This is one of those kinda genre specific things that I thought would just sort itself out, but is actually giving a lot of my readers trouble. So if you’re wondering what a nest is, never fear! You are not alone, and I’m about to explain it. 🙂
Serpent shapeshifters, as you’ve seen, can sense emotion. In general, they tend to have very “loose” auras, making them sensitive to the emotions of those around them. So way back when, when the races were sorting themselves out, serpents tended to cluster in tight little groups to sort of insulate themselves from emotional upheaval. Kinda like zebras’ stripes blending them into one visual unit, a nest of serpents tended to blend auras, creating a sort of “overmood” that was less susceptible to outside influence.
This pseudo hive mind led to really great improv dancing, singing, and general music making. Coupled with serpents’ fluid second nature, and a culture that praised beauty and expression, and you wound up with a race that is famous as performers.
So while a serpent nest is not actually synonymous with a group of dancers, over the years they’ve come to be used pretty interchangeably. Most nests are wholly serpent, varying from family units that dance together as a form of worship, to larger, more church-like organizations. The second most common type is an all avian dancer’s nest, though that’s rarer since on the whole, they tend to favor modesty and decorum over exuberant self-expression. You may run across nests of big cats as well, but it’s more likely they’ll be organized into something that more closely resembles a “werewolf pack”, coming back around to genre specific ideas. Wolves, hyenas, and big cats favor that model over the dancers’ nest model.
Weirdest of all is the “chimera nest” style, like Asylum. Supernatural creatures tend to stick to their own kinds, for various reasons. The fact that Asylum welcomes all comers, regardless of their second forms, is practically unheard of. The fact that it does so pretty smack in the middle of a wolf/hyena turf war is pretty ballsy, but we’ll get to that later. For now, the thing to understand is that Naj is seeking the emotional insulation and security that comes from belonging to a group. Those of you who’ve done group sports, band, theater, and the like, know what I’m talking about. The thing takes on a near entity like status, and that’s what Naj is seeking out.
P.s. I have another entry planned out on the Dai nests, and how they differ from normal, healthy nests. It’s a bit more involved, and will take some background in the world’s magic system, so I’m saving it for another day. But rest assured, it is coming.