Zaedyn

Zaedyn
Zaedyn male
Region of Origin North Thiskel
Current Range Mountain Ranges of Thiskel and Kalesten
God Zelan
Magic Air Elementalism
Language Ancient Tongue
Approximate Lifespan 500 years

The Zaedyn (zeɪ.dɪn) are the creation of Zelan, the God of Air. Granted mastery of the skies of Aserra, they were given the wings of eagles and the souls of Sylph. Zelan set the first Zaedyn in the Ideil Mountains and from there, they spread across the world. Living in mountain-top aeries (cities) carved out of stone, the Zaedyn live apart from most other peoples. They are, however, generally an amicable and pleasant people, if a bit aloof.

Biology

The Zaedyn are similar to most of the other elemental races, with their wings being the major differing feature. Additional bone structure in the chest was required to support the wings in the more stable center of the back. This required a second clavicle, heavily modified, surrounding the base of the ribs and connected to the sternum and spine. This structure is somewhat subtle from the front, showing no major difference underneath clothing, though closer inspection will reveal the odd structure.

Like birds, Zaedyn bones are lower in density than humans, and the other elemental races, and the bones of their wings are even less dense than their body’s bones. This makes flight just a little easier for them than it would be with normal bone density. Zaedyn wings are small and useless when they are born, covered in downy feathers with cartilaginous bones that will gradually harden as they mature. For the first two years of a Zaedyn’s life, their wings are covered in downy feathers with tiny pinions, but around age three they begin to grow in normal feathers, though the wings are practically useless for many more years. The wings grow slowly until the teenage years when growth spurts through puberty allow the wings to quickly grow large enough to support an individual in flight. In their twilight years, their bodies and wings weaken, leaving elderly Zaedyn unable to fly.

Molting is also a unique aspect of Zaedyn life. In the winter, Zaedyn wings began to grow new feathers, pushing out the old ones. This time of year leaves them vulnerable and unable to fly, but for most Zaedyn, the winter is the ideal time to stay holed up in their mountain, away from the intense weather.

Appearance

The Zaedyn are a slender and lithe people. Both genders are light of build for the sake of their ability to fly, but their height is still comparable to humans. The average male Zaedyn stands between 5’10” and 6’ tall (177-182cm), while females range between 5’3” and 5’6” (160-167cm). They are fine-featured, much like the Idayn, and generally attractive. Like other elemental races, they have the long, tapered ears that extend about five inches from the side of their head.

Originally, the Zaedyn were fair of skin and hair, and this pale coloration still exists in northern Thiskel, but populations elsewhere in the world have developed more variety. In North Thiskel, in the Ideil Mountains, the original population has maintained fair skin, silvery hair (ranging through white and shades of gray/silver), white plumed wings, and eye color in the blue spectrum from pale gray to violet. In the western half of the continent and in North Kalesten, color is still pale, but pale blonde shades have become more common than silver, along with gray or pale gold plumage.

South Thiskel and South Kalesten Zaedyn have developed bronzed skin and darker hair in a number of shades from white to blonde to brown and even black. Eye color is still pale, but gold and green eyes have appeared alongside blue hues. Their wings vary from population to population, but have colors more similar to birds of prey, often in patterned mixes of brown, white, gray, and black.

Wings

Most notable about their appearance is, of course, their wings. Zaedyn wings are avian, plumed with feathers like a bird’s wing. Their wingspan is twice their height, mostly around 10 to 12 feet (around 3 meters). While the wings are similar in anatomy to birds’ wings (analogous to the bone structure of an arm or foreleg), Zaedyn wings are not capable of folding flush to the body. The sheer size of wings required to lift a humanoid form in the air leave the Zaedyn with bulky and ungainly wings when folded. The highest joint (equivalent to the wrist) rises above their heads when folded, while the pinion feathers often scrap the ground when they walk.

It is important to note that while most depictions of winged humans (angels or otherwise) have the wings positioned around the shoulder-blades, Zaedyn wings should be positioned at the center of the back, just below the shoulder-blades and above the waist. This required additional bone structure and musculature, but the position is more stable for flight than wings positioned at the shoulders.

Lifespan

The Zaedyn have a lifespan of around five hundred years. They mature at the same rate as humans until the age of twenty-five, at which point apparent age ceases until the individual reaches the final fifty-or-so years of their life. From that point on, aging continues until death. Elderly Zaedyn often succumb to respiratory failure and suffer osteoporosis in their later years.

Reproduction

Zaedyn women are only fertile for one year out of every five, with their first menses in their teenage years. On average, a Zaedyn woman will bear between one and three children throughout their lives.

