Drawn from the collected libraries of Illistim by:
Meachreasim Illistim, First Master of Lore
First Edition Published: 14 Jastatos of the year 5103
The name "Erithi" means, much like the native names most races have given to their own people, basically "the people.” "Erithian" is an Elanthian Common derivation of this, which refers to individuals of the race. Erithians will rarely refer to themselves as "Erithian", unless speaking Common and referring to "an individual of this race," but will generally simply refer to themselves as "Erithi" - just as a human would say "I am human", not "I am a Human", an Erithian would say "I am Erithi.” In Common, "Erithi" is properly used when speaking of the race, and "Erithian" when referring to the race of one or more individuals, or as an adjective to describe a person or thing.
Early History - Origins and Settlement
" ...and after the third day of our meditations and rituals in the shadow of the mountain, the Grandfather appeared to us in the form of one of our own... ...and bade we follow the pass northeastward through the mountains, and there we would find a fertile valley of unsurpassed beauty and magic, where we should make a homeland..."
- From the journals of Ilahan of the Valaka Dai
The true origins of the Erithians are shrouded in mystery and magic, much like the shimmering borders of their settlements in the high, remote valleys of the continent that lies across the sea northeast of the far reaches of the Elven Empire. What is known for certain is that their recorded history on Elanthia began about fifteen hundred years ago, ca. 3600 of the Modern Era. The journals of that time relate that a small population of their people, somewhere between one and two hundred by various accounts, was somehow transported to this world through some great magic, of which the details are unknown. Their legends say that they were placed here by the Arkati - commonly by Fash'lo'nae himself, as their physical features and dedication to pursuits of knowledge reflect his qualities - either intentionally or through some divine shifting of the planes; though many, considering the powerful sorcerers and wise mages of their people, insist that it was through some powerful mortal magic, either intentional or accidental.
In more recent times, some more practical Erithian thinkers have theorized that perhaps they are some distant cousin of Elves, long separated from the main bloodlines, who settled in the mountains many ages ago and, for some unknown reason, were nearly exterminated and chose to destroy their past history and shroud it in legends of magic and divine intervention. Perhaps there is some basis in fact to the opinion of some that they were put here by the Gods, but the true story of their origins will probably never be known.
The Erithi arrived near the western edge of the continent,
which lies across a narrow sea from the northeastern regions
of Elven lands, in a previously uninhabited region, which
they named Atan Irith, a name that means "new or undiscovered
land.” To the south of Atan Irith the town, Yachan-Ra
was established in the temperate woodlands and valleys of
the region. The subarctic terrain of Atan Irith is rocky and
mountainous, with towering peaks, deep fords and massive glaciers,
and coastal regions and alpine valleys, which are green and
fertile in summer, but cold most of the year.
The early settlements were not considered permanent, as according
to old records, they traveled the region searching for a way
back to whatever homeland - apparently, from what little is
known, a land very similar but not identical to Elanith. Their
sorcerers and mages sought out sources of magic and tried
to recreate spells to reverse whatever change had brought
them here, but to no avail. During these early years, the
Erithi were semi-nomadic, living in temporary housings of
wooden buildings and shelters of hide that they transported
or rebuilt upon moving to a new area, or sometimes in mountain
caves. Not that their existence was in any way filthy or animalistic
- even traveling in a strange wilderness, the Erithi, with
their values of wisdom and esthetics, led lives of civilized
harmony, arranging their seasonal camps with warmth and artistic
touches and keeping scholarly journals of their experiences.
After some years of exploring the region and living in temporary settlements, they settled in a fertile valley deep in the heart of the region, sheltered from the worst chilling storms, fed by glacial streams, and although cold, green and suitable for crops in summer. Here they settled and began to build the lasting comforts of a permanent town, which they called Eloth-Ra, a name meaning 'sky home' or 'high home.' The town of Nathal-Ra was founded, along the coastal regions and its surrounding areas of Atan Irith, to expand the range of Erithi civilization.
