The Ohanedin, or "Family Elves", are a race of immortals who dwell in the hills and forests of northern Iber, in the region called Kartzletan. Like all Din, they have a Focus that makes them immortal. For the Ohanedin, however, that Focus is obedience to a set of rules laid down by terrifying and unknowable spirits beyond the veil of reality.
The Ohanedin are usually fair-skinned, with eyes ranging from brown to bright blue, and black, brown or greenish-blonde hair. They are taller than their Burdinadin cousins, standing between 5'8 and 6'0 on average, and weighing about 140 pounds. Females are not much smaller than males, but the difference is noticeable.
Ohanedin are stronger, faster, and have better senses than humans, before even considering the paranormal abilities granted to them by their Focus. It is unclear as to whether this is a result of genetics, or if it is somehow related to their long-term relationship with otherworldly entities. It may also be a combination of the two.
The Ohanedin and the Burdinadin are said to have once been the same race, and their powers are both the result of attunement to the "Spirit World." The Ohanedin adapted to it, while the Burdinadin sealed themselves off from it. Why they look so different is as of yet unclear, but since Din are immortal, this split may have taken place millennia ago.
Pound for pound, these guys are way stronger than humans. It's not that their muscles develop more, it's that at base, their musculature is more effective. The muscles anchor to the bones in more places, and are denser in general. If you dissected one, you'd notice this immediately, but from the surface it isn't as obvious.
The Ohanedin FocusEdit
To preserve their immortality and their special powers, Ohanedin must obey the mandates of their Patron Spirits:
- Never clothing themselves in metal (metal weapons are acceptable as long as the Ohanedin doesn't have to touch the metal part)
- Never betraying an oath freely given.
- Never eating meat from an animal that cannot speak.
These are the three basic prerequisites, but many Ohanedin have more. Additionally, and unlike a normal Din, when an Ohanedin breaks its Focus, it suffers much more than just a temporary loss of immortality. Touching metal causes them severe pain, eating the wrong sort of meat causes them to become violently sick, and betraying an oath causes them to age for a year and a day unless they atone through some means such as cutting off one of their fingers, or serving the offended party for ten years.
The powers granted by this Focus make them some of the most deadly and terrifying enemies imaginable. Ohanedin can sense any wounded or frightened lifeforms within a hundred yards of themselves, and track them by their own terror, making escaping from an Ohanedin almost impossible.
The spirits are understood to be beings that live in the "Spirit Realm," which is a sort of mirror of reality where thoughts, dreams, and emotions have substance, and matter only exists conceptually. Essentially the opposite of the "Real World." The spirits that dwell there are literally the inverse of creatures that dwell in the physical realm, and it is very difficult to communicate with them in a meaningful way.
What you think and feel is real to them. What they "think" and "feel" is real to you, but you yourself are not real to them, and they themselves are not real to you. Humans have a lot of trouble with this concept because there's basically no causality there. Real "butterfly dreaming to be a man" sort of stuff.
The Ohanedin "meet" their spirits by doing a shitton of Elf DMT and altering their states sufficiently that they can actually relate to the spirits on a meaningful level. This is apparently just as weird for the spirits as it is for the Din, and usually nothing gets accomplished because the Spirits freak the fuck out the whole time.
Anyway, as far as the Ohanedin have gathered, everything that exists, exists because a Spirit is thinking about it, and every Spirit exists because the concept of a thing demands that Spirit's existence. The two are inseparable, but they are alterable. Spirits change as the physical world is changed… Or maybe the physical world changes to accord with the changes the Spirit undergoes.
So, a Tree Spirit that starts thinking about something a certain way might cause the tree to fall. Or maybe a conversation between that Tree Spirit and an Axe Spirit would cause someone to cut the tree down. The Tree Spirit is now a Log Spirit.
Is that the same as a human going from being happy to sad? Or content to amused? It's hard to say really. It's also unclear who's controlling the events. On both sides the action seems voluntary. It's not clear which, if either, causes the other.
The relationship between the Ohanedin and their spirits is different. They are the only ones outside of this animist schema. The Ohanedin don't have Spirits of their own – and Spirits that grow curious about the nature of the "Other Side" use them as a sort of conduit to escape their ties to the physical realm, and gaze across the void.
The result of this is that both the Ohanedin and the Spirit become tied to each other, and they must each act in certain ways to avoid fucking the relationship up (hence, the taboos) and ruining a good thing. In return, they get access to powers from the other side. The Ohanedin get all their crazy bullshit, the Spirits get… Uh…
Well. Nobody's quite sure about what the Spirits get.
Burdinadin are the same as the Ohanedin… They're "marks" for this kind of experiment, but unlike the Ohanedin, they can't handle it. Exposure to the Spirits fucking kills them. At least that's what the Ohanedin think. The Burdinadin think it's more like possession, and that the Ohanedin are easier to inhabit without killing.
As for the Genosian Church, they think it's a bunch of weird Elves doing drugs, and they're not really interested in hearing more. Technically they're right, it IS a bunch of weird Elves doing drugs, but there's more there, and very few scholars dare to try and figure out what.
Ironically, the Ohanedin are very willing to explain this stuff to humans, and even share the Lotus. Unfortunately humans don't seem to take too well to it. The only people who seem able to take it and avoid going totally insane are Pyromancers, and they seem to do so by burning all the memories as soon as they get them, often laying waste to the area around them in the process. Obviously the followup questions are usually fruitless.
