Sunrunners, or faradh'im (singular: faradh'i), are people who are able to use the sun and moon, for communication and spellcasting. They weave the light with their thoughts, which are represented by coloured gemstones. Each faradh'i has a unique colour pattern, and the gemstones representing a faradh'i's colours often symbolize facets of the person's character.
Sunrunners are the impartial mediators of the Continent and the quickest form of communication. They communicate with each other all over the world, keeping families in contact, Princes and Lords aware of political happenings, and performing ceremonies - such as Namings, Choosings, or Burnings - as needed. Sunrunners are forbidden to participate in battle lest it is to save their own lives, to take sides in a debate, and most importantly they are forbidden to use their gifts to kill. Faradh'i oaths also include a vow of silence to ensure the trust of Sunrunner messengers. These limitations enable the rest of the Continent to accept and even welcome Sunrunners to their courts and into their lives.
Sunrunners are trained at Goddess Keep. As they train, they are tested to determine their rank. With each rank a Sunrunner earns a faradh'i ring. There are ten ranks, the highest being the Lord or Lady of Goddess Keep, who governs all Sunrunners.
- Captured Gaze: A faradh'i could concentrate on another's gaze and hold them "enthralled". They cannot control another with this gaze, merely hold the person's undivided attention and appear intimidating.
- Call Fire/Air: This is the first skill a faradh'i usually learns. Fire is usually called first as it is light, which is the foundation of a Sunrunner's life. A fingerflame is often conjured in the air to give extra light. Both Fire and Air are used in ceremonies in conjunction with Water and Earth. This enables a Sunrunner to perform more complicated conjurings, such as looking into the Mothertree and seeing one's future children.
- Conjuring: A Sunrunner learns how to conjure in Fire to earn his or her third ring and without Fire to earn his/her seventh ring. Faradh'im typically use conjurings to show images, not to watch events.
- Memory: Sunrunners are trained to remember events exactly as they occur. They can recall actual memories - and even conjure them using sorcery - down to the last detail, they can quote entire conversations, and can memorize information instantaneously.
- Sleep: Sunrunners of eight rings or higher can weave sleep around a person's mind. This dulls the light and clouds the senses until the person is unconscious. There are different depths of woven sleep.
- Sorcery: Faradh'im can perform various types of sorcery, such as making a ros'salath and doing certain vivid conjurings. They can not do these castings as well as a diarmadhi, nor can they perform all types of sorcery.
Every person is made up of colours and shadows. Each person has a unique colour pattern, which, for faradh'im, defines them more completely than their names. These colours are the person's mind and soul; if they are lost, the person dies, forever in darkness.
Faradh'im can touch these colours and weave them into what only they - and diarmadh'im - can see: the light. They use their colours to weave themselves into the strands of sunlight and/or moonlight. As they weave into the light, they can travel over great distances, viewing the land below as if they were flying. Starlight, thought inaccessible by many, is forbidden to Sunrunners.
To communicate, a Sunrunner weaves light and travels to another Sunrunner. The approaching faradh'i gently brushes the other with his or her colours, so as not to intrude. The receiving faradh'i usually weaves his/her own colours around the others and the two speak as their minds are essentially woven together. Powerful and/or well trained Sunrunners can also view images of memory from another's mind. In less polite circumstances they can pull memories forward, force their presence on others, and even seize minds in order to use those faradh'im 's powers to augment their own. Another person can also be used as a vessel from which a faradh'i can see and hear the activity around the other person.
Faradh'im can create a large weaving by adding their colours and power together. Usually one Sunrunner acts as the focal point of every mind and controls the weaving. Only very skilled Sunrunners - traditionally only the Lord or Lady of Goddess Keep - can weave many minds together and keep each unique colour pattern straight in their own mind. If the focal Sunrunner were to lose track of a colour pattern, that mind would be lost on the light.
Being Shadow-lost is a Sunrunner's greatest fear. Shadow-lost is the term given to a Sunrunner who was Sunrunning and failed to make it back to his or her body before the sun's rays disappeared. In essence the soul is lost to the Dark Waters with the setting sun. The faradh'i 's mind unravels in darkness and his or her colors are scattered and forgotten. The Sunrunner's body fades and eventually dies without the mind and soul.
