The nine races of anwynn

The following notes and drawings are based on the ancient tome The Nine Races and were taken from the journal of Duan the First, known as the Schoolboy King, last of the Old Kings of Pix.

FAEDEN: The oldest of all beings are the Faeden, worshiped as gods and goddesses by the nine races of Anwynn, but they are not of Anwynn, having come out of the empty void , and so will not be described here. The coming of the Faeden to Anwynn is told in The Secret Book of Thullu.

The Secret Book of Thullu, held in the Library of Kings in Pixett

OAKLINGS: The oldest of all the races of Anwynn are the Oaklings, so named because they live in the hollow trunks of ancient Oak trees. Oaklings are small, about 2 ½ feet tall. They have long pointy ears that adorn bald heads and big, round brown eyes and stout little button noses. Their skin is the exact shade of oak leaves, a kind of dark, luminous green.

Oaklings don’t resemble humans very much at all and don’t look like Elves either. Most often, they wear tunics of natural colours over pants of a heavy, woven cloth. Oaklings are powerfully magical and ageless. They perform their magic with a wand-like stick, most often of Oak. Oaklings go unshod as their tiny, fat feet with their claw-like toes are ill-suited to shoes. Their hands have claw-like fingers as well, perfect for climbing the Oak trees in which they live.

Oaklings tend to be of two temperaments, timid yet friendly or forthright and cranky. Oaklings were once more numerous but are only a few now, their numbers falling as the ancient forests were felled with the spread of humankind. The most famous Oakling is Wadget, a founding member of the Druid Order and member of its ruling High Council. Wadget is of the forthright and cranky type.

ELVES: The next oldest of the peoples of Anwynn are the Elves. The Elves are divided into the Bright Elves, the Elvinnid, and the Dark Elves, the Vellenor.

All Elves greatly resemble human beings, different only in that on average they are a little taller, and have higher cheek bones. Their most notable difference from humans is their longish ears, which curve upwards to a slender point. Like Oaklings, Elves are ageless, they do not grow old and no sickness touches them. In this sense they are immortal, but not deathless. Elves can be killed.

The Elvinnid, the Bright Elves, are of four types: those of the mountains, those of the deep woods, those of the seas and those of the night. All Bright Elves are governed by the Elvinnid Sovereign. Rulership over the Elvinidd and the title of Sovereign alternates between the four domains - Mountain, Wood, Sea and Night, with each domain taking a turn to govern. The title of Sovereign goes to the Thane (hereditary head) of the High House of the domain whose turn it is to rule. The title of sovereign is for life, which, for the elvish, can be a very long time. As a result, there have only been ten Sovereigns since the institution began, many thousands of years in the past.

The dominion of the elves encompasses much of the northern reach of the Craggy Mountains, all of the Great North Wood, the misty island of Merielle and the remote island of Ehmaara.

The Mountain Elves live in their citadel of Songarielle, high in the Craggy Mountains. They are dragon-riders. The Elves of Songarielle have caramel skin, dark brown hair and darkest brown, sometimes black, almond-shaped eyes. Mountain Elves are rather aloof and rarely mix with other races. Most humans have never seen one of the Mountain Elves. The High House of Songarielle is the House of Mettem.

The South Gate of Songarielle, citadel of the mountain elves

The Elves of the deep woods live at Tessarelle, the City in the Trees in the middle of the Great North Wood. They are fond of merry-making and know the magic of music. The wood Elves have pale skin and hair that ranges from blonde to brown. They wear their hair long, often braided with leaves and flowers. Their eyes are deep green, resembling the shade of the forests. Wood Elves are highly social. They often mix with other races, especially humans, which is why many humans believe that all elves have a fair appearance and are fond of music and flowers. The High House of Tessarelle is the House of Tessar.

The Elves of the Sea live at Merielle, on the fog-bound coast of the wild northern ocean. They are shipwrights and weather-makers. The Elves of Merielle have skin as dark as the night. Their hair is most often worn in dreadlocks and their eyes are luminously yellow. More reclusive than Mountain Elves, the Sea Elves never mix with other races. The High House of Merielle is the House of Khu. King Dhudhannan Khumaara, Thane of the House of Khu, known as the Bright King, has been Elvish Sovereign for nearly eight thousand years.

