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Wood elf / Yifferhim


Appearance

The Wood Elves, or Yifferhim in their native language are light in build but not frail.

In the most southern lands, wood elves have a fair skin; in the very northern reaches the skin tones are still fair, but with a subtle shade of bronze.  There skins blend with their natural surroundings in the forests and regions they inhabit.

Hair colors seems to vary from golden to dark red to deep browns and black, with the majority in brown shades.

Often male and female wood elves are hard to tell apart at first glance. Both sexes usually have big beautiful eyes (colors range from light purple, to hues of blue, green, and black). They wear their hair long and uncut, both have exquisite features.  Male elves typically do not have any beard growth. Wood elves typically have larger more sharper pointed ears then most elves.  This is one feature that adds them in hunting.

Wood Elves are a tall and slender race with the females being taller than males.  The average female is 7 feet tall (2.13 meters) and the average males 6 feet tall (1.83 meters).  Females usually weigh around 150 LBS (68 kilos); males weigh around 120 LBS (54 kilos).

Wood Elves prefer primitive clothing, furs and leathers over the clothing styles of the other races. Additionally, it is not uncommon to see a Wood Elf with tribal tattoos and various paint markings on their face and body. Each tribe uses different markings and colors for different meanings.



Homeland

The Yifferhim homeland is the northern Rainforest of Entheria – it is often called by the Yifferhim’s as the “Lungs of Entheria”.  This evergreen woodland rainforest infrastructure, distinguished by a continuous leaf canopy interwoven into to tropical forest layers, covers the entire northern tier. 

The forest is known for its high humidity but it does not always rain! The high heat and humidity under cover of this water filled equatorial canopy make the constant cycle of evaporation and dissipation that creates the jungle paradise of the forest.  

Many would conclude that such a rich and diverse ecosystem would have rich soil – but that is not so!  In fact the nutrient quality of the soil here is extremely poor.  The bulk of the Rainforest nutrients – are in fact held within the plants and leaves themselves, something the Yifferhim learned earlier on.  It is for this reason many of the flora epiphytic (aerial root system) species, including ferns, vining plants, and native orchids thrive in this tropical canopy.   Amazingly, reproduction of these epiphytes is achieved by airborne disbursement of spores to new hosts. These aerial plant specimens form not a parasitic relationship but a symbiotic one, and one that the Yifferhim honor at the beginning of each rainy season.

Deep within the often impenetrable layers of forest canopy maze of brush, foliage, vines and waterways you will find old growth trees reaching to the sun achieving spectacular heights of 200 – 400 ft.   Unfortunately, it is these very specimens that tempt its destruction.  The massive hardwood specimens attract commercial logging for profits resulting in deforestation as the mills go out in search of these majestic trees.  This is what the Yifferhim watches over I shudder to think of the poor logger who wanders into the rich forest and proceeds to cut their trees.  He may never return from his journey.

Although the climate supporting the forest is perpetually hot, temperatures never reach the high values regularly recorded in drier places. This is partly due to high levels of cloud cover, which limit the mean number of sunshine hours per day to between four and six. In hilly areas where air masses rise and cool because of the topography, the hours of sunlight may be even fewer. Nevertheless, the heat may seem extreme owing to the high levels of atmospheric humidity, which usually exceed 50 percent by day and approach 100 percent at night. Exacerbating the discomfort is the fact that winds are usually light; mean wind speeds are generally less than 10 km (6.2 miles) per hour and less than 5 km per hour in many areas. Devastating tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) occur periodically in some coastal regions. Although relatively infrequent, such storms have an important effect on forest structure and regeneration.

The climate within any vegetation is moderated by the presence of plant parts that reduce incoming solar radiation and circulation of air. This is particularly true in the Entheria forests, which are structurally more dense and complex with many different vegetation. Within the forest, temperature range and wind speed are reduced and humidity is increased relative to the climate above the tree canopy or in nearby clearings. The amount of rain reaching the ground is also reduced—by as much as 90 percent in some cases—as rainwater is absorbed by epiphytes (plants that grow on the surface of other plants but that derive nutrients and water from the air) and by tree bark or is caught by foliage and evaporates directly back to the atmosphere.



