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I need not look outside my window to know that serpents dance at the edge of the glade, beyond the copse of trees. The kiinfolk are here even if I cannot see them; I can sense them in the air. Even as I sit overlooking my garden on this fine summer night, I feel them calling to me, beckoning to me…
- Lorelai Starkley, Binder of the Atramentum Syndicate
The kiinfolk are the personifications of Atvoren strands of fate, corrupted long ago by Zahatmos’ actions against Nalageos. They appeared shortly after the Binding of Shol in an event known as the Zenith Break. Because each is a strand of fate associated with a story, superstition, or legend; kiinfolk are the perfection of a single "persona." Unlike humans, who have different aspects of their personalities, kiinfolk are one-dimensional beings who always act in specific ways. They often seek out the story which they are a part of, as being a part of such tales nourishes them.
Although the kiinfolk are classified by the Atramentum Syndicate as Enkiin or Irekiin, designating one as benign and one as malevolent would be an erroneous oversimplification, and actually quite charitable to the Enkiin, who can be as hostile and deadly as the Irekiin. The distinction is based on two criteria: the nature of the kiinfolk, and their adoption of human roles. In one sense, the Enkiin are those who pay service to a story and move it forward as a beneficiary or key role. They obey certain laws, follow specific principles, and while they may individually be capricious and unpredictable, they will observe the rules. The Irekiin, on the other hand, are much less successful at, indeed uninterested in, integrating their personal creations with the rest of reality as they know it. They act akin to savages, ambushing traders and burning villages - while the more intelligent among them may go through great lengths for conquest and war.
In some respects, the kiinfolk are the ultimate roleplayers. They acquire roles based on whatever source their strand of fate sprung from, and conform to them utterly. Some are more successful than others at interpreting the human origin of that role, but to these creatures, existence is the supreme performance art. The defining factor between Enkiin and Irekiin may be as simple as a willingness or ability to cooperate with others, to “share the stage.” To a mortal, the role of a duke carries more weight than that of a peasant, but to kiinfolk, any such role is a new concept to explore with enthusiasm. The Irekiin have become mired in some facet of their role, to the exclusion of all else, while the Enkiin have at least made attempts towards including mortal concepts of law and order. Thus a twisted monster may spend centuries under a bridge, accosting travelers as he attempts to fathom “here” and “there.” Bridges are magic things because they literally span these concepts. Another may spend ages in the deep forest making identical rock piles or creating man-shaped figures out of twigs to be hung from trees. The reasons may not be evident to mortals, or even other Irekiin, but woe betide he who interrupts this activity.
Despite their prowess, all kiinfolk have inherent weaknesses. Those versed in the higher arts within the Atramentum Syndicate learn to bind them by coal drawings on water containers; and often the most dangerous kiinfolk are trapped within pyramid-shaped containers. Additionally, kiinfolk are unable to cross running water, they are physically susceptible to unwrought stone and metal, and while not causing serious harm on its own, argentate is known to cause them great discomfort. Many Enkiin take offense to the presence of Argentate, refusing to deal with humans carrying it, while Irekiin will lash out at any who visibly bear weapon of the substance. Because of these properties, some Vori are known to carry an Argent coin tightly in their fist as a protective charm against kiinfolk who may wish them harm.