One of the Ehmaarim, the Night Elves

The Ehmaarim, or Night Elves, are thought to be extinct. They once lived on the windswept island of Ehmaara in the wild northern ocean. They were solitary, known also as Lone Walkers, and traveled alone all over Anwynn, only returning to their island home for gatherings on rare occasions. Mostly nocturnal, the Ehmaara  were fierce, though not wicked like the Vellenor. The Ehmaara had pale skin, deep blue eyes and hair that was jet black and always worn long. The Ehmaara were the first to tame and ride dragons, an art they passed on to the Mountain Elves. The Ehmaara painted their skin in dark, intricate patterns that told stories of their travels. The High House of the Ehmaarim was the House of Sett.

The woodland refuge of Ellisenn, prince of the Elvinidd

The Vellenor, the Dark Elves, are totally nocturnal, unable to spend more than moments in the full sun without experiencing pain. They are white-haired with very pale skin and iridescent pink eyes that shine in the dark. Their ears are longer and thinner than the Elvinidd or Ehmaara and end in sharper points. Their ear lobes are marked with circular tattoos that indicate rank and prestige. The Vellenor practice the art of sorcery and are wicked. A Vellenor sorcerer is called a Dread. The Dread sorcerers practice their vile craft at the temple of Morrigan at Bonemound. The Vellenor have dominion over most of Fellwood Forest and are ruled by the Dark Prince of Fellwood, whose cruel palace is at Vellenhive, hidden deep in the forest. Since the time of the Doom War, the Dark Princes, and all of the Vellenor, have been minions of Morrigan, but in the distant past they worshipped the Bright Child. The High House of Vellenhive is the House of Liss.

Fellwood Forest

HALFLINGS: Halflings live in the Dells, also known as the Halfling Dells. There are five villages in the Dells: Bright, the largest, Quick, Gleam, Ease, the smallest village, and Cosy. The occupants of Bright refer to themselves as Brightlings, those from Cosy as Coslings etc. The origin of the halflings is a source of much rumour. The humans of Anwynn believe halflings to be related to the elves, an idea that halflings themselves find both shocking and impossible. The elves, on the other hand, tell stories that the halflings are the ancient ancestors of humans, an idea even more disturbing to halflings than being related to elves.

The average halfling (and halflings put much store in being average) is just under four feet tall and just about as round. Apart from their height, their appearance is no different to humans. Brightlings can be fair or dark of complexion, depending on the part of the dell they come from, for example the halflings from the village of Quick are all dark skinned. No matter where they come from, all halflings dress and think in much the same way. Halflings have a love of tweed cloth, practically all of their clothing is made from it, and believe that going outdoors without a bonnet or hat borders on barbarity. All halfling head-wear is adorned with a feather or two, the larger the plume, the more prestige for its wearer. Halflings, especially Brightlings, value obesity in their females, thinking that thinness is a sign of poor upbringing. Exceeding the height of four feet is also a source of shame for a halfling, as "tallness" is considered a sign of low intelligence.

Female halflings are very strong and robust and often live to twice the age of the males, some living into the middle of their second century. As a result, females outnumber the males four to one. Whereas male halflings are romantically-minded and very sociable, the females prefer solitary endeavours, most often involving tea and cake. This difference in the character of male and female halflings means that few marriages ever occur, and births in the Dells are even rarer. The Dells are therefore in no danger of overpopulation.

Butters Nob, the home of Dorothea Butters, a Halfling of Bright

Halfling society is matriarchal, an inevitability when most of the population is female and middle-aged. The head of the village of Bright governs the whole dell and is known as the Grand Spinster. The Grand Spinster is also the head of the halfling church, based in the Hallowed Hall opposite the tavern in Bright. Halfling religion is focused on their one god, Eugene, whom halflings believe is the only true god. Eugene is most often pictured as a halfling chimney-sweep brandishing a golden chimney brush. (Halflings are terrified of small spaces, being so rotund, and so a chimney sweep is the epitome of heroism to them.)

