Ollphéan Wilds

Aveminare are commonly referred to as pets. It is a derogatory term coined by Aveminus that started the practice of keeping smaller birds. Aveminus will use the term to refer to any smaller bird, and Aveminare will use it towards each other as an insult. They will sometimes use it to distinguish between "kept" and "wild" birds their own size, but strangers are generally referred to as "bird".

Wild Aveminare are commonly viewed as either prey or potential pets for larger birds. It's dependent upon the master's preferences what is considered beautiful enough to be caught and kept, but it's usually the flashier and more colorful Aveminare. The more opulent the pet, the higher the status for the master that owns it. Many Aveminare that end up as pets are subjected to wing mutilation (if they have them) to prevent escape, and may be collared at their master's discretion.

Pets fall into one of three categories, with a pet experiencing the occasional overlap in "duties" depending on their master's status.

» A Treasure is a bird that is beautiful, and is routinely showered in jewelry, clothing, or other gifts to enhance its looks. A Treasure is purely a status symbol, a thing flaunted about to show one's wealth. It's uncommon, but not unheard of, for some Treasures to be treated so well by their master that Aveminare will seek out the Aveminus to attempt to become a kept bird. The most prized of a group may experience extra freedoms, such as guaranteed meals and the privilege of keeping their wings, and the ones that are doted on the most end up staying with a master of their own free will. Treasures are often times either mated with, or bred with other high-value Treasures to produce colorful offspring. Generations with multiple successful hatches may be culled so that only the prettiest remain.

» SongBirds are pets that are made to perform. They are most commonly gifted in singing, and will know a variety of tunes or be able to imitate an array of sounds and voices. SongBirds are not limited to singing, however, and could also be gifted in art, reading human books, telling stories, or just have a interesting trick they can do, such as juggling or acrobatics. Some may not have a perceived talent at all, and the master in question simply finds them entertaining in some way. SongBirds are the rarest of pets, since many masters are unwilling to do the work to feed them when they do not add as much value to a harem as Treasures do.

» Breeders are just as the name suggests. Since food is in such short supply, Breeders are used to produce eggs as a steady source of protein. Breeders are fed berrien roots to ensure sterile eggs, and mated with as often as possible to ensure a constant supply. Breeders are the most common type of pet, and many of them self-mutilate due to stress. They are more likely to be collared and plucked than their fancier flock mates, but most are so weak from over-breeding and being underfed that they wouldn't survive outside the nest anyway. Smarter masters have learned to keep a few on hand, and rotate pairings to prevent the loss of a Breeder.

Aveminus are the middle range size class. They are commonly called Masters, both by smaller birds and other Aveminus. The term is generally considered respectful, but wild Aveminare and particularly unhappy pets may use it in a pejorative manner.

Masters are often times aggressive, narcissistic, and greedy, but are social by nature. Their "me first" attitude doesn't prevent them from joining flocks or creating social bonds. In fact, most flocks are started by Masters and their harems. It helps, of course, that having a flock to call home helps when establishing status. Masters are known to seek wealth and privilege--aiming to have the largest or most impressive harem, decorating their pets in order to show off, or amassing a treasury of items to gain a higher social ranking. Their opulent lifestyles lend themselves better to flocks than to solitude, the safety in numbers idea working to protect them from outside dangers that may be attracted to highly decorated Masters and pets.

Many Masters have their own pets, and some have a Treasure they consider to be of the same status as a mate, but some may also an Aveminus mate. It's uncommon, considering their pride usually stops them from "submitting" to a bird their own size or larger, but attraction can't always be helped. Even in Master/Master pairings, each bird will retain control over their own separate harems and nesting grounds, only indulging in sharing every so often.

Master birds also have what is considered to be their own language. This language is similar to the common one spoken by pets, but it sounds much more garbled and rough, making it difficult for Aveminare to understand. With enough exposure to it, pets may pick up words here and there, but understanding a full conversation is hard and speaking it is impossible. If you're interested in translating this language, please use the key 'AVEMINUS' in this Vigenère Cipher.

There are said to be three Avemdeus or God birds in all of the wilds: one of the forest, one of the sky, and one of the sea. Most pets have never seen one before, so their existence is based purely on speculation and belief, but plenty of Masters will claim to have encountered one. Some flocks, often at a Master's insistence, will engage in some form of worship around one of the Gods. They will leave offerings when possible, or whisper prayers to whichever God they believe has power over their home. Some birds have started cult followings for certain Avemdeus, the birds in The Meadow being the most notorious for debating if the one of the sky or the one of the forest is real.

