A male and a female Aeséni.
|unknown, assumed to be a few tens of thousands at most|
The Aeséni - colloquially known as Ice Elves and Snow Elves - is a race assumed to be indigenous to Continental Artograch.
The names Ice Elves and Snow Elves are highly misleading (and considered offensive by the Aeséni), as despite their vaguely Elvish looks (human-like, but with pointy ears, pale skin), they have no genetical relationship with any of the Elven races, are incapable of interbreeding with them, and have a culture completely different from theirs.
Physically, the Aeséni vaguely resemble High Elves and Wood Elves in the sense that they are a humanoid race characterized by pointy ears and pale skin. However, in contrast with the Elves whose skin colour is a very light shade of pink or yellowish pink, Aeséni have a skin colour that would be best described as a very light and highly desaturated shade of greyish brown or brownish grey. Their hair colour varies between raven-black and snow-white, with nothing in between: blond, brown and red are non-existent, although some claimed to have seen cyan-haired Aeséni. Their eye colour varies between various shades of blue, including but not limited to azure-blue, cyan, sapphire and turquoise. They also have epicanthic folds.
The lifespan of an Aeséni specimen is roughly a millennium, during which they do not display the same signs of ageing other races do - instead of getting wrinkly, their eyes starts to lose its colour, their hair turns from pure black/white to impure grey, their bodies weaken until they become completely bedridden, and they lose the last vestiges of fertility/virility they even had previously. Their females are lacking in fertility, and their males are not prolific either - they are characterized by having low sex-drives, and even when they get intimate, the chance of pregnancy is very low, meaning that few are born every century, keeping the population low.
An Aeséni cosmetically reaches maturity at the age of 36, effectively growing up at the speed half of that of a human, however, they are incapable of impregnating or getting pregnant until the age of a century.
Aeséni are highly resistant to cold. While a specimen of any other non-undead sentient race (save for dragons, maybe) would find the cold of the perpetually snowy mountains unbearable without a set of warm clothes or fire, the Aeséni endure the cold of the perpetually snowy mountains with ease even while naked - clothes are worn for aesthetic (stigma against nudity) and defensive reasons (similar purpose as armour).
Culture and society
The Aeséni people are very few in numbers, and mainly inhabit forests atop mountains with perpetual snow. They are a highly introverted and xenophobic people extremely wary and unwelcoming of outsiders, deliberately seeking to avoid all forms of contact with them. The only outsider who was known to have been able to gain their trust and be tolerated for a prolonged period of time was the High Elven adventurer-scholar Aetharis Heasinddare.
According to the writings of the aforementioned scholar, the Aeséni are a highly sentimental and emotional race: arranged marriages are unheard of, romantic love is deemed important; a man spends decades, if not centuries courting a woman, and once a woman has pledged herself to a man and has given birth to a child of his, she is not allowed to pledge herself to another man ever again. High amount of care is put into the upbringing of children - parents play close attention to instilling their values into the children until the age of ~40, after which they are expected to become productive members of the tribe (which very often consists of less than 30 individuals).
Heasinddare wrote that every member of the tribe was expected to know ice magic - men were expected to excel at offensive capabilities, women were expected to also know healing magic. In fact, all the rites of passage involve magic. For men, the rite of passage also includes physical feats.