Wingfolk architecture is still deeply rooted in their former nomadic ways, and as such, almost all of their buildings take the form of tents. Even in their permanent settlements such as Eight Winds, tents constitute the vast majority of the buildings, even landmark ones like Tale’s Canvas, the great library and repository of lore at the city’s heart.
A typical Wingfolk tent is made from hide or heavy, treated weave and can house up to six people, though larger tents do exist. The smaller ones can be torn down and moved fairly quickly, should a family wish or need to move.
Though most tents are these family tents, there are some truly vast ones. Tale’s Canvas for instance is huge, housing the written records of everything that the Wingfolk Lorekeepers have uncovered and documented, as well as stories and tales shared by the other tribes. Supported by large wooden logs, it can accommodate dozens of people at any given time and rightly stands at the centre of Eight Winds.
Aside from Tale’s Canvas, most Wingfolk communities have at least one great tent, a space for the local populace to come together for celebration, mourning, or just socialising between families and bands. The larger towns and cities might even have more than one of these massive tents.
While the tents themselves are often fairly plain, they’re richly decorated with colourful, triangular flags, ribbons, kites and intricate family chimes. The distance over which a tent’s chime can be heard determines how much space belongs to that tent, an old system that has both prevented and caused many disputes over the years. However, most respect this tradition, meaning that their settlements tend to sprawl over larger areas and feel less dense or cramped when compared to those of other tribes.
The Wingfolk rarely set time aside for governing their realm, as most communities run themselves independently with the goal of serving the greater good of the nation. In times of crisis, however, they may make an exception. One of those times is the Call to Convention.
The Call is not something taken lightly and only occurs in times of emergency, such as a disaster. When word of the summons reaches a group of families, typically called a band, they must head directly to Eight Winds’ Peak. The leader typically separates to go on ahead to ensure that the bands are represented in time. Only a band leader can initiate the Call to Convention, and doing so carries the risk of exile should the motivation be deemed insufficient.
There was once a terrible drought that strained every nation on Nova Thera. It was a particularly difficult year for the Wingfolk who heavily rely on trade for food. The Call to Convention brought the bands together to keep Eight Winds’ Peak fed through their collaborative effort.
When a band is ready to submit a new story for the Tales’ Canvas, a performance is held at Eight Winds for everyone to witness. The performance is an unseen discovery worthy of record. Such significant performances are known as Revival because the story is brought to life once more before being immortalised on the pages. Bands will often plan their Revival months earlier to allow others to make arrangements in advance to witness it. As word spreads, it’s not uncommon for other bands to schedule performances and more Revivals along with the event. The announcement of a Revival often signals the coming of a days-long festival.
All Wingfolk children must perform their First Song. It is a necessary step to be considered an adult, after which they are treated and judged as one. It is a coming-of-age ceremony for Wingfolk to present their first solo performance to the rest of the band, performing a song they themselves have written. The First Song is a private occasion where outsiders are respectfully asked to step aside. During this occasion, the child presents their unique story using instruments they’ve been practising on for this occasion. It is an interpretation of their thoughts and feelings, an expressive display announcing who they have become and a chance for them to pay tribute to those they’ve grown up with. The subject matter and skill of the performance determines the starting point of their reputation as part of the band.
It requires two wings to fly, and this perspective is why the Wingfolk value marriage so highly. When two decide to become lifelong partners, there is a grand celebration. The band holds a feast and invites guests from other bands and tribes. The wedding couple comes together to create their new family chime. Given the importance of the family chime to each tent, their home also requires one.
During the feast, the newlywed couple begins to weave their own chime, combining the elements of their respective family chimes into one. Each half is memorised ahead of time through months of practice. Once the chime is finished, the elders of the tribe can tell the lineage of any household just by hearing the voice of their chime. The newlyweds hang the completed chime in or by their tent to signify the end of the celebration.
When Wingfolk know that childbirth is near, the band will ground itself to allow the parents to prepare for the arrival of the new life. The entire band contributes by helping in whatever manner they are best suited to. The elders inspect the newborns and gently toss them into the air to see how they respond. If the baby laughs, they believe they will be a great flyer. If the baby cries, the prediction is a mighty singer.
Legend speaks of an ancient band leader born during a glider flight and caught midair by a Primeon. It’s commonly known and understood to be just a myth, but the Wingfolk embrace it knowingly, more as a symbol of their connection to the sky rather than a fact.
Wingfolk cremate the deceased and carry the ashes to the nearest mountain peak. Once there, a stone cairn is constructed. The cloak, robes or other garments that the deceased wore on their travels are carefully wrapped around the base of the cairn, and the family chime is brought along to witness the occasion.
Once everything is ready, the ashes are scattered in the air to be carried away by the wind, and a verse or snippet from the dead’s First Song is sung or played. The cairn points towards the stars, symbolising the direction for the departed soul to take its final journey.
If the person had chosen a favourite spot to live out their final years, then their funeral rites take place in that very spot instead, rather than atop a mountain. The cairn is built where the tent stood, the cloth wrapped around it, a memorial to the lost and a mark of respect for the love they held for that place.
Still true to their nomadic roots, the Wingfolk favour lightweight and comfortable clothing, often loose in its fit to allow freedom of movement without constraint. Rugged and easily repaired when on the go, their textiles are often made from commonly found fibres, allowing for easy repair no matter where the Wingfolk may go.
