|Subraces||Teledden, Fin'ullen, Suvial, Lesarra, Solvaan|
|Common Nicknames||Knife-ears, Tower-humpers, Slave-Princes, Auld-kin|
|Languages||Ancient Altalar (extinct), Middle Altalar, Modern Altalar|
|Naming Customs||High Elven fantasy naming, though avoiding Tolkien Elven.|
|Distinctions||Oldest still living race of High Elves|
|Height||between 5'8 and 6’10 (depending on subrace)|
|Eye Colors||Varied based on subrace|
|Hair Colors||Varied based on subrace|
- 1 Physical & Mental Characteristics
- 2 History
- 3 Society
- 3.1 Culture
- 3.1.1 Families and Romance
- 3.1.2 Language
- 3.1.3 Lifestyle and Leisure
- 3.1.4 Clothing
- 3.1.5 Art
- 3.1.6 Cuisine
- 3.1.7 Architecture and Buildings
- 3.2 Law and State
- 3.1 Culture
- 4 Existing Altalar States
- 4.1 Avela
- 4.2 Talant
- 4.3 Tanaar
- 4.4 Ol Lavei
- 4.5 Narseth
- 4.6 Special States
- 5 Combat and Warfare
- 6 Religion
- 7 Interactions and Customs
- 8 Why Play Altalar
- 9 Trivia
- A note: the Altalar page is incredibly long, though not all of it is a mandatory read to play an Altalar. If you want to play an Altalar, you can get by with just reading the Characteristics, Abilities and History. Culture is always optional, and for reading pleasure.
The Altalar, as Ailor call them, or Est-allorn as they call themselves, are the oldest and most graceful of the Nelfin Races that still roam Aloria. The Altalar have a lengthy history spanning more than 3000 years, during which they ruled the known world. It is a long and proud one, broken slowly over time by a combination of their crippling arrogance and the oppressive weight of external powers and arcane disasters. The Altalar once ruled over many other Races, enslaving them to their will with Magic and creating a legendary civilization which sought to equal the Seraph in glory. They are the most gracious, skilled and venerable of all the Races, yet for each of their glories and assets, they bear equal susceptibilities to the vices of pride, depravity, and self-satisfaction, hidden well behind exquisite facades. Although the world has moved past their glory days, the Altalar continue to try and hold onto the crumbling remnants of their Allorn Empire with stalwart determination and reverence for their history that can match even Unionist zeal. While the horrors of the Wildering and the Void Invasion are still fresh in their memory, renewed faith and determination as well as mortal heroes carrying the charge have given the Altalar new hope that their Race is not a fading one, and that they might yet one day overcome the usurping Races and retake the Crown of the World.
Physical & Mental Characteristics
The Altalar are ageless beauty made manifest and lethal grace given form. By far, their Race is one of exquisite appearances, and one would be very hard-pressed to find an Altalar that does not fit the general standard for male or female beauty. This largely comes from their agelessness, the fact that once they reach about 25 years old, they stop physically aging, with physical frailty only setting in at around 450 years old. They can live to be 500 years old (though aging your character beyond 150 years old requires a Special Permission), retaining their youthful beauty even to their dying days. That being said, not all Altalar look like they are in their prime at all times. This is because Altalar can actually change their age-appearance at will. Even though they do not physically age beyond a certain point, Altalar can through meditation change how old they look. This is acceptable in Altalar society, as it is seen as a way to self-express. For example, an Altalar priest might choose to look more middle-aged, or at least older than a student bachelor, to reinforce their teachings and mentorly presence. An Altalar as such is able to dictate their own appearance anywhere between what a 20 and an 80-year-old Ailor would look like, and revert it whenever they please. Altalar are as a Race also incredibly visually diverse, much like the Ailor, though with less cultural opposition, as their internal conflict arises from their reputation and politics, not their identity. There exist a few main types of Altalar.
The Altalar are a fairly homogeneous Race, but have five very distinct subraces or subtypes that can be told apart from each other due to physical differences, as well as notable mental differences. The Altalar Race is somewhat different to other Races however, as unlike the Varran whose subraces all live apart from one another, the Altalar subraces all live together in communal societies, though the make-up of these societies differs in relation to minority populations versus majority populations. For example, while a Teledden society will include Suvial, Lesarra, Fin’ullen and the rare Solvaan, it is distinctly Teledden dominated, and Teledden cultured, and other such societies exist, each with their own distinct subracial majority. The Altalar sub-races are split between the regal and ruling Teledden, the passionate and military Fin’ullen, the colorful and strategic Suvial, the intellectual and roguish Lesarra, and the gregarious and pragmatic Solvaan. Each of these subraces has distinct physical appearances and mental characteristics setting them apart. While it is definitely possible for the subraces to have mentalities outside of the norm for their particular kind, this is usually looked down upon by the other Altalar who prefer their society stratified. When two Altalar parents of different subraces bond, children are born of either parent’s subrace at random. There is no such thing as an Altalar cross-bred between subraces.
The Teledden Altalar are the tall, regal and poised Altalar, those hailing from the inland urban centers and southeastern Principalities. They are the kind most commonly seen in the diplomatic courts making complex arguments, or in the debate halls arguing for their people. The Teledden are the loftiest of the Altalar, standing at up to 6’10”, and carry themselves with much grace and dignity. Their faces are sharp and angular, possessing strict-looking features and long eyebrows. Even with a neutral expression, a Teledden might look like they are frowning or sneering, looking down on others with a haughty apathy. The Teledden exclusively have bright blonde to golden blonde hair, with a rare few shades of dark blonde, and they also exclusively have blue or green eyes. Teledden men tend to carry their hair long, while women carry their hair even longer, down to their waist. Sometimes, Teledden men and women cannot be told apart due to the fairly androgynous features of the men, and their inability to grow facial hair or body hair of any noticeable degree. The other Altalar, especially the Fin’ullen, like to make jabs at them for this, but to the Teledden themselves it is obvious who is who. Teledden cannot have a Body Shape higher than Athletic.
The Teledden carry themselves as if they are above all others, and have the glorious history of the Allorn Empire and the fading brilliance of the modern Principalities to back it up. They are often venerable in their skills and crafts, spending centuries perfecting their arts and knowledge in particular. Many of them adore games of politics, even if they themselves are not noble, immersing themselves in whatever foreign power struggle they can get their hands on to become a major player or benefactor to another. Teledden are often looked to with distrust by other Races because they were once the rulers of the oppressive Allorn Empire, but at the same time one cannot ever deny the superior intellect and experience these Nelfin possess, purely from their studious existence. Underneath all this discipline and honed skill however, Teledden are also immensely self-indulgent, their century-long training and learning off-balanced by their wild and extravagant parties which almost fetishize the concept of immense excess for a limited period of time, convening once a decade or century to push their own limits. The Teledden as such are often a stark contrast, having two very conflicting personalities: their public calm and domineering stoicism, and their private desire to self-serve and let loose. Not many get to see the private self of a Teledden, unless they are very personally acquainted, or part of the same secret society as that Teledden, always looking to sample new experiences in a lifetime otherwise spent in monotonous repetition.
The Teledden have a superiority-complex over the other Altalar subraces, being the Fin’ullen, Suvial, Lesarra, and Solvaan, but underneath that arrogance, the Teledden understand and appreciate the other subraces very deeply. What is unknown to the outsider Races is the Teledden concept of the “Wheel of Time”, which tends to dictate orthodox Altalar society. This concept is sparsely mentioned or written down, but something all Altalar understand, namely that the natural progression of the Altalar would not exist without all spokes of the societal wheel working in harmony. To the Teledden, their armies would be nothing without the oversight and cunning of the Suvial. Their regiments would be bare without the skill at arms of the Fin’ullen. Their libraries and repositories would be empty without the wisdom of the Lesarra. The Solvaan are not included in this system, because they are a young people, and the role they are to play in the wider Altalar world is yet undecided. The whole of Altalar society would cease to function without each member playing their part, and as such, while other Races might see the Teledden act with petulance to the other subraces, all Altalar understand this is a form of parental grandstanding. Teledden arrogance is taken in stride, because true feelings- real necessities- are well understood within Altalar society.
The place of the Teledden within the Wheel of Time, despite it being a concept in which they are at the head, is very complicated and nonstandard. While all Teledden carry themselves with high-class grace and a desire for the finest pleasures of life, not all of them are competent enough to occupy the leadership position that the concept dictates for them. This means that while Teledden do control the politics of the overwhelming majority of Altalar realms, and while Teledden do have a pre-eminent position as diplomats and debaters, there are an immense number of wastrel Teledden who just ‘did not make it’. These Elves normally exist in a life of slow decay, whittling away their parents’ money on simple satisfaction and spending the years as obscure socialites in major Altalar cities. It is said by many that it is precisely this sort of people who were the cause of the degeneration of the Allorn Empire and spawning of the Kathar, so Teledden are very careful to appear generally busy and occupied at all times.
The Teledden are diplomats, politicians, artists, public speakers, delicate craftsmen, fashionistas, designers, slave-masters, patrons of exceptional art and appreciators of the finest of luxuries in life, hiding an underlying desire for pleasure of any form. The Teledden have a disdainful attitude to those of the Teledden who step outside of this cornerstone identity, and roam into what they consider the business of other Altalar subraces.
The Fin’ullen Altalar are shorter, stockier, and with a certain abrasiveness that is uncommon among the other Altalar. The Fin’ullen hail mostly from the coastal cities, the maritime military centers and inland regimental camps on the frontier with the Kathar and Varran. It should not come as a surprise that the Fin’ullen are mostly known for their martial training and exploits, once having made up the bulk of the Allorn Empire’s foot soldiers, and continuing to make up the majority if not the entirety of all Altalar naval detachments. When compared to the taller Teledden (since Fin’ullen cap off at 6’4’’), they are more masculine and rugged, with a wider shoulder frame and a build more reminiscent of Ailor, yet still with Nelfin features. They differ from Avanthar in that their waist is much more slender, and their proportions more acrobatic than built to brawl. Fin’ullen exclusively have midnight black hair, a point of pride among their people, and also exclusively have blue or hazel eyes. Fin’ullen tend to wear their hair shorter than the Teledden, normally to the nape of the neck, though some still wear theirs long. They, unlike the Teledden, are also very capable of growing facial hair and body hair, something that the men frequently cultivate and groom very carefully. Their facial proportions are more square-ish, however still not as much as the Avanthar tend to be. Fin’ullen are also capable of tanning their skin, something which is also culturally permitted among them, whereas the Teledden think of it as being a sign of poverty. As well, Fin’ullen ears are longer than those of the other Altalar, but never quite as long as the Cielothar. Fin’ullen cannot have a Body Shape higher than Strongman.
As a base, Fin’ullen are disciplined, militant and self-assured. They, much like the Teledden, spent centuries honing their (often) military or naval prowess, and as such have an air of superiority about them when it comes to their fighting conduct. Indeed, the Fin’ullen can be counted among the world’s most skilled warriors, able to train for decades longer than the other Races, who succumb to the effects of aging. As is fitting, in their society confrontation is often encouraged and even glorified, whether it be a confrontation of weapons or one of words, either of which the Fin’ullen are equally skilled at. Their passionate expression both in word and action comes from their more unrestrained temper and bouts of emotionality that are unusual among the other Nelfin Races, especially in clear view of strangers or outsiders. This has sometimes caused other Races (and even some Nelfin) to refer to the Fin’ullen as the “asshole Nelfin”, because they can be difficult to deal with when in a competitive environment. That said, Fin’ullen are also known to be the most carousing of Nelfin, to be the most tolerant and least dogmatic, and the most openly intimate. The Fin’ullen turn away from the political games of the Teledden, even to the point of ridiculing their haughtiness, but no Fin’ullen would ever understate the importance their leadership holds to them. The old Allorn saying goes: “Where the Teledden feather points, the Fin’ullen spears quickly follow,” and it remains true to this day, as even the largest of Fin’ullen states is ruled by a Teledden prince. Fin’ullen are also immensely vain. While the Teledden express their vanity primarily through clothing and jewelry, the Fin’ullen prefer to focus on the physical, viewing their own body as a work of art, including any and all modifications they make to it (excepting Mutations, which are seen by them as an unnecessary and unwanted corruption of the natural body).
The place of the Fin’ullen within the Wheel of Time is very straightforward. Blessed with sturdy physiques and an education system designed to prepare them for military service, they are the singular combat force of the Allorn successor states. Whether it is fighting as foot soldiers or becoming the crews of wartime vessels, the Fin’ullen have no shortage of things to do in this era of gloom and strife for the Altalar. What this has meant, with the arrival of large wars with Regalia and the Kathar Dread Empire in the 300s AC, is that a trend has been observed among the Fin’ullen by which they can be said to be ‘generally overstretched’. As more and more of their fighting-age men die defending their realms of residence, the once-vast armies of their Teledden overlords have become thinner and thinner. Whereas once upon a time, the Fin’ullen might have had more choice in their lives, they are now almost entirely conscripted by their regional governments for either hard labor (which the Teledden are incapable of) or a tour of duty fighting off the seemingly infinite enemies of the Altalar, locked out of political escapades or any sort of meaningful non-military self-advancement unless they depart Altalar lands.
The Fin’ullen are warriors, sailors, honor guard, acrobats, heavy laborers, strong craftsmen, physical trainers, disciplinary drill-masters, enforcers, sculptors, entertainers and a passionate escape from a boring and repetitive life-cycle for many Altalar. The Fin’ullen talk down to the cowardice and weakness that they consider of other Fin’ullen who step outside of this cornerstone identity, and roam into what they consider the business of other Altalar subraces.
The Suvial hail from the Void-blasted Sundial lands to the far west of the old Allorn Empire, caught in an eternal struggle with the Kathar that has been raging since the Kathar first came into being. The Suvial are similar to the Teledden in appearance, though their faces are more heart-shaped, with fuller lips, a smaller forehead and more prominent eyebrows and noses. Their most distinctive feature is their skin tone, which is far darker than that of the other Altalar, ranging between the darkest of Qadir skin tones and the darkest of Songaskian skin tones, with a noticeable bronze hue to it that might almost look golden. The Suvial Altalar have hair colors ranging from dark or mahogany brown to red, even crimson. Their eye colors are always some variant of brown, whether that be intensely dark, or a very light beige, bordering on dull yellow. Their ears tend to be shorter than that of the other Altalar Races, while their height is somewhat in between the Teledden and Fin’ullen, capping at 6’6’’. Suvial Altalar are capable of growing body hair and facial hair, but frequently shave all of it off for styling reasons. It is rare to see a single Suvial that does not have tattoos of some kind, whether they are permanent or henna-based tattoos. Some even theorize that the very art of tattooing originated with the Suvial Altalar, adopted in very crude form by their early Ailor slaves. Suvial cannot have a Body Shape higher than Ripped.
Suvial Altalar are similar in disposition to the Teledden, but are often said to speak with honeyed words instead of the critical harshness that the Teledden are more prone to. Suvial Altalar are seen as tactful and reserved, keeping their direct thoughts hidden under layers of implicatory phrasing and posturing, which fits their life philosophy. While Teledden focus on the administrative and diplomatic side of rule, the Suvial focus on tactical leadership. Suvial Altalar are known to have been the most talented generals and most brilliant strategists of the Allorn Empire, but also some of the world’s best cooks. A Suvial’s greatest weakness is an immense, 7 hour long, 25 course dining feast, commonly known as a Taheer among the Suvial. The Suvial are ravenous for new silks, spices, and the newest music or gossip over a fine platter of wine and bites. The Suvial are often seen as the art patrons of Altalar society, and also the drivers of Altalar fashion and haute-culture habits. They are imagined to be the kindest of the Altalar, especially by those who have not met the Lesarra, but all other Altalar know that this calculated demeanor is all a tactical deployment to cover the greater plan the Suvial has for a particular relation or contact. Indeed, it could be said that the Suvial make plans for everything, from small things like seating arrangements, to greater tasks with a lot of information and overhead. The main thing separating them from the Teledden here is that the Suvial are unseen actors who prefer to have things go their way without anyone knowing that they were behind it.
The place of the Suvial within the Wheel of Time is more versatile, because their own lands are generally populated by only themselves. Within any of the niches that are required for their society to function, they have perfectly acceptable roles. As such, the Suvial can be said to be freer, but at the same time not, because their options are still clearly stratified and defined, and propped up by the harsh remonstrations of their often controlling parents and extended families. Especially with conflict against the Kathar intensifying and large portions of their population being totally wiped out, the Suvial are willing to compromise on who can do what. That said, the most stereotypical image of a Suvial is that of the commander or general, who interprets the strengths and weaknesses of his contingents of Fin’ullen and uses them accordingly, but not everyone can really be this and the Suvial are understandably laxer.
The Suvial are philosophers, tacticians, generals, schemers and plotters, gardeners, cooks, architects and rare earth metal crafters, musicians and singers, commanders, logisticians, and those who love to bring the excess luxuries of the world into their home. The Suvial are less open about their disdain towards other Suvial that act out of the norm for their role in society, but speak whispered ill words behind closed doors towards those Suvial that step outside of this cornerstone identity, and roam into what they consider the business of other Altalar subraces.
Lesarra are the most unseen of the Altalar subraces, and often with good reason. The Lesarra Altalar are known to be the studious researchers, archeologists, and scribes, but also the spies and informants of Altalar society. They are often mistaken for Isldar to the untrained eye due to their visual traits, which differ only slightly from them. They appear similar to the Teledden, having the same height, though their bodily and facial features are even slimmer. Lesarra usually have platinum blonde or extremely bright blonde hair, which also touches on their eyebrows and eyelashes, making them appear almost albino to other Races. The Lesarra also have very thin, long ears that are longer than the Cielothar’s, while they exclusively have dark blue eyes. They are incapable of growing body or facial hair, and walk with a certain floatiness that makes them appear almost weightless, light steps easily springing off the ground. Lesarra cannot have a Body Shape higher than Athletic.
Lesarra Altalar are secluded and studious, preferring books to contact with others. They can often be seen trailing a Teledden, their eyes cast to the ground, hugging a tome or pile of books. They tend to act as some kind of recording scribe for the Teledden politicians, keeping note of facts, tedious numbers, and goings-on. They are more commonly found in large numbers within libraries and archives, as well as gardens where they might appreciate the quiet beauty of nature. Lesarra to outsiders appear whimsical and sometimes almost unnoticeable, as they take far less pride in their appearance and are far less vain than the other Altalar. All of this impersonal separation and making themselves appear unnoticeable has a reason however. The Lesarra are sharply observant, looking without being seen, hearing without being noticed, and recording without being observed. The Lesarra record everything they see in books, and yearn to learn more, but without anyone noticing their presence, or digging at what they understand. They are soft and well spoken, but immensely curious and inquisitive if given some information to chase. There is never any malicious intent in what the Lesarra do, as their obsessive nature is always just due to an endless hunger to know more, but the Suvial and Teledden have long learned that Lesarra records contain the most useful and most descriptive source of historical information found anywhere in the world, as long as one is able to translate their quickly self-made alphabets or languages, each Lesarra using a different cipher to mask their own writing. Cryptography as a science has actually been said to have originated with the Lesarra, and this is not without reason. Just as much as they obsess over pursuing the knowledge of others, Lesarra are fiercely protective of what they themselves know, which has contributed to how the Altalar have lost so many records of the Allorn past. Whereas in other Races, there is a concept of shared scholarly libraries and forums of information, the Lesarra absolutely despise the idea of giving out their unique ideas and secret understandings for free. In the rare cases that they do maintain inventories of treatises or the like, normally in large cities, the Lesarra maintain a ‘knowledge tax’ for entry. What this means is that to proceed inside, the visitor must be able to offer something the library does not currently have.
The place of the Lesarra within the Wheel of Time is surprisingly not enforced by their rulers, but entirely driven by their own unique and odd personalities. It would not suit a Lesarra to be anything other than what they are, based on how they act, so Lesarra in Altalar society tend to flow effortlessly into their roles more than just about anyone else. They can be found circling the authority figures in their regions, taking notes, attending parties just to chart or map a trend, and generally making a career out of doing what they do best.
The Lesarra are spies and analysts, listeners and observers, silent artists and forgotten literary masterminds, nature tenders and animal specialists, those more inclined to the rogue parts of life, historians, intellectuals with a hunger for knowledge, and undecorated wallflowers at any event, soaking up all information there is to find. The Lesarra do not look unfavorably upon other Lesarra that act outside of the norm of Lesarra role in society or their norm, rather, they simply do not acknowledge them at all, as any sacrifice to the pursuit of knowledge and wit, they consider, causes stupidity in the Lesarra, making them unworthy of even acknowledgment.
The Solvaan are the most commonly seen Altalar in the Regalian Empire, sometimes also called “Solländern” among Ailor or “Silver-Guard” among the other Altalar, because they are the rearguard of the Allorn Empire’s mark on the wider world (also as an insult, as Silver is a less noble metal than Gold). Most of the populations of the Regalian-controlled Altalar exclave regions are Solvaan-dominated. They carry themselves with a Teledden pride and posturing, but are always possible to be told apart, because they are generally stockier and less lithe. Equally, it is always possible to tell that a Solvaan is not a Fin'ullen, because while they can grow facial hair and their men frequently wear beards, they are less hairy and bulky than the Fin'ullen. The Solvaan can be marginally taller than them, up to a height of 6’5”, and have a pinkish skin tone. Their hair is normally golden-blonde or dirty-blonde, but they are not capable of reaching the pristine bright blonde-ness that Lesarra and Teledden can. They can also possess a wide range of brown hair, which spans from light to dark to mahogany and sometimes even auburn. The Solvaan like to wear that hair around shoulder-length, but cropped and even trim-cut hairstyles have also been used, especially among the military Solvaan. Their eyes can be blue, green, or, uniquely, gray. The Solvaan cannot have a body shape higher than Muscular, and much like the Fin’ullen they despise Mutations and obvious visual oddities.
They are, from an outsider’s perspective, considered the most varied of the Altalar, caring less about a stratified role, and more about personal achievement and success. Their accomplishments are built in ‘two lifetimes’, one notable ancestor, and oneself. As well, they have distinct personality quirks. The Solvaan tend to bear a calm or neutral-positive veneer, but it is often said that their eyes seem more “alive” and that they are far quicker to crack a smile, or respond with genuine emotion. They enjoy making a show of how much everyone around them likes them, and how well their company is enjoyed, even by peoples who traditionally hate the Altalar. Because of this, a Solvaan can easily be found with a gaggle of Allar or Ailor in tow. Also, most of them possess some form of military training, but exercise it in a different way than the Fin'ullen. While the Fin'ullen can be thought of as the active army of the Altalar people, the Solvaan are more so the reserve, or the freelancers. Centuries of the Regalians capriciously purging Elves from their provinces has come to mean that they are normally equipped to defend themselves. The Solvaan have a darker side, in that they are given to being incredibly bitter. Their desire to make allies keeps them from speaking out about their disdain or enmity when they should, and instead they bottle up their emotion until pushed into a confrontation. They will deflect, until their public dignity demands they speak up. Perhaps one of the most prized qualities of the Solvaan is their dogmatically loyal attitude to hierarchy, and how many non-Altalar view them as the most honorable and cooperatively minded Altalar. Despite the positivity and sociability that can be found in their Race, there exists an ever-present melancholy as well, a sort of forgotten and unspoken grievance to the loss of the homeland, ever since the Cataclysm cut them off from the ruins of the Allorn Empire. While generally positive, the Solvaan are also capable of sulking and collectively mourning for what was lost, the Solvaan not feeling the loss of the Allorn Empire any differently than the other subraces, but expressing it with far less revanchism, and more with tragic poetry about the fall of empire and the end of heroes.
Uniquely, the Solvaan exist in a sphere somewhat outside of the traditional Wheel of Time. The slowness of Altalar to adjust and their complicated relationship with the other subraces has prevented their proper integration. They have, in essence, given up or more accurately temporarily paused the concept of the resurgence of the Allorn Empire, and adopted the more flexible view that the Altalar have a chance at being part of a bigger global picture where they do not necessarily have to be the preeminent power. It is proposed by the Solvaan that the past is the past and that the Altalar should look to the present, but also retain the political flexibility to turn on the Regalian Empire should the situation ever change. This flexibility means that while they are still considered Est-allorn, part of the Altalar people, they go untrusted and unincluded in the homeland because of their willingness to, crudely worded, ‘shake hands with monkeys and barbarians’. Even Solvaan who attempt to remain true to the ideals of the Allorn Empire are held back by the collective reputation of their people as compromisers who have yet to truly pick their side, and will always have certain doors closed to them. When it comes to Solvaan among non-Altalar, their motto is ‘cooperate, but never assimilate’, stubbornly holding onto their culture and language.
The Solvaan are marcher-lords, vintners, legislators, carpenters, mercenaries, militiamen, poets, tragedians and comedians, writers of epics and sagas, minglers and conversationalists, people-pleasers, wary and defensive, and the final outpost of the Altalar outside of their homeland. Despite the Solvaan being flexible in terms of living on the fringes of other societies, they are also brutal against those Altalar that completely abandon their heritage and start living as if they are nothing but an Ailor with pointy ears. It is perhaps part of their collective guilt, that some in the old homeland claim that they have given up on their glorious heritage, that they self-impose a guardianship of Altalar identity. Any Altalar deemed a traitor to their people tends to be singled out and punished by the Solvaan. The other Altalar have come to appreciate them in this way, as guardians on the frontier, if nothing else.
Talea’s Blessings are Racial Abilities unique to the full-blooded Altalar. They are claimed to be quasi-religious blessings from Talea and Estel, but do not classify the Altalar as an Aberrant. Each Altalar has the Common Abilities, followed by their sub-race’s unique Unwritten Abilities. These are standard and can never be removed from an Altalar, no matter what happens to that Altalar. Finally, each Altalar has the choice to use one of the Altalar Gods as their Patron, which bestows them additional Racial Abilities, called Patron Abilities. Even if the Altalar in question is not in fact an Estel worshipper, they can still choose to culturally associate with a patron deity, and get their Patron Abilities. There is one exception however: if the Altalar in question becomes a Primal Aberrant, or a non-Mage Aberrant of the degree Infested or above, they will lose their Patron Abilities until they return to normal.
|Common Ability||Type||Range||Description (All Altalar have these Abilities.)|
|Learning of Ancients||Racial Passive||Self||The Altalar (when they are at least 25 years old) can change their age-appearance to whatever Human-like age they want. For example, a 30 year old Altalar might choose to appear like a 70 year old Ailor with wrinkles and gray hair, while an Altalar who is 210 years old might choose to appear like a 25 year old Ailor with no wrinkles and a youthful appearance. Altalar do not physically age until at advanced age, but get to decide what their age-appearance is between coming into adulthood, and their final years.|
|Unwritten Ability||Type||Range||Description (Altalar have one of these, depending on their Subrace.)|
|Racial Spell||Emote Distance||Once per day, the Altalar can entirely stop a single Void-based ability, Prevent it from being used, stopping an ongoing ability, and Cancelling or removing any effect it has already imparted as long as it is used within 10 seconds of the Void Ability being used, and as long as it was specifically aimed at or targeting them. Additionally, once a day, the Altalar can produce a dish worth 15 points in Cooking Art, as long as it is a Suvial recipe involving spices from the Suvial lands.|
|Racial Spell||Direct Touch||The Altalar has an Exorcism Ability called Calvannis’ Chain, which produces a glowing white chain in their hand. If they can successfully wrap it around the neck of a possessed person that is restrained, the chain will dissolve into their skin, before expelling whatever Possession or Control Power that is controlling them through convulsions. This Ability can be used once per week. Additionally, the Altalar can apply glowing golden chains or neck collars to their slaves that they own, and cause golden dust to flow from the restraints (that are purely aesthetical) to their hands while in Emote Distance.|
|Racial Spell||Self||While in combat, and once per day, the Altalar can cause a rapid spout of water to appear underneath them that launches them at least 10 feet up in the air, and gives them a clean landing. This water spout can only be used to dodge a single non-Ability mundane attack on the Altalar, it cannot be used to reach higher locations, or cushion a landing. Additionally the Altalar can change their Body Shape into whatever shape they like, or when they become enraged, into any Body Shape, except for Musclegod or higher.|
|Toggle Passive||Self||The Altalar can cast a glamor on themselves that obscures their identity and voice from those around them. Anyone that sees them or speaks with them will not notice any difference in the moment, but once the Altalar has left Emote Distance, those individuals will not be able to recall any distinguishing features or the identity of the Altalar, and will even forget the Altalar’s name, if it was shared in conversation. This is classified as an Object Illusion. Additionally, the Altalar has Inth’s awareness, meaning that once a day, they can automatically dodge the first incoming physical attack or Ability affecting them on that day.|
|Toggle Passive||Self||Solvaan Altalar are exceptional socialites, able to detect the hidden emotional state of a person. Any person is able to act tough on the outside, but the Solvaan Altalar can read their dominant emotional state on the inside. They can read the emotional state with a person by conversing with them, reading both the emotional state the person is trying to project, as well as what is hidden underneath.|
|Patron Abilities||Type||Range||Description (Altalar can pick one of these, and cannot change them.)|
|Ulley's Prayer||Immobile Channel||Self||The Altalar can kneel with their hands in prayer above their head, which causes a small bubble of magical energy to form around them. As long as they hold up this prayer posture, the bubble will remain. This bubble cannot be pierced through by any Ability or mundane attack, ranged or melee, counting as a shield. The Altalar additionally cannot be targeted by any Ability while within the bubble.There is enough space inside the bubble for the Altalar and one other person, but no more. The other person inside the bubble can leave, but cannot re-enter after they leave.|
|Ellea's Fold||Toggle Passive||Self||Any mask worn by the Altalar makes them entirely unrecognizable. While they do not look different underneath the mask, and while their voice still sounds the same, anyone beholding or hearing them simply cannot recognize them in any way, as long as the mask is worn. This Ability is considered a Control Power with its effects, and only those with Control Power immunity can see through the mask.|
|Vallea's Guard||Trigger Passive||10 Blocks||When an Ally within 10 blocks would be hit by an Ability or Mundane attack, the Altalar can choose to instantly leap to the Ally. The Altalar will then near-instantly charge in front of the Ally, weaving through any obstacles (including people) but not passing through solid barriers (so not through walls), intercepting the Ability or Attack. If the Altalar is usually considered an invalid target for the Ability, it will affect them anyways. This passive can only trigger once every 10 minutes.|
|Sca'Elle's Hands||Racial Passive||Self||The Altalar can, once a month, craft a wood carving, sculpture, woven fabric, or crafted metal out of so-called Elder Opal, depending on the Proficiency that they craft with. Elder Opal when applied to wood carving causes lines to appear in white-colored wood that glow with shifting colors of the rainbow. When applied to sculptures, the whole sculpture has an opalescent color effect, and when reflecting light, glows with the colors of the rainbow. When applied to fabric, each weave contains a reflective opalescent sheen, giving the completed clothing piece of tapestry a rainbow glow on white fabric. When applied to metal, it creates a steel-strong variant of white opal, with a glowing opalescent effect of swirling color glows. Additionally, the Altalar can re-mould Silver, Gold and Bronze with their hands.|
|Aish-eia's Union||Racial Spell||Emote Distance||The Altalar can choose to target a single other person, and form a mental union with them (encouraged to be Nobility, but it can be anyone). This union can be severed at any point by the Altalar, and re-used on another person. While they are within Emote Distance of each other, the subject (if failing a dice roll that involves some type of Proficiency), are permitted to re-roll for that dice attempt. This can occur once per Proficiency, per day. For example, if a dice roll in a rogue proficiency is failed, this can be retried, and if then a proficiency roll in blades fails, this can also be retried, but another failed roll on rogue proficiencies cannot be retried until 24 hours have passed. Additionally, the Altalar’s home is immune to Burglary. Any attempt to break through their doors or windows with criminal intent will cause the person to be magically turned away from the opening once entering.|
|Talsieth's Watch||Racial Shift||Self||The Altalar can activate the Talsieth’s Watch, a Racial Shift that gives them webbed feet and hands, as well as gills in their neck, granting underwater breathing. Additionally, they gain underwater Darkness sight, allowing them to see in any brightness while underwater, and swimming at the same speed as other aquatic Races.|
|Ammu-loa's Saving||Racial Spell||Direct Touch||The Altalar can “give” their own body parts to another person who doesn’t have those body parts anymore. For example, they can exchange either of their hands to someone who does not have a right hand anymore. This grants the other person their limb back, and replaces the Altalar’s limb with a ghostly version of the limb they no longer have, which functions exactly the same as the original limb, but is see-through ghostly, and has any color the Altalar wants. Once a body part has become the ghostly version, they can no longer give that body part away.|
|Sei-Maan's Craft||Racial Spell||Self||The Altalar can summon any type of non-combat tool in their hand, like a hammer, pencil, chisel, etc. This tool will glow and appear in any chosen color, and has the properties of a normal tool in steel, also producing magical essence sparkles or dust when used. This tool can be given to others and used by others, but only one tool can be summoned, and it cannot leave Emote Distance from the Altalar who created it. Additionally, Sei-Maan grants the Altalar Magestep Vision, allowing them to detect the location of any traps, tripwires, alarm bells, damage traps or other contraptions meant to harm, imprison or alert someone’s presence, within Emote Distance. Sei-Maan protects her Arcane gifted from such cowardly and silly ways to get caught or hurt. This second part of the Racial Spell does not apply to Event Dungeons.|
The exact starting point of Altalar history is unclear, even to the Altalar. Historical documentation is important among the Altalar, because their history is partly what ties them to their belief of racial superiority. While these histories are often laden with exaggerations and facts sensationalised into myths, scholars of other Races cannot deny how extensive and detailed the records of the Altalar are. In terms of historical narration, 3000 years of world history is loosely based on their records, with only the past 300 years after Cataclysm being recorded mostly by Ailor. The Altalar historical periods are divided into a series of so called Calendar Cycles, because their Calendar is not the same as the Ailor Calendar (which marks the Cataclysm as the year 0), but instead divides itself into a number of ‘eras’, each of which resets the year count to 0. Presently, it is 157 of the Healing Era, which followed after the Sorrow Era, lasting from the Cataclysm until 150 AC when all Altalar states properly re-established communications.
The first period in Altalar history is the Darkening, of which very little is known. Supposedly, the Altalar in this period lived in mud huts and mostly had a pre-civilized society of local tribes. This timespan is also difficult to date, because the ending is only clarified with The Awakening. Some of the year dating also seems to conflict with what modern scholars see as the ending of the Meraic Civilization, leading some to conclude that the Altalar and Meraic had some form of overlap or at least limited amount of contact. Why the Altalar were not destroyed during the Void Invasion that ended the Meraic Civilization is not clear. The Altalar of the Darkening era used a script called the Twi’von script, as well as the Twi’Alac language, both of which have yet to be translated. Even if translations were made, the records dating back from that time remain purely as very crude cave wall paintings, and many scholars consider this a pointless venture because savages have little to say to modern man. Additionally, some believe that there was a magical component to their speech and writing that has been since lost. Instead, historical records from this time mostly became oral tradition, as well as myth, meaning that fact is often hard to distinguish from legend even in later records of the Allorn Empire.
The second period in Altalar history is the Awakening. The Awakening is roughly dated based on the life of Talea Sunvidal, the supposed daughter of Estel who proclaimed the Faith of Estel and unified the smaller Altalar principalities and petty kingdoms by “compelling the Altalar gods to become mortal”, and “using their infinite powers to aid her in her subjugation of the other Altalar”, thus founding the Altalar Empire, which would later become known as the Allorn Empire. This period also saw the birth of the now-dead language Ancient Altalar. The Awakening period starts in 2865 BC (Before the Cataclysm), from the supposed birth of Talea until her death in 2500 BC. She was an extremely gifted mage who had unparalleled control over Exist Magic to a near god-like level, and acted as a prophetess to the Faith of Estel, which was rapidly replacing the old Altalar faith of the Moon-Well Goddess. Talea rode at the head of eight great armies, each led by one of the Avatars of the Gods, and through a combination of military conquest and peaceful subjugation expanded her lands. The Empire she created would span from the Sundial Lands to the Far West (which would later become the home of the Suvial and Kathar), down to the southern coasts of Hyarroc (or Heëlya), all the way north to the modern day boundary between Daendroc and Ithania, where Talea supposedly created the Verdant Wall (an immensely dangerous and dense jungle) to separate the Altalar from the early Varran, who even in these early days engaged in skirmishes with the Altalar over territory. This Empire was the first great civilized state after the collapse of the Meraic Civilization, and many ages before the first Ailor would even start up their kingdoms.
During the Awakening period, the Altalar holdings grew in size and their populations boomed until they eventually conflicted with the Javarindar— the predecessor of the modern Varran, who behind the Verdant Wall had come into their own Empire and developed distinctly differently from the Altalar through technological means as opposed to magical ones. This conflict lasted for the latter half of Talea’s life, until some years before her death. This conflict, later called “The Flight of Reason”, was an intense struggle for ideological supremacy. The Javarindar had declared the Estel worshiping Altalar an affront to nature and all that is true, and declared their existence an “infection on the land that ought to be purged”. Supposedly, they tore through the Verdant Wall with massive “beasts made of fire and brass, bellowing smoke over the land that caused all to die”, and pushed the Altalar as far back as the boundary between Daendroc and Teled Methen, several hundred miles away from their capital. Why the war turned in the favor of the Altalar is never historically explained, beyond the vague religious implication of “divine intervention”. It is commonly believed that the Avatars of the Gods made the difference, as well as Talea’s immense magical skill, or perhaps even personal action from Estel, but considering these events occurred over 2000 years prior to modern times, no actual evidence can be found of anything. There are those that claim rusted and rotten Brass monstrosities still lie half-buried somewhere deep in the Verdant Wall, which remains to this day and healed after the damage inflicted on it, but no explorer venturing into the Verdant Wall ever got far without being bogged down by dangerous native creatures and persistent diseases. The fall of the Javarindar Empire was seen as providence for Allorn supremacy, and the eventual defeat of the Javarindar saw large populations of them genocided, as well as enslaved by the ancient Altalar. Javarindar labor eventually became the fuel that caused an explosive population boom for the Altalar, offloading all their menial labor and resource gathering to the Javarindar who had a much more flexible diet and were also more physically resilient than Altalar. Being released from the constraints of having to build their economy on their own, the Altalar instead propelled it forward with slave-labor, an aspect of their society that has never fully left them, even 2000 years later. Talea eventually died and was interred in Talea Scansä, where her most fervent still worship and protect her memory and supposed body that has not decayed to this day.
