Elves

The Fleet, The Explorers
Self-Name: Ben'dai (singular), Ben'dai (plural), Ben'dari (attributive)
Emotional Affiliation: Melancholy, Wanderlust

The Elves of Zenth are nomadic traders of the northern deserts, the elves of the north are long-limbed and graceful creatures who sail great boats through the shifting desert sands and the rolling ocean waves with equal skill and ease. In the civilized lands towering elf traders are welcome most anywhere, sprinting alongside their pack animals, keeping easy pace. Elves are a race without ruler or nation, tribal traders whose only skill is the ability to move goods from one place to another, their warriors holding lands more because no other power has a use for them than out of might. The life of an elf is one of feast or famine, many prosper, but many others face defeat under the cruel desert sun.

Potency


Visage

The towering, gaunt elves are born sprinters. Standing between seven and seven and a half feet in height, they have long, willowy limbs, and exceptionally long legs, with narrow, long-toed feet that can splay out to spread their weight on sand dunes. They seldom have any fat on their bodies, both because of the physical nature of their daily lives, and the scarcity of food in their inhospitable homelands, but for the same reasons they are seldom extremely muscular, always being lean and graceful beyond any other race. Despite this they are remarkably strong, the musculature they do have as coiled and powerful as steel springs. Their hair ranges from fiery orange to the more common blood red, and is worn long by both mean and women. While men have been known to grow a short goatee, body hair is unknown in the desert dwelling elves. Their pale skin, almost porcelain white, never seems to show the touch of the sun, and their almond eyes - usually somewhere between amber and white - are keen and exceptional, as are their over-sized, gracefully pointed ears. Their faces are often of perfect angular symmetry, with soft noses and pointed chins, and their entire visage speaks of their strength, their fragility and their beauty.

Attire

Elves are not modest creatures when it comes to showing skin. They are practical people, so while their attire allows them to run unencumbered, they have also learned that their fine appearances can often earn them the best of a bargain. As a result, many cultures think of elves as immodest and even perverse. Elven men usually go bare-chested or wear a simple vest. They wear baggy, three quarter length trousers, usually in faun, cream or white, and a colourful sash around the waist. Women wear a tight fitting binding around their breasts, and will often wear a loose skirt, never reaching below the knee, split up one side, over fitting fabric trousers, only as long as the mid thigh. The skirts are gaily coloured as the mens' sashes, and the trousers the same faun or cream colour.

Elves never wear shoes, but rather wear leather bindings around the ankles, wrists, and sometimes on the upper arm. This hardened leather is used to brace the joints, but also sometimes has plates of metal sewn into it, making them effective as wrist and shin armour. An elf carries his personal possessions on a baldric either over one shoulder or crossed over the chest. Hooded cloaks are common for the cold desert nights, as is a scarf worn loosely around the neck, or tied around the mouth and nose in high winds or when on their sand-ships.

Southern elves tend to try to adopt the attire of their host culture, though they will always ensure that the cut never interferes with their running, and can never ever be persuaded to forgo their leather foot wrappings for shoes under any circumstance.

Aetherial

Fast, even beyond their impressive appearance, an elf can run for as many hours in the day as they are awake, running is as natural and comfortable as breathing to an elf. They can easily keep pace with a cantering horse, and can maintain a sprint as long as a horse can gallop. They are exceptionally light on their feet too, scarcely leaving a trace on the ground they pass, likely to maintain their speed on the desert sands, and seldom fall prey to snares or pitfalls, so light is their step. Elves are also exceptional jumpers, able to leap their own height or more vertically, and clear enormous gaps at a sprint. Elven longevity is not exceptional, but what is exceptional is that once they reach adulthood they seem not to age a day until their final year in the world, when their years seem to 'catch up with them' and they reach a venerable age in the space of a few months. Then they know they must find a quiet, cool place to stop running, and make ready to die. Many elven legends say that the faster the runner, the longer he can outrun death, and indeed some elves have lived for centuries while others scarcely see their first.

