Chapter 14: The Star Crystals of Akram
While exploring the Aymara Canyons, Atar came upon something no Aestari had ever seen. Sparkling brighter than the setting sun were hundreds of Star Crystals created by the original petals of the First Great Blooming, bursting with concentrated magical energy — pure and crisp, unlike any other.
They were untouched by Aestari hands and undepleted by Aestari magic, but that alone didn’t explain their intensity. Atar realized that not only was the energy of these Star Crystals’ undiminished, but for the millennia they had sat there, undisturbed, sheltered within Aymara Canyon’s protective walls, they had been absorbing starlight — and growing stronger.
Atar established the Order of Staar and named himself Atar Starstrider. He became rich and influential, but remained a renaissance man and inventor at heart, never obsessed with power or wealth. To make the waterless interior of the continent more habitable, Atar invented the Sand Shield, a mechanized suit of star-powered armor that minimized water loss. Atar coined the term Vetruvian — “The Remade Man” — which the people themselves quickly adopted.
Atar continually refined his Sand Shields, making them lighter and stronger. Some were even biologically integrated into the body, all-but eliminating water loss, granting the wearer superhuman abilities and opening new aesthetic possibilities. Water was shared freely with the young, but at adolescence, integration with one’s suit through the solemn Rite of Melding became a civic obligation — and an essential step toward Vetruvian adulthood.
Using Star Crystals, Atar sparked life into mechanical objects, creating the first sentient Golems and increasingly sophisticated mechanical beings that would one day become the Mechanysts. In Kaero and Pyrae, the Order of Staar learned to manipulate heat, electricity, and wind to shape metal into customizable armor and floating platforms.
Years later they would join the star crystals with the sand silica to open portals to other micro-dimensions, forge the first Portal Obelysks, and summon the ephemeral Wind Dervishes, silica-based races of the Silhouette Tracers from the Sea of Dust, and the legendary Jax. Atar's final creations were the flying Wind Shrikes and Mirror Masters, which could organically replicate anything before them.
But his most important legacy was that the Vetruvians, rather than searching for power solely from the Great Tree, discovered that the true source of power came from the stars themselves.