Brightlings more than most halflings are fond of luxuries and are crafty traders, often making the perilous journey through Narrow Notch Pass to the human kingdom of Pix or south through Trollgap to Harshan to barter their farm produce for cloth, spices and the feathers they prize so much. Unfortunately travel has narrowed rather than broadened the minds of most halflings. Many of them believe that the many differences evident among other races, especially humans, are proof that they are uncivilized.

FENNLINGS: A thousand or so years before the current time, a group of halflings from the village of Ease broke away from their halfling kin and left the Dells to found another homeland. They travelled through Narrownotch Pass and followed the base of the Craggy Mountain range northwards to the headwaters of the Great River. There they settled in an isolated and difficult to reach valley, which they named Fennhollow. Swampy and permanently shrouded in mist, Fennhollow sits between the domain of Songarielle and the region of Pixett but does not appear on any maps. Fennlings have hair as black as night and eyes as dark as pitch, which seem all the darker because of their pale skin. On the whole, Fennlings are taller than their halfling relatives, most as tall as four and a half feet, and also thinner, being plump rather than fat. Fennlings live in the village of Fennton, governed by the Most High Minister, a kind of vicar prime minister, though the Fennling religion is not dedicated to Eugene, but to the Bright Child, the old god of the Vellenor. Fennlings are known for their high intelligence and cunning.

HUMANKIND: The humans of Anwynn are the forebears of all humankind. From Anwynn, humankind migrated out to all the corners of the world. When the Veil was created that separated the magical realm of Anwynn from the rest of the world, there were four great human nations, three in the west of Anwynn and one in the east, on the other side of the Craggy Mountains. These four nations are the same ones that exist today, though they have undergone much change since the making of the Veil.

Pix - the Kingdom of Pix is the oldest nation of humankind in Anwynn. It is located east of the Craggy Mountains, the only human nation on that side of the range. The Craggy Mountains form the western border of Pix, separating it from the dominion of elves and the other human nations. It is bordered to the north by the Great Wild Sea, to the south by the vast expanse of Fellwood Forest and to the east by the Eastern Ocean. It's location bordering Fellwood Forest, home of the Vellenor, the Dark Elves, has meant that Pix has often been at war with the Vellenor, and other dark minions of Morrigan.

The Pixish are an ancient people, with a strong streak of independence and fortitude to their characters. The Pixish all have dark hair and deep blue eyes, which contrasts with their fair skin. For thousands of years, Pix has been governed by a monarchy. Legend tells that the ancient kings of Pix were descended from a part-Elvish bloodline. The first king of Pix is said to have married one of the Ehmaara, the Night Elves. This story is said to explain why the Pixish complexion so resembles that of the Night Elves. That dynasty is broken however, with no known living descendants. The last of the ancient part-elvish kings was Duan, who was killed at the time of the Doom War.

The Pixish throne is known as the Ruby Seat, not because the throne is made of ruby but because ruby is the gem associated with Amallayne, the Great Goddess. The Pixish follow the religion of The Bright Way, paying homage to Amallayne as their only deity. Since the death of Duan and the making of the Veil, a series of Pixish dynasties have held the throne, some holding it with great honour, some bringing great dishonour to the Ruby Seat.

The current dynasty, that of the House of Mael, is perhaps the most dishonourable of all. The Slave Kings of the House of Mael are descended from Danussian slaves brought to Pix by the salacious queens of the House of Ceyr, rulers of the previous dynasty. After the Doom War, and showing a lack of courage that came to be the defining trait of that house, Mael the First moved the royal court (and its treasury) to the old fortress city of Pixett, abandoning all the other territory of Pix so that it was overrun by goblins and became known as The Great Empty Lands. Mael the First also encouraged the worship of the young god Danuss, building a temple to Danuss in Pixett. The worship of Danuss became the norm among the nobility but never caught on among the common people who remained loyal to Amallayne. The current king, Mael the 25th, is elderly and approaching death without an heir. This is a source of much anxiety among the Pixish people who would even prefer a blonde king or queen of the House of Mael to no king at all.

