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The Harp and Her Shadow by KatieHofgard The Harp and Her Shadow by KatieHofgard
In preparation for uploading an new illustration tomorrow, I thought I'd upload this picture with some information about the species and the characters. I put this on my tumblr back in march, but I thought putting it in my gallery might be nice. Long read ahead!



Nym’s species (called the Alecani) have two methods of producing sound. Humans have a larynx, and birds have a syrinx to produce sound, both are located in different positions of the throat. Alecani have both, and can produce a huge variety of sounds using them. Like many bird species, their ability to copy the calls of other animals is almost perfect. With both a larynx and syrinx, they can produce more than one sound at a time, or produce a sound with their syrinx and modify it with the larynx. As a result, they can do really cool things like harmonize with themselves!

This duel voice is a key in the species ability to communicate with other creatures. It’s not just about mimicry, they seek to be able to speak the language of other animals. Voice and song are also a key element of their culture. Being story teller or a singer is one of the highest status in Alecani society. Even in during conflicts between tribes, singers and story tellers are always given safe passage. Killing or bringing harm to singers/storytellers earns you permanent scorn, banishment, and with some tribes even execution.

Across the entire species, there is a position held as the best singer. Whoever holds this position in Alecani society is dubbed “The Harp” and is considered divine. She does not govern, but holds considerable cultural sway nonetheless. If you’re a leader and The Harp makes a suggestion, you follow it or risk political suicide. The Harp is accompanied by a regiment of elite guards wherever they go, as well as servants. To serve The Harp is one of the highest callings of an Alecani, guards and servants are treated very well by others. The Harp has one guard/servant who is their closest confidant. This Alecani is dubbed the Harps Shadow, because their are always by The Harp’s side. Both The Harp and their Shadow cast away names and any other previous life they may have had to serve this important position in Alecani Society.

In Nym’s time, The Harp is a female albino Alecani. She is virtually blind, and so relies on her Shadow a lot more. Because of her blindness, she does not fly. She can, perhaps with guidance, glide short distances. So she travels by air carriage (which I haven’t designed yet) which is drawn by several of her strongest flyers. She is notoriously quiet politically, and does not wish to meddle with the affairs of the tribes. She does not like to make demands of others around her, she seems very humble. Indeed, her only pleasure in life is to sing, and to sing with passion. It’s said she has one of the most beautiful voices of any Harp in generations.

There are rumors that she and her Shadow are in love, which is sort of a no-no. The Harp is not allowed to have children, and neither is her Shadow. It might interfere with their duties, as well as create a “divine bloodline”, which the Alecani try to avoid. Merit is based off what an individual can do, not bloodline. Good singers, good leaders, good warriors can come from any bloodline. And since these two hold what might be the highest position in society, the Alecani could not help but treat their children different than other children, to elevate them based off who their parents are.
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:iconalari-the-werewolf:
Alari-the-werewolf Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Pardon me but, what do you mean by "virtually blind"?
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Well there is entirely blind (no eyes, no function in the ocular nerves, some other cause), and there is partially blind.  In animals with albinism, the cells that make up the pupils also lack pigment, making them a lighter color than black (typically appearing purplish or reddish).  Because those colors don't absorb as much light as black, the individual is partially blind.  In human terms, a person with albinism might be 'legally blind', which prevents them from driving and allows them access to certain amenities that blind people have access to.  But they can still see well enough to get around in their well known spaces, and read with a large magnifying glass.
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:iconalari-the-werewolf:
Alari-the-werewolf Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
ahh I see, thank you ^^
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:iconfriedpotatoshard:
Friedpotatoshard Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014  Student General Artist
Im in love with this culture/society!!!!! I would love to know more about it <3
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:iconrafalucci:
RafaLucci Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh gosh so cute ♥
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:iconarcadunato:
arcadunato Featured By Owner May 7, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
whoaw. some times i wish i could disapear into some thing.
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:iconswan107:
swan107 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Love the species and the story!!! Wish you would do adoptables for these species!
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I may someday! I have yet to develop them completely. =)
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:iconswan107:
swan107 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Can't wait for that day and would love to see what you do with them in the future!
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:iconpaintedcricket:
PaintedCricket Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Reminds me of the Celts and their storytellers~
:heart:
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Aw, thank you!
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:iconpaintedcricket:
PaintedCricket Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
=3
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:iconblackwolfoffireworks:
Blackwolfoffireworks Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love the species design.
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:iconyvonnifhang:
YvonniFhang Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Love the stories behind these. :aww:
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:icon9-11-00:
9-11-00 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
oosoom
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:iconkakashiwolffan:
kakashiwolffan Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
this is so cool ; u ;
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:iconrasenth:
rasenth Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012
I love your pencil art so much *3*
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks! This is actually a digital painting, done in Photoshop (not a pencil drawing). ^^
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:iconrasenth:
rasenth Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2012
Ohh! That's awesome! <3 Totally didn't notice! XD
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:icongudruna:
gudruna Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012
awesome
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:iconleighanief:
leighanief Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Awww, really adorable and neat little backstory/species information.
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:iconcorustenebrae:
CorusTenebrae Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
looks rly nice! ^^ interesting concept :D
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:icontonystardreamer:
tonystardreamer Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful species. Did you come up with them or did Nym, or is Nym a character you made? Either way this is an amazing picture and I love it. :D
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you!

Nym is a character I made that is the same species as these two characters, they live in the same world! Nym is just the main character of the story, so to speak, and the first one I developed for this world.
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:icontonystardreamer:
tonystardreamer Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Your Welcome. :)

Sounds like an interesting story you got going there. Are you planing to run with it and turn it into a full-fledged story?
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Not sure yet! It would be really cool to write something that chronicles Nym's whole story, but so far it's just snippets. Maybe one day I'll sew the snippets together and make a book or something.
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:icontonystardreamer:
tonystardreamer Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well I'd love to read it if you ever finish it. :)
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:iconmegeso:
Megeso Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012
This concept is fascinating! Wonderful work!
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:iconwayashinzui:
WayaShinzui Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012
Ahh, they're so cute! I wanna squee and snuggle them, but I'm not sure they would appreciate it. x3
It's amazing that you have put so much into them! One question: Is the Harp always female, or can a male become the Harp too?
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you so much! The Harp can definitely be male too. =)
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:iconraineve:
Raineve Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Loved seeing this on your tumblr and now here!
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Yay, I'm glad!
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:iconraineve:
Raineve Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Also really enjoyed the new story on your Weasyl! Love learning about your world!
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you! =D Hopefully I'll be able to set aside some time to write more soon.
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:iconoreochema:
Oreochema Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Now this is just cool! Plain awesome! :D
Reply
:iconcomatoseangel:
ComatoseAngel Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Love love love the back story! I would love to harmonize with myself. The Harp is so adorable! She has a very ethereal feel about her, but her shadow is her anchor. <3 Very awesome
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I know, I wish I could sing like that too, haha! I'm glad you like it. =)
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:iconcomatoseangel:
ComatoseAngel Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
<3
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:iconwerewterrefgrin:
WerewTerrefGrin Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Student General Artist
Yaaaay the Harp (and her shadow) is on DA :D
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:iconopalskye:
OpalSkye Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love the background story, so rich and solid. Unique and intriguing, really looking forwards to more on the Alecani!

The drawing is equally beautiful, you can see that there's tenderness between the two, the dimorphism between the two is obvious but not distracting. Absolutely stunning :D
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I'm so glad! I like a little dimorphism for the species, but not enough that females look really different than males.
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:iconopalskye:
OpalSkye Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm with all the others who've expressed interest in their own Alecani, I can't wait to see you develop them further and maybe make my own one day (once you've got everything ready!) :D
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:iconcharliek-33:
CharlieK-33 Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Really interesting, I love the double voice idea, would sound beautiful. I hope there is more on these two...
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:iconveinne:
veinne Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012   Photographer
Cool concept and art, look forward to seeing more. :)
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:iconstray-sketches:
Stray-Sketches Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
These are wonderful character designs and I absolutely love everything about your story! You've put so much effort and detail into their history and culture, and it makes the species as a whole very interesting.
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:iconkatiehofgard:
KatieHofgard Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Aw, thanks so much!
Reply
:iconstray-sketches:
Stray-Sketches Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
you're very welcome!
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:iconsnashyle:
Snashyle Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Student General Artist
Wow, that's really cool, great ideas! :clap:
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Flagged as Spam
:iconveinne:
veinne Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012   Photographer
Don't spam, it's not nice.
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