If the mind begins to fray or is lost in shadows, a sharp pain slices through the skull. The person feels as if a part of them is missing; the mind tries to reach out to its missing pieces, but it cannot as it is no longer whole. The bright colours that normally swirl around a faradh'i become dark as the shadows of his or her own mind encroach, ready to consume the mind. Physically the person begins to shake wildly, their heart races, and pain shoots through bones and especially the head.
A mind not entirely lost can be retrieved if its colours are known by others. The process of filtering out the shadows, unweaving the wrong colors, and sorting the lost faradh'i 's colouring into their proper order is difficult work. It is painful for the fading faradh'i as the colours around him/her feel like needles stabbing into the brain until (and if) the right pattern is restored.
Crossing water and being pierced by iron while casting are Sunrunners' two major weaknesses. All full Sunrunners get violently ill when faced with having to cross a body of water (i.e. rivers, lakes, and especially the ocean), though a 'cure', with a heavy price, for this has been found in the drug dranath. If a faradh'i must cross water they lose their stomachs and their consciousness. The Sunrunners remain insensible after they've been returned to land, the duration of their sorry state dependent on the water crossing's violence and expanse. As the Sunrunners wake their vision is often skewed or blurry.
If a faradh'i is pierced by iron while casting, they will die. This was the main reason for the tradition forbidding Sunrunners from participating in battle and using their gifts to kill. If the iron is removed from the Sunrunner quickly enough and the wound is not fatal, it is possible for the Sunrunner to survive, though he or she will have experienced a great, mind-numbing pain and will be very weak for a time afterward.
Faradhi rings signify a Sunrunner's rank and skills. They are worn proudly, though in ancient times (and by the Vellant'im) the rings were collected as trophies after a Sunrunner was slain. In order to protect themselves from the diarmadh'im, ancient Sunrunners cast their rings from a special metal that would burn a diarmadhi wearing the rings in warning if he or she was in the presence of sorcery; however, if the wearer of the rings cast a sorcerer's spell the rings would only tingle "as if in protest."
- 1 middle finger, right hand, silver - Call Fire
- 2 index finger, left hand, gold - Call Air
- 3 index finger, right hand, silver - Conjures in Fire
- 4 pinky finger, left hand, silver - Apprentice Sunrunner
- 5 thumb, right hand, gold - Sunrunner, Apprentice Moonrunner
- 6 pinky finger, right hand, silver - Moonrunner
- 7 middle finger, left hand, gold - Conjures without Fire
- 8 thumb, left hand, silver - Teacher
- 9 ring finger, right hand, silver - Master
- 10 ring finger, left hand, gold - Lady/Lord of Goddess Keep
- 6 pinky finger, right hand, silver - Apprentice Moonrunner
- 7 middle finger, left hand, silver - Moonrunner
- 8 thumb, left hand, gold - Teacher, Master (later Master Physician)
- 9 ring finger, right hand, silver - Devri (Lords of Light)
- 10 ring finger, left hand, gold - Lord/Lady of Goddess Keep
Goddess Keep is the home of the Sunrunners. It is where most reside and all - until the recent times of Sunrunner Lords - are trained. Most children are sent to Goddess Keep between the ages of eleven and thirteen, their parents having noticed an oddity about them, or a distractedness. If the child does in fact possess the skill to be a Sunrunner he or she is trained. If not, then there are servant, guard, or steward positions available within the Keep.
The Keep itself is located on the coast of Ossetia. Ancient Sunrunners (Merisel, Gerik, and Rosseyn) built Goddess Keep after they left their isolated home on Dorval. Their choice was an odd one for Sunrunners as this part of Ossetia was fog bond through the winter months. Near the Keep is a small grove and a pond in which various rituals are conducted.
- Lord/Lady of Goddess Keep: The Keep and all Sunrunners are governed by the Lord or Lady of Goddess Keep. This Lord or Lady is the 'closest' to the Goddess, who sometimes communes with the chosen Lord/Lady in the form of visions. The Lord/Lady represents the impartiality of the Goddess at such gatherings as the Rialla. He/she stamps all new treaties and laws with the seal of Goddess Keep. It is also the duty of the lord/lady to call a council of Princes in order to confirm a new ruling Prince or High Prince. While the Lord/Lady is required to follow the general laws of the Continent he/she is not directly under the command of any Prince, nor is Goddess Keep itself under the governing of the Princedom of Ossetia, within whose borders the Keep resides, but is held of the High Prince. The position of Lord or Lady of Goddess Keep - contrary to recent history - is not hereditary.
