From the ravaged survivors of the Qīk̀ṯebīfuẖ arose the Elehēḏēḏ; a people who have taken up the tenants of their faith as a poultice against their wounds.
Considered strange and alienating by their neighbors, the elehēḏēḏ devote every day in collective service to their gods, and to the gods' ideals of truth, justice, and order. This is the least they could do, they feel, to repent for the sin of failing their gods' tests, and losing their gift of immortality.
But despite all efforts to placate their gods, it seems their trial is not yet over. Fertility was never a Faelan strongsuit, and with each passing generation the issue seems to be getting worse. No doubt, this problem has only been exacerbated by rampant xenophobia.
There is a collective, growing fear among the elehēḏēḏ that if they do not win back their immortality soon their line may truly end.
Culture and cultural heritage
The handful of Elehēḏēḏ who exist outside this structure are primarily first- or second-generation outcasts of the same. While these outcasts may adhere to many of the same traditions and cultural markers, they are not considered Elehēḏēḏ by the majority of their ethnicity.
The Elemental CalenderThe Elehēḏēḏ primarily use the Nemotep
Most all Elehēḏēḏ have a noun+adjective, or more rarely a noun+noun, given name. This name is bestowed upon them by their parents, who usually incorporate themes of their Temple or beholden shrine into the name. For example, the name "Lōfeṯ Sēsuḫ" literally means "Hot Steam." Based upon name alone, any Elehēḏēḏ may guess that that Lōfeṯ Sēsuh or their parents were of the Temple Aharen or Azēḥīḏ--Earth or Water, respectively.
Names are not necessarily unique, but there are often subtle shades of differences when it comes to given names that are conjugated nouns, or adjectives. For example, "Lōfeṯ Sēsu" could become "Gēlōfeṯ Uḏesēsuḫ," literally "Steam's Heat." To the Elehēḏēḏ mindset this form puts more emphasis on the temperature element, rendering the name both more passionate, and more likely to be a name from the House of the Earth.
The Elehēḏēḏ do not use family names, instead appending the marker "rīṯ" (of), followed by the short name of the Temple to which they currently belong. For example, "Lōfeṯ Sēsuḫ rīṯ Aharen."
In formal situations, or if there is a need to indicate a difference between two people with the same given name, the person's rank and position will be added to the name. "Zaḏṯēṯēh K̀ẖatk̀ēk̀ Lōfeṯ Sēsuḫ rīṯ Aharen, Ek̀ṯerīḏṯēḥuṯ." Ie., "Wise Priest Lōfeṯ Sēsuḫ of the House of Earth, Protector."
Diminutives & Nicknames
Nicknames are commonly used among the Elehēḏēḏ, outside of highly specific situations. As their names are often two-parters, the nickname is usually the noun or, in cases of two nouns, the dominant subject of the name.
Using our previous examples, nicknames in these cases would be:
Lōfeṯ Sēsuḫ → Lōfeṯ (Steam)
Gēlōfeṯ Uḏesēsuḫ → Uḏesēsuḫ (Heat; temperature)
Diminutives are either chosen from a selection of understood words--such as, in English, the words "baby," "doll," or "honey" would be considered obvious diminutives--or by adding the prefix "a-" to the person's general nickname. Again, using the examples from before:
Lōfeṯ Sēsuḫ → Alōfeṯ
Gēlōfeṯ Uḏesēsuḫ → Auḏesēsuḫ
While both diminutives and nicknames are common, there are elements of formality, social standing, and context to be considered when using them. Among themselves, Elehēḏēḏ who are very familiar with one another would typically use a nickname when addressing one another by name, or discussing someone who is not present in a non-formal situation.
However, using a nickname for someone you've only just met is considered impolite at best, and a direct insult at worse. It implies a level of familiarity you haven't earned; when you earn such familiarity is often a matter of personal taste, though.
Similarly, when in a formal situation--for example, a department meeting--familiarity matters very little. You might use a nickname in such a situation for a person of equal or lower standing than yourself, but never someone who is higher ranked or positioned than you. For ones' superiors, it is best to default to a proper title or rank, first, and their proper given name, second.
Diminutives are even more touchy. Most commonly used for children or lovers, they can sometimes be used by close personal friends in informal settings, but that is often a matter of taste. Much of the time, use of these between adults, even among friends, is considered teasing or purposefully rude.
Common Dress code
Passed on from the remnants of the Empire-Era Sahēḏēḏ (Religion), every member of the Elehēḏēḏ primarily wear uniforms that corrospond both to their job class and their rank. They are allowed to customize these uniforms to some degree, though anything that would interfere with one's work is prohibited when on duty. Off duty, the only restrictions in attire are the incorporation of rank signals the wearer does not have the right to wear.
The most changeable of all classes, the alehēḏēḏ uniforms are largely dependent upon their job function.
