It is said, that in the beginning, there was nothing but a cool tide of darkness. The universe was just a dream and no life existed. Then one day, the dream burst and Evithanon, the Creator, opened his eyes, emerging from the stillness to create the heavens and the earth. Using his breath, he ignited the stars and with his arms parted the black to make way for the brilliance of worlds.
Molrivath, displeased by this display, immediately sought to destroy it. But the Creator struck his hand away and legends claim that when his power cast the Dark One’s aside, sparks shed from Evithanon’s luminous body and the celestial race was born.
Celestials are the first known children of Evithanon. They are unique among Israidians in that they share a special connection with him; not just a knowledge or faith in his existence, but a true link through which his presence flows. The strength of this link varies by individual, but it is treasured by all celestials, for without it they would wither and die.
Celestials look very much like humans, but there are several crucial differences. The most obvious, of course, is the pair of large, feathery wings that extend from their shoulders. These unique appendages have a structure similar to a bird’s, with a series of elongated joints that can be equated to the shoulder, elbow, and wrist in the human arm. These joints allow celestials to fold their wings quite close to their bodies, in the same way birds can, enabling them to conceal their wings under loose capes or cloaks.
Celestials are very proud of their wings, a symbol of both their strength and beauty, and it’s not uncommon to see them preening or grooming themselves. Their feathers are usually light in color, but can fluctuate through several different shades of the same color – ranging from white to light brown. Their wings are never dull or dark shades such as gray or black. Wings also play an important role in courtship. Large wings with shiny, bright feathers are preferred among males. Females, by contrast, tend to have duller plumage, usually soft, earthy tones or dual colored feathers, and smaller wingspans.
Most celestials have refined, elegant features. Their bone structure tends to be lighter than other races, even among the males, and their features are very symmetrical, lacking common blemishes such as “roman noses”, heavy brow ridges, and disproportionate limbs and torsos. They’re athletic by nature given their propensity for flight, making their bodies supple and lithe. Their skin ranges in color from common, human-like flesh tones to other nonhuman hues, and their hair, which can be any color, style, or length, is usually thick and fine with prominent, feathery eyebrows.
All celestials have a natural aura to them; a warm and encompassing glow that flows over their skin. This aura gives off a calming effect and those around them tend to feel a sense of peace and tranquility. This euphoria can also be seductive, and many races find celestials alluring. Both male and female celestials can enhance their auras, not only to comfort and calm, but to entice a mate. They can also suppress this aura, if they wish, and some do when mingling with other races to avoid drawing unwanted attention. The combination of wings and aura often inspires awe, leading many Calamians to believe that celestials are angels.
It is not known how long a celestial can live for. The oldest known celestial, Lady Inares Daylnn Sahlee, was 8184 years old, and died of severe pneumonia in Calamia. Celestials have a strange age progression, and so when explained it is hard for others to understand. Not all celestials reach maturity at the same time, and just as any race mental maturity is just as diverse across all the ages. Celestials do not have a Middle Age or Elder stage, and their Skill Point progression is different as well.
0-10 (Toddler) / 11-34 (Child) / 35-99 (Adolescent) / 100-234 (Maturity) / 235-574(Young Adult) / 575 – 950 (Adult) / 950+ (Prime)
Mature females can begin bearing children as early as their 100’s, although most do not begin to have children till well into their adulthood. This is because the younger the celestial females are the more suceptible they are to pregnancy complications, miscarriages, and even death. Pregnancies typically last twelve months. Twins are a rare occurance.
Physical maturity typically occurs between the ages of 80-120. This is when a celestial experiences a major growth spurt, completely molts their childhood feathers for adult feathers, and then their aging process starts to significantly slow. Some celestials reach this physical maturity period faster than others, based on circumstance or heredity.
Despite this a celestial is not typically included in ‘adult’ society until they are in their 150’s. Exceptions do occur, based on merit, mentality, and extenuating circumstances, but not often.
The main reason for their strange aging progression is because of their direct connection to Evithanon, which grants them longevity and youthfulness. They do not suffer the significant adverse effects of physical aging like other races. Given this their physical age progression pretty much stops at their Adult stage, and they can live for many millennia after their Prime. They may gain some light wrinkles about the eyes, soft laugh lines, and some slight darkening of hair color, white streaks or silvering in the hair the older they get, but they otherwise look at most middle aged till the day they die. While celestials are granted this sort of aging immortality, they are still susceptible to worldly illnesses, disease, and injury like any other mortal being.
Today, customs involving courtship and what humans would term “marriage” vary greatly among celestials. Having lost their civilization, very few of the old customs remain and many celestials have adapted their views to fit into human or elsyven society. However, despite Calamian influences, celestial courtship is still an exciting and beautiful spectacle and some of the old traditions surrounding it have endured into the modern era.
Celestials do not have a set a breeding season and can court one another whenever they wish. Males commonly take the initiative, singling out a female they like and trying to get her attention. It takes savvy, charm, and sometimes centuries for a celestial to successfully woo a mate. Wings play an important role in courtship and males will spread their wings wide to show off their size, color, and strength. They also use their aura to woo and seduce, and a favorite tactic is to create soft light displays in the darkness (using either minor light magic or their natural aura) by bobbing and weaving in midair.
