Elven Deity of Air, Weather, Avians, Rain, and Avariels in the Azolin Pantheon
Member of the Elven Pantheon
Aerdrie Faenya (AIR-dree FAH-ane-yuh) is the elven goddess of the air, weather, and birds. As the bringer of rain, she is the closest the Fair Folk have to an agricultural fertility goddess. The Winged Mother's followers are composed largely of the avariel, much like Deep Sashelas is worshiped primarily by sea elves. Today, sun, moon, and wild elves who desire certain weather conditions also make frequent sacrifices to Aerdrie. Her small church is also popular with elves who possess flying mounts, such as asperii, dragons, giant eagles, griffons, hippogriffs, and pegasi. The Lady of Air and Wind is revered by all non-evil birds, particularly aarakocra and other sentient avians, but their numbers are small and declining as well. She is also called on by elves oppressed by overly lawful creatures.
Aerdrie is the elven expression of freedom and impulse, and she dislikes being tied down to any one place for too long. Aerdrie delights in the sound of wind instruments and in creating unpredictable atmospheric conditions, including fairly severe or violent thunderstorms on occasion, but her primary joy is simply feeling the air rush past her with the ground far below. The Winged Mother is a somewhat distant goddess who rarely involves herself in elven culture, and she is far more chaotic than the rest of the Seldarine. Of all the elven races, only Aerdrie takes a keen interest in the avariel.
Aerdrie appears as a tall, slim elflike female with sky-blue skin, feathered, flowing white hair and eyebrows, and large birdlike wings whose feathers seem constantly to change color-blue, green, yellow, and white. The lower half of her body from the hips down vanishes into swirling mist, so she seems never to touch the ground.
Most priests of Aerdrie have a strong fear of being confined or trapped bordering on claustrophobia. Aerdrie's priests must sleep outdoors except during winter or times of bad weather.
Like all the Seldarine, Aerdrie is venerated by all elves save the drow. However, aside from those winged elves, very few of the Fair Folk primarily worship the Lady of Air and Wind. The Queen of the Avariel is seen as flighty, even for the chaotic Seldarine, and somewhat distant, and the inclusion of the aarakocra and other avian races slightly diminishes the strength of elven devotion to her.
Novices of Aerdrie are known as Eaglets or the Tethered. Full priests of the Winged Mother are known as Winged Brothers or Sisters. Titles used by Aerdrian priests vary widely from temple to temple, with many high-ranking priests having unique individual titles. Among the priest caste of the winged elves of the Avariel Sky Castle, commonly employed titles include Aquiline Hunter, Cloud Walker, Feathered Dancer, Rain Bringer, Rising Thermal, Silent Screech, Sky Diver, Soaring Spirit, and Wind Chaser. Specialty priests are known as halcyons.
Aerdrie's priesthood is primarily concerned with exploration and maintaining good relations with sentient avian races (for example, giant eagles and aarakocra). Many followers not gifted with the ability to fly work to create new spells and items by which magical flight is possible, and a not a few of their more adventuresome brethren seek lost relics of yore that permit the same. Similarly, members of Aerdrie's clergy raise winged steeds employed by the aerial cavalries of elven realms and tend cotes of fanciful birds from far-off lands to dwell in formal elven gardens and to supply the molted plumage employed in elven fashions. As servants of the Bringer of Rain and Storms, Aerdrie's priests work closely with elves involved in agriculture and horticulture to ensure favorable weather systems for their crops. Winged Brothers and Sisters are also charged with destroying evil avians, such as perytons and doom crows, as the Lady of Air and Wind considers them perversions of nature.
Ceremonial garb for priests of Aerdrie consists of sky-blue robes, with those of high rank wearing the darkest shades. Feathers are used in decorating their clothing and armor, and at least one feather is worn in the hair. The holy symbol of the faith is a feather of great beauty, willingly given after molting by a sentient avian who venerates the Winged Mother. A new feather must be found at least once per year.
