using such power is a heretic and must be dealt with.
Major Geographical Features and Locations
Helionost is located near the highest summit of the Little Condor Mountains. The ice from the surrounding area is now used to gather water and nourish the crops in the city's gardens. Extraordinarily steep climbs near the upper reaches of the peaks makes any ascent of a land-bound person very difficult, and the Avanesti use the terrain to help keep unwanted visitors away.
Around 3450 PD, the Valenesti nobles and wizards fled the continent in order to escape the ogres and a "coming doom" mentioned in the elven Volume of the Prophet. Using powerful magic, the capital city of Avanost is ripped from the ground and disappears far above Adlatum. The elven Volume the Prophet is taken with them. The magic holding the city aloft was unstable, and for many years the city floated above Adlatum within consistent direction or purpose. Keeping the city in the sky took most of the magical energies and attention of the elves during this time.
A decade went by, and control over the city was stabilized. Only then could they turn their attentions towards their dwindling food supplies and issues with the elements. Eventually they guided Avanost back towards their former homeland in hopes of restocking their supplies.
They watched from above as a rush to strange bull-headed men bore down on many of the warrior class that had been left behind during the city's initial departure. After a fierce debate, an elven noblewoman by the name of Ulavaphanera took control through her own skills as an orator and convinced the city to come to their lesser brothers' defense. The city rained its defense down upon the previously unseen minotaurs, allowing the warriors a chance to escape by ship. During the battle the Graygem floated over the shores into Adlatum, closely followed by a gnomish vessel from abroad. In a single moment, the gem flashed.
Everyone in Avanost fell into a deep slumber. They finally awoke to discover they had been changed. Each now sported a set of angelic white feathery wings, and they were also capable of flight. Unwilling to return to the mainland and averse to joining their cousins that had been transformed into "creatures" of the sea, the Avanesti remained in their floating home above the clouds.
As quickly as they had been given wings the elves began to rethink the ways of their former lifestyle. They renamed themselves the Avanesti and their leader was given the title of Speaker of the Skies. They looked down on the races of Adlatum as lesser beings. They avoided contact with them and watched as they destroyed one another, content to return to the lives before the ogres shattered their peaceful way of life. Magic was wrapped around the city to hide it from view of the mainland and they enacted laws to keep all Avanesti within the borders of the great city.
After the Drowning, many were horrified at the loss of life across the continent. Most were satisfied that the Drowning was the "coming doom" the city was designed to protect them from, but they wished to continue existence as they had throughout their own lives. Others believed the city had served its purpose and that it was time for them to return to the land in order to help the unfortunate. The blessed city of the heaven fell into civil war.
Magical battles erupted throughout the city, and Avanost and the Avanesti fell from the sky. Most were in remote locations but many people of Adlatum wept believing that the gods were battling and that angels had been flung from the heavens in their wrath. Eventually the civil war ended. The rebels in support of rejoining life down below were defeated. Many were put through the Ceremony of Descent where their wings were cut off before being put into exile. Most modern day Talonesti can trace their heritage back to these fallen Avanesti.
Avanost was lifted back up into the sky, but the Avanesti discovered they no longer had the freedom of movement they had before. They tried to flee the continent but found that the very foundation of their home was tied to Adlatum. The further they moved from the continent, the more the city descended towards the waters of the turbulent seas. Reluctantly, the Avanesti remained hovering above Adlatum. Also, once among the clouds, they discovered that their Volume of the Prophet was missing, lost during the war.
On the first day of 383 AD, the Starfall changed the sky by changing the stars and moons. Upon that moment, the city of Avanost fell from the heavens and crashed into the Dwarfsea. The survivors made it to the mainland, and they quickly made for the higher ground of the Little Condor Mountains as their former city was left in ruins, now guarded by a silver dragon who swore to protect it.
Later that same year, the Avanesti discovered an ancient ruined city near the highest peak in the range. The Speaker of the Skies claimed it to be the elven city of Sirenethel. Believing the city to be a blessing from the gods, they tore down the ruins and began to build a new city, Helionost. Slowly the Avanesti began to scout the nearby mountains and even into the Bitter Wood, trying to learn of what dangers lived nearby in order to better protect themselves. At the same time, several of the nobles began plans to lift the city from the ground and make Helionost their new home in the clouds.
Even after forty-years on ground, the Avanesti remain highly xenophobic. Their interactions with other races remains at a minimum, but even then most of their contact is out of necessity and the need to know what threats other people pose to their way of life.
The metropolis of Helionost is the only Avanesti settlement in Adlatum. No other community of the winged elves is known to exist.