The textiles are often supplemented with various furs and pelts, though these are often abandoned in hotter, drier climates. They tend to favour lighter colours such as off-whites, light shades of tan and blue, and warm, sunset-like hues. Their clothing is often decorated with various stitched patterns and feathers sewn in various places, such as along the shoulders or at the base of a collar.
Extensive trade with the other tribes and their settlements, as well as a general appreciation of all things cultural, has led many of the Wingfolk to incorporate exotic textiles and patterns from these faraway lands. In that sense, an ensemble is often the product of many journeys and experiences and is a record of the places that a particular individual has visited.
In terms of armour, the Wingfolk gravitate toward suits of chain mail along with open-faced helmets, these too supplemented by yet more mail. Underneath the metal, they’ll often use silk made from the weave of the Lilamoths, the cloth made from such silk being exceptionally resistant to cuts. This results in armour that is both light and mobile yet resilient enough to protect its wearer from harm.
Some of these outfits become cultural treasures in their own right when the original wearer passes away. If this happens, it may be given a place of honour in Tale’s Canvas, along with a record of the deeds and acts of the person who wore it in life.
The nomadic lifestyle of the Wingfolk presents a challenging limitation to the complexity of their musical instrument design. Portability is essential, followed by the simple maintenance of their instruments. As the tribe values storytelling and discovery so highly, an exploration into a wide range of instruments to develop one’s performance identity is immensely encouraged.
The free-spirited nature of the Wingfolk means one will never know if the next performance will be a solo or a group effort from one of the bands, or even members from multiple bands. Each performance is uniquely reflective of their experiences journeying across Nova Thera. Musical elements from other nations are woven into their performances through either imitation or by using the same instruments.
Flutes and pipes are a favourite, given the Wingfolk’s historical connection to the air. However, the unique instrument of the tribe is the ocarina. Most are small enough to be carried as pendants, but larger and more complex ocarinas are family treasures passed down through the generations. Using an ocarina is considered an intimate expression of the artist’s emotions and a moment to not be interrupted. The ocarina is also deeply connected to one’s breath and is believed to gauge self-mastery.
Another popular instrument among the Wingfolk is the two-stringed fiddle. This lightweight miniature violin can be easily attached to a glider or brought along in a pack. The string and bow of the fiddle come from the silk of a Lilamoth, and its main
appeal is that it frees the artist to utilise their voice in tandem with it. The dramatic expressions of this fiddle often accompany performances with solid narratives.
Other popular instruments among the Wingfolk are sibling drums, flutes, pitch blocks, and maraca.
The Wingfolk’s food situation was uniquely challenging due to their nomadic lifestyle. Traditionally, roaming bands hunted and scavenged food from the land while resorting to trade for the rest of their supplies. This was far from consistent, and the lack of reliability increased the risk of low supply and over-hunted areas. However, trade led to trading posts, trading posts led to settlements, and settlements led to farming. These fledgling settlements then traded their surplus, and thus some food stability was ensured.
Travel cake is a famous Wingfolk dish that is prepared the day before setting out for a new camp. To make the dish, leftover meat is torn and broken down into a bowl. A second, slightly smaller bowl is pushed on top to squeeze as much liquid from the paste as possible. The paste is seasoned and then shaped into patties and floured. The pre-cooked cake is deep-fried in a pot for several minutes and left hanging on wires to drip off the excess oil. The cakes are tightly wrapped in leaves and tied with fibre string. The crunchy snack, as the name suggests, is for long-distance flights between camp locations. When properly prepared, a travel cake is edible for up to a week but is most crispy when eaten immediately after frying.
Eight Winds, named after the octagonal mountain Eight Winds’ Peak upon which it rests, marks the spot where the Wingfolk built their first permanent settlement. To this day the city is still true to the people’s nomadic past, a sprawling town of tents, spaced well apart. Wide open streets under the wide open sky, as some would say.
Storytelling and uncovering humanity’s lost past lies at the very heart of their culture, and so too lies Tale’s Canvas at the heart of Eight Winds. Here, the Lorekeepers document stories they’ve been told, found or created, as well as any findings of the old world that they uncover. Tale’s Canvas is a grand library, documenting the very idea of humanity - culture, in all its forms.
The tents themselves are usually fairly plain, ranging in size from just a single dwelling to ones housing entire families. None come close to matching the scale of Tale’s Canvas, but each is decorated with colourful flags in various shapes, soaring kites and ribbons fluttering in the constant wind.
Eight Winds is also known as Gentlesong. This is due to the fact that every home has a family chime, the pattern and sound of which documents that family’s past, their deeds, marriages, and all manner of things. The distance over which a chime can be heard marks a boundary within which others won’t set their tents, meaning that a visitor or resident will always hear the song of one, and only one, chime.
Esau Halong is a respected caretaker of the Tale’s Hall. While other nations might consider such a position as lowly, for the Wingfolk it is a tremendous honour to be entrusted with maintaining the records. Esau is one of the grounded, and they never leave Eight Winds’ Peak. Wingfolk children who misbehave near the Tale’s Hall often run home screaming in fear of Esau’s wrathful tongue-lashing, but the elderly’s temperament stems from their sense of duty.
Florence Ventu was a renowned explorer and cartographer among the Wingfolk. Her many travels and adventures over the years made her a legend in her own time to her people, and that legend lives on to this day. A common joke that highlights her fame is told as follows: “The only thing that precedes Florence is her reputation.” She mapped most of the Drakefang Mountains, home to several Tatsumakis, by herself.