In my magical version of Earth's history, at around the time that humans became anatomically modern 200,000 years ago, a variant of the human female gender arose with batlike wings around 6m wide when extended and feet that are more like birds' talons, who could fly thanks to the presence of magic. These females came to be referred to as Lilim, in reference to the best-known member of their gender, Lilith. Lilim and women each bred true, producing offspring that are either male or females of their own type. In a relatively short time (10-25 thousand years), despite lilim's birth rate half that of women (more on that later), the winged lilim form superseded the wingless woman form as the body form of all female humans, due in the most part to the lilim-form's greater survivability and ability to protect offspring in the hostile wild environment of the time.

To summarise, Lilim can fly quite well as long as there is background magic for them to draw upon. Individual lilim can also carry aloft loads roughly equivalent to at least their own mass, and each extra lilim co-operating can double that, up to a point that can nevertheless be almost preposterously high - on the order of millions of tons with the right team. Lilim are more like men in their psychology, including desire for social dominance and selection of sexual partners, tending more to select on the basis of appearance than for their ability to provide for offspring long-term as tends to be the case with women. They tend to prefer dominant sexual positions to those that leave them supine with their wings trapped against the ground (which would become a significant point of contention with men on earth)

Lilim differentiate from women at six to eight years of age (though sometimes the change may not begin until the early twenties, well post-puberty) as they grow wings and their feet change into talons over the following three to four years. Before this, it would take complex magic or chromosomal screening to tell if a girl-child of a lilim will become a woman or a lilim.

Lilim differ from women in that instead of having 2 X-chromosomes, they have 1 X and one L (which is larger than the X). XX offspring did not implant into the uterus due to fetal-maternal incompatibilities, and LY is also a lethal combination due to the lack of certain genes found only on the X-chromosome. A very rare individual can be born LXY - they are anatomically male with wings, but are sterile.

Anyway, when humans began to practise agriculture around 25,000 years ago, a disagreement arose between men and lilim. Men were the primary labourers while lilim continued to flitter around frivolously, and dormant genetic imperatives attracting men to women arose.

A male magician named Adam performed a spell that effectively modified the X-chromosome in one of his followers so that lilim could successfully carry XX woman offspring to term, as long as one of the X-chromosomes was the modified version, and as a result, the first of the new women, Eve, was born, eventually becoming Adam's 'wife'. The altered (genetically modern) X-chromosome spread both genetically and magically, and within a few thousand years, became the only extant version of that chromosome.

This means that modern lilim have a birth rate 3/4 that of women, perhaps a little more, and of the offspring who are born, approximately equal numbers will be male, women or lilim. With women continuing to breed true, producing only males and women, the mathematics of the situation was that - social selection aside - lilim were doomed to become extinct or a minority curiosity.

The most famous lilim, Lilith, discovered an airborne phenomenon that allowed flying beings to travel between worlds via air-filled tunnels (with lengths measured in the tens of thousands of kilometres rather than light-years) between stars which have orbiting oxygen-bearing worlds, known as the Gyre. Faced with the demise of her gender, Lilith conceived of an exodus of lilim to other worlds within the gyre where the dominant men of the time could not follow, and she and a large number of followers and a similarly large number of slave or captured men departed into the Gyre with literal mountains of supplies for a number of new worlds where they could forge new lives on the lilim's terms.

On earth, as magic declined after a major magical war, the remaining lilim lost their wings and talons and after a brief stint in legend and history as Amazons, became indistinguishable from women.


Multiple Lilim can lift around 70kg for around an hour, each doubling in mass or duration requiring an additional lilim, each of whom spends the minimal amount of their total magical power. The limiting factor is the magical power of the weakest member and the number of lilim that can touch at elast some part of the object (which may be a parcel of smaller objects).

A single lilim may linearly increase the mass or duration of a personal load by increasing the cost. This limits a typical lilim to 70kg for 15 hours or 70kg x15 =1050kg for 1 hour, at which point they would be magically exhausted, and would need to recover over the next 24 hours to be at full power again.

Should a lilim drop an object, the magical cost must be spent again to pick up another heavy object.

Lilim also have power over the winds for as long as they concentrate, at twice the cost of Lifting their base mass. They can create, still and direct winds up to 100 kph with one lilim, 180 kph with two, 240 kph with 3, 280kph with four, 300 kph with five and 320kph with six or more lilim. If two groups of lilim oppose one-another, each acting/opposing pair cancels each-other out, and only the unopposed lilim count for purposes of the wind their group can control.

