Aemets’ airsensePosted: January 4, 2013
In the Aligare world, there are more than five physical senses. Everyone can see, hear, touch, smell and taste — but only aemet folk can airsense.
Airsense is like a much more refined version of the way mammals feel air movement with whiskers or other sensitive hairs. Aemets use their antennae, which are sensitive enough to detect the movement, temperature and humidity of air. The aemet can basically feel the presence and motion of air around them. Where others see only empty space, aemets can sense the bulk and motion of three dimensions’ worth of air. (Unlike many Earth creatures with antennae, aemets can’t use their antennae to detect scent. And their sense of smell is about as sharp as a human with a cold.)
This awareness of air is sort of a diffuse sense of touch, which the aemet resolves into a sight-like awareness of their physical surroundings. They can feel another person approaching because that moving body is pushing air aside. They can feel the texture of an object across the room, because the air rests against that object and settles into grooves. A hearth fire feels like a column of hot air rushing vigorously upward, carrying hot pinpoints of sparks and soft bits of ash.
The range of airsense varies by individual, but average range is a 100 foot/30 meter diameter around the aemet. That’s about as far as they can detect clear shapes: the sense gets less distinct the farther away the aemet is trying to sense. Farther away, the aemet can sense motion but it’ll be a vague, blurry blob, or just an indeterminate feeling of anticipation. Like any sense, airsense is sharper when the subject is scared and alert. This ability to feel motion far beyond the range of their body can help aemets escape danger. When a predatory animal is stalking closer, airsense can reveal its movement even while the animal is hidden from sight and being completely silent.
Aemets tend to be nervous folk — and it’s partly because of their extra sense. They can feel dampness in the air and wonder if it’s a bad omen:
“The neighbours seem drawn a bit tight, today. They haven’t said anything, but I think they’re sensing the same thing as Maythwind. Is damp air really such a bad sign? I thought it just meant rain.”
If a person could smell clouds and lightning, damp air meant nothing more dreadful than rain. Aemets sensed airshapes, though, and their bones told them when to run. It seemed to Pergerine that damp air could show aemetkind the shape of trouble, enough to forewarn them of town-razing varieties of sickness. Maythwind might need his pile of plant stones; aemet worries sporadically came true.
-Remedy, a story of Aligare, Chapter 3
Or they might feel motion off in the forest and wonder if it’s something dangerous. Korvi and ferrin sometimes bristle their feathers or fur in unconscious response, and aemets can very clearly feel the motion — and worry if they’ve caused offense. Aemets respect privacy, but they can walk by a home and sense whether there are people moving inside. You know what they say: ignorance is bliss.
Why use airsense in the world of Aligare? It’s not strictly necessary to any plot I’ve developed so far. Well, I developed airsense because I wanted to make aemets more distinct as a race, and have their insect-like antennae affect the way they perceive their surroundings. There’s no point making them insect people if they see the world the same way as a regular ol’ human. And I just like imagining different ways of perceiving and describing the world. That’s something the fantasy genre can excell at, when it tries.
- The Middling circle, an aemet tradition (heidicvlach.wordpress.com)
- Food culture of Aligare (Part 2: Daily meals) (heidicvlach.wordpress.com)
- The lucky rue plant (heidicvlach.wordpress.com)