A people are defined by the society that surrounds them. That isn’t some new concept writers are made to understand. Every story is created with a sense of morality shining through on one side of another, but it’s never so black and white. Stories themselves each have cause and effect associated with the characters who find their roots in the everyday habits and tragedies they go through daily.
How a society treats them can and should change their outlook.
For my stories, I created a plethora of peoples to fill out the world—from the Maithandír of Invala Dailn and their counterparts among the Aaurians in the Yslin, to the mighty Hadorns of Hal-kerol, the wondering Aens known during the time of my story as the Neümorians, and the younger Hiírom who’ve settled in the west. Each one as different as the most recognized but separate cultures of our real-world history.
This article will go over the five prominent cultures of the Ellúndar as they exist in chronicle, spanning through more ancient periods to recent days.
The Maithandír and Aaurians are one in the same—the Aaurians, led from Invala Dailn by Galronallin, were born into their world as long-lived beings who understand the elegance of war as much the artistry that grows from peace. When they became separated from the Maithandír, subtle changes to their lives sprouted in their division. They are together known for being the height of the Ellúndar—specifically, “the Mountain Elves” as a better way to describe them—evolving from their Sydaunaen ancestors and rising above their neighbors who shared similar physical traits despite their societal differences.
Among the Ellúndar, there are 5 cultural nations that grew from humble beginnings. I found the complexity of filling out the backstories of each imperative to understand the whole of who these people are I was writing about. Where they come from—what gives them an identity and why they decided to remain isolated from the whole of the world after it rejected them.
Besides the Sydaunaen there lived the Aramasen, Sinaevah, Yoavelden, and Gestarel—of which battles were regularly fought between for land and out of habit. Eventually, the mountain culture of the Sydaunaen won out over the rest in building Invala Dailn, a kingdom-city that provided them safe harbor, allowing them to expand and raise armies to protect themselves against incursions. But war and battle cannot be without reason, and as influences bring armies to clash here in the real world, I made certain similar, related causes among the interactions of all five nationalistic identities of the Ellúndar.
Sydaunaen who became the Maithandír are characterized for their arrogant but noble demeanor, often thinking themselves above the other nations while maintaining a balance between war and peace. They stand physically taller than most other sentient races, renowned for their precise stone and metalwork as well for their common arts. Their society is divided by a caste system of willing participants, where individual chooses their field of expertise, although there is due leniency for those wishing to change profession. A warrior in summer can be a painter in the winter, a torch-bearer in spring can be a hunter during the autumn, a farmer at the harvest can again be a soldier when called to arms, well-trained and equipped. Placement within a caste is rigid and there is no set requirement for anything other than an individual’s aptitude and limited only by their personal skills and abilities. I had this trait carried over in the migration of Galronallin to the Yslin and the kingdom-cities the Aaurians set up in the shadow of the Klashmere Mountains and the Valley of Naúmandial.
Trade is their sole proprietor of market and industry. Currencies are fairly unknown to most of the Ellúndar and thus rely mostly on the barter of goods and services, favors, ideas and duty to maintain the structure of their lives. A soldier serves because it’s their duty to their home, while a winemaker does their craft for recognition. A baker makes bread for services in exchange. Wealth is determined more by social standing than material goods. Good will is earned because it’s expected of the people, from the lowest harvester working the fields on the far side of Ilhivendal to the mightiest lord with an army at their beck and call. Rarely are there any disputes, so the guard of kingdom-cities and holdfasts are there more for protection against intruders than maintaining order within. Disputes do happen but are swiftly handled with a fair hand by members of the ruling council of each settlement.
The Aramasen, the River Elves, are a different story, although only in the details. Due to their preferred residence on rivers and lakes, their people are more familiar with the outside world than the other nations apart the Maithandír. They are known as the traders of the Ellúndar and do not show the same level of arrogance as their kindred. They have remarkable darker skin than the rest of their race and appear quite alien when standing next to the familiar, human-like Sydaunaen. Their eyes are large, their limbs slender with long fingers and toes and the ends, and they prefer the warmth and wetness of spring versus a Sydaunaen autumn. Unlike the Sydaunaen, the Aramasen do not solely live in stone or wooden domiciles, rather anything they can use to build—rock, wood, leaves, algae, straw—it makes no difference to them. Following the migration from the Maithandír of Invala Dailn, most of the Aramasen traveled with Galronallin for a while before heading further east, where they became known as the Iírani and constructed a mysterious kingdom of their own called Iírondon by outsiders.
