"Our people strive for perfection, and alone in all the races achieve it, because we have the patience to focus on our skills for centuries."
~Avendælyn, Empress Korindrihn's Consort
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The Briandynians are considered one of the living proofs that Magic exists. Their evolution was heavily tampered by magic, the Gods they worshipped (primarily Cerato, Aspen, Vitellia, Clemetite, Ramosus), and their climate. This hybrid created a unique race that in a few generations became the longest lived mortal race in the world. Modern Briandynians live for 800-1000 years on average. Genetically speaking they evolved from a cross-breeding of Suoro, proto-Fudorian, and Tirivahni ancestry, but while the magical potency of these races remains in them, they further changed to become something entirely unique.
Briandynians are tiny, frail and unearthly in their beauty. They are extremely effeminate and androgynous, and their markers of beauty would be easily compared to the ideals of beauty for the women of some human nations: delicate features, smooth skin, large eyes, pouting lips, silken hair, long eyelashes and long slender bodies. As the Briandynians only have one gender this standard is universal. Those who display more extreme gendered qualities such as broad shoulders, broad hips, or larger breasts are considered less attractive. Briandynians grow between 4'8" and 5'2".
Briandynians have smooth, hairless skin completely white as snow. Their hair is fine and wispy, straight and silken, at times so fine it is translucent. It grows either white or pale butter yellow, though the latter is preferred aesthetically. Their ears are tapered and curved slightly towards the skull at the end, and have a distinctive conch shell shape to the body of the ear. In some cases this distinction is so sharp that it looks like a small rounded sphere or ear with a thin, curved sickle rising from behind it. Their teeth are all small, pointed and fang-like in shape, commonly referred to as fanglets. These teeth help them shred and grind through the tough root vegetables of their climate, the hard, lean game meat, and many dishes made with frozen foods or ice. Their eyes are unusually large in the skull taking up anywhere from 40 to 60% of the face, leaving their noses and mouths tiny by comparison, delicate and barely protruding from their smooth, elegant doll-like faces. Their eyes in colour and vibrancy are jewel-like and often have been equated to faceted gemstones; they are either purple, blue or green, though mismatched eyes are common - about 25 to 35% of the population have one blue and one mismatched eye colour. This is considered desirable and strikingly beautiful. Their pupils are round like a human's but proportionate to the size of the eye itself. Their heads are proportionately large for their small, slender, frail bodies, with their limbs long and slender, with little to no muscle definition. They have small-palmed, long-digited hands and feet, with small shiny nails. Briandynians do not grow facial hair until they reach the Elder stage of aging, in which the hair turns white if it is not already, and begins to curl, along with a long curling beard. But this process will be discussed in more detail in the Celestiere Racial Ability below.
Fashion is a delicate and complicated art in Briandyna - nearly rivaling the cultural implications of Suoro fashion. It is ever a balance between the tantalizing hints of flesh or body that are shown by the clothing, and the need to keep warm and dry in their cold, often-damp climate. While the Briandynians are capable of moderating their body temperature with their Racial Ability, this requires the expenditure of calories, and when travelling in an often scarce landscape, frugal use of this ability has lead to their relying on warm clothing. While they do use a few padded garments, they prefer the sleeker method of layering and lining fine fabrics with warmer materials to keep out the damp and the heat in.
Briandynian silks are among the most valuable in the world, as they have a light, airy weave so fine that it pours like water and flutters like smoke. Some are so finely woven that they are transparent, others so tightly woven that they can carry water. Furs and feathers are commonly used for decoration, ringing cuffs or collars for warmth, lining boots, jackets and cloaks; white furs are most desirable and most plentiful, though rarer black or blue furs can be found, though usually dyes are utilized on white furs to give the appearance of these rarer commodities. Furs are often silk-screened to have patterns like spots or stripes, or even images of designs, flowers, birds or landscapes. Stiff taffetas, plush velvets, glossy satins, transparent organza, waterproof camlets and fine wools are all used in their clothing. Colours are usually bold and jewel-toned, and an entire ensemble is made tailored to match. Rather than printed patterns, Briandynians use woven brocades, ribbon stitched decoration, beadwork or detailed embroidery to the point of tapestry-like appearances for decoration or to break up solid colours.
Briandynians wear robes within the city. Robes are usually layered with soft, delicate underclothes and heavier, warmer or more durable layers atop, but usually the cuts of outer robes are designed to show parts of the layers beneath, and sometimes of the skin beneath that. Vertical cuts or slashes are often in fashion, as are scooped necklines, corsets, waist bands, belts or bodices to bind the torso and make it have a more curved, flat-chested appearance. The length of robes is usually floor length, with long trains not uncommon, though paneled hems to allow for freer movement of the legs via a slit up one or both sides is also common. Cloaks are generally worn inside and outside of the cities, though the indoor cloaks are more decorative and light than the heavier, hooded, lined outdoor counterparts. Within cities, silk booties, stockings or socks are sufficient, whereas fur-lined boots and heavier footwear are for trekking outside. Leggings, tights, stockings or slim-cut underpants are usually worn for warmth or cover beneath robes. Glovelettes, arm-covers, decorative sleeves with puffed fabric, slashes, ribbon or hanging bellsleeve hems are often worn in the upper classes or court finery.
Jewelry is usually silver or white gold, with yellow gold only used in ceremony or decoration, and rose gold reserved for marriage rites. The use of necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings is common among the people. Multiple piercings are common, and dangling, moveable, drop-like jewelry utilizing set gemstones, engraving and lacquered inlay are popular. Circlets and crowns are reserved for the nobility, and are uniquely crafted for each monarch.
Briandynian culture is peculiar because of the longevity of the people. It does not operate on a system of night and day, but rather of a number of days or nights in succession spent awake or asleep, working or relaxing. Also, because of how long they live, they do not rush, but take their time and prize perfection in all things. They are able to spend years on a simple project that another race would need to complete in shorter spans of time to make use of the end product.
In order to understand Briandynian sexuality we must first understand their physiognomy. All Briandynians possess a kethas which comprises both a projecting organ and an internal cavity. The external portion is quite sensitive, bringing both arousal and procreation capacity. Different Briandynians may have proportionality larger nubs and shallower cavities, or vice versa, creating a spectrum of what humans might consider gender. Because of this range it may be easier for some Briandynians to carry pregnancy than others, and so ease of sustaining a pregnancy and carrying to term tends to corollate to the depth of their cavities. About 12% of the population is equally capable of siring as well as carrying a child.
Briandynians exude a semen-like fluid before intercourse that lubricates their sexual organs. The act of intercourse then spreads the sperm for best opportunity of insemination. If this fluid is cleaned off before intercourse, there's little to no chance that pregnancy can happen. For this reason, the Briandynians usually use hand-made lubricants instead of their natural fluids when there is no desire to procreate.
Because of the difficulty to determine the difference between "genders", when interacting with other races Briandynians are perceived as having a high rate of homosexuality, as they tend to be attracted to other species regardless of their gender. Their language lacks gendered pronouns and so conversations around sexual orientation or gender preference are difficult to have (ex: "Do you like them or them?" "I like them!" ), but they respect other cultures' definitions and choices.
The concept of marriage is a great deal different for Briandynians. The Briandynians believe in something they call "The Other", which is something like our concepts of Soul Mates. They believe that souls are bound to a person through an ethereal gateway or portal like a crystal or glass that refracts the energies, memories of past lives and personality into the husk that is the body. It is these souls that differentiate one person from the next. When the body dies, they believe this soul merely drifts off again to await the next body it will take as its own (this is not to be confused with the Sounapalastre, which posits a "copy" of these memories is retained within the crystal matrix a Briandynian leaves behind when they die). Each soul, they argue, is merely half-complete when by itself. Only when it finds its corresponding partner or complement will the bond between body and soul open to its fullest extent. In this fully opened state, both Briandynians of a pairing will be at their best, most optimum potential of skill, memory and ability. Only in this state will memories from their life pass back through the gateway and imprint upon the soul to be remembered in later lives. So, when a Briandynian finds someone they feel a true connection with, and they believe them to be their Other, they go to the mystics to have their gateways opened to see if their souls are compatible. If they are, their gateways remain open and from then on their paths are intertwined. This connection of the gateways lasts for the remainder of the Briandynian's life, so there is no concept of divorce.
A couple who does not form an Other bonding can still have an enriching and meaningful relationship, however, their memories are not permanently entwined as an official bonding would be. In a state of Connection, a heightened awareness of one's partner's emotional state, pains, desires and dreams are also connected and they literally share their life's experiences with the one they love with their full body, mind and soul.
Briandynians have only one child at a time, though the gestation period takes 100 years, and goes in four quarters of 25 years during which various stages of the fetus develops. Each Briandynian can have a maximum of 5 children in their lifetime, and it is not uncommon to have siblings with several hundred years between them.
Briandynian children are typically raised by one parent, though it does not matter if this parent was the one who carried the pregnancy or not. They are further supported in child rearing by their community and typically will have a neighbor in nearby apartments who will serve as direct support and proxy if anything should happen to the parent (something like a Godparent). Because of the large age gaps between siblings, older siblings or cousins often take a formative role in raising younger siblings or cousins.
Coming of Age
Once a Briandynian child reaches its 50th year the chances of its survival greatly increase, and so at this point it is bestowed a name. Naming in Briandynian culture is done with the aid of a soothsayer or prophet, and so the names meaning will reflect key themes the Briandynian will experience throughout their life. Therefore, Briandynians only have one long name with no surname, though within close circles of friendship and family, the name may be shortened to one or two syllables which is something like a nickname.
Between 51-100 years, the Briandynian is what we would term a 'school aged child'. This period sees the majority of their learning of language, emotional development, and interests. Briandynians will also begin to learn how to use their Celestiere. This Racial Ability will take many years to master, but at this point they'll learn such skills as willfully regulating their body's temperature, equilibrium, and speed. Skilled Briandynians may also begin casting magic during this time.
From 101-250, a Briandynian experiences an adolescences. This period is often accompanied with increased curiosity, self-directed learning, and their first blushes of romance. They are not yet able to bear children, and are not yet allowed to develop an Other. In their Racial Ability skills, they may begin to learn how to harden their body to stone, to commune with Briandynian crystal, and to meld with stone surfaces.
251~800 makes up the brunt of a Briandynian's adult life. During this period they will find ways to contribute to their society, while not necessarily sticking within a single career, they will develop skills that will give them certain specialties and aptitudes. If a Briandynian showcases a particular talent (even if they don't have a special interest), they may be requisitioned to carry out these activities on behalf of the Throne. At this stage, they may begin seeking their Other, and can learn to "throw" their six senses, and to willfully speed their physical healing thanks to their Celestiere Racial Ability.
At 800+ the Briandynian enters old age. This begins with a stiffening of the limbs, and the development of facial hair. As they lose mobility they will usually choose a position in which to remain for the remainder of their lives (popular positions are seated, lying down, or propped against a wall). Their body will begin to crystalize, usually from the extremities in with the eyes and mouth typically being the last to lose function.
Natural Briandynian death is a point of pride and final service to their people. In the final Sounapalastre the memories of the Briandynian's life are fused into the crystal matrix of their body. By touching the crystal and concentrating a living Briandynian can commune with the spirit of the deceased. In this way, the ancestors are still consulted, asked for advice, and can be sought as sources of comfort. Their crystal is typically crafted into objects that reflect the deceased's interests, such as musical instruments, weapons, or tools. These are usually bequeathed to the deceased's relatives but are eventually donated to the nation's archives.
However, if a Briandynian loses their life before their Sounapalastre is complete, their bodies will not transmute and will instead rot like other mortal races. This loss, both of a life cut prematurely short and the dissipation of that life's memories, are considered a tragic loss to Briandyna as a whole. Such deaths are deeply mourned, not just by the deceased's relatives, but by the community at large. Dirge Choirs are held to help the dislodged and often traumatized spirit find peace by passing on to higher realms, and Threnodists are sought to ensure the spirit does not linger and become a ghost.
Briandynian cuisine is light, and often considered too scant to satisfy other races. It usually consists of thin watery soups with extremely subtle flavour lost on coarser tastebuds, plenty of steam, baked or roasted fowl, occasional salted or smoked fish, ice fruit, prepared roots and root vegetables, plenty of iced dishes and desserts, excellent ice wines, light, dry baked goods and a wide variety of sauces, preserves, marmalades, jellies, butters, creams, spreads, cheeses and caviars. Their meals are generally presented as smorgasbords of multiple dishes with the idea being to taste many flavours and dishes, contrasting, complimenting and compounding flavours. In every meal there is at least one dish of spicy, salty, sweet, umami, bitter, tangy, effervescent, sour, and earthy flavours. Because of this, there is a minimum of 9 repasts in a single meal. Dining is an affair that is to be done slowly, with relish, company and conversation, and takes no less than 3 hours.
The Briandynians have perhaps the most extremely imbalanced statistics of any race in Ul-Zaorith. Their aptitudes tend to fall into extremes, with some of the most advanced capabilities offset by severe weaknesses. Their long waking and sleeping cycles and slow patient development further makes it difficult for Briandynians to co-exist with other races on any large scale way.
Intelligence: 16/16. The Briandynians have an aptitude for fine detail, for complex layers of thought and a great ability to hold opposing views simultaneously, which makes for strong debate, but also enables them to be contrary for the sake of being disagreeable. They are creative in how they assimilate knowledge, enabling them to find new pathways for development, and leaves them open to innovation and new schools of thought. Because of their deep interest and investment in magic, this intelligence has been applied most ardently to the study of the Realms, thus the Briandynians have been instrumental in charting the Realms and studying the denizens that live there. Once East and West began exchanging their findings, the Briandynians and Lisdanese were able to fill in many blanks in the others' studies.
Wisdom: 16/16. As may be expected from such a long lived race, the Briandynians spend a considerable time in contemplation. Their insights into spirituality, the self, and higher expressions of truth including art, poetry, music, and performance, enable them a unique view the world. Outside of a single Briandynian's creations, they also believe strongly in building upon the creations of those that came before, which gives them the ability to progress theories over many lifetimes. They are also among the most potent magical races, spending centuries mastering and advancing the art of casting. This arises largely from their sensitivity to the world through all six of their senses, and their ability to attune their awareness to those around them.
Agility: 16/16. Small, lithe, nimble and extremely agile, Briandynians have reflexes twice as fast as a human, and can go from stillness to full motion in the blink of an eye. Their small size enables them to displace their center of gravity, allowing them to interact with their surroundings so deftly as to leave almost no trace. Subtlety, flexibility, and grace are natural byproducts of their finesse and self-control. However, their explosive bursts of speed also puts them at higher risk for injury, especially when sudden changes occur in their surroundings. As frail as Briandynian bones are, they can easily shatter on impact if one misjudges their landing
Strength: 6/16. The average Briandynian is as weak as a human child. While the average human can lift their own body weight, a Briandynian is lucky if they are able to lift half their total weight, which is considerably lighter than a human frame. The average Briandynian weighs roughly on average 40 pounds, and can lift about 13-20 pounds. Because of their physical weakness and their aptitude for magic, all Briandynians augment their strength with a combination of casting magic and passive charms. However, as magics can be broken and a Briandynian left vulnerable, most stay within their cities for their entire lives.
Resistance: 5/16. Also because of their lack of strength, low musculature, thin bone structure and small stature, the Briandynians are among the most naturally vulnerable race in the world. They break bones and skin easily, and due to their weak constitutions are susceptible to with poisons and diseases. The smallest disturbances in their normal daily routine can throw their immune system, emotional well-being, metabolism, digestion and equilibrium entirely out of whack. Because of this they have developed high sensitivity to the slightest ques within their bodies to enable them to seek aid (magical, medicinal, or otherwise) to prevent maladies.
Recovery: 4/16. If given sufficient time to heal, Briandynian bodies can perfectly repair themselves. Why do they have such a horrifyingly low Recovery then? Their cells are able to perfectly replicate and dispose of any damaged tissue, which makes things like cancer and scarring impossible, but they can only achieve such perfection over long stretches of time — time that would lead to death long before the cells are finished their repair. Again, Briandynians require magic in order to speed their natural healing processes.
NMP: 6/6. One of the three races in the world with a rating of 6 for their Natural Manna Potential, the Briandynians are incredible when it comes to casting. Their natural aptitude has been further enhanced by the magics they use on a daily basis to augment their physical shortcomings, and because of this, Briandynians are never truly disconnected from the world's magical sources. World-wide they are recognized as the authorities on magic.
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