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Craft


Cunning

Elves are capricious creatures, friendly and open by sheer necessity, though they seldom let outsiders into their camps after dark. The elves have discovered that their innate wanderlust, and mobility has made them ideal traders, and while by nature they will never form great consortiums, travelling tribes of elves, or sometimes even lone individuals, have a knack for passing from place to place, even across closed borders, to trade their much needed wares between the lands and races. Elves are not a greedy or mercantile people, but they know that their survival depends upon the deals they make, and so when they are travelling heavy they practically give their goods away, but when they are in need they are the most hard-headed hagglers to be found anywhere.

Elves are not the most intellectual of creatures. Though by no means foolish, the necessities of their lives leave them little time for high-minded contemplation. They are driven by the desire to go from one place to another, and to lock and elf up in one place is almost as bad as killing him, because he will surely go mad. However while they're going from place to place elves do have a lot of time to think, and while they may not be the most scholarly creatures they do have a keen understanding of people's hearts and minds - making them all the more dangerous to bargain with.

Quick to laugh or cry, but hard to anger, if you should ever enrage an elf take care, because he will gladly devote the rest of his life to an Umhur, or quest of vengeance, shadowing his quarry until he gets his chance and then striking with deadly decisiveness.

Social

Elves in the northern desert gather together in small nomadic tribes, usually no more than a dozen extended families. Each tribe will come together in a traditional tribal gathering place once every year to build their Da'Janah, or sand-ships from precious timber traded with the dryads of the woods to the south. This is a time of great feasting and celebration, but it is also a time for a tribe - or sometimes a collection of allied tribes - to be solitary. The rest of the year the tribes travel from one trading ground to another, meeting and exchanging diverse goods with other tribes, creating a trade route that spans the north. While they may look barren the northern deserts are probably the richest lands in all of Zenth, because each Da'Janah flotilla - consisting of anywhere from a half dozen to three or four dozen vessels - carries an entire city of rare and valuable goods bound to their decks.

Along the desert coasts elves also build Ma'Janah, or wave-ships. Of much the same design as the Da'Janah, these elves differ almost not at all from the inland tribes, except that they range further south seeking goods, going ashore to trade with whoever they find, and returning to trade with tribes who will carry goods from one hand to another across the entire length and breadth of the continent.

Both desert elves and sea elves in the north find it hard to survive, and those less successful tribes will often turn to sea and sand piracy, focusing on becoming fierce and feared warriors and taking what they need. Some of the most feared of these attack their elven brethren, but most simply steal goods to trade from orcs and dryads and trade with their more legitimate cousins. Elves never ask where goods came from, and these goods enter into legitimate circulation, sometimes even being sold back to their original owners!

In the south elves are a relatively common sight, though they still almost never settle in one place. Elves are usually solitary because the lack of a ship means that they can carry fewer goods from place to place. These elves keep one or two fast horses, laden down with goods, whom they sprint from place to place alongside, congregating in big cities of market days when their tent-towns swell the city's bounds. These elves are usually welcome from dwarven to orcish cities, to goblin encampments and even dryad groves, everyone values the diversity of elven goods, and the news they carry so quickly from place to place.

Linguistic Traits

  • Arabic with a softer fantasy finish.

Glossary

Bi'shar (pl. -as): Masters of Berthing, harbourmasters for 'janah.
Sifos (pl. oes): Sword. Also used to refer to the sand-runnersof a da'janah.

Word/Name List

Clan
An'Halsayn, Es'Kalsihm, Ul'Taheer

Male
Afiz, Almein, Arief, Asadel, Byhyr, Esphen, Faris, Fallir, Gisihr, Jalai, Haythim, Ishal, Kasyb, Kaydan, Karaph, Mayzin, Niir, Raysul, Rami, Raad, Rihasim, Saiph, Saquar, Shadi, Suhayl, Tawil

Female
Aarith, Adarah, Asisah, Dananir, Emyn, Hayfah, Jamilah, Kamrah, Kayriyah, Laliez, Mairah, Malikah, Myshah, Nijyah, Omah, Rashiah, Raiah, Raymih, Shikirah, Sabrah, Talayeh, Yusrah, Zibyah