Due to their nature, the various nations of the Ellúndar lived in relative peace with the Aramasen who became the Iírani. They did come into regular conflict with the war-like Gestarel. They survived with the help of the neighboring Sydaunaen, who held significant influence over the territories the Aramasen inhabit due to their technological developments over the other four and overwhelming numbers. This was a strained alliance for most of the histories between these two, as the Maithandír Kings wanted to rule Vanhan (their homeland south of the Lurhan Mountains) as a single controlled entity.
Thus, the reason why the Aramasen left with Galronallin.
Gestarel are among the most aggressive society native to Aleóran outside the domains of the Ranaerghir of Islinin (the dragons). The Sydaunaen knew them to be savage and war-like, preferring to settle disputes with blood and were often seen as cannibals among the rest of the Ellúndar, especially by the Sydaunaen. This earned them few allies in their conflicts against the others. They are a dangerous lot, considered inelegant and ferocious, especially to the Sinaevah, the most primitive of the Ellúndar peoples.
Known histories of the Gestarel are long and violent, detailed by chroniclers of the Maithandír from a time after their ascension as the dominate culture and the construction of Invala Dailn, when they waged total war against their neighbors in their attempts to secure a foothold in Vanhan. These annals are largely inaccurate as they come from second-hand sources. It’s safer to compare them to the old sagas of Scandinavia, where myth and history are intertwined into the same verse, largely indifferent to one another.
Bearing the smallest stature of the Ellúndar is the Sinaevah, the Woodland Elves. They are also known as the most primitive technologically of any other people on Aleóran, much to their preference. Seeing the grounded nature of their lives for its purity of the spirit, the Sinaevah are considered the most peaceful, generous and noble of their kin. Though they will defend themselves against any who wrong them, those whom they consider friends or strangers are treated with uttermost courtesy and respect, holding to a strong sense of right and wrong. Revelry is also a common association for them, as they do love to throw a party full of self-indulgences and acts of sexual inhibitions. The Maithandír especially see them as quaint and are their foremost protectors, seeing the Sinaevah way of life true to themselves and their communities in contrast to the Sydaunaen pride in their beauty.
It’s a poorly kept secret that many of the younger Maithandír of Invala Dailn sneak away in the summertime to enjoy holidays with the Sinaevah, who tend to make their homes near Sydaunaen settlements for protection. A similar relationship arose among the Aaurians of the Yslin, whom are all Sydaunaen, but are separated by those who live in the greater kingdom-cities such as Ilhivendal and Nrondon, and those nicknamed Rauhnníal’s Folk that live in the wilderness among the trees and creatures in a manner inspired by the Sinaevah of Vanhan.
Among the most isolated of the Ellúndar were the Yoavelden, known for their scattered underground dwellings across Vanhan, now set to ruins since their fall. Very little is known about them, especially since they were utterly wiped out during a war with the Maithandír after the construction of Invala Dailn (although the Maithandír themselves claim Yoavelden are alive to this day in a severely diminished presence). During this war that destroyed all memory of his people, King Rhadinváal marched into Maithandír lands with the goal of setting Invala Dailn to the torch. King Herranol, the new Lord of Invala Dailn that emerged from the strife that tore his nation apart had ended, retaliated by marching with all his armies to meet the aggressors head on.
Rhadinváal had severely underestimated the strength of Herranol and the Maithandír. When the two met before the battle, Rhadinváal admitted the power set against him and asked Herranol’s forgiveness. But the Maithandír King was a proud and cunning man and blamed the Yoavelden for the disappearance of his son, Aéandal, as an excuse to continue hostilities. Herranol refused Rhadinváal’s surrender and committed his forces to a full-scale assault on the Yoavelden position, overwhelming their comparably smaller forces, driving Rhadinváal back into his own lands. From there, Herranol ordered his soldiers to hunt the Yoavelden to their holes and burn them out.
