the Mortal Races

Literally translated from Korachani as ‘not-human’, this was once used in reference to any non-human race, though over time it became a generic term, interchangeable with mortal, or, more precisely, one of the descendants of the Demiurges’ children: the Two-and-Twenty.

Though referred to as the Two-and-Twenty mortal races (in mirror of their sires, the Demiurges) the naming convention is not exactly true. Some races are now extinct or have become so few in number or insular that contact with them has now been lost. Indeed, the stillborn god Ryhassharauch never sired anything that can be classed as living and opinion is divided whether or not his children, the rarevas, can be classified as mortals (for the sake of this essay I’ll include them with the asicthai).

Illidræn: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Allaishada. Often winged, normally of alabaster skin & dark hair and serene dispositions, they are equated with angels by other races (particularly humans who have a tendency of deifying them, often without true cause), though they are far from perfect moral creatures. In truth, they are beings of compassion so pronounced that they must resort to asceticism and meditation to control their emotions. Due to their natures they tend to devote their lives to single pursuits, which they perfect, becoming experts in their chosen fields.
The race was whittled to near-extinction during the Shadow War that led to the fading between the Fourth and Fifth-Ages, the remnants of the species dispersing and living out the end of their race’s days as solitary eremites in forgotten temples and ruins. To many they are indeed extinct though scholars maintain that scattered individuals have survived, their natural longevity and asceticism a bulwark against death and decay.

Serapi: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Ashterath, Name for lizard-folk and dragon-kin cursed by the Demiurge Talantehut to be servants to the sun and to crawl in the hot earth on their stomachs. Their tongue is closest of any living creature to that originally wrought by the Demiurges, before the cataclysm of the Bridge of Worlds. Little is known of their original form or culture, only that it was their apparent sadistic nature that earnt them the scorn of Talantehut, who changed their form and that of their descendants forevermore.
They are relatively common in the sun-drenched parts of Elyden – such as the deserts south of Venthir and those dominating Kharkharadontis, though little remains of any culture save base primitive tribal structures. Some claim that in some regions vestiges of a more civilised form remain, though such claims are unsubstantiated.

Ifirmian: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Duruthilhotep, and the first mortal race to ever shape the Firmament. They are now commonly known as the immortal guardians of the Meniscus, named after the eponymous continent. They are the most proficient Firmamentists and are thought to be the closest in design to the original immortal races, whose gestation was interrupted by the worldcrafting of the Demiurges, resulting in the birth of the imperfect mortal races.

They are slender people, tall, of long tapering heads and are not want to communicate with others without dire need. They are rarely seen outside of the lands surrounding the Meniscus and are thought extinct by most insular people.

Valthas: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Talantehut. They were once very similar to humans, though through the long slow neglect of their Demiurge mother became corrupted into something baser; grey things without passion or hope or love. They became achromatic; creatures alive but without life, much like their mother. Where Talantehut was chosen to be a force of balance amongst her siblings, the valthasi were allowed to wither and die, their mortality dripping away with every eon their mother ignored them until they became the rotten shells that they are today, dwelling in the dark places of the world where they can pass unnoticed, much like their incorruptable Demiurge parent.

Many physical laws that affect the mortal races do not apply to the valthas, which exist in a form of fugue between worlds – neither dead nor truly alive.

Dverg: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Synchthonith, though they maintain few open ties to their ancestry. A few ancient temples have been discovered by Imperial explorers, hewn from deep caverns, though all are eons old, abandoned. Mulls are also believed to be distantly related to the dverg, though having diverged long ago they are now considered different races.

Stunted, technologically aware mortals native to lands north of the Inner Sea, originally centred around the Rhaecha mountains, though rarely seen in the open. Their lands and clades were wiped out millennia past by human expansion in the Fourth and early Fifth-Ages, and now they remain largely as a caste within the Korachani empire, an essential part to its industries. The Steel Cataract was mostly built by dvergai hands. Very shy, rarely leaving their underground clades, those seen in the empire are usually slaves and technologists. Their pale skin and large black eyes are sensitive to light so when seen close to and above ground they are almost always covered in thick leather suits and tinted goggles; the accountrements of their trade. They show little affinity for the Firmament or the Atramentism, though have a cultural understanding of the latter and its applications within technarcana, and their seemingly innate affinity for engineering is legendary.

