The Móh'rhím (Stýrash "Black Tribe"), or the "Shadow Elves", as they are also sometimes known, are one of the more mystifying elven tribes of Caelereth. Their realm is the noxious and odoriferous Water Marshes in Northern Sarvonia where the Injèrá has hid her countenance from for many a millenia. The origins of the Móh'rhím are as nebulous as their dark-lit lands but it is said that the present Water Marshes reside upon the ruins of the legendary and fabled elven city of Fá'áv'cál'âr and the Shadow Elves are the descendents of those who had refused to abandon the city even after it was laid to dust by the Gods.
Picture description. The mysterious shadow elves who are still living in the ruins of the ancient elven Empire of Fá'áv'cál'âr. Image drawn by Quellion.
The Móh'rhím are presently ruled by
Avásh'aelía. Or as the stories goes. No one knows for sure for she has
rarely if almost never been seen by anyone outside of the Móh'rhím. According
to legends, the Queen has many names but her most feared title is the
"Bone Queen" and with it, she rules
the Water Marshes and its inhabitants completely without peer. Rumored to be as
ancient and eternal as the light elves of the
Thaelon, she is also quite insane and
those who dare cross her borders do it out of extreme desperation or a madness
rivalling the Queen’s. Such trespassers are, like a bad tale, never seen again.
Appearance. Like their tribal namesake, the Móh'rhím have, over the Ages, evolved into a shadow-like form. These shadow forms are akin to normal life-sized shadows cast by a person but they can flit independently across walls and spaces with a fluidity that is at once impressive and frightening to behold. A rare survivor, long dead of a natural death as this record is being written, who stumbled into the Water Marshes once described that the shattered walls of the city are thick with constantly moving shadows that whispered incessantly. Whispers that one can hear but can never make out words within.
How and why they have evolved into shadows is a matter hotly debated by both elven and human historians. But the popular reasoning seems to be that it is the effects of a curse laid by the Gods during the destruction of Fá'áv'cál'âr. Cursed as they had dared to stay on in the city after it's demise. If the Shadow Elves were to venture away from the boundaries of the Marshes, it is said that they will melt away to nothing under the harsh light of the sun.
Another more prosiac explanation is that this shadow-changing ability is merely a facet of adapting and surviving a harsh and unfriendly environment. The Water Marshes are well-documented to be constantly brimming with a sulfurous fog that comes from the numerous bogs that fills the area. Within a few days in such a place, a human would quickly perish. But in their shadow-forms, the Móh'rhím seem not to mind the lethal and vemonous air around them.
Though such a state may seem unfortunate to some, the Móh'rhím have used their ability to change into shadows to their advantage by befuddling any enemies and keeping the borders of their city safe from trespassers.
Similar to their cousins, the light elves, the Móh'rhím rarely take on a corporeal shape. When they do physically coalesce, their skin is ebony and their hair white as newly fallen snow. Their eyes are large and dark. Their Queen, Avásh'aelía, is said to have a fondness for the physical form and, unlike the rest of her subjects, chooses to appear as a terribly scarred young elven woman with hair as black as night.
Another idea that has been suggested by scholars and historians why the Bone Queen usually appears in a corporeal state, unlike most of her subjects, is that Avásh'aelía is powerful enough to withstand the noxious fumes emitted by the bogs of the Water Marshes. So there was no reason for her to adapt to her immediate surroundings to survive as the rest of the Shadow Elves had to.
Like most of the elven races, the Móh'rhím are very beautiful to behold when they choose to manifest themselves in a corporeal form though their beauty is like that of a waning moon on a cold starlit night rather than the bright, unearthly loveliness of the Astyrhim or the fierce handsomeness of Tethinrhim.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The Móh'rhím's coat of arms is that of a black sun, banded around the edge by a thin circle of light, and surrounded by long jagged rays. The black sun signifies an eclipse, alluding to the Móh'rhím's shadowy and solitary natures, and not a tribute to Coór as some have thought.
Territory. The Móh'rhím inhabit the wide expanse of the Water Marshes in Northern Sarvonia. It is a cheerless realm, filled with treacherous bogs that can suck an unfortunate man down to their bottomless depths faster than a wizard’s spell. The air is thick with injurious fumes and cloudy even in the day as the sun's rays are unable to penetrate through the noxious vapours. In the nights, the air grows even thicker and lugubrious and sometimes, it is said the screams of the damned can be faintly heard, whistling across the marshlands.
The Shadow Elves guard their borders jealously from outsiders and it is very rare to see a Móh'rhím leave the boundaries of the Water Marshes. There has been talk among scholars that the Móh'rhíms’ reluctance to leave their spectral realm is due to the fact that they have been in the shadows for so long that light, when it touches them, will destroy them immediately. However, that is hearsay and not be taken as the truth without adequate evidence. Still, it is true that for a Shadow Elf to venture outside the Water Marshes is something that is virtually unheard of.
