CREATURES AND SOCIETIES
Zalyndrya is home to a multitude of species
Although treasure-seekers have sought out confirmation of dragons’ lairs for generations, the creatures themselves are very rare, and very territorial towards each other. There are only four dragons remaining in existence – one on each continent, and one on a small island chain in the middle of the ocean. Intelligent, cunning, and skilled in magic, dragons sometimes place protective enchantments on their lairs and then travel the realm. They can change shape into almost any form, so it is nearly impossible to discover their true nature if they are encountered in an assumed shape. Despite their power, they generally refrain from interfering in the politics of humans and elves. They view those societies as temporary, and many elven generations will pass during a dragon’s lifetime. Due to their incredibly long lives, many legends equate them to immortals, and it is assumed that they are only slightly less powerful than the gods themselves.
Commonly referred to as “Dusk Hunters” vampires are uncommon, but feared by all sentient beings. Vampires possess several enhanced abilities, along with their own weaknesses, which are listed below. They are distinguishable from living humans and elves by the following traits: no shadow, no reflection, no sound when moving, and no pulse/heartbeat. When preparing to feed, their canines lengthen into fangs and the iris of their eyes spreads to cover the whites and pupils; their eyes will glow the color of their iris. Because their physiology changes when they are turned, vampires are only able to produce a small amount of saliva to keep their mouths from becoming dry. All other fluids (tears, sweat, etc.) are replaced by blood. They are infertile, but not impotent.
Enhanced speed, strength, agility, and senses which take effect immediately after they are turned. It generally takes a little bit of time for a newly-turned vampire to adjust to the extra sensitivity.
Influence: After several decades, some vampires are able to influence the minds of humans. This ability has no effect on elves or anyone who has any trace of elven blood in their lineage. At first, the success rate of this skill is limited, but through use and age, some are able to remove memories and replace them with events that have not happened.
Shape-shifting: While uncommon, it is rumored that some vampires are able to take the shape of an animal, most likely a bird. Once a vampire has chosen which creature it will take the shape of, however, that is the only one that he can utilize when changing forms. In addition to this skill, all vampires can make themselves intangible. It takes time to develop that ability, but one can attempt it within a few nights after he is turned. Intangibility only lasts for a few minutes at most.
Sunlight: Perhaps the most obvious disadvantage a vampire has is his intolerance for sunlight. If caught outside in the daylight hours, or otherwise exposed to natural sunlight, it takes only a minute for him to burn to ash.
Fire: Unless he has an item in his possession which grants resistance to fire, he is more susceptible to it than humans. It will burn him much quicker than it would a human, and the wounds heal slower than conventional ones that he might receive.
Holy Items: While this varies by deity, most holy items are harmful to a vampire. He is especially weak against magic that invokes Di'Litha, the goddess of Life and Light. If he travels to Earth, he will not be able to enter churches, temples, or any other house of worship dedicated to a "pure" deity. Holy items wielded by one who believes in their representation are also harmful.
Society and Culture
Due to their relatively low numbers, vampires of Zalyndrya do not have a solid society. Most agree that kills need to be hidden in order to keep their presence from being discovered, but there are a handful of them who simply do not care whether they are found or not. Vampires tend to avoid each other, and since there is rumored to be less than a dozen of them in all of Zalyndrya, it is easy for one to travel and never encounter another. They try to blend in with humans, and there is the rare occasion where one attempts a normal relationship, but these instances rarely end well for either party. Since almost all deity-enchanted items are painful for vampires to touch, very few, if any, of them follow a religious order.
Called “sea fae” by the elves, merfolk are denizens of the oceans. Much like traditional mermaids and mermen, the merfolk have tails of fish or aquatic mammals and upper bodies that resemble humans or elves (depending on region). Most southern merfolk have elven features. Merfolk are rarely seen by humans, and on the occasions where they are, they tend to lure sea travelers to their deaths. Because of this, many humans disbelieve their existence since almost anyone who has seen one has not survived to tell about it. The rare survivors usually are not believed.
Their diet consists primarily of fish (including shellfish). They will eat kelp if absolutely necessary, but their sharp, serrated teeth are not designed for vegetation.
Merfolk have the ability to breathe both underwater and above water, which allows them some versatility in travel. With the help of a potion brewed by the elves, merfolk are able to walk on land, but if their legs are submerged more than halfway, the potion is negated and their legs will transform back into a tail. The potion itself last for various amounts of time, but if another is taken before one wears off, then they will not revert back to their true form until the second potion wears off (or until they return to the water).
Society and Culture
Merfolk society is similar to Elven society. Females outnumbers males two-to-one, and most societal influence is held by female merfolk. In general, merfolk dislike humans, finding them to be hazardous to the ocean’s ecosystem. If they see the same ship too often, they will try to sink it and drown the crew.
