Elven Physiology

Elves in the Isles are of approximately the same height as humans, albeit some are as much as a foot taller or shorter than the average depending on background. They are slimmer on the whole and without body hair. Eyes tend to be almond in shape, facial features are straight and even, and ears are distinctly pointed and lobeless. Hair, skin, and eye color tends to be similar in range to that of humans, though some elves have rather unusual hair and eye coloring. Immanent and True cannot be readily distinguished, as they have no physical differences between them.

Elves have slightly lesser need for food and water than humans do, though the difference is marginal, and most noticeable in the lack of obesity among elves. They don't tend to overeat when food is abundant, and so obesity tends to be a conscious choice among them where it exists.

Elves physically mature at the same rate as humans. In relatively simple elven communities, where the dominant Creed does not require sophisticated social comprehension, an elf is considered adult at the same age as their human counterparts. Elves are not actually any less fertile than humans, but due to cultural and personal reasons rarely elect to have more than a few children over their lifespans. Only in situations of extreme pressure do elven females elect to reproduce more abundantly. as in some native elven villages where the surrounding dangers would wipe out any community that had a low birthrate. Elven children are generally born Immanent, regardless of the type of the parents. Only perhaps one in twenty suffers from the affliction that makes a True.

The most noticeable difference in physical responses tends to be the way that elves formerly did not tire as humans do. They required a brief period of rest after hard exertions, much as humans require, but they did not become permanently fatigued and in need of sleep. Given brief periods for rest after hard labors, an elf could work ceaselessly. In consequence of this, elven farms and workshops tended to be much more productive than human ones simply by virtue of elves being able to work without the growing weariness of human laborers. This increased productivity resulted in a much higher standard of living for elven communities than human ones.

This changed when the Immanent became needful of sleep. While hardier and in need of fewer rests while working, they now accumulate fatigue as humans do. It's still possible for an Immanent to work a sixteen-hour day, but it's much more difficult and painful for him to do so. A True trances as elves once did, and they continue to prove capable of long, tireless labors between trances. This is small use to most elven communities, as only one elf in twenty is afflicted as a True.

True Elves do not- and cannot- sleep or dream. In place of this, they are capable of entering a dormant state for up to four hours a day, during which they remain perfectly aware of the outside world. While in this meditative trance, they order and refresh memories that are important to them, maintaining a vital psychological need for the continuity of their identity. They require no special peace or calm to enter this trance, and can perform it even under situations of significant pain. Intentional disturbances will spoil this trance, as will noises and other stimuli that would disturb a sleeping human.

True never willingly neglect this trance. It is vital for preserving the memories and mental ordering required for their identities to survive. While in extremis, an elf can skip a few sessions without serious danger, prolonged inability to meditate will completely destroy an True's identity, causing him to physically and mentally reform into a completely different True. As such, they will respond violently to those who persist in preventing them from meditating, and there have been occasional incidents where an innocent prankster bent on "spoiling the elf's sleep" has been murdered in what the Magistrate later judged as justified self-defense.

Immanent elves sleep and dream as humans do, though the change is very recent for them. Many have difficulty reconciling themselves with the habit, as they had never before known true unconsciousness or the hallucinatory state of "dreaming". Some Immanent find the experience so terrifying that they resort to stimulant drugs to stay awake. Their identities do not collapse as Trues do when they suffer from lack of trance, but the simple effects of sleep deprivation can be almost as gruesome to those who drive themselves too far.

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