In preparation for uploading an new illustration tomorrow, I thought I'd upload this picture with some information about the species and the characters. I put this on my tumblr back in march, but I thought putting it in my gallery might be nice. Long read ahead!
Nym’s species (called the Alecani) have two methods of producing sound. Humans have a larynx, and birds have a syrinx to produce sound, both are located in different positions of the throat. Alecani have both, and can produce a huge variety of sounds using them. Like many bird species, their ability to copy the calls of other animals is almost perfect. With both a larynx and syrinx, they can produce more than one sound at a time, or produce a sound with their syrinx and modify it with the larynx. As a result, they can do really cool things like harmonize with themselves!
This duel voice is a key in the species ability to communicate with other creatures. It’s not just about mimicry, they seek to be able to speak the language of other animals. Voice and song are also a key element of their culture. Being story teller or a singer is one of the highest status in Alecani society. Even in during conflicts between tribes, singers and story tellers are always given safe passage. Killing or bringing harm to singers/storytellers earns you permanent scorn, banishment, and with some tribes even execution.
Across the entire species, there is a position held as the best singer. Whoever holds this position in Alecani society is dubbed “The Harp” and is considered divine. She does not govern, but holds considerable cultural sway nonetheless. If you’re a leader and The Harp makes a suggestion, you follow it or risk political suicide. The Harp is accompanied by a regiment of elite guards wherever they go, as well as servants. To serve The Harp is one of the highest callings of an Alecani, guards and servants are treated very well by others. The Harp has one guard/servant who is their closest confidant. This Alecani is dubbed the Harps Shadow, because their are always by The Harp’s side. Both The Harp and their Shadow cast away names and any other previous life they may have had to serve this important position in Alecani Society.
In Nym’s time, The Harp is a female albino Alecani. She is virtually blind, and so relies on her Shadow a lot more. Because of her blindness, she does not fly. She can, perhaps with guidance, glide short distances. So she travels by air carriage (which I haven’t designed yet) which is drawn by several of her strongest flyers. She is notoriously quiet politically, and does not wish to meddle with the affairs of the tribes. She does not like to make demands of others around her, she seems very humble. Indeed, her only pleasure in life is to sing, and to sing with passion. It’s said she has one of the most beautiful voices of any Harp in generations.
There are rumors that she and her Shadow are in love, which is sort of a no-no. The Harp is not allowed to have children, and neither is her Shadow. It might interfere with their duties, as well as create a “divine bloodline”, which the Alecani try to avoid. Merit is based off what an individual can do, not bloodline. Good singers, good leaders, good warriors can come from any bloodline. And since these two hold what might be the highest position in society, the Alecani could not help but treat their children different than other children, to elevate them based off who their parents are.