Kalashtar

The kalashtar race has existed for only eighteen hundred years. It began in Dal Quor, the Plane of Dreams, where the kalaraq-caste quori Taratai and her quori followers of light were being hunted down and exterminated by the agents of the Dreaming Dark, the foul collective consciousness that ruled that plane. But there is more to Dal Quor than the realm of the Dreaming Dark. Every sentient creature on Eberron touches Dal Quor when it dreams, and every soul, every race, shapes its own piece of the fringes of Dal Quor. Fleeing from the Dreaming Dark, Taratai led her followers on an exodus through mortal dreams. While the quori could not travel physically between the planes as a result of the Quori-Giant War and the destruction of the world’s thirteenth moon, Taratai believed that she had found a way to cross through the subconscious realm of Dreamspace on Dal Quor’s fringes and into mortal bodies on Eberron — provided that the proper portals could be found and that the hosts could be convinced to accept the travelers.

For a year Taratai and her quori traveled from dream to dream, passing through the dreams of dragons and beasts, never finding a place to rest. The Dreaming Dark’s agents were still baying at their heels, and between the Dark and the dangers of the dreams themselves, Taratai’s followers were slowly being destroyed. Finally, Taratai found the passage she needed in -802 YK — a subconscious conduit into the mind of a monk named Hazgaal from the mountainous nation of Adar on the southeastern tip of the continent of Sarlona. She knew that she could not maintain the connection for long, but she pleaded her case to Hazgaal, who was the master of the monastery — and to her surprise, he agreed to accept her band of fugitive spirits. Adar was the land of refuge, he said, and no creature would be turned away.

Sixty-seven Adaran men and women — including the Master Hazgaal himself—volunteered to share their bodies with the renegade quori spirits. In order to establish a permanent bond and truly escape from Dal Quor, it was necessary for the quori to merge fully — spiritually and mentally — with their human hosts, creating a synthesis of both personalities. These were the first of what Taratai called the kalashtar, a word in the Quori language that roughly translates as “wandering dreams.” It took time for the kalashtar to adapt to their new existence, but they were finally free from the Dreaming Dark.

In Hazgaal’s body as the kalashtar Haztaratai (though many stories still call her Taratai), Taratai continued her studies of the nature of Dal Quor and the Dream of the Age, and she developed the traditions that are the core of the kalashtar, and now Adaran, faith called the Path of Light — a series of practices and devotions that she believed would accelerate the turn of the age in Dal Quor.

There was only one uncertainty for the first generation of kalashtar: What would happen when one of the kalashtar died? Before they found the answer to this question, another mystery was revealed: that of birth. When the first kalashtar child was born, they found that the quori spirit that was tied to the parent now also had a bond to the child. The spirit, Harath, found that it took more of an effort to communicate with either of his human hosts, but that he was nonetheless aware of the experiences of each.

Over the next few centuries, the process continued. As more and more kalashtar were born, the quori spirits were spread thinly among them, and it became almost impossible for the spirit to communicate directly with the kalashtar. The memories and basic personality were still there, however; even if they could not communicate, the spirits were still alive and conscious, experiencing the world through the eyes of hundreds of descendants. Each generation of kalashtar was more physically distinctive than the last, and each lived longer than the one before; it was clear that the spiritual symbiosis between human and quori was having a minor physical effect on the quori’s human hosts as well. As they slowly adapted to better suit their spiritual companions, the kalashtar began to develop potent psionic abilities. The kalashtar did not have access to the full psychic power of their quori ancestors, but they still had astonishing abilities. They could fly, send messages from one mind to another, and transform their bodies into living weapons. It was a time of wonders.

