All this might have been a pleasing evening easily forgotten had I not chanced to look outward from the throng as the sun was setting. There in the glow of the fire I saw four figures watching. I knew them at once as the characters I had seen at play. And yet the bloodied blade of red-stained wood was here a cruel dagger of sharpened steel. And in place of flames knit from orange handkerchiefs, a true fire flickered about the neck of one. The third had a face of such beauty that I could not say if they were boy or girl and nor did I care in longing for their touch. And the last, strangest of all, wore no curved beak of cloth but instead bore the true head of a heron.
The Sphelan Immortals are living embodiments of the “four spirits” of Sphelan philosophy. They are not physically immortal. Instead, when one of the four deems the time is right they pass on the mantle of their role to another. However, these are far more than ceremonial roles. They are passed only to those with the necessary qualities and with each role comes considerable power.
Each of the four is associated with certain qualities, which they also embody. Heron represents undying infinity and wisdom. Bright represents opposites, sex and androgyny. Iridae is the adversary and represents conflict and enmity. Aesquilan is the warrior and represents fire and light.
The four can never harm each other, but they can scheme against each other in the Dance.
Early in the age of wars the Sphelan people were nomadic and the immortals were important figures in their lives, encountered frequently by Sphelan people on the road and often travelling with them. By the end of the age of wars the Sphelan were mostly settled in long chains of riverside villages. During this time the immortals walked the riverbanks or were seen on the waters in long skiffs. By the time of the age of exploration many of the Sphelan people had become part of larger towns and cities alongside other peoples. The tales of the immortals took on more of a mythic quality and most lived their lives without ever meeting the immortals… or at least without knowing that they had.