The arch-devoted of Nareva, goddess of magic and secrets, the salamanders of the Order Astrida are the world's foremost hunters of evil sorcerers and guardians against the dangers of corrupted artifacts.
The order was created in the wake of the Godswar, forming from the tattered remains of the various Narevan knighthoods to guard the few libraries and divine artifacts that had survived the decade of chaos — and sometimes powerful magicians, too, acting as both bodyguards and devoted brides. Astrida are charged both to protect their wards from harm and to keep their powers from being disseminated and misused. Some heretics whisper that perhaps the Astrida are partially responsible for the academic world's agonizingly slow recovery from the Godswar's devastation — that they intentionally are keeping scholars and mages held back. Such deviant thought is quickly quashed by the legendary persuasive skill of Nareva's clergy, however.
Since the Godswar's end, all new members of the Order have been hand-crafted by the goddess herself: her devotees are not recruited, as are Lumia's valkyries, nor are they a whole soulbound race such as Keros's kitsunes, but are made. To produce each Astrida salamander, one of Nareva's high priestesses invites the most powerful sorcerers and most accomplished scholars and bards from across her domain to her temple, and engages in seven days of continuous tantric ritual. Invariably, by the week's end, the high priestess's womb is overflowing with the seed of Savarra's best and brightest. She then presents herself to the goddess for another week-long ritual, called the Spellforging, which hybridizes all of the seed inside her into a single, divinely-gifted offspring. Each of the Spellforged is born a salamander hand-crafted in Nareva's image, an intersexed beauty of statuesque proportions with scales as black as their divine patron's and white magic coursing through her blood.
As with the kitsune, Nareva keeps the newborn Astrida's soul safeguarded within her Dream's Well of Memories, replacing it with an artificial replacement of pure ki. Where kitsunes are driven to feed on other creatures' chi through intercourse, Astrida prefer to absorb it through contact with magical phenomena: they have an unnatural resistance to hostile spells, and seem to draw nourishment from spells cast on them — small wonder the blackscales are so keen to pair themselves to artifacts and powerful sorcerers. Still others are tasked by their goddess to become mage-hunters, paladins who seek out corrupted magicians and put an end to their deprivations by twisting their own powers against them. In the most extreme cases, Astrida knights are able to absorb so much of their quarry's magic that they permanently sever the mage's connection to Nareva's art — never again can they cast a spell, or even dream, cut off from the power to shape the world to their desires.
Astrida are the least common of the divine servants, as they are each hand-crafted by Nareva herself: only one or two are brought up each year, raised and trained by Nareva herself — or by their sires, on the rare occasion an Astrida takes a bride of her own and fathers children. The goddess's devoted claim that each Astrida is a work of art, the perfect product of alchemy, flesh-magic, and divine occultism. The Astrida themselves, on the rare occasion they are seen by common folk, simply say they wish to carry out their Mother's divine will.
Only one of the conditions below must be met to unlock Order Astrida Codex entry: