Nydoini and Orran’sulani bore seven children, each aligned with one of the seven elements. Orran’sulani himself is associated with Light, and Nydoini with Earth and Life, but they would produce heirs to represent those alignments. Their first child, Zelan, became the God of Air; their second, Maris, Goddess of Water; their third, Brecha, Goddess of Earth; Alaezo, their fourth child, the God of Fire; Entra, the fifth, Goddess of Life; and finally, their sixth and seventh children, the twins Idraen, the God of Light and heir to Orran’sulani’s throne, and Ispa, the Goddess of Darkness.
As the young gods matured, Nydoini gave them each the opportunity to define a race that would serve them on Aserra. The base form she provided them was human, but perfected for long life and great magical power. Aside from this, they were shaped in the form of Orran’sulani—tall, pale, and slender, with long, tapered ears—to mark them as servants of the divine. They were to be imbued with the souls of elemental spirits, granting each race the power of that element.
Zelan, as the eldest, created his people first. He took the form and graced the back with the wings of eagles to grant them flight. His people were given the souls of Sylph, the air elemental, and named Zaedyn. He placed them upon the Ideil Mountains and let them find their way in the world from there. They spread their wings and flew to mountains across the world to establish their aeries.
Next, Maris was given her opportunity. She gave her people the tails of fish and set in the ocean. They were given the souls of Undine and named Mariel. They were granted one year of their lives to live on land, so that all the peoples would know each other.
Brecha took her people and made them short and stout with bronzed skin in her resemblance. Given the souls of Gnome, they were granted mastery of earth and stone. She set them beneath the Ideil Mountains, and from there they would spread across Thiskel, Kalesten, and Ageond, carving glorious cities inside of mountains. They were named Brech’mar in her honor.
Entra chose the Nymphs to be the souls of her race, the Nafod. In time, the Nafod would inherit the shape-shifting traits of their Nymph souls—which also included the souls of Dryads and Nereid. Those with Nymph souls bound their shape-shifting to an animal species to mimic, becoming the Ochae’nafod. Meanwhile, those with Dryad souls bound themselves to trees in the same way, becoming the Dra’nafod. The Nereid souls found themselves drawn back to sea, and became the children of both Entra and Maris, becoming the Marfod. The Nafod were originally set into the Eldir Forest, but quickly spread outwards, finding new species to bond to across the world, while the Marfod slipped into the Riath Sea.
Idraen made no physical changes to the base body, keeping with the fairness of skin, hair, and eyes that he and his father shared. They were given the souls of ephemeral light elementals and named the Idayn. They were placed into the Eldir Forest of Thiskel.
Finally, there was Ispa. To spite her brother, she gave her people unnaturally ink-black skin. They were incarnated with the souls of shades and named the Danaij. Ispa set them into the continent of Ageond, far from where her other siblings had chosen to put their people.
Physical Traits and General Anatomy
As the elemental races derived from the same base form, there are some common traits shared amongst them. Most tend to carry very little fat, with the exception of Brech’mar and some Ochae’nafod, and are fine-boned. They often have less body hair than humans (again, with the exception of Brech’mar and some Ochae’nafod). Their facial features are often attractive to human standards, and in general, the elemental races seem to represent a sort of aesthetic idealism mirroring the gods. However, there is one trait that stands out above all others, and that is the long, tapered ears, given to them in the image of Orran’sulani.
The unique ears of the elemental races extend outward from the head about 3 to 5 inches (about 7-12cm). The Brech’mar have the shortest ears, mostly around 3” in length. These ears are mobile, able to move several degrees up and down, and lay back, nearly flat against the head. The ears offer improved hearing over humans, and are expressive, playing a role in non-verbal communication.
There are many incredible variations to biology in the elemental races, especially the Zaedyn, Mariel, Asath, and Eain’Idayn that were only made possible through divine magical intervention. The elemental races are all long-lived, with some races being near-immortal, or having lifespans of around a thousand years. Even the shortest-lived members of the elemental races far outlive humans. Their reproduction rates are also much slower than humans. Human females are capable of becoming pregnant around once a month, but many females of the elemental races only ovulate one year out of five or ten years. This, and their long lifespans, have kept their populations from exploding and expanding beyond what the resources of the world could support.
As the elemental races were created from a modified human base, they are similar enough to humans for interracial reproduction. With the exception of Mariel (excluding their brief transformation period), Asath, and Eain’Idayn, all the elemental races could potentially reproduce with humans.
Migration and Diversification
After the initial populations established themselves, they began to spread across the world, but the War of the Gods was the first major factor in the development of the modern populations.
On Aserra, Ispa and her children saw to the creation of Danaij’vai, kuzo, and vampires. Under the leadership of the Danaij, Ispa’s mortal armies conquered the whole of Ageond and advanced into Thiskel. In response, the Idayn rallied their cousins—the Zaedyn, Brech’mar, Nafod—as well as conscripting humans from both the newly established city-states of Thiskel and nomadic tribes. The war led to the destruction of most of Ageond, and only ended when Ispa was defeated.
In the aftermath of the war, the Danaij and their allies retreated to the southern tip of Ageond that survived the Cataclysm, while those remaining in Thiskel were slaughtered. Except for wily kuzo that escaped into the wilderness and quickly forgot the dark gods that spawned them.
