Constellation (Lothenmydhe)

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The constellations that exist in the skies above the vegari of Lothenmydhe are not just random and arbitrary groupings of stars like constellations in some other planes, but are distinct living entities placed there by the gods. Some constellations are given their place as reward for virtue or for some great deed, others as punishment for some atrocity, others merely because there was something about them that some god decided warranted their preservation. On occasion, a god may create a constellation ex nihilo to represent some class or principle they think should be embodied in the stars.

In any case, whatever the constellation's previous form, if any, it now exists only as a collection of stars. Many people erroneously believe that the main body of the constellation comprises some invisible and intangible substance stretching between the stars, and that the stars themselves are little more than readily visible luminescent spots. In reality, however, the constellation is in fact simply the stars themselves. The stars have no physical connection; a constellation is a pleotic being. It does have an aura resembling its previous form, or whatever new image the gods have given it; while perceptible by any normal means of auradversion, the aural image otherwise has in most cases little or no practical effect.

Despite their discreteness, with rare exceptions the stars of a particular constellation do maintain a constant distance and relative orientation; though it may consist of multiple detached parts, those parts jointly retain a fixed shape. If, as is usually the case, the constellation originally had a mortal form, it will generally feel as if its former parts are localized in particular stars—it may have the sense of one star corresponding to its right foot and lower leg, another its knee and thigh, and so on. (The stars need not correspond to parts of the same size or mass; it's entirely possible, for instance, for one star to correspond to the right eye, and another to the rest of the head.)

Sparsile stars, stars that are part of no constellation, exist in Lothenmydhe only as very rare special cases created by particular gods and on particular worlds. In general, stars are only created as parts of constellations, and every constellation has at least five stars (and usually significantly more). There may, however, be stars that pertain to constellations so weakened and stravagated that they are not strongly associated with the rest of the constellation, and are unassociated with a constellation for all practical purposes.

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Classification

The average veigur has over a hundred constellations, and the total number of vegari in Lothenmydhe is vast, and possibly infinite. Among so many constellations, there is enormous diversity; constellations differ from one another in a variety of ways. Notwithstanding this, there are a few common characteristics according to which the constellations may be classified.

By Movement

Many constellations remain in one place, always over the same area of the veigur. These are called fixed constellations. Not all constellations, however, are fixed. Some, called wandering constellations, meander randomly around the veigur. Others, called bound constellations, move along fixed paths or circuits. Bound constellations are sometimes further subcategorized according to the shape of their paths, the two most prominent being discurrent constellations, which simply travel back and forth along one (usually linear) path, and gyrant constellations, which move in circular paths. Both wandering and bound constellations are also sometimes classified by how much of the veigur they pass over; a non-fixed constellation is said to be restricted if it only passes over a limited area of the veigur, ecumenical if its course takes it over the whole veigur, and peregrine if it passes through multiple vegari.

All these types of constellation do not necessarily exist in the same veigur. Indeed, there are many vegari in which all constellations are fixed; others in which all constellations are gyrant and orbiting some point in the veigur's center; others in which all constellations are wandering and ecumenical, pererrating haphazardly all over the world. There are also, however, many vegari that do mix several types of constellation, some fixed and some mobile, or some wandering and some bound, though they vary in the ratios of the types that they include.

By Origin

Constellations can also be categorized by their origins, by what they originally were. Easily the most common are archeal constellations, those of living creatures elevated to constellacy. Of these, the most common are nominate constellations, constellations made from particular heroes or other notable individuals. Most often, these heroes or villains are constellized after their deaths, though their auras (and their senses of self) generally reflect them as they were in their prime or at the time they first rose to eminence, not as they were in their senesence or just before their deaths. Sometimes, a god raises a living person to a constellation rather than waiting for them to die, though only if it seems that the person seems to have achieved all they are likely to achieve in their mortal life. Much rarer kinds of archael constellations are brutal constellations, made of alogous beasts, and, rarest of all, vegetal constellations, made from flora that have for some reason been deemed worthy of such a fate.

Less frequently, a god may constellize an inanimate object that has some manner of importance. Though originally nonliving, these objects will on constellization be granted some measure of sentience and perhaps ellogy. Such an entity is known as a substantial constellation. Last, novile constellations result when a god creates a constellation from scratch, not from any preëxisting creature or object. These constellations often represent some abstract concept or general class of objects.

By Color

Yet another way constellations are categorized is by color. This does not refer to what color the stars of the constellation actually look; regardless of nominal color, almost all stars look to the eye more or less white, and any tinge of color they do display has no obvious correlation with their "color" in the formal sense. Still, there are different kinds of constellation which have been called "colors" for historical and celemological reasons. The main determinant of a constellation's color is the reason behind its constellization, and what it is supposed to represent. There are five different colors of constellation, as follows:

Black

Black constellations are redolent of emotions; they may have been created from a person known for their exceeding grief over a loss, or love of a leman, or wrath over a wrong, or from some work of art that inspired people to some soaring sentiment. They often inspire feelings on those passing below them similar to those tied to the constellation itself, so that those that find themselves beneath a particular constellation are prone to feel unusually joyful, or trist, or whatever other emotion accords with the constellation.