The House of Denn, in Pixett

Harshan - Harshan is the southernmost nation of humankind on the western side of the Craggy Mountains. It is bordered to the south and west by the sea, to the east by the Craggy Mountains and to the north by the nation of Anda. The territory of Harshan is semi-arid and thus much of their diet consists of the bounty of the southern seas. The south-east corner of Harshan borders the part of the Craggy Mountains that is the territory of trolls, known as the Trollmark. The Harshan are often at war with the trolls and have kept them blockaded in the mountains for centuries.

The average Harshan has olive or caramel-coloured skin and almond-shaped eyes. They wear their hair tied on the crown of their heads in topknots. They tend to dress in leather pants and tight jerkins, usually in brown. Their warriors, both men and women, go into battle mounted on stout horses and are adept with the bow and arrow.

Harshan is ruled by a warrior queen, whose symbols of authority are an ebony long bow and a steel crown in the form of interlocking eagle feathers. The eagle feather alludes to Arawn, the Faeden whom the Harshan once worshiped as their only god. At the time of the Doom War, when Arawn failed to intervene against Morrigan and save the people of Harshan from her dark hordes, the covenant between Arawn and the Harshan was broken. Thereafter, the people of Harshan turned to Amallayne.

The Palace of the Warrior Queen of Harshan

Anda - Anda is north of Harshan and south of Danussan. The southern part of Anda, where most of the Andanese live, is a fertile delta of the Erima River. The river is named after Erima, the goddess of healing who is worshiped by the Andanese.

The typical Andanese is dark-eyed and black-skinned. Both men and women wear their hair cropped close to the skull. Andanese clothing is very tight, usually black and often sleeveless. The only jewellery worn in Anda is a platinum bell hung around the neck or from the ears, the symbol of Erima. The capital of Anda, close to the source of the Erima river, is home to the High Temple of Erima. The temple is as much a hospital as a religious center. Anda is ruled by an order of priestesses, the Erimites. The High Priestess of the order, and therefore the ruler of Anda, is chosen for one characteristic only - her virtue. Most High Priestesses are elderly, but occasionally a younger priestess has been chosen to rule. The youngest, the current ruler, is just 12 years old. The priestesses of Erima are vegetarians and deplore violence of all kinds. Despite this, the Andanese are formidable in battle.

The dark-skinned warriors of Erima are expert charioteers and spearsmen. Andanese chariots are drawn by muscular black horses with dyed red manes and tails. Andanese warriors paint their faces white, like skulls, to look more ferocious. They also wear bells around their necks, symbolising their devotion to Erima.

The north of Anda is a grassy plain, where there are many wild horses. The plain is largely empty of people, although all priestesses of Erima hope to go there on pilgrimage at least once in their life. These pilgrimages are really just solitary and aimless wandering, during which the priestesses use the silence of those empty spaces to better hear the voice of their goddess. The Erimites believe that Erima's voice can be heard in the chiming of bells, in the gurgle of rivers and in the rustling of grass.

After the Doom War, the Andanese remained faithful to The Bright Way and to Erima, for Erima's abhorrence of violence was known to the people of Anda and they did not expect their goddess to intervene against Morrigan on their behalf.

The Temple of Erima at Anda

Danussan -  The northernmost of the human nations, surrounded by sea to the west and north, by the Craggy Mountains to the east and the nation of Anda to the south, Danussan is the youngest of the realms, especially compared to Pix. Danussan is ruled by the King of the North, whose palace is in the city of Danussan.

The fair-skinned and mostly blonde people of Danussan are zealous in their singular worship of Danuss. The young god Danuss is known to be disinterested in all but his own beauty and his people are alike him in that sense. No other religions are allowed in Danussan, and nor is the practice of Druidry, which is frowned on by Danussians as a godless art. Danussan is home to many fortified castles and its people are suspicious of outsiders, believing them corrupted by goddess worship and Druidry.

