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Dryaides (dry-ay-dees) are a race of mortals and descendants of spirits known as Nymphs. Like their ancestors, Dryaides have a strong bond with nature, and plants in particular, being more attuned with living things near them. They usually live in seclusion among their forest homes, working to preserve and nurture the wildlife around them.
In the First Age, when magic seeped into the world, it brought life to the elements of nature. At first it was just magical energy given will, a collection of semi-conscious entities, but eventually it gained awareness as well. These entities identified themselves as the spirits of the nature around them: the air, the sea, the mountains, and the plants. After observing elves and humans, these spirits took on human forms to be able to interact with the other races. And thus the Nymphs came into being.
The Nymphs were the embodiments of different aspects of nature. There were four primary types of Nymphs:
- Aurai - Air nymphs, who embodied the winds and breezes
- Dryad - Tree nymphs, who embodied the forests
- Naiad - Water nymphs, who embodied the seas and rivers.
- Oread - Earth Nymphs, who embodied the mountains and valleys
For most of the First Age, these immortal creatures spent their days peacefully watching the world grow around them. It was during the Second Age, when the Darkness ravaged the land, that the Nymphs retreated back into their homes and hid from sight. Although they wanted to protect their homes and themselves, they were unable to do so, for they were only spirits bound to nature. And so the Nymphs made a pact with the mortals to breed a race that would be able to freely move about the world and help them. Thus the Dryaides, descendant of Dryads, came into being.
Dryaides are physically similar to humans with a few significant differences. Most dryaides have a deep green hair, though they can also have hair colors ranging from red, brown, gold, to white. All dryaides have eyes that are some shade of green, this can range from teal to lime green.
Dryaides are mortals capable of living around a hundred and twenty years. However, they age slower than humans and usually remain youthful and healthy until their hundredth year, at which point they will begin showing signs of aging including wrinkles, greying hair, arthritis, dementia, etc.
Like their ancestors, Dryaides hold a strong bond with nature. They can intuitively sense if the surrounding land is flourishing or dying. Dryaides are expert herbalists and healers, with a vast knowledge of plant-life and its uses, as well as knowledge of animal-life, including anatomy and the functions of the body. They can skillfully bring out the potential within plants to make medicines as well as poisons.
Companion Plant BondEdit
Akin to their Dryad ancestors, a Dryaides has an innate bond with a particular plant, usually a tree, but there is the rare occasion when one is bonded to smaller or more shorter-lived plants. The scope of this bond varies from person to person; some feel the bond with a certain family of trees, others more specifically to a certain species, still others may hold an even more specific bond to a single tree as in the case of the classical hamadryad. Many dryaides may feel the bond towards the same type of trees; for example, there can be multiple oak dryaides or pine dryaides, but it’s rare for one individual tree to be bonded with multiple dryaides.
All dryaides have this bond but it takes different amounts of time to discover it. Some are aware of their bond from birth, most dryaides find out during puberty, others a little later. Usually a dryaides figures it out by the time they reach maturity at the age of twenty. The meaning of the bond itself also varies. At the least, a bond means that the dryaides has a certain spiritual connection to the tree, as if it were someone intimately familiar to them. The tree may feel like a well-known friend, or a cozy home, or a reflection of their personality. Some believe that a dryaides is the mortal incarnation of their tree’s nymph spirit, reborn into the world over and over again, and as such the dryaides is the tree’s human form just as the nymph is its spiritual form, their bond an eternal one that transcends lifetimes.
Dryaides have a deep respect for nature but they do not consider themselves separate from it. All living beings, including other sentients and themselves, are a part of one big system. As such, Dryaides have no qualms with cutting down trees for wood or hunting animals for meat, bones, and fur. But this is always done with respect in mind, and never for more than what is needed. Above all else, Dryaides believe in balance.
Dryaides often live deep in the forest in clans numbering a few hundred people. They are more hunter-gatherers than they are farmers. They prefer to utilize what they can find straight from nature although they have rudimentary mines and forges to make tools. Dryaides are a reclusive race, preferring to keep to themselves, though they do a bit of trading with other races for various goods.
Dryaides are a pacifistic race. Their goal as a race is to help preserve and invigorate nature. Whenever war or darkness ravages the land, Dryaides usually follow to restore it to beauty. Some forces may wish to destroy life. Others seek to sow it, and this is the role the Dryaides have taken upon themselves. In this way, they hope to maintain balance in the world.