Well it’s my birthday today so I’ve been thinking about age as a concept, it’s a complicated construction and almost an entirely social one. This makes it a very variable concept from place to place and I like this dynamic.
In any case reaching adulthood is important for any creature and this is no different in Erdafel, the various races in Eir have even among themselves different milestones and celebrations in their lifespans.
Gwarves being the longest lived race live to almost 150 years on average with 182 being the oldest recorded. They reach maturity around the age of 30 and reach their physical peak around 50 depending on the individual of course. Gwarves don’t really celebrate birthdays year to year outside of acknowledgement but they do have certain rituals when the gwarve comes of age at 30 where the gwarve is given a large bar of iron and told to create something with it. Some sell the iron bar for profit, some create a weapon or armor piece with it, some create something personal like a plaque or trophy. Whatever is done with it is kept to the gwarve in question and is known as their “First Secret” which marks a turning point in their lives where such things are important. As gwarves reach the later stages in life, usually around the age of 120 if they live that long, they start to slow down, they suffer breathing problems commonly and find it harder to simply move around, they begin to lock up at their joints and their skin begins to crack and harden, very old gwarves spend almost all their time unmoving to avoid pain and after a time their heart simply slows to the point that it doesn’t pump blood with enough pressure and they lose sensation in their legs and arms for a few days before they finally quietly die. An old gwarves body is extremely heavy compared to a young gwarves body of the same build so burying them is more difficult, the added weight is known as the “Weight of Time”.
Nomes live comparatively short lives with not many of them reaching past the age of 50 and reach maturity at only 10 or so. Nomes celebrate every birthday up to about 15 or so usually and after that they aren’t really considered an important time outside of a passing mention. Nomes have no coming of age celebration although the age of 5 is important to nomes as that is the time they usually leave the outpost or town they have grown up in and first take to the skies on their parents gliders. As nomes grow to an older age they usually suffer mental degeneration, it’s subtle at first but they often find they can’t concentrate easily and eventually at all often talking about past event as if they were happening in front of them, this can be dangerous or scary to an outsider as the situation they are reliving may be a traumatic one. Nomes are usually killed by their children or at their own request before the degeneration gets too far along, often even earlier if they fear a particularly bad past coming back to them. It is a sad time for a family but a universal one so any nome will console another after such an event. Nomes who reach the last few years of their expectancy are usually much more wispy and withered, many also have severe cataracts and ligament softening which causes dislocation easily.
Humanns are perhaps the second longest living race with the majority of their population reaching 50 easily and with some individuals reaching 90 years in age. Humanns celebrate every birthday with a family gathering with the coming of age party at 20 being the most important. Humanns often give gifts at this coming of age gathering that will help the adult in their future life, be it a hammer, a traveling pack or a weapon of some description. It is seen as distasteful to give too great a gift as the recipient is meant to take the gifts and earn something greater so giving something great to start is most often seen as a curse unless they truly expect them to better it. Humanns who reach the age of 70 or so often find their hair whiten and their skin crease and darken, they suffer from internal pain in their stomach a lot and find it hard to swallow. They also often run fevers and are susceptible to illnesses even if they seem to recover faster than younger people. Humann corpses are almost always disposed of in funeral pyres given that burial in sand is not a lasting end.
Havlin are a robust bunch living to almost 70 at the oldest, many havlin usually live to only 40 but it’s variable. Havlin celebrate no birthdays at all, seeing the increase in age as only a negative thing in their society. Havlin who reach a great age often have intense trouble breathing out of water which only gets worse with time until they must stay submerged at all times, they also suffer from hallucinations and depression after a while although this is usually the last days of the havlin in question. Havlin bury their dead on tiny islands near the sea and mark them with either coral or large shells.
Orckran aging is perhaps the most curious as they live at most 80 years like elvarian but as they reach the age of 65 or sometimes as late as 70 they begin to “Fade”, they become slightly ethereal figures with their outlines becoming indistinct and their features blurred. You can still reach out and lay your hand on them but visually they start to appear a translucent black smudge eventually fading entirely until they barely have any visual presence, even touching them becomes hard as they seem to distort as you approach. Their strength at this stage is phenomenal, with the act of getting out of a chair often leaving a room in complete devastation. Every physical act at this stage of life is incredibly taxing and very powerful but thoughts are slow and hard to think, orckran at this age are almost always asleep and after a time their tangible visual and physical presence fades into non-existence. They can still be woken up and talked to for a few days after this if you call out to them in the area they were but their voice gets quieter and they become harder to rouse from slumber until one day they stop responding at all.
Elvarian aging is a slow process, they live around 80 years at the oldest, although stories tell of a time they lived forever and indeed the scion is a living example. They start to feel the effects of old age relatively early, sometimes as early as 40; they begin to have trouble sleeping and they start to have trouble seeing certain colors. After a time the insomnia worsens and they are lucky to get a few hours of sleep every few days, this leads to mental instability which isn’t helped by onset colorblindness and a slight glow to their skin in the dark. After a time the insomnia becomes fatal as they cannot sleep at all and they die within a week or so. The later stages of this don’t set in until late in life. Elva used eat their dead at mortuary feasts although this has fallen out of practice the last two centuries as medicine has warned against the practice. It is still common among the very rich though and even more common for their elders antlers to be taken from the corpse and displayed as a reminder of them, often placed above a painting of them.