Not all the elves chose to live under human rule. After the Fall during the period when the Ethrin became integrated, a number of elves fled the cities choosing to live as exiles on the outskirts of society. For a long time, these elves were hunted by the humans which culminated in a number of large scale conflicts so they learnt how to live off the land and survive on the move.
The Feralian sought to survive in the wilds, and preserve their culture in the hope that, one day, the elves would have a place to call their own once more. They hated the humans, and everything that they did to the elven race. There is a large community of Feralian elves who make their home within the deep shadowed forests of Caerlyn. They are seldom seen, preferring to stay within the forests enshrouding boughs, which suits the watchful eyes
These elves have are forced to trade with the smaller villages and towns for resources they cannot freely acquire from the land. An uneasy truce exists between them. The elves fear that the humans are a threat to their way of life and the future of the elven race while the humans are taught by the Faith that the elves are not to be trusted. The people of the Red Islands are particularly zealous in their distrust and hatred of the Feralians.
Though nomadic in nature, every few years all the Tribes meet at the Shar Renlah, “The Sacred Earth”. The Feralian believe this to be location of one of the last elven cities and meet there to interact with other tribes, often exchanging tribe members, resources and tales of their travels. A great religious ceremony takes place on the last day of the gathering to pay homage to the gods and receive blessings for the years ahead.
The Feralian have a strong oral tradition and only write things down that really need to be (including their tattoo markings). They believe the gods will ensure that all their stories and lore are never lost and when the time is right, they will bestow all the knowledge that is needed to rebuild the elven civilization to its former glory.
The Feralian have based their entire culture on the teachings of one of the elves greatest philosophers and teachers, Morath Feralian. In the years before his disappearance, Morath prophesised that the elven race would stagnate and become weak and one day the elven civilisation would fall.
Morath’s scriptures on the subject indicated that, for the elven race to survive, they would need to adopt a new culture, where the weak die out and the strong live on. The elven society would survive through the propagation of favourable traits; strength, agility, intelligence and magical ability. When Morath Feralian died, his scriptures on the subject were lost only to re-appear a number of years after the separation from the homelands.
No one knows where or how the scriptures were found, but it did not take long for them to be copied and distributed among the elves. Those who agreed with Morath’s teachings began to follow his principles strictly.
Refusing to associate with elves they considered to be lesser, their culture grew and developed to ensure only the best traits were passed onto the next generation.
As time went by, these elves began to divide into groups that shared similar ideals and traits. These groups became known as prides and started to develop their own hierarchy. At the head of each pride stood the Altar [Al-Tar], the one amongst them that considered to have the strongest traits. The Altar is the leader of the pride and governs on behalf of their people.
The hierarchy and interplay between Prides is complex and ever changing as each Pride determines their own interpretation of Morath’s teachings.
These elves began to call themselves The Feralian.
Known Prides of Caerlyn
Within the Kingdom area of the Caerlyn Forest there is a much older district known by the elves simply as Caerlyn. This is the home location of the continent’s feralian elves.
Since the Days of Fire many of the tribes that roamed between the Kingdom and the Republic have since made their home and their travels around the Kingdom and the Northern Lands, coming back once a year to the ancestral woods they all call home.
Believed to be the one of the most numerous of the Caerlyn Feralian Prides; they are certainly the most seen to the outside world.
Possessed of a fierce martial outlook they believe the elven race will only rise again when elves have proven their worth. In their eyes the only way to prove worth is through unstinting competition so that only the very strongest survive.
Raised from birth to strive for unreachable perfection Harafar elves seek to master their discipline with uttermost devotion to form into perfection. Young elves are pushed to the limit in gruelling challenges, contests, and tournaments against each other and the wilds to an unobtainable standard. Those that survive the final tests are deemed chosen by the Divine Assembly to prove their races right for re-ascension.
A common saying amongst the Harafar Pride is that each perfect moment ‘creates the clarion call’ i.e. a work of beauty to the gods, a call that the elder race is ready to inherit its mantle once again. As such each and every Harafar elf strives for utmost perfection in every action of their life, from the perfect sword stroke to the tightest stitch in a fabric weave.
This constant striving for perfection leads to a dim view of the other prides but the Harafar Altars’ recognise that each Pride has its place in the re-ascension of the elder race, even if they are just another foe if necessary.
The most overt and widely seen of the Prides to the outside world, the Harafar are viewed with outright suspicion amongst many human settlements for their warlike and dismissive attitude and their aloof nature. Their craft goods however are highly sought after across the kingdoms, commanding exceptional prices.
Members of Pride Harafar travel widely across the kingdoms seeking out tournaments, battles, or challenges and are often found acting as bodyguards, soldiers in nobles armies, mages, artists or traders so that they can continue their strive for perfection beyond the shrouded borders of Caerlyn.
Held as the highest test, violence and war is second nature to the tribe as the Harafar firmly believe that the elder race will not ascend whilst hiding in the shadows, it will forge its name by bold action and fury. Hot tempered, cold, aloof, this pride seeks to test itself on the altar of battle at the forefront of fighting, by blade, arrow or spell. Each strives for perfection in their own way, their own personal slice of the perfection of heaven.
