|+2 move per level
|Fighter, Swordmaster, Bard, Thief,
All Scholars, all Templars,
Assassin, Psionicist, Watcher
Regal and prideful, the aelin are one of the oldest races in the world and consider themselves the founders of modern civilization. Status in society is of the utmost importance to aelin, and appearance is always a consideration.
Aelin are six-limbed humanoid mammals with slight, fragile bodies and broad avian wings. They lack facial or body hair, bulky muscle, or significant body fat, and dimorphism between the sexes is minimal, lending them a more androgynous appearance. Hair and skin range from pale to dark in the same hues of humanity; conversely, their eyes and plumage can be nearly any colour or pattern found in nature, including jewel-bright tones. Aelin age slowly, leaving them looking relatively youthful for much of their lifespan.
Their bones are famously delicate, with parts of their skeleton being composed of thinner pneumatized bone that accommodates their unique metabolic needs. Their metabolism is enhanced to support the tremendous energy expenditure of flight, and they have appetites to match despite their slender frames. Their wings resemble a bird's in most respects, and connect to the body just below the shoulder blade. Both shape and wingspan can vary but in general aelin wings are adapted to maneuverability and grow to be half again the height of an individual. Aelin lack the oil glands or powder down of actual birds, however; preening is done with the oil of a nep tree or various alchemical compounds.
The progenitors of the aelin were a winged but flightless species that is presumed to have gone extinct after the transformation into the original aelin by Alil. Though the legend associated with Alil's intervention is considered apocryphal, the veracity of their origin is supported by both the deity and the fact that, strictly speaking, aelin shouldn't actually be able to fly at all.
Physical beauty, reason, and pride are nigh-universally valued by the aelin, and not always to their betterment. Most aelin take their appearance particularly seriously and spend an unusual amount of time styling their hair, preening their feathers, or choosing the most appealing clothing. This can give other races the impression of being unflatteringly effete, although that concept is unheard of within aelin circles. Aelin of all genders commonly wear cosmetics, and may dye their hair or feathers. Their clothing is frequently backless to accommodate their wings and tailored to be minimally disruptive during flight. Choices in everything from the cut of clothing to accoutrements will often be layered with meaning, intended to communicate everything from gender
As the originators of republican government, aelin have a healthy appreciation for logic and order. They tend to be active conversationalists, and enjoy the clever application of ideas or designs. Aelin pride is infamous, and fed both by their obsession with culture and their historical achievements. It is more common than not for an aelin to believe he is superior to others, if it is justified or not. As a result, aelin societies are highly stratified, and their families arranged into distinct houses with complex legal and social standings. Though each region has their own variations, houses are recognized across all aelin cultures. Those aelin without houses are known as “ael ta Iana” and find themselves locked out of much of aelin society, whether legally or de facto.
Marriages are a cornerstone of aelin society and have evolved into being complex affairs. An aelin marriage consists of two or more partners committed in a binding, semi-public contract, usually for a finite period of time. Contracts may include stipulations for anything from the number of children (and who births them) to how extramarital affairs must be conducted. For all their flexibility, however, officially recognized marriage cannot include individuals of another species (nevermind the scorn for trying).
Often, aelin are known to harshly critique their peers who do not fit into expected social roles, while at the same time pushing what boundaries suit them behind closed doors. While this can be seen in many arenas from familial to business, this is especially true in interspecies dalliances, intimate and otherwise. These connections are both a source of intense personal interest, and paradoxically dismissed as temporary, shallow amusements. Hypocrisy is common amongst their people, and even the best of aelin will experience powerful temptation to judge others even as they themselves indulge.
Because of this, their interpersonal relations tend to be complex, composed of distinct public and private sides. Pinning down their "true" motivations can be difficult, as they are likely to tell different versions of the same story (or entirely different stories!) to different people. This is true even for well-meaning aelin; they need not lie, but they might confide to several people about separate aspects of life, and seek to keep them separate. Unfortunately, it has led to a stereotype of aelin duplicity that follows them throughout their personal and professional dealings.
Eternal Empire of Daphoa
A continent west across the Sea of Lidraeu, it is home to the birthplace of aelin culture, the Eternal Empire of Daphoa. The oldest functioning democracy in the known world, imperial Daphoa’s power is vested in its Senate, the archetypical feature of their government. Within Ilodaiya, the houses known as the Seven Sentinels (Linphori, Telanei, Judessa, Linayla, Ishtae, Eolodeu, and Lenahiri), each credited as among the first to establish the High City, are guaranteed Senate seats, while all others must be elected. This places them at the apex of Daphoa’s social and political hierarchy.
Connections and heritage are paramount to those living within the empire, and those of means will often judge others strongly based on their house affiliation. The determination of a house name’s transfer, as well as its accurate lineage, are approved by (and at times, facilitated by) the Senate Heritage Authority. Property inheritance is selective, and may not necessarily go to blood relatives.
