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Planet Eunomia: Home of the Dryads

This is Eunomia, a terrestrial, Earth sized planet orbiting the star Epsilon Eridani. It is home to many forms of flora and most of its surface is covered in heavy forests. Animals are completely non-existent as they never evolved. Instead, plants are the dominant live form on this planet. The only known sentient species on this planet are the Dryads with their humanoid appearance.

Timeline (In Earth/human years):
  • 8,000 y.a. - The first autonomous Dryads appeared
  • 3,000 y.a. - Dryads discover how to control fire
  • 1124AD - The "Great Inferno" War is started
  • 1143AD - The Dryadic tribes are united under the Meliae; the first Great Father Tree takes control, ending the war
  • 1502AD - The first GFT dies ending the first era; Nrutcaer Ghelhwyn takes the throne
  • 1725AD - Nrutcaer is destroyed by conspirators; the royal family is burned and their children uprooted; Siellun Svurverym and his family take control
  • 1843AD - An epidemic spreads through out the land, killing many Dryads
  • 1856AD - The Ksal and GFT die of the disease; Sielval Lunhaem becomes new GFT
  • 1859AD - Ks. Sielmil discovers a cure for the disease; the Dryads enter a golden age
  • 2065AD - First contact with humans

The Dryads
     The Dryads (Dryas sapiens) are a species of plant in the genus Dryas inhabiting planet Eunomia. Many often describe them as a cross between animals and plants, as they are the only known species of plant to have achieved a sense of self-awareness. 

Evolution and Biology:
The earliest non-sentient ancestor of the genus Dryas is Quercus ilex, a species of tree resembling the holly oak. Millions of years prior to modern Dryads, a subspecies of holly oak evolved called Quercus ilex complexii, which had formed a network of anastomosis between their roots, bringing them together almost as if they were a single organism. From this subspecies then sprung the first primitive Dryad species known as Dryas complexii. D. complexii was different from other trees in that, through anastomosis, it was able to act as a large communicative network, similar to a nervous system, and increase the amount of nutrients and energy the organism could take in through photosynthesis and the soil. With this adaptation came the first primitive form of sentience, and hence the Dryas genus was born. D. complexii later split into two different species -- D. examinis (commonly known as "Hamadryads") and D. animatus.
     Unlike its sister species who remained immobile, D. animatus had attained a form of autonomy in the earlier stages of their lifecycle. The seeds of the mature, stationary form of D. animatus would fall from their parent tree with large internal reservoirs of glucose. These seeds would then use this glucose to enter a state of rapid growth; forming roots, developing leaves for photosynthesis, a primitive mouth, compacted collections of light-sensitive photoreceptors (from chloroplasts) and a nervous system. At a certain size, or when the glucose reserves would run out, they would uproot themselves and use the roots as flagella to move around. These child plants would then use their mouths to collect more nutrients from outside sources; other plants, fruits, etc. This would help them to get rid of competition in the area and gain enough nutrients to maintain their nervous system. Pheromones would act as a form of communication between the parent and child, allowing the child to protect and help the parent. When the children matured, they would search for a clear spot to become an adult tree and join the greater organism with their roots. 
Dryas sapiens
     Over time and through many competing species and generations, the children became more complex and evolved drastically. A sort of thick, woody material developed within the children’s bodies for greater support and mobility. Their phloems and xylems grew smaller and more complex, forming a sort of cardiovascular system. Their mouths grew more intricate with natural tools for chewing, grinding and breaking down food. They were able to taste their food as well, generally preferring the taste of glucose. Their appendages became more complex, allowing them to grasp things and walk. Their previously simple nervous system developed a brain encased in a woody skull, which allowed the photoreceptors to become encased in sacs of fluid with adjustable lenses for better seeing. They developed a respiratory system which permitted the intake of more carbon dioxide for the production of glucose; with the combination of a complex mouth, a respiratory system with a voice box and structures sensitive to vibrations in the air, speech eventually developed. From this the modern species, Dryas sapiens (Meliae Dryads), evolved.

Dryadic Society:
     At a certain point in the Dryads’ history, they started cultivating other plants with the advent of groves and gardens. Prior to this they gathered fruits, nuts and berries from the wild, and they were constantly focused on gathering food, protecting their parent trees and working together with their ‘sisters’; however, with a larger abundance of food readily available, they were able to develop a writing system, literature, and a more complex society. Along with this, however, came the discovery of fire. This lead to the "Great Inferno" War, which devastated the forests as the many clans struggled for power. Eventually, with the end of the war, they were united as one under a royal family of the Meliae Dryads, forming the first monarchy of the Meliae.
     With the joining of the clans and the advance of Dryadic society, a hierarchy formed, not only among the respective clans, but among their members as well. The Father Tree, or parent tree, was the most powerful, despite not being autonomous. The mother was the oldest autonomous Dryad; she would lead and have power over the family or clan, and would ‘interpret’ the wishes of the Father. Next in the hierarchy was the first daughter, then second daughter and so on. Only the mother was allowed to enter the final stage of life when the father dies. If this rule were to be violated, it usually resulted in the burning of that dryad. Daughters, excluding the first daughter or heir, often formed platonic relationships with other daughters, either within or outside of their clan. They could not reproduce, as only parent trees have the ability to reproduce, but were allowed to raise and take care of daughters of their own with seeds from their respective parent trees. The ‘granddaughters’, however, had little power in the clans and often were faced with extreme discrimination.
     Flowers are another integral part of dryadic society, as the dryads cultivate them in their gardens and ornament them in their hair similar to jewelry. Flowers have double meanings and certain cultural connotations in dryadic; some can be demeaning while others can signify a higher social status, but each flower has a side of narot and a side of gzcurot. Dryads are often given flowers on the day that they blossom for the first time. These flowers reflect the dryad's personality and social status, or simply how others view them. The ancient dryadic folktale, Tcael Pewatc or "The Flower King" (literally "The Great Peony"), demonstrates these connotations through personification of the flowers.

