The Feore are a race native to Zhurin that inhabit the forests of Draelyk, with their capital of Dragoste near the Karr’ai Peak in Ror’nam. From a distance, the Feore might pass for a more common human, however as that gap is shortened, it becomes obvious that they’re a race unto themselves. Their eye color range can be almost any variation of brown (light yellow to almost black) as well as the different tints of green. All Feore eyes, however, have little flecks of yellow around the pupil as a result of pockets of cells devoid of melanin. Feore hair tends to be kept long and runs the range from black to a very light brown, but never naturally blonde. When their skin is in its natural state, the tonal range starts at a swarthy olive at its lightest and an almost ochre shade of mocha at its darkest, but the chromatophore layer just under their skin as well as thin strands of chromatophores that core each follicle of hair allows them to change the coloration of their skin and hair much like a chameleon. This defensive mechanism was naturally evolved due to how dangerous the forests of Zhurin can be, much like how the Scolani naturally evolved to regenerate incredibly quickly in the deserts of Sorth. Their skin is highly resilient due to the chromatophores and how they work, literally shifting pigmentation in a ripple of motion depending on the surrounding area, on closer inspection takes on a dense, scale-like pattern, making it harder to pierce or bludgeon.
Your average Feore clads themselves in oiled leathers (both flora and fauna) and fabrics (mainly silk harvested from the silkworms they breed in the rainforests of southern Draelyk as well as the subcontinent just off the west coast) of earthy colorations over the brighter hues to help them better blend in with their forested environment, though this practice was made somewhat obsolete when they built their great cities. Those Feore on the higher rungs of their society frequently have enchantments woven into a very mundane piece of jewelry, usually a ring or something that can’t get snagged by local flora or cause them to stand out too much, that allows their clothing to camouflage with them.
Camouflage: Feore, like most native races to Zhurin, are innately hardy due to the harsh, primordial environment. Unlike the Scolani, who can naturally regenerate any wounds inflicted upon them, the Feore adapted to the heavily forested environment of Draelyk. Like chameleons and cuttlefish, a Feore’s skin has a layer of chromatophores that allow them to change the coloration of their skin in complex patterns to match their environment. This allows them to almost perfectly blend in against a tree, the ground, a group of boulders and the like. When they settled and started building villages, cities and the like, all too frequently when an invading warband came upon a Feore village, they’d find it entirely vacated so as to let their guard down, only to have the entirety of the battle-ready Feore ‘magically’ appear. There are exceptions to the rule, however. Feore cannot properly mimic flowing, fluid elements happening around them; a feore attempting to camouflage in the middle of a flowing river, unless they were bound to the element of water, would display a disturbance in said water that would give away their location.
Toughness: This advantage was evolved in tandem with Camouflage as a way to help them deal with the thorny briars and carnivorous plants that are frequently found throughout the Draelyk forests. The reason Feore are much stronger is due partially to the fact that the skin and muscles have a much more efficient nutrient and waste product transport and that the muscle fibers and skin cells are prismoidal and triangular, as opposed to a human’s rounder muscle fibers and skin cells. This allows more muscle and skin to fit in the same amount of space, and due to the larger size, attributes to the greater strength.
Elemental Bond: At their right of passage, the Feore that survive have to choose a single element (fire, air, water, earth, stasis, creation or void) to bind themselves to. Whatever element that is bound to the Feore also imparts resistance to that element, but not immunity. The elemental spirits do not feel that anyone save for themselves should be entirely immune from the elements touch.
– Fire – Flame and Heat.
– Air – Wind and Energy.
– Water – Water and Fluids.
– Earth – Rock and Soil.
– Stasis – Ice, Freezing, Stillness
– Creation – Flora/Fauna or Life (absence of Death)*
– Void – Darkness or Death*
* Can not master both. They choose one and can only perform basic to intermediate functions of the other.
Natural Resistance to Poison/Venom (Not an immunity)
Allergy: There is a very specific plant that grows deep in the mountains of Mauren that the Feore are highly allergic to. When exposed to it, they break out into a violet rash that disrupts their ability to camouflage, as well as causing painful blisters and boils. Prolonged exposure caused the skin to slough off completely in sheets and ultimately death. This is why the ice-bound Feore make pilgrimages to Mauren in hopes that they can eradicate the plant, but have yet over the thousands of years been successful.
Elemental Bond: At their right of passage, the Feore that survive have to choose a single element (fire, air, water, ice, earth, growth or darkness) to bind themselves to. This happens naturally due to emotional states, preferences and things of that fashion and is not something that can be reversed, changed or the like by any fashion. Feore cannot cast spells involving an element outside of the one chosen.