The greater majority of the men of Danussan are soldiers and those who are not are white-clad priests. The soldiers of Danuss wear silver helms capped with white raven wings, the white raven being the symbol of their god. These soldiers wield the axe as their weapon of choice and are adept swordsman and makers of machines of war, such as catapults and ramrods and the like. The women of Danussan wear their hair in the same style as their god, in shoulder-length blonde waves, and paint their lips blue like the sky, adding a white raven with spread wings at the center of their top lip.This adornment reminds them of the moment their god stood against Morrigan on their behalf.

All Danussians are much obsessed with art, music and fashion. Despite this they are very warlike. It has been said that the people of Danussan are refined and yet cruel, elegant and yet brutal. For many of them The Bright Way has not eliminated their baser tendencies, merely hidden them beneath a mask of beauty and civility.

The Temple of Danuss, at Danussan

TROLLS: The race of trolls has ancient beginnings, evolving around the same time as the race of humans. Female trolls are much larger, and fiercer, than the males. Originally there were three types of trolls. Swamp trolls, now extinct, were the smallest and had short reddish brown fur. Mountain trolls are very large (between 8 and 9 feet tall) and have long shaggy white fur. Forest trolls, now reduced to just a few individuals, are almost the same size as mountain trolls (8 feet) and have very long, silky-black fur. All trolls are nocturnal. More than a few minutes exposure to daylight leads to irreversible blindness.

In terms of intelligence, forest trolls are a league apart, being substantially smarter than mountain trolls who in turn are cleverer than the extinct Swamp troll. The swamp troll was not quite as smart as a turnip (thus their extinction). Forest trolls have even been known to learn non-troll languages. Furthermore, forest trolls also live up to fifty years longer than other trolls. There are rumours that some forest trolls even practice sorcery. This is unusual as, on the whole, trolls despise magic and sorcery, being so often victims of it at the hands of Vellenor sorcerers (the Dreads) and the Druids.

The Trollmark is a realm established by the mountain trolls in the far south of the Craggy Mountains. The capital of the Trollmark is known as Dunntrol (troll fort) and is a deep cavern with many tunnels and pits. Until the time of the Doom War the trolls kept largely to themselves, worshiping their goddess Zeera, the mistress of sickness and plagues. However Morrigan sent the Vellenor against them and after a short conflict (known as the Midnight Wars) they were forced to submit to Vellenor control and abandon worship of Zeera in favour of Morrigan. Trolls refer to this humiliation as ‘The Bloody Shame’.

The Trolls have a queen, who wears the Gory Crown (the jewel encrusted half skull of the first troll queen), but they have been subject to the Dark Princes of Fellwood, the rulers of the Dark Elves and minions of Morrigan, ever since the time of the Midnight Wars. Each new troll queen is forced to swear allegiance to the Vellenor crown and to vow total obedience to the whims of Morrigan.

GOBLINS: The race of goblins has even more ancient beginnings than the trolls, evolving around the same time as the elves. Almost man-sized, goblins are wicked creatures with grey, leathery skin, bat-like ears and needle-sharp teeth. They have beady black eyes and mangy black hair cropped close to their skulls. The goblins are governed by their king, whose throne is at the black fortress of Pitmouth, built above the cavern where Morrigan is eternally imprisoned. All goblins are nocturnal. Exposure to daylight leads to blindness, skin ruptures and then death.

Nine out of ten goblins are male, a result of a high male birth rate and a low survival rate for female goblins who, although equally as vicious, are smaller in stature and fall victim to the males in fights over booty and food. Originally there were four tribes of goblins, those of the vast southern swamps, those of Fellwood Forest, those of the Spinepeak Mountains (where Pitmouth lies) and those of the open plains.

