The humans of Etherea. As Etherea houses the most diverse collection of peoples, their appearance varies widely. Native-born Ethereans most commonly have pale skin, though light-brown isn't uncommon. Hair color ranges from blond to black. Blue and brown are the most common eye colors, though green appears enough not to be considered an oddity.
In rural areas, people often use their mother or father's name in place of an official surname. In urban areas, family names usually originate from the accomplishments or professions of notable ancestral figures. (Ex: the Calamin name used by Etherea's current royal family came from a man named Calam, who was instrumental in organizing the treaty between Etherea's humans and the denizens of the Enchanted Wood.)
Due to its wide ethnic diversity, Etherea has no traditional naming conventions. Often, names are more influenced by regional areas, family origin, or the language itself.
Etherean is the common language of Etherea, though many Ethereans - particularly in the capital and areas near kingdom borders - speak multiple languages. Elbri and Thalik are the two most common secondary languages, and many hunters and traders who travel the Wood also speak at least basic Elven.
Magical strength and skill is highly valued in Etherea, and Ethereans sometimes look down on those without magical ability, particularly native-born Ethereans. But anyone with a valuable skill, even a non-magical one, can make a name for themselves, and major accomplishments achieved without magic are viewed with awe.
Particularly in urban areas, Ethereans enjoy more comforts of living than people of other kingdoms due to the large prevalence of magic within Etherea. Magic is utilized to enhance all manner of mundane functions, from plumbing to transportation. It is also used to reinforce and repair structures, so buildings rarely show signs of damage or wear. In the city of Araniae, magical power is supplied by an artifact called the Etherealactrium to fuel the city's lights, constructs, plumbing, security systems, and more. Private families or businesses can pay the kingdom to have access to the artifact's supply as well for their own needs.
In rural areas, art is uncommon and usually takes the form of tapestries or decorative jars and containers. Rural architecture is rarely decorative, instead focused on functionality and preservation of resources. As stone can be hard to come by, buildings are usually made of wood or clay bricks, though the royalty is making efforts to make stone a more available resource for building outside of the capital. Large towns have more diverse architecture, and often see art in the form of paintings as well as statues. Music is commonplace in taverns and inns, varying in style depending on regional differences.
In the Capital
Araniae boasts art and architecture with almost no limit to their variety. Buildings range form simple rectangular structures to towering monuments of polished tiles and glass. Temples in particular are highly decorative, with numerous statues and mosaics. As a result of dragon attacks in Etherea's past, all buildings within Araniae's walls are built of stone, and wooden exterior decorations are extremely rare. Any temporary structures such as market stalls are required to have a fire-proofing spell active on them at all times. Gardens and fountains dot the city regularly, often with a statue accompanying them. Dragon motifs are commonplace in government buildings.
Ethereans as a whole don't have specific coming of age rituals. Those that exist are determined by regional and family traditions. However, all children born in Etherea - regardless of ethnic origins - undergo magical aptitude testing at seven years of age, and again at thirteen if a follow up test is needed. Any children found with magical abilities are further tested to determine potential power levels and specific training needs. Those that need more training than their family or local mages can offer are taken to the capital for formal training at the Magetarium.
Burial is extremely rare in Etherea, as land is more valuable for farms and the game herds maintained to feed the dragon population. Most often, the dead are burned on funeral pyres, and a small memorial plaque is either given to the family or placed in a location of importance to the deceased. Burial tombs do exist for nobility, though even those are rarely used to house bodies, instead containing urns of ashes to save space and prevent disease. The royal family is the only one who still buries each member in their own stone coffin in the royal crypt. The royal crypt is carefully guarded by both soldiers and spells to keep royal treasures from being stolen. Every so often, those who have achieved feats of great impact are placed in stone coffins rather than burned, as a means of honoring them and more permanently preserving their accomplishments. In areas where available land is sparse, statues are sometimes erected instead.
Ethereans follow the common belief in the gods of Ímlæs and their creation myth. Small variations in the story exist between regions, though they all share a common core. A common myth is that Ethereans were the first humans created by the gods, which is why they are so blessed with magical powers.
Among commoners, genuine affection is often the most common factor in courtship, though marriages are sometimes arranged between families that would benefit both. Arranged marriages are most common among merchant families who seek to solidify future prosperity. Among nobility, courtship and marriage rarely takes affection between couples into account. They are arranged almost purely for the continuation of noble bloodlines and powerful families.
The royal family of Etherea often presents an exception to the expectations of nobility. The Queen of Etherea has the right to marry whoever she chooses, from whatever class. Since the Kingdom Council must approve whoever the Queen chooses to marry, this has rarely ever caused issues.