"This time, this First Age, was a dangerous time upon the world. For not all those who learned magick were of a good spirit. Magick was power and evil sought this power to wield against the good as well. The people were in danger and sought defense against the rising Darkness. We sought the knowledge of the Ancestors and learned that we might transform ourselves, become our spirit within and become people of two forms. Not just the temporary change of a magician or the flowing form of shape shifters, but people who were both Human and of the People."
The People are similar to but different from traditional shape shifters or were-creatures. Shape shifters or Werewolves have but one body that can assume different shapes. Bodies grow or lose fur, change size and shape. Claws appear and disappear. The People have two forms, one human and one animal, that share a single soul/spirit/sentience.
The People have inherited an ability (or skill) to change between his or her human form and their animal form. However, the change may also occur during times of stress or when one form has been hidden or inactive for too long (for both forms must eat, breathe and exercise to remain fit and functional). As well as this exceptional ability, both forms may be above average for their kind. The human form may be of any class or profession.
(The change of forms can be developed as a skill or made through a statistic check with a characteristic such as Will, Wisdom, Self-Discipline or the like. An unsuccessful change or a change forced by stress due to a wound may lead to animal instinct overwhelming conscious control. One might flee or attack (depending on their animal form) until their conscious mind can regain control.)
"The first of the People studied, quested, and traveled the lands. After many trials and tribulations our new forms were gained. Upon the highest mountains arose the Eagle, across the wide plains ran the Lion, in the deepest woods roared the Wolf and Bear and in the corners of houses and barns, snuck the Mouse."
In the past, spellcasters, like those of shamanic or druidical studies, found that they could bind their spirit to two forms, one human and one animal. The shape-sharer could move their point-of-consciousness (sort of a point of view) from one form to the other. The Eagle could fly. The Lion was a fey warrior. The Mouse could hide and sneak about. This gave certain freedoms and abilities but it also left the other form inactive and vulnerable.
The early Peoples worked with other spellcasters, notably magicians with experiences upon other worlds and planes, to create "hearths" for the People. The Hearth was a magical place where the inactive form would be hidden from the real world in a form of stasis. Those of the People would concentrate on their link between their forms to cause their forms to swap places. To all intents they appear to "change" from human to animal and back again.
As the Peoples grew and gathered, there was a need to keep track of the Hearths of associated tribes. Shamans reached out to alchemists and witches, who help create the Hearthstones. A Hearthstone is a mystical object that is a doorway between the world and the Hearths of a People. Each People have a Hearthkeeper, a spellcaster who cares for the Hearthstone. The Hearthkeeper can feel the links between forms for all of his or her People, and can determine the health and well-being of both forms. In times of need, he or she can heal either form or force the Change as needed. Tribes would defend both Keeper and Stone at all costs, for over the years the Hearthstones have become the key and identity of a People.
"The Third of the Ages was a rebirth of the magicks. The realms of Spirit gave access to our Ancestors and we found some of the new Gods of Light were the same as those of old. The People grew and expanded. Others joined our numbers, both those who sought a second shape and others who found a way to change their shapes. Falcon, Hawk and Gull joined the Eagle in the skies. Squirrel, Rabbit and Rat joined the Mouse in fields and towns. Tiger, Panther and Cat joined the Lion upon the plains and in the hills. Boar and Badger joined the Wolf and Bear in the woods and forests. We spread across Arda, forming Hearths in many places. Not as many as other races but enough. For we survived the Fourth Age and grew again in today's Age."
Over the years the People changed as their numbers grew. New Peoples arose to join the few from the earliest times. There also appeared differences in the People of the same Hearth. Eagles might be Gold, Brown or the majestic White-capped Eagles. Tigers might be striped or white. Wolves might be Wargs or they might be Foxes.
Today there are sixteen tribes or Hearths of the People.
People of the Skies
· Eagle – "Cesqen"
· Falcon – "Toixtex"
· Hawk – "Xenxinele"
· (Sea)Gull – "Geni"
People of the Plains
· Lion – "Ceqpusal"
· Tiger – "Xheqtnec"
· Panther – "sqemheqtnec"
· (House/small)Cat – "Pusal"
People of the Fields
· Mouse – "Ketan"
· Squirrel – "Toepsipaen"
· Rabbit – "Sqeweo"
· Rat – "Hewt"
People of the Woods
· Wolf - "Steqeye"
· Bear – "Speleo"
· Boar – "Musmes"
· Badger – "Sqelew"
Next article: Tawen, the Capital