The Races

The Races – Updated 6/16/02
 

Humans

 

Humans are the most common race in Khevoran, composing a full 90% of the mean continental population. There are several general ethnic groups to be found in localized regions across the continent.

 

Elves

 

Aluviel’s First-Born are dying, and everyone knows it. Roughly six-centuries ago, before Kishara’s onslaught, it became clear to the elven peoples of the Ar’Avariel and Ar’Marinwe forests that the birth rate among their people had plummeted to nearly nothing. Members of the race who lived away from their forest homeland began to feel the call of Evare’Nin – The Final Calling – and most returned home. Councils were formed to chronicle the history and lore that the elves had built over the millennia to be passed along to the humans who, it was clear, were to become the inheritors of Khevoran. In short, the elven peoples are putting their affairs in order and preparing themselves to dim the lights and close the door behind them gracefully. Even in the present day, those few elves who leave the forests always hear the call of the Evare’Nin, tugging their souls back to their homeland to chronicle their travels and knowledge so at least in spirit, their people may live on.

 

When the Kisharan invasion came, High Lord Altair sent an ambassador to the elven king, begging their aid to help bottle the invading armies in the hills surrounding the Waygate. Altair knew that once the armies reached the open plans there’d be no stopping them. King Arlai Tel’Varin of the Ar’Merinwe elves refused, and instead made a pact with the Kisharan Lord Tahl’Mearis stating that the elves would not intervene with Kishara’s conquests in exchange for being left alone in their forests. The feeling of betrayal felt by the rest of the world was tangible – many elves living among men were slain by angry mobs when the word got out. Arlai Tel’Varin knew that a war against Kishara was not only very likely pointless, but would also speed the end of his people substantially. Decades later, with the elven population numbering in the thousands opposed to the hundreds of thousands it once did, mankind still feels a twinge of betrayal from the elves, but those who understand the quandary of their forest-born elder siblings can hardly blame them their fear.

 

Half-Elves

 

With the decline of the elves, the number of half-blooded elves in Khevoran has also diminished substantially. Shunned by their human kin and never being able to fully comprehend the minds and motivations of their enigmatic elven kin, those that haven’t chosen a solitary path in the wilds have gathered in small communities near the edges of the great forests, holding silent vigil near their dying kin and staying clear of the largely prejudiced human populations.

 

Dwarves

 

When Lord Ari Stonehand and his army reached the Masaan Mountains with the unenviable task of preventing the dwarven king’s armies from interfering with Kishara’s grand plan, he was surprised to discover no resistance whatsoever. As he chronicled in his report to Lord Tahl’Mearis from the gates of Karak Nartul: “The dwarves don’t seem to be coming out to put up a fight…and I sure as hell am not going in there after them.”

 

A few years before the Kisharan armies first appeared, very nearly every dwarf living among men simply went home. They all, old and young, Northland to Southland, Westergard to Penshin, told those they left behind the same story: “We have some family business to take care of.” Shortly thereafter, most trade with the dwarves ceased. Diplomats and caravans from the surface were turned away at the gates, and no metal shipments or the dwarves’ exquisitely crafted goods left those halls – which remained sealed from the inside and then later, garrisoned from the outside by Stonehand’s troops. From the tens of thousands of dwarves who used to live among men and in small dwarven communities within the major cities, only hundreds remain – their services as masters of warfare and skilled craftsmen highly prized by North and Southlander alike. Of those that remain, most are old, infirm, or simply too greedy to give up their now monopolistic hold on their stock in trade – but all contain a deep-seated bitterness and depression that no non-dwarf has any capability to understand.

 

The truth of why the dwarves returned to their halls is a closely-guarded secret, and to this day few, if any non-dwarves know of it. Roughly ten years before the emergence of Kishara’s armies from the Waygate, the dwarven king of the time, Thane Ironfist, undertook a grand project to uncover Karak Mithril – the City of Mithril, one of the first great cities of the dwarven people, long lost deep within the foundations of the Kar’Maketh Mountains. It was the greatest archaeological effort in the history of the dwarves, and Ironfist was anxious to uncover the ancient secrets that his people had left behind when they migrated closer to the surface centuries previous. Almost simultaneous with the great clap of thunder that marked Kishara’s armies arriving at the Waygate, the dwarves broke through into the old tunnels near Karak Mithril – and the sound of that last pick against the stone may very well be the death knell of the dwarven peoples. In the centuries following the dwarven migration, the old cities and tunnels had been utterly consumed by the dark dwarves, goblins, and other denizens of the deep. They poured forth into the newer tunnels, driven on by frenzied rage (and some think some darker force deep within the old warrens), and the dwarves were wholly unprepared for the onslaught. Most of the dwarven cities in the Kar’Maketh Mountains were overrun within the first few months until the dwarves could properly mobilize and slow the advance. The war still rages on – the remaining dwarves fighting a desperate battle for survival – a last line of defense preventing the denizens of the deep from pouring out into the surface world. Their guilt at having unleashed such blight drives them on, and their pride prevents them from seeking aid from the topsiders.