The Question:

Given that Lilim are entirely comfortable with heights and can, when co-operating, raise truly stupendous amounts of material into the air - and with a little magic, can pin a structure in the air relative to another nearby object (such as a point on the ground several kilometres below, or a nearby airborne structure) effectively permanently, allowing airborne towns, how might these lilim live? How would they treat men and women who would naturally be ill-at-ease living in an airborne lilim town? What would be the fate of their female offspring who proved to be women, not lilim?

I'm aware that there could be a lot of answers to this, but I'm looking for answers that leave Lilim as a significant part of human society in their new worlds, either as equals or dominant to the other genders.

Is it inevitable that lilim would need to live as mistresses over the men and sterilised outcast women (those that weren't killed for not being lilim) toiling below their lofty airborne cities in order to remain a viable part of their part of the human race, could some semblance of equality exist, or would there be worlds where the lilim have allowed themselves to dwindle and perhaps even vanish rather than become cruel mistresses over the rest of humanity?

  • $\begingroup$ I'd say this depends on the history of a given society. Just like some human cultures on Earth are matriarchies and others are patriarchies. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 7, 2015 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ The weight carrying thing seems like it could massively dominate how they are treated. Is it easy for them to gang up like that? The ability to generate hundreds of tons of force with just a few individuals is not something to trifle at. On its own, that ability could let them live a warrior life, doing nothing but dropping boulders on their enemies, while humans begin cowering underground $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Sep 7, 2015 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon, they can lift weights, but it costs them magically to do so, each time they lift something. Dropping things is certainly possible, but isn't particularly accurate. Still, you do have a point that hadn't escaped me. Don't forget that lilim are human, though. Without men, there won't be any lilim. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Sep 7, 2015 at 4:46
  • $\begingroup$ Question, if the lilim want to get away from the dominant men of the time, why did they take captured men with them? What do you mean by the lilim's own terms? $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2015 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ScottDowney, Lilim are still human, and are still female, so they need men so that they can become pregnant. At the time they left, women were returning rapidly, and usually sided with men against the minority lilim wherever disputes arose between men and lilim. The purpose of taking captured men was to ensure that their breeding partners were under their control, and would not be in any position to prevent the lilim from dealing... appropriately... with any women they bore (whatever that might mean was a matter of debate amongst the lilim). $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Sep 7, 2015 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


There is no real point to airborne cities unless you have vehicles for transporting cargo in the air. With magic airships might be practical, but they'd probably be too expensive to compete with water transport. So cities and most of the population would be on the ground and along rivers and coasts.

Airborne structures would be defensive or ceremonial in nature. Since such structures would have obvious value over ground based competition and would be accessible only to lilim or people assited by lilim, lilim would reasonably end up as the military and religious caste. This would give the lilim a superior social status compared to the rest of the population. Powerful kshatriya and brahmin families would live in their airborne palaces, guard their airborne keeps and towers, worship in their airborne temples. And men and women would toil below to support their better in form of taxes and tithes. (Protection and spiritual guidance would presumably be provided in return.)

As for reproduction. It would mostly be between men and women to supply the population of lower classes to do the work. The lilim would presumably have some suitable men in their palaces as servants, advisors in managing the administration, and for breeding. I'd presume that lilim would only have sex with men when they actually want children and that being chosen as a father would be a great honor given in return for years of faithful service. Men and women born would presumably be given to the father, while lilim would be raised by the mother.

This would create an administrative caste of men and women with significant lilim blood that would act as an intermediary between lilim and others. There would be little reason for lilim to interact directly with the lower castes outside war or rebellion. And some religious rituals where a choir of singing lilim priestesses blesses the people from above.

Reasonably the relationship between lilim and others would then be defined by this administrative caste. Since they'd be blood related to the lilim they serve, the relationship between lilim and the "mandarins" would probably be fairly good. The big question is the relationship to the lower castes.

The good news is that I do not see anything that would predetermine it. The mandarins could be strictly separate from people without lilim blood and combine the insanity of apartheid with the strict caste society of ancient India. Or they could be like the gentry of the British Empire and have good social mobility and intermarriages with wealthy merchants. Who'd in turn be fairly open downwards as well. As above, so below. In a society like that the "low born" (not born in an airborne building) might have extensive legal rights and great deal of autonomy. There could be family relations or patron-client relation from the top to bottom, so abuses and issues of the low born would eventually be addressed.

The question is really too speculative IMHO for a proper answer, but I hope this helps.

  • $\begingroup$ It has been a long time... With teams of lilim, cargo carriers the size of ships - up to the size the largest supertanker ever built - could be constructed and carried, though in practise they would be smaller so that they could be carried longer. As for reproduction, lilim have a sex drive more like a man's than a woman's, save that during their fertile period, they become a bit more selective, preferring men with better survival/dominance traits. However, multiple partners would be considered the norm, with one to three favoured partners - who may or may not be shared with other lilim. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Jan 24, 2019 at 23:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .