We must strike now and destroy them while they're still at sea. For if we allow them to make landfall, the Elladorans will cut through our men like a hot iron through grease.
Sanari Niwazi, Quillian war counsel, 3750 AoG
lladorans are the largest ethnic group on Excilior. They dominate the continent of Islegantuan and are genetic brethren to the pariahs of the Diasporan people. They have been formally recognized as a distinct culture ever since the splintering of Auld Cervia in 479 AoC. For most societies that hail primarily from "the east" (Islemanoton and Islegantuan), the Elladorans are the prevailing political, social, and creative influence.
The "average" Elladorans are distinguishable from their Tallonai ancestors in that they are typically taller, larger, and of darker skin. They are depicted as having more powerful frames, with well-defined musculature. Most Elladorans have hair with tight, kinky curls, with dreadlocks being the dominant style. More than ninety percent of them have black or dark brown hair - but roughly one-in-ten are born with stark white or silver hair. Their eyes can be black, brown, grey, or purple. They are known for high cheekbones, deep "expressive" eyes, and sturdy chins. Of course, all of these putative characteristics vary wildly and can be thrown out the window with those who do not come from multiple generations of "pure" Elladorans.
Araba, Kumay, Doonu, Mansa, Armwat
Qwame, Akwari, Barko, Okuhn, Erson
Darkwe, Aynen, Barda, Ankosi, Bohtwan
Sudwah, Kofor, Sikya, Nimyea, Bonton
Major language groups and dialects
allonari is the default language of all Elladoran societies. This is consistent with the fact that the Elladoran culture ultimately sprang from, and branched off, that of the Tallonai. In the millennia since that split, the Elladoran flavor of Tallonari has certainly taken on some characteristics that are distinct from Tallonari as it's spoken amongst Tallonai nations. This natural branching has gone so far as to make some cognoscenti question whether Elladoran Tallonari and Tallonai Tallonari are actually two different languages. But for the time being, the consensus is still firmly of the mind that they are still the same tongue. The Tallonari spoken amongst northern Elladoran societies tends to be far more informal. It employs a great many colloquialisms that evolve rapidly. Southern Elladorans feel much closer to the formal Tallonari that comprises their lingual roots. This leads many in the south to view those in the north as quaint, unsophisticated, or just outright ignorant.
Culture and cultural heritage
Do not flail at your opponent like a drunken oaf. Flow through him like water. Envelope him like air. Consume him like fire.
Talbor Sihnra, Phonaecian master, 3423 AoG
he Elladorans' greatest cultural contribution, and by some measures, their largest "export", is the entire methodology and mindset of martial arts. They were not the first to develop martial arts. But since early in the Age of Expansion, they started crafting an awe-inspiring reputation as originators and masters of an entire family of disciplines that are admired and feared throughout other casterway cultures. While other regions and/or societies may have a martial art form for which they are known, the Elladorans have basically turned the field of martial arts into its own meta-brand of martial art. They have developed revolutionary forms specifically targeted to arbyr, water, and muddwold combat. They have forms dedicated to specific classes of weapons. They even have martial forms that really aren't "martial" at all - disciplines devoted to the mental "combat" that humanity engages in each and every day.
While some of these forms are really more for exhibition, many of them are absolutely developed with practical and deadly intent. This set of specialized combat skills gives Elladorans a frightful reputation in battle, and some of their greatest victories have come during conflicts where not a single drop of blood was shed. If the opposition is not well-trained and steeled for combat, it's quite feasible that the Elladorans have already essentially won the battle before any weapons are drawn. To be clear, their gargantuan reputation is not always backed by complete, verifiable truth. There are certainly tales of Elladoran military prowess that contain more legend than fact. But as Elladoran military commanders would be happy to point out, when faced with the prospect of having to fight an opponent to the death, the raw empirical proof about that opponent can be of little consequence if you already believe that your opponent is superior.
The Elladoran proclivity for martial arts can sometimes foster an exaggerated reputation of their culture as some kind of warlike, violent, militaristic regime. This viewpoint can be especially prominent amongst residents of Isleprimoton, where live contact with Elladorans is much rarer. To hear some westerners tell it, Elladorans are raised from birth in military units where they spend all of their time meditating and learning new ways to drive an ebny blade through an overmatched opponent. The (much more boring) truth is that everyday Elladoran culture is hardly militaristic by any stretch of the word. It may be true that a far larger percentage of Elladorans participate in martial arts training nearly every day. But for most people (especially, older people), this "training" is more analogous to calisthenics - i.e., exercise.