- Chief Steward of Goddess Keep: This is the traditional second in command position at the Keep. This Steward oversees the training of young Sunrunners among other duties. A chief duty is to create the rings of faradhi. Until Riyan, ruler of Skybowl and half-faradhi-diarmadhi, discovered that his rings burned in response to nearby sorcery no one knew why Sunrunner gold was special. This special gold was embued with power by Lady Merisel, and Lords Gerik & Rosseyn.
- Devr'im: This position was created by Andry, Lord of Goddess Keep. The term means 'Lords of Light' in the Old Tongue. These Lords of Light were trained to defend Goddess Keep by way of the ros'slath, to use their gifts in combat, and even to kill if necessary - something hitherto forbidden to a Sunrunner. Devr'im also developed the faradhi technique of shape-shifting, an illusion they wrap around themselves to change their outward appearance. Devr'im are also identified in several cases to be diarmadhi. The Old Blood in them helps them to use their gifts to construct the ros'slath and protect the faradhi participants from iron piercing the constructed wall. Devr'im are also the only faradhi that are permitted the use of dranath, an addictive drug that enhances gifts and cures the Vellanti'm plague.
- Teacher/Master/Master Physician: These are the trainers of young Sunrunners. After Andry became Lord of Goddess Keep the position of Master Physician was created to teach and administer the Healing Arts. This was done after an incident involving a Sunrunner who accidentally killed a wealthy merchant, Master Thacri. Cabar, prince of Gilad, and Andry fought over jurisdiction to punish the faradhi and when they appealed to Rohan to decide, he took the decision from them based on the fact they both had equal claims of jurisdiction. Rohan and Sioned then used this incident to establish the Physicians school in Gilad.
- Second Steward of Goddess Keep: This steward takes care of the everyday running of the Keep and does not have to be a Sunrunner nor one in training.
Rituals and traditions
- Man-making or Woman-making Night: The night after the reception of the first ring - for Calling Fire - the Sunrunner is cloaked in darkness and visited by trained Sunrunners of the opposite gender in order to learn the pleasures of the flesh and the joy and light experienced in the bedroom. The faradh'im wear no rings, cannot speak, and can only feel a vague male or female form in the darkness. One of the lessons learned in this ritual is the difference between bed sport and love, the latter being much preferred. This ritual enables the Sunrunner to visit the Mantree or Womantree. The visiting faradh'i must wear at least six rings. Precautions are taken to ensure no child is born of this night.
- Faces in Fire: In a grove near Goddess Keep there is a spring surrounded by five pine trees. Each tree represents Child, Maiden/Youth, Woman/Man, Mother/Father, and Hag/Graybeard, respectively. Sunrunners go to this grove in the hope of seeing a vision of their future. They approach in the nude and kneel before the trees. They take Water from the spring and offer it to the appropriate trees. For example, the morning after the woman-making night, the Sunrunner offers the Water to the Child, Maiden, and Woman trees. She then calls Fire, blows Air onto it, and cuts a piece of her hair to represent Earth. She concentrates on the Womantree with her hands in the Water. The Sunrunner's reflection stares back at her, then the Fire leaps and reveals an older version of the Sunrunner. Often the Fire will flare again to reveal the face of the man with whom she will spend her life. However, these visions given by the Goddess can be changed as they can be warnings as well as promises.
- Court Sunrunners: A Sunrunner who has earned six often is appointed to a Court by the Lord/Lady of Goddess Keep. These Court Sunrunners act as communication beacons and are also seen as symbols of prestige to the Lord whose Court houses one. After gathering and sharing information as at a court, a Sunrunner can return to Goddess Keep and either continue their training or help as needed around the keep.
- Itinerant Sunrunners: A Sunrunner who travels from place to place, working as needed. These Sunrunners have at least five faradh'i rings, so that they can use both sunlight and moonlight to communicate and perform other duties that befit a Sunrunner.
Here is a list of known faradh'im. Some powerful Sunrunners, such as Urival and Torien, were actually diarmadh'im and thus not on this list. For a complete list of characters please refer to Melanie Rawn's official site.
- Alasen of Kierst: A Princess of Kierst, second wife of Ostvel, she denied her gifts.
- Andrade of Catha Freehold, Lady of Goddess Keep: Twin of Milar, she sought a Sunrunner Prince from the marriage of her sister and Prince Zehava of the Desert, but as that failed she tried again with Rohan and Sioned.