The kalashtar were born in the mountains of Adar, the mountainous refuge nation of Sarlona. Descended from the quori, a race of immortal and alien spirits exiled from Dal Quor, the Plane of Dreams, kalashtar have endless patience and a firm conviction that their traditions will some day usher in a golden age for all living beings of Eberron. They do not want to change in any way; they know what needs to be done to fight the Dreaming Dark, and they will continue until they succeed or have been destroyed. This attitude is reflected in the rigid monastic lifestyle of the Adarans, which has remained unchanged and uncontested for more than a thousand years. Almost all of the kalashtar live in one of the eight temple-fortresses that dot the mountain sides. What time is not spent in meditation or prayer is devoted to defense of the realm, holding the natural battlements of Adar against the endless onslaught of the Inspired of Riedra. The Adaran kalashtar have no time for cultural change and no reason to believe that change is necessary.

Things are different on the continent of Khorvaire. The kalashtar of Khorvaire come from a variety of backgrounds. Some migrated to Khorvaire before the Inspired arrived on Sarlona, blending quietly into the humans of the Five Nations before the Kingdom of Galifar united them. Others have been sent by kalashtar elders over the course of the last few centuries. Some came to study Khorvaire, while others were sent away to ensure that kalashtar society could not be eliminated in a single blow by the Inspired. The kalashtar of Khorvaire have more interaction with other cultures and do not have to deal with the constant distraction of war.

As a result, the kalashtar of Khorvaire are generally more optimistic and innovative than their Adaran counterparts, and they enjoy experimenting with new things. The kalashtar population of Khorvaire is split between a number of racial enclaves in the major cities of the continent. This pattern has largely been driven by the war with the Dreaming Dark. The Inspired might be able to arrange for the destruction of a small rural community, but they would never get away with smuggling an army into Sharn. By placing themselves in the capitals of Khorvaire, the kalashtar are also able to monitor the activities of the Inspired ambassadors: They already have strong roots in the cities the Inspired are now working to infiltrate. They cluster together not because they are uncomfortable around members of other races, but because they need the sense of safety in numbers, and it is easier to spot the actions of the Dreaming Dark in a closed system. Within a kalashtar community, the most influential form of social group is the lineage—the quori spirit that a kalashtar is bound to. This is not the same as a family group. Kalashtar inherit the spiritual bond from their parents, but the bond is always based on gender; a son always takes the father’s bond, while a daughter inherits from the mother. Thus, each lineage is composed of a single gender. All members of a particular lineage think of the others as brothers or sisters, even if they are actually distant cousins at best. Most kalashtar live with other members of their line.

There is no tradition of marriage among the kalashtar. Members of different lines socialize together and procreate (with the children being adopted and raised communally by the others of their lineage), but it is difficult for a kalashtar to imagine living with a member of another line for the rest of his life. In Khorvaire many old traditions are being questioned, however. The kalashtar respect age and wisdom, and most kalashtar communities are governed by a council with a representative from each lineage that has a presence in the community. Conflicts between lines are uncommon; the greater threat of the Dreaming Dark has always held the kalashtar together through periods of possible unrest. The method used to select a representative varies by lineage; in general, the leader is simply the person who has the overall confidence of his line, and it will change if that confidence is ever lost. The different communities are linked by lines of psionic communication; most communities have one psion who can manifest correspond, which is used to check in with the guiding councils of the other cities in Khorvaire and the elders of Adar.

As a whole, mental discipline is part of kalashtar life, and this is reflected by their well- ordered society. Kalashtar generally act in the interests of what they consider to be the greater good, and mercy, kindness, and hospitality are important virtues within their society. Well-mannered visitors are always welcome, though a shadow watcher keeps a sharp eye on outsiders until he is certain they are not agents of the Dreaming Dark. Most other people find kalashtar communities to be austere; the disciplined kalashtar have few vices, and most donate any extra income to the community in the interests of defense, so they have few luxuries. But they are capable of enjoying life without much in the way of material goods, taking pleasure from the company of their kin. Some humans find this admirable, while others simply find it to be disturbing—because humans cannot understand the mental bond between kalashtar of the same line, the level of cooperation and lack of conflict between them often seems unnatural.

Kalashtar

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