Shared customary codes and values
he closest thing that Elladorans have to a "universal" value is a shared veneration for progress and modernity. They are quick to throw out the old and usher in the new. They abhor stuffy antiquarianism. They despise anyone who openly embraces ancient norms or lines of thought. This quality is one contributing factor in their continued undermining of the Diasporans - a group that shares the Elladorans' genetic heritage, but couldn't be more different with regard to their view of technology and progressive ideals.
Their forward thinking pragmatism has ushered in many advances. Unfortunately, it has also led some Elladorans to affect an air of superiority. Other cultures frequently chafe at the Elladorans' not-so-subtle condescension. This holier-than-thou view can originate from practical and measurable differences (e.g., quantifying the speed of Elladoran ships versus those of other cultures) but it also can present itself in qualitative areas that serve to highlight the biases and bigotry of the person doing the judging (e.g., assessing the merit of Elladoran musical compositions versus those of other cultures). Elladoran political leaders have, at times, openly espoused the off-putting idea that Elladorans have attained measurable superiority in Technological Product X, so it follows that the Elladoran people as a whole are just inherently better at Art Form Y. Needless to say, this kind of ethnocentric assessment does nothing to strengthen diplomatic goodwill and broad cultural exchange.
The delegates from all of the Elladoran nations made quite a spectacle of themselves. They wouldn't sit with us. They wouldn't drink from our pitchers. Nor eat from our banquet. And I don't believe they would have spoken to us if they hadn't felt the need to inform us of the overall inferiority of the accommodations.
Derwin Nevitt, Mouberian ambassador, 2409 AoR
Elladorans have also acquired a longstanding and widespread reputation for subtle (and sometimes, not so subtle) forms of institutionalized racism. Now to be fair, every casterway culture houses its share of racists. And there are obviously plenty of Elladorans who do not harbor any racist beliefs at all. But the common perception amongst other cultures is that the Elladoran population contains a disproportionate number of close-minded bigots. The simplistic explanation of the imbalance (if it indeed exists) is that the Elladorans have spent thousands of years sparring with a tenacious, ornery, and pale adversary on their eastern borders. The thinking goes that, over time, this constantly-adversarial relationship has led Elladorans to look upon anyone lighter than them (and everyone on Excilior is lighter than them - with the exception of the Diasporans) with suspicion - and at times, outright derision.
Quizzically, some outsiders point to the nature of Elladoran-Diasporan to highlight their claims fo supposed Elladoran racism. On the surface, this seems contradictory, because the Diasporans look (biologically speaking), nearly identical to the Elladorans. So any animosity between the groups would initially seem to be fueled by something that definitely is not racism. But there is a branch of cognoscenti thought contending that the root of the Elladorans' oppression of Diasporans is that the Diasporans are openly classified by many other cultures as "primitive" or "backward". And for Elladorans who want to employ racist ideologies to justify their own sense of superiority, the mere existence of the Diasporans - persisting, as they do, right under the nose of the Elladorans - is a type of living, breathing refutation of that ideology. Obviously, such theories are rarely (if ever) actually confirmed by an Elladoran - so they remain forever in the realm of anthropologists and "social scientists" who forward a great many theories but precious few proofs.
Common Dress code
lladorans have a long-standing tradition of being modern and "fashion-forward". Many fads that eventually sweep across the entire planet originate from within Elladoran society. For this reason, it's difficult to define any specific style as being particularly Elladoran. While their clothing changes year-to-year and season-to-season, there are a few generic observations one can make about Elladoran fashion. They gravitate to bold colors, offset with deep/rich hues. They favor loose clothing - but scoff at robes and tunics as being antiquated or old-fashioned. Women and men are not shy about using makeup, although they tend to apply it in contrasting ways that still preserve traditional gender distinctions. Elladoran longboots are often far flashier - and far less practical - than the pragmatic utility donned by nearly all other casterways. And despite endless innovations in dress and style, Elladoran fashion always seems to veer toward outfits with great panache. There is no such thing as "shabby chic" in Elladoran fashion.
Art & Architecture
hile there is little doubt that Elladorans can boast a rich artistic heritage of their own, for outsiders it can be difficult to actually quantify this legacy. Elladorans have a reputation amongst all of eastern Excilior as not simply creating their own culture, but of subsuming that of others. To the casual observer, there are a great many achievements that have come to be commonly identified as "Elladoran", when in fact they have strong roots in Tallonai, Inqoan, or even Diasporan societies. But by the time the broader world is exposed to those ideas, they are classified under a general umbrella of "Elladoran".
I know it's improper, but every time the commandant comes round I grow mad with passion. Her skin is dark as the Ontorlands. Her shoulders are broad as a parrican. She's as tall as a bloodwood. She could crush me with her bare hands - and oh what a joyous experience that would be!
Censu Tarchett, Prielia brigadier, 2205 AoR
lladoran beauty standards play into the outward perception that they (or at least, some significant portion of them) may be racist. Most Elladorans are not shy about extolling the native features of their own culture - and deriding those of others. Those of lighter skin, smaller stature, or straighter hair are commonly spoken of harshly and publicly labeled as ugly or substandard. Inqoans are openly mocked as the ugliest of all human races. Lumidari are scarcely seen in Elladoran lands - but when they are, they are spoken of as though their pale skin and slight features are deformities. They even scoff at the aesthetic qualities of the Jontzu, the Sontsu, and the Tallonai - despite the fact that none of those cultures necessarily qualifies as "white", or even, as "light-skinned".
These ethno-specific ideals are not limited to other ethnicities. Elladorans "officially" laud the tallest, darkest, and strongest of their people as clearly being the most attractive. Of course, these broad generalizations don't apply to all individual Elladorans. There are plenty of individuals who are attracted to those of other ethnicities, with lighter skin or straighter hair. But they rarely admit such attractions in public Elladoran conversations.
Elladorans are also known to apply their generic beauty standards equally, across the sexes. In other words, they publicly acknowledge the darkest, tallest, and strongest women of their culture as being the most attractive. Again, this doesn't mean that all Elladorans cherish these traits. But these traits are openly upheld as the Elladoran "ideal" of beauty.
onsistent with nearly every other society and ethnic group based in Islemanoton and Islegantuan, the Elladorans are strongly matriarchal. While the contributions of men are certainly not discounted, the general viewpoint is that men should do much of the "grunt work" - the hard labor, the menial tasks, etc. And women should do much of the thinking and the management work. Of course, they also dominate childbearing and child raising, but this is seen as no impediment to a woman's agency. Instead, it is merely viewed as a tangible affirmation of her formidable powers.
any westerners have a hard time recognizing, or even conceiving of, Elladoran "courtship" rituals. There is typically no courtship process (as foreigners would define it). There is no dating period. No formal rite through which partners learn all about each other. Instead, it's most accurate to say that Elladoran men are chosen by their mates. Most women will come into contact with a great many men during their normal daily activities. For those men whom they see on a regular basis (and can thus assess) they will occasionally inform a man that he has been chosen. They are usually very careful to coordinate such activities through any woman with whom that man has already procreated. (For example, a woman wouldn't want to choose a man who has just fathered a child with another woman.) But as long as he doesn't have any inconvenient entanglements, the woman who desires his services just lets him know that he's been tabbed.
This does not imply that the men have no agency in this process. Men can, and do, decline such offers. But given the inherent power most Elladoran women possess, refusing such a selection can be risky. Even for the savviest of virile men, gracefully declining - without damaging other opportunities in their personal or professional lives - requires a certain degree of finesse. Once a man has been "chosen", and he's agreed, this does not mean that the two simply march off to a bedroom and get down to business (although such scenarios do sometimes occur). Being "chosen" basically means that the woman desires him and she believes she would like to investigate that desire further. From that point forward, there is usually an expedited period where the potential couple will spend more time with each other and ensure that it is "right" for both of them. But assuming that no roadblocks are discovered, this exploratory period rarely lasts more than a few months. Usually, it only lasts a matter of days.
Those poor idiots in the east have got their harems bass ackwards.
Rodrico Benvidia, Faleian trencher, 3097 AoG
iven the constrictive realities of the Plague of Men, and the overtly-matriarchal nature of their culture, lifelong pair bonding is rare amongst Elladorans. And when long-term couples do exist, they usually consist of two men. But for arrangements targeting reproduction, the "relationship" between the man and the woman is usually understood to be transitory. Depending upon the woman's wishes, the "relationship" may truly be limited to a one-night stand. More common, if pregnancy results, the man will often be allowed to remain in the woman's vicinity and help to raise the child - typically, for 2-12 years. Yet even under these circumstances, the arrangement is almost never exclusive. The tacit understanding is that the woman can and may decide to take other partners, who may in turn father other children. It's not unusual for these arrangements to result with one woman, who has a number of children, also having an equal number of men in her "orbit" who interact with her and foster their child, but do not enjoy exclusive status as her "official" partner.