The period after Talea’s death is called the Consolidation, which lasted from roughly 2500 until 1500 BC. The Consolidation is named such because it determined most of what the Allorn Empire would function like, and how the people saw themselves. During the Consolidation, the Allorn Empire is known to have gone through its “Golden Millenium” where it faced no internal strife or external threats. No wars were waged with any foreign powers and the Imperial succession was flawlessly adhered to after the death of Empress Talea. Altalar culture blossomed and high arts were developed that would last the centuries. The first Altalar slave fleets roamed the oceans, exploring the lands beyond the homeland, and started colonizing regions beyond the known boundaries of the Allorn Empire. This is the first time there is mention of Solleria, which was called Ulvaän at the time, being colonized in 1732 BC, though most physical evidence of this has faded. Successive Altalar and Ailor populations have built over the ruins of Allorn-era Solleria, obscuring whatever might have been there before them. During the Consolidation, most of the notable landmarks of Altalar states and Principalities were constructed, and the great ruling families were established, creating borders that have lasted largely to this day with only minimal boundary changes to accommodate for battles between the Archmages and the Principalities. Magic was on the rise, and generally speaking, the Altalar had it very good during this era, knowing virtually no diseases or hardships, with only occasional hostile encounters with Green Forest Dragons written into the subtext of history.
The period immediately after the Consolidation is called the Floundering, which is a dark chapter in Altalar history. During the Floundering, Altalar society was wracked with intrigue and social unrest because of severe overpopulation. The urban centers of the Allorn Empire became so massive that resource struggles and border conflicts frequently occurred between the Altalar Princes and Princesses. While slave labor was still fuelling most of the economy, the Altalar could not enslave people fast enough to meet their rising demand. Expeditions to Sendras failed horribly as slavers there were eaten alive by the Sendrassian Allar, expeditions to the far east failed as the Sariyd Empire was able to defend itself from Altalar incursions, and close to Ceardia, slave raids could only viably plunder the coastlines, as the Ailor became too numerous further inland. Many local lords competed over the increasingly infertile lands, and the holy grounds of Estel temples were also targeted for agricultural use, uprooting much of the old religious traditions. This also caused the first signs of religious degradation as the strict Faith of Estel decreased in importance of everyday life for the Altalar. This period was relatively short, from 1500 BC to 1300 BC, but it had a profound impact on the problems of the Allorn Empire in the centuries to follow, and would eventually lay the foundation for the destruction of the Empire as a whole. During the Floundering, Middle Altalar was developed to accommodate the rising need for fast communication between soldiers and their generals. This language has largely fallen out of style save for with some of the Altalar sub-races who live on the fringes of the remnants of the Allorn Empire, or in isolated communities. During the Floundering, the Sollerian lands came into frequent conflict with the Breizh ancestor tribes and Ceardian colonists, causing them to be in a near-constant fight for survival in the Regalian Archipelago. Their eventual self-sufficiency was also what would cause the Sollerian isles to be less affected by the societal changes caused by the Floundering, and remained largely united and loyal to their cooperative efforts.
After the Floundering starts the Grandening, which covers a period from 1300 BC until around 700 BC. The Grandening is, in a way, a continuation of the Floundering, but in a far more messy and chaotic manner. Instead of waging war on one another, the royalty of the local realms chose to engage in high-level politics, intrigue, and espionage to get the job done. While the Grandening was not in any way less savage than the Floundering, Altalar still look relatively positively on this period, as the political strife was kept mostly verbal and Grandening political techniques set the stage for all future politicking, even among the Regalian Empire. In fact, this style of rule became so prolific that for a long time after the fall of the Allorn Empire, Altalar politics remained the go-to style of rule among other Races. During the Grandening, the concept of the Altalar cultism grew exponentially, resulting in many influential and wealthy Altalar starting or joining specific cults which had certain views on the world for the sake of political networking. This is where the early forerunners of the Kathar, Avanthar, Sihndar and Isldar come from. In part, it is also where the resistance movement that would eventually lead to the birth of the Cielothar came from. The population base of the Allorn Empire was absolutely massive, and not all of the population was as politically involved as the elite. Many of the lower classes and craftsmen retained a sense of natural pacifism that would later give rise to the calmer movements in Altalar society. During the Grandening, conflicts with the Green Forest Dragons were on the uptick, and the Altalar also started subjugating fringe Races like the Drovv in what would later become Drowda, and other Races that once existed but have long gone extinct with the Cataclysm.
After the Grandening came the Blossoming period, which lasted from 700 BC until 450 BC. The term Blossoming is largely used in an attempt to spin the period with a positive narrative, however anyone who has looked into it knows that it is filled with horrible plots and actions of depravity that exceed even the worst Kathar in modern times. During the early years of the Blossoming, the concept of Altalar immorality came center stage. The ever-growing urban population started engaging in practices of moral and ethical corruption, hedonism, cruelty, and self-gratification that completely severed the upper classes of Altalar society from their religious roots. The Faith of Estel became ever weaker as the Avatars of the Gods ceased to walk among the Altalar, and the many temples grew quiet, ignored by the masses, as the priests were slain by vile Void Cults that had popped up all over the Empire. Mages started becoming ever more powerful, and eventually, many states would fall completely under their control. Previously the Empire had harsh rules against Mages becoming aristocracy as they fulfilled a largely priestly role, but by the Blossoming, the political intrigue of the nobles had become greatly affected by the exploits of the Archmages. They were capable plotters in and of themselves, armed with potent magics to gain an advantage of others, and they are also what spawned the early Mage Wars.
The Mage Wars
The Mage Wars were an unofficial period from 450-250 BC where the Principalities waged many wars with one another, led largely by the Archmages, who desired ever-increasing power. At some point, the Archmages had discovered they were able to weaponize the Green Forest Dragons against each other, and started using their powers to destroy the Magic of other Archmages. This caused a chain reaction of Archmages each trying to wipe out each other’s Magic, eventually embroiling every single Principality and Altalar state into war with all of its neighbors, while also initiating the Green Hunt, aimed at destroying the Green Forest Dragons. This is the first and only recorded case of any Race being able to wipe out an entire Dragon Throne, with only the Qadir and Dwarves having come close, but eventually failing in their fight against their respective Draconic enemies. The Imperial family became completely powerless to stop it, as Void Cults had completely infiltrated the Imperial Court and essentially placed them under house arrest. Because of this, the Allorn Empire began a rapid decline. Colonization was brought to a halt, and slavery increased five-fold, in order to supplement the mass-sacrifice of Varran and Ailor, who were slaughtered by the hundreds almost daily, which in turn led eventually to a complete exhaustion of any free Varran to enslave. Solleria was lost somewhere in the chaos, as many colonial realms declared independence from the Allorn Empire. Some devolved into cultist infighting, and others simply suggested that the Empire had already fallen in all but name and that they needed to continue forwards by themselves. Slave rebellions and malcontent from the Fin’ullen caused a series of mutinies, while the Suvial also closed their borders to the other Altalar, disgusted at what had become of their Empire to the east. Whole families and villages of Lesarra fled into the few strips of forests that were left, hiding away from the chaotic conflagrations of violence that were destroying whole cities and their populations Empire-wide.
Despite all the violence and infighting, the individual realms were still proclaimed to be part of the Allorn Empire, even if no Emperor or Empress had been seen in public for many decades. This union was only in name however, as all trade and communications absolutely ceased, while borders were reinforced, barring all migration in and out. In the north, various cults disappeared into the fringes, such as the Dregodar, eventually becoming the Isldar. Various legitimist factions continued to try and control these fleeing populations, giving rise to the wars between the Altalar and the Isldar, and the dislike between the Allorn Empire and the Dwarves.
Some years before Cataclysm, Estel supposedly tried to save her people, as preached by some of the last remaining Estel priests who had somehow escaped the cultist violence. From the forests in which the Lesarra fled, towering walking trees and warriors made of bark and plant twice the size of Altalar strode forth on antlered beasts, taking the fight to the Altalar and attempting to push back the violence from the last remaining sanctuary cities and holy sites. These forerunners of the Yanar were a far cry from their descendants, twisted plant matter hell-bent on avenging the destruction of nature and Estel’s virtues, putting whole cities to the sword to cleanse them of their depravity. Despite nature itself rearing to try and stave off destruction, it would be for naught, when Cataclysm finally came. On the subject of the Void Invasion, many Altalar scholars disagree with Ailor scholars. The Altalar point of view is that the Void Invasion started because the Void had become enraged by the power of the Altalar, and that the Archmages were able to compete even with the Arken. Ailor scholars maintain that the Altalar abused the magical saturation of the world and caused the demon portals to open. Whatever the cause, portals did indeed open over Drowda, annihilating the local vassal Race that lived this far north of the Allorn Empire and starting a catastrophic war.
All across the Empire, the Daughters of Chaos and the Sons of Malice unfolded and activated their plans to serve their demonic masters, either assassinating or corrupting local officials to serve their evil lords. Seduced by magical powers from beyond the mortal realm, as well as the presence of Arken, Altalar upper-class society tore itself apart. The Empress tried one last great gamble to fight off the Void Invasion, though both Ailor and Altalar scholars agree in modern times that winning this war was hopeless from the start. The last Empress managed to break free from her house arrest at the Imperial Palace, and gathered what loyalists and capable Fin’ullen armies the Allorn Empire had left, taking the last of the Silverhelms north to fight off the Demon invasion that was quickly descending on them. It is said that in the Battle of the Mornaar Fields, 300,000 Altalar died, including the Empress.This caused the Altalar to lose the Crown of the World, which would only be found several hundred years later. The exact location of the Battle of the Mornaar Fields is unknown, as the supposed valley in which it occurred was swallowed by the ocean during the Cataclysm. The Demon host seemed victorious, and their march was inevitable. The many Void Cults celebrated their ascension and victory, having by then become the ash-skinned Kathar, and the Nenya and forerunners of the Yanar fled back into the forests- seemingly having given up all hope.
Altalar historians have no real explanation for why the Cataclysm ended, but according to Ailor historians, the Archdemon was defeated in a final desperate battle of Ailor heroes against the darkness that was spreading across the world, though in doing so he released so much unrestrained magical and chaotic energy that Aloria could not compensate for the sudden disruption of reality. All across the world, whole cities sank into the ground, landmasses split apart, islands rose out of the sea and volcanoes spewed ash into the clouds, with fire raining down on those caught below. The oceans were wracked by violent storms, tsunamis and whirlpools that swallowed whole fleets into the deep, dark depths. The Suvial became detached from Teled Methen and Hyarroc, their once unified landmass splitting into smaller islands, while the heartland of the Void Cults also violently splintered, eventually creating the archipelago that now houses the Dread Empire. The only place saved from such destruction was the Regalian Archipelago, Solleria somehow avoiding any destruction as locals reported seeing “a purple hue in the sky with black clouds gathered outside, yet sunshine within. The land was quiet, Solleria and the surrounding lands caught in the eye of the storm that engulfed the world”.
The Allorn Empire had it worse than anywhere else. While the Cataclysm raged, the Allorn Empire was affected by an event called the Wildering. Altalar historians, priests, mages and even just normal people, have even to this day still not agreed what the Wildering represented, why it happened, or if anything could have been done to avoid it. As the land was rearranged elsewhere, in the boundaries of the Allorn Empire, nature itself reared into action, and the trees and plants and all things green descended on the Allorn cities of marble. The Wildering represented a short period in which nature rapidly grew, retaking lands that had once been claimed by the Allorn Empire and even turned on the Elves residing there. In a matter of mere moments, tendrils of ancient trees lashed out against the marble walls of the Allorn principalities, and trees and plants sprouted from buildings, crashed through windows, and tore whole foundations apart. Farms were uprooted, towers fell and whole states were swallowed by the jungles, springing from the rubble they left behind as if they had been there for centuries.
Even the people were not safe. There have been records made of some individuals in particularly badly affected areas spontaneously turning into bushes or trees— entire populations disappearing in the blink of an eye. Exact casualty counts are unknown, though cautious estimates among Ailor scholars put the death count somewhere above 40 million. Most of the interior states were lost to the jungles, the Hortutor Wilds swallowed the vast majority of the eastern and northern states, and the coastlines and wealthy merchant cities were lashed with massive torrents of ocean water. Even the royal city of Ivaëlle was utterly destroyed— a massive earthquake swallowed the palace-city whole, killing most of Talea’s descendants, but somehow leaving her tomb untouched, which remains to this day, surrounded by a large canyon scar. As the Wildering came to a close, another green menace was unleashed on the Altalar, as the Orcs landed on the far western shores and immediately began a vicious campaign of conquest, enslaving the Altalar in an ironic reversal. The Orcs would eventually diminish in their warlike behavior, establish city-states (that remain in Altalar territories to this day) and descend into infighting with the death of their chief of chiefs This gave the Altalar a moment of respite, as they had far too much mourning to do.
After all the cataclysmic events that had befallen the Allorn Empire, it was hopelessly shattered. The Arken and Kathar had created the Dread Empire to the southwest, while most of the Principalities were completely cut off from each other, some states being nearly entirely depopulated. Many of the forerunners of the other Nelfin species roamed the land seeking a homeland for themselves, and society started the slow road to recovery as elsewhere in the world, the Regalian Empire was founded. The Archmages had all but disappeared; the Cataclysm having sapped away all Magic. Great ruler Princes, whose skill in the arcane arts enabled them to shift mountains, were suddenly powerless, some even murdered by the lowly Varran as many of the slave populations revolted against their Altalar masters, no longer capable of suppressing their large numbers. Ex-slave states such as Daenshore and Kilarallis were born in the chaos, while other regions (particularly Ithania) saw a more peaceful transition of power where the Altalar were aware that they could not resist a slave uprising, and handed away power in the hopes of being spared a grisly fate. After the destruction settled, the Suvial blamed the Fin’ullen, the Fin’ullen blamed the Lesarra, and the Lesarra blamed the Teledden, while the colonial realms blamed everyone else. Still, a common sense of grief eventually set in, and grievances for “not having done enough” or “not having played their part” in trying to stop what was happening disappeared, and Altalar society rebounded quickly in the hopes of reviving what was lost.
Modern Altalar are no longer the most populous Race, recently having been overtaken by the rapidly expanding Ailor, however their numbers remain formidable and far greater than the third largest Race by a long shot. Despite the losses of the Wildering, the towering Altalar population was still capable of recovering, a testament to how badly overpopulated the Altalar had become towards the end of the Allorn Empire. It is claimed by some that the Wildering in fact happened to accommodate for the recovery, a final gift of Estel and the Pantheon of the Gods before they became permanently silent, so that the Altalar had room to recover and would not suffer another cycle of centuries of famine and infighting. Yanar emerged from the woodlands, this time much smaller and much friendlier, helping the surviving communities to continue thriving and eventually aiding in the recovery of many nations.
Most of the remains and ruins of the Allorn Empire remain exquisite. Hundreds of cities of white marble and stone lie frozen in an untouched state, bar the nature that reclaimed them. They are so numerous that they are re-discovered near-weekly, the resting place of an uncountable number of treasures and tomes. Some of them have also become home to dangerous creatures, or protected by Altalar wishing to protect their history from plundering. The treasures of the Altalar remain all around them, and ever so slowly, the remnants of the Allorn Empire are rebuilding, if not in the literal sense, then in the minds of those who seek out new fortune, letting the memory of the Allorn Empire live on through them.
Altalar Society is not traditionally unified in the way that other Races have unified societies, like the Isldar and the Sihndar, nor is as universally divided among cultural lines as Ailor society is, split by many different subcultures. Altalar Society rests somewhere in between, where there is a distinct Teledden, Fin’ullen and Suvial society, where Lesarra flow fluidly in-between, having a shared society of their own with Yanar and Avanthar, while other non-Lesarra populations also flow between Suvial and Teledden societies indiscriminately. In this way, they are not nearly as privy to ethnic conflict and stereotype as the Ailor, but have major distinctions among themselves, unlike the other aforementioned Races. If one were to really put one’s foot down and have to declare Altalar Society as stratified as possible, it could be delineated along the sovereign lines of their nation-states, of which there are many. All, however, can be classified among 4 major types. The Avela represent the Suvial somewhat democratic realms opposed to the Kathar in the west, the Talant are the coastal realms with Fin’ullen majority populations (though with respectable numbers of Teledden present), while the Teledden majority can be found in the princely Tanaars. Finally, two Lesarra majority nations exist in the so called Ol Lavei, which veer on almost lacking an actual societal structure, just barely classifying as actual nations with borders. To understand Altalar culture at large, there will as such be a distinction between these 4 categories, the Avela, Talant, Tanaar, and Ol Lavei, as well as the fifth major substrata, the colonial Solvaan culture, otherwise referred to as Sollerian, who are represented in the Altalar majority across the so-called Tallathál, the Great Ocean separating Daen from the Regalian Archipelago.
Families and Romance
In Avela Societies, Families and Romance are immensely varied. While other Societies are more monogamous, Avela societies are tolerant of and in some rare cases even pro-polygamist unions, for both genders. The vast majority of Avela society practices monogamy, but one major aspect about Avela society is their strict insistence on marriage, and how marriage is an absolute necessity for any Altalar, even for those who say they are not looking for marriages. As such, arranged marriages are a major thing in Avela society, resulting in parents matching their adolescent children with those of other notable families in the hopes of creating strong marital alliances that work well for their politics. The first marriage in Avela society is always called Vivaa’le Pavitraë or the “Sanctity Marriage”. The Sanctity Marriage is considered the most important marriage for Avela society, and one not many compromise on. Not all Sanctity Marriages are happy marriages however, because Avela society does practice arranged marriage, and as such many of these Altalar end up in more business-like arranged marriages than actual marriages of love. This is where the practice of Parijaë-Praal comes from, or the so-called “Acquisition of Kin”. This is a strange arrangement where the domestic partners of the Sanctity Marriage discuss suitable partners for each husband to find elsewhere in an arrangement of “additional marriages”. For example, a loveless Avela marriage might have husband and wife consider various options for a second marriage for the husband or wife, one out of love. If both partners are accepting of the potential bride, then the second marriage is accepted, and the whole family shares the same estate or compound house. There is always an acknowledgement that the Sanctity Marriage is the “Lord and Lady of the House” in a sense that they always decide what happens in the household, but the additional marriages can be useful to add love and life to the household so that it becomes more stable and enduring, which is particularly what the Altalar in Avela society enjoy. This arrangement means that the Altalar can both adhere to their cultural customs of early-life marriage, as well as find love and happiness in said marriage, and a useful business partner on the side. Obviously, not all Sanctity Marriages are loveless marriages, as many couples end up staying monogamous, finding their love and appreciation grow for each other over the years, and developing a mature kind of love together in monogamy. Same-sex relations in Avela society are very unusual, even stigmatized to a point. In Avela society, procreation is very important due to the constant loss of life in the war against the Kathar. As such, same-sex attraction is shunned, as to them repopulation is often called “Kali Dalaay”, or the Black Duty. Same-sex marriages are not legal in Avela society, though sometimes an arrangement can be made for a servant to address a particular need in a Sanctity Marriage. Though, both partners look upon these kind of arrangements as shameful, making Avela society one of the few societies in the world that shuns same-sex attraction. They have the same level of concern in regards to cross-racial marriage. In Avela society, non-Altalar marrying Altalar is even more aggressively shunned than it is in other Altalar societies.
In Talant societies, marriages are sometimes very fickle and explosively passionate yet tragically short arrangements, and sometimes long lasting and stable relations. One good word to describe Talant marriage in comparison to Avela marriage, is that it is chaotic and even random at times, and that having a stable and loving marriage is considered quite an achievement among the Fin’ullen in particular. Fin’ullen have a penchant for living life through the scope of outwardly expressed passion, and this passion can sometimes lead them down a path which they later come to regret. The act of adultery is still a huge stigma in Talant society, especially among the military caste, but is rampant among them due to how long they spend away from home, and passionate encounters between Fin’ullen who rarely see each other again after a short period of intense interaction. But the Altalar in Talant society don’t necessarily look back on this with pity and distress. Instead, these interactions make the Talant feel alive and present in the world. It should perhaps also not be surprising that many Talant Altalar simply never marry and prefer the freedom of not being constrained in the moment. This can cause those from Tanaar society to somewhat look down on those in Talant society as childish and capricious in their marital habits, not able to restrain themselves for the sake of others. Talant society is however far more open about casual flings, polygamy, and same-sex interactions than either Avela or Tanaar society are, Tanaar with how slow they are to form a relationship, and Avela with their distaste for same-sex relations.
In Tanaar societies, marriage monogamy is almost a must. Polygamy is strictly illegal, though there are many provisions for “home entertainment” as the Teledden prefer to put it, where they keep their hedonism behind closed doors and away from the prying eyes of society. Tanaar society, in comparison to the Talant and Avela, are immensely slow about the idea of courtship. Some pairings might be courting for over a hundred years before they agree to a marriage, and sometimes, especially Teledden, will court multiple partners, though share no intimacy with any of them until official marriage. In Tanaar society, marriage traditions and customs are always a careful balance between the Teledden wanting their satisfaction here and now, and restraining themselves for the sake of public appearance and hiding one’s secrets and desires. An expressed romantic partner is considered a weakness in Tanaar society, because being obvious about who one wants, leaves one open for political intrigue and having that information used against one’s self. As such, Tanaar Altalar can be aggravatingly slow and dance around the subject of their romantic interest, until they are absolutely sure that the person they have chosen is someone they can trust. Same-sex relations in Tanaar society are regarded somewhat so-so among their people. Procreation is important, not in the Avela sense of repopulating destroyed cities, but rather because one’s lineage is immensely important to those living in Tanaar society. Many lineages of Tanaar families are centuries if not ages in the crafting with careful family expansion planning. A same-sex relation has the chance of ruining one’s bloodline. This creates the awkward position where in Tanaar society, the Altalar are tolerant of same-sex interactions, but woefully monogamistic (making paramour arrangements impractical) and also woefully loyal to the idea of providing their family with descendants and not allowing their name to die out, especially since Tanaar society frequently gives birth to the least amount of children, one or two per couple. Additionally, Tanaar tend to make marriage bonds for life, even in death. A loved one who died centuries ago still compels the Altalar in Tanaar society to chastity and monogamy, mourning the death of their life-partner in subtle ways, and choosing never to remarry. Divorces also do not happen, ever, even if a marriage is terribly unhappy. Unhappy partners choose to simply live in different continents where they don’t have to see each other, and often pursue new (always discreet) relationships away from their estranged spouse, though do so knowing very well that this is repugnant to their culture, and if word ever got out of their adultery that they would be utterly humiliated.
In Ol Lavei societies, marriage does not really exist per se. They do not even have the legal basis for marriage or any public official that could conclude a marriage in their civil registry. Ol Lavei Altalar don’t strictly believe in the concept of marriage and don’t believe in permanent attachment to others. While Ol Lavei Altalar can have relations, many of them often forget that they have one due to the distance or time that has passed since their last encounter. This can create strange scenarios in which Ol Lavei Altalar are in a relationship, create distance by circumstance (usually studies or employment) and then rendezvous decades later again, only to realize the other partner found a new relationship and had utterly forgotten about their previous one. This is also because Ol Lavei Altalar are very impassioned and distant in their relationships, barely showing affection beyond a hand brush or gentle embrace. It is often believed that their populations would be wildly stagnant if not shrinking if it wasn’t for the Talant Altalar visiting and stationed in Ol Lavei societies as armies to keep the numbers up by mixing with the locals. Ol Lavei society is almost entirely demisexual, and is often even borderline asexual.
In Sollerian culture, there is a concept of marriage as an emphatic expression of mutual interest, loyalty, and permanence. In relationships, even when marriage is not being considered, the foremost thing the Solvaan value is loyalty. This does not mean just a forbiddance on paramours, but also, expressions of disgust at the idea of even flirting with others while one is currently engaged in courtship. This puts them wildly at odds with the passion of the Talant, who they like to say have taken on the worst of barbaric improprieties- infidelity. Indeed, this particular Sollerian fixation has been taken by others to call them possessive or restraining in love, but it tends to go in both directions, not just from one partner to another. The Solvaan, with the values they have, are also staunchly opposed to polygamy, which they consider a total no-go, ‘sharing your person’ being a concept that they are not at all comfortable with. Same-sex relationships are a little touch and go, in that while the Sollerians are at a base comfortable with the concept, they believe that the individuals pursuing it should have the spine to deal with the potential backlash from foreigners. That is to say, if a Vladno or New Regalian Ailor expresses unhappiness with the same-sex relationship of two Solvaan Altalar, not immediately challenging them on it is seen as a sign that the relationship is not strong enough to exist or persist. As well, the Solvaan are against Race-mixing, as it represents to them the irreversible destruction of the culture they fight so hard to preserve. Counterintuitively, most half-Elves are actually produced by curious Fin’ullen or outcast Teledden, as the Solvaan keep to themselves.
The Altalar language is called Ïsursa’ïos, or natively ‘’The God-Written Tongue”, however to call it a unified language would not be accurate. Ïsursa’ïos is the oldest still spoken language in the world, and has changed over the millennia to suit the needs of the Altalar. Commonly, Ïsursa’ïos is split into three temporal variants, the so called “Ancient Altalar” dialect that was spoken during the days of Talea, the “Middle Altalar” or “Old Altalar” or “Empire Altalar” that was spoken at the height of the Allorn Empire, and “Modern Altalar” or “New Altalar” that is spoken in the present day. Ïsursa’ïos as a language is also the root language of all other Nelfin languages which are considered isolated dialects, however mutual understanding between these dialects has long been lost since the other Nelfin species use different pronunciations, or have added new letters to their alphabet to complement their changing phonology. Ancient Altalar is considered completely extinct, while some nations of Altalar still use Empire Altalar as the predominant language of the population. Modern Altalar is however by far the most spoken variant of Ïsursa’ïos, and in 99% of cases, the Altalar language used within the boundaries of the Regalian Empire and the eastern Altalar States.
Ïsursa’ïos is a curious language in that originally, it was not a literal language but a figurative language. What this means it that while in other languages words mean their literal meaning, comprehension of Altalar can be difficult for outsiders, because they do not expressly have a word for a noun like “dog”, but rather say “beast that follows the barbarian to war and lives in their home”. Thus, despite Ïsursa’ïos having a very simple vocabulary that is also surprisingly resilient to acquiring new words, actually learning to weave those words together in coherent sentences is the harder part. Ancient Altalar suffered to a degree from this complicated linguistic construction, but the matter became far worse during the Empire Altalar period, where the Altalar started speaking intentionally obtusely as debate and dialogue became ever more crucial in their society, and speaking at a higher level of reading comprehension to avoid slaves overhearing what was said became the norm. The entire linguistic structure of Empire Altalar collapsed after the Cataclysm, because the complex conveyance of concepts became so difficult in a time when urgency was of utmost importance, that it often led to military defeat or disaster. For example, during the Wildering, a group of Mages tried to hold a city away from the encroaching living forests, but could not adequately communicate to each other in a fast enough manner which side of the city needed assistance due to the ingrained linguistic idiosyncrasies of Middle Altalar, and the city was destroyed. Ïsursa’ïos then rapidly modernized into Modern Altalar, which has begrudgingly started adopting words from other languages. For example, the word “Cannon” from Common Ailor has been adopted as the word “Aïnnon” in the Altalar language, something that the Altalar have accepted if only to make quick communication plausible where Regalian armies are deploying cannons for their Altalar soldiers.
What further complicates Ïsursa’ïos as a language, is that it has three different spellings, which all Altalar are expected to learn. At a base, there is the Ancient spelling, where the Ancient Alphabet is used. This Alphabet is more flowery in appearance and can sometimes also be referred to as diagonal cursive by other Races, because of its habit to be written at a diagonal angle leaning to the right. The spelling most used during the days of the Allorn Empire is the Est-allorn Alphabet, which is commonly understood to be the mother of all other linguistic alphabets that descended from the Altalar alphabet. This includes but is not limited to all other Nelfin species, the Ailor, the Varran, the Url and to a degree mixed with their own writing, the Maraya. In the main hemisphere of the world, only the Dwarves, Qadir and Songaskians maintain their own alphabets, though they also bear striking similarities to the Altalar alphabet. Then, there is the simplified Altalar spelling called Isursaal. Isursaal rejects the Altalar alphabet and spells the Ïsursa’ïos language entirely in the Common alphabet. Some Altalar look down on this spelling as barbarian-adapting or compromising, however the quick simplicity of this is favored by military leaders and merchants because of how easily translatable it is for the other Races, versus the more common Est-allorn alphabet.
Whatever the alphabet, dialect, or temporal variant of Ïsursa’ïos, it is commonly quoted to be the most melodic language in the world, and sounding completely foreign to those who have never heard it, because of its tendency to weave vowels and consonants of separate words together. Whole sentences can be spoken in such a way that it sounds like one really long word, with soft and flowing syllables folding into each other. It has also been said that the Altalar speak like gentle flowing water, or the striking of beads of water on pearls, as there is no sound in their linguistic repertoire that produces harsh or crude sounding noises, as exists in nearly every other language. Ïsursa’ïos is the direct linguistic ancestor of D’Ithanie and Daendroquin, which would later also give birth to the Leutz-Vixe Dialect and Dressalo. As such, while the Ailor population outnumbers the Altalar population in the world at this current point in time, linguistically, the most spoken languages can all trace their roots back to Ïsursa’ïos. Furthermore, even for the more distant languages like Skodje and Common, words are frequently borrowed from Ïsursa’ïos to complement the vocabulary. For example, the word “Äsach” would eventually give rise to “Pasasje” in Skodje or “Passage” in Common respectively. Dialects do still exist within the Altalar languages, as within other tongues. The commoner Solvaan, especially, are said to have the thickest accent and greatest amount of grammatical mutations separating them from the standard Ivaëlle speech patterns.
Lifestyle and Leisure
Avela leisure is very lively and colorful. The Avela love to dance, make music, and sing. Parades are very frequent in Avela cities, and might just randomly start due to someone getting a dancing bug, entirely unplanned or unforeseen. While the Talant are into actual physical and violent fighting, the Avela do mock-fights, re-enactments of mage-battles with colored chalk powder in their hands that is “thrown” at the opposition to mimic the magical waves of energy. They might also do mock-physical battles with fake swords and shields, these routines being more like a choreographed dance than an actual fight. Finally, Avela enjoy writing literature, often in fact the very poetry and literature that the Tanaar Altalar end up listening to or reading. Avela frequently write dissertations and essays on things they feel strongly about, and also love orating their opinions in public for others to hear.
Talant leisure is sometimes looked down upon by the Tanaar as crude. While Tanaar can also enjoy the beauty of things in life, generally speaking, they more-so enjoy the beauty of people rather than objects. Talant enjoy fashion shows or shopping, buying new accessories and items for their wardrobe. For those of military inclination, brawls and ring-fights can sometimes also be entertaining, or other outdoor physical activities that cause one to break a sweat. A particularly favorite past-time for the Talant is to go swimming, preferably in abandoned or long forgotten ponds or lakes as far away from civilization as possible. Hunting is also a frequent pastime, but not the way that Ailor or Url do it. When Talant hunt, they hunt not to kill, but to gracefully capture with lasso and trap, only to prove they can, and then let the animal go again. A less-engaged in pasime of Talant in Regalia is the slave hunt. This involves setting some slaves loose and telling them to run as fast and far as they can, and if they stay out of the reach of the Altalar, they will be free. After about half an hour, the Talant then go on a hunt, capturing the slaves, and bringing them back to captivity for sport.
Tanaar leisure is based around the sophisticated arts, but not in the way that one might expect. Every skill can be described as an art in some way to the Tanaar Altalar, and it is the duty of every artist to demonstrate that they are either equal to or greater than their peers. What is considered sophisticated art can range from well-composed harp arrangements to sculpting to a sharply-written treatise, and even sometimes physical displays like dance or nimble sparring. Tanaar enjoy seating themselves on chaise-longues with refreshments, and sending two of their number at a time to a central position between every seat. These events are called Ëllenanla or sometimes just Nanla, where an important Tanaar designates themselves as host and invites a group of their friends and allies. As a way to demonstrate their power, they ‘command the evening’, having the pairs of guests face off at various things they are known to be good at. For example, two skilled Tanaar orators might be asked to debate the proper tariff for Hadarian oranges entering Talant Loressë, or two Mages might be asked to one-up each other with increasingly dazzling displays. This continues until everyone has gone up at least once, and then wine is finally brought out and all relax. Besides enjoying the concept of confrontations of skill, the Tanaar also like to indulge themselves in private ‘breaking of boundaries’, hosting debauched gatherings once a year or a decade where no one can see and making an immense deal out of how ‘just this once’, they are doing something uniquely illicit and fascinating, like purchasing a unique slave or sampling a strange Sendrassian opioid.
Ol Lavei have a very difficult to distinguish boundary between work and leisure. To the Ol Lavei, the very act of their employment is in 95% of cases identical to their leisure, since most of their occupations involve the acquisition, categorization and dispensation of information, or the observation of others. Ol Lavei love observing others if only for the sake of observing others, watching them walk through the street or listening to their conversations to try and play mind-games with themselves to figure out as much as possible. Curiously, Ol Lavei cannot stand music, or singing. They find the very sound of melodies disruptive, as music is artificial, and does not follow some sort of ordained cosmic sequence, or order. They hate listening to a piece of music and not being able to predict what the next sequence of notes is going to be. Repetitive notes however can entertain them, such as repeatedly striking the same four-note sequence over and over. This has given them a reputation for being somewhat dry, boring, and strange among the other Altalar, which is not entirely incorrect.
Sollerian leisure is very public, and often, entirely outdoors. Any wealthy Solvaan Altalar has an estate that is at a base much smaller than even the poorest of Ailor Baronial estates, but features massive estate grounds surrounded by a tall fence. It is not unusual for Sollerian estates to have pieces of private forest, a lake, a beach, a mountain, a set of caves, and so forth, each with their own private leisure locations like gazebos, lounges, pavilions, rooms hidden in the landscape, and other mirages to keep prying eyes away. Sollerians are very social in their leisure, meaning that while they can enjoy all the activities that other Altalar engage in, and indeed frequently emulate them, they must always include other people, as leisure without people isn’t really leisure. At the same time, when they do hold a gathering, they do so with great privacy, not so much behind closed doors like the Tanaar, but behind a high fence and out in the open surrounded by nature. The Solvaan Altalar deeply appreciate unmarred wilderness, and especially search for what they call a ‘thinking space’, some sort of area that is just lively enough to provide a consistent backdrop of sound but not crowded enough to interrupt their train of thought or harangue them with unwanted guests. This also means that Sollerians are uniquely adept at interacting with Isldar while in nature or in special places of meditation, having a common appreciation for these places.
Avela clothing is intensely colorful, using vibrant yellows and oranges and reds draped over a dark base color like a deep black-burgundy, or a rich mahogany brown. The Avela wear more form-fitting clothing with wide sleeves and collars, as well as many sashes bound over the shoulder and tied to the waist, allowed to be draped down to the knee. Jewelry is usually absent of gems and crystals, but Gold and Silver serve as replacements. Notably, Avela are against the use of animal products in their clothing, their dyes instead colored by plant products like indigo and turmeric, while feathers and furs are strictly not allowed in their clothing. This is likely due to the waning animal populations in the Avela lands, falling because of the harsh climate and the destruction of nature from Kathar expansion. Decor of flames and cloud patterns are frequent in gold-thread on their clothes, as well as desert dune shapes and palm leaf designs.
Talant clothing is extremely simple. In fact, the majority of the Talant Altalar wear a so-called Loëlevaal, which is a tight-fitting cotton sweater with an open collar, and a large fabric flap that extends down to the knees at the front. This fabric flap usually has a decoration on it telling of the identity of the wearer, for example military embroidery marking their rank or their family’s identity. Their wrist openings have gold thread decor as well, as do their shirt collars, but the rest of the fabric is left as clean and unimpeded as possible, with just a simple pair of pants and riding boots underneath. Talant Altalar dress simply, but also for bodily expression, especially because the Fin’ullen love putting their physical fitness on display, which is amply possible with tightly fit no-nonsense and no-decor clothing that lacks frills and layers.
Tanaar clothing is extravagant beyond the point of absurdity, even their men wearing long dress-like robes with sashes depicting gold embroidery of flowers and magical flames and night-sky starry displays. They are particularly known for their Ylovlaë, the so-called shoulder presentations. These include large decorative pauldrons, extending spikes or faux-wings outwards and upwards, connected with golden chains and ropes and beads that make even walking an almost orchestral experience. Generally speaking, the wealthier and more important the Tanaar Altalar, the more extravagant their clothing. Less well off or less politically powerful Altalar tend to strip down a bit on the Ylovlaë, as this thing by itself can be cumbersome anywhere except the most lavish ceremonies where sitting in a chair is definitely not going to happen (or impaling a standerby on the extreme decorum). Nearly all Tanaar Altalar wear a headband or coronet of some sort, which puts them somewhat at odds with Ailor noble culture where coronets are Princely status symbols.
OI Lavei clothing is the extreme opposite of all other Altalar societies, preferring muted colors to avoid being seen, wide puffed shoulders and wrist fabrics to hide all manner of secrets in, and no decorations of any kind beyond the simple colors and draped shapes of the cloth they wear. Ol Lavei certainly don’t wear leaves and flowers like Cielothar or Yanar often might, but their clothing always ends up being somewhat reminiscent of nature, with brown and green tones, and only the very rare muted blue or pink. Ol Lavei dress not to be noticed, and that is their fashionable strong suit, the ability to blend in among a crowd and vanish with ease.
While many Sollerians dress to impress and use copious amounts of Gold- and Silver-thread to express wealth, it is rare to find a Solvaan that does not have some skill in combat, and their clothing must never get in the way of quickly jumping into the fray if the situation demands it. To this effect, the Sollerian fashion is dominated by the Alaanh, a tabard-like dress that is for both genders. It is a tight-fitting torso vest that is held together with a wide belt around the waist (usually covering the entire stomach), which flows into a large flap of fabric in front of the legs, as well as down the back. This creates the impression of a dress, but with the sides cut open. Solvaan clothes carry a pin just under the belt, meaning if the situation demands it, they can pull out this pin, causing the loose pieces of fabric to detach and get out of the way. These flaps of fabric are immensely important however, as they are rimmed with writing that speaks about their life’s achievements or notable victories. A Sollerian would never leave behind these flaps, even if the most brutal battle demanded they let go of them for the time being, always coming back for them, as they represent their personal banner.
Avela art is, much like their culture, immensely colorful, yet also very lacking in actual depictions of people. It is not so much that Avela do not like depictions of people, it is just that Avela art is so strongly dominated by one single design: the Mandala. The Mandala is a symmetrical or fractal pattern which can be drawn in a variety of manners, whether it be carved in stone, drawn in sand, painted on canvas or inlaid in beads and pearls. Mandalas are immensely important to the Avela, because every person has their own unique Mandala design that represents them, with designs inside of it that repeat and speak about their personal experiences or lifestyle, similar to how Velheim Ailor tattoos describe their lives. Unlike Velheim tattoos however, there is no single codified language for the Mandala, so they may often have wildly different interpretations depending on who reads them. These Mandalas can go anywhere, embroidered on bed pillows, carved above doorways, and even tattooed on an Altalar’s stomach with henna paste. Tapestry weaving is also immensely popular among the Avela, both as a wall decoration and an in-door floor cover or surface cover for seating. Avela do not sit on sofas, instead they have so-called Sallaal which are thin floor cushions with a small rug on top that the Avela kneel on, or fold their legs beside them as they sit at their low-standing tables. This sometimes causes awkwardness for Avela Altalar when asked to use tall Ailor chairs that make them uncomfortable, as they are not used to sitting so high up.