Ohanedin believe that by following their oaths fervently enough for long enough, they can achieve a sort of divine state, but this isn't the same as being an Ascended Human, it's more metaphysical. There are others behind Eskarne, she's just the most prominent example because she fights humans a lot. Most have far less exciting oaths to keep.
Ohanedin eat their dead (burning leftovers), unless they died of an illness or were "unclean" or sinful people, in which case they are burned.
The average Ohanedin lives in a close-knit tribal family. Most of them herd cattle, goats, or sheep for a living. They do not eat these animals (as they can't) but rather live off of their milk, blood, and sale. Many are farmers, though this is seem as something of a poor-man's profession among them. They primarily live off of a mixture of blood and milk, with vegetables and fruits making up the rest of their diet. Bread and cheese are much loved, but because both are associated with farmers, it's a guilty pleasure for the upper classes. Their favorite food, however, is egg. Chicken, duck, whatever, Ohanedin love eggs, and will frequently eat them raw, right out of the shell. Serving a guest a large egg is a sign of great hospitality in Ohanedin culture, and they take this sort of thing rather seriously. The eggs of Nisperadan Devekushu, which are about the size of a human head, are held in particular esteem, but are very hard to acquire, and are considered a delicacy.
Ohanedin favor small nuclear families, and tend to dislike living in close proximity to outsiders. Their extended families meet often, but there is a sense of "space" between each of them that must not be violated without invitation. In short, they are social, but also very territorial.
Ohanedin society is very loose. There is no real government, just a complex network of agreements and oaths. Traditionally, each member of a tribe swears loyalty (in return for being left alone, and for protection) to the tribal leader, who assembles a band of oathsworn warriors to protect his followers. Sometimes these tribal leaders themselves swear loyalty to Kings, who have gathered enough force to command the loyalty of (and also offer protection to) multiple tribes.
All Ohanedin are expected to know how to fight. Their world is dangerous, and the Forsworn (Ohanedin who do not swear any oaths, essentially bandits) and war with outsiders are a constant threat. However, very few fight exclusively.
Those who do fight exclusively are called the Zaldun, Those Who Ride to War. These are Ohanedin who only live to serve a master in war. The Zaldun form warrior societies with intense internal loyalty, with rules of conduct and great prestige associated with them.
These are the individuals who are typically associated with the Ohanedin in war. They are skilled fighters, hunters, and horsemen, and their ability to navigate the treacherous mountains and cliffs of their country is almost as legendary as their swordsmanship.
In return for their loyalty, Zaldun are fed and well cared for, and as they rise in the ranks, are given servants of their own to lead and rule, eventually being assigned a portion of their master's territory to govern and manage.
Essentially, it's feudalism... But it is held together by the incredibly thick medium of the Ohanedins' unbreakable oaths.
The Ohanedin associate femininity and beauty with darker skin tones, perhaps because the Burdinadin tend to have darker skin and red eyes, while the Ohanedin tend to be fair. The rest of Vosca finds this a bit weird, but the Ohanedin are also blood-drinking cannibals. It's not like this is some flagrant violation of existing etiquette.
The Ohanedin are often stereotyped as anarchists, but in reality their society is actually very civil, because it relies not on a government, but on the unbreakable nature of their vows, and the Ohanedin terror of aging. Stronger Ohanedin offer status, connections and opportunities to weaker ones in return for oaths of servitude.
Their deals are sealed by oaths, oftentimes strengthened by the addition of "witnesses" who swear the oath as well, so that all will age if it is violated. A man who breaks his word might not just be aging himself, but his wife, his sons, and his brothers as well.
Their society is very honest, but also very careful with words as a result. In practice, the resulting structure is a sort of feudalism with very little scheming or plotting, as words must be kept, and contradictory oaths instantly cancel both, forcing the Ohanedin to opt for simplicity whenever they can.
This seemingly perfect society, however, suffers terribly in wartime, or when someone snaps, either in passion or madness or intoxication, and breaks his oaths.
In war, the Sworn Warriors of an Ohanedin lord must obey his commands to the letter, or else be made mortal and weaker, lacking their Spirit guidance. So in battle, these riders (you could call them knights) almost never retreat, and battles have huge casualty rates, as routs almost never occur, meaning that two hosts of Ohanedin will often literally fight to the last man instead of the comparatively gentle way of war preferred by humans.
The Ohanedin are very good horsemen – to the point that it is commonly believed that they can talk to animals by superstitious humans – but if given their choice, most would rather fight in foot, in the woods, at night, with knives, spears, axes, or swords. Some use their bare hands or ropes, when they can.
They dislike armor, they dislike the impersonal nature of battle, and they especially dislike missile weapons, which can kill anonymously. They're tolerate it when a lone sniper finds a new and clever way to torment the enemy from a distance, because then it isn't really anonymous. They want to prove to the Spirits that they are great warriors, and they naturally fear and distrust any method which might cause their valor to go unnoticed.
When forced into pitched battle, they generally fight mounted or as skirmishers, throwing javelins or stones and then retreating, trying to lure enemy troops out of formation so that they cavalry can tear them apart. When given their druthers, though, they'll melt into the terrain, kill foragers, scouts and sentries, cut supply lines, and avoid facing the enemy until they have already committed to a retreat.
The Green Order, an order of knights who have had a long history of conflict and cooperation alike with the Ohanedin, have assembled a sort of handbook to fighting them that lays out their most common strategies, and warns strongly against the stereotypical tactic of "burning the forest down," which they warn to be "ye singal worst plann ever conseeved of biy a human beeng."