Pantheon

Wood Elves have two Gods, The Mother God, Canotila and her son Orion who is reborn each spring and dies each winter after the wild hunt.

The Mother God, Canotila: is quiet, reflective, patient, and enduring.

Orion: The god of hunting, archery, and survival. He teaches his followers the skills of hunting, archery, moving unseen and disguise (or blending with your surroundings). He watches over the wilderness, farmed land, and cities as he seeks to maintain the balance between them.

Each Wood Elf prays to these two in hopes to one day enter the realm of Kisu'lkw. 

Orion is born as a sapling each spring as soon as the frost melts and throughout the planting season reins over the forest.  As the high heat season approaches he is in full glory.  He is the tallest oak tree in the forest and his leaves are broad and emerald green.  As the winds turn cooler and the frost season begins he ages, leaves fall, his bark sheds.  Until the eve of The Wild Hunt in which he guides a group of hunters who are called from the afterlife, Kisu'lkw, to participate.  Orion leads this spectral host of horsemen riding through the stormy sky, with their ghostlike hounds. The chillingly sound of the hunting horn can be heard reverberating through the woods and meadows, as the Yifferhim play into the night.   This is a grand celebration and one that marked by the lighting of the night.  It is thought by doing this it helps guide the huntsmen on their sacred quest.  It is customary that on this evening to send the newest members of the hunting parties out for their first lone kill.  The one that levels the most savage of beasts on that evening wears the crown of Orion during the next year’s festival.    It is told that Orion begins each hunt and ends each one with these words; 


“Remember that the hunter and the prey are essential parts of nature. However, do not hunt into extinction since that upsets the balance. Use what is needed for survival of the pack, but do not use more than you need. If you have to take from the lands and forests, you are expected to give something in return sooner or later. You are the stewards of your hunting grounds, and all that live in it are under your protection. While some may be prey, they should be loved and protected nonetheless. Defend your grounds against those who would destroy them needlessly. Allow yourself to adapt to change. The passing of seasons will test you in new ways each sun. And do not allow yourself to fall victim of ill preparations. Be an example to those who learn from you and mark each step safely, because those who come after you will benefit from the paths you tread.”

At the rising of the new day’s sun the fire is extinguished and each Wood Elf cuts themselves but not harshly and bleeds into the dirt.  It is a small token they give back each season.


During the early age of the Wood Elven culture much was not written or recorded.  Instead ideas, teaching, and customs were handed down through generation by word of mouth, songs, and stories.  Until it was discovered much of who they are as a society had been lost.


What they do know is that they established settlements within the forests where they still thrive to this day. During Great Wars, the Wood Elves’ ability to hunt with a bow proved useful in defending their homes and eliminating enemies.

Some of their history that has been repeated (via stories or songs) throughout the tribes have now been written down and the Sachem’s have taken on the addition of tribal historian in hopes of keeping a record history.  One such thing that has been record was said to be spoken by the first Sachem of the Wood Elves; which all three tribes still adhere to today:







"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, and beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”  Words which ever new Sachem repeats upon her initial staging.  As spoken by the first Sachem, Shawunogi.




History

Their history is usually divided into specific periods which, taken together, and through song or pose reveal the development of a culture in the region and, for the purposes of this definition, the emergence and cultivation of the Yifferhim.

The Archaic Period

During this time a hunter-gatherer culture began to cultivate crops such as vegetables, herbs, and fungus.  The Yifferhim believe their first tribe originated in the north as many stories depict their ancestors experiment with the plants.  One song teaches that during this time they grew from a small tribal-village to a metropolis of enormous size and influence.Teotihuacan was a city of stone.  The Yifferhim believe that at this time only the one tribe Xochipilli, which they think is their oldest and originating tribe, began to build a fine city of stone.  But, Orion and the great beast Oonawieh Unggi became angered by their destruction and manipulation of the forest and punished them by erupting a volcano.  And the song ends with the eventual destruction, of Teotihuacan.  It was a great lesson learned by the Xochipilli.  One they wouldn’t repeat.