People. Though thought to be agents of evil by some due to their proximity and fondness for staying within the shadows, the Móh'rhím are not inherently devious or black of heart. They maintain a studiously neutral stand despite their bond to Coór. They do not worship him but rather, they recognise the indubitable truth that Coór is but a facet of Avá, Her counterpart if you will. He is not to be loved but He is not to be feared and reviled either for reviling Coór would mean rejecting the spirit of Avá as well.
This neutral stance has lasted for eons and will continue to stand for as long as Avásh'aelía breaths. It is largely due to her that the machinations of the Eophyrhim has failed as they have tried to draw the Móh'rhím into a partnership against the other elven tribes. Despite her madness, or maybe because of it, Avásh'aelía remains one of most powerful elven rulers of Caelereth and even the most bloodthirsty Eophyrhim would think twice before crossing over the borders of the Water Marshes without her permission.
The Móh'rhím possess a power that has caused some trepidation among their own kind. When in shadow-form, they can enter the mind of another living being and cause the will of that being to become their own for a short space of time. Because of this ability, others of their race often shun them although the Móh'rhím seldom use this power for domination or control.
All Móh'rhím have this power but the strength of it varies in degree from elf to elf. Only a handful are strong enough to simultaneously control the will of several minds at once.
Interestingly, it is said that their supposed Queen is not a true Móh'rhím as she does not possess the ability to morph into a shadow form or have the mind power the Móh'rhím do. Avásh'aelía is always depicted in a physical form from what information gleaned from this solitary tribe and from the odd elven ambassador here and there (please refer to the Appearance section for more details of the Shadow Queen's physicality).
Picture description. A female shadow elf in corporeal shape, featuring ebony skin and snow white hair. Image by Quellion.
Her rumored longevity, it is said she had been around since before
Fá'áv'cál'âr was destroyed, is
credited to that she is one of the Axhái, one of the first elves to step foot
upon Caelereth when it was newly
created. If an Axhái is truly what
Avásh'aelía is, then it is highly likely that she has powers far greater
than shadow-changing and controlling the mind.
Although it is always dark and gloomy within the Water Marshes as the fogs prevents full light from shining onto the lands, the Móh'rhím favour the dusk, night and dawn hours to reveal themselves and conduct their affairs as it mirrors their solemn natures which is sometimes likened to ghosts. Also, the Steward, appointed by Avásh'aelía, conducts matters of the state in the hour of midnight as it is the time favoured by Avásh'aelía so any Móh'rhím desirous of consulting any issues or submitting in reports can do so.
Housing. As the Móh'rhím largely exists in a shadow form, they have little use for housing. There are some who say that the Móh'rhím do not truly sleep, hence the lack of need for proper housing among them. When they do rest, they can do so in their shadow forms, akin to a somnambulant state where they do not move or speak. And a sure sign of this strange resting state is when the shadows are lying long on the grounds.
But for the rare few who choose otherwise, they live among great ruins of Fá'áv'cál'âr, deep in the heart of the Water Marshes. There, a few stone houses still remain as the last remnants of the ancient city and the Shadow Elves stay within such residences. The Shadow Queen and her retinue supposedly reside in the middle of the ruins within a large, crumbling fortress where the dead are said to walk and whisper.
Clothing. The clothing of the Móh'rhím are simple, functional but elegant. Due to their melancholy nature, they prefer clothing in the shades of black, grey or dull silver. The men would usually tie their hair back with thongs of leather while the women will let theirs loose and long down their backs without any adornments. The women also favour old-fashioned gowns reminiscent of those worn by their ancestors during the time of Fá'áv'cál'âr with a high neckline and long sleeves that touch the ground when they walk. The men mostly wear dark-coloured tunics cinched at the waist with a belt with similar coloured trousers and boots.
Diet. When the Móh'rhím are in their shadow forms, they do not need any sustenance. In a physical form, they subside on a diet of meat and water, needing only very little of both to survive. They would cast their minds to the surrounding forest outside of the marshes to search for a deer or stag and once they do, the Móh'rhím would use their power to blend their will with that of the animal. The beast will then make its way to the edge of the Water Marshes where a Móh'rhím in a physical form would meet them. Once the beast has granted permission for its flesh to be used as sustenance for its host, the Móh'rhím will then withdraw his or her mind from that of the beast and quickly cut the throat with a sharp knife.
Weapons. The Móh'rhím can weave a sword out from their own beings when in their shadow form. When in need, a blade literally grows out of the palm of a Móh'rhím which then lengthens into a sword. Depending on the user's ability, this shadow sword can be as hard as steel to cut through flesh with frightening ease or be as insubtantial as moonlight. However, even when in insubstantial form, the shadow sword can kill for it can pass through a living person's body like a deadly winter chill to freeze the heart, causing instant death.
When in corporeal forms, the Móh'rhím are unable to conjure their shadow-swords and resort to carrying normal swords or staffs.
