Bending is an ancient art, it’s origins lost to the ages. Few outside of the northern continent know how they work, or how they’re distinct from wizardry. The bending arts use an innate connection to the elemental planes, along with manipulation of the flow of personal energy, by now highly ritualized as breathing exercises and specific, deliberate motions, to bend the flow of energy and matter to one’s will.
While the benders were originally one culture and one race, sapient nature has caused them to splinter into four main nations, and countless offshoots, while the talent for bending has been turning up in more and more races.
Each main nation was founded by a specific type of bender. Benders of other types can be found in the nations, though it is unusual. Non-benders are found in the cultures as well, and in fact typically out number the people actually able to use a bending art.
The Air Benders come from the nation of Sanguine, a culture which inhabits the vast Sanguine Mountain Ranges, surrounding Melanic Valley. They dwell in tall mountain monasteries and cities, the air filled with the tingling and echoing of wind chimes large and small. The largest portion of the nations population is the Ghaele touched people, descended from celestial knight errants. The people are typically impulsive, talkative and charismatic. They aren’t, however, necessarily the best at understanding other people, and tend to be flighty and flake a bit.
Earth Benders inhabit the nation of Melanic, nestled in the eponymous valley, and stretching into caverns and caves, even below the the Sanguine Mountain Range. The nation is fairly quiet, many of it’s people given to stoic work or contemplation. The nation has a sizable number of fearsome faced, but kind natured gargoyles, long demonized outside the protection of their mountain dwelling neighbours for their savage appearances.
Strung above, and carefully constructed upon a smoldering, fissure vent cracked caldera of a volcano kept magically dormant is the nation of the Fire Benders, Choler. Hot springs and geysers surround the gentle slopes of the slumbering giant, keeping the otherwise frozen landscape quite habitable. Cholerins are energetic and passionate people, fueled by a love of battle and conflict of all types, and life itself. The quick tempered githyanki appear in large number, and bring with them a not inconsiderable number of red, gold and copper dragons.
The southern shores of the Northern Continent make up the nation of Phlegos, where dwell the Water Benders. The people of Phlegos, are quite friendly and relaxed, and tend to be quiet, and at times lazy and sluggish. They usually have an abundance of affection, to the point of being mothering, or father figures. They do, however, like stability, and can have difficulty adjusting to change or uncertainty. A number of the people of Phlegos are various aquatic races, such as merfolk, tritons, locathah and the occasional sahuagin.