The elemental spirits of Askaya are generally broken down into three groups:
- Neutral Spirits
- Bright Spirits
- Dark Spirits
This is a bit of simplistic view. But the reality is that the average person in Askaya doesn’t fully understand the complexity of the spirits, their relationships with people and the relationships between the spirits. The term “neutral” does not imply that these spirits are neither dangerous nor beneficial, but that their positive and negative actions tend to balance out. But all are known for extremes.
The “neutral spirits” are comprised of the four true “elemental” spirits, each having domain over one of the primal elements of Askaya:
- Fire – Hamzab, Father of Fire
- Earth – Korha, Mother of the Land
- Water – Fengez, Mother of Waters
- Wind – Siben, Father of the Four Winds
Hamzab is generally understood to be the oldest, and most unpredictable, of the neutral spirits. With fire as his domain, he is often feared for the chaos that he can bring, but he is also seen as being essential to life. Fire is essential to life, but fires to cook with are balanced out with the destruction of fires raging out of control.
Hamzab is often represented in art as an old man, who scoffs at the youth of humans and longs for the “days gone by” when Askaya was wild and unpredictable. Although he is usually viewed as a grumpy old man, he can also be tender and kind, like a grandfather, to those that he cares for. When not represented as old man, Hamzab is usually pictured as a flaming bird, similar to a phoenix.
Hamzab is most commonly venerated by the Vash, but he certainly respected by Ajuns. The Chish view Hamzab as a weaker spirit, subjugated by their own national spirit, Virnal Kah, the dragon spirit.
Korha, Mother of the Land, is seen as the most predictable of the neutral spirits. Though she is often viewed this way because of the slowness of her actions, not because of her rationality. Korha is the second oldest spirit, coming into being shortly after Hamzab, and as such, her view of time is very different from that of humans.
For Korha, an hour is closer to a year…to the cycle of the earth bringing fruit, which she blesses and causes to grow. But like all spirits, Korha is moody, and when she is in a bad mood, she can shake the earth violently and even split the ground underfoot. She rarely speaks, but when she does, her voice echoes throughout the land.
In the art of Askaya, Korha is sometimes represented as a plump grandma sleeping soundly on the ground. But usually, she is displayed as a llama, which is believed to be her favorite terrestrial animal.
She is not feared as much as Hamzab or Fengez, but she is respected by all, for the crops she brings if nothing else.
The Mother of Waters, Fengez, is seen as the moodiest of all the neutral spirits. Maybe not as unpredictable as Hamzab, but harder to please (or coerce) into blessings. Fengez brings rain that are critical to life, but also brings floods and blizzards and droughts when she is angry.
While the other neutral spirits are often displayed with some kind of human form, Fengez is never represented as human. In art, poetry and song, she is only shown as a dolphin…graceful, powerful, and intelligent.
Fengez is very important to the Ajuns since he is responsible for the huge expanse of crop fields across Ajuna. She is also highly venerated by the Vash, who survive in the deserts of the Vashi Wastes. The Chish rarely honor her, and in turn she often brings blizzards to the Chishik Mountains.
Siben is the youngest of the neutral spirits, and though a little unpredictable, he is viewed as being the most reasonable of the group. He moves quicker than Korha, but his moves are usually without danger to the human population. Though when angered, he can bring storms, lightning and tornadoes.
When Siben is shown as a human form, he is always represented as a strong, muscular young warrior. Equally, he is often shown as a majestic eagle, soaring through the skies.
Siben is rarely thought of by the Vash, as they tend to focus their attention on Hamzab and Korha. The Ajuns respect him, but rarely go out of their way to honor him…instead content that if they don’t make Siben angry, they don’t have to worry about him. The Chish however, hold Siben in great regard and think that the other nations underestimate his power. To the Chish, the air and the wind are the domain of dragons, such as their dragon spirit Virnal Kah (some Chish believe Siben and Virnal Kah to be brothers).