Blue

Blue constellations are created from beings that are primarily known for one specific deed (rather than for a prolonged career of heroism or villainy); the constellation inwardly forever relives the dead that made it renowned or reviled, while those beneath the constellation might find better chances of success with similar actions. It's fairly common for someone to become famous because of one particular act, which doubtless explains why blue constellations are the second most common color; there seem to be roughly as many blue constellations as black and green put together.

Green

Also known as yellow constellations, green constellations represent particular ideas and worldviews, and those who originated or promulgated them. Eminent philosophers, political theorists, inventors, and innovators may be made green constellates, as may great artists of an allegorical or cerebral bent (while those with more visceral impulses are more likely to be black or red). Green constellations often heighten the intellectual endeavors of those beneath them, particularly if those thoughts somehow mirror those that led to the constellation's creation.

Red

Associated with physical sensations, red constellations are the rarest of the five types. They may be created from people (or objects) known for having inflicted or suffered (or enjoyed) some particular sensation, be it pain, the smelling of some odor, or sexual arousal. On occasion, a person may be made into a red constellation because of some supposed connection to nature, to sex, or to something else in some sense "physical". Those passing beneath a red constellation often feel their own senses heightened, especially to sensations similar to those that drove its stellification.

White

The most common type of constellation, white constellations collectively signify no unified theme or type, but are rather the type of constellation that is created when the conditions of no other color apply. Overall, there seem to be nearly as many white constellations as all other colors combined, though this of course varies from veigur to veigur, and in some vegari white constellations are comparatively rare.

Powers

Constellations cannot move their stars relative to each other; they are frozen in whatever pose they are put in. Nor have they any control over their overall movement; fixed constellations do not move at all, bound constellations move only in immutable patterns, and the movement of wandering constellations is random and not apparently under their control. (Admittedly, the evidence of this last is somewhat wanting, and it may be that at least some wandering constellations do have some control over their movement.) However, while they may not be capable of controlled movement, constellations are far from powerless. They can exert a variety of powers over those below them.

The attingence of a constellation on what lies beneath it is called atazir. This encompasses the passive effects that the various colors of constellations may have, but also includes active effects that constellations may choose to assert. The details of these powers vary widely by constellation, but tend more toward subtle but significant influence of events than flashy and obvious phenomena—though some constellations can cause the latter. A constellation may be able to communicate with those below—generally in such a way that its interlocutor doesn't realize where the intrusive thoughts are coming from, and may mistake them for his own, though some constellations may choose to make their identities known. Some constellations can even exert some measure of thelxis over the weak-willed, or (rarely) even possess them. Many constellations can work various kinds of transformations on objects and creatures under them, though, in keeping with the usually subtle nature of atazir, these transformations tend to be very slow and gradual, their effect only noticeable after they have been in progress for some time.

Constellations seem to have particular power over those conceived (not necessarily born) beneath them. They may somehow affect the embryo's development, nudging them into similarity with the constellation's former self or with its aims and desires. This is not to say that every child conceived beneath a given constellation will share the same traits; they will on average tend toward the characteristics the constellation strives to instill. Still, this is enough to mean that in Lothenmydhe, unlike in Xi, astrological horoscopes have some validity; while they may not be absolutely reliable, the tendencies they predict do exist, though they may not manifest in every individual. Some constellations have even further control over some born under them, able to grant them special powers, to transform them into new beings, or to otherwise work fairly radical effects. (Chorione, a constellation in the veigur of Vlastach, is a case in point, able to turn some of those conceived under it into reptilian beings called choriontics.)

In some vegari, a few constellations, higher in the sky than the rest, have ataziric influence not only over mortals inhabiting the veigur's surface, but even over other constellations they pass over. These entities are often called archconstellations, and are sometimes worshipped by mortals as minor gods.

Creation

The creation of a new constellation requires little more than an act of will on the part of the gods. One thing it does not require is the consent of the constellated. While constellization of heroes and illustricities may be counted as a great honor that the subjects would willingly consent to, the constellization of an infamous evildoer is a cruel castigation that the constellated individuals would certainly resist if possible. It is the gods' will that counts, however, not the preconstellates', and if the gods wish to transform someone into a constellation there is little that the subject can say about it. (Beasts and inanimate objects, of course, have, if possible, even less say in the matter.)

Though a god has little to fear from the prospective constellations' disagreement with their decisions, however, they may meet opposition from other gods. In most cases, the constellization of a prominent person (or beast, object, or concept) raises little antagonism; even if other gods may consider the designee unworthy of such a fate, they may not think it a matter worth fighting over. When, however, the constellation is so repugnant to their ideals or interests that they are willing to make a stand against it, the other gods may step in to prevent the stellification—and if its proponent refuses to compromise, or if the dissenting gods only find out about the matter after it's a fait accompli, the act may result (and on occasion has resulted) in an interdeical war.