Lhaus: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the demiurge Yaldabaoth. In their father’s obsession with seeking eternal life, the lhaus became acolytes of the art of klados and followed him down the path of eternal life. Over the eons and their obsession with klados, they became a changed race, their goal of prolonged life achieved yet not without cost. Like their father, those with the purpose and means created secondary bodies (known as iterants) in which they would transfer their spirits upon death to achieve prolonged life, or a vague semblance of it. Each such iteration of an individual would bring with it a body that was more grotesque and featureless than the last, until, after dozens of such iterants had perished, the original person would be lost beneath a hollow shell that was consumed by its obsession with life.

By the early days of the third age the leaders and upper echelons of lhaus society were embroiled with seeking the mysteries of klados and lhaus culture broke down, the tribes of lesser beings – unable to follow their masters in their pursuit – began a diaspora across Elyden, where their blood became diluted with that of other races and they eventually died out, their father too preoccupied with his own obsession to care. Those amongst them who achieved true eternity through klados became miserably secular creatures, their time spent researching better ways to achieve immotality, their thousands of followers, retainers and slaves existing only to aid them in their quest. Their solitary city-states warred against one-another in the pursuit of resources and chemicals needed in their timeless compulsion. By the latter days of the Third Age the lhaus were reduced to a few dozen miserable totalitarian city states, hidden from the rest of the world in western Kharkharadontis. Memory of their tribe was almost lost by the dawn of the Fourth-Age and it was only the actions of the aggressive city-state of Thamaaz (over a thousand miles south of what is now known as Erebeth) and its ruler, Leontoeida, Lord of the Clades, in the mid Fourth-Age (c. -4500 RM), who scoured the lands around his city for miles around, searching for further secrets to immortality and his arsenal of slumbering klada. With the increase of the Shadow in the Desert and the world’s decline, contact with the city was lost and the lhaus survive in Thracian legends and the Yothshammanei tablets, found in a temple in the north-eastern Daened Sulrach in c. 750 RM that is believed to be a mortuary complex dedicated to the wasted iterant of an unnamed Clade Lord. Little is known of the original appearance of the lhaus though various records of the general form taken by the Clade Lord iterants are known, and are commonly dscribed as grotesque: exposed musculature over porcelain-like bones of artificial manufacture. Most have intricate head crests, like shields, and are without sensory organs of any kind.

Plagi: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and original children of the demiurge Rachanael. Of dark skin, red eyes and horned brows, the plagi were a powerful if not populous tribe, their martial prowess and penumbral skill earning them the enmity of many other tribes. Their territories were never expansive, and they rarely emerged from the gargantuan dry basin that makes up what is now the wasted land of Kharkharadontis. Though considered by others to be children of the Penumbra, they were not immune to its effects and survived its corruption largely due to the aegis of their father Rachanael.
With Rachanael’s imprisonment in Daekyn in the dying days of the Fourth-Age, the plagi were left leaderless. At the mercy of the Penumbra, their bodies became prone to corruption. To escape its effects, many amongst them left Kharkharadontis in a great exodus that saw them travelling south, where they would become lost to imperial annals; and north and north-east to the to the Daened Sulrach and Umbra Solare, where their breeding with humans would dilute the race into what later become known as the Etheri Nomads.

The few that remained in their homelands haunt the regions around the pit of Daekyn, never moving far from their father’s prison, little more than mindless husks driven by a consuming bitterness. The Archpotentate Malichar’s arrival there in 212 RM saw the remaining plagi join him in his travels where they sojourned in Nyala before aiding him in the construction of the Leaden Throne, upon which the newly-liberated Rachanael would be interred. With that deed was the long history of the plagi ended, their last known descendants becoming known as the demiurnes of Rachanael. In their place Rachanael adopted humans as his children. What few true plagi remain do so in isolation or in distant lands, inhabiting the near-mythical metropolis of Kharakhara, their sorcerer-kings protecting them from the foulness of the Penumbra there.

Giganri: (Imperial: sûnéanthros, compare with anthslach). One of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, the children of the Demiurge Urakabarameel. The Giganri, alongside humans, are one of the tribes that have changed the least since their original creation. They are referred to as goliaths by the Korachani empire and giants by nations farther east, which have had even less contact with them over the years. The giganri are an insular race, separated by the rest of Elyden by the near-inassailable natural wall known as the Black Mountains that flanks the western shore of the Skarosian Gulf and the treacherous waters of the Sea of Serpents in the west of the Inner Sea.