The goblins of the open plains are now extinct. They were the smallest of their kind and quite cowardly, which led to their destruction at the hands of their more brutal kin from Pitmouth. The goblins of the swamp are also extinct. Over the millennia, the Dreads sacrificed the majority of the swamp goblins to Morrigan, burning them in the sacrificial fires at Bonemound.

The goblins of Fellwood Forest are the smartest, having learned many things from their masters, the Dark Elves of Vellenhive. Forest goblins however are not numerous in number, their numbers deliberately kept down by the Vellenor. In contrast, the goblins at Pitmouth, in the Spinepeak Mountains, are numerous. They are also by far the most vicious and clever in battle. Pitmouth goblins are easily the largest in size, just under the height of a human. Pitmouth goblins are fanatics in their worship of Morrigan, whom they call The Pale Mother.

TIQQ: The Tiqq, known in the common tongue as Earwisps, are believed to be very wicked and evil and are detested by all. The Earwisp is a kind of sprite. It is a powerfully magical being and a parasite that tricks and deceives its host. The Tiqq live in hives, each with a queen. The hives are located underground, usually in abandoned tombs. Over the many hive queens rules a single Tiqq Empress, whose authority over all of the Tiqq is absolute. The Mother Hive of the Tiqq Empress is located in The Lost Necropolis, an ancient elvish burial site.

In its usual form the Tiqq or Earwisp is a mist, or wisp, and in that form it enters the left ear of its prey and whispers instructions to its unfortunate victim in the host’s own voice, thus avoiding detection until it has taken full control of its victim’s senses. The Earwisp’s voice has the power to control and subdue and thus Earwisp infection is a form of possession. The worst of the Earwisp’s powers is its ability to speak to the dead and raise corpses to do their bidding.

The Bright Elves, who hate nothing more than being dominated by another, are the Earwisps’ mortal enemies. The elves so loathe the Tiqq that anyone suspected of infection is immediately executed. These executions are seen as acts of mercy. The parasite cannot be removed without killing the victim and the elves believe it is better to be dead than to be a puppet of the Tiqq and used to commit acts of wickedness.

The Earwisp feeds on the thoughts and feelings of its host and thereby grows strong. The longer it remains, the weaker the host becomes. Apart from thought and emotion the Earwisp seeks only one other form of sustenance – the juice of the sarsaparilla root that is akin to liquor to the Tiqq.

When the Tiqq take physical form they are very small, no greater in length than that of a human hand. To take this form, the purple wisp of mist that is the Earwisp exits the ear of its host and solidifies into the shape of a tiny person, almost always female. All Tiqq have almond-shaped, gold-hued eyes, are thin of frame and pointy-eared with shaggy red hair. No male Tiqq has ever been seen, however they are believed to exist, perhaps one or two per hive, and are likely to look much the same as the females.

The Tiqq are the only beings to worship Thullu, the most-feared of all the Faeden, whose very name causes all to tremble.

The Lost Necropolis, home of the Tiqq Mother Hive

MONSTERS: Monsters are misshapen things, born in the dark pits of Anwynn. They are all wicked, all creatures of the night. Daylight is death to them. Some say the monsters have shadow as a father and befouled earth as a mother, but that is just superstition. Monsters take many forms, there are bog nags from the fetid marshes of Swampmere and goat-horned ogres who dwell in the remote mountains, but the most loathsome are the skinwearers, who are the only monsters who can take human form.

Skinwearers are shape-shifters. In thier natural form skinwearers look like huge hyenas with snake-like faces and tongues. Skinwearers have near-human intelligence and can take on the shape of any being they have bitten. They cannot retain the shape forever however, they must either bite their victims again or they will return to their own form. In their natural form they cannot survive for long above ground, needing darkness and filth to thrive. For this reason, skinwearers often capture and keep their victims alive so that they can bite them over and over again and continue their masquerade. When skinwearers bite, they take a small amount of flesh. Using that flesh the monsters are able to change into the shape of the bitten and grow a skin that resembles its victim in every way, which sloughs off after a few days. Skinwearers are naturally clever and deceitful, and very difficult to kill.

Bonemound, The Temple of Morrigan

 

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