Life Cycle:
     In a manner similar to their ancestors, the modern Dryads start out their lives as seeds with glucose reserves, growing into a small tree vaguely reminiscent to their autonomous ‘humanoid’ forms. Once the sapling reaches a certain age and can no longer maintain itself in its immobile state, it then sheds its bark and loses its branches and roots to form arms and legs as it unravels into its humanoid state. The Dryad then quickly grows thin leafy strands upon its head, similar to hair, yet full of chloroplasts and green pigment. Their eyes are a dark shade of green and fairly large. Their epidermis, however, takes on a soft texture and is a light shade of yellow-green, similar to the stem of a flower, yet not as brittle. This is to allow them to move with ease, especially around their joints. Throughout a Dryad’s autonomous phase, it will not change in height, as height  is predetermined during their sapling stage. In order to enter the final parenting stage, a Dryad consciously releases a growth hormone in its body to execute rapid growth and metamorphosis.
'Autonomation' of Dryas sapiens

     During a Dryad’s autonomous stage, there is a culturally significant biological process that occurs at a certain age; the specific age can differ from dryad to dryad. In the Dryadic language this process is referred to as ers’sem or literally ‘blossoming’ which can be seen as similar to puberty in humans. Through the release of a hormone called florigen after attaining a certain developmental stage, the Dryad forms a bud(s) on its head which then periodically blossoms into an incomplete protandrous flower. These flowers can then indirectly (and unbeknownst to the Dryads) reproduce with the Father Tree, who has bisexual flowers, allowing for greater genetic diversity. These flowers, however, signify a ‘coming of age’ in Dryadic culture. When a dryad blossoms, that is the stage in which it is allowed to ‘marry’ or start a platonic relationship with another dryad. In Dryadic language, they often use the phrase (kliv)-u ers’setc, which literally means “to blossom with (someone)” and which is used to express a deep love, fondness of and connection with another being. When a dryad blossoms and ‘comes of age’ in this way, it is usually greatly celebrated by their relatives and often idealized by the ones who have yet to blossom.

The Epimeliad:
     In Dryadic society, there are many roles to be filled. One of the most important and revered of these roles is the Epimeliad -- known by those who might threaten Dryadian territory as ‘the protectors of the forest.’ From the age at which dryads blossom, they are able to choose their life’s path and take responsibility for themselves. Many dryads choose to become Epimeliad as they are highly revered and praised by others. Their duties can vary greatly depending on where they are stationed. Some are tasked with guarding the eastern borders in the apple orchards against the Sand Realm. There they stand guard, regulate traders from the east and aid in the protection and picking of apples to be distributed by the royal family. Others may be chosen to serve the royal family directly, guarding them and acting as a buffer between the Queen and her people. Becoming a royal Epimeliad requires much more effort and experience, and only the most respected Epimeliads are chosen. 
     The Epimeliad are usually equipped with armor and weapons including bows and arrows and swords obtained from the wood elves who forge them from iron and silver. They are then ornamented with gold plating in designs resembling vines and plants, and the shields bear a large emblem of the Great Father Tree (King). Since the Dryads often refer to the Great Father Tree as the "great protector of the forest (realm)", this emblem is is meant to depict of the Epimeliad as guardians guided by the great protector; hence the idealism and grandeur formed around the Epimeliad, glorifying them in stories and showing them as chivalrous.

Religion and Philosophy:
     The dryads have eight (debatably seven) deities in their religion, which in English can be called "narotism" as the entire religion is based around the dryadic concept of narot. This concept lacks a direct translation to English, but is sometimes paired with "virtue", "harmony", "self-improvement" or even "negentropy". It can also be described as a deep affinity for nature and the universe itself, and a responsibility to take care of it. As seen in their myth/song of origin, their deities each coincide with a number, and they go down in narot with the larger number the represent as dryads view numbers by means of taking something away. The first God, Svetaris, represents light and the number zero, which is the largest number to the dryads and also represents infinity. He is the parent God and represents neither narot nor gzcurot (the opposite of narot; "chaos", "entropy", "evil", etc.) and he encompasses everything in the universe. From Svetaris came the deities one through six of narot; Artemys of the moon, Kollaris of the sun, Svuratcis of the earth, Helvaris of the sky, Milvaris of the sea and Pytcmeris of nothingness. The last, seventh God, Gruzcelis, is the embodiment of gzcurot and all chaos in the world. He constantly attempts to fight with the other gods and all living things, in trying to distort their narot and send them down the path of evil. Hence, in the origin myth the Gods of narot all come together in harmony to sing their song, however Gruzcelis tries to interfere and disrupt the song.
Native Dryadic numerals with Arabic counterpart
     The roles of the Gods in their myths are not a simple part of their religion, but they are intertwined with the everyday use of speech. The numbers of the dryads themselves are in base-7, possibly as a result of the hierarchy of Gods. The value seven must always be placed with another number (1-6) representing a God of narot to cancel out the gzcurot. Natural disasters and extremes are usually viewed as one of the six narot Gods being under the influence of Gruzcelis. For example, in case of a heavy thunderstorm, one might say snwora helzia gruzyl wiń Gruzcelisal meaning, "Gruzcelis is disrupting/burning the song of the sky" which is a direct reference to the creation myth. And, as mentioned previously how the Hyendh are associated with fire and destruction, they are often thought of as under the direct influence of Gruzcelis and gzcurot.




Other Native Species:


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