Unusually for elves, these feralians will seek to understand and master any weapon or armour to reach a higher state of martial perfection. As such unlike many of their fellow elves, feralian or ethrin, they are often to be seen clad in steel or wielding mace or pike as much as they are wielding bows or knives.
In battle the Harafar strike like falling stars, each a burning brightness of dazzling skill that seeks out the most terrible foes in battle. However whilst the Harafar understand honour and unified battle tactics, they care little for it against their own pursuit of perfection. Cold and aloof they fight as isolated individuals even amongst their own forces, each seeking an own higher plan of beauty.
Very few have crossed the silent eaves of Caerlyn and returned. Little is known of how many Prides live within the shadows and the elves themselves give no answer.
The citizens of the kingdom are warned from travelling through the forest except on the roads, and even then only with local guides. The forests of the Caerlyn have more than elves roaming in them and are the stuff of tales and nightmares to small children everywhere in the world.
Stories of other Feralian enclaves persist across the Kingdom, but are regarded by scholars as little more than myth. Since the Days of Fire much contact has been lost, except for a small collection of prides that live in the wastes of the Barrens far to the east in the Shield Lands.
Despite all that is known about them, feralian numbers are on the decline. Never being the most numerous in the first place, as they were the ones that decided not to settle into the cities, a small pride of feralians could number as little as five, where as a large pride would number no more than fifty. This is due to the harsh living conditions and the slow reproduction of both elven races. It is common place for smaller prides to merge if numbers become too low to be sustainable.
Feralian Beliefs vs. the Theocracy
Known for their own writings and beliefs, the Feralian Elves of Caerlyn are seen by many faithful as blasphemous and divergent. This is widely rumoured to be propagated from Sarquand at the heart of the Theocracy, despite Feralian Elves being members of the Northern Alliance and loyal subjects of King Edric of Elland.
The Theocracy has special groups that travel the length and breadth of the continent to destroy these particular scriptures which are burnt as heretical wherever they are found in human settlements.
Despite numerous tales of Theocracy crimes against Feralian Prides, there are very few reciprocal stories of crimes from those oppressed against their oppressors, which in turn give Feralian’s in the Kingdom of Elland a measure of protection and respectability by those loyal to the King.
The Ritual of Sacred Earth
Once a year all the tribes travel back to Shar Renlah to participate in open trade negotiations and the blessing of the year ahead by worshippers of the Divine Assembly.
At the heart of these festivities, away from the bustle of the feralians prides, there is a more exclusive service that takes place. This is at the heart of elven teachings, and is known as the ritual of the sacred earth, or the blessing of the soil.
No one that participates in this service may talk about it outside of the forest, and to do such is considered a breach of etiquette and high treason, punishable by death in all cultures of elven society.
So few have seen the service that many do talk about the nature of it, without understanding the truth. These are allowed to continue as long as the lies they propagate do not harm Elves or the Feralian Prides.
It is rumoured that in the past that other races had been invited to watch the ritual until an incident occurred. This altercation is referred to as the ‘Liviat Incident’ in the few journals of that time that survived the Days of Fire.
It is now only available to the Altar’s of the Caerlyn Prides, and those they invite to join the service. It is considered a high honour to be recognised within Feralian society to be allowed to participate in the service. It is not unheard of to have an ethrin elf join in the proceedings, and recently those have gained high renown from the Vale Expeditions have been known to be invited.
These are some of the generalised views of the feralian people.
Of the Ethrin; they have also lost the ways of the people, but more so they have lost the way of free elves. They should be treated with respect, for they are still elves, we weep for them.
Of the Haiesti; they call themselves traitors, for they are. They throw away what it means to be the people, what it means to be a Pride. They follow the creatures that are everyone’s enemies. They are our enemies as much as Orcs, Goblins and Undead. We must be mindful of these creatures lest they corrupt us with their strivings for power and greed.
Of the Elder; the old trees of the forest. They have seen much, are we are worthy to listen?
Of the Theocracy; they deny us, they cause us harm and distrust us at every turn. They are merely pawns taught to live their lives from a book of laws handed down to them by their seniors. Whilst there is a war against worse foes, and an alliance against common enemies; we will stay our hands.
Of Religion; despite the Theocracy’s treatment of us our brethren we follow their lead, praise be the Divine Assembly!
As with their ethrin brothers, the feralian ritually tattoo themselves from the day they reach adulthood. However, feralians believe their tattoos have significantly more meaning to them as they depict their entire ancestral history and their pride.
The Feralian culture is a nomadic existence akin to real world Bedouin and Romany cultures. The two styles are interchangeable and there is no real distinction between the two and players are welcome to mix the two styles in any way to create the look they desire.
The Feralian prides differ in appearance and armour depending on their prides, for example some such as Braethnor favour are more rugged and rustic in their appearance favouring the browns and green of the forest and a more tribal feel dressing in leathers and hides.
Others such as Silyias favour long robes, and shimmering veils to better hide their tattoo research into magic. In the other extreme Harafar elves favour clean cut stark lines of simple cloth to highlight superiority is within than without.