They stand roughly twice the height of an average humans, though their legs are proportionately longer than those of humans, giving them a somewhat lanky gait. Despite this they are prodigiously strong of both body and mind, with their culture placing a great deal of importance in asceticism and martial perfection and moderation. Their bodies bear signs of an earthly heritage, and their skin is cold and rough to the touch like the granite and marble from which legend (falsely) claims they were shaped. Likewise, their skin can range in colour from alabaster-white to obsidian-black and a myriad of other colours in-between. Though little is known about them, it is believed that they are a race of many castes, likely determined by their colouration, with different castes including the upälant, a black skinned variety that is the most documented by Korachani explorers and traders of the Skarosian Gulf, sometimes seen in the mines of Adamati, though any attempts to follow them back west invariably fail. The maramari are an off-white colour with green veins and are the most silent and morose of all giganri encountered, pensive and slow to action. Carnous are red-brown skinned, and stand taller than others, appearing to be a martial caste. Generally, the Giganri are introverted and quiet beings, likely to be considered slow by other races for their reticence to speak that stems from their calculating natures. Little is known of the culture save their extreme asceticism and their devotion to the philosophy of alchemy and Gnosticism, lending them a mystical air.

They are amongst the more populous mortal races, after the dominance of humans and are common in both western Llachatul, as well as Menisucs. It is commonly believed that oghurs are a degenerate offshoot of giganri, with many blaming penumbral taint or cannibalism as their source.

the Forgotten: One of the original Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the demiurge Abufihamat (later known as Baphomet). Once one of the most powerful and wealthy of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, they were oppressed to the point of desperation by Abufihamat. A few amongst them came to secretly worship a diametricly opposed corruption of the Demiurge, who became known by the name of its idol – Baphomet. These heretics were persecuted and slain without abandon, though their roots were set deep and the cult spread. Abufihamat, punished alongside the rest of the Two-and-Twenty, fell from grace, greatly weakened. That, coupled with a tribe that was rapidly abandoning it for the blameless excesses offered by Baphomet, almost destroyed Abufihamayt, who sought the aid of the heretics, offering them that which they sought in return for fealty. It was granted, and Abufihamat finally died, replaced by Baphomet.

Baphomet ignored its true children and instead sought the embrace of alien tribes, who it bribed with gold and fecund capriform idols. Growing weak and sickly from their excesses, Baphomet’s true children were allowed to all but die, surviving in minute numbers that scattered from their homeland in bitterness. Since that time the handful of Baphomet’s true ancestors survive as strange alien beings, their bodies tall and gangly, their features inhuman, that live on the fringes of society, in places shunned by civilisation – marshes, wastelands, barren places. Known only as the Forgotten, any memory of their past history relinquished, they are now neolithic hunter-gatherers, sullen, aloof and xenophobic, living in large communal tents, as they once were under the auspices of Abufihamat.

Vapula: One of the original Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the demiurge Arimaspi. Though arimaspi is known for the many creatures and beings that he created, his true children are the vapulim. Humanoids standing around 7-feet tall, they are bulky yet graceful, with leonine features and feathered backs, heads and forearms and tool-wielding hands with opposable thumbs.

They were once a populous race dominating the arid lands of the ancient world, though have lessened over the march of time. They have been thought extinct for many years though a relatively large number were found to remain in the nation of Datepha on the island of Isea, in the south of Elyden. What led to their diminishing across Elyden is unknown and little reference is made to them in the Mythologia Elyden or other ancient texts. This is likely, as though the vapulim are Arimaspi’s true children, they (like the other mortal races) were not crafted through his direct actions. He is known to have poured his love and passion into his other creations (like the aiklahs, eelyouhns, haagenti, griffins and sphinxes) and likely abandoned the vapulim.

Sieth: one of the original Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Neith. Very little is known of them other than their association with the Ivory Moon and their purported homeland in what is now Malan.

Shie: (also Shy) one of the original Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Sybaris. They are of russet skin and possess four arms with delicate curving horns atop their brows beneath which glare feral yet beauteous features. Like their mother, they are beings of carnal passion and are epicureans.

Never a numerous race, they largely excluded themselves from world-wide events and are never noted as participating, as a race, in any large wars or conflicts. Instead they are largely recorded as explorers of the contemporary world and pockets of them can still be found in small numbers metropolitan regions, where they can mostly be found as individuals, studying hedonism.

