The secluded, mysterious people who dwell in and alongside the natural world, living in harmony with it
DescriptionAnother sprawling and expansive ethnicity, the Baltairan people are a people most plentiful in the world of Zheng-Kitar, but who are not commonly found - they are a secluded and mysterious people who live in nature's secluded locales away from the trappings of enormous empires in villages and cities of their own, interwoven with the boughs of treetops, the clouds of mountaintops, the rolling desert dunes, and the deepest seafloors. Though many who make up this ethnicity are in some way full-blooded or part-blooded Elves, be they Forest Elves, Cloud Elves, Sea Elves, or Desert Elves, the way of life these Elven peoples have led since ancient times has inspired countless non-elven people to seek out these reclusive lovers of the natural world to live as they do - away from the rampant consumption of the modern day to a more balanced, natural way of life in the embrace of nature. This culture has diversified much over the eons in which the Elven people have lived in their ancient ways, spreading out and centralizing around the four locales they tend to be found in - but despite their differences, thanks to strange elven magic and simple ancient comradeship, the scattered sub-groups that make up the Baltairan people respect and call out to each other where possible, as fellow lovers of the natural world, and those who live in balance with the world around them. The Baltairan people especially grew during the Age of Imperialism some centuries ago, when rampant empires began to drive across the land and forcing all others under their banner by force - leading many to grow sour with "big empires" and seeking out the Baltairans or even Ssarin people(Barbarians they might be), to find a more simple existence. A common mistake, however, is likening the Baltairan people to the Ssarin people - a comparison sure to get both parties offended at you. The Ssarin are much more tribal and barbaric, eschewing all things(even society and civilization) in favor of a truly simple life, while the Baltairans do embrace civilization and society, and can even form kingdoms - but their penchant for living in harmony and desire for seclusion means few see the hearts of their lands and thus assume them tribal barbarians.
AppearanceThe appearance of Baltairans can vary wildly depending on what sub-group they are from: To the cloudy, mountaintop-dwelling Bal-chuur, they tend be by far the most ostentatious and flashy in terms of appearance - their skin color tends to be pale or muted colors, such as milky white, pale silver, light blue, etc., while their hair is much the same way in terms of color. They prefer having long hair tied up into fantastical designs, whether that be long dreadlocks, ponytails, or elaborate multi-stage hair designs that sometimes look rather silly to others - and with their love of beauty and opulence, the clothes and armor they wear are almost always the most showy as well. They prefer elegant and rich silks embroided with gold threads, armor inlaid with gemstones and precious metals, jewelery both valuable and functional, and all manner of bodily adornments - only the best will do, as their appearance is everything to them - first impressions must be made, and all others must be awed and wowed the moment they lay their lesser eyes upon them and their perfection. They tend to be the most thin and traditionally beautiful of all the Baltairan sub-groups, but are also the least physically imposing, outside of the occasional Bal-chuur descended from Cloud Giant heritage. The ocean-dwelling Bal-kaena are the most simple in their appearance - they tend to have bluish, ocean-green, or light oceanic-colored skin as well as hair that is typically pulled back into thick, dangling dreadlocks they decorate with simple adornments. They wear simple and functional attire with battle gear over top at almost all times, and almost never take off their armor - their lives lived beneath the oceans where danger lurks around literally every corner means they must be ready to fight at all times - they tend not to prefer any garments or clothing that could get in the way of swimming, combat, or rapid movement. They tend to have more fantastical hair colors such as emerald, aquamarine, or other gemstone-y colors, and are the only Baltairan sub-group to eagerly embrace metallic armor, and prefer it over leathers and natural materials. They also tend to be the most physically imposing of all the Baltairan sub-groups, as well - they usually stand taller and tend to be more overtly muscular than their fellows. To the forest-dwelling Bal-tair, they are often thin and elegent, with lithe and dextrous bodies that, while supple and beautiful, tend to carry some underlying power from a life lived darting between the trees. They tend to have long, flowing straight hair and have less distinction between males and females - they are harder to tell apart, though if one pays close attention differences can be spotted. They tend to favor natural leathers or silks in their clothing and armor, and are usually found dressed in long, flowing, elegant and gorgeous clothing when at rest and tight, form-fitting leathers when hunting or needing armor - something that will protect them but won't interfere with dextrous movement. White hair is especially common among them, as is heterochromia - an oddity among Baltairans. They tend to be lighter of skin, as well, due to lives lived beneath the treetop canopy - though depending on the forest or jungle in question, many might be darker or more tan of skin. The desert-dwelling Bal-wen are another simple, straightforward bunch - their life of migration and nomadic movement has long since forced them to adopt brutally effective appearances to survive. Their hair tends to be tied back or shaved short so as to attract as little heat as possible, and tends to be sandy gold, black, brown, or more earthen or sandy colors. Their skin is almost universally fairly dark and tanned from a lifetime beneath the harsh desert sun, and their bodies tend to strike a perfect balance between physically imposing and subtle musculature while still having a small bit of traditional Baltairan beauty in them - their bodies are both dextrous and powerful. They prefer light-colored clothing that covers most if not all of their exposed skin, that is quick and easy to remove - if the day is hot but the sun isn't out in full force, they are more than happy to show bare skin beneath the heat to cool off. They tend to look the most tribal, with animal leathers and the like, but are also one of the most militant and organized of the Baltairan sub-groups as well.