The whole conflict worked in uniting the still fractured Maithandír into a single entity—but at the cost of the lives of hundreds of thousands Yoavelden. In a single battle, Herranol proved the superiority of the Sydaunaen over the rest of his kindred, and ruled much of Vanhan, uncontested, even taming the Gestarel.
While the Aaurians of the Yslin set about involving themselves in the greater wars of the world and building their own haven to the north, Herranol worked to muster his core so that even the mightiest kingdoms of mankind that would come to dominate Arûn posed little threat to him.
The Aaurians, however, took a much differing approach to their interactions with the world. While the Maithandír in the south worked to maintain control over their lands and grow in strength after the schism, the people first led by Galronallin from Invala Dailn entered their new home with greater hardship. Ranaerghir from Islinin, led by Morenarch, child of Ultheraal, had begun a conquest of Maheira, where they intended to settle. The native peoples of the Eln and Hadorns were hard pressed for decades and losing badly, with the mountains and forests being overrun by the brutal Morkül who serve the Ranaerghir as foot soldiers and commanders. Galronallin knew if the Ranaerghir managed to cross beyond the Klashmere Mountains, the rest of the world will be at risk. Galronallin set about mustering his people to join the already battered Hadorns and Eln, and alongside his son, Lurón Fallenstar, managed to push back the Ranaerghir to a final defeat.
Only then did the Aaurians find themselves becoming a part of the bigger world, unlike their Maithandír cousins to the south. For a time after the defeat of Morenarch on the fields of Aardan, Lurón Fallenstar guided the people his father led in building a nation within the borders of the forest Yslin that could rival the beauty of Invala Dailn. Though they were far fewer in numbers, especially after the battles against the Ranaerghir, which took a hefty toll all their own (for all Ellúndar are slow to reproduce and grow to adulthood)—mighty kingdom-cities such as Ilhivendal, Etrus, Nrondon and a dozen others started to fill out the woods in an intricate and seamless refinement from where they came.
This part of their history became shattered due to their involvement at the Battle of the White Hills between the Hadorns and wandering Neümorian (Aens), forgetting the principles at the center of their mindset because of fear.
Aaurian loses during that battle were so great that an entire generation fell behind. Dozens survived where thousands had marched—a devastating and bitter defeat which changed their entire mindset. That fear any future conflict made Lurón Fallenstar pull his people back from their adventures abroad. It created a shockwave. The Aaurians lost their eyes and ears to threats outside their borders for five-hundred years in a history spanning thousands. This is when they started using the term “Míran” to describe themselves to strangers to their lands, while “Aaurian” became synonymous when dealing with themselves.
The relationship between these peoples are what defines them—how each one sees the other, and how they would react to complete strangers. The Maithandír and the Aaurians, while coming from the same origins, would have different viewpoints on someone like Taherían Endúcar, who came to Ilhivendal wounded and afraid. Lurón Fallenstar took him in and allowed him to become a part of the community, form
ing an attachment to Cyridel Elensah, Lurón’s daughter and earning respect in his own right despite not being of the Ellúndar. Herranol, on the other hand, would have tossed Taherían back into the woods, seeing his presence as a liability (the same notion that pushed Lurón to the extremes he undertook to protect not only his daughter form the dangers Taherían posed, but to protect Taherían from what he himself did not understand).
These differences bring a world to life beyond what we are able recognize in our daily lives. Our morals are defined by the society we live in, and through struggle and challenges to our way of life, we learn to grow for the sole reason of survival. The history of the real-world has always been determined by the interactions between vastly alien cultures from one another, which has led to war and needless violence with reasons that lie for the mere sake of violence itself.
In developing my story, I created extensive backgrounds for each of the cultures you’ve read above. There is more than what’s written here. Finding a way to sum them up has been a challenge to my own pride. As an artist, I want you to read the entirety of my work—but following the advice I’ve given in my prior articles, I am learning as I progress to my destination.
My next article will be either one of two thoughts: the first, going over the history of the Hadorns and the inspirations I took in developing them or talk about events from my childhood that got me to start writing.