Republic of Earendam
Their long proximity to human governance and custom has changed the character of Earendamian aelin, in some senses mirroring that of their local neighbors. In general, they tend to be a little rougher around the edges in comparison to their peers, favoring a much more direct (for an aelin) style of communication and approach to interpersonal relationships. Inheritance is determined by blood rather than designation, and their house structures trend toward the style of human families rather than the codified, heavily legalistic affairs of Daphoa and Ashta Harrud. Gender roles and presentations cleave closer to that of humanity generally speaking, giving them an uncharacteristic rigidity and near-as conservatism in expression compared to their cousins. Despite their assimilation however they are subtly considered outsiders even now, and rarely claim significant direct political power.
The distant desert city of Ashta Harrud boasts a prominent population of aelin. Their numbers grew considerably at the close of the War of Night as Serachelian refugees from Daphoa flooded the city to escape religious persecution. There, they established the singularly powerful Tower of Void with the much-stigmatized mastery of void magic they brought with them. This has produced a long-running resentment on the part of Harrudim houses, who often cast themselves as unjust exiles.
Though all aelin tend to social stratification, Harrudim aelin are known to take this to new extremes. Invested in the idea of a natural class of born elites, they take easily to the local practice of slavery as an expression of their philosophy (to the dismay of their Daphoan and Earendamian cousins). However, the possibility in their legal system to unperson even powerful socialites makes many of their political connections resemble oaths of fealty. Inheritance is of supreme importance, leading to an impressively robust legal framework for its adjudication. There is considerable convergence in the gendering of their clothing and cosmetics, even compared to other aelin.
Alil is the oldest deity of the aelin and is credited with granting the then-flightless proto-aelin wings capable of flight, and thus in a sense creating the aelin, shortly after the Sundering. Their influence on the aelin is one of glory and transformation, urging change, nonconformity, and true empathy, things which do not come easily to the socially conscious and duplicitous people. Recently freed from Their five thousand year imprisonment, Their worship has begun to spread again across Avendar and Daphoa in particular, leading to all manner of social upset in usually-placid aelin society.
Aeoleri is the patriarch of aelin civilization and creator of many of the values, philosophies, and social norms underlying it that have endured into the modern day, even among aelin who do not worship Him. He is the font of the archetypical aelin hero, the drive for drama and romance that grants the aelin their characteristic flourish, as well as the structures, rules, and concern for the wellbeing of others that tamp down passions and grant stability to their society. Headquartered in Litirya, the Priesthood of the Rose King enacts His will in Daphoa, and have been responsible for everything from the foundations of the aelin house system to an efficient universal system of medicine to the institute of marriage. It is due to Aeoleri that the basic standard of living in Daphoa is so high; all citizens have a right to housing, healers, and political repesentation. Unfortunately, Aeoleri's sphere of influence has never extended far beyond Daphoa, even when He served as a patron to the Champions of Aramril.
Serachel is the god of artists and secrets and broken hearts, all things which privately speak to aelin spirit and sensibility. Though Serachel's historic standing was relatively positive, modern perception of Him and His followers is largely negative. Worship remains deeply illegal in Daphoa ever since the end of the War of Night, with nearly all prominent followers fleeing the empire to Ashta Harrud and the rest going underground. As Serachelian priests also oversaw burial and funereal rites, this has lead to centuries of funerals being secretive, borderline-illegal affairs. Some Serachelian enclaves survive, but the legal repercussions remain severe even after years of attempted reforms, leading to a bustling grey-and-black-market and connections to other kinds of criminal activity. This has created a cycle that reinforces the perception of malice, deception, and betrayal in modern Serachel worship, which may or may not actually resemble His true interests; Serachel, as ever, keeps His own counsel.
Of the Overgods, Iandir is the most widely venerated, and is depicted as a severe aelin woman bearing the runil She is said to have gifted the aelin along with Her law shortly after Ilodaiya was settled. A perfect fit with their hierarchical and lawful, sometimes placid society, Iandir is celebrated both in Her grand temple, in art, and in a series of religious festivals and feast days. As is common for Iandir, She is pictured as the lawgiver and judge in aelin society, but She is also considered the guardian of the aelin Republic. Meetings of the Daphoan senate open with formal prayers to Iandir, and She is also the formal deity of jurists and the legal system. Oaths are sworn on Iandir's Crown, and the crown is a common sigil among those practicing law.
Jolinn is also worshipped by the aelin, though not nearly with the passion or reach, as most drawn to protection or water magic tend to drift to Aeoleri and those interested in unity usually pursue Alil. Jolinn is often depicted as a healer in aelin art and, somewhat unusually, as a male human.
Ashur too is rarely worshipped in any of Its forms; those inclined to meditate on silence and death are more likely to be found among the tortured artists of Serachel's get. It is usually depicted as a void dragon or void drake.
Founding of Earendam & Early Republic
With the close of the War of Fire, the victorious heroes of Daphoa helped to secure the river valley alongside Aramril and Salyra, and build the twin towers of their namesake. Venerating Jolinn and Iandir, these aelin committed themselves to the exploration of the water sphere alongside their cohort, and to the forging a lasting government in the style of Daphoa's democratic republic. Among the oldest populations of aelin outside of Daphoa, many Earendamian houses trace their roots to this period.