Sunday, January 29, 2012

Metal & Clay

A while back I told you about the BlackBirds in my Atlan universe. BlackBirds have black hair, black eyes and a sword birthmark, and miraculous fighting skills.

There are other groups of Atlans with black hair and black eyes, and these are frequently mistakened for BlackBirds by Outsiders.

One of these groups is the MetalWomen, which in our world would probably be called Blacksmiths, Coppersmiths, Tinsmiths... MetalWomen take raw metallic ores and refine them, blend them (if needed) and then create whatever is needed; nails, needles, hinges, plows, cooking pots, eating utensils and weapons. Atlan MetalWomen are hard-working, and try to make their creations the best. Their products - especially the weapons - are not traded outside the tribe, but those Outsiders who know metals can recognize the quality of Atlan work.

MetalWomen have a moon birthmark.
ClayWomen have a heart birthmark.

ClayWomen work with clay. Many races have people who can add water to clay that they’ve dug out of a clay lode and make pottery with it, but Atlan ClayWomen have been known to take shovelfuls of regular dirt, shift out the twigs, pebbles and other non-clay pieces. It might take several shovels of dirt to produce enough clay to make one small bowl, but they know how to do it. They also know how to add just a touch of an additive to change the post-firing color of the clay, and can create all colors in glaze. Young ClayWomen frequently experiment by creating lidded boxes and pots of unusual shapes. They know they have learned their craft when they can consistently produce lids that actually fit their boxes and pots after firing. This skill is not known outside the tribe, and some ClayWomen take such pleasure in it that they never completely outgrow this activity.

If the tribe must go to war, MetalWomen are frequently placed in the front row with the BlackBirds. To any opposing army with any knowledge of Atlans, the sight of so many apparent BlackBirds must strike fear into the heart. Because they work with metals, MetalWomen are mostly stronger than other Atlans, and thus can do more damage with a weapon just through their strength. ClayWomen would be in the second line, and would make an effort to appear old, as if they were BlackBirds past their prime. If any opposing soldiers got through the first line, they would think themselves facing still more BlackBirds, older, perhaps a touch slower, but experienced and full of tricks.

There have been times when just appearing on the battlefield was enough to make members
of the Atlan tribe’s foe think better of their endeavor.

Atlans play lots of mind tricks.

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