The Feore are a curious race. Most of those outside the race itself, aside from a few particularly lucky scholars that have managed to live with the Feore and survived any decent amount of time, have no real in-depth knowledge about them. This is due to an innate, instinctual sense of distrust amongst the Feore; many loathe discussing their culture and traditions. To learn about Feore culture, one must hear it -from- a Feore to learn anything of significance, even then you may not be told the absolute truth. They are known to be deceptive to those not of their kind which is an aid to the general consensus that they can not be trusted. Often they will give misleading information about themselves.
Interactions between Feore and the outside world do not usually prove to be a success as people tend to be very wary of their kind. It is because of this that the Feore do not usually make trips outside of Zhurin, the world that they know, to seek out anything else. That is, until recently. Their savage tendencies, though as natural to themselves as two humans shaking hands, do nothing to help the belief that the Feore are dangerous.
The Feore social structure is largely based on tribes and through the millennia those tribes have grown into so much more than the primitive ones they started out as. All through the jungles you will find the Feore homes nestled amongst the trees, rope, bone and wood ladders and bridges link the decks of their structures and homes. Amongst these villages you will find the Feore, each tribe are fiercely territorial and protective of their lands. It is not unheard of to have instances of tribal infighting, though it never reaches such extremes where death occurs. Competitive attitudes abound between tribes as well but those are, very usually, seen as games, friendly boasting, ribbing or championing one tribe against another.
Every Feore has to pass a rite of passage when they come of age and there is no room for failure; doing so results in death. The rite is different with each adolescent Feore but the result is the same: the choosing of one of the seven elements (fire, air, earth, growth, darkness, ice and water) to bind themselves to. The ritual also consists of the young Feore taking on a chosen weapon that they will rarely deviate from. Even those that are unable to call upon the magical or psionic energies benefit from this binding as it bestows a resistance to the element. However those with a magical or psionic bent can only call upon the element they’re bound to and quite frequently their elemental bond dictates their role in Feore society.
The ritual itself is different for every Feore, with some having to go out, slay some mighty beast (or in many cases, destroy a particularly dangerous carnivorous plant) while others have to find something of worth to bring back. While failure isn’t an option, what dictates failure is rather open ended. A Feore that needs to slay a blood-thirsty Urshrak will be viewed as a ritual sacrifice, as Urshraks aren’t things that a new hunter can bring down without incredible amounts of guile, strength and will. But attempting to kill an Urshrak, failing to do so but surviving the encounter to tell about it? That’s not failure. At the conclusion of the ritual, an elemental spirit that is the most attuned to the Feore presents itself and offers to bind a portion of its power with the Feore. A Feore that denies the Spirit, for whatever reason, is struck down by the Spirit and killed immediately; which might be why there aren’t any Feore that haven’t bound themselves to one of the elemental spirits.
Prime Spirit: Mahkah
Secondary Spirits: Jrin, Odanodan, Barth, Adhamh, Xeyo, Botina, Kinus, Netica, Nophtys, Lorna, Amadahy, Dalis, Laec, Mosheh
Tertiary Spirits: Nus, Tuulikki, Erata, Nyarad, Peryah
Fire – Firdaast (Fur-dast)
Spirits associated with fire: Nus, Tuulikki, Erata, Nyarad, Peryah, Mahkah
Water – Oeilus (We-lus)
Spirits associated with water: Lorna, Amadahy, Dalis, Laec, Mosheh, Makhah
Air – Ereso (Eerie-so)
Spirits associated with air: Xeyo, Botina, Kinus, Netica, Nophtys, Mahkah
Earth – Oeleh (Weh-lay)
Spirits associated with earth: Jrin, Odanodan, Barth, Adhamh, Makhah
Creation – Elifah (Ely-fa)
Spirits associated with Creation: Jrin, Odanodan, Barth, Adhamh, Makhah
Void – Mersiro (Mercy-ro)
Spirits associated with Void: Xeyo, Botina, Kinus, Netica, Nophtys, Mahkah
Stasis – Vaeloss (Vae-loss)
Spirits associated with Stasis: Lorna, Amadahy, Dalis, Laec, Mosheh, Mahkah
Feore Creation Story:
Zhurin doesn’t have gods. The people of Zhurin did not just magically come into existence through the divine will of some greater being, though they did have a little help.
The scrolls say that feore precursors were cold-blooded reptilian creatures, akin to chameleons but far larger and more predatory. Zhurin and the spirits that watch over the many lands of the realm follow the tenets of nature; survival of the fittest, and the two races that have become the body and soul of Zhurin are the feore and the scolani.
The feore cannot say for certain when their evolutionary pathway diverted from the cold-blooded reptilian nature that kept them within the forests of Draelyk to that of a warm-blooded, mammalian creature capable of traversing all of the biomes that Zhurin had to offer, but scholars believe that this was the touch of the Spirits, a gift for the race’s ability to not only survive but to thrive in the dense forests of Zhurin that would have and has eaten lesser races incapable of such growth.
