The Saqalu – shah-kah-loo (authors note: IPA: ʃɑ ka lu) were once among the noblest beings in our world. Called the Balance, they were desperately feared and desperately loved. The power of their wings made them the most formidable of all the Guardians.

Now, what few remain are the Hashritu, the Broken.

Name

This is where it gets interesting. The word saqalu comes from a pre-Assyrian language, and as ancient languages tend to be, is fairly complex. The summation of its various meanings are as follows:

  • To weigh
  • To pay
  • To be equal, in balance
  • To make pay
  • To be weighed
  • To be paid
  • Planets in opposition OR in conjunction
  • In the context of man versus deity: to be equal to

And all of that is just the Ever-Dying translation.

The Balance

The Shaqalu – or the Balance – call themselves this particular term because of the self-control they must exercise on a daily basis. In terms of power, under the right circumstances, they have no equal, not even among the Sun or the Darkness – but the nature of that power is also their weakness.

In essence: they can sense threat toward another (though not toward themselves), and when all four wings are out, power engaged, they can repel it.

Any of it. All of it. From curses to bullets, from the risk of drowning to radiation, nothing can penetrate the opaque force-field generated by their four wings. There are many theories on how this works, the most prevalent being that the force-field isn’t a shield at all, but a wafer-thin portal, thus, transmitting anything that comes into contact with it to some other unknown dimension.

Unproven, of course, as when that shield is active, no one can touch it. Any attempt at contact simply stops as if it hit a wall, about half an inch away.

The feathers of the Balance are quite powerful by themselves. They can disrupt electric current and cancel spells, though they have no physically protective properties.

The main weakness here is that first thing: they sense danger. Perhaps the word “sense” is weak. They’re driven toward it, irresistibly, to the point of losing awareness of everything else. If left unchecked, this instinct can drive them mad, and madness plus the desire to protect against all potential harm is not a good combination.

Thus, their original name: balance. The regimen and practices they keep provide them with the ability to stay in control, to not lose their minds in spite of risks, to remain a people, a group, a nation, without devolving into chaos of every winged warrior for his or her own charge.

Extinction

I won’t go into it fully now, but the First War had a lot of casualties. One of them was the majority of the Saqalu people. Those who remain are really, really crazy.

You’ll learn more in Notte.

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