... is very scientifical.
The embodiments of the land which they inhabit; they are known in many tongues, but the most apt is Old Arcturian: genius loci. The spirit of the land.
Born of the briefest interaction between the mindless essence that silently roams the Planar Infinity and the harsh real-ness of the Material Plane, Elementals inhabit either matter or energy in a constant quest towards greater power. As with any alien being, their methods and motives have been scrutinised heavily by scholars since being recognised as a separate phenomenon from natural events, but even so, little progress has been made towards truly equal interaction with these beings.
Elementals are inherently bound to the Material Plane, in spite of having manifestations in the Planar Infinity as well. Elementals instinctually seek to expand their influence outwards, like an animal growing its territory. Earthquakes are one earth elemental consuming another, but most elementals grow by much more clear and visible means. A single burning leaf in a forest is a fire elemental being born, and after it has burned down the forest and run out of fuel it dies.
While their expansion begins as instinctive, as an elemental ages it becomes sentient. The strict delineation of when it shifts from an animalistic level intelligence to sentience is unclear, and unknowable to man. However, as an elemental grows older and more powerful it slowly pushes through to consciousness and sentience, alongside which its capability for communication with other species similarly sees a steadily increasing competence. While a weak elemental may not be able to communicate, emotional conveyance slowly becomes possible with more power, followed by speech and even telepathy (although this rare skill manifests only in the most potent, or ‘royal’ of Elementals).
By their very nature, therefore, Elementals fall into a rough hierarchy defined by their capabilities and size. This hierarchy does not originate from the elementals themselves, but are classifications applied to them by man. At the bottom of this odd pyramid is the fledgling, most of which occupy an area no larger than a few metres across; easily handled by most individuals, whether through combat or flight. Following this comes steadily more powerful specimens: lesser, standard, greater and superior, before finally arriving at the rarest and most fearsome - the royal Elemental. Very few of these are known and they are capable of truly powerful feats in the defence of their interests.
Of these, a few notable are listed;
- The Shoreless Gulf - Associated with all the world’s oceans, in constant conflict with the Sea of Storms.
- The Sea of Storms - Associated with a hurricane the size of a continent, in constant conflict with the Shoreless Gulf.
- Typhon - Associated with a mountain range in Stoneheart.
Any analysis of the Elementals must eventually come to their stratification into easily observed and defined subtypes that closely follow (or more likely inspired) the classical interpretation of the elements.
Air Elementals are flighty and restless, constantly on the move. Appearing as barely-visible swirling nimbuses, ferocious storms or striking lightning, they are least bound to a physical location. High peaks, where one is surrounded only by open air for miles, or open plains with frequent tornadoes are the habitual residences of these beings.
Earth Elementals contrast near directly, being stubborn and steadfast, comfortable in one location, whether as large and unmoving boulders, in the depths of deep and ore-rich caverns or as immense and snow-crested mountain ranges.
Fire Elementals are impulsive, unpredictable, and possessing of an easily riled anger. Hopping frivolously through the world, ripping through dried-up forests and inhabiting volcanoes and magmatic plains alike, these are undoubtedly the most dangerous of their kind.
Water Elementals are stoically serene, knowing that in time, all things bow under the pressure of water. So it comes that they inhabit most bodies of water, from the smallest pond to the mightiest of uncrossable oceans.
Phenomena such as the so-called Lightning Elemental (once claimed as an individual subtype) are now seen as unfortunate relics of an understandably mistaken mortal body; whether these beings are actually feuding air elementals moving too quickly for the mortal eye or instead a subtype of that same ‘species’ is not yet determined.