Talant art is immensely statue oriented, and almost entirely people oriented too. While they can enjoy paintings, any expression of art without at least one person is considered “empty” to the Talant. Many Talant cities are adorned with hundreds of statues, commemorating events, important people, or glorious warriors. Often, estates have their founders in statue form in front of them, and entryways are adorned with so-called Statue Galleries that have statues of all important family members lined up, requiring visitors to pass through a long row of them before entering the estate proper. Nudity in statues is practically not done, seen as a vulgar Ailor concept, but various states of undress are very popular, especially if they showcase the impressive physique of the subject in question. Talant also have another form of artistic expression called pearl-weaving, which actually does not involve pearls but blue and white glass beads. The act of pearl weaving is to puncture a small hole in glass beads, and weave them together in intricate shapes with Silver thread. Sometimes, these wires are spun together into a hip decoration, a hair decoration, or even a dream-catcher that is strung around bedrooms where a good atmosphere is thought to be absorbed and radiated outwards from the formations of glass beads that gently sparkle in the sunlight. They produce a very calming, wind-chime sounding noise when left to hang unobstructed.
Tanaar art is very painting oriented, and usually an expression of the self. Every Tanaar has at least one painting of themselves doing something heroic or stylish (fictional or real) somewhere in their home, and most upstanding Tanaar Altalar have several. These paintings are always very modest both in colors and decorations, with modesty in clothing and gestures being very important. That being said, most Tanaar Altalar also have a Sanctuary room where murals display somewhat more raunchy or wild expressions of the Tanaar inner demons with regards to their leisure, hedonism and self gratification. These rooms are frequently hidden behind a painting of them looking very stern and serious at the viewer, as if to literally hide all that excess behind a thin veneer of what the Tanaar want to be seen as by others. Ceiling murals are also very popular in Tanaar estates. It is particularly this tendency to try and record as much as possible of history in murals that has allowed modern scholars to discover so much about the Allorn past, merely by reading the remnant murals left behind within destroyed cities and abandoned palaces.
Ol Lavei are often called boring by the other Altalar, because they simply do not have any art. To say they do not enjoy artistic expression is however untrue. The Ol Lavei particularly enjoy the art of garden management, which is somewhat different from gardening, or the act of choosing which plant goes where. The Ol Lavei create the conditions in which certain plants and formations of greenery can flourish in their gardens, and then simply wait for what they planned to come to fruition. They enjoy slowly watching the garden grow the way they expected, and if it does not, then they manage to enjoy the randomness of nature, which still follows structural rules. This is also why rooms that Ol Lavei inhabit can sometimes come across as messy and unorganized, but to a keen eye, there is a distinct order in such chaos.
Sollerian art is dominated by landscape paintings, and depictions of scenes that are meant to elicit certain contemplations or emotions. They, unlike the Talant, do not enjoy the inclusion of people in their work. Some of the most skilled painters in the Imperial Court who produce dioramas of cities and the regional wilderness are Sollerian artists, and some Ailor painters even buy their works as a base to later use as a background for their portraiture. In general, the Solvaan enjoy the concept of the ‘quiet world’, nature unmarred by mortal expansion, destruction, or history. Normally, the use of a subject implies that a Sollerian work is historical rather than purely for enjoyment, and this style of painting mostly exists as a way to express the many events of the past. With this in mind, their productions tend to be somewhat evenly split between very detailed paintings that are meant to document a particular moment in history, and sometimes abstract landscapes that convey feelings and ideas. As well, the Solvaan enjoy gardening, but not in an organized way. Rather, they allow nature to grow unobstructed, and consider this a form of art, where they can appreciate the knotted trees and colorful flowers. One thing that the Sollerians never depict or accept looking at, is the effects of the Wildering. While some Ailor and Cielothar can appreciate the dystopian scenery of the ruined Altalar cities, Sollerians become immensely offended when exposed to this type of imagery and will do what they can to have it taken down.
Avela Cuisine is generally considered a “spice of life” cuisine, cultivating spice mixes that add intense aromas and flavors to food. Many sauces have bases in coconut milk, ground peanuts and guava juice, while staple spices like chili, nutmeg, cinnamon, mustard seed, cloves and star anise are used to create intensely complex mixtures that are sold world wide as instant flavor-enhancers. To truly pin down one type of Avela cuisine would be difficult, as the large varied distance between the Avelas in the west of Hyarroc has resulted in endless local varieties. Some areas have predominantly potato based dishes, some regions have predominantly rice based dishes, and others yet use a bed of banana leaves and root vegetables to serve theirs. Some segments of Avela society are vegetarian, but all kinds of meat (even pig) can be found in the general population. There is only one thing that is absolutely hated in Avela cuisine, which is fermented food. The Avela cannot stand the bite of vinegar and brine and say that any dish including capers or even mild rice wine vinegar is immediately ruined, making Avela cuisine the absolute and extreme opposite of Sihai Cuisine, which also happens to be at the other end of the world.
Talant Cuisine is largely based on the sea, with a great many dishes involving fish, squid and fruity vegetables. Spices are very absent in Talant cuisine, with the only permissible Talant spices being “salt and pepper”, and if one is feeling adventurous, garlic. Talant find the intensely layered flavors and aromas of Avela cuisine overpowering and far too strong on the palette, and they cannot handle hot spices at all. Talant Cuisine, in contrast with Tanaar cuisine, is however rich with protein. The balance between meat and vegetables is heavily skewed towards meat when a Talant is cooking. Talant Altalar are also the only people in the world besides Velheimers who eat whale meat, and the only people in the world who consider octopus arm a delicacy. Crustacean meats are also very much appreciated, especially with a herb-based butter and fresh from the fire. This concept of food being fresh from the fire is immensely important to the Talant Altalar, as they will oftentimes refuse to eat something that has cooled off beyond lukewarm, seeing it as unclean. Many a street vendor can be found in Talant lands, peddling freshly roasted crab or grilled fish.
Tanaar Cuisine can often be described as borderline vegetarian, though they do not always shirk away from meat. Pig is not consumed at all by Tanaar Altalar, as they consider pork to be a filthy meat fit only for consumption among the Ailor slaves. Tanaar Cuisine is also intensely floral, using tonics such as rose water and orange flower water to give floral notes to their food, sometimes even eating frittered flowers, and using copious amounts of petals as decoration on plates. Tanaar Cuisine is shockingly complete without salt and pepper, though it can have other spices incorporated, especially saffron. The reason why Tanaar Altalar don’t like salt and pepper is because they consider salt especially a so called “Torq” spice, which is a rough translation to “one’s mouth pulling into a pout from dryness”. For some reason, Teledden Altalar are immensely sensitive to salt, and refuse to use it in any of their dishes, instead relying on a salt-substitute seed from a flower called Ullaline which does roughly the same as salt for the taste palette, yet does not dry out food, and is immensely expensive and almost exclusively farmed on fields where Varran slave away to pluck the flowers. This is largely why salt is so cheap in Daenshore, simply because there is a massive stockpile, and miniscule demand.
Ol Lavei Cuisine is very much the same as Tanaar Cuisine, in that they do not consume pig meat and have a very floral based food palette, yet there is one major difference: Ol Lavei do not eat root vegetables, only leaf vegetables. Ol Lavei cuisine is based on the concept of sustainable farming and not taking more than needed for survival. Many Ol Lavei Altalar as such often even forget to eat, and in fact do not eat lunch at all, preferring only to have a more expansive breakfast and dinner rather than split their day in half with a needless break. Additionally, while they do eat meat and fish, the Ol Lavei have a process of only consuming meat when it is offered from someone else’s slaughter, which they called Kïhlerkosë, or Kosher in Common. A food is Kosher when it was intended for someone else, or prepared by someone else with the intent of being consumed by them, only to be granted to the Ol Lavei out of kindness, or out of a sharing habit. Ol Lavei Altalar may never, out of traditional considerations, slaughter an animal for their own consumption. Because of this, there is something of a tendency where the Talant soldiers stationed in Ol Lavei lands will hold great feasts and hand out fresh food to the local population who curiously crop up to observe them.
Because of their general proximity to the Anglian Ailor lands, the Solvaan have easy access to wheat, making them the first Nelfin to experiment with baking in the form of savory breads, crackers, and waffles. Their produce is appreciated by other Altalar for keeping well, and is commonly carried when traveling, having an excellent reputation as provisions. However, the Solvaan tend to be predisposed against cane sugar as a sweetener, considering it sickly and unappealing and using honey instead. They can even consider confectionery gifts an insult, if sweetened the wrong way. Sollerian cuisine is also one of trying out new things, and many of them travel if only for the purpose of finding hidden places to seek new cookery. They frequently go to many different taverns (sometimes even those found in the more slummy parts of cities) of many different Cultures, and are willing to talk for hours about their adoration of a newfound dining experience. As well, the Sollerians have a uniquely high alcohol tolerance for Nelfin. They produce a number of very strong red spiced brandies, which are incorrectly labeled as wine among non-Altalar, and are at fault for many barracks accidents and parties gone wrong.
Architecture and Buildings
Avela architecture can best be described as dark yet light, warm yet cool, and shapeless yet immensely detailed. A world of contradictions and contrast, Avela Architecture lacks the vertical height that can be found in Tanaar society, or the pragmatic and utilitarian approach to construction in Talant society. Avela buildings are often no taller than 4 floors, with the ground floor being a very open archway-gallery that allows air to flow through the passageways. This floor is usually built out of yellow or orange sandstone, with great detail spent on the archways themselves, containing mathematical formations of subdividing arches and supporting beams. From the second floor up to the roof, there exist no walls, but instead wooden lattices supported by thick shafts of red or magenta colored woodwork, each lattice possessing detailed openings. This is where Avela contrast comes through, from the fact that from the inside, the walls are lit up since they are made of many small holes in a lattice form, yet let out very little light. They are warm on the inside due to their lack of large open windows, yet any breeze can gently move through unimpeded by walls. And the building may, from afar, appear shapeless, yet upon close inspection have intense minute detail in the wood carvings and gold leaf lattice paint. The roofs of Avela construction are usually flat, with only a small angled portion above the front door, using a few small domes to mark the entrance of the building from afar. Avela architecture is the only style that uses tiled roofs and also the only style among Altalar that abhors the usage of marble as a soulless and lifeless stone. It is also said that Avela buildings are perfect for spying from, as the lattice walls keep prying eyes out, but give a perfect opportunity to glance outside oneself when putting one’s eyes up close to the holes. Buildings of major importance are often built entirely out of sandstone, lacking the wooden lattices, but also having absolutely no windows or balconies on the upper floors. The walls are instead decorated with intensely detailed stone carvings of historical events, or functions of the people within the building creating so-called “see through architecture” where a still-life of what supposedly goes on inside is carved on the outside. A bank might have a wall carving depicting Suvial Altalar counting coins and weighing ingots, while a government building might have scribes walking in long rows, carrying stacks of paper and gifts for dignitaries. These important public buildings are topped with a square roof that starts steep, and proceeds to a less steep incline the higher it goes, eventually becoming more like a dome, yet staying twice as tall as it is wide. It is very common for the Suvial Altalar to top these roofs with large flags that are draped down their lengths, gently dancing in the wind.
Talant Architecture is much like Tanaar architecture in color and shape, using sharp triangular patterns and gentle and elegant arches and pillars to support large open lounges, but Talant architecture differs from Tanaar in that the Talant have removed the vertical height of this architectural style, and taken a much more pragmatic and utilitarian function to each room. No room may ever exist without a purpose. What also sets Talant architecture apart from Tanaar architecture is that Talant gardening and road-work are sometimes often indistinguishable. That is to say, roads don’t follow straight city-planning like they do in Ailor society, rather wriggling and twisting and turning their ways around geographical features, with many forest trees standing smack in the middle of neighborhoods. Talant rooms are more comfortable and private than the stately, large Tanaar rooms, and can sometimes even be described as intimate and cosy, if enough pillows and draperies are present to soften up their hard edges.
Tanaar Architecture is what most other Races consider the standard Altalar architecture. Their buildings are made out of white marble decorated with golden lines and carvings, topped with blue and turquoise spires and domed roofs which have Silver accents glittering in the sun’s reflection. Tanaar Architecture is all about projecting power and authority, while also demanding respect by giving any visitor the sense of “ascending to the heavens” while reaching the higher floors. Indeed, from further away, Tanaar cities look like gathered clusters of crystals, all reaching up to the skies. Generally speaking, each Tanaar city has one major massive palatial construct called the Archmage’s Tower, a massive spire of dizzying proportions that reaches so far up in the sky that it makes the Imperial Cathedral in the City of Regalia look like child’s play. It is in fact even said that the Archmage’s Tower in the old capital of the Allorn Empire was so tall, that the halfway point of the tower could not be seen on a cloudy day, and that the very top was always bathed in glorious sunlight above a gentle and soft blanket of clouds farther than most eyes could reach. Tanaar architecture is entirely designed with the idea of lavish views and beauty in mind, not necessarily practicality or ease of mobility. Some inner rooms have anterooms, ante-anterooms and pre-anterooms all requiring a specific protocol or process to move through, and so processions through especially large buildings can become immensely tedious. Tanaar Altalar mark the differences in their public buildings by having their roofs being more teal and green as opposed to turquoise and navy blue. Some older constructions which survived the Cataclysm have Magical elevator installations which can whisk entrants up to the higher floors, as sparing the knees and backs of important visitors and urgent guests was always a concern.
Ol Lavei architecture is very similar to Tanaar Architecture, its dimensions tend to be far more modest. It is often said that Ol Lavei architecture looks as if someone cropped a Tanaar building and proportionally downsized it, and then made it a bit more crooked. Ol Lavei buildings always look a bit lopsided, or with a roof that is just a little too large for the building, or a doorway that is just slightly misaligned with the windows, earning a commonly restated description of “quirky” and whimsical design- with new additions being built to house more libraries and volumes of books. Ailor have often described Ol Lavei architecture as almost fairy-like, with lots of flowers and vines grown up against their walls, giving the otherwise cold colors and tones of Tanaar architecture a lively green and florally colored tint. In a way, Ol Lavei planning combines both the grandeur of Tanaar styles and the soft approachability of Plains designs, while providing a unique little spin of its own.
Sollerian architecture descends from the old Allorn outposts that their largest cities were constructed on top of and around. It is mostly dependent on the idea of having a focal hill or cliffside, normally the location of an ancient watchtower. Their settlements are normally constructed in rings which radiate outwards, the end of each ring marked with some sort of squat wall. Solvaan architecture does display immense towers, but only in the very center of the city to convey the seat of authority, rather than across the whole urban area. Sollerian architects are very proud of their stonemasonship, but do not sculpt with it like the Fin’ullen, rather they use it to decorate their architecture and especially their city walls, large and pretty fortifications holding a special significance to the Sollerian people. Another unique aspect of Solvaan cities is their distinct lack of marble, because there is not nearly enough in the Archipelago for Tanaar sensibilities. Because of this, the towns of Solleria have a foreboding feel: the combination of thick seaside fog and entire municipalities constructed entirely out of dull gray rock (albeit well-decorated rock) is often intimidating to those who have not seen it before. Tanaar who journey to the Archipelago like to describe the Sollerian cities as ‘one of our frontier forts, made much bigger, and with wide roads’. Their countryside houses are on the other hand incredibly small and open, capped to two stories tall, and built only as a temporary sleeping place in between enjoyment of the surrounding wilderness. These often feature just a single fireplace room, kitchen, bath, and bedroom. Sollerian architecture can also be told apart by the fact that while Talant use blue roofing, and Avela use red and orange roofing, the Sollerians exclusively use green or teal roofing.
Law and State
Law and order in the Altalar cultures is virtually identical across the board. Each of the Altalar cultures adopts the concept of “right by debate”, where if a guilty party is brought to court, each side simply postures and orates until the audience throws their laurels at one particular person as the winner. This is why it is generally believed that in Altalar society there is no such thing as true justice, and that the best rhetorician will simply win all accusations and defenses, even if everyone knows the accusation is absolutely not true. In fact, the Altalar might believe that as long as something is argued well enough, even if there is actual evidence of the contrary being true, they will still support the debating claim, and actually believe that the person “might as well have done the thing they are accused of, if they could not properly defend themselves”. Over the years, tens of thousands of Altalar have died, been accused, or been acquitted of crimes they absolutely did or did not engage in because they spoke a certain way. On the flip side, Altalar law does not truly know prisons or law enforcement. Guards are nominally present, but they only exist to stop acts of crime in the moment, not to enforce a code of law. Generally speaking, the guilty verdict includes some sort of claim or demand by the accusing party, and as such, Altalar justice can best be described as “debate-driven mob rule”. There is one minor exception in Talant society however, while debate is still a major aspect there too, Talant can call upon the will of Morrlond, which is roughly similar to a trial by combat. In such a case, all arguing is suspended, and both parties fight to the death, the winning party becoming the victor by right of survival.
It is often said that in Altalar society “everyone is a noble” and “everyone has a lineage”. This is roughly true, as Altalar society lacks a true wealth or social class divide the way it exists in Ailor society. While there is a very distinct ruling class in the Sols, everyone is in their own right a noble lineage of some kind and deserving of respect, as the entire poor and downtrodden part of society is made up of slaves and liberated slaves. In a way, the Altalar as such live in a slavery-imposed utopia, but there is still a clear distinction between relevant Altalar nobility, and irrelevant Altalar nobility. Each family has a historical lineage to uphold, and generally speaking, achievements of ancestors set the tone of relevancy for a family, as very rarely does a family actually rise on present members to prominence, and it usually takes several major achievements from different members to become relevant. There are a few exceptions to this. In Ol Lavei society, nobility doesn’t really exist. Tanaar Altalar will come to Ol Lavei society to act as landowners, but Ol Lavei do not formally recognize nobility or class divides. Secondly, the Altalar living in the Regalian Empire under Solvaan rule are more willing due to their culture to recognize the achievements of individuals and their immediate predecessors rather than requiring a lengthy lineage to accept the noble status of a family. Besides the Solvaan colonial provinces and a few turbulent border regions controlled by expeditionary Talant generals, the entire Altalar nobility is Teledden, period, and non-Teledden rulers tend to be met with an immense amount of discontent from their displeased subjects, who cite the Wheel of Time in repeatedly requesting that a Teledden be allowed to take over.
Altalar cults have, since the collapse of the Allorn Empire, dominated Teledden life to some degree- even up to modern times. Many historical events were triggered by the actions of individual cults, and while some cults have waxed and waned throughout the centuries, many of the Altalar (even the Suvial, Fin’ullen, Lesarra, and Solvaan that did not engage in cultism) know their names and basic history. Most Teledden do not engage in cultism, but it is still a uniquely Teledden activity, which has always confounded and undermined the upper classes of society.
- The Cult of Shadows was the forerunner cult of Kathar and all other Void-related activities. The Cult of Shadows had leagues of shadow operatives and leaders who tried to puppeteer states into the grasp of the Void. This cult is now largely extinct, inherited by smaller Void cults, as the majority of the members ascended to become Kathar.
- The Daughters of Chaos is a female-only cult composed of embittered ex-royals and their long-distant offspring. The Daughters of Chaos engage in de-masculating sadism on male rulers, and have a generally embittered view on the patriarchal constructs of many Altalar states, seeking female empowerment through violence and depravity. The Daughters of Chaos still exist in the present day, but have largely been annihilated by the Wings of Glory.