The Wing of Plumed Kingfishers is an aerial military order composed primarily of moon and high elven paladins and rangers. The order is subdivided into aerial cavalry divisions by the species of their mounts, with asperii, giant eagle-, griffon-, hippogriff-, and pegasi-mounted Plumed Kingfishers predominating. This order attempts to patrol the skies above most forests of Azolin, protecting land-bound elves below from threats above. Some Wings include a division of moon elves mounted on giant eagles, a division of wood elves mounted on pegasi, a fleet of high elf griffon riders, and a handful of sun elf dragon riders mounted on gold, silver, and bronze dragons.
Aerdrie's temples, known as aeries, are usually located on high hilltops or mountain slopes having a good view of the land around them and the open sky. While the Winged Mother's shrines are little more than alpine ledges, accessible only to those creatures capable of flight, Aerdrie's temples are delicate crystalline spires bedecked with glass chimes whose ringing tones peal across mountain valleys, borne by swirling winds. Small open-mouthed caves, connected by short tunnels that honeycomb the peaks on which the goddess's temples rest, allow access to Aerdrie's glass-enclosed chapels and permit the wind to whistle through the heart of the peak.
The Aerie of the Snow Eagles is a crystalline citadel built atop the peak of the avariel floating city. The last redoubt of the avariel in Azolin, Aerdrie's preeminent temple has long been forgotten, due to the inaccesbility of land-dwellers from entering the floating city. From the steep spires, the Children of the Winged Mother take flight across the brisk skies, fishing in the waters across all of Azolin, hunting across the icy reaches of Vetborg, and engaging in aerial acrobatics across the world. The temple itself resembles an inverted glass cone built to replace the top spire of the floating city. The crystalline, conical temple is nearly 2,000 feet in diameter at its base and 2,000 feet high at its peak.
Within the temple's glassteeled walls, endless zephyrs dance hither and yon and tiny rain showers erupt out of thin air, a never-ending manifestation of the power of the Lady of Air and Wind. The temple floor is overgrown with tropical plants nurtured by the brilliant sunshine and regular rainfall to create a jungle paradise. Rare birds from the farthest reaches of Azolin gambol and caw while young winged elves test out their wings overhead. The avariel community, including the crystalline temple on top, is loosely governed by Winged Father Aquilan Greatspan, an avariel. Aquilan has led the last remaining major enclave of winged elves in Azolin for nearly five centuries, and his wise leadership has seen the avariel survive and prosper.
Rituals to Aerdrie usually involve attempting to coax the goddess to manifest on Azolin, traditionally in the form of natural processes such as strong winds, rain showers, and even powerful storms. The Lady of Air and Wind can be called forth as great storms, vast cyclones, and winds of hurricane depending on the complexity, dedication and duration of these rituals.
The Dance of Swirling Winds is a semiannual festival held on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes to celebrate the changing seasons and to honor the Winged Mother. The winds are always strong on such days no matter where Aerdrie's followers gather. Celebrants make offerings of beautiful feathers and join in an aerial ballet danced to the music of wind instruments played by some of the participants. Those who lack wings or magical means of flight may ride the wind as a gift of the goddess herself. For the duration of the formal ceremony, recipients of Aerdrie's blessing are usually tethered by long ropes to others who can command their own aerial movements. Once the dance breaks up, however, wind dancers, as they are known, are swept across the forest canopy for miles in a breathtaking flight before settling gently in a sylvan glade not too far from home.