Although they are competent swordsmen or women, their chief power lies in their shadow-forms where they can supplant the will of an enemy with their own. From then, it is but a simple task to make the enemy fall upon his own weapon and suffer gruesome deaths.
|Picture description, The notorious Bone Queen, ruler of Fá'áv'cál'âr after its fall. Picture drawn by Enayla.|
The Móh'rhím are ruled by Avásh'aelía.
Other than that, they see no need for the overly complicated trappings of a
council or a court. All Móh'rhím are equal in status and their Queen watches
over them all and that is enough. A capricious ruler at the best of times,
nevertheless, the Shadow Elves are fiercely loyal and protective of their
queen. For because of her presence, the borders of the Water Marshes have
remained untouched for many Ages and the Móh'rhím are thus able to live in
peace. If the price of this peace is a mad queen, then so be it.
However, even Avásh'aelía's madness has its limitations. While she keeps the borders safe from invasion and other sundry major threats, there remain the matters of everyday details of a government such as retainers of the court, the occasional squabbles between subjects etc. In a moment of rare sanity, during the early years of her reign, Avásh'aelía had appointed a steward to handle such details. Though Avásh'aelía seems eternal, the Móh'rhím do fade away eventually. Whenever a Steward feels his time drawing near, he will pick his own successor. While a capable nature is of course essential, the most important requirement to fill the Steward's position is unquestionable loyalty to the Queen.
Production/Trade. The Móh'rhím are self-sufficient and do not welcome trade of any kind. A few are designated hunters or seamstresses, smithers, but whatever they produce are not for trade with the outside but mainly for usage for their fellow bethren.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. In the deathly still month of Queprur, the Móh'rhím will gather on the darkest day of the eleventh month and observe the traditional Day of the Dead. It is the only festival they still observe for it is on this day that they, along with their Queen, mourn the passing of Fá'áv'cál'âr and those who died with it.
Another important observance closely tied with the vanished spendour of Fá'áv'cál'âr is the Daínfáhelvós, literally meaning the "Day of the Exile" in Styrásh. Historians are still not sure which exact day that the observance falls on, due to the Shadow Elves' secretive and reclusive nature, but what is known is on the twilight eve of the Daínfáhelvós, everyone of the Móh'rhím will gather before the great stone gates of the Queen's palace and shed their shadow forms to appear in a normal physical state. They do this to honour their Queen who had returned from the move North in ca. 11750 b.S. after the destruction of the great elven empire Fá'áv'cál'âr to reunite the scattered elves who still lived within the city ruins into a new elven tribe. From the eve to the twilight of the Daínfáhelvós itself, the Móh'rhím would at times sing the old songs passed down to the generations dating back to when Fá'áv'cál'âr still stood among themselves or chant new hymns in honour of Avásh'aelía.
History. The Móh'rhím are reputed to be the descendents of the elves who refused to abandon the great elven empire Fá'áv'cál'âr after its destruction by the Gods. The Water Marshes itself is rumoured to be the ruins of Fá'áv'cál'âr and there is another story that says there are some among the Móh'rhím who had been the original inhabitants of the great city, including their Queen.
From what can be gleaned from the ancient myths, this is how the story follows. After the cataclysmic annihilation of the city and the devastation wrought by the Final Wars, the elves of what used to be Fá'áv'cál'âr decided to scatter and head for new lands with Saban. The elves that accompanied Saban became known as the Dark Elves and they eventually settled in the forest of the Paelelon. The elves who remained became the Móh'rhím. Their Queen, Avásh'aelía, had been one of those who accompanied Saban along his search for a new abode but at the Hovel Frond Forest, the two had a quarrel and Avásh'aelía, perhaps recgonising the onset of her madness, decided to turn back and return to the place that had given her so much joy and grief. When she returned, she declared herself Queen of the Móh'rhím by virtue of her noble lineage for they say she descended from the direct line of the High Avá'ránn.
What remains of Fá'áv'cál'âr is now called the Water Marshes and her new Queen refuses to rename or rebuild Fá'áv'cál'âr for fear of calling down the Gods’ wrath once more. So gradually, its inhabitants knew the ruins as the Nameless City.
During the Age of Awakening, there were vague reports of a mass offensive mounted by the Eophyrhim in a bid to gain control and expand their power. The Móh'rhím fought them off but at a substantial loss. Their numbers declined and were never fully replenished after this attack.
The final decisive battle came when Saban, the then ruler of the Eophyrhim, supposedly used the dark magics lost during the War of the Chosen to unleash an army of unspeakable creatures upon the Nameless City.
How Avásh'aelía fought the ravening horde is not clear but some have said that she had help from a powerful talisman of her own in the shape of a crown made of bone. Other reports state that this talisman was orginally a suit of armour that had been broken and fragments of it scattered across the land, each powerful enough to repell an army. After the Eophyrhim retreated, the talisman in whatever form is said to have been lost, only to reappear briefly in the world of humans, although how it ended up there is still a mystery.
Information provided by Dalá Valannía