- The Wings of Glory are a cult of Ellea-worshipping shapeshifters who use semi-beast or bird-like identities to fight the effects of Void corruption in the Altalar world. They are best known for nearly destroying the Daughters of Chaos, and continuing to fight the Princes of Osc’ird, and have attained semi-mythological status in some regions.
- The Princes of Osc’ird are a Void worshipper cult of excess and pleasure, largely focused around corrupted members of the highest Altalar aristocracy. The Princes of Osc’ird, unlike the Sons of Malice and the Daughters of Chaos, are difficult to find, because they hide in plain sight and enjoy hiding their identity from others until it is too late and their victim is caught in their political machinations and plots.
- The Sons of Malice are Void worshippers who believe in the growth of a twisted and Void-corrupted natural world. They worship the Wildering as a holy event, and seek to unleash the Wildering on the world at large. The Sons of Malice still exist in present day, but the majority of them live in Kathar lands, among the Wolond.
- The Cult of Ciellonia is a more wholesome cult of opiate-fumed Estel worshipers who seek to bring good things, pleasant things, and kindness to all around them. They build large floral gardens and then pump them full of opiates and other relaxants, hosting parties of kind pleasantries and affirmation for others and generally existing to chase positivity.
- The Cult of Dronnal is a highly militarized cult that believes in creating the ultimate weapon either through training one’s self, or generally just creating it. The Cult of Dronnal has several researchers and scholars that discovered the Soul-Cannon used on Regalian forces in recent years, and also continue to pioneer new and horrible Arcane weapons.
- The Cult of Suel is a cult that has little identity beyond eugenics, and is commonly believed to have been responsible for the birth of the Avanthar. They continue to try and work on Genos theory, some of them even engaging in experiments on Url in an attempt to isolate various alchemical effects of the Oorl worm to synthesize their substances.
- The Cult of Talea is an ultra-loyalist or nationalist cult of Altalar that believes in the complete rejection of the Regalian Empire’s encroachment and other Nelfin cousin Races, and the resurrection of the Allorn Empire. The Cult of Talea is considered a terrorist organization in the Regalian Empire.
Education and Childhood
The Avela Altalar have so called Salaan Schools, which are a type of boarding school also found in the Regalian Empire. These schools teach the children the basics of their history, literature, and culture, as well as critical thinking. Among the Avela, this school system is mandatory, making the Avela Altalar the only people in the world that have a mandatory school system. It should thus also not come as too much of a surprise that the Avela population is 98% literate, as even the slaves are taught how to read and write. Avela childhood can sometimes be seen as somewhat un-loving in comparison to the other Altalar cultures, however the Avela consider this “tough-love”, creating towering expectations for their children and using peer-pressure and communal punishment against those who do not conform to their parents’ often unreasonable expectations.
Talant childhood is very care-free in comparison to the other Altalar cultures, in that children are not sent to any form of early schooling until the age of 13 years old, after which they enter a nearby military camp’s physical training and logistical education lessons. Only Mages follow a different course of training, as they are generally sent to Tanaar society to join Magic Schools that foster the unique talents of those with Mage-Sparks.
In Tanaar society, parents very much let their children do whatever they want, and it usually ends up working well. However, they are also much more hands-off and distant towards their children, less so than the Avela, but more-so than the Talant. Children are, as soon as they are capable of independent thinking, largely “on their own”, in the sense that the family will afford basic expenses but they are generally recommended to find their own path and determine their own interests. In many ways, children are quickly treated like adults, with responsibilities and respect equal to those of other adults in the family. They are also expected to act mature from a young age, which usually gives rise to the Tanaar habit of hiding their true emotions and feelings. There is only one exception, which are the Mages, who are specifically sent to Tanaar Magic Schools to understand and hone their craft, though they can go elsewhere when their education there is complete.
In Ol Lavei society, education takes the form of apprenticeship. Young children enter the apprenticeship of elder Ol Lavei Altalar who take on a maximum of four students, two girls and two boys each, and educate them in all the intellectual pursuits that the Ol Lavei are prone to. Mentors remain very close to the Ol Lavei Altalar, and are frequently still communicated with and consulted for important decisions even into adulthood, sometimes only just to invite them to spend some time with each other or solve some sort of problem together before each goes their own way again. Ol Lavei parents can best be described as the kindest and most random in disposition towards their children in comparison with the other Altalar, as they actually act very compassionate towards their children, but can equally also suddenly just ignore their children when they get hyper-fixated on something.
Sollerian education exists as a three-part system. For the first segment of their life, thirteen to twenty, the Solvaan are sent to an orthodox academy which drills them in Altalar history, grandeur, and accomplishments. This is followed by a trip out to nearby Ailor lands to learn a new angle to parts of their chosen profession, and also to temper their ingrained superiority complex with amicable exposure to non-Altalar, which creates their unique attitude. When they are brought back, the Sollerians are drilled to the point of sufficing as a military reserve, and then offered freedom in their lives. Some of them go to Hyarroc to help roll back the front against the Kathar, while others remain in the Archipelago to build a family. In essence, the education process of the Solvaan is designed to prepare them for whichever life they choose, and give them tools to succeed (a strong Altalar identity, a degree of understanding, and enough fighting ability to survive). The Altalar found in Regalian knight organizations are exclusively Solvaan, making up a minority in those knightly orders that do accept non-Ailor.
Existing Altalar States
Most Altalar states have a prefix that dictates roughly what kind of society lives in them, the Avela which represent majority Suvial Altalar, the Talant which represent majority Fin’ullen, the Tanaar which represent majority Teledden, the Ol Lavei which represent majority Lesarra, and Narseth which are predominantly Teledden, but are highly mixed. There are also a couple more states that have special names, each of which are highlighted below.
Avela Travinda was once the most populous of the Suvial states, with the largest capital of Delvinhda. It was famed across the land as home of the Melhënlera, the rose-quartz palaces of the Suvial princesses of the Menapelaän dynasty. Delvinhda was completely wiped out, leaving a crater more than 200 miles wide, by the first Kathar Void-out in 140 AC, which killed millions of inhabitants and flooded the new crater with ocean water from the nearby Suvial Sea. The place is now called the Sorrowful Sea, marking what the Suvial consider a point of no return in the Kathar-Suvial conflict. From that year on, the Suvial no longer sought a “workable compromise” with the Kathar, and went for a complete extermination war on their gray-skinned cousins. This is largely why the Suvial have a burning hatred for the Kathar and vice versa that exceeds even the Sihndar ideological hate for the Kathar namely because they engage in complete genocidal extermination of each other. Avela Travinda never fully recovered and many of the Suvial traveled south to Avela Shishumar in fear of subsequent Void-Outs. To this day, Avela Travinda is still the largest Suvial landmass, but many towns and cities have less than 20% of their population left. Travinda remains a very important pilgrimage site despite its depopulation, because it has the Marvindë Obelisks, which record the full gospel of the Faith of Estel, along with other religious temple complexes and historical landmarks.
Avela Monvarindra is the intellectual capital of the Suvial principalities, having the largest Mage-schools and Arcane observatories. It was Avela Monvarindra, particularly the city of Uttrasamëla, that developed the destructive Fire-scar superweapon, the Suvial response to the Void-outs. Fire-scars are mostly deployed from the cliffside fort of Mandla, shooting 300 mile long crevices into the Kathar lands, wiping out their cities. Avela Monvarindra, because of this fact, is also the most militarized Suvial landmass, as the Kathar frequently send fleets to Mandla in the hopes of attacking the town and destroying the Fire-scarred Court, the collective of Mage-schools that are capable of producing the Fire-scars.
Avela Astradhani is commonly referred to as the Lost Pearl of the Suvial people. It is said to once have been very beautiful with glorious cities such as Paëttala, Sinadhäele, and Alajaëstannal, however it was completely decimated by a sudden and vicious series of Void-outs that carpet-bombed the country in 281 AC and again in 307 AC after the stalemate in the Kathar-Regalian War. When the Kathar captured the westernmost cities on the Hyarroc landmass, the land of Avela Astradhani was set upon from all sides by Kathar and its defences faltered. Much of Avela Astradhani now lies in ruin, with the total population being less than 50,000, while Kathar warbands also roam freely, hunting for any survivors. There are long-term plans to recapture Avela Astradhani and bring back the dispersed population, but while the Kathar control the western Principalities, this is seen as unreasonable and unachieveable.
Avela Shishumar, with its capital of Summar, is a relatively unaffected region in the Kathar-Suvial conflict, though it too did not escape annihilation at the hands of Void-outs. Summar is best known for the sacrifice of Dravinda, being the city where she rose to godhood in the Altalar pantheon to the Suvial Altalar. To this day, the Void-out that was about to annihilate Summar still hangs in the sky above the city, radiating strong Void-Essence but being contained by the mysterious effects of Dravinda’s statue. Besides Summar, Avela Shishumar has the port city of Bëlendai to the north with its gateways of Shavaal, a massive granite arch that rises out of the sea and protects the harbor, possessing a large Silver-domed palace at the very top. Avela Shishumar is also known as having the largest fields of common Suvial spices, and most spices found in the Regalian Empire come from Avela Shishumar.
Avela Shivalika is functionally the capital of the Suvial Principalities, even if they have no formal federation. Forced to cooperate in the face of annihilation, the Princes and Princesses of the Principalities quickly adopted Sallatar as the capital, a rather unremarkable small city on the far western point of its main landmass. This city however is unique in that it is protected by some sort of ancient Dragon Temple at the middle of the city that projects a large purple see-through dome. Anything relating to the Void cannot pass through, and anything relating to the Exist can only enter at the Moon-Fire Door, a large rose-quartz construction on the northern side of the shield. This city is commonly held to be the only city immune to Void-outs, and as such, is where most of the royal dynasties keep their families and administrations. Avela Shivalika was hit by Void-outs in 147 AC, 187 AC, 201 AC, and 291 AC, wiping out the cities of Delmenärra, Vijamanläe and Ülenmapattra and a large temple complex to Dravinda.
Talant Ilha Faial
Talant Ilha Faial is hailed as the greatest of the Fin’ullen states, also commonly named “The Wall of Morrlond” and “The Seaward Spear”. Talant Ilha Faial is home to seven massive naval armory cities, named Llevoa, Algassäi, Chellanna, Essaal, Manth, Orraal and Ylganaësse. These immense citadels’ navies together make up the so-called Turquoise Fleet, the largest single maritime force besides the Regalian Empire’s Imperial Navy. The Turquoise Fleet however rarely leaves port, because while they have immense military power, the rulers of Talant Ilha Faial are notoriously cowardly. They cite hard to prove stories about how they are keeping their fleets in reserve for the Revenge of Morrlond, a strange tale about Morrlond’s deep-sea creatures coming to Talant Ilha Faial to destroy the seven cities, as an excuse to stay put and do nothing. There is a lot of unrest in Talant Ilha Faial from the Fin’ullen military castes, who are dissatisfied with their rulers’ unwillingness to involve themselves in the Kathar-Altalar conflict which still rages in Hyarroc.
Talant Omä-Sul, Macäe, Vurcial, Anëlise
Omä-Sul, Macäe, Vurcial and Anëlise are frequently grouped together because individually there is little difference between them, and they all were formed from the greater Omälaai-Maan Eäelle state that existed during the Allorn Empire days. Following the collapse of the Allorn Empire, the Maan Eäelle family split apart into warring dynasties, leaving behind these Talant states in the present day. They still frequently wage war with one another over petty little things, but no real border movement is ever made, and if any is made, the others are quick to band together in a makeshift alliance to restore the status quo.
Talant Loresse differs from the other Talant in that it is by far the youngest Fin’ullen state. It was created in the wake of the Kathar-Altalar War in 307 AC as General Faan-Ïlhaal seized control of the local administration and crowned himself Prince of the Principality in the wake of the fall of the Tanaar Ivaëlle-loyal governor. Because Ivaëlle did not have its own armies, this secession and coup was accepted, leading to the formal establishment of Talant Loresse. It is built around the coastal capital of Loresse, the second largest Teledden Altalar city in the east.
Talant Amanra-Assalei is the home of the Scarab Fleet, a fleet named largely because of its predisposition to filling up its lost ranks of sailors with Varran slaves who earn quasi-freedom through service. Talant Amanra-Assalei was the primary opponent of the Regalian Imperial Navy as they waged war on the Elves before the Kathar-Altalar conflict, and after that switched sides to aid the Regalians against the Kathar. Talant Amanra-Assalei is still the largest contributor to the ongoing fighting in Hyarroc, exceeding even the current battleground states of Narseth Fennäs and Narseth Charossa as they all work together (somewhat) to push the Kathar out of the western Principalities and reclaim lost Altalar lands.
Tanaar Ivaëlle is, despite its destruction during the Allorn Empire’s collapse and many forest-covered ghost cities, still the most populated and most powerful region of the post-Allorn Empire Altalar world. It was once home to the capital of the Allorn Empire, Ivaëlle, as well as being the seat of the Allorn Imperial family, and the heart of Talea’s unified state. In total landmass, Ivaëlle is about the size of the Regalian Archipelago, and has a somewhat similar population, roughly 35 million. It is home to the largest white marble cities, but its only other noteworthy attribute is its high population density.
Tanaar Llarana, sometimes named “The Goldenmarch” for its wheat, is the main inland holdout of the Tanaar states. It is relatively quiet, lacking the splendor and grandeur of Ivaëlle, however two things make it unique. The first is that its proximity to the Avanth lands but relative safety behind an Ol Lavei buffer has granted it a Cielothar minority who trade grain for protection. The second is that the population of Teledden here are unusually militaristic, and it is not unusual in the local culture for them to serve in the army. Altalar from other regions joke that the moment they see a Teledden holding a weapon, they instantly know where they are from. Indeed, they are often treated like the Daendroque are in the Regalian Empire, as exotic people who act out of the norm, and they are heavily prejudiced against by all other Altalar.
Tanaar Hyä-Ereya was sparsely populated, even before the collapse of the Allorn Empire and the Wildering. It suffered immense losses at the hands of the Orc Invasion, and never fully recovered. Its plains are home to the Faces of the Gods, massive cathedral-sized stone carvings of the Pantheon deities’ faces, sunken halfway into the grasslands, where they stick out of the bellowing hills and are covered in flowers. These God Faces are frequently places of pilgrimage for Estel worshippers, as many have claimed that the statues spoke to them in the voices of their Avatars. Hyä-Ereya has only one city, named Hyä-Monh, which is built in the shadow of Ulley’s statue head. As such, it is also frequently called the Sunless City, or Ulley’s Spectre.
Tanaar Mellea-Antaal, Aelendom, Essaëlle
Tanaar Mellea-Antaal, Aelendom, and Essaëlle, are frequently grouped together because they are all roughly the same, in that they are just average Teledden states. In more recent history, these states were the battlegrounds between the Altalar and the Regalians in the conflict that preceded the Kathar-Altalar war in 307 AC. Tanaar Essaëlle is also a bit more unique than the others, as it is home to considerable Void-Worship and Void-Cultist groups, in much larger numbers than the other Altalar states. This has led many to fear the existence of Kathar sympathizers in this country.
Ol Lavei Tyrai
Ol Lavei Tyrai is a forever misty land, hugging against the Talaï Sea. Somehow, Ol Lavei Tyrai is always covered in dense fog, all the way to the Tyrai mountains that shield the north-western side of the country. This has given rise to many myths of the Tyrai fogs, people getting lost within, ancient beings and Void Gods residing in the dusky silence, and strange lights dancing in the distance that herald danger or treasure. Ol Lavei Tyrai is also home to the Swamps of the Forgotten, which are boglands covered in corpses of people who became lost, were bogged down in the wetlands, and drowned in mud or shallow waters as they simply could not move. Many of their bodies became mummified in the peat, leading to many corpses re-surfacing that died thousands of years ago. This is a relative treasure trove to any would-be anthropologist who dares braving the deep brume and dangerous creatures within.
Ol Lavei Fyror
Ol Lavei Fyror is a state nestled in the Fyror Mountains where Thunderbirds and Fire-tail Paradise Birds nestle in the tall stone spires. The cities of this Ol Lavei are constructed on large arches between these spire mountains, sitting high near the clouds, and often also obscured by them. Ol Lavei Fyror is relatively sparsely populated, and it is often also called the Land of Peace among the Altalar, because it has never been invaded and has never invaded anyone. Even the Kathar avoided going through the area, largely because the ground level offered nothing of value, and the suspended cities in the clouds were hard to spot, and even harder to attack if a full assault was planned.
Ol Lavei Aechir
Ol Lavei Aechir largely lies in the Hortutor Wildlands and its many dim forests. The Ol Lavei, however, have their own name for them: Moon-Moth Forests. It is true that massive, dangerous beasts roam these forests, however the Ol Lavei have avoided them by settling within Moon-Moth habitats, massive trees that form canopies over their cities. These trees have luminescent light-blue tree sap that glows at night and causes the foliage to radiate a gentle blue light, illuminating the night sky above these cities. These forests earn their name from being home to the Hortaal Moth, hand-sized moths that consume the tree sap, which causes their bodies to also glow in a blue light at night. Their large moth flocks roam through the streets amidst the Lesarra, giving the whole of the Ol Lavei Aechir cities of Aes and S’saal a dream-like quality.
Narseth Fennäs, with its capital of Fennäs, is the remnant of the once prosperous Tanaar Fennäial. Narseth roughly means “Deadlands”, which is a term used to define nations that are in a zombie-like, vegetative state following major population loss, war, or destruction at the hands of a foreign or internal enemy. Formal governmental functions should not be expected in these places, as they have long abandoned bureaucracy in favor of military rule, or simple anarchy which at least keeps things working on a local level. Fennäial collapsed during the Kathar-Altalar conflict in 307 AC, and the Azure Army led by General Vermanthraal of Talant Ilha Faial settled in the region, imposing martial law. Narseth Fennäs continues to be the forefront battleground between the Fin’ullen and the Kathar who occupy Rokh Aynila and Rokh Nyäko.
Narseth Charossa is still largely intact from its previous state of Talant Charossa, however suffered large population decline from the Kathar-Altalar War of 307 AC. Charossa is best known for having the largest Altalar necropolises. Charossa and the harbors of Char-Rammaël (unusually harshly named in the Altalar language) are the chief burial place for Fin’ullen sailors lost at sea and soldiers lost on the battlefield. Even if Fin’ullen live hundreds of miles away in other Talant states, it is custom among their soldiers to be buried in the crypts and winding catacombs of Charossa. This burial practice has been disrupted since the Kathar-Altalar War, which continues to rage locally within the neighboring occupied states. Kathar warbands have been crossing the border to raid Charossa, which has resulted in a pile-up of coffins in other states when the normal pick cannot serve.
Sol Fazais is an Altalar city-state that is nominally ruled by Teledden Altalar, but actually has such a large Daendroque Ailor minority that it is almost 6 to 4 inhabited by Altalar and Ailor. As a result, this Sollay is independent from any major principalities, and acts more like a middle-ground diplomat between the Ailor-controled Daen city-states and colonies and the wider Altalar world. The city of Fazais is its capital, where the Fasaëlle family rules, which is also immensely wealthy due to their Himvatheer Road, the only safe road through Avanthar lands to the Tanaar beyond due to treaties between the Fasaëlle and the Avanthar. It is also claimed (but never confirmed) that the Fasaëlle pay the Avanthar under the table for their attacks on Basqlierra and Frontierra, thus making this trade route more attractive to traders and the only valid way to engage in trade with the inland Principalities.