The Idayn had seen the creation of the half-Idayn, half-horse Eain’Idayn during the centuries-long conflict. Intermingling with the other races gave rise to many interracial children, predominantly amongst the Idayn who were loathe to take them in, and few found lasting homes amongst humans. These mixed-race offspring grouped together west of Maris’ Chasm and became the Shaolaon. Some Idayn troops that had been dispatched to the southern half of the continent chose to remain where they had been stationed, leading to the origin of the Ery’Idayn. Many other Idayn (and Eain’Idayn), who had finally left the seclusion of the forest during the war, decided to follow in the footsteps of the Zaedyn, Brech’mar, and Nafod and see more of the world. This lead to three more populations established throughout Kalesten, the Oir’Idayn, Ur’Idayn, and Fayl’Idayn; and one in Athok, the Aeul’Idayn.
Over thousands of years, many of these satellite colonies changed. More variety appeared in their populations. Magical powers were lost and gained. Old gods were forgotten and new ones found.
At their creation, the elemental races shared a common language that has since become known as the Ancient Tongue. Over the generations, this language has evolved to unique dialects and off-shoots of the original tongue in each culture and population group.
The Idayn and Nafod have maintained the purest form of the language. With their long lifespans, there is very little dialectical shifting between generations. The Idaynian sub-races have their own dialects born out of isolation from other speakers, and influence of humans and other races.
Zaedyn dialects vary across the world. Those close to the origin point, who are in close contact with the Idayn, maintain a purer form of the language than those who spread further away, but their languages have not shifted enough to be completely unintelligible from one another. The Mariel tongue has varied greatly from its original form in pronunciation to suit underwater communication, but it remains uniform throughout the oceans as most cities maintain contact with each other. When speaking on land, they tend to have a slurred accent. The Asath dialects vary across the world, but still share common roots and tend to favor TH and S sounds, leaving them with a very serpentine pronunciation of their language. The Brech’mar dialects have a few different varieties across regions, but they all take a brusquer, sharp, and consonant-heavy sound.
The Danaij language is nearly unrecognizable from its origin, if only their desire to distance themselves from the other races. The same basic language is spoken throughout the Forsaken Land, with accents and colloquialisms defining different regional interpretations. The Elemental Influence As all the main elemental races are incarnated with the souls of elemental spirits, they can channel the power of that spirit and have mastery of whatever falls into the realm of control for that spirit. The culture of each elemental race, no matter where the population is, is strongly influenced by characteristics of their element—namely the spirits that rule those elements, and that are a part of their souls. As such, their culture as a whole can express this personality archetype. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for individuality, but individuals still reflect aspects of the personality archetype of their element.
The Elemental Religions
The religions followed by the elemental races are based on the adoration of their patron god, whom created them and imbued them with the souls of elemental spirits that allow them to use Elementalism. Elemental races honor their gods, rather than worship them. Whereas humans go to prostrate themselves before their favored gods of the pantheon in hopes of favor, the elemental races rarely pray to ask for things that are beneficial to them. They often commune with the elemental spirit in their soul and other spirits of the same element, but only occasionally with their god, and usually only those in positions of leadership of a community seek their god’s guidance. To honor their god, they make use of their abilities for the good of their people and do all in their power to think of the community before themselves. Individuals who abandon their communities and ways of their people (especially in offensive manner) may find the elemental spirit within them stripped from their soul. The elemental races all believe that they will be reincarnated after a short respite in their patron god’s plane.
The elementalism used by the elemental races (Zaedyn, Mariel, Brech’mar, Asath, Nafod, Idayn, and Danaij) is a form of spiritual energy. The elemental spirits are manifestations of the elements (air, water, earth, fire, life, light, and darkness in Aserran tradition) themselves, and for them, using their element comes as naturally as using an arm or a leg for a human. As the elemental races are spirits given flesh, using their element comes naturally to them as well, and works much in the same way as it does for the spirits. The ability slowly matures from early childhood alongside cognitive and fine motor skills. By the teenage years, most youth of the elemental races begin to receive training in their abilities to hone them toward a specific career goal that is beneficial to the community.
Elementalism can be applied toward everyday life and the simplest tasks require very little expenditure of spirit energy. In combat, elementalism can be applied to do more damage than a mere weapon or physical feat alone; air elementalists can employ gusts of wind and change air pressure in concert with their weapon; water elementalists can manipulate currents and pressure in the water; earth elementalists can turn the very ground against their opponent; and so on. Even the common people of an elementalist community put their magic to practical use, often using elementalism in construction, artistry, and craftsmanship. The most talented elementalists often become priests in their communities; serving as both a spiritual leader, communing with fellow elemental spirits, and honing their talent to its greatest potential.
Unlike other forms of magic, Elementalism is not readily learned by individuals of other races. As the source of the ability lies in the elemental spirit bound to the soul of the elementalist, it cannot be taught to one who possesses a normal soul. The ability for elementalism is carried on a direct female line of inheritance (mitochondrial). If a child is born to a union of an elementalist mother and father of a different race, the offspring will inherit the mother’s ability, but each successive generation will typically be weaker as the non-elemental heritage makes it harder to connect with one’s inner elemental spirit.
Elementalism is not cast like other spells, though priests may use chants to focus greater and more complicated spells. Typically, it is translated from thought by hand and body gestures, or along combat movements, such as the strike of a sword or spear, or firing of an arrow.