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The Kindred of the Light
The Eldrien (sometimes “elds” or “eldlings”) are an ancient race of people whose close kinship with nature has never waned. Legends of the Eldrien extend back for thousands of years, but they are neither spirits nor immortals, contrary to what some ancient myths portray. Even so, Eldrien do possess extraordinary powers of magic and live exceptionally long time lifetimes. The average life span of an Eldrien is approximately 300 years, with an upper limit of about 500 years. In human legends, the Eldrien were often referred to as the Ancient Ones, the First Ones, or the Elder Ones. Many believe they were the first and highest hominid race, from which all other races evolved following the Cosmic Wars untold eons ago. There may be some truth in this, as archaeological evidence shows that the Eldrien were the first to develop agriculture and written language.
Eldrien physiology is strikingly different from that of humans and other hominids. They are born in embryonic cocoons as a genderless seldeir. Eldrien cocoons are traditional protected inside purpose grown trees, and the branches of the tree, and the foliage around it, are incorporated in the cocoon. This has given rise to the misperception that Eldrien are born from trees.
The childhood development of the genderless seldeir progresses slower than for humans, but at the age of 20 (equivalent to 13 or 14 human years) a seldeir enters their first chrysalis to develop into an aegeir. Emerging from chrysalis, the aegeir has undergone sexual dimorphism, although they are not yet sexually mature. At around the age of 50 or 60, they may choose to undergo their second chrysalis. From the second chrysalis they emerge as a fully mature meadeir. Although uncommon, they may change their gender during this chrysalis, and can further alter their appearance and even regenerate severe injuries. As a meadeir, the Eldrien is fully sexually mature, however, female Eldrien are only capable of reproducing once. They may undergo another chrysalis, to restore their fertility, and all Eldrien, both male and female, can undergo multiple chrysalises during their adult life, allowing them to regenerate, alter their appearance, restore fertility, or even change gender.
Beginning between the ages of 200 and 300, Eldrien will truly begin to show their age. They become incapable of forming a chrysalis, grow physically weaker, their hair begins to gray, and their skin gains a yellow hue. Those who reach 400 have long, wizened face, a hunched posture, and skin that is rough and bark-like, making the eldest of the Eldrien look something like withered trees. Few Eldrien reach the august age of 450, fewer still reach 500.
Eldrien have two distinct ethnic groups, Talic Eldrien (in Celaphania) and Ultic Eldrien (in Tarrona). Talic Eldrien are actually comprised of three different cultural groups: the Talic, Sylvic, and Lauric Eldrien, although all are considered part of the larger “Talic Eldrien” ethnic group. Talic Eldrien tend to be taller than humans, have fair features and large bright eyes, as well as long tapered ears, high jaw bones, and hair and eyes in a wide range of colors. In general, Talic Eldrien are a haughty, aloof people populating elegant forest-cities in small regions throughout Celaphania and Relania. Early in their history, the Ultic Eldrien split off from the Eldrien tribes of Celaphania and sailed east to the land of Tarrona. Shortly after, the Ultic tribes split again as the Scaithi broke away and began to colonize the northern areas of Tarrona. Ultic Eldrien are a bit shorter than humans, and have light tan complexions and light brown to black colored hair. Scaithi are also technically Eldrien, but are considered a separate race by both Eldrien and Scaithi alike.
All Eldrien have an innate magical attunement with the spirits of nature. They dislike technology and industry, as they find it destructive to nature. Although they dislike open warfare, they are not pacifists—Eldrien will fight to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their villages from any hostile forces. Ultic Eldrien follow the ancient Ultic religion and worship Lureatha, Dagdera, and Curragwn as their Great Spirits. Eldrien priests must shave their heads, but priestesses have no such restriction.
It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for a human and an Eldrien to intermarry and have children. Human males find Eldrien females extremely desirable; while human females are likewise attracted to Eldrien males. However, because of their unique sexual physiology, only Eldrien males can successfully procreate with human females. It is impossible for an Eldrien female to bear a half-Eldrien child. Half-Eldrien are sterile and cannot produce offspring.
Half-Eldrien have physical appearance similar to an Eldrien, although somewhat lessened or muted, and are born as either male or female, just as humans are. Half-Eldrien are also incapable of forming a chrysalis, and develop and age at a rate only slightly slower than humans. Most half-Eldrien live to the age of 90 or 100, and very rarely reach the age of 150.