Talea Scansä is both the birthplace of Talea (or supposed birthplace, since her actual place of creation is never recorded) as well as a place that worships her more strongly than the mainland Altalar states. Talea Scansä is an immensely isolated set of islands with a small population that never even acknowledged the fall of the Allorn Empire, and still speaks Empire Altalar. This state is aggressively xenophobic and unwilling to even let other Altalar in because they consider them “tainted by the fall”. As such, very little is known about Talea Scansä.
Solleria is a large group of larger and smaller islands situated at the west of the Regalian Archipelago, populated by mostly Solvaan Altalar with some Tolonne and Ithanian Ailor (and their slave populations). Its political makeup can be said to broadly consist of a number of smaller Sols called the Azure Court, often under one head, or Sol-élseya. Solleria as a state has no prefix, because the Solvaan territories were nothing but colonies until after the Cataclysm, though it is unofficially called Assath Ahaal by its inhabitants. Solleria’s largest urban areas are consistently covered in squall and mist from the coastline. The central towers of distant cities, veiled by fog, are said to be iconic to the local landscape. While Solleria has been part of the Regalian Empire at large since even the earliest days, joining the Empire before even the nearby Girobalda, Lordship of Bragacao and Basta regions, it has largely been scrubbed from the Ailor history books. Still, Sollerian soldiers have been present in every military engagement the Empire was involved in since the rule of Theomar the First, even in the Skagger Wars as smaller regiments in the wider military.
The Minaal Protectorate was once Tanaar Minaëlle, but fell to the Regalian Empire during the Elven War of 302 AC. It is now formally a protectorate of the Regalian Empire, but is also functionally still a Teledden-led Principality under the Manaï-Lamaal family. While L’Elvellen as well as Andois and Visois suffered a massive decline of Altalar population, most of the refugees fleeing Regalian rule entered Minaal, as the Minaal Prince was permitted to keep his crown, while the other families were replaced by Ithanian rulers. As a result, Minaal is both poor and overpopulated, but is also considered the capital of Altalar resistance against Regalian encroachment, as cyclical rebellions occur in these lands against Regalian rule, somehow always inconspicuously occurring when the ruling family has an alibi or is in Regalia’s capital for state visits and could not possibly have been behind the uprising in their lands.
Combat and Warfare
Despite defeats in recent history, the Altalar count some of the world’s most talented fighters among their ranks, spending whole lifetimes honing their martial skills. Altalar cavalry is noted as some of the most skilled in known history, with the Silverlances of the Allorn Empire having near-legendary status, recounted in the “Shattering of Stars”, a series of recordings detailing the last charges of the Silverlances against the Orcs. As the Allorn Empire came crashing down, the weaknesses of Allorn battle tactics were quickly exposed, as having spent centuries fighting conventionally, the Allorn military was not able to adapt to the asymmetrical combat style of the Orcs, and the chaotic approach of the Demons. Furthermore, when exposed to Regalian military tactics, Regalia’s heavy reliance on artillery quickly proved that the Altalar combat techniques no longer were ahead of military developments. Despite tactical and technological disadvantages, when pitching a single Altalar soldier (especially Fin’ullen) against any other soldier, the Altalar usually is the victor, the matter only becoming more unclear when facing off against Url or Orcs. To adapt to the danger of artillery and the damage of unconventional warfare, the Altalar have largely done away with massive rank and file armies, and moved into smaller deployments around the enemy, using much smaller squad and team attacks to make use of the unrivaled individual skill of Altalar warriors. Still, Altalar martial history is littered with glorious heroes, army chapters and infamous last-stands turned pyrrhic victories, the modern Altalar drawing on endless chronicles of warfare to be inspired for their future military career. In general, it can be said that a traditional Altalar army is given directives by a Teledden overlord, commanded by a Suvial tactician or general, and staffed by Fin’ullen soldiers with the occasional Solvaan complement or aiding vanguard force.
Altalar Religion is commonly referred to as the Faith of Estel, though it differs from the Faiths of Estel that other Nelfin societies or the Yanar might worship. Historically speaking, the Altalar follow the oldest and purest form of the Faith of Estel, which is also far more complicated than the simplified varieties that the other Nelfin Races adhere to. At a baseline, the Faith of Estel professes the existence of one great creator called Estel, a physical all-being that is said to have created all immaterial things and time itself, though not necessarily reality as the modern Altalar know it. Estel is said to have given form to the concepts of light and darkness, of sound and silence, of feeling and nothingness, but that for much of time, everything existed in a sense of unreality. Estel’s gospel is recorded in a set of ancient steles called the Marvindë Obelisks, which can be found in modern day Avela Travinda, the largest Suvial Altalar state to the west of Hyarroc. These massive obelisks record the creation mythos of Estel in a language predating Ancient Altalar, outlining how everything came to be. On these obelisks, it is said that Estel had nightmares of the Void, and that through her nightmares, she gave form to the other Gods, which are referred to as the Pantheon. She first had a nightmare of unyielding demonic incursions, which gave birth to Ulley, who created the land and mountains to shield the valleys from unrelenting storms. She then had a nightmare of loneliness, giving birth to Ellea who created the wildlife and the animals. She then had a nightmare of never-ending destruction of Ulley’s lands, giving birth to Vallea who created the Altalar in her image to steward creation. She then had a nightmare of neverending rains, giving birth to Sca’Elle who seeded the land with trees and plants and minerals so that Vallea’s creation could create works of its own. She had a nightmare of the deceit and evil of Demons, giving birth to Aish-eia who would teach the Altalar to detect and use the Demons’ own gift against them. She then had a nightmare of an endless dryness swallowing up her creations, giving birth to Tal-Sieth who created the oceans to protect the people and all things living within. She then had a nightmare of aging, dust and ash, as all things grew old and withered and suffered without end, giving birth to Ammu-Loa who decreed the concept of finality, beginning the cycle of life and death. And finally, she had a nightmare of powerful horrors and energies that tore the land asunder, giving birth to Sei-Maan, who gave the gift of Arcane knowledge to the Altalar, spawning magic and all its wonders.
After the eight nightmares and the creation of the Pantheon, Estel is said to have fallen into a deep and wakeless slumber, feeling relieved that the Pantheon would ensure that everything was not destroyed by Demons. As time passed, more Races came into being as devolved Altalar, giving birth to the Altalar belief that all other Races are just lower mutated versions of them, commonly referred to as the Barbarians. With creation safe, the Altalar eventually developed further and further until an event that is called the “Great Break”. What this event exactly is has never been fully explained, as there are no real historical records, and the Obelisks only speak of a great calamity caused by Demons that threatened to destroy the world. Modern scholars have theorized that this refers to the Void Invasion that ended the Meraic Civilization, but the timeline doesn’t quite match up with the age of the Obelisks, leading some to believe they were in fact prophetic, not reflective of history. After the Great Break, it is said that Estel awoke, giving birth to a mortal God called Talea, before falling back asleep and investing some of her monumentous power in this demigod that walked among the Altalar. This is where the Obelisks officially cease recording history, and what is called the “Walking Tales” takes over, which are largely tomes from Talea’s time, seen as a form of New Testament for the Faith of Estel.
In the Walking Tales, Talea professes that the time of ageless deities was over, and that the Gods were required to walk among their creations. It was there that she used her Estel-given powers to compel the Gods to become mortal, giving rise to the Avatars of the Gods. It is written that at the grand temple of each Pantheon God, an adult Altalar would be chosen to be the mortal vessel of the Pantheon God, becoming a walking demigod alongside Talea as the Avatar of Estel, and that each time when their last host should expire, a new one would be chosen from the temple- with the exception of Ammu-Loa, who would remain within the Temple (explained further down). Throughout Altalar history these demigods have supposedly roamed the world, up until the Mage Wars where it is believed by modern Altalar theologists that the Gods turned away, disgusted by what their Altalar creation had become due to the wanton destruction and sacrilege performed by them in this dark time. Some rumor that the Gods still house themselves in their vessels, secluded from society until such a time that the Allorn is worthy once more of divine blessing, though most of this remains theory as Talea died thousands of years ago, and without her word, none of these theories became accepted dogma.
Estel is seen as the all-god and all-creation of existence, but not necessarily the shaper of reality, because everything that can be perceived by the senses was instead created by the Pantheon Gods. Estel has always been depicted as a female goddess made of magical pure-white stone, with glowing blue lines across her body (that later also gave rise to Suvial tattoo imitations). Aside from having a feminine silhouette, Estel is often depicted without facial features aside from glowing eyes, and a large crown of antlers and branches and roots, which begins at her head. She is frequently depicted as reclining or sleeping on a rock with a dead tree growing from it, depicting her (commonly perceived) eternal slumber. Modern theologians have rejected the likeness of Estel in the more modern events surrounding the supposed Statue of Estel, which neither looks like the historical record from either the Walking Tales or the Obelisks, and also acted entirely out of character for their religion, having dubbed it a poor Demon imitation of the true thing to lead the Altalar astray into the hands of Void Worship and oblivion. Regardless of Estel’s superior position in the Faith of Estel and the religion being named after her, worship of Estel rarely occurs in her name, and is rather focused on the Pantheon Gods.
Avatars of the Gods
The Avatars of the Gods were walking demigods, housing the souls of the Pantheon Gods in mortal (usually mage-prone) bodies of regular Altalar during the days of the Allorn Empire. The Avatars of the Gods could often be recognized easily by their size, as it has been recorded that those who carried the souls of the Gods became unnaturally large, three times the size of an adult Altalar, and had brightly glowing eyes and terribly powerful control over Magic. The Avatars of the Gods usually resided in Temples where they could be consulted on priestly matters, though many also wandered the land fighting Demon corruption wherever it jumped up, or teaching the Altalar their gifts. The Avatars lived for about 300 years (regardless of how old their adult hosts were) until they would pass the soul on to a new host, letting the previous host live out a few more years before they perished from exhaustion. The selection process was a prestigious one, with many families offering their hopeful youth to the Temples in the hopes of having a Demigod grace them, as the Avatars of the Gods had a two-part personality. While essentially they were a vessel of the Godly soul, they still retained in large parts their old personality and memories, just given new purpose. Unfortunately, because the Mage Wars are presently at least 550 years ago, no Altalar who remembers the days when the Gods walked among them is still alive, though many crave for any reference, historical record, or Magically recorded memory they can get their hands on, for the Avatars of the Gods were said to be beyond mortal magnificence. That being said, the Avatars of the Gods did on occasion shrink in size and lay with other Altalar, giving birth to the so-called Lines of the Gods. These Lines of the Gods are mostly just Altalar claiming divine heritage. It has never granted them any boons or additional power, only waning prestige that can no longer be verified as most Great Temples were destroyed by the rising Kathar.
The Pantheon of Gods
The Pantheon of the Gods consists of the eight quintessential Pantheon Gods, each governing a specific realm of creation, and also having various aspects associated with them. While all Altalar acknowledge and pay lip service to all Gods, traditionally, each Altalar chooses only a single God as their patron-God, and gives service to all Gods including Estel by doing service to their patron-God. Patron-Gods are chosen when all Altalar reach the age of 32 years old, where they undergo the Trial of Be’saith, which can be done at any temple. This usually involves a month of daylight fasting and ritualistic meditation, as well as ingestion of various hallucinogenic substances and potions. At the end of this one month period, all Altalar enter the Hall of Wonders, where they will meditate for an hour before they are visited by vivid visions that aren’t always strictly clear in their meaning or intent. For example, an Altalar that chose Ulley as their patron might have seen visions of an aged wrinkled hand wrapped around a stave, of a small water spring flowing down a mountainside, or an eagle soaring high above the clouds, following the ridge of a cliff. It is always up to the Altalar in question to try to interpret these visions as best as possible, and decide what God they can attribute to them before choosing that God as their patron.
Ulley, also referred to as The Allfather, was the firstborn of the Pantheon Gods, and the creator of all land and mountains. Eventually, when the Altalar sought his gifts, he taught them to protect one another and to shield all from harm, and for that he is commonly looked to by those in the military as The Guardian. He is usually depicted as a very old Altalar with a bundle of flowered vines around his neck that reach down to the ground, clad in great ceremonial Altalar armor, and seated on an immense throne hewn from a massive mountain. It is said that when thunder rumbles, that this is Ulley speaking from the mountains to the sky. Ulley is frequently worshipped through the act of “Spreading the Land”, which is the custom of collecting handfuls of dirt or sand wherever one goes, and spreading it before one’s doorstep when returning home. Within their homes, those that worship Ulley usually have a bowl with beach-sand or some other manner of light soft soil in which they insert candles, set before a statuette of Ulley in front of which they pray. Ulley’s Avatar was frequently a well known warrior who would don godly armor and weapons and bring war to the Void Arken and their Demon minions. One famous location where an Ulley Avatar perished was the Spear’s Rest (translated from the Modern Altalar name, Descäe l’lavan Lancaï), a hill in the north of the Altalar state Tanaar Llarana where a massive set of armor rests in a seated position, a giant tree having grown from inside of it and anchoring the golden metal in place. It is said by pilgrims that the armor still shines with a golden glow, more than 1000 years after that particular Avatar of Ulley died.
Ellea, also referred to as The Allmistress, was the second born of the Pantheon Gods, and the tempestuous, stormy wife of Ulley, creator of intuition and freedom of will (as well as the free, wild animals and creatures). When the Altalar sought her advice, she taught them that to change is both inevitable and necessary. However, she also taught them not to change merely for the sake of changing, but to seek improvement in the process. She represents all that is uncertain and fickle in the Altalar, both their ability to crave and seek new experiences to push aside the monotony of life, and their drive to avoid stagnation and moral decline. Ellea is often depicted as a beautiful lady standing amidst a pond, her waist up visible above the water. A skillful creation of her likeness would appear unnervingly different from every angle, playing tricks on the eyes, and would be specifically arranged so that fractal copies of her reflections spin out across the Silver-spun windows and water basins of the Estel temples she is represented within. Truly masterful Elven craftsmen have created Ellea statues that also change appearance as the ambient lighting shifts. Those that pray to Ellea do so through finding a high vantage point, and taking one knee at a position where they can look out over the surrounding area. They clap their hands three times, and each time, recite a way that they have been changing and improving themselves, vowing to continue on that path. Ellea’s Avatar is said to have walked the land, emerging from the seaside tides and dispensing careful wisdom to some and quick, merciless judgment to others. There are many folk tales about the actions of She of the Tide which are still retold.
Vallea, also referred to as the Living Mother, was the third born of the Pantheon Gods, and the sister of Ellea. Vallea is the creator of all Altalar, and the one that gave life to sentient beings and all other Races in turn. She is the essential Goddess to worship for good fortune in the family, as well as health and fertility. Vallea is traditionally depicted as a mother sitting on a rock telling a story to a circle of children in front of her, with more modern depictions showing each child being of a different Nelfin Race. She is said to have gifted the Altalar with lust for life, but is sometimes whispered to also have cursed them with having too much of it, giving rise to their pleasure-seeking vices, which eventually led to the downfall of the Allorn Empire. Vallea’s Avatar did not roam the land like the other Avatars, but cycled between four major Vallea temples, remaining in each only for the duration of one season, where she would hold celebrations. During Spring, she would grant children to those Altalar parents who could not conceive when they visited her. During Summer, she would host festivities of celebration of the living, with lots of partying. During Autumn, she would host feasts of mercy, where leaders or generals would come to her to measure the weight of prisoners to decide if they should be released or executed. Finally, during Winter, she would host feasts of preservation, giving boons to those who were praised by the priests for protecting the living selflessly, or shielding others from harm.
Sca’Elle, also referred to as the Master of Magnificence (or just Scae in short), was the fourth born and the child of Vallea, without a father (a product of immaculate conception). Sca’Elle is both the creator of nature through plantlife and forests, but also the seeder of minerals of the land. As such, he is generally seen as the patron-God of the crafters and creators, but also of the miners and those dwelling in the forests. Sca’Elle taught the Altalar where to find his creations, and how to harvest and use them, and how to make them even more beautiful. Sca’Elle is traditionally depicted as a silhouette in male form, but Sca’Elle’s gender is usually left ambiguous beyond this silhouette because they are only ever depicted as solidly made of Nightsilver without any facial features or gendered features. Sca’Elle’s statues are always upright, holding a small plant in the left hand, and a small piece of Silver ore in the right. Sca’Elle is frequently worshipped through the act of “Silver Penance”, which is to toss some coins into any body of water, and pray for magnificence. This act has given rise to the Ailor tradition of tossing a penny into a wishing well, a very crude and insulting imitation of the Altalar prayers. Sca’Elle’s Avatar was rarely seen on the surface, supposedly roaming underground, digging their way through the dirt and mountains to uncover beautiful deposits of gems and minerals. It is said that those who wandered into Sca’Elle’s caves and were blessed enough to have run into them would be given a small boon, a very rare piece of ore or product of the land to give to one of the great masters of handicraft.
Aish-eia, commonly also referred to as the Connivance of Persuasion (sometimes also shortened to Ashëa), is the God of deceit, politics, planning and masterful persuasion. He is the God most frequently chosen as Patron by the Suvial and Teledden because his blessings cover the act of politics and leadership. Aish-eia taught the Altalar how to sniff out deceit and lies, and to hone their political crafts. Aish-eia is not traditionally depicted in statue form (though he can be for the sake of symmetry in Altalar temples), but more commonly depicted as a two-headed eagle on a banner. He is also not worshipped in the traditional sense, but paid homage through political ploys, acts, plans and plots, which are then attributed to his name in the hopes of receiving his blessing. Aish-eia’s Avatar was said to wander the land looking for the most splendid courts, where he would offer those present at the court the “Law of Connivance”. Essentially, he would challenge all those present to deceive, politic and deceive their way through some sort of challenge, that the victor would receive an artifact of his blessing. This did not always result in positive outcomes, however. One notable tale comes from Talant Omä-Sul, where his Avatar is said to have visited the court of one Prince Olvaan-Telëimoor, and challenged all present to discover where the Prince had hidden his father’s favorite wine cup after his death. It turned out this wine cup was actually used prior for the poisoning of the Prince’s father, as he desired the throne of Talant Omä-Sul. To avoid this reality from being put out in the open, the Prince had the entire court killed in what is called the Blue-Brass Banquet, where all guests were killed by assassins dressed as a local music band. The Prince himself was then also toppled when his younger brother, one of the only survivors, discovered this truth, found the cup, and won an artifact that could kill someone who was wracked with guilt, something that he immediately used on his older brother to deliver justice.
Tal’Sieth, commonly also referred to as the Wayfarer (or Sith for short), is seen as the Goddess of the oceans, of seafaring, of ships, of water, and all animals living in the water, and sometimes also of the weather. Tal-Sieth is commonly depicted as a fair woman with coral for hair and a fish-like lower body, having a dolphin tail instead of legs. She reclines on a rock by the sea, or leaps from an ocean wave to greet passers-by. Tal’Sieth has traditionally always been seen as a very kind and energetic Goddess who loves playing with the Altalar, sometimes even with games of mischief, but if underwater, is said to be a terrible vengeful Goddess who brings ill omens to those who do not follow the Rules of the Waves. The Rules of the Waves are a set of laws outlining the behavior of the Altalar on the seas. They primarily come down to: Do not steal while on the sea (which is why Altalar do not engage in piracy), do not murder while on the sea, do not consume wine while on the sea, and do not make love while on the sea. The latter in particular gave rise to the Altalar term “blue balls”, a reference to the fact that Fin’ullen avoid intimacy while on the seas, wear blue clothes a lot, and are very pent up when they return from months of sea voyaging. Tal’Sieth’s Avatar is known to have sailed the largest ship ever known, called the Wavebreaker. The wreckage of this ship is supposedly somewhere to the west of Talant Ilha Faial, the largest Fin’ullen state in Daendroc, however it has never been located. Tal’Sieth’s tale also has a much darker undertone; supposedly, she was courted by a half-Demon of the deep called Morrlond. Morrlond is not officially acknowledged in the Altalar Pantheon of Gods, however the Fin’ullen do recognize him as an Unwritten God (more on him further below).
