The Aetra pets are playful creatures and would like nothing more then to play all day. They often make their homes near slow moving rivers where they can enjoy a good swim. An Atrea's fur is extremely soft and waterproof which keeps them warm in cold waters, but also cool during hot weather. The long sails along their backs are unique and no two are never the same. Only Aetri can identify which family clan they belong to by just looking at each other sails. Aetri love to search underwater for treasure and will dig in the mud with their bills looking. All Aetri have a collection of special treasure from their findings and no one knows where exactly they hide it. Many owners have tried searching for these mystery collections, but no one has been successful. When asking an Aetra about these collections they will only stare blankly and insist on playing.
Aetrai are sociable and exceedingly playful creatures that live in family clans of surprisingly varied populace and density. However, the term "family clan" is misleading, and out of context it can give the wrong impression. Quite unlike any of Mistica's known inhabitants, Aetrai group themselves according to neither biological family relations nor hierarchical structure. Rather, each Aetra is born with a sail unique to themselves, which other Aetrai identify them by, and it is these sails and the information encoded in them which determines what group of Aetrai an Aetra will consider family.
The reading of an Aetra's sail is still shrouded in mystery. To date, it seems only the Aetrai are able to see the patterns on sails which enable them to recognize each other. They also sometimes react inexplicably to ordinary objects, a behavior which as been recognized and pondered over since ancient times. Curiously, all myths concerning the Aetra, regardless of place of origin in Mistica, attribute the Aetra with something called the djona, or 'second sight'.
According to myth, Aetra are able to engage in a different, more 'pure' mode of seeing. Legends speak of something called 'the web' which Aetra are able to see with the djona. The web, an ancient concept seen throughout Mistican lore, is often described as the theory of relations. If we think of ourselves as a focal point and the relationships we have with everything around us as connecting strands, the result looks something like a net or a web. Unlike most creatures, who can only 'see' the strands of the web through series of events as they happen, Aetra, according to myth, are able to actually see how their actions and relationships affect the world all around them.
How Aetra family clans are formed is still a mystery. Though it is understood well enough that Aetra use their second sight to identify where they belong in the terms of a family clan, what is still unknown is how those clans are chosen and divided into groups. Some believe it has to do with temperament, others believe it is some form of interconnection based on the myths of the djona - as though these Aetra were destined to meet each other to fulfill some kind of purpose.
The djona is believed to originate from the delicate hairs and sensitive bead-like structures on the tops of their heads. Whether this is actually true or not has yet to be confirmed, but the evidence seems plausible. However, there are a few rare forms of boxed Aetra that do not have these sensory organs, which has lead some to believe that the djona originates elsewhere.
Instead, they speculate that the hairs are not related to the second sight, but rather to the way in which the patterns of the sail come to be. Because the hairs are placed directly above the brain and just before the sail, some think that they are a direct feed between the sail, the brain and the colors the sail sends out on the djona wavelength. According to this school of thought, that would mean that the unique patterns of the sail change with the development of the Aetra's brain. As the Aetra changes throughout its life, the sail changes to meet it. This hypothesis is somewhat supported by the fact that baby Aetrai do not possess these hairs, but in reality it is no more substantiated than any other hypotheses.
Despite arguments concerning just how and where their ability is generated, it is well documented that the Aetrai's second sight does allow them to see shapes, colors and signs in the sails of other Aetrai that no other creature can see. It is widely agreed, however, that social identification alone is not worth the development of an entirely new sensory organ. This has led to speculation concerning what other things Aetra might be able to see that other creatures cannot. Aetra are known far and wide as treasure hunters, but the 'treasures" they unearth tend to be nothing of visibly intrinsic value. It is possible the items Aetrai horde are in some way important or connected to their ability to see with the second sight.
The fact that Aetra keep these treasures and their location secret from everybody including other Aetra suggests these treasures might hold some vastly significant information, but only on a personal level.
Aetrai love to play and according to legend, their cavalier treatment of life, and their incessant quest for playtime might be a built-in coping mechanism to help them deal with the fact that the web that ties all things together is something real and tangible to them. Aetrai are good-natured, friendly creatures with a surprisingly low rate of evil individuals. If the legends are true, this would support it since conjecturally speaking, it would be difficult for an individual who could see exactly how their actions would affect everything around them to do truly bad things. To an Aetra pet in your family, the idea of vocal identification is completely alien, and it is quite common for pet Aetrai not to understand that they have a 'name'. They do not naturally understand that calling that name means you are referring to them, because for Aetrai, names are visual (via their sails) and not verbal. Once they can understand this concept, Aetrai catch on quickly to verbal language, but for some Aetrai, it can be a huge barrier. The best method for teaching an Aetra its name is to use a mirror so that it can associate the sound with its own sail pattern.
- The Aetra is based off of the platypus.
- The NPC, Archie, is an Aetra.