Interracial reproduction with Zaedyn is very complicated, but has happened. Around 98% of interracial Zaedyn pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Those that are successful are often with other elemental races. The traits for wings complicate reproduction, but there is precedent for successful reproduction. The 2% of pregnancies that do survive typically produce a child with no wings, nor the underlying wing structure, or a child with vestigial portions of the wings and their basic structure. Those few offspring that do have wings often have deformed wings that may be amputated, or at the least, small, stunted wings that are incapable of allowing for flight.

Diet

The Zaedyn have an omnivorous diet. Their main protein sources are poultry and fish, as well as some small game. They avoid large game as hunters, as it is too much weight to carry home, but they can stomach red meat. Zaedyn hunters rarely venture far from their home, but others rely entirely on agriculture—their own, and that of Brech’mar. In their aeries, Zaedyn may keep fowl for eggs and meat, and maintain small gardens to grow plants that can survive in high altitudes. Those who live alongside Brech’mar often have trade agreements that bring grains, fruits, and vegetables up from valley farms.

Culture

The Zaedyn association with Sylph and the element of Air lends itself to a culture that reflects the nature of that spirit. They tend to have restless minds and can be very thoughtful, curious, and quick-witted, but they also can be flighty day-dreamers. Air elementals tend to abhor confinement and routine, seeking to be free of any bindings, but subtler aspects of this desire have filtered into Zaedyn culture, or else there may not be much culture. They can be contrary; at once sociable and friendly to outsiders, but then keeping to themselves within their mountain abodes. They can appear aloof and distant one minute and want to know everything about you the next. While friendly and thoughtful, they can also be unreliable and flippant.

Gender and Relationships

Like many other elemental races, the Zaedyn are egalitarian. Men and women serve the community in any way that seems right to them. Zaedyn generally practice monogamous marriage, but with a somewhat loose interpretation that could be called “serial” monogamy. Their young adulthood often focuses on determining how they will contribute to society, with a secondary concern for casual courtships as they seek the right partner. They are surprisingly deliberate in their choices in partner, often taking years to determine if a courtship could lead to a committed relationship.

Even when they have selected a partner that they can build a family with and work alongside for centuries, it isn’t uncommon for either partner to have affairs from time to time. Marriages do not always last for the entirety of a couple’s lifetime either. Divorce is often acceptable after a couple centuries of marriage, as is remarriage after divorce.

Religion

As with all the elemental races, the Zaedyn honor their god different than humans tend to do. They were created to be the servants of Zelan and rather than prostrating themselves before Zelan and begging for favors, they do their best to honor his will, which is interpreted by those of the religious order in each aerie. The Zaedyn religion also teaches to commune with Sylph within them, and Sylph spirits outside of themselves. The depth of the connection varies on the devotion of the practitioner; those devoted to the spiritual path will forge a far deeper connection than those following the path of the warrior or craftsmen.

Language

The Zaedyn interpretation of the Ancient Tongue varies across their communities, but can generally be understood between them. The Zaedyn of the Ideil Mountains speak the purest form of the language, but those further away from the origin point have differing accents, dialects, and influence from local cultures affecting their use of the language.

Government and Social Roles

As the populations of Zaedyn aeries is rarely greater than 100 individuals, each individual is expected to contribute. From adolescence, a young Zaedyn is encouraged to find their life’s calling. Despite the distance between populations, these old traditions are practical for nearly every Zaedyn aerie. Aerie government is run by a council of elders, though occasionally aeries may have a chief or king who established themselves as the sole leader of the community.

There is a standing militia for defense, and while rarely needed, they continue to train and pass down ancient combat techniques which combine martial arts with elementalism. There are also spiritualists who devote their life to honing their abilities and seeing to the spiritual needs of their community. Craftsmen, artisans, and other civil services round out the rest of the population, most of which rely on at least a little application of elementalism.

The warrior class of the Zaedyn, the Sky Knights, specialize in direct combat combined with the application of air elementalism. They rely on various forms of light armor as heavy metal armor is impractical on the wing. Hardened leather, wood, and only small amounts of metal are used for Zaedyn armor. Their preferred weapons are javelins for range, and light-weight swords. It takes about twenty years of training to produce a skilled Zaedyn Sky Knight, but a lifetime of practice and upkeep to maintain their skill. Sky Knights rotate shifts on the aerie watch, train future young warriors, and protect any members of their society who leave for trade or diplomatic purposes. As Sky Knights often have little to do, they sometimes take a second career, and all Sky Knights are expected to help their legion in ways beyond simply training and teaching. Many Sky Knights also become blacksmiths, armor-makers, or hunters.

