The ylfharn, or nesa, as they calll themselves, are a tall and gaunt race, towering at an average of 6’6”. Their skin is a deep carmine, with beige dots on their back (earning them the nickname “Painted Men” in the Tale Empire’s Colony at Mirdroll.) Both males and females are naturally bald, and their ears are flat and pointed, extended out 4cm past their heads. Unless in the company of other sentient beings or preparing for war, the ylfharn remain unclothed.
One out of every thousand females is melanic, a phenomenon considered holy. From birth, the melanics are trained to be priestesses, living alone in caves and communing with the dragon-god Illuyuskan. the vast majority of these caves are along commonly passed routes, and any tribe moving through is obliged to make a sacrifice of food supplies, and occasionally oblates to the resident holy woman.
When a priestess is born, a “dragon eye” is embedded in her forehead. The Dragon eyes are holy artifacts taken from ruins on Ishan.The eyes are said to allow greater communication with Illuyuska, as they represent his corrupted third eye.
In combat or social situations (if they involve non-Ylfharn,) the Nesa fashion armor and clothing out of the clay-rich mud in the Mirdroll swamps. On rare occasions, especially for figures of power, the clay is fitted and baked. The Ylfharn are skilled at pottery and, along with a reinforcing weave on and in the armor, can rival even iron.
The Ylfharn practice “dance magic,” arcane dancing rituals lasting from hours to weeks. There are literally thousands of these, and it is said that not even the oldest and wisest priestess knows them all. The most well known of these rites is The Path of Fire.
The Path of Fire is practiced every three years, and lasts a full three weeks. While the excitement starts months before, with the preparation of heavy ceramic masks, food, and thousands of other ritual-specific goods, the true festival begins with the lighting of a forest. A torchbearer is chosen from among all present Ylfharn males (Barring those with life altering disabilaties, all tribes are present.) This male begins the ritual by carrying a torch deep into a holy jungle, and quite literally lighting the forest on fire. The Ylfharn then dance around this great blaze as it chases them out of the forest within the first week. The Torchbearer and all present Priestesses then tend to the fire, making sure it does not go out over the remainder of the celebration. One of these priestesses, chosen by her fellows, mates with the male on the final day, then throws him into the fire.
The Tallian colony on Mirdroll, the western continent and the home of the Nesa, has maintained a peaceful diplomacy with the painted men, and trade between the colony and the twin continents occurs often. Men do not shun the Ylfharn, and some have been known to journey to Tarran and seek out human artifacts to bring back to their bretheren as a sort of trophy.
The Path of fire paragraph is, I realize, very unweildy, I will later delete it and post the Path seperately.
For those of you who were previously unaware, Melanism is a real-world skin condition, caused by an over-abundance of pigment that leads to pitch-black skin.