The Zapotec Period

Upon the fall of the city Teotihuacan the Yifferhim suffered great losses in their numbers.  They turned back to the one thing that they knew…the forest.  This time period is usually sung about in two forms each song begins with great sorrow and then ends in great joy as this is the time period that they see as the rebirth of their kind. The emergence of the Oonawieh Unggi are believed to have been started.  A small group of Warriors, a few select members of a past Regis, and one Sachem in guidance; her name Tutul-xiu all were sent south to the frozen region.  It was believe that by watching over the great mountain home of the Unggi they could prevent and also try to appease the beast.  Once at the base of the mountain it is said that Tutul-xiu began to set up a camp.  She fought off the wild carnivores and held the small group together with the help of her warrior captain Izamal.   It is said that during the festival of conception they were blessed by none other than the Unggi.  There are claims that she spawned three elven children which many Yifferhim believe was because of Unggi blessing, as this has never been accomplished since.  Upon settling the region she decided to pay homage to the beast and renamed the tribe Oonawieh Unggi.  There are many songs about Tutul-xiu and her courage and bravery, but mostly about her compassion.


The El Tajin Period

This period is told through a series of pose and tells how the Northern tribe Xochipilli were fearing that their size was growing which would impact the forest and because of what had happened in their past fear made them split themselves.  So there are now two northern tribes the Xochipilli to the northeast and the newest of the three the Kana’ti to the northwest.  Upon the split the Kana’ti delved further west, into jungle like areas never before explored by the Yifferhim.  They disturbed little upon their journey west and it is said that even today a wanderer may happen upon the Kana’ti tribe and never even know they did.  The Kana’ti are masters as disguise and becoming one with their surroundings.  The songs tell of ghost warriors, master hunters, and cunning rogues.   Furthermore the Kana’ti shroud themselves with the aura of the animals they have come to depend on for their survival.  It is sung that a warrior is as quick as the cat, can swing like the monkeys, and coo like the birds.  The Kana’ti tribe was resourceful and is credited with the hunting bow design that is said to be amazingly sophisticated. 

The Olmecs Period

This is what the modern Yifferhim call the current period they are in.  The three ruling Sachems had held a meeting with their corresponding Regis in attendance. The meeting was due to what they conceived as a looming threat the Obsidian Elves.  It is believed that these elves came from the demon realm and as such needed to be eliminated.  Over a period of time raids had been organized but much to the Yifferhim’s dismay they have not yet drove these demons back from which they came.  This also holds true of the Vile Orcs, but the Yifferhim know better than to go raiding their area instead they wait on the outskirts of the forest and kill any who dare try and enter.  It was during this council meeting that the idea to begin staking the stories and songs they knew and put them into their written word.  It was agreed upon return to their respective tribes each would add a tribal historian.  The historians now meet once every fun sun cycle of the Toad Moon which to Wood Elves signals the changing of the frost season to the rain season.  The historians have complied three books on what they felt was the best Yifferhim history.  These books are a symbol of pride, they are bound in the hid of the great waterloo bull and branded with each tribe Yungi (or symbol).



Society

Matriarchal. 

You will find there are three major tribes which protect their given region.  Each clan of Wood Elf is named for a particular entity they excel at and/or watch over.

The tribes (or clans) are as followed:

Oonawieh Unggi: 

Meaning Spirit of the Wind This is the tribe or clan to the south:  In southern lore, Unggi was a bird spirit that lived on Mt Wenski (This name was made up we can use whatever one one all think is acceptable I just wanted something there for the time being) and made cold weather. Unggi was associated with the control of natural forces, such as day and night, rain, wind, sun, snow, and storms. Apparently it had an elk's head according to some legends. The only version we've been able to find just says that Unggi was large enough to carry off an elk, not that it looks like one. Either way, Unggi definitely is not a creature any human or elf would want to mess with, and the Wood Elves avoid climbing to the top of this mountain to this day so as not to disturb it.  But, at the base of the mountain will leave food offers or meat, cheese, wine, and fruits.  The southern tribe have taken the name of this great beast as their clan moniker.  The Unggi tribe are the bearer of magic and light, able to control the wind, and the keeper of secrets of Entheria. Their tribe is considered symbolic of transformation, knowledge and understanding of the magical forces which control their environment. 