The part of the constellization process that takes the most of the god's effort and energy is not the elevation of the person to the skies or even the transformation into constellate form, but rather the actual creation of the component stars. To save themselves work, then, it's not uncommon for gods to reuse existing stars, rather than creating new stars. It's extremely unlikely that a set of existing stars will already be in exactly the configuration needed for the new constellation, but it's much less so that a few stars might be. If an old constellation has been largely forgotten or the reasons for its creation have been somehow superseded, a god may have therefore have few compunctions about incorporating a few of its stars into a new one, a process sometimes known as reconstellation.

In new vegari

When gods create a new veigur, they generally desire it to be complete with constellations. If the veigur is created where an old veigur once stood, there may already be constellations present, but otherwise they'll find it necessary to place new constellations above it. However, due to the veigur's inchoacy there have as yet been no great heroes active there to be honored, no great deeds done to merit commemoration. This doesn't prevent the creation of novile constellations marking principles important to the gods, but they may not be content with a sky full of nothing but such constellations. Therefore, the gods may turn to other sources for constellations than those leading to new constellations in a longstanding veigur.

Instead of creating new constellations for a new veigur, the gods may move constellations from old vegari (or from places in the Wild Lands where vegari once were). As new constellations accumulate in old vegari, their density may become undesirably high, and the movement of some to new vegari may benefit both the old veigur and the new. Generally it is the elder constellations that are moved to make way for the new, but sometimes an honored hero or object may be stellified as a constellation in a brand new veigur instead of in the one they had previously inhabited.

Alternately, instead of moving a constellation from an old veigur, the gods may choose to simply duplicate it. The gods may duplicate constellations as easily as they create them, if not more so. Given the proliferation of constellations available to be moved, the gods now seldom choose to do so, but there is evidence that this process occurred much more commonly in Lothenmydhe's earlier days.

Destruction

An immortal creation of the gods, a constellation cannot easily be totally destroyed. It can, however, be rendered so impotent and attenuated that it might as well not exist. This is not generally done intentionally, but it does occur nonetheless. When a god assigns stars from an old constellation to a new one, this doesn't mean the end of the old, which still has other stars remaining. However, it often does mean the beginning of the end; once a few of its stars have been reused, the constellation has already been established as obsolete, and the gods may have less reluctance in the future to reuse more of its stars. This frequently leads to a vicious circle that ends in most of the constellation's stars being repurposed, with perhaps only a few scattered stars remaining solely its own. Such a constellation is robbed of most of its power and identity, able to exert only a minimal shadow of its former atazir. Some ancient asterisms have been completely dismantled, every one of their stars parcelled out among new constellations. The essence of the old constellation still exists, but split multiple ways and overlain by that of others; the influence of the constellation is now likely to be almost nil, except for what it might indirectly exert through the other constellations that share its stars and therefore also share a small measure of what remains of its consciousness.

Another way a constellation can be weakened is by the overtaming of its stars. Although the practice is unknown in many worlds and little used in many others, mortal mages can draw power from the stars to fuel their magics, a process known as stellurgy. (It is through stellurgy, in fact, that the stars' "colors" get their names; different colors of stars feed different arcana of elemental magic.) Under normal circumstances, the effects on the star are minimal. Some mages, however, have learned the trick of "taming" the stars, tapping into their power more directly and consistently. Much more energy can be drawn from a tamed star than a "wild" star, and in extreme cases enough energy can be drawn to disilluminate them and leave them no power of their own, which can even effectively sever their connection to the rest of the constellation.

Whether by its stars being incorporated into newer constellations or by their being tamed to the point of imperceptibility, a constellation that has been so dimmed, divided, and debilitated is generally called a dead constellation. This is, perhaps, a misnomer; while dispersed and diminished, a dead constellation has technically not ceased to exist, and could perhaps in principle be somehow restored to full power. It's not clear whether a dead constellation retains any sort of self-awareness, and this may well vary on a case-by-case basis. (If a dead constellation does remain conscious, then comprising a number of separate parts under the control of various different entities is unlikely to be a pleasant sensation.)

Such is the constellations' athanasy that they persist even if the world they are placed in perishes. If a veigur is destroyed, be it by the death of its djel or the abandonment of the gods or by some other cause, it fades back into the Wild Lands... but any constellations that had been formed in its sky remain. There are thus places in the Wild Lands where stars shine overhead, often the sole remnants of the worlds that were once there. The gods can salvage these stars for use in new constellations (and frequently do, since they're serving little purpose otherwise), but otherwise the constellations may potentially remain forever, powerlessly overlooking an empty expanse. On the other hand, if a new world is ever created in that spot, it will have some constellations already there ready for it—and it is precisely for that reason that gods often favor the location of a dead veigur as a site for a new one. It's not necessary to found a new veigur at the site to take advantage of surviving constellations, though; it's fairly common on creating a new veigur for gods to simply salvage leftover constellations from a vanished one, moving them into the new world.

There is one major exception to the rule that the destruction of a world does not mean that of its constellations. When a world is absorbed to fuel the creation of an abar, the constellations go with it. The mundicidious act of creating of an abar is monumentally destructive, and not even the stars in the sky above escape anientisement.

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