The azarketis, also called gillmen or Low Azlanti by others, are amphibious humanoids who live in and around the Arcadian Ocean, Steaming Sea, and Inner Sea. They are believed to be one of the last direct descendants of the vanished Azlanti people.
The azarketis of the Inner Sea region most closely resemble the now vanished inhabitants of ancient Azlant. They have their forebears' pronounced and haughty facial features, and exotic, purple eyes. Their hair is generally dark and they have pale skin from years of living far from the sun's rays. Three piscine gills on both sides of their neck, just above their shoulders, give them the ability to breathe underwater, even though they can also breathe air. Azarketis cannot survive long away from sea or freshwater; they quickly develop organ failure if they are not submerged in either fresh or salt water for more 24 hours.
With their affinity to water, nautical navigation skills, and athletic capabilities, azarketis make great rangers. Azarketis' versatility both on land and in water make them particularly formidable fighters, while their direct connection to the sea leads others to become druids. As many azarketis have a connection to alghollthus' occult magic, a good few azarketis become sorcerers, though more academically inclined individuals sometimes become bards or wizards instead.
Most of the human inhabitants of ancient Azlant died during Earthfall, either burnt to death in the infernos caused by the meteoric impacts, or drowned in the earthquakes and tidal waves that swallowed their mighty empire. A few were saved by the Azlanti's original masters, the mysterious alghollthus, who took in a small number and fleshwarped them to survive in their aquatic domain far below the waves. Strangely, once this transformation was accomplished, the alghollthus seemed to lose interest in the azarketis, leaving them to freely form their own society in the following millennia.. Despite this ancient abandonment, some azarketis still serve as spies for their alghollthu masters.
Thousands of years later, a contingent of azarketis visited the newly established democratic nation of Andoran. They presented the government with the keystone of the Arch of Aroden, which they had dragged there from the bottom of the Hespereth Strait, symbolizing their support for Andoran's commitment to freedom and equality.
Connection to the alghollthu
Because of the race's origin, azarketis still have a strange connection to alghollthus. Although particularly resistant to enchantment magic, they display a distinct vulnerability to alghollthu enchantment, a legacy of the early control their aberrant masters had over them. In addition, the alghollthu seem to have implanted some form of racial post-hypnotic suggestion in all azarketis, giving them the theoretical ability to exert control through key words or images. Many still serve their creators, sometimes unwillingly, which makes some distrust azarketis. Even free azarketis feel shame at their history and rarely deal with others.
Occasionally, the alghollthu programming in an azarketi's mind triggers. Most descend into insanity and turn to worshipping the Great Old Ones, but the most self-aware ones realise its true nature and embrace their roles as alghollthu servants known as awakened agents, who gather data on the surface and influence fellow azarketis to carry out their masters' agenda. Many lead mystery cults of 'hidden Azlanti gods' or 'newly risen ocean spirits', whose members never know the truth about their patron. Some awakened agents are nearly insane, while others view their acts as necessary to secure their people's position as favoured pets even if it means sacrificing the world. Awakened agents are often entrusted with powerful magic by the alghollthus.
The town of Escadar (located on the Isle of Kortos and within the domain of Absalom) is the only terrestrial city with an embassy of the Low Azlanti. It can be found in the House of the Cresting Wave, locally known as Wet-House. The azarketis offer information on the sea, meet with officials from Absalom's Low Council, and train the hippocampi instructor for the city's Sea Cavalry. The azarketis are often seen worshipping at the Azlanti ruins at the town's center, or partaking in Escadar's many warrens of vice.
Besides Escadar, azarketis can also be found in the nearby surface cities of Diobel, and in the Absalom neighborhood of Gilltown, and much further afield in the aquatic River Kingdom of Outsea, and the undersea canyons of sunken Azlant. A group of azarketis, aware of their origins, maintain a settlement in the Steaming Sea from which they raid ships and fight off the Spiresworn elves, in the hope of attracting the alghollthus' attention and rejoining them.
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