- Andrev of Goddess Keep: Andry's son by Othanel, Tilal's squire and acting Sunrunner.
- Andry, Lord of Goddess Keep: Son of Tobin and Chaynal, twin of Sorin, Rohan's nephew, and Lord of Goddess Keep after 719.
- Antalya of Tiglath: Daughter of Tallian and Sionell. Meig's older sister.
- Antoun: Escorted Sioned to Stronghold in 698 and was her spy at Goddess Keep.
- Arpali: Court Sunrunner at Balarat of Firon.
- Brenlis: Mother of Andry's daughter, Merisel. Capable of seeing the future.
- Camigwen (Jeni): Daughter of Ostvel and Alasen, named after her father's first wife, Camigwen.
- Chayla of Whitecliff, Lady of Goddess Keep: Daughter of Maarken and Hollis, twin of Rohannon, and the Lady of Goddess Keep after 737.
- Crigo: Abducted and addicted to dranath by High Prince Roelstra in order to spy on other Princedoms and holdings.
- Deniker: one of Andry's devri'im. Married to Ulwis.
- Eolie: Court Sunrunner at Greypearl, helped with the excavation of the ancient Sunrunner keep.
- Evarin, Master Physician: Attended the Physicians School in Gilad before going to Goddess Keep in 735 and earning eight faradh'i rings.
- Hollis, Lady of Whitecliff: Maarken's wife, she helped Andry decipher the Star Scrolls.
- Gevila: Itinerant Sunrunner, who tried to heal a merchant in Gilad. Accused of murder when the man died.
- Johlarian: Court Sunrunner at Faolain Lowland.
- Jolan: One of Andry's devri'im. Married to Torien.
- Kleve: Itinerant Sunrunner killed by Masul for spying.
- Linis: One of Andry's devri'im.
- Maarken: Lord of Whitecliff, heir to Radzyn Keep, son of Chaynal and Tobin, husband to Hollis.
- Meath: Escorted Sioned on her trip to Stronghold in 698 and later became the second Court Sunrunner of Greypearl, where he discovered the Star Scrolls in 719. Killed in battle, 737.
- Meig of Tiglath: Son of Tallian and Sionell. Unusually self-possessed and intelligent. May have the ability to see the future. His birth was foreseen by Brenlis a few days before it occurred. Antalya's youngest brother.
- Merisel: Ancient leader of the Sunrunners, author of the Star Scrolls.
- Merisel: Andry's daughter by Brenlis.
- Morwenna: One of Pol's Sunrunner trainers. She is both faradh'i and diarmadhi.
- Nialdan: One of Andry's devri'im.
- Oclel: One of Andry's devri'im. Married to Rusina, father of Surida. Killed in 737.
- Pol: Born in 704, he was Rohan's son by Ianthe, though did not know the truth of his birth until 728. It was through Ianthe that Pol inherited his diarmadhi blood. Pol was truly the High Prince of all, as he was both a full diarmadhi and a full faradhi.
- Relnaya: Sunrunner.
- Rislyn, Princess of Princemarch and The Desert: Pol and Meiglan's daughter and heir. She is Jihan of Princemarch's twin. She is both Sunrunner and Sorcercer, Sunrunner through her Great-Grandmother Milar's blood and Sorcercer through her Grandmother Ianthe. She lost her sight during her captivity but gained it back through sunrunning with her dragon and sister.
- Rohannon: Son of Maarken and Hollis, twin to Chayla, squire of Prince Arlis.
- Rusina: One of Andry's devri'im. Married to Oscel, mother of Tobren (by Andry) and Surida (by Oscel). Killed in 737.
- Saumer of Kierst-Isel: Brother of Prince Arlis, Kostas' squire, knighted on the field.
- Siona: Grandmother of Sioned, Davvi, and Prince Volog, she married a Prince of Kierst.
- Sioned, High Princess, Princess of the Desert: Rohan's wife. Earned seven rings.
- Sioneva of Ossetia: daughter of Tilal and Gemma.
- Surida: Daughter of Oscel and Rusina.
- Tobin: A Princess of the Desert, married Chaynal, Lord of Radzyn Keep, mother of Maarken, Andry, Sorin, and Jahni.
- Tobren: Andry's daughter by Rusina.
- Ulwis: One of Andry's Devri'im and mother to his son Joscev. Married to Deniker.
- Valeda: A Devri, who bore Andry a daughter named Chayly.
- Vamanis: Court Sunrunner at Swalekeep.