 

 

Halflings

 

Of all the tales of the suffering of the non-human peoples of Khevoran, that of the Halflings is likely the most tragic. The Halflings are a relatively new addition to the world of Khevoran – the elves remember when the stout and stalwart little people migrated from the Northern Wastes into the Northlands. The largest concentration of Halflings settled in Harfoot Downs, building an idyllic and sprawling community on the shores of a large lake. Most seemed content to stay there – the Halfling people while resilient, were not terribly prone to thoughts of adventure and excitement, and most contented themselves to live in the Downs and trade the foodstuffs and medicinal herbs they produced with the dwarves and humans of the Northlands. They struck everyone who dealt with them as a friendly – though mildly xenophobic – people, possessed of an uncanny luck, and an unparalleled fondness for eating and tea parties. Not all of the Halflings remained in the Downs, and they became a fairly common sight throughout all of Khevoran. Until Kishara came, that is.

 

During Kishara’s occupation of the Southlands, the Halflings who lived there were treated unusually harshly – crimes that would earn a human or dwarf a slap on the wrist often earned a Halfling a summary execution – and hundreds more were imprisoned for little or no reason whatsoever. Decades later, when the Southlands were secure and Tahl’Mearis’ army began to cut a bloody swath through the Northlands, Lord Whisper’s army came across the Masaan Mountains and made a bee-line for Harfoot Downs. When they arrived, they proceeded to methodically exterminate every Halfling they could find. Word spread quickly of the slaughter at Harfoot Downs, but few Halflings had the opportunity to protest. At the same time that Whisper’s army was burning the fields of the Downs, Halflings throughout all of the Kishara-controlled lands were rounded up and summarily executed. Hundreds escaped to hide in the wilds, but tens of thousands were slain in just a few short months. Many Halflings escaped across the mountains to the Eastern Wastes, and have gathered in wandering nomadic tribes, eking out a harsh existence in the deserts.

 

To this day, no one is entirely sure why the Kisharan Lords had committed genocide against the Halfling people, but their vehemence remains – any Halfling caught by Kisharan forces is slain on sight, and anyone caught harboring them shares their fate.

 

 

Gnomes

 

Interestingly enough, the Gnomes have been the only non-human race to actually thrive under Kisharan rule. Upon discovering their knack for invention, the Kisharan Lords embraced the Gnomish people – establishing well-funded universities and craft halls in every major city where Gnomes of talent could gather and undertake pure research for the advancement of the sciences and have all their needs catered to.

 

Considered greater turncoats then the Elves ever were, most of the Gnomes living on the surface congregate in communities within the major cities and spend most of their time taking advantage of the life of comfort and pure research that the Kisharan rulers offer. Most simply do what they have always done – invent labor-saving devices and generally work for the betterment of all, but many less scrupulous Gnomes have risen to unparalleled positions of power and authority through their willingness to research inventions of military application for Kishara’s armies. One such Gnome, Vernon Bubblesneezer – Headmaster of the University of Invention in Penshin and advisor to Lady Cyan Marinetta – is a particularly reviled example of the race’s willingness to stoop to any low to live in the lap of luxury in the new order. His most infamous invention – the Bubblesneezer Long-Range Anti-Infantry Scattershot Cannon – has been single-handedly responsible for many of Tahl’Mearis’ unequivocal victories in the Northlands. Hundreds of Bubblesneezer Cannons are produced every year and distributed to Kisharan-controlled cities and outposts, and hundreds more transported to the Waygate to be whisked away to parts unknown. Were it not for the dozens of such cannons at High-Guard Fortress, it’s very likely that Mengst’s army would already be marching through the Southlands.