Much like the Sky Knights, the Windscouts are a part of the local Zaedyn militias, but as light combat or archers. Training is much the same as the Sky Knights, and they often overlap. Windscouts are talented fliers, being able to travel quickly and over long distances. If the issue of war came up, they would generally be serving as archers from behind the front lines, and doing reconnaissance. Their typical duties consist of patrolling outside the aerie for threats, relaying messages between aeries, and hunting.

Priests of Zelan are Zaedyn who focus their study on the mastery of air elementalism and commune with their god and fellow Sylph spirits. Individuals with exceptional talent and a strong connection with their inner Sylph are taken into study under elemental masters. When individuals with the gift of foresight are born into the Zaedyn, they are taken into the priesthood to hone both their abilities and serve their aerie. Priests are highly regarded members of society that the rest of the aerie looks to for guidance.

Wind-Carvers are an architectural career option. They apply their elementalism to focused erosion, using high-powered winds to carve into the stone face of the mountain to build and maintain their aerie. Their construction is graceful and sweeping, with open caverns and wide windows and verandas to let in light from the outside. When no major work is needed, Wind-Carvers spend their time on upkeep and watching for shifts or cracks in the aerie’s structure. They must also consider the snowpack, and many aeries are situated within the range of the snow on their mountain. It is important to channel the snowmelt down the mountain and keep it from eroding the aerie.

Other than these, there are numerous other jobs that Zaedyn can do, most of which require no magical intervention.

Magic

Air Elementalism generally consists of controlling wind—a sharp, focused gust that can cut like a blade, a gentle caressing breeze, or stilling the air. Sky Knights and Windscouts have techniques that often enhance their martial skills, and Wind-Carvers have a specific style that applies focused and high-powered blasts to cut stone. Zaedyn can also heal each other with elementalist techniques. However, the Priests of Zelan have techniques on a grander scale, some of which require several working together and communing with Sylph. They can influence the weather by bringing storms, controlling their intensity, or moving them away. In the War of the Gods, the Zaedyn helped the war effort by sending tornados, lightning storms, and even bringing hurricanes upon their enemies.

Relations

As per the friendly and social aspects of their nature, the Zaedyn tend to have good relations with their neighbors. The Brech’mar are common trading partners and allies with the Zaedyn, and they often share mountains—the Brech’mar deep within, and the Zaedyn up high on the outside. When they live near each other, they often trade in goods and services they can offer each other, but always live apart. Zaedyn in the Ideil Mountains often have close ties to the Idayn, while Zaedyn elsewhere who have forests at their feet often become familiar with Nafod living in the forests.

Human and Zaedyn relationships can be complicated, and it depends entirely on the human culture’s response to the Zaedyn. Zaedyn are entirely willing to be friends with humans, but humans are not always willing to be friends with winged people wielding magical powers.

Zaedyn Ethnic Groups

As the Zaedyn spread across Aserra, distinctions arose between the different groups. Mountain ranges throughout Thiskel and Kalesten are often home to a few Zaedyn aeries. Considering the expanse of space, there are bound to be differences in phenotypes and some cultural practices. However, as an elemental race, their cultural differences are minute from region to region. Included is a sampling of several Zaedyn aeries throughout Aserra. The same language is spoken amongst all Zaedyn, but with different dialects and accents.

Thiskel

Ideil Mountains

The Ideil Mountain range is on the eastern coast of North Thiskel and lay in between the Eldir and Itray forests, which are home to the Idayn. Zaedyn aeries are scattered up and down the range. They share these mountains with dragons, Brech’mar, and Ochae’nafod tribes, but have very little contact with humans. They only occupy the southern half of the range, however, as the northern latitudes are too cold for their liking.

The Idelian Zaedyn are closest to their original phenotype: exceptionally fair of skin and hair with white-plumed wings. Hair colors are often silver or white and eye color is shades of blue, gray, and violet. This is the Motherland of the Zaedyn, and from here they spread across the world. As such, they speak the purest form of the Zaedyn dialect of the Ancient Tongue.

Ispa’s Sepulcher

One aerie is found on the highest, southernmost peak of this volcanicly active range, Mount Bexen. The aerie at Bexen is located on a volcano that became inactive several hundred years after the War of the Gods, and considered safe by a pioneering group of Zaedyn who settled there. They vary little from those in the Ideil range but have more contact with humans to the south. They have developed gray and white plumage, however.

Maris’ Chasm

On the high cliff walls of the chasm torn through the north of Thiskel, another Zaedyn group carved out an aerie. This group is still very similar to the Ideil population, but very isolated. They are known for their aerial acrobatics, however, and are highly accomplished fliers and air elementalists due to the intense currents in the Chasm. Like the group in the Sepulcher, this population’s wings tend to be gray and white.