Ammu-Loa is the Compatriot of the Dead (shortened sometimes to Alloa). Ammu-Loa has no stewardship other than death itself, and takes the dying and the dead over the River of Memories, which the Altalar loosely view as the afterlife. It is Ammu-Loa’s task to ensure that those who grow old and weary do not suffer the curse of age, and die a dignified death to pass into the afterlife. There is no real rule for why an Altalar could not get into the afterlife, though it is believed that if an Altalar should die of pestilence or disease, that their afterlife will be filled with memories of unhealth, which is why all Altalar have some level of germophobia, and avoid those who are sick as if they are death itself. To some degree, they even believe that Ammu-Loa imparts a part of himself in non-Altalar that are ill, waiting to take the Altalar in his cold embrace. This is why Altalar healthcare has always been notoriously terrible when it comes to fighting disease, history being marred with Princes declaring entire cities no-go zones, or committing them to the flame to eradicate a disease and prevent its spreading. The Altalar afterlife is seen as an endless river that Ammu-Loa rows his rowboat through, guiding the dead who float in the water to constantly relive their life’s memories until the end of the world. This afterlife isn’t necessarily an afterlife in the way that the Ailor experience it, because the Altalar believe that in the afterlife, they may not necessarily be conscious about their death, or aware of this re-living of memories. Some even believe that life itself in the way they experience it right now is just a replaying of recorded memories and that they are in fact already dead. Ammu-Loa is often depicted as a floating cloak with no body within. There are clear contours of a head, shoulders, and arms, but the body inside is invisible. He always has one arm raised, which must be pointing west. It is said that if Ammu-Loa’s statue is knocked over, or accidentally left pointing to the east, that this will cause someone in the household to die soon. Ammu-Loa never had an Avatar, avoiding the Law of Living as decreed by Talea. Instead, Ammu-Loa’s soul was invested in a massive crypt underneath the Grand Temple where the Undead would embalm willing visitors, and Ammu-Loa would give those seeking a peaceful and dignified death their wish in the deep catacombs. Since the fall of the Allorn Empire and the destruction of Ammu-Loa’s Grand Temple, this necropolis under the temple’s surface level has fallen into extreme disrepair and has become immensely dangerous. Those who dared to venture near report that the Undead that used to serve Ammu-Loa have become aggressive, and slay anyone coming near to their necropolis, which now oozes an unnatural and sickly green glow emanating from the underground where no living eyes have yet wandered.
Sei-Maan, also referred to as the Sparkmother (sometimes also shortened to Maan), is the Goddess of Magic and Arcane powers. She is depicted as a hairless woman with eight arms, each holding an element of the traditional magical wheel (Elemental, Order, Spirit, Lightness, Darkness, Chaos, Arcane, and Nature). Sei-Maan taught the Altalar how to wield Magic, and is the one who most commonly interacted at face-level with other Altalar in their Avatar form. The Avatar of Sei-Maan is said to have been much smaller than the other Avatars, and mostly walked the land acting as referee in major magical duels, as well as a consultant for magical development. Sei-Maan is sometimes looked at with a unique level of suspicion, because she was the last Pantheon God to disappear from Altalar society, and to some degree even participated in the Mage Wars as a combatant who outright favored certain Archmages. Sei-Maan is not traditionally worshiped through prayers or offerings, but rather invoked during spell-weaving by particularly religious Altalar who also happen to be Mages. She is by far the least worshipped Pantheon God, and as such very little is known about her.
The Unwritten Gods
The Unwritten Gods are divine beings that are culturally recognized as Gods by some notable strata of Altalar society, but not widely accepted as Estellian dogma, or recorded in Talea’s writings, or on the Obelisks. The Unwritten Gods are to some degree acknowledged by all Altalar, but only worshipped by a few, and only in a few instances, and not usually in the same manner as one would worship the Pantheon Gods through praise.
Dravinda, also called the Voidwarden, Punisher of Demons or Slayer of Hekate, is a lesser Goddess only recognized by the Suvial Altalar as part of the Unwritten Gods. She is commonly depicted as a woman wearing small harvesting sickles, with messed hair and a covered face while she stands at an odd posture as if her back is bent. To understand Dravinda, one must remember that the Suvial Sundial Isles are constantly at risk of being attacked by the Dread Empire through the usage of Voidouts, massive Void explosions that wipe out whole segments of the countryside, annihilating whole cities. At the height of the Suvial-Kathar conflict around 140 AC when the first Voidout destroyed Delvinhda, the capital of the Suvial state Avela Travinda, Dravinda was a normal Suvial Altalar herbalist tending to her spice crops in the capital of Avela Shishumar, Summar. Summar was the largest Suvial city at that time, and the obvious target of the next Voidout by the Kathar Voidcallers. Through some freak occurrence of events, Dravinda was tending to her spice garden when the Voidout struck. The typical massive meteor-like convex of magical energy came crashing down to the city, though as terrified citizens looked upon their doom, they noticed that the Voidout mass was suspended in midair above the city. Weeks later, the city still in a state of confusion, officials found the petrified remains of Dravinda the spice woman, raising her arm up towards the Voidout mass, having completely turned to stone with cracks of blue light coming from within. When attempting to move the statue, the officials noticed that the Voidout shuddered when she was moved, and seemed to inch closer to the city again, until they put her back where she was removed from, in her garden. As time passed, her garden turned into a pilgrimage site where she was given some sort of divine status among the Suvial, as no Mage, no matter how powerful, had ever found a way to negate the Voidouts, but somehow this simple spice woman had. Her outmost hand eventually started bleeding a glowing blue liquid which changed the spices in her garden to strange varieties with explosive flavors and magical properties, causing the so-called Dravinda Spice to become the rarest and most sought after in the world for its hallucinogenic properties, giving various visions of the conflict between the Suvial Altalar and the Kathar over the centuries when consumed. Dravinda is worshipped by a notable segment of Suvial society as a protector against Magic, something Ulley’s mountains and weapons and armor could never defeat. Her name is frequently invoked by the spice grinders called the Merjahe’j, who sing the tale of the spicewoman who stopped death on her doorstep, and gave life to such a bountiful garden. To this day, the Voidout mass still hangs above the city, suspended by Dravinda’s statue that still stands in the garden, though now heavily guarded by Dravinda’s Fireguard, a very prestigious and celebrated military group that bears the same respect and skill as the Imperial Guard in Regalia.
Calvannis, also called the Breaker of Misery or God-Killer, is a bit of an oddity in that he is actually not an Altalar. Calvannis was a Human (it was never specified if he was Qadir, Dwarf, or Ailor, or any other form of Human) who was a slave in the Allorn Empire, and led a successful revolt against the Teledden rulers of Narseth Charossa, which threatened to topple a considerable part of the Altalar rule in that area amidst the Blossoming period of Altalar history. When Ulley’s Avatar crossed paths with Calvannis and made battle with him to protect the Altalar people from his conquest as warlord, Calvannis was able to defeat Ulley and kill the Avatar in battle with nothing but a rock in a sling. Then, when the revolt seemed about to utterly topple and destabilize the Allorn Empire, Calvannis suddenly rescinded his armies and commanded all Ailor to return to slavery under their masters, but threaten the Altalar that he would return if they tried to take revenge on these slaves. Then he disappeared, never to be seen again, though all of the Allorn Empire heeded his warnings as the slaves obeyed him and returned to their masters. Through this act, especially the act of defeating Ulley’s Avatar with what was basically a child’s toy, a large part of the Teledden priests believed that Calvannis was the divine spark made manifest in the lesser Races, a patron of the creatures that had devolved from their Altalar ancestors, and was destined to represent them in the Pantheon. This movement never gained enough momentum to be accepted by the Lesarra or Fin’ullen, and is widely ignored by the Suvial, but the Teledden believed there was purpose and logic to there now being a slave-God, and as such unofficially accepted Calvannis as a God who could set the right example for the lesser Races, and a God they could bring offerings to for the good health of their slaves, and their good productivity and happiness in captivity. The Solvaan do not recognize Calvannis either, as the events which led to his ascension happened an entire ocean and continent away. Later when Calvannis’s preachers arrived in Solleria, accepting Calvannis was no longer pragmatic, as the Ailor would not look kindly on an Ailor slave-god given the complicated history of the Ailor with Altalar slavers. Calvannis is frequently invoked when one punishes their slaves for misbehaving. While many Altalar slavers still treat slaves ill, with whips and beatings, those who acknowledge Calvannis have instead instituted a form of Calvannis’s Law among the slaves where they are permitted to hold a legal court of their own to judge their own kind for misbehaving. These Altalar have decreed that their slaves are allowed to enact judgment under their own tribunals as long as they would not result in acquittal, something which Ailor scholars note might be the first record of Ailor organizing in any legal courthouse sense before the official creation of the Regalian Judiciary and the acceptance of the rule of law in the Regalian Empire. Calvannis continues to teach the Altalar to be as good as they can be to their slaves, to not mistreat them, and to fear retribution from those they wrong.
Morrlond is also called the Abyss Watcher, Demon of the Deep or Lord of the Deep. He is traditionally seen as a Half-Demon half-Pantheon God, supposedly the byproduct of Ulley’s blood seeping into the oceans as he fought a Demon. While Tal’Sieth is seen as the Goddess of all the ocean that is touched by sunlight and can be seen, Morrlond is seen as the God of all the ocean that cannot be seen and where sunlight does not reach. The Deep Sea Serpents are seen as his children, and he has no real good qualities to him besides his love for Tal’Sieth, being worshipped more as a means to ward off his evil and misfortune towards seafarers than anything else. He is traditionally depicted as an Altalar with ink-black skin and red eyes, the lower half of his face made out of a mangle of squid tentacles and tendrils, dressed in a torn mess of clothes and seaweed. It is said that Morrlond ventures to the ocean’s surface to seek out his beloved Tal’Sieth once a year, giving rise to the terrible hurricane season that torments Talant Ilha Faial between the months of February and June. Morrlond is largely the reason why Altalar all hate squids and octopuses, even the Teledden who refuse to acknowledge Morrlond as a divine being but still acknowledge his evil existence to some degree. It is said that Morrlond manifests in the madness that takes some sailors, who suddenly and without warning become catatonic and walk off the bow of their ship, sinking to the depths below. It is also said that down there Morrlond accepts these offerings and turns them into the Daphalar, though no actual scholarly proof has ever been found to definitely prove their existence, save for folk tales and unverifiable sightings of serpentine, nautical-horror Elves. The Fin’ullen try to protect themselves against the madness caused by Morrlond (sea-sickness and sea-madness are considered his curse on the living) by slaughtering some animal like a goat or pig and letting the contents of the animal’s blood seep into the ocean waters to satiate his thirst for offerings. This is why one can often find a dead pig or goat slowly bleeding out suspended by some ropes at the back of an Altalar ship, usually cut loose as it sails into harbor so as to hide this Fin’ullen superstition.
Inth, also called the Worm of Knowing, Burrower of Secrets or Fallen Seeker, is only acknowledged by the Lesarra Altalar as a “sort of god”. The reason why that is not precise, is because even the Lesarra also frequently dance around the subject. They do acknowledge some level of divinity attached to the name Inth, but never quite allow that name to reach the same level of divinity as the Pantheon Gods, but at the same time acknowledge them as definitely superior to all other non-divine creatures. Inth is commonly depicted as a strange worm with no head and just rows of teeth and smaller tentacles near where the front of the worm should be. The Lesarra believe that Inth was once one of them, a Lesarra Altalar, who became so utterly obsessed with knowing and learning that they turned into the Burrower of Secrets, a thumb-sized worm that burrows into the eye sockets of the slumbering and sleeping, and burrows its way to their brain to consume their knowledge, leaving through their ear before they wake. The Lesarra supposedly bring whispered offerings to the Worm of Knowing in the hopes that it will share some of the dark unspoken secrets it found when burrowing into the sleeping, and sometimes, when Lesarra have spent many weeks isolated and alone in dimly lit libraries without any outside contact, they claim they can hear the Fallen Seeker muttering into their ears. Concerningly, on various occasions these supposed whispers have been verified as truth, truths that could not have been known unless someone had pried them from the minds of their owners. The other Altalar subraces mock the supposed existence of Inth, and claim that there is no truth to any of it. Though, some modern Ailor scholars have noted some curious similarities between the Worm of Knowing and the Oorl Worms, wondering if there is some sort of connection.
Sinavaal, also called the Emperor-touched, Heron of Loyalty, Bringer of Fortune, or Lady of Luck, is only acknowledged by the Solvaan as a quasi-god. Sinavaal was a Solvaan Altalar from Solleria, a powerful local ruler that managed to convene the disparate Sols and represent them in a unified effort when the Regalian Empire was founded. It is said among the Solvaan that Sinavaal was granted a vision of the Spirit and Talea presiding over the land alongside each other, conveying a future where the seed of the Allorn colonies blossomed into a sapling of newfound providence on the shores of Solleria. Sinavaal represented the Azure Court (the collective representation of all minor and major Sols from Solleria) and bargained with the Regalian Emperor Theomar I for their inclusion into the earliest and weakest state of the Regalian Empire. After succeeding, Sinavaal continued to serve Theomar, and five of his successors, as well as successive Kade Chancellors as one of the most competent Arcane advisors and non-Ailor politicians that the Regalian Empire ever had, though tending to linger in the footnotes. Sinavaal was a woman who believed strongly in the concept of loyalty and obedience through service to a higher authority, and that to respect one’s lot in life and make the most of it was a noble pursuit. When Sinavaal died, a vast tomb complex was built in the heart of Solleria, in Sol Athentol, where many Ailor Reverends and even the Supreme Reverend came to pay their respects. Shortly after, the Conclave canonized Sinavaal as the Heron of Loyalty and Service. Despite the Conclave's recognition of Sinavaal’s Heron status, her identity as an Altalar was scrubbed away by having her appear as an Ailor, though without fail, her statues always held a pair of Violet-wing Flowers in her hand, purple flowers shaped like Nelfin ears, a subtle nod to her identity as an Altalar. Shortly after this canonization, Sinavaal’s spirit appeared in the tomb complex in Solleria, granting visions and wisdom to those who succeeded in the Trial of Wills, a complex set of challenges built to test the virtue of pilgrims. Because her spirit was given a physical afterlife, and because of her canonization among the Ailor, as well as the fact that her spirit in Sol Athentol bears all the hallmarks of a still-living Avatar of the Gods, she was considered the “bridge” deity between the Ailor and Altalar, resulting in the so-called Cult of Sinavaal which eventually became doctrine among the Solvaan. Sinavaal is actively denounced by other Altalar societies, dismissing the Cult and her doctrine as flimsy colonial rambling and an attempt from the Sollerians to be seen as equals with the homeland.
Interactions and Customs
The Altalar, across the various cultures, know several customs, traditions, and interactions that differentiate their behavior to one another from the other Races. Below are some of them outlined, though players are welcome to contribute their own if they stick around in the Altalar player community.
- The act of ritually brewing tea or Kaffee for another person is considered a sign of deference or respect, especially when it is brewn from a bowl of Eelt-Stones, magical blue glowing pebbles that can become as warm as fire when heated. Most Altalar have a small supply of Eelt-Stones which they enjoy keeping in engraved boxes, given a special place near their kitchen entrances.
- Physical touch between Altalar is considered offensive when it is uninvited, sometimes even for lovers. When one Altalar requests the right to physically touch another Altalar, they put one hand on the opposite arm’s shoulder, and shape their other arm in an “L” shape, while extending their hand palm up towards the other person. If that person lands one index finger and middle finger on the palm of the hand, they give permission. If no gesture is made, then the request for physical contact is rejected.
- Eye contact between Altalar is somewhat split down the middle. While Teledden tilt their chins up, and Fin’ullen and Solvaan look others sternly in the eyes as a means of establishing dominance, intimidation, or just good rapport, the Lesarra and Suvial avoid eye contact unless they respect the individual they are speaking to, always trailing their sight off to the side.
- Altalar soldiers like to go on ‘challenge-hunts’ where they go one friend at a time, asking to spar with each one until they lose. This way, at their next feast or gathering, they can brag about their victories.
- The traditional greeting between Altalar is a slight bow, bent a small degree at the waist with the hand held slightly out and palm facing upwards.
- Altalar ridicule those who fall outside of their societally expected norms and traditions, being strong believers in keeping to what one is meant to do and otherwise staying out of it.
- The art of snide commentary hidden under a veneer of kindness is an art among the Altalar, and those who are good at it take pride to showcase their skill to others.
- Normally, Altalar do not actually mind the company of their Nelfin cousin Races (bar Kathar and Avanthar). However, there is a tendency to ‘tokenize’ them, as in, to acquire one Isldar, one Sihndar, and one Cielothar for their circle, and stop after that.
- Altalar married couples rarely sleep in the same bed. The idea of falling asleep and waking up in the same bed as one’s lover is considered invasive. If intimacy is had between a couple, they might use one lover's bed, but when the act is done, one would leave and retreat for privacy into their own room or a guest room to avoid embarrassing the other partner with messy hair and other related matters.
- Altalar do not have pets, ever. Domestic animals are considered crude creatures that invite dirtiness into the home. There is a small exception for caged birds and glass-encased insects and snakes, as long as they can be confined in an elegant habitat and do not need to be interacted with besides a slave servant feeding them (or being fed to them in some extreme cases).
- A way for an Altalar to indicate seriousness and devotion to the task they are engaging in is to abandon their finery until they are done with it. Teledden are an exception, in that they still would not be found dead in public looking unpresentable.
- There is a taboo among Altalar on bringing up topics that would be considered intimately embarrassing to other people in their circle, with the understanding that as long as they refrain from it, others will too. It is seen as crude and derogatory to humiliate someone with a veiled reference, and far more appropriate to make jabs at their personality or public actions.
- Altalar can sometimes be very childish with their dislike of others, particularly towards one’s wardrobe. While Altalar remain very poised and graceful, an extended cape or robe that can conveniently be stood upon and torn is sometimes too much of an irresistible torment to inflict on those not liked.
- An aggressive disapproval of another person can sometimes be expressed through a backhand-clap. The way this is done to hold one’s hand with the palm facing towards one’s own face stretched out in front of them, followed by the back of the other hand clapped firmly into the palm of the other, once. This is considered the Ailor equivalent of being spat on by another Altalar, but Altalar (bar Fin’ullen) would never land a fist or hand on another person in a violent manner and break composure.
Why Play Altalar
Because you like Altalar. And winning. Altalar win a lot. This is your reward for having reached the bottom, the great Arcane mystery passed down from the depths of the Allorn past: Altalar are great at winning. Sometimes this works out just fine. Sometimes it doesn’t.
- The Altalar are often referred to as “Knife Ears” due to the pointed nature of their ears. This is commonly used as a base insult by Ailor, and Altalar find it insulting not because of its insulting nature, but because of the low amount of effort put into the insult.
- Wall carvings from the Ancient Altalar Empire suggest that the Nelfin once had significantly longer ears that have grown smaller over the years. This may also have been a stylistic or artistic liberty however.
- Altalar society is incredibly fractured while the Crown of the World, the same crown worn by Empress Talea, is still in Regalian hands, where it is undeservedly treated as a war-time trinket of such low value that it remains hidden in a dusty vault in the Imperial Palace.