Catachis: one of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal races, and children of the Demiurge Dopellanich. Though extant examples are rare, the histories of Elyden describe them, much like their primogenitor, as dualistic beings. Twin births are the norm and as such their societies across the continents and time have always revolved around the sacred bond between siblings and in many respects twins were regarded as a single person in two bodies. Conjoined births were somewhat common and of a more stable form than similar births amongst other mortals, which are seen as an aberration of sorts. As such they were regarded as high-born, granting measure of prestige upon their families and commonly becoming part of the priestly-caste. Single births are conversely seen as weak and such unfortunates tend to live hollow lives of ridicule, often forcing them into self-imposed exile.

Physically, they are little different to humans, though their craniums are slightly bulging when compared with humans, and their fingers are long and delicate, though neither can be use to truly identify such mortals. Conjoined twins usually take the form of a symmetrical four-armed body (one pair smaller than the other, below it, often considered vestigial and bedecked in jewels amongst the wealthy) and a single head with two faces, one facing left, the other right; though other less symmetrical morphologies are common.

Irkalla: one of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal races, and children of the Demiurge Nergaal. Little is known of these people, save the tantalising clues left behind on subterranean monoliths on the island of the same name, off the south-western coast of Cuth. What little we know is that they were a base civilisation in which the sick were worshipped (seen as favoured of Nergaal) and the strong broken of their will and used as slaves. A sun cult was (despite the subterranean nature of the monuments on which the records were found) at the centre of the race; though where other sun cults deified light and warmth, this cult saw instead the need to pay tribute to the devastating nature of sun; drought, plague and heat. This might be indicative of the races’ retreat to the caverns beneath their home; perhaps as a sign of reverence or fear.

Irothan: one of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal races, and children of the Demiurge Nyarloth. Little is known of this race other than it was all but destroyed following a brutal civil war. The war came about following the internment of the Demiurge Nyarloth within a soul-engine, following his murder at the hands of the Demiurge Rachanael, who helped him construct the machine (with the intent of using it for his own gain). His body remained, becoming a stone-like edifice known as the Host.

The majority of irothani came to worship the Host, rather than the contents of the engine, leaving Nyarloth weak and in a state of torpor within the Soul-engine. The irothan rulers, known as Septs, knew the error of this idolatry and tried to persuade the people that their god was the machine and not the idol, but most people did not listen, this resulted in a civil war that tore the ironthani empire asunder, bringing to an end one of the largest and most long-lived mortal empires in Elyden. Physically they were similar to humans though their skin had a bluish tint and their eyes glowed as though with an inner light.

Aithar: One of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal races, and children of the Demiurge Malachai, who became corrupted into the Alakhi (or ‘bidekin’). Little is known of the Aithar, though the Al akhi, which survive in Stolas, north of the Empire are well-catalogued. Like their ancestors, the Al akhi are an insular race, regarded as somewhat of a rarity to most outsiders and unknown to those in distant lands.

They stand roughly 6 – 7’ tall and are of emaciated frames and overlong spindly limbs (their totem-lords [primitive priests] in particular seem to suffer from the condition). Their bodies are hairles, though primitive feathers (often spine-like) are common on their forearms, backs, necks and shins, which are more prominent on males. Their heads are muzzled by long slender beaks, which limit their vocal abilities (al akhi language is nonetheless complex, and relies heavily on the written form; seen in their many rune-tablets and cavern-epics). The al akhi are prone to distorted features and aberrant forms are not unusual, with a rare few appearing as little more than misshapen beasts. Al akhi society is tribal and revolves heavily around idolatry: traditionally that of an anthropomorphic avian totem known as Merkabh, which is believed by scholars and mythologists to be a corrupted form of the now-dead Demiurge Malachai. Males are dominant in these societies, though females do play in important role in the creatures’ primitive religion. Important members of society are mummified and placed in niches within family hovels, where they remain with their tribes as ancestral figures, who the birdmen pray to in times of personal trouble (in a practive similar to Sauan and Temujan ancestral spirit worship). Like most of Elyden’s beast-men, al akhi are fetishists and of a poor technological position. They fashion crude metal weapons but seem to have little affinity for clothing and armour beyond rags (they wear little clothing and use heavy wattle shields only rarely), though they have been known to scavenge ruined metal from the Desolation of Astudan (particularly the passage the Red Route takes through it on its way to Gâtha), though such forays outside Stolas are rare or sporadic at best.

