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  • Andrew M. Trauger

The Vashanti

Over a millennium ago, several Vashanti families sojourned into Arelatha from their homelands far west of the Dragoncrests, driven by the continuous devastations wrought by Karashakon the Red. They settled into the various densely forested areas of Arelatha, building communities that lived among the trees instead of in place of them. They brought their heritage with them: harmony with Creation, adherence to tradition, desire for elegance and beauty, and passion for quality. Compared to the other peoples of the continent, this makes the Vashanti seem quite arrogant and self-important, an image the Vashanti are content to let remain.

The bloodlines of Vashanti are richer than their Arelathan counterparts, and coupled with their lifestyles, they tend to live about twice as long as other humans, 150 years on average, and the aging process takes much less of a toll on the body. Physically, Vashanti are more slender and sinewy, with fair complexions. Hair colors range from brown to silvery-blonde, and tints of blue, red, or purple are common. The eyes are a Vashanti's more striking feature, with bold, bright colors not commonly seen in other humans. These traits have led some Vashanti to believe and to proclaim that their bloodline is not actually human, that they are literally a different--and superior--race of people.

Vashanti are naturally more contented, preferring to wait and observe vs. react impetuously. They believe anything worth doing is worth doing perfectly, and this requires patience, time, and persistence. As a result, much of the world's greatest art, literature, and architecture are Vashanti-made, and because of their focus on beauty, even their bridges are lovely to behold.

Their attention to detail can easily turn into an obsession with perfection that drives many Vashanti into narcissism and superficiality. In the most severe cases, a "spent" Vashanti becomes entirely self-absorbed and literally worthless, an emaciated husk of a person consumed by self-worship to the neglect of everything else. Vashanti children are told these wretched tales often as a warning to balance their own pursuit of beauty with a solid grounding in the world.

But Vashanti are not entirely wrapped by vanity. They love, feast, build, farm, serve in political bodies, and advise kings. They are frequently engaged in their local communities at various levels. Many are vintners, tailors, weavers, carpenters, and merchants. A very few seek life away from their kin; fewer still seek love beyond their kind. Those that do bring a distinctly different view to their new friends and family. Half-Vashanti children face a challenging upbringing, but are frequently leaders in their circles.

For many people, meeting a Vashanti is an intimidating experience, as if one is standing in the presence of royalty. Befriending a Vashanti is both a rewarding and exhausting endeavor, for they are a demanding people. But they are infinitely loyal, serving as both wise mentor and faithful friend.

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