Sub-Groups and their Culture
Bal-chuurThe Baltairans that dwell in mountaintop estates and cloudy citadels, these people live in harmony with the sky and the highest points of the world, typically alongside Cloud Giants or other lesser true giants. They are natural nobility, and from their seats on high do they obsess over the finest food, finest drink, and every single one of life's greatest luxuries - in their society, the wealthy tend to be the rulers of the local population, so they relish collecting valuable treasures, loyal servants, and anything to increase their appearance and social standing. They are not usually incredibly militant, and rely on their more brutish Giant companions for defense, but relish the freedom of the open air, and living in tune with the winds that blow through the mountaintop's highest reaches. Though sometimes their egos can make them come off as haughty and arrogant, they are Baltairans at heart, and for all their displays of wealth and gaudy opulence they despise and fight against those who defile the world' highest reaches, or those who pollute the air and sky. They are often in somewhat hostile touch with the mountaintop Ezdhûl, whose incessant mining tends to annoy them. They are incredibly open to any who seek to join them, but hold them to rigid standards of beauty and physical appearance, with more 'unworthy' applicants being relegated to lower positions in their wealth focused society.
Bal-kaenaThe under Bal-kaena hail from the grand underwater Sea Elven Empire that dwells beneath the waves - though most land dwellers have never heard of it, it can claim a reach unfathomable to most surface empires, and occupies much of the territory of the seafloor around Zheng-Kitar. The Bal-kaena, coming from this military-industrial complex of an Empire, are thus incredible rigid, straightforward, and dutiful - they are organized and have almost all served in the military in some position or another in their lifetime, and have a single-minded discipline and strength of unity that few can match or fathom. They despise and war against those who pollute the oceans, though they also are more than happy to save sailors whose ships sink near their settlements, though they usually expect some military service in exchange for the rescue. They are a people who believe in effectiveness, function, and capability first and foremost - seeing no point in opulence, appearances, or aesthetics - which does not lend them to getting along well with the Bal-chuur, who they usually see as excessively annoying nobles.
Bal-tairThe most traditional and commonly seen of the Baltairan people, the Bal-tair are those who dwell in the Forests, Jungles, and thickets of Zheng-Kitar - who have sought out the Bal-tairan conclaves interwoven with the trunks and canopies of the land's trees to live a live of balance, harmony, and prosperity. They believe in living alongside nature and its beasts, and eschew the 'demons of modern society' such as industry, factories, and the need for consumption so that they might dwell alongside nature, helping and assisting it as treasured allies rather than destroyers. Their conclaves tend to be hidden well within the world's forests and jungles, and they tend to be somewhat xenophobic against outsiders, protecting their forest or jungle homes from those who would exploit them or its denizens with a zeal unmatched by almost any - though with enough dedication, it is possible to prove oneself to a Bal-tair. They are prideful, and can come off as haughty, and see themselves as somewhat superior to other cultures because of how they live in tune with their surroundings without destroying them - how they listen and speak to the world around them and its beasts rather than subjugate, tame, and chop down.
Bal-wenThe desert-dwelling Bal-wen are the brutal survivalists of the Baltairan people - their lives lived in the deserts of Zheng-Kitar have made them hardy and strong, and capable of enduring almost any trial that comes their way. They are somewhat tribal, and the most xenophobic of any of the other Baltairan sub-groups - they have been exploited as a people many times by more advanced cultures who take their ancestral lands for profit, and this has made them untrusting and brutal towards others. They are nomads who wander the desert, setting up tent cities and wigwams beneath the cool desert moonlight while setting up totem poles and tribal fetishes to ward off the demons that stalk them in the night, from the dangerous Skinwalkers to the legendary Wendigo. They are deeply spiritual moreso than any other Baltairan sub-group, and apologize to the spirits of their hunted prey once they slay them, treating the corpses of their prey with reverence so as not to defile the memory of the hunt nor their spirit as it enters the afterlife. The desert, to them, is their one and only home - one that only they know truly well, and they navigate it like no other people or culture can. They do not often accept new members into their society, but should they find a wounded creature or person during their travels, they will often help and patch them back into health, and allow them to stay if they desire to and prove themselves trustworthy to the tribe and its shaman elders.
HistoryThough many might not imagine the Baltairans to come from a unified culture, they can all trace their history and lineage back to the time of the Sapphire Elves(Now the High Elves) many thousands of years ago - their harmony-focused lifestyles and in-tune with nature abilities all stem from them, and after the fall of those Sapphire Elves and their degredation and forced de-evolution into the High Elves, thousands of High Elves would spread out across the land, taking root on the Material Plane and adapting and changing to the Environment they settled down in...thus forming the different sub-groups of the Baltairan people, and giving them a single, ancient culture from which they all draw their roots from.