Ourem Mountains

The mountainous region of Ourem is claimed as a nation by humans, but is shared with numerous Zaedyn aeries, Brech’mar cities, and Ochae’ and Dra’nafod tribes, as well as a few other races. Over the development of the human Ouremian culture, the neighboring elemental races became highly revered while maintaining limited contact with humans. The Ouremian Zaedyn have a guarded fascination with the Ourem humans to the point where all the races inhabiting this region are isolated in their own way.

Many of the fair traits of Idelian Zaedyn are present in the Ouremian Zaedyn, but their fascination with the humans of the region, or perhaps some scattered interbreeding has led to traits in the younger generations that are similar. Almond-shaped eyes and high cheekbones are more common in this population, and dark hair is highly favored, though rare. Eye colors other than blue tones are rarely observed. Their wings tend to be patterns of gray, white, and black with a couple different varieties through the aeries.

Zirja

One aerie exists on this large island in the Sea of Thiskel. They are especially isolated from other Zaedyn but highly cooperative with other inhabitants of the island. Their interpretation of the Ancient Tongue has drifted far from the original Idelian dialect and merged with the language predominantly spoken on the island. They have a tan complexion and developed dark gray hair that varies through a few shades. Eye colors are commonly blue, green, or gold. Their wings have taken on a more streamlined form that mimics the osprey both in shape and coloration.

Siasursti Mountains

This mountain range on the west coast of South Thiskel is home to several Zaedyn aeries. Many south Thiskel Zaedyn have developed darker features for the sunnier latitudes. In the Siasursti, the tend to have shades of brown skin, dark brown or black hair, and eye colors that include gold, green, and hazel, with rare blue eyes. Their wings are similar to the griffin vulture—they are a gray-brown with long, dark pinions and coverts that are gray-brown with white edges. The colors range from light to dark shades, some being dusky gray-gold on the coverts while others are dark gray-brown.

The culture of the Zaedyn in this region is markedly more aggressive. They are near the coast of Ageond where thousands of years ago, their ancestors fought on the front lines against invasion. They are still on guard against kuzo clans and other remnants of the Forsaken Land that attempt to make a foothold in Thiskel. They are allied with local Brech’mar, Ochae’nafod, and some humans.

Lisr Mountains and Tephiztia Mountains

The Lisr Mountains are on the northeast coast of South Thiskel, separated from the Tephiztia range by the Bay of Khar. However, aeries between these two ranges are close enough that they often are in close communication and intermarriage. The trait that defines these northern populations in both the Lisr and northern parts of Tephiztia from the southern Tephiztia populations are their plumage—those in the north have wings with dark gray and black coverts and pinions that are white with black patterns. The populations of the southern Tephiztia have wings with the upper coverts in rusty-brown, lower coverts in white with some black markings, and very distinct black stripes over the otherwise white pinions. In the central Tephiztia range some aeries have wing patterns that are somewhere between the two groups from intermarriage.

Both the Lisr and Tephiztia populations have dark skin, black hair and commonly have gold eyes. Their language is very close to the original language, but with a very distinct fast, clipped accent. They are aloof to outsiders, and somewhat guarded, but with respectful interactions, can be great allies of local human populations.

Kalestan

Gayntos and Perdraser Mountains

The Gayntos and Perdraser ranges lay on the north and south sides, respectively, of North Kalesten. Both ranges have aeries that are very similar in phenotype and culture, and speak the same dialect of the Zaedyn ancient tongue, but with very marked differences from the original population. Blonde and brown hair colors are the most common among these groups, with fair to tanned skin, and blue, green, or gold eyes. Their wings are shades of brown, some being darker and more solid while others are a light golden brown.

Ertian Plateau

There are several aeries along the southern cliffs of the Ertian Plateau. These populations have wings that are patterned brown and buff colored plumage. Like humans of Ertia, they tend to have brown skin, black hair, and eyes of gold and red shades. Their dialect is heavily influenced by the old Ertian language and they are rather isolated from other groups of Zaedyn. However, they tend to have fair relationships with the local human communities and other races in the region.

South Kalesten Mountains

The mountain ranges that span the southern half of Kalesten are home to many aeries. The Zaedyn here are highly isolated from their brethren and speak a language that is far derived from the original ancient tongue. They have tense relations with Ur’Idayn and Samiss in this region and tend to be very defensive. Their complexions tend to be dark with brown skin, black hair, and gold eyes being common. Wings are similar to that of the harpy eagle, with a dark grey back and patterned white and grey interior.