The celestial equivalent of “marriage” is referred to as “bonding”. Bonding is a serious affair and not something a celestial enters into lightly; however, because they can live for thousands of years, celestials have developed a practical outlook on “love” and its duration. Thus “bonding” does not necessarily signify a permanent connection or lifelong union. Some bonds are fleeting while others endure.
Today, of course, things are very different as the celestial people remain widely scattered. Occasionally, two celestials will find one another and mate. Small, family groups can also form, but these types of scenes are sparse. Young celestials, born of lucky pairs, usually grow up alone and can spend their entire lives without seeing another celestial outside their parents. For this reason, some celestials choose not to have children, since the likelihood of finding their offspring a celestial mate is so remote.
Before the fall of Moonspire, breeding outside their own race was greatly frowned upon. Even now, most elder celestials will not entertain the idea. Others, however, break with tradition and take humans, elsyven, or even an enlightened as mates, since they cannot have children with any other species.
To learn more about the Enlightened, see the Halfbloods section.
Because celestials have a natural connection to Evithanon they have an innate ability to sense one another over short distances (a few hundred feet). They can never use Shadow magic.
Celestials also cannot perform an act of true evil. Now, there is the question: what is good and what is evil? Usually, this is a matter of interpretation. Keep in mind that actions are often defined as “good” or “evil” based on circumstances and perspective. Thus, for a celestial to lose their connection to Evithanon, they would have to commit a heinous and appalling act for Evithanon to sever his connection.
Some believe that celestials cannot kill and are passive, innocent beings like the fabled unicorn, but this is not true. Celestials can fight and kill other creatures, although they rarely do so without a good reason. There is an old adage: “In the cycle of the world, there can be no light without darkness, no life without death, no good without evil.” Celestials are mortal and mortals make mistakes. Also, in some circumstances, one may have to do some evil to bring about good.
The celestial people all have their own opinions and beliefs. Each has their own unique way of looking at their bond with Evithanon. They understand it, and understand Evithanon better than any other race or class. Naturally some lose their way, thinking they’ve done something wrong or they lose faith in themselves. When celestials were a closely-knit community, they often assisted those who strayed or became confused, but now they are more susceptible to doubt.
Because celestials originated on Israidius, Calamian historians know very little about their original culture. Very few texts survive from the pre-corruption era. Where they lived, and how, before the Israidian apocalypse is a complete mystery. Facts about their territory in the Sanctuary are just as nebulous since most of this historical information was lost or deliberately destroyed during the razing of Moonspire.
For Calamians, the city itself lives on only in legend, stories told or overheard by strangers, or those who chanced upon a lone celestial and wrote their experiences in journals. Depictions vary greatly among scholars, but most agree that it was an enormous citadel – bigger than anything the dwarves of Calamia have ever built – and located in a vast wilderness, probably a temperate or boreal forest. Most people consider the city and its “angels” pure myth, others confuse it with the mountainous keep of Goldshard, and still others contend that it’s actually the ancient city of Nusarum.
They’re all wrong, of course. Moonspire was an immense, fortified city located within the Sanctuary on Israidius. Surrounded by tall, black stone walls, it had its own militia of Wall Guardians. The city was so large it was divided into provinces, each governed by a collective of elders and priests that formed a kind of senate.
Architecturally, it was a city of terraces, gardens, and balconies, with multi-level homes built directly into the mountainside. Obsidian towers with golden roofs crowned many of the peaks and there were vast cathedrals carved from earth and stone. There were very few streets, since citizens traveled on wing, but every major building had a public landing and houses sported elaborate entrances and balconies.
Over the centuries it became a cultural Mecca and capital, the center of celestial civilization, but it wasn’t the only celestial settlement. Outside its walls, numerous celestials lived in smaller communities, typically located in foothills or forests. They were a generous people, with a reputation for helping those in need, and were highly regarded as craftsmen, especially for their potions, books, precious gems, and metals. Before the war with the Hope Slayer, many celestials also traveled and lived among other Israidian communities, trading and working side by side with athdraki, gheildoa, and evidae.
As external relations soured, celestials became a more introverted society, aloof from other races. Culturally, they are now considered a “dead” race since their civilization was crushed and their customs lost to the bowels of time. Those who survived the massacre tried to maintain their old beliefs, but in a new world dominated by humans and other non-Israidian races, the remaining celestials were forced to adapt.
One custom, which still survives today, is their naming convention and formal manner of greeting. On Israidius, celestials normally gave their children three names – a first name, a middle name, and a last name. The last name, or surname, was handed down as a family name and meant to be used in public. Celestials from Moonspire always addressed one another formally, giving their full names only at initial introductions, and thereafter addressing one another by their surnames.
A celestial’s first name was an informal name used by close friends and family, and their middle name was a private name reserved for use by sweethearts and intimates. Today, the naming convention has undergone some variation. Many celestials now give only their first and last name to strangers, either out of reserve or because they only have the two. They also allow relative strangers to address them by their first names, as is common on Calamia.
Only the middle name retains its original social function. Even today, celestials never address one another by their middle names unless they’re extremely close and it’s considered an affront to use a middle name without permission.
As with their culture, very little is known about the native habitat of celestials. Based on the sparse descriptions of Moonspire found in early Calamian texts, scholars speculate that they lived in temperate mountain or forest zones. Today, their low numbers make it impossible to identity a specific ecological niche on Calamia, but celestials are extremely adaptive and can live in almost any climate.