|Pelandan painting of a sprite|
It is unknown exactly when sprites first appeared in Glorantha. Conventional wisdom claims they were creatures of the Green Age, like the vast majority of Aldryami. However, sprites are intricately connected with flowering plants, which were proven by the God Learners of Jrustela to first appear in the Golden Age.
Even their origin has been called into question, some of the myriad of stories include:
- In Dara Happa it is said that the god Arraz (sometimes called by the elven name Shanassee) created the first sprites in imitation of the winged Certami, to please the goddess Erenbaya mother of plants.
- In Ralios, sprites are said to be the flowers born by Flamal the great tree, which fell to the ground in mourning when he was destroyed by Zorak Zoran.
- The Orlanthi say that the sprites were created by the elves in imitation of Orlanth's Impests, the spirits which fly to vex those who have offended the King of the Gods. Like these petty gods, sprites are sent to plague those who have offended, and the Heortlings are known to call them Imps, after the messengers of Orlanth's wrath.
What is known is that the sprites were present when Flamal fell at the hands of the trollish war god, and all died on the spot, or were sent into the underworld by his servants.
The sprites themselves, on those rare occasions when one has been interrogated, claim that they saw the thralls of Zorak Zoran, the burrowing rodents. These beasts chewed through the roots of the Great Tree, rendering him vulnerable to Death. They dove into the underworld to pursue the rodents, and have been fighting a war against them ever since, even after they reappeared on the surface at the dawn.
|God Learner Woodcut of a sprite bound by a dog spirit|
clouded by the motes of some luminous substance, the infamous pixie-dust desired by alchemists and poisoners. Most who have seen them describe them simply as tiny humanoid figures with brightly patterned wings.
When examined closely, any idea of them being child-like or beautiful quickly falls away. Sprites, like other Aldryami, more closely resemble plants than humans. Their body is formed around a large central root acting much as the torso does with other creatures, while other more slender and flexible roots sprout off from it, acting as arms and legs, with no great distinction between one or another.
These limbs rarely display any form of symmetry, with odd numbers of finger-like rootlets sprouting from their limbs almost at random, which they use to grasp objects.
The "head" of the sprite sprouts above the central root, formed out of a flower-like organ, the result resembles the antenna of a timinit, with stamen-like organs providing sight, sound, and other senses to the sprite, all concealed by protective petals when not being used.
The wings of a sprite are formed from what, on a normal plant, would be leaves. The network of veins across them giving a superficial resemblance to those of butterflies or moths, as does the ever-present dust which coats them.
This radiant dust is shed in vast amounts by a sprite when confronted with humans and other non-Aldryami, and seems to be its pollen. Exactly why this is done has been debated amongst scholars. The two most dominant theories are as follows: Firstly, that it is done to ensure survival of the species, to lay the seed of the next generation even when the current generation of sprites is endangered. The other is that the pollen acts as a kind of language mankind is not privy to, and is much like how an animal roars to scare off a predator.
Sprites have the shortest lifespan of any Aldryami, living for just a single year at most. While the vast majority are born in Sea Season and die in Storm Season, there are some forms, kin to winter flowering plants, who are active in the Dark and Storm seasons.
Sprites spend most of their short life in a dormant state, buried just beneath the surface, with only their head and wings exposed. In this state, they resemble just another flower or weed, and on occasion an unwary traveller has camped in a field to rest, only to discover he is in a nest of sprites. The reason for their dormancy is unknown, with God Learner studies determining that your average sprite spends less than a season active.
When active, sprites spend much of their time guarding flowers in isolated groves, or spying on intruders into elven forests. They will often serve as spies for the larger elves, watching invading humans or trolls from high branches out of sight, or even from the spirit world.
When forced into violence, sprites will typically flee, for they are flimsy beings, and at great danger from enemies. They will take advantage of their ability to fly, and when enemies cannot reach them, will often pelt them with small stones or nuts. This poses little risk, but can distract enemies to allow elves or other Aldryami to flank them.
The one exception to a sprite's caution, is against rodents of all kind, which the sprites blame for the death of Flamal. They will attack rats, shrews, and even rubble runners with a fury unseen outside of berserkers. Occasionally a visitor to an elven wood may even find rodents impaled on thorns, like the victims of a butcher bird.
Sprites are beings that stand on the boundary between the inner world, and the spirit world, and are able to see and interact with spirits as if they were solid entities. Sprites may even become spirits themselves through concentration, abandoning their material form, and appearing to vanish into thin air.
In this state, sprites are vulnerable only to spirits and shamans, but likewise cannot attack those in the inner, material world.
Sprites are loath to remain as spirits for long, suggesting that it is uncomfortable, or even painful to them.
Other than this, sprites have no other innate magic. However, like other Aldryami all sprites are part of the Aldrya tradition, although none has ever become a great magician or shaman.