Human: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Avraham the White King. Humans are unique in that they are the only mortal race that can breed with other races naturally and unaided (physical restrictions permitting), leading to many various half-breed races and creatures. None truly know the origins of this trait, though it is believed to lie within the nature of their father, Avraham.

Humans were abandoned by Avraham following the appearance of the Azor (descendants of unions between humans and his scion Azer), whom he regarded far more highly. Humans were later adopted by the Demiurge Rachanael.

Keratin: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Kharani. They resemble humans in most ways, with males averaging 6-feet tall and weighing 180 – 190 lbs. They are heavily built, with powerful bodies and hard bony ridges on their elongated heads, with horns prominent amongst males and often seen as a mark of strength. Their skin ranges from pale grey to a dark brown, with various shades in between, and a red tint is considered as a sign of virility.

Much like their Demiurge father, the Keratin are a passionate people, quick to anger and skilled with their hands – something that they commonly apply to the crafting of weapons and tools and cenotaphs and triumphal arches. Their culture traditionally revolved around a stratocracy or kratocracy, with the strong ruling the weak, commonly under a militaristic regime. Though a strong and united race, the Keratin were relatively few in number, particularly when compared with the vastly superior humans. Their numbers dwindled during the Shadow War that ended the Fourth-Age of Mortal life, where they allied themselves with Rachanael and were used as shock troops to deadly yet pyrrhic effect.

Deruweid: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Achaiah. They are generally tall (between 7 – 9 ft.), with their skin undergoing a transition throughout their long lives. The young have malleable greyish green skin that flakes at the joints (like sloughing birch). As they grow older their skin appears to calcify, becoming darker and tougher, like gnarly bark. Hairless, they are an ascetic race, without cities or clothing; aloof and xenophobic, living the last of their declining days in the shadow of their Demiurge mother in the deepest reaches of the Nameless Forest.

Abandoned to their own devices with their mothers’ transformation into the Immortal Tree Agen, the deruweids filled the void left in their lives with bodily mutilation, thought by contemporary scholars as being a form of chastisement for what they perceived to be their own faults. The deruweid s dwindled over the years, though eventually those who remained in their old homeland (in what is now the Nameless Forest) would rediscover their old mother, realising the true error of their ways, devoting their lives to maintaining the Tree of Agen and slowly shaping their bodies in her image.

Ropohaii: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Vorropohaiah. Swallowed by the Prison Carceri in antiquity, little is known of this strange race other than the madness which is known to have been passed down to them by their father.

Merill: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Shibboleth, and the only known aquatic (or semi-aquatic race). There are seven different lines of merill: one for each of the original mortals that came into being following the shaping of the Demiurges, though of seven only one remains strong (or known), with the other diminished and corrupted: for the torrent that once sustained them is now gone.. They are most well-known amongst other races for a curious trait known as genetic memory, where a newly born merill inherits the memories of all its direct ancestors, all the way back to one of the original seven merills. As a result they are brimming with emotion and memory, though have little empathy, particularly with other races. They are beings of emotion, though unlike keratin and illidraen it is not a personal passion, but an echo of their many ancestor’s lives – pain, suffering, love, loss death. Most surviving members have been driven mad by the weight of memories that bear down upon them, and every generation grows slowly more maddened. Indeed, in many respects they are the closest of the mortal races to the Otherworlders.

They are linked to the river Shibboleth, which bears more than just a name in common with their demiurge forebear. They each undertake a long coming of age ritual by going upstream to the river’s main source, where they immerse themselves in the water. This somehow causes them to reach sexual maturity (Some scholars think this is due to certain chemicals in the water or some other physical effect that causes a metabolic change), though the proliferation of humans around the river sees fewer and fewer merills complete this arduous ritual.

They tend to talk in stream of consciousness, which is difficult for other mortal races to understand. Very little is known of them, and what is known is likely misunderstood though as Elyden’s seas retreat, soapstone metropolises have begun to appear in the middle of once-submerged seas, built on volcanic atolls. Where they survive they rely on coastal raids on ill-protected places far away from the Korachani empire.

rarevas: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Ryhassharauch. The children of the stillborn demiurge, These beings were cursed before their conception and exist as void, hollow, wretched things more akin to languid corpses than anything living. The stench of vinegar and rotting flesh surrounds their bony grey bodies. They keep their umbilical cords and make necklaces out of them in memory of their catatonic god. Legends claim that only seven exist in a fugue state between life and death, unable to die or reproduce.

the Mortal Races

Elyden Vorropohaiah