The Erithi are slightly taller and thinner than humans, (about 5'6" to 6'6") with slightly pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes, usually with somewhat vertically 'slitted' rather than completely round pupils. They are not as lithe and quick as elves, though many believe them to be related to elves and those with no knowledge of their race often assume them to be somewhat odd-looking half-elves. They are neither muscular nor fast, but are hardy and deceptively tough, and resistant to damage and extremes in weather. They live about 300 years on average, far longer than humans but much less than the elves. Erithians have overall light coloration, ranging from nearly translucent pale white skin to almost any shade of fair - rosy, alabaster, ashen, sallow, even slightly tanned, but never dark. Their hair is also light colored - never darker than a steely grey or titian, and usually lighter - and commonly silver, white or grey even in youth. Both genders are often balding or with just a fringe of hair, males more commonly, though they are rarely completely bald - high foreheads or a fringe of hair worn long are more common. Their eye color ranges from nearly crystal-clear to medium brown, often shades of grey, blue, green, or golden, and again, never dark
Eloth-Ra and Life in the High Valleys
" ...the town thrived and the population grew, as the valleys were lush and fertile in summer, and the game plentiful... ...and in the third year a plague of insects destroyed the hay, and much of the livestock starve. but we survived and discovered ways to repel the pests... ...communed again to our patron, who did not appear, though we sensed his attentions..."
- From the journals of Ilahan of the Valaka Dai
In the year 3609 of the Modern Era, Erithi astronomers established
an official calendar compatible with Elanthia, as the one
they had been using (reportedly) did not precisely correspond
to this world; and this became the year 0 in the Erithian
dating system. One hundred years later, in 3709 [Year 100
Erithian], the central and original permanent town of Eloth-Ra
was dedicated officially as the capital of the Erithi nation,
on the centennial of their settlement. Since then, Erithi
towns of various sizes, from small enclaves to bustling villages,
have been established throughout the region; but the beautiful
valley town of Eloth-Ra, with its temples and monuments and
centers of knowledge and magical study, remains the capital
and focus of civilization.
The towns have no central structure, loosely arranged along the crags and valleys and coastal areas of their homeland, most lying within a few days' journey of Eloth-Ra. The Erithi build houses of wood and stone, their architecture often reflecting their environment with peaked roofs, sheer surfaces, and airy, delicate artistic touches, although many buildings are also built against the hillsides with warmer, sheltered rooms inside. Architecture is an honored art, and esthetics as well as shelter are important even in the most mundane buildings.
Important locations such as libraries, religious sites, or any place which would contain things of great value to preserve, are sometimes built deep into the high stone of the mountains (not in tunnels of dwarf-style, but in airy chambers sheltered by the surrounding stone). Much of their style is probably a reflection of their environment rather than any real relic of their distant past, which has largely been forgotten if much was remembered at all by the original arrivals.
Farming and hunting are very important in town life, as the necessities of survival in the northern climate require producing enough food for the long winters. The variety of food is typical of northern regions and mountain villages, with many crops grown only in summer and preserved or dried, as the valleys chosen for settlement are sheltered and green in summer though never warm.
Goats, sheep and domesticated mountain roltons, rabbits, and geese are raised for meat and a large amount of wild game - anything from small birds and squirrels to caribou and bear - is hunted and consumed year-round. Bees are kept for honey and the pollination of crops, and seafood is a major staple in the coastal settlements of Nathal-Ra. Oats and buckwheat are farmed, along with a variety of northern vegetables, apples, berries, and currants. The climate is too cold for grapes, but beer and ale are brewed, along with cider, mead, and fruit wines and brandies, some of the latter aged in mountain caves for a century or more and considered a great delicacy.
The traditional Erithian style of clothing and personal ornamentation tends to be simple and clean-lined, although very often ornamented with delicate and intricate artistic touches. A typical outfit might consist of basic, though well-tailored and constructed, robes or trousers of wool or linen (or finely tanned leathers, for outdoorsmen and hunters), with artistic touches such as subtle embroideries around the borders, beautifully carved buttons, and a piece or two of fine jewelry, never flashy but of exquisite workmanship. In their native lands, of course, clothing is warm and often fur-trimmed, but Erithians who move to warmer climes often adopt lighter garb of a similar style.
Family Life and Government
"...and the hunters discovered the fearsome creature that had emerged from the glacier on dark nights, to ransack a herd of good stock or worse, steal a child... ...seemed to be something not of this world, as alien as this world is to us, but they slew the thing with magic and sword after an unwelcome bloody battle... Some cursed the gods..."
- From the journals of Ilahan of the Valaka Dai
Most Erithians spend the early part of their adulthood - a period of up to a century or more, as their lifespan can exceed 300 years - pursuing knowledge and magic, work and expertise in their chosen fields, exploration or studies of the world, and personal interests. Traditionally, many males often set out to explore the mysteries of nature and the world on reaching adulthood, while females tended to remain in the towns - not just staying home in a domestic manner, but also concentrating on fields ranging from arts and architecture to the raising of animals and agriculture. Although this has changed somewhat in the present, as since the Erithi have made themselves known to the world and openly visit and reside in other towns, many females as well leave the homelands to travel. The traditional role of females in managing local town life, from building to food production, led to the development of a system of town government primarily made up of women, with older and wiser men serving in an advisory capacity. The government system, which was officially set into law some six hundred years ago by the noted scholar Ertaia Selem, is not technically matriarchal - though many outsiders mistake it for such - as it is based on age and wisdom rather than bloodlines.
They have not developed an advanced political structure, having really had no need for one, and the decision-making of the local town councils is the extent of government influence in everyday life. Although there is a central council of representatives from the outlying villages in Eloth-Ra, its control over the region is not strict. The Erithi tend to be peaceful and not prone to internal conflicts, perhaps because of their lack of enemies other than the creatures of the wilds and the environment, so their political troubles are few, simple, and local.
The Erithi usually raise their small families at an age of 100-200 years, after they have spent much time gathering knowledge and becoming fully mature adults (They physically mature, like many other races, at an age of twenty to thirty, but consider full maturity to also consist of considerable wisdom and experience in one's fields of endeavor, and few raise families before they have that). After this time, they settle down - often, but not always, with a partner chosen in youth - and spend some years raising families of generally no more than three or four children, who are attentively raised and educated for at least twenty years until they are ready to build their own lives as adults. The upbringing of children is the parents' sole responsibility for these two to four decades, as the younger adults take care of the entire town's needs; and young Erithians receive a thorough education and are never neglected or abused. Any women who do not bear children, either because they are unable or by choice, spend these years in helping with the children of others or in raising any orphans, as a knowledge of the proper upbringing of youth is considered to be an essential part of the wisdom of age, and all take part.
Religion, Art, and Magic
"...and then the Mother of Wisdom herself appeared to them in the valley, and spoke to them that the portal to our home was forever closed, due to the actions of our patron, whether in wisdom or in rashness... ...and after that, they say, she swore her protection over the valley from forces not of the natural world, until time shall end..."
- From the journals of Ilahan of the Valaka Dai
The Erithi know of the same Arkati that are followed in most Elanthian cultures and their clerical records contain many stories of dealings with them, though some of their tales and particular thoughts about them may vary, as they tend to do in any distant regions. They are not overly 'religious' as a people, and the view of many is similar to that of the Elves - that the Arkati are a superior race worthy of honor, study, and devotion, but not supernatural 'gods' in nature. But individuals vary widely, and some are devoted and skillful clerics. More than a few claim to be particularly blessed children of Fash'lo'nae. Perhaps because of their features or perhaps because there may be some truth to the story that it's his fault they are here; though this is by no means unanimous - in fact, a majority tend to follow the 'lighter' or at least less openly-evil gods, especially Koar and Lumnis.
Perhaps unique among Elanthian societies is the common worship of Lumnis and Fash'lo'nae together, as the two sides of wisdom and knowledge, the dark and the light which form a whole, and the patrons of the Erithi on Elanthia. (The Temple of Wisdom, dedicated in Eloth-Ra in the year 1000 Erithian on the millennial celebration of the city's founding, honors both Lumnis and Fash'lo'nae, as well as Koar's rulership and the wisdom of all the Arkati.) Those who are raised in coastal settlements often hold Niima in favor (though usually still subordinate to the wiser and more powerful major Arkati), but Charl's tendency to mindless destruction is seen as distasteful by most, and his followers are very few. The more violent, bloodthirsty Lornon Arkati such as V'Tull or Sheru also find almost no following, except among rare individuals who have turned completely away from the generally peaceful society.
