Kingdom of Aeristine
Non-humans in the Kingdom of Aeristine
Non-humans in the Kingdom of Aeristine
The lands of the Kingdom of Aeristine are not only home for mankind – several different groups of Demihumans and Fey Creatures dwell within its borders. In general though, the Walled City doesn’t see many of these beings. If Outlanders and Foreigners are considered strange, the Fey and Demihumans are downright alien. Most peasants wouldn’t think to even talk to one, for fear of invoking dwarven battlerage or a Fey Curse. An exception to this seems to be the Wee Folk – the Gnomes and Halflings of the Realm, who are generally less feared and more openly accepted than their otherworldly counterparts.
- The Wee Folk – Comprised predominantly of Halflings and Gnomes, this group often includes leprechauns, brownies, pixies sprites and even young elves in its number… As Halflings and Gnomes are the only two typically found within the city walls, their place in society is detailed below:
- Halflings – The Halflings, or Hin, as they call themselves, prefer to live comfortably… As they tend to have lifespans as long as 200 years, they tend to be less rushed than their human associates. Despite their diminutive 3-4’ stature, Halflings tend to eat to excess when living off human foods (which they actually prefer to their own foodstuffs) and it is generally accepted that they never wear footwear (though no one really knows why…) They are a good natured and usually cheerful people who appreciate good friends, good song, and good drink. They are also quite talented – many are skilled tradesmen, politicians, and arbitrators; Halfling logic is usually insurmountable. Those Hin who have fallen on harder times often have a reputation as skilled burglars, con-men and beggars in their efforts to find a more comfortable existence.
- Gnomes – Gnomes, now a fairly common and established race in their own right, are an evolution of a union between a tribe of Fey creatures (Brownies, perhaps) and Stonedwellers. Gnomes are known for their wry sense of humor, a creative and inventive intellect, and a diehard work-ethic. They tend to live far longer than their Dwarvish cousins and are more in tune with magical forces. Those who pursue its study have a gift with illusion magic in particular. Physically, gnomes are short and compact. Compared to humans, gnomes are a mishmash of over- and under-sized features – Huge eyes, ears and noses of every shape are common, and legs and arms seem stuntedly short. One last feature that makes them stand out is their unusually bright and colorful hair. Gnomish hair is found in every hue of the rainbow, and has been known to change seemingly randomly. In the city, Gnomes work as miners, gemcutters, jewelers and goldsmiths, tinkers and inventors, sages, and entertainers. Gnome Jesters are currently all the rage among the ranks of Nobility.
- The Demihumans – The title of Demihuman refers to those who have humanlike traits (as far as a human might judge it,) but are in some manner, less than human. The only true demi-humans are the Half-Orcs, and the Half-Elves. Dwarves, on the other hand, are completely unique beings of elemental spirit, but are lumped in due their general human-esque appearance. These three are the most common Demihumans found in the Duchy.
- Dwarves – Alchemists have determined that whereas the bones of man are hardened by chalk, the bones of dwarves are hardened by granite. Rarely seen in the city proper, Dwarves are the keepers of the mountains, and made of the same stuffs. They possess a stout and heavy frame, and tend to weigh as much as a human twice their size. They are known to be expert miners, weapon smiths and armorers, and also as fearsome warriors. Their grounded nature tends to give them resistance to both bone-crushing blows and mystical forces alike.
- Half-Elves – The limitless youth and beauty of the free-spirited Elves often results in the union and eventual offspring with a human. The resultant child is a half-elf. While conception can occur between either gender pair, Half-elves are almost always raised in human settlements, as true elves don’t raise children in the traditional fashion of mankind. They are seen by many with fearful superstition, or as something unnatural, and a good number are abandoned to the streets or land in the lower castes when they outlive their human parent. This is because, while still mortal, half-elves age half as fast as a normal man, and don’t reach full maturity until at least 35 years of age. Half-elves tend to have thin, wiry builds, and possess, to a lesser but noticeable degree, the sharper pointed features of their Fey kinfolk.
- Half-Orcs – Viewed by most as an abomination, the occurrence of half-orcs is usually rare. But during wartime, the Orcs will often sack human settlements and claim captured females as concubines, resulting in a surprising number of half-orc offspring. These poor souls are typically cast out or escape from their orcish kin but are typically shunned away from smaller towns and villages. Thus, many come to Burke to find their foothold on the world. They are prized as fighting men and many have found places of importance within the Family or the Brotherhood, who recognize their usefulness.
- The Fey – The name Fey (or sometimes Fae) refers beings that are not born of this world. They are creatures that have passed through ‘the Veil’ between this world and the Faerie Realm. Existence in this spirit world has no true corporeal form – whatever is imagined comes into being. The Faerie Realm is a dominion of thought, and of will, and energy – and it is the combination of these three elements that give rise to magic. Beings of this realm are not born, but instead willed into existence – and once so willed, are immortal within this strange and wondrous place. Ever so often, for reasons not quite understood by mortal men, these beings pass through the Veil into the mortal world, and take physical form.
- When first entering this world, Fae creatures are bubbling over with magic, but can only manifest themselves in very small physical forms. Many assume the forms of small animals, or even flowers. These forms are mortal bodies, though the spirit of these creatures will always return though the veil upon mortal death. With each passage through the Veil, Fey feel less and less a part of their Faerie home, and many feel compelled to return, now with greater power and understanding that before. Their forms are more complex and social, as they seek out each other’s company and pattern themselves into compatible forms and form societies in tune with their own predilections. Some more recognizable Fey beings include those of Wisps, Sprites, Faeries, Pixies, Brownies, Leprechauns, Atomie, or Grig, and others yet unknown to mankind. This tier of Fey is not born, but erupts into it. Faeries, for example, leap from hollow stumps in the heart of a Faerie ring during moonlit rituals. In this form they may pass through the Veil easily, to renew their strength and bring magic into the world. The act as ambassadors of, or guides through the Faerie Realm, as the Faerie Realm touches on many worlds. Though they can have lifespans eons long, these forms too, are mortal.
- Now hang with me, as we’re getting to the end of this. When a Faerie-kin dies, it will return to the Faerie Realm, but it is, at that point, given a choice. It may dissolve its bonds and forever forsake the material world, or it may choose to leave once more. If it chooses the latter, it loses its ability to freely enter the Fae world, and takes a more permanent, less magical form. While some rare specimens of great will might become Unicorns, or Ents, or Griffons, or even Djinn, most step through the Veil as Elves. These step through in grand arrival ceremonies held by the elvish community, in adolescent form, similar to a human child of ten years. By virtue of the ceremony, they arrive aware of their clan, and their clan’s customs and history, but their memory of the Fae realm quickly fades to dreamlike glimpses while in reverie.
- Elves as a race, are slender with delicate but sharp features. Most stand about shoulder height to an average man, and as one might expect, can exist as either males or females. Their movements are flowing and precise. And with limitless years at their disposal, they tend to have great patience to master skills, both artistic and practical. Elven legends say that mankind was a jealous god’s futile attempt to replicate a form which they had perfected of their own will. This mindset results is a variety of responses – some clans have compassion or pity for the defective men, and attempt to nurture their development. Others see mankind a threat or abomination that should be cleansed from the world.
- All Fey have the innate ability to recognize and communicate with other Fey, though responses are often limited to the direct experiences of the creature in question. A Fey flower does not know who passed, only that something passed. A Fey mouse might offer a more detailed answer, but only up to its understanding, and its willingness to relate that understanding.