Waifs were very small, wiry, and frail; an adult waif stood at less than half the height of an adult fourthling. Their heads, eyes, and ears were disproportionately large compared to their bodies, and their long, spindly fingers were too. Waifs' eyes varied greatly in colour, but most were somewhere between yellow and red.
Most waifs had smooth skin, while some, such as mottled waifs and greywaifs, had blotchy, mottled skin. Some, such as waterwaifs and blackwaifs, had scales covering their bodies. Waterwaifs also had webbed fingers. Waifs had thick, black blood.
Flitterwaifs were very different to any other kind of waif. They were closely related to bats, and were the only waifs with wings. They were small enough to perch on a fourthling's arm, but were also quite primitive, not displaying the same brain-power as other varieties of waif. They also had long fangs to drain their victims' blood.
Waifs' ears were huge and batlike. They were so large, in fact, that they enabled waifs to hear the thoughts of those around them, and also project their own thoughts to others. This meant that two waifs could silently converse without anyone else knowing about it.
This telepathy was both a blessing and a curse for waifs. In the Nightwoods, it was an essential tool for them to "see" through the darkness, but in cities, it made them untrustworthy, ruining many friendships.
Before the construction of the Waif Trail and Thorn Gate, waifs lived wild, solitary lifestyles in the Nightwoods. Life was very harsh, and if they showed any weakness, they would be attacked by fellow hungry waifs. During this period, many were desperate to flee their home, and attempted to escape through the Thorn Forests. Few who tried actually made it, as the Thorn Forests and Deepwoods were dangerous places for such frail creatures.
After the construction of the Waif Trail and Thorn Gate, the waifs of the Nightwoods had a link to the outside world, allowing them to trade freely, and leave their dark homes, if they wished. They built a huge city at Riverrise, ruled by Golderayce One-Eye and his Custodians. Although most waifs chose to live at Riverrise, some more primitive species still lived wild in the Nightwoods, preying on unwary travellers on the Waif Trail. Some of these species were flitterwaifs, barkwaifs, leechwaifs and bloodwaifs.
The Outside World
First Age of Flight
The few waifs who did manage to survive the journey through the Thorn Forests found themselves in the Deepwoods. In order to travel to the cities of Undertown and Sanctaphrax, they would need to travel on a sky ship over the Twilight Woods and the Mire. The Twilight Woods, while dangerous to all beings (except shrykes), were especially treacherous to waifs, filling their heads with the strangest visions and sounds, even from considerable distances away.
Upon reaching Undertown, waifs would find that they were untrusted, and avoided by most other citizens. Because of this, many waifs were tempted to choose lives of secrecy or even evil. Those waifs who could be trusted were known to be dedicated and loyal, determined to show that not all waifs were bad.
Second Age of Flight
Third Age of Flight
During the Third Age of Flight, Waif Glen expanded, and an even larger population of waifs lived there. Many waifs lived in other areas of Great Glade, as well as in smaller settlements like the Farrow Ridges.
Waifs' mind-reading abilities made them very useful for certain jobs.
- Waif Assassins
- Tavern waifs
- Waif Signallers (Second and Third Ages of Flight)
- Keeper of the Garden of Thoughts (Second and Third Ages of Flight)
- Waif Guides (Third Age of Flight)
- Custodians (Third Age of Flight)
- Flitterwaif pets (Third Age of Flight)
- Healers at Riverrise (Third Age of Flight)
Clothing and Weapons
Waifs tended to wear long, hooded cloaks or robes that reached down to the floor. A notable exception to this was Healer Barkscale, who chose to wear a topcoat and an apron.Because of their diminutive stature, waifs tended not to use large, powerful weapons. In the Nightwoods, they used blow-darts dipped in blackroot oil, a deadly poison readily available to them. Waif assassins outside the Nightwoods generally used daggers to kill their victims. Flitterwaifs couldn't use weapons, so they used their needle-sharp fangs to subdue their prey.
Varieties of Waif
- Blue Waifs
- Mottled Waifs
- Yellow-Eared Waifs
Notable WaifsBlue Waifs
- Golderayce's pet
- Cancaresse (species unknown)
- Gelve's owner (ghostwaif)
- Thornesse (species unknown)
- Threnodesse (species unknown)
- Artifuce (species unknown, probably ghostwaif)
- Cedifice (species unknown)
- Patricule (species unknown, probably nightwaif)
Young waifs were called waiflings.
Different waif species often had different naming conventions. The suffix "-cule" or "-ule" was often attached to the names of nightwaifs (as in Forficule, Partifule, Fevercule...), and the suffix "-fuce" was often attached to the names of ghostwaifs (as in Amberfuce and Garrafuce). The suffix "-esse" was common among female waifs (such as Cancaresse, Thornesse, and Threnodesse).
The naming convention for waterwaifs was far different than those of any other species of waif. Waterwaif names typically were a combination of a tree-related word and a word relating to aquatic life. Examples include Woodfish, Barkscale, and Codsap.