Feore society is split into two different aspects that intermingle throughout a feorii’s lifetime. What a feorii does with their life dictates how they’re seen, as word of mouth spreads of their infamy throughout the forests. As a whole, the feore are a nomadic race filled with a wanderlust that’s rivaled by few and every feorii feels the pull at least once in their life, though on average a feorii might drift through the boughs and branches multiple times a year. It is because of this need to wander that feore create potent bonds with their immediate families and anyone that they feel is worthy of skin privileges, going through great lengths to protect both should anything befall either.
Each Feorii belongs to a caste that’s dictated by the element that they’re bound to when they complete their rite of passage, but there’s very little by the way of power-struggle between them. The Firdaast, Oeilus, Ereso and Oeleh compromise a larger percentage of the feore population and as the primary four elements go, can serve a wide variety of roles depending on their training. It’s a mistake that many outsiders make, to think that one bound to earth cannot play the role of scout or assassin, or that one bound to air is unable to wade into the thick of battle given the ephemeral nature of their element. With fewer in their numbers, the Elifah, Mersiro and Vaeloss more than make up for that with presence. Not bound by the usual rules that the primary four elements hold, those gifted by Creation, Void, and Stasis generally take positions of power and prestige within feore society.
An individual feorii might not fear much within and without of Zhurin, but the feore as a whole are extremely xenophobic and much of what they do is indicative to that. Their need for skin privileges, even among their own kind, mean that most feore have only a very small group of allies outside of their families and despite there being elves, fae and other such creatures living with the feore in the four cities, there are likely dozens of little pockets throughout Draelyk where only feore are allowed.
During the years of dusk in a feorii’s life, those that haven’t died from battle or the rigors of Draelyk go off and alienate themselves. Mated couples generally go together, but sometimes there is a division that occurs, especially if the age gap is great enough. Having lived their lives in accordance with the natural ways and Creation, most feore who feel as if their cycle is coming to an end, offer themselves to the Spirits. This is less committing suicide and more simply losing the will to live so that death might take hold.
Each location that a feorii goes to for their final days is different. The Vaeloss tend to go to Mauren, where they did most of their training in their earlier years, while Firdaast follow a similar train of thought and head to Sorth. The others, though, find a location within Draelyk closest to the element they’re blessed with. As their final breath leaves their body, the blessing they received blooms. Elifah become vegetal masses, trees or any number of large, dangerous predatory flora, while Ereso disperse into the winds.
Each of these elemental creatures were once feore and their power is not directly proportional to the power they had in life. They also have very limited memory, if any at all, as to who and what they were in life, however some houses have taken to binding the spirits of their deceased into constructs capable of withstanding the element in question.
Religion on Zhurin is a little different than what most in Creation might expect, as Zhurin never had the touch of gods or goddesses to create sentient life, nor would the Spirits of Zhurin allow outsiders in, protecting the once fragile world until seed had taken root and life was shaped according to their will. Most believe that the Spirits that inhabit Zhurin were offspring of the untapped will of Creation. But what is Creation? Whether or not the natives of Zhurin believe in the Spirits, the Spirits touch is felt everywhere.
The Spirits of Zhurin do not care if they have worshippers or not, the murmured whispers of the devout do not empower them. They care for the natural way of things; Survival of the Fittest. From the earliest days of Zhurin, in the deepest parts of the oceans to the highest mountains of Mauren, Zhurin has been a savage, dangerous place. The two primary races that call Zhurin home; the Scolani and the Feore, were not created from nothing, not corrupted from something already existing, no, they evolved, they grew, they faced the rigors of Creation, not only succeeding but excelling.
So it is this mentality, of Survival of the Fittest, of culling the weak so that the strong might survive and propagate, that the feore hold true and dear to their hearts. Creation and Nature are foremost in the minds and bodies of the feore, seeing a natural balance in all things, in life and death, in the four primary elements, in light and the shadows it creates. What they cannot abide, however, is the curse of undead, which directly spits upon the whole notion of the Natural Cycle. By taking oneself out of the cycle of life and death, by ‘transcending’, one is creating entropy, which disrupts Creation and stifles the natural way of things.
Undead on Zhurin are, thankfully, exceptionally rare because of this.
But the feore are as diligent, as fiery about their worship of Creation as any clergy, any priest or druid of their religion. There is no convincing the feore that their beliefs are wrong… because what to the other races have to show to prove superiority? Child-like gods who ruin because of supposed insults? Goodly, bright deities, the best and most holy… casting down the unbelievers into hellish pits and tortuous, fiery afterlives? No, while deities obviously have some purpose in Creation, that which the feore have not yet figured out, they are only a step above those inflicted with the disease of undeath as far as they’re concerned.