The valley of Eloth-Ra itself is surrounded with a magical barrier, which conceals the city from travelers and unwanted visitors at its borders, including wild animals large enough to be a threat to livestock or people. The barrier seems to 'bend' the light and essence in such a way that the towns are invisible to passers-by, and subtly redirect any traveler who reaches their limits around them, allowing passage only to those who know the locations and keys to bypass their magic. Even the Erithi themselves do not know the exact magical makeup of this phenomenon, which they have found impossible to reproduce elsewhere, and thus, most attribute it to a combination of the forces of essence inherent in the valley (which are said by some to be the doing of Fash'lo'nae) and the legendary divine machinations of Lumnis to protect Eloth-Ra.
Erithian arts often involve themes of nature and spirituality. The Erithi love the wilderness that surrounds their clean and civilized towns, and their bards and storytellers often create poems, songs, and tales of journeys through the wilds or details of nature, invoking wonders of the natural world and meditations on its beauty and magic without much reference to dramatic plotlines. This can be contrary to the taste of those who prefer stirring tales of battle or ballads of intrigue and romance, but can be quite beautiful and evocative.
In around the year 3800 of the Modern Era, the Erithi built and established the Library of Eloth-Ra, which extends deep into the mountainside into sheltered halls and chambers built to preserve the knowledge of the people. Journals of explorers' accounts, studies of magic and of the natural world, and great works of art of all types are preserved here, in what is one of the greatest depositories of knowledge in the world, though far from the oldest. The Library itself is not open to outsiders at this time, however the knowledge contained within is often freely shared, and often finely crafted replicas of original artworks are displayed elsewhere.
Conflict, Pacifism, And The Rest Of Elanthia
The Erithi have had little to no formal contact with other cultures, who know nothing of them and have not, for the most part, explored much of the isolated region in which they live. Old records exist of Erithian contacts with gnomes, with whom they have occasionally traded supplies and artistic creations for tools, gemstones, and imported miscellany; as well as with occasional pirates and explorers who have happened upon the region from time to time. But other than these limited interactions, they have no history of ongoing trade or relations with other societies.
Likely due to the fact that the remote land in which they
settled is far removed from any other sentient society but
for some tribes of peaceful forest gnomes, the Erithi have
no history of formal or organized warfare during their recorded
history. However, they have considerable knowledge of warfare
and politics, gained both from the history of their people
before their arrival and from studies of Elanthian peoples
over the last millennium; and in fact tend to be well-versed
in the scholarship of warfare, martial and political aspects
alike, despite lack of direct experience. A study of the causes
and solutions of war, as well as training in weapons and arts
of self-defense, is a part of almost every Erithian's upbringing,
regardless of gender or profession, and some are skilled makers
of fine, sometimes exotic and artistically designed, weaponry.
Although they tend to be pacifistic in outlook, considering
it far wiser to understand and prevent warfare than to experience
its destruction, every able-bodied citizen is in essence a
member of the 'militia', ready to defend against a threat
- be it wild animals, rampaging monsters or trolls, or attacks
by bands of pirates or raiders. Despite their peaceful history,
The Erithi are far from weak and helpless.
Although their existence has been unknown to all but a few, quite a few Erithian individuals in search of knowledge have explored and visited other cultures, so although no one outside a few wandering pirates, explorers, and gnomes knows of them, they have knowledge of other races dating back for centuries, most of it not first-hand but written in travelers' accounts, primarily of the Elven nations, Dwarven strongholds of the DragonSpine, and such outposts and free ports as Wehnimer's Landing and Solhaven. The Erithi are rumored to have a smaller settlement deep in the mountains of the DragonSpine, where explorers and sometimes their families have kept an outpost for many generations, but its precise location is unknown to outsiders.
There are no known accounts of Erithian travels deep into the primarily Human Empire, but they know much of Humans from observing Human travelers in lands closer to their homeland and more accepting of mysterious outsiders. Those who have visited other cultures in the past have generally done so in semi-disguise - hooded strangers not being a terribly uncommon thing in Elanthia - and even if noticed as a stranger, have likely just been mistaken for some sort of odd half-elf to those with no knowledge of them being a separate race.
In the year 5103, the Erithians revealed their existence to the peoples of Elanith and begin to live openly among other races. Still, their remote lands are not readily accessible to outsiders from Elanith.