Marked in Blood
= Introduction =
Tuarhievel, the last elf kingdom in the Aelvinnwode, remains a place of dark forest and brooding beauty. The swells of its hilly landscape bring to mind a sea of trees. The natural world holds sway in Tuarhievel, making a place of great magic. Even the dullest human can feel the eldritch power here – a power only fools would challenge. Danger awaits those who lose their appointed way. Countless places are crossing points where beings of the Faerie realm cross into the daylight world to frolic and make merry. These amusements will include leading foolish humans to their doom, if they are allowed the pleasure.
= Life and Society =
The DM has to decide how fantastic the elves and dwarves are. The original, published materials give indications that the elves are near-humans as well as indications that they are mostly fantastic.
As near-humans, the elves maintain forest realms recognizable to human observers. There is a touch of magic in their activities, but it is only that, it does not affect how they do things. They buy and sell, engage in crafts and grow food. They have royalty and governments, and these things operate differently, but comprehensibly. Some realms are open to humans, and tolerate, or even welcome, participation in their contests of music, song, crafts, and feats of skill. This is the meaning of elven reverie, where much elf brew is consumed and fair elf maidens use their charms to seduce their human visitors, resulting in half-elf offspring with intriguing futures before them.
As a fantastic race, the Sidhe are profoundly magical. Their affairs and natures baffle human understanding. They do not eat food, but subsist on the Mebhaighl that flows around them. Indeed, the human effect on this vital resource drives their hatred. They do not craft or trade, for magic creates or transforms whatever they need. While they do have governments, their operation and function is a profound mystery. Decisions are influenced by unseen causes and magical conditions. Their realms are of light and music, and they seem to have no communities. Where they work or dwell is a mystery. Of course they do not sleep, so perhaps they have no need of homes. They are not even biological creatures, instead being created by faerie dust and starlight. As such they do not procreate like humans and so half-elves are naught but Sidhe-touched humans, changelings. Their spirits are immortal, and even if slain, they simply return to the flows of Mebhaighl to do as they please. Some elect, perhaps after some time, to craft a new body to inhabit on Aebrynis.
The amazing descriptions of elves can be real descriptions of the race and its abilities. Or, it could be the misunderstandings caused by tricked perceptions of the humans. Using elves as a PC race is, of course easier if elves are near-human. If they not available for PC’s because the campaign is centered in human lands, it is possible to express the more fantastic elements of the elves by making them mostly fantastic.
= Geography =
Tuarhievel is entirely covered by oldgrowth forest consisting of oaks, maples and evergreens. The terrain is crisscrossed by streams and dotted with elven settlements, rolling hills, and hidden homes of a number of rare creatures. The northern and western borders are delineated by the Ruide River and its tributary, the Bhindwassie. The southern and eastern borders are marked by forests, giving way to the foothills and mountains of the Gorgon’s domains.
== Climate ==
Summers in Tuarhievel are cool, with temperatures rarely going higher than 85F. Winters are frequently harsh, however, with heavy snowfall and temperatures as low as -5F. T he forests are covered in snow for almost three months out of the year. Heavy rains in the spring, when coupled with snowmelt from the southern mountains, often cause both Bhindwassie and Ruide to overflow. Flooding is occasionally severe, but the elven settlements in the south, built high in oldgrowth oak trees, are barely affected. Residents in the north, where the oak trees rapidly give way to pines, know the warning signs of flooding and move to higher ground.
== Topography ==
From south to north, Tuarhievel is a land of rolling hills that give way to flatlands. From the foothills of the Stonecrown Mountains and the Gorgon’s Crown to the floodplains along Ruide River, the land is covered with forest.
As mentioned, the land is crisscrossed by many streams and small rivers. The most notable of these is Sivandlys, which flows from the base of the Thorn Throne to the Ruide. In some places, the stream widens and slows to form marshy lakes.
The only lake in the domain worth mention is the Dhoenaghmiere. This body of water, created by underground springs and snow runoff, is nestled between two steep hills that appear as if they might have been one at some time in history. Called Sidhebhuke (Elf’s Cradle), one legend holds that this is the site from where the elven race sprang, a place where earth, water, air and fire all converged, sundering the hill when elves sprang from the elements.
Few actual roads exist in Tuarhievel, but the domain is crossed by what best resemble deer trails. (The paths are so obscure that only elves native to the forest, rangers, or characters with Tracking proficiency are able to identify them. The domain’s single true road leads from Cariele’s capital of Caerlinien to Tuaranreigh, the home of the Thorn Throne.
== Flora and Fauna ==
The southern provinces of Bhindraith, Cwmbheir, Llyrandor, and Sideath are covered by oldgrowth forests consisting of maple and oak trees. Toward the north, these hardwood trees give way to pine trees, particularly in Braethindyr and Dhoneaghmiere. Small trees in Cwmbheir have been cleared to allow for the cultivation of crops. Here, humans grow wheat and barley, while the elves operate the vineyards.
A wide variety of normal small animals such as mice, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, deer, bats and birds can be found in Tuarhievel. Predators such as wolves and bears might be encountered, as well as more fearsome monstrous creatures such as trolls and perytons. Some provinces have recurring difficulties with kobold raiders, while others face threats from banshees, spectres, and other restless spirits of those slain in the many passionate clashes between human, humanoid, and elf. In some regions, the native elven population is the greatest threat. Riders of the gheallie Sidhe are an everpresent threat to all nonelves in the land.