Typically, uniforms are composed of a pair of sandals, a loin cloth or skirt, regardless of gender, and an optional robe to block the sun. Those working in dangerous places may have leather aprons, boots, and/or gloves over-top a tunic. Regardless of cut or accessories, uniforms that are being worked in are always un-dyed material, while uniforms meant for ceremony are bleached white.
At school, children wear sheath dresses or loin cloths. These also come in both un-dyed and bleached variants, though most children do not receive a set of clothing until they reach age five. Ages 0-4 usually suffice with nothing but swaddling, cloth diapers, or they go nude.
Zaḏṯēṯēh, and Zaḏṯēṯēh K̀ẖatk̀ēk̀
Though one may find zaḏṯēṯēh who dress more like alehēḏēḏ (typically those who still hold the jobs of a alehēḏēḏ,) the zaḏṯēṯēh and K̀ẖatk̀ēk̀ are both more commonly found in un-dyed robes of various cuts, dependent upon their position. The commonality is always their belt, dyed and patterned in the way of their beholden Temple.
Those zaḏṯēṯēh who have risen into supervisory ranks will have buttons holding their robes together at the shoulder. These buttons are inscribed with with the insignia of their department, while the button's shape and material signify the position they hold.
Most zaḏṯēṯēh have permanently dyed fingers and lips in the colour of their Temple--though some, particularly those beholden to a shrine, choose the colour of a lesser diety of their Temple instead. This is one of the markers of priesthood which are fobidden to alehēḏēḏ.
The major difference between the dress of the zaḏṯēṯēh and K̀ẖatk̀ēk̀ are the golden pendants awarded the K̀ẖatk̀ēk̀ upon their graduation, and subsequently for services rendered, valour, and any number of other things. These pendants are shaped in the animal forms of the gods, and hung from the K̀ẖatk̀ēk̀'s belt as a sign of their rank and achievements.
Unlike the lesser ranks, the masōḫ are seen as being semi-permanently on duty. As such, they are almost always in uniform--though they have more freedom of cut and a wide selection of fabric than most. Their robes are almost always white, with colours accented according to their Temple or office. They also encorporate all markings of the lesser priestly ranks, including tattoos around their eyes or along their arms as their personal taste indicates.
Most priestly tattoos are based in religious iconography. It is not unusual for masōḫ to have favorite holy passages inscribed along their arms.
The traditional masks of the masōḫ are now only seen as ceremonial garments, though a new one is made for each masōḫ sworn into office. These new masks are designed based upon the mask of the masōḫ's predecessor, forming an evolutionary line between one masōḫ to the next.
Uk̀ẖeh K̀ẖaktaẖ Legīk̀
Seen as permanently "on-duty," the Īk̀ṯuk̀ẖeh does not largely distinguish themselves from the masōḫ excepting for their headdress, passed on from the first Īk̀ṯuk̀ẖeh who took over after the fall of h̃ēln Uḏebīẖuḥ. While they are generally expected to adorn with makeup, jewelry, and tattoos as they please, anything more grandiose is often seen as a little more self-serving than socially acceptable.
When not on duty, the Elehēḏēḏ are free to wear what they like provided they do not encroach upon or mimic the signifiers of ranks they do not themselves hold. Clothing or jewelry may be made ones self, or purchased with credit chits from someone who makes clothing or jewelry in their spare time. Skin dyes may also be used, within the usual bounds, though most Elehēḏēḏ are careful not to use anything permanent outside of priestly markings.
While fashions change, it is notable that clothing is not gendered in Elehēḏēḏ society. Trousers are practically unheard of, with robes and loin cloths being the most common garments worn across all ages and classes. Makeup and jewelry are also common among all genders, though men do trend toward shorter hairstyles while women typically wear their hair long.
Though the Faelan generally lack most bodyhair, the growing mixed-species population among the elehēḏēḏ has seen an increase in shaving, particularly on the face and legs.
Elehēḏēḏ beauty is still largely focused on traditional Faelan features: large, wing-like ears, slender frame, short stature, and light-coloured to bone white eyes. Both genders are preferred to be lacking in most bodyhair save the head, eyelashes, and eyebrows, with males wearing their hair short or bald, and women having long dark hair. Both genders often dye their hair jet black for appearances' sake, particularly those whose work outdoors causes natural bleaching.
Though gender still plays heavily into their language, Qēsud--such as the titles of their rulers and ranking system being masculine-coded--neither the concept nor traditional stereotyping plays a significant role in elehēḏēḏ society. These days, whether one is "male" or "female" matters little, with the elehēḏēḏ taking a stance far more similar to the Tzelzì they once enslaved than many of them are comfortable with, or even remark upon. While the concept of a third gender is still seen as somewhat extraneous or otherwise strange, the idea is being met with less and less resistance over time.
Founded thousands of years ago, the Sahēḏēḏ religion is among the eldest of the world's religions. It is also the least commonly worshiped.