Elethri is also called the Nation or the Land of the Five Rivers for the five great rivers that cross it, flowing eastward from the Malaitha Mountains to the ocean. Its borders are defined by the Malaitha Mountains to the west, by the northernmost river to the north, and by the southernmost river to the south. Its easternmost border is indeterminate, with the eastern isles generally being considered part of Elethri. The isles themselves are difficult to get to and from and the ocean there is generally avoided by ships as numerous rocks, reefs, and submerged mountain peaks make it incredibly treacherous to navigate, and usually not worthwhile. Most of Elethri is subtropical, with the southern most river lying within the region that can be equated to that defined on Earth by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Towards the north Elethri gets rather cold, but most of Elethri, especially the coastal lowlands, is keep relatively temperate by the currents and the winds coming off the ocean.
Elethrian society makes no differentiation between the male and female for any purpose other than the conception of young. There are no gender norms or expectations. All styles of clothing are appropriate to all sexes, with no associations being made between them. Neither is there any association between biological sex and personality types, or behavior, or roles and activities. There is no concept of masculine or feminine behavior, or masculine or feminines roles or tasks. In short, there is no concept of the masculine and the feminine, but only an understanding of what sorts of acts (and therefore what combination of body parts) are potentially fertile.
Elethrian society is, for the most part, shy, private, and reserved. Friendships that are expected to endure the decades are rare and often slowly built, and many elves are more or less loners, some of them nomadic, some of them living with whatever animal they have built a rapport with. The most important rule of Elethrian culture is to “Keep your branches out of your neighbor’s canopy.” What you think of someone or a lifestyle or a private religion is your business, but making your opinions someone else’s business (particularly if that someone else is a stranger or casual acquaintance) is probably the biggest taboo in Elethrian culture, apart from wanton killing or destruction of the natural world, whether plant or animal life, or killing someone’s pet or companion, which are crimes that might see one hunted by vigilantes or guards.
Possibly related to the saying, “Keep your branches out of your neighbor’s canopy,” is the phrase to “entangle branches.” This phrase is inspired by what can happen when two trees grow very close together and twine their branches through and around each other, so that if one tree falls it takes the other with it, or at least severely damages it, and while one trees stands firm and strong, the other stands also. Entangling branches has no connotations whatsoever as to the gender of the entangled, or even whether sexuality or sexual behavior is a part of the relationship, but refers to a mutual relationship symbolized by the image of the trees that is expected to last the lives of the entangled partners. Naturally, this is something that is between the entangled and those they choose to share it with, and no one else has any business asking, caring, or speculating.
Likewise, marriage in Elethri is a private affair, conducted entirely by the will of the two being married. Generally, marriage refers to a relationship between a male and a female that has the possibility of conceiving young, and is often considered – or at least hoped – to be a form of entangling branches. Celebrations of marriage usually consist of something like a potluck with friends and perhaps acquaintances, when such celebrations occur at all. Except in the case of royalty, marriage is always unrecorded, and even in the case of royalty, no external permission is ever involved.
Technically, Elethri is a rather odd Monarchy. Officially, the succession goes to the oldest child of the previous Monarch (or Monarchs), favoring males (and in the absence of any child, to the closest relative), which is odd because otherwise Elethri makes no distinction between male and female (though it is impossible to determine if the law regarding males is always observed, it is the impression given to such states as the Valor Alliance). However, it is not what it would seem to one unfamiliar with the laws of Elethri, since the Heir’s Spouse is considered Heir, and the Monarch’s Spouse is absolutely equal with the Monarch, with no distinction being made between their powers or roles. Thus, there are as many reigning Queens as reigning Kings. Due to the fact that whoever the Heir or Monarch chooses as Spouse is Heir or Monarch, the choice is usually made with a great deal of care (when it is made at all). Often, the Heir will vanish into the forests for a century or two, without any signs to mark him or her as Heir, to find, if possible, a Spouse.
In practice, Elethri is half anarchy. The King and Queen are usually more a sort of celebrity than an actual King and Queen, and most of Elethri knows that the King and Queen cannot actually force anything on them that they do not consent to. The vast majority of elves are capable of living, fairly comfortably, on their own, and of vanishing quite easily, and they know it. By far the majority of elves are half-way there already, and not insignificant number have very limited contact with anyone outside of (possibly) a small circle of friends and do not even know what goes on in the Capitol, Frèlin. Some of the cities do not even have governors or an official guard, but such things are comprised of volunteers and resemble vigilante teams more than anything else, though such vigilante teams may be more concerned with gardening and keeping tracks of what homes are unoccupied and opened and what stands of trees can accommodate new tree-houses than anything more violent. There may also be a number of undeclared vigilantes. Crime in Elethri is very low due to the elves’ lifestyle and to the generally peaceful and reserved nature of the elves.
To the human nations, Elethri is shrouded in mystery and the – sometimes over-grown – legends of the past. Human empires rise and disintegrate while Elethri remains much the same, and even the names of the Kings and Queen change only a few times. Despite being in many ways what would be considered uncultured and uncivilized, Elethri with its shining cities is also prominent in certain aspects of the culture of Ellenesia. A prime example is that, despite the fact that Elethri does not count the years or keep dates in any official capacity, Elethri keeps the year centered for the rest of Ellenesia, as the elves (some of whom are dedicated sky-watchers with a relatively advanced astronomy due to how long they have to study the stars) celebrate the Winter and Summer Solstices. The Bay of Winter Dawn and the Bay of Summer Dawn are named for the great rings of stone built in long-past ages to watch the skies, specifically for the respective Solstices for which they are named.
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