Merfolk are not born live. Instead, they hatch from eggs after almost a year of incubation. Merfolk age slowly, although not as slowly as elves. In their early years, they stay with their own age group, and all adults take responsibility for teaching them behavior, social skills, and other important skills to survive. Like elves, merfolk do not marry.
Elves populate the southern continent of Woodsband. Borders to Evemyst and Evesrun are closed to outsiders. The southern continent is divided into two countriElveses; Evemyst claims the western half, while Evesrun claims the rainforests to the east. There is little interaction between the two. Despite that, they do share some similarities.
Elves are slender, agile, and skilled with magic. Their average lifespan is between 1500 and 2000 years. They are recognizable by their pointed ears and by the coloration of their hair, which starts light near the roots, and gradually reaches a darker shade or color at the ends. They tend to be shorter than human, averaging just over five-feet-tall. Physical strength is average for their size, although elves who work as blacksmiths or carpenters develop their strength due to its necessity for their trade. They have their own language, which is also spoken by southern Merfolk, but most elves learn the standard Zalyndryan language that humans speak.
Society and Culture
While the genders are considered equal when it comes to rights and societal influence, Elven culture leans towards matriarchy. The elves believe it is the community’s responsibility to raise children, so their young are taught to respect all elders. Children are usually given the same surname as their mothers, although it is not uncommon for their fathers to live with them for some time. However, due to the longevity of their race, elves do not marry. The idea that one would spend hundreds of years with the same person is absurd to them. While elves do form partnerships, and cohabitate with a chosen partner for years or decades, they try to keep the termination of relationships civil to maintain a peaceful society.
Evemyst – Evemyst is ruled by an elected council of fifteen elves. Members are chosen every five hundred years, and elves are not permitted to serve more than one term consecutively. They can be nominated again after a full term has passed since their last service. All laws, judgments, and treaties are decided by the council, and issues affecting the country as a whole are presented to the people for public opinion before they are decided. In order to be eligible to vote for council members, an elf must be at least three hundred years old. Only elves older than seven hundred are permitted to be nominated for a council position.
Evesrun – Evesrun is ruled by a monarchy combined with a small council of five advisors. A monarch serves for life, and chooses his or her successor before death. If the monarch dies before an heir can be chosen, then one will be appointed by the council. Most elves of Evesrun are bound by traditions, so very few new laws are ever enacted, and any change is gradual.
By far the most prevalent species of Zalyndrya, humans inhabit both the eastern and western continents. Characteristics and culture varies by region, as does magic use and religious interest. Hair and eye color also vary greatly, and it is common for humans to have naturally blue, red, violet, and several other color variations of the two.
Society and Culture
General: In human society, both genders enjoy the same rights, although certain professions are generally preferred by one or the other. There are exceptions, though. Female warriors, Town Guards, blacksmiths, and stonecutters are uncommon, but there is no prohibition on women taking up any of these professions. Children usually learn their family’s profession at a young age and it is traditional for them to take over when their parents are too old to continue the business.
If a family has more children than work available, then their young are often sent to other families in the village, town, or city during the day in order to learn a trade. Marriage is common, but not required. Because most sentient beings in Zalyndrya are not given middle names at birth, humans who take their partner’s surname keep their family’s surname as their middle name. The decision on which name to take as a surname hinges on several different factors – social status and wealth being the most common. The couple’s children will generally be given the new surname as their family name at birth. Couples and relationships are not limited to members of the opposite sex, and some families are comprised of parents of the same gender, rather than the opposite.
Dravaca and Myscania are part of the Empire of Zalyndrya, which is a monarchy that employs local officials to run city and town governments. Generally, the emperor or empress are the successors in a family line, but it is not unheard of for a ruler to seize power through combat.
While most humans settle in villages, towns, and cities, there is a small number of the population which remains nomadic. Traveler families are less common on Dravaca than they are on Myscania, but they generally follow the same customs. Travelers are close-knit within their own families, and are open to trade and gatherings with other families, but avoid cities unless absolutely necessary. The exception to this is during trade seasons in the spring and autumn. The distrust between Travelers and settlers is mutual, and Travelers are seldom given a friendly welcome when they venture into the more populated areas. They consider themselves to be residents of the Empire, but they swear no loyalty to it, and they consider themselves exempt from its laws and practices.
Traveler camps are easily recognized by the bright colors covering their wagons, as well as their inhabitants’ love of the same bright colors and lively music. Viewing life as an adventure and each day as a reason to be happy, Travelers try to keep a positive outlook. Children are raised by the entire family, and the entire family is responsible for the children, not just the parents.
If a Traveler chooses to wed, then he or she will join another family (or their prospective spouse will join theirs). Occasionally, if one spouse dies, the other will return to his/her original family, although it’s not unheard of for the surviving spouse to stay with the new family instead.