Because Ollphéan are social, they will often join communities called flocks. These groups can consist of a single Master and their chosen pets, or a massive gathering of local birds looking for safety and social interaction. The smallest flocks are made up of wild pets. They share food and all supplies just so to get by, but tend not to form deep connections or let too many outsiders into their communities due to the high risk of being stolen or eaten by Masters. Most of these wild communities are made up of a mated pair (or polyamorous group) and any offspring, but like-minded individuals may also band together.

Flocks started or dominated by Masters may get large enough to be comparable to a city, with each Master having ownership of a tree or area that is solely their nesting ground that they take up residence in. Larger trees may house more than one Master and their pets, similar to apartment buildings. These "homes" have their own, uniquely crafted storage areas for food and other items. Cities of this size also have communal centers, with everything from a group shrine to their chosen God to trading hubs.

Trading is done in terms of "nuts" and "items". In the early days, important resources were exchanged for food and, since nuts were the most readily available food source, the word "nuts" became equivalent to money. The terminology is still used despite few nuts actually being traded anymore. Nuts may now refer to all kinds of food items, jewels, fabrics, crafted items, or anything of value that can be exchanged for something needed. As an example, traders within a flock will prefer gems and clothing and birds such as Shop and Keep in the inner city will prefer food as payment.

Along with these makeshift marketplaces, bigger flocks also keep a store of community supplies to assist with expanding their territory and reinforcing any security measures they may see fit to have. However, shared resources are for the good of the flock as a whole only. Any individual bird--particularly Masters--who is unable to take care of their own basic needs is at risk of being kicked out of the group and left to fend for themselves.

The Masters of a flock tend to look after their own before ever looking after a pet, and any pet seeking to escape a Master is at risk of being ratted out by a flockmate who witnessed them on the run. While some pets can be trusted to know better, and some even appreciate the amount of respect and power they have due to their association with a certain Master, many have their wings mutilated to avoid just such an occurrence. The method used by gentler Masters is to clip the flight feathers with their sharp canines, allowing their pets to "learn their lesson" by the time the feathers regrow. Harsher punishments include repeated plucking until scarring makes it impossible for the feathers to grow back. The practice of plucking, both by controlling Masters and by smaller birds self-inflicting due to stress, has resulted in a mutation that leaves some offspring without flight feathers. They become faster runners, but are permanently grounded.

Since Ollphéan are not sexually dimorphic, there is no inherent sense of gender or sexual identity. Each bird presents as they see fit, choosing pronouns to suit their own tastes. Their outward appearances are not a guaranteed reflection of any particular identity. Along with styling their crests as they like, many birds will clip or pluck their tails and bodies to their liking. Some birds will even "stuff"--accentuating their chests, shoulders, heads, or rears by adding feathers, leaves, and bits of fabric. Birds that like to change their look often will use techniques involving dissolvable saps to temporarily adhere the additions, but birds that desire a more "natural" or permanent look will take the time to find some string and effectively sew in the enhancements.

Another way many birds alter their appearance is through cosmetics. Through the use of natural clay and powders, birds can achieve a wide variety of makeup looks. Aveminare and Aveminus alike have been known to participate in both practices. The use of makeup and/or stuffing is merely up to a bird's personal preferences.

Names are another important part of a bird's self expression. Mated pairs do not name their chicks. All Ollphéan choose their own names, and until the day they decide they are simply referred to in neutral terms. Parents will call their offspring chick, hatchling, or any number of pet names, and strangers will often merely call each other "you". Some birds have a sense of what they wish to be called from a young age, while others may not know right away. It may be years after they have learned to speak before they find a name they like. Since it's based entirely on personal judgment, they can be named literally anything. Most birds pick something they find pleasing to the ear, which can range anywhere from "Juliet" to "The Fitnessgram Pacer Test." Nothing is off limits, and nothing is "not a name." The longer, more outlandish names are often attached to birds who have had a lot of exposure to old human artifacts, or who have learned to read. Reading opens up an entirely new catalogue of name possibilities, and literate birds will often choose names based on something they saw in a book.

Identities are very fluid for Ollphéan. It's not uncommon for them to change a particular aspect about themselves on a whim and for other birds to not even blink an eye. While many will find a name they like and stick with it, even names aren't safe from one day being tossed out in exchange for a better one.

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