Xochipilli:  Meaning Sacred Life (or The Green Spirit) This is the tribe or clan of the northeast:  The Xocipilli tribe is the keeper of “The Green”.  The Xochipilli tribe sought to live in harmony with all nature and respect all dwellers of Entheria.  They saw their existence as intertwined with that of the rest of their surroundings, so they accepted their food and provisions from the forest with great thanks.  A prayer of thanks was offered up to Orion for every plant they took for food, medicine, or other basic needs. The tribal holy women call upon the mighty oak in rituals for thanks during great rituals and festivals held during the planting and harvesting seasons.  The use of plants for food, clothing, and other things used by the tribe was a constant reminder of the interconnectedness with nature.  The Xochipilli humbly and thankfully accepted what was given to them through nature.  Due to this importance on the different plants used, certain ones were regarded with special significance.  For instance, the bitterroot symbolized healing.  To acquire bitterroot the tribe member had to go to great lengths, but once the root was obtained, the Elf was given great respect and honor.  The same is true with boysenberry.  Boysenberry symbolized strength and required hard work to obtain but also brought respect and acknowledgment to the elf brave enough to acquire the fruit.  Often times wearing dried necklaces or bracelets with these different items distinguished the more important tribe members from the lesser.  The Xochipilli are experts in alchemy even more so than their Southern and northwestern cousins, due to their affinity with the natural plant life surrounding them.

Kana’ti:  Meaning The Great Hunter This is the tribe or clan to the northwest:  Kana’ti is a tribe based on the spiritual idea that all of Entheria  and all natural objects within Entheria, have souls or spirits. AKA:  Animists believe that souls or spirits exist, not only in the elf, but also in animals, plants, trees, rocks and all natural forces and phenomena such as the rain, sun and moon. The term 'Animism', or animist, is most commonly applied to hunter/gatherer tribes. The idealist teachings concerning the life force is a fundamental basis of animism.   Kana’ti is a subsidiary branch of animism that encompasses the doctrine that spirits or supernatural power embodied, attached or conveying influence through, certain animals or material objects. Certain animals are believed to empower the tribe with the associated trait of an animal. In the belief of Kana’ti the beaver represented the builder and keeper for family unity, the raven was the healer, the mountain lion was the warrior, and the wolf was the pathfinder.  The Kana’ti tribe therefore holds the belief of life in all natural phenomena. To the Kana’ti there is no distinction between the animate and the inanimate. Nature is all alive and every object is controlled by its own independent spirit. Spirits inhabit the sky, the stars, the sun, the moon, the rivers, the lakes, the mountains, the woods, the trees, the animals, the insects, the fish, the flowers, the grass and the birds.

Matriarchal Rule: The Wood Elves believe that the females bore fruit like trees—when they were ripe. So childbirth is both worshipped and revered by the male population.  And because of it, females were considered superior.  This is partially due to their reproduction cycle and there wonderment of nature.  Wood Elves can begin reproducing at about 60 (20 human years) and may only reproduce twice in their lifetime.  Conception to gestation is considered to be sacred.  With gestation being 12 months.  There a great festivals to mark the time when females can conceive.

The Wood Elf tribes have a chief known as a sachem.  Each Sachem governs over their tribe with a council or Regis.  The Sachem governs overall she appoints a Regis to help council and run everything from their mundane arguments within the tribe to military leadership.  She appoints her members of her Regis on their skills.  A true Sachem will surround herself with a strong Regis.

Sachems are chosen when there is a death of the former, mortal impalement, or age simply no longer allows her to perform her duties.  The announcement of the new Sachem is a joyous celebration of the rule passing from one to the other.  But, even though a Sachem may need to step down she is revered and honored member of the tribe.  A new Sachem is usually groomed by former members of a Regis.  Only the bravest, smartest, and skilled are even considered for grooming.

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