Aerdrie is both an aspect of Angharradh and one of the three elven goddesses - the other two being Hanali Celanil and Sehanine Moonbow - who collectively form the Triune Goddess. This duality tightly binds Aerdrie with the two other senior elven goddesses, and the three collectively serve alongside Corellon in leading the Seldarine. Aerdrie maintains close relations only with those powers of the air who share a love of birds and freedom as deeply held as the Lady of Air and Wind, such as Shai'tan. Aerdrie is particularly close with Syranita, the gentle goddess of the aarakocra, and some theologians speculate the two may eventually merge if the bird-men continue their steady decline. Aerdrie is also close with the avian lords of the Beastlands, particularly the hawk lord. Aerdrie contests with Aegir Talos and the Gods of Fury, for they challenge her control of the winds and seek to wield them for purely destructive purposes. The deep antipathy between the Winged Mother and the Frostmaiden stems from the war in Arvandor between the Seldarine and the Seldarine Bane forces who were arrayed against them. Aerdrie soundly defeated Auril in that battle, forever banishing the Frostmaiden from Olympus, and the two goddesses continue their eternal war.
The Winged Mother does watch over those Fair Folk who take flight into her domain, whether it be through magic or their own wings. If an elf or worshiper of any race somehow falls from a great height, whether it be off a cliff or out of the sky, the Winged Mother may manifest as a deep blue nimbus of flickering light that envelops the plummeting creature and enables him or her to slow his or her descent and make a gentle landing, similar to the effects of a feather fall spell. If a worshiper in flight is targeted by a land-bound archer, the enveloping nimbus of Aerdrie's manifestation confers a defensive shield. While the Lady of Air and Wind rarely grants omens to her priests, when she does they manifest as whispering winds. The Seldarine call on agathinon, asuras, and ancient treants as their preferred servants, but Aerdrie is also served by aarakocra, aasimar, aasimon, air elementals, aerial servants, asperii, birds of all non-evil species (particularly eagles, falcons, hawks, kingfishers, and owls), cloud dragons, cloud giants, crystal dragons, djinn, eladrin, faerie dragons, griffons, hippogriffs, hollyphants, kenku, ki-rin, lammasu, lillendi, noctrals, pegasi, pegataurs, phoenixes, pixies, rocs, Seelie faeries, shedu, silver dragons, sylphs, spirits of the air, sprites, storm giants, sunflies, swanmays, swarms of grasshoppers or locusts, sword archons, tempests, vortexes, windghosts, and wind walkers. She demonstrates her favor through the discovery of feathers of any sort, hornbill ivory carved in the form of an avian species, psaedros, raindrops (a common name for cassiterite crystals), sapphires, turquoise, weirwood birdpipes, and wind instruments of any sort. The Winged Mother indicates her displeasure by suddenly transforming a gentle zephyr or little rain shower into a lashing storm, by causing flocks of birds to suddenly dissolve, each bird going its separate way, and by causing the offender's plumage - whether it be natural or a form of adornment - to suddenly molt.
Myths and Legends
The Lost Clan
According to legend, great aeries of the avariel may be found in undiscovered lands far into the Eternal Waters, shrouded in fog and protected from prying eyes. These avariels are said to have fled the annihilation of their race by great wyrms. All that remains currently in Azolin’s known lands is the avariel floating city of Sciae'lioa These lost avariels are said to still hold Aerdrie's faith, and to have created a great temple-city amidst what avariels refer to as the Star Mounts. While some claim that these mythical avariels are still hunted by the great red wyrm known to humans as Inferno, more credible tales hold that Elaacrimalicros, an ancient green dragon who has savaged the surviving population of aarakocra in the region, has claimed the quest of finding and eradicating these escaped avariel.
Aerdrie's realm, a floating palace called the Aerie, shifts across the border between Arborea and Ysgard; sometimes it is found in Arvandor and sometimes in Alfheim. Flying processions of eagles, falcons, and other flying creatures can fill the sky around her palace for hours, and when they find perches they can fill entire forests.
"The ever-changing reaches of the sky are the great gift of the Winged Mother. Take flight into her windswept embrace, and gambol amidst the everchanging clouds. Honor those who dwell with the Lady of Air and Wind and cherish the birds who dance on her tresses. In change there is beauty and in chaos there is the birth of new life. Ascend, soar, glide, dive, and ascend again and relish in the freedom that the Winged Mother bequeaths. The air is the breath of life."
Associated Symbol of Aerdine