Realms of Mythrais
The Fhraen of Aerk
If you asked the common man on the street: “Where did the Fhraen come from?” he would nervously look about and say: “I don’t know, but I know where the thieving scoundrels can go to!” Obviously, most people have little care for the Fhraen.
The Fhraen are a somewhat rare race in Aerk. Even the dwindling numbers of the Aerkay are more numerous than the Fhraen who can rarely be found in more than a small number in any given place. Given the fact that Fhraen blend so easily into humanity, it is little wonder that people know anything about the Fhraen; and that is exactly how the Fhraen prefer it most times.
In truth, even the most knowledgeable Fhraen could not tell you where they come from; only that their race has always been in Aerk as far as anyone can tell. There are hints in ancient tomes that say the Fhraen were once servants of the Aerkay, but even these pages do not say if the entire race, or only a few, were servants of the ancient kingdoms and empires of the Aerkay. Perhaps the Fhraen are from a dark world and were brought to Aerk; none know for certain, but even the most ancient Aerkay tomes known mention the Fhraen.
No matter their origins, the Fhraen are indeed a part of modern Aerk. They have no nation that they call their own; but some very few are nobles or officials of human nations in which they live. Fhraen are universally suspected however, and those who know of them do not trust them; except if they work for or with that individual. Fhraen usually interact in human society in one of two ways: they either immerse their lives in human society until they are accepted, or else they live on the fringe and seek to only get by.
Fhraen Gypsies are common in many nations, and these wandering families are the primary reason Fhraen are mistrusted today. The Gypsies often travel about as con artists and roving vagabonds. They consider themselves one people, and meetings between Fhraen Gypsies are happy affairs for all involved. They are not truly murderous cutthroats, but they have been known to steal the last copper from an old lady to make sure they survive. Most lands know about these bands however, so as the years pass, fewer Gypsy clans survive. Many break apart and take on tasks in cities to earn their keep, some settle down on farmsteads on unclaimed land, and others have their past catch up to them and are attacked by angry mobs and slain. For all this, there are still those who look favorably upon the Fhraen.
As long as most can remember, Fhraen have excelled at being spies, scouts and assassins. Many wealthy nobles and Kings alike have permanent Fhraen families that serve them as hereditary agents. Armies pay fine coin for good Fhraen scouts to spy out enemy positions and castles. Darker hearted men often hire Fhraen assassins to remove rivals, or just kill someone they don’t like.
Personality: Fhraen are mostly cautious. Because they know so few people trust them, they rarely involve themselves very quickly in anything; so they are very slow in making friends or even enemies. While in the company of others of their own kind, Fhraen are very easy going and friendly; other races are usually surprised at their open and jovial attitudes when this “shady” race feels safe in the company of their kinfolk. Fhraen are also notorious for holding a grudge; as many who attack them have found out, long years can pass before you find yourself suddenly surrounded by darkly clad figures that then mete out Fhraen “justice” upon you. By their natures, Fhraen do not enjoy true work or labor. They are not truly lazy; they would just prefer to find an easier way to get things done.
Physical Description: Fhraen men average just at 5’4" tall, with the tallest having been known to be 5’10" perhaps and the shortest just at less than 5’ in height; their weight is human proportional at about 140 pounds at 5’4" tall. Fhraen women are of equal height to the men, but weigh about 10% less. The dominating feature of all Fhraen is their wholly black eyes; there is no pupil or any other such thing, just a seeming blackness that unnerves most people. Fhraen hair tends towards darker shades of black and brown, but even some silver-haired Fhraen are not unknown; with hair being curly, kinky, or straight. Facial hair is common, unless the individual shaves; but no females have facial hair. Most Fhraen tend to dress in whatever style of clothing the local human populace dresses in as appropriate. Fhraen soldiers are rare, in fact they rarely gather in any military unit; but in general Fhraen prefer light armor and weapons that are easily concealed. Gypsy Fhraen usually make use of leather jerkin while wielding shortsword, poniard and crossbow.
Relations: As has already been stressed, the Fhraen are not very trusted by any other race; with individuals being the only exception to the rule. On the other hand, Fhraen would very much like to be accepted by other races; and those that seek to mix with others try very hard to find that acceptance. Within their own circles, Fhraen have strict codes of conduct that forbid stealing from each other or causing harm to other Fhraen if it can be helped at all. Fhraen are very guarded toward other races, but more readily accept new friends into their circles than other races accept them. Fhraen Gypsies find most acceptance among the carefree Fhey and the backstabbing Rheman.
Alignment: Most Fhraen tend toward as neutral a stance on things as they can. Some few go to great extremes to attempt to find acceptance, and Fhraen Paladins are not unknown. Gypsy Fhraen tend more toward a Chaotic stance in life, living each day as best as they can, and having no wish to settle or follow someone else’s rules.
Fhraen Lands: The Fhraen have no nation that they call their own. Those few who have attained nobility in one land or another will usually strictly adhere to the traditions of the nation they live within. Fhraen family leaders are always the eldest male advised by his wife or the eldest female if he is unmarried.
Language: All Fhraen know Common as their native tongue. Fhraen do not have a racial language, per se. It is a known fact, however, that they did indeed start the art of Innuendo, or Thief Tongue.
Names: Fhraen names are so integrated with those of humanity, few can remember which names were originally Fhraen and which were human. Fhraen are usually known by human names, since Fhraen see having odd sounding names as a sure invitation to be alienated or suspected by those around them.
Religion: Not many Fhraen hold religious convictions in their life. Those that do are again usually conformists that seek acceptance in the lands they have chosen as home, and these people usually follow the most widely accepted religion of their land. Fhraen have only a loose connection to the world around them, and have less insight into spiritual matters than other people; for them surviving this life is more important than the next life, and so many who do follow a religion tend toward Nature Gods, or on the other extreme, Gods of Wealth and Power.
The Fhraen within the Kingdom of Mahn
(As told by the Lore-Master of the White King)
Few Fhraen live within the Kingdom of Mahn; few noble families have lost record of the actions of the Fhraen which some contribute to the lessening of the White King’s power in the world when the Vannulvir attacked the southern duchies during the Fhraen War. Some do however, and as usual for their race, they fit within one of two social strata.
Fhraen “citizens” are for the most part the rarer of the two groups, although much more trusted and held to higher esteem than the others. Most of these people actually work for various noble families as scouts, master hunters, or even as house guards. There are whispers that some nobles still use Fhraen skills for assassination of rivals; but this has yet to be proven in a single case. I myself have employed a family of Fhraen within the Obsidian Spire to assist in gathering lost information and exploration of ruins from ages past.
The second grouping of Fhraen within the White King’s Demesne is the Tzigane Fhraen. These layabouts and scoundrels are of little use to anyone, and most live outside the laws of the White King and his vassals. Some few of these offer honest work as traveling Tinkers who do odd jobs here and there; but most are suspected of robbing and stealing for the most part. Because they refuse to settle down properly, Tzigane Fhraen are required each year to attend a Council of Accounting at any noble castle to obtain travel permits. These documents must be kept with the family with the names of all family members writ upon them; and can only be obtained by paying a yearly tax. In this manner the Tzigane are kept track of to a degree and contribute equally to society as the common man since they must pay a yearly tax.
Of course there are other “types” of Fhraen which live within the Kingdom; but such individuals are rare and far between in number. Only one Fhraen man has ever attained noble title within the White King’s circle of vassals since the Fhraen War, this being the Baron Mannagen of Haln.
Such is the nature of the Fhraen, that there is precious little else which can be disclosed in public forum such as this.
The racial abilities of the Fhraen are: