“For it is grace and subtlety that are foremost among virtues, and the virtuous will find favour in all things.” – common aelin aphorism
One of the most regal of races, the aelin are also one of the oldest. Their noble blood runs deep, and is a considerable source of pride for those who bear it. Status in society is of the utmost importance to aelin, and appearance is always a consideration.
Aelin are humanoids with slight, fragile bodies and broad avian wings. Although often compared to humanity, aelin appear significantly more youthful and androgynous than their counterparts; they do not display as much sexual dimorphism as most other races, do not possess facial hair, and have minimal body hair. Their hair follows a range of colors from white to black, blond to brown, and with the occasional red. Their eyes can be nearly any color, ranging from the drab tones of humanity to jewel-bright hues. Aelin complexion ranges from pale to dark, depending on their region of origin. Their plumage can be nearly any color or pattern, and are large and bird-like.
Aelin value beauty; they take their appearances seriously, and spend much time on grooming their wings in particular. Aelin of all genders commonly wear cosmetics, and may dye their hair or feathers.
Below are sample descriptions from NPCs and past player characters. These descriptions are for reference only; you should not use them for your characters.
Raevas Iraralir, Co-Founder of the Seekers of Knowledge
This aelin woman wears her long black hair up in a tidy bun, often secured with hairpins. Her black brows arch like fine strokes of ink, containing a wave of sapphire eye shadow over each eye. Almond-shaped, her eyes glint amber-gold, and flicker critically over the world around her. Her lips are painted sapphire, with a crisp, sharp edge to them, and indeed her whole face has a sharp angularity. A slender neck leads to her sylphlike form, seemingly so slim and light as to be caught by the wind. Yet, behind her beat powerful, sun-bright wings of primrose gold.
Natural leaders, aelin make use of their high charisma to win over allies and to denounce their enemies. With their inimitable confidence and poise, aelin have tended to rise quickly in human societies. However, their lower wisdom renders them likely to fall just as quickly. Whether due to pettiness or a lack self-discipline, aelin are often the orchestrators of their own downfall.
Aelin societies are highly stratified, their families arranged into legally-distinct houses; though each region has their own variation, houses are recognized across all aelin civilizations; those aelin without houses are known as “ael ta Iana” and find themselves locked out of much of aelin society. Marriages are a cornerstone of this system, and have evolved into being complex affairs. Consisting of two or more partners, aelin commit themselves to a binding, semi-public contract. These unions are supremely flexible, and both anticipating and accommodating any set of gender expressions. However, because of their legalistic nature, an officially recognized marriage cannot include individuals of other races.
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 interracial 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.
A continent west across the Sea of Lidraeu, it is home to the birthplace of aelin culture, the Eternal Empire of Daphoa. It is divided into the provinces of Litirya, Siael, Illata, and Ipora, with the capitol city of Ilodaiya situated upon a great floating disc above the Ialiedae mountains. 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. Legal battles have become common, and preemptive contracts, such as pre-nuptials, are the norm. This is not to say Daphoans are a cold people; rather, these legalisms are an attempt to rein in the passionate aelin soul.
Among the oldest populations of aelin outside of Daphoa, many Earendamian houses trace their roots to the aftermath of the War of Fire. With the close of the conflict, the victorious heroes of Ilodaiya 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. However, even now, they are subtly considered outsiders, and rarely claim significant direct political power.
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. Due to the harsh winters of the continental river valley, they tend to favor long sleeves, long coats, and scarves when given the opportunity.
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. Physically, Harrudim aelin tend to be of darker complexions, and there is considerable convergence in the gendering of their clothing and cosmetics.
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