The Kindred of the Light
The Eldren (called Eldriéne in their own tongue) are an ancient race of people whose close kinship with nature has never waned. Legends of the Eldren extend back for thousands of years, but they are neither spirits nor immortals, contrary to what some ancient myths portray. Even so, Eldren do possess extraordinary powers of magic and have exceptionally long lifespans. The average lifespan of an Eldren is approximately 300 years, with an upper limit of about 500 years. In human legends, the Eldren 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. True or not, archaeological evidence proves that the Eldren were the first to develop agriculture and written language.
Eldren physiology is strikingly different from that of humans and other hominids. They are born in embryonic cocoons as a genderless seldeir. Eldren 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 misconception that Eldren 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. They may change their gender during this chrysalis, and can further alter their appearance and even regenerate severe injuries. As a meadeir, the Eldren is fully sexually mature, but female Eldren are only capable of reproducing once. They may undergo another chrysalis to restore their fertility, and all Eldren, both male and female, can undergo multiple chrysalises during their adult life, allowing them to regenerate, alter their appearance, restore fertility, or change gender.
Beginning between the ages of 200 and 300, Eldren 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 Eldren look something like withered trees. Few Eldren reach the august age of 450, fewer still reach 500.
Eldren have two distinct ethnic groups, Talic Eldren (in Celaphania) and Ultic Eldren (in Tarrona). Talic Eldren are actually comprised of three different ethnic groups: the Talic, Sylvic, and Lauric Eldren, although all are considered part of the larger “Talic Eldren” group. Talic Eldren 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 Eldren are a haughty people populating elegant forest-cities in small regions throughout Celaphania. Early in their history, the Ultic Eldren split from the Eldren 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 Eldren are slightly shorter than humans, and have light tan complexions and light brown to black colored hair. Scaithi are also technically Eldren, but are considered a separate race by both Eldren and Scaithi alike.
All Eldren have an innate magical attunement with the spirits of nature. They dislike technology and industry, finding it destructive to nature. Although they dislike open warfare, they are not pacifists—Eldren will fight to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their villages from any hostile forces. Ultic Eldren follow the ancient Ultic religion and worship the Vanasir Lureatha, Dalacon, Brenndur, and Curragwn, among other Vanasir. Eldren priests and priestesses must shave their heads and and wear ornamental skullcap chain jewelry.
It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for humans and Eldren to intermarry and have children. Human males find Eldren females extremely desirable; while human females are likewise attracted to Eldren males. However, because of their unique sexual physiology, only Eldren males can successfully procreate with human females. It is impossible for an Eldren female to bear a half-Eldren child. Half-Eldren are sterile and cannot produce offspring.
Half-Eldren have physical appearance similar to an Eldren, although somewhat lessened or muted, and are born as either male or female, just as humans are. Half-Eldren are also incapable of forming a chrysalis, and develop and age at a rate only slightly slower than humans. Most half-Eldren live to the age of 90 or 100, and very rarely reach the age of 150.