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Chud'

Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

Ancient chronicles speak of a people called "Chudy", "Chud'", or "White-eyed Chud'", who lived in the northern part of the land of Nor' before the arrival of the Noriki. They lived alongside the Kuz', the first humans to live in these remote areas, and may have even intermarried with them to some extent, but the Kuz' themselves say the chudy - or Elder People - are a separate people, and were there long before them. Where they came from originally is not known, but the wise assert that they were the original inhabitants of the land of Irii, and lived there long before the fall of humankind. They built cities across the world before the Great Flood, but then withdrew to remote areas as the world sank into darkness.   When the Noriki expanded into areas where the chudy lived, the Small Folk retreated beyond settled areas into their mines and caves, and into tunnels built underneath settlements and old burial mounds, and then carefully hid all the entrances and exits. There are rumors that most Noriki towns stand where chud settlements once stood, and that the entire land is connected by chudy underground tunnels, but the chudy themselves say little about it when they emerge from underground, and they impart their secrets only to special humans they trust.   Small and Fair   It is not clear whether the chudy were always small, but it seems that life underground, and the need to go unnoticed among the Big Folk has made them so. Most chudy stand between four and five feet tall, and are well-proportioned. Though divided into male and female, they have an androgynous look to them, and appear as children of 10 to 12 years old, though a few of the older ones do sport beards. Some of them do have eyes with very small, light-colored irises (for which they earned the moniker 'White-eyed'), but others have eyes with large pupils 'the color of coal', or eyes with oversize blue or grey irises. This may also be a result of living far away from sunlight, which the chudy usually cannot abide. But their stunning eyes are also the source of their enchanting gaze, which few humans can abide.   Otherwise, they differ from one another in appearance, with some having golden-blond hair and light skin, and others exhibiting much darker complexions. Their association with 'fairness' is due to the brightness with which their faces are lit up when they are working their magics, as well as, as some say, due to the purity of their spirits. When above ground, they usually wear non-descript cloaks with large hoods, so as to hide their true identities, but at home, they often wear bright garments and jewelry.   Miners and Herders   The chudy were among the first to learn the secrets of ore and stone buried beneath the earth. They are particularly adept at working copper, which they use to fashion their tools, weapons, and armor. They also specialize in mining green stones, particularly chrysolite and malachite, which they prize above all others. They keep access to their mines secret, and hide them within maddening labyrinths, and behind a myriad secret doors, which only they know.   The chudy do not practice agriculture, though their underground realm is replete with fungi and plants that grow abundantly, illuminated by magical lights. Some of them tend underground herds, which are reportedly reindeer, though some have claimed that their "earth reindeer" are in fact mammoths. Many chudy also fish in underground lakes and streams. Others report the presence of rivers of milk with custard banks, which may be a myth, or perhaps an echo of the paradisical lands from whence the chudy hail.   Keepers of Ancient Lore   The chudy claim to preserve the ancient knowledge of Irii, which humans foreswore when they chose to live in Krivda. They remember the wisdom of old, when all people had divine gifts and magical knowledge. They know the true names of people and places (many toponyms still bear chudy names), the layout of the network of tunnels beneath the earth, the whereabouts of the great burial sites and treasure troves left behind by their people, and the locations and functions of the mystical cities they erected when they ruled the surface world. They also know how to find the gateways to the netherworld and Otherworlds, which their forbears opened (and in many instances, closed).   The chudy are also custodians of old beliefs. They carry on the cults of the Old Faith, and are said to know the true fate of the old gods after the conversion. Some of their underground palaces are carved in the form of books filled with ancient mystical symbols, which only they, and perhaps some remaining volkhvy know how to read. These passages are also replete with magical knowledge, which their sages occasionally transcribe. However, the chudy recall the spiritual exercises of their forebears, or perhaps, as creatures of light, pass down knowledge of magic congenitally. All chudy have at least a modicum of natural magical ability.   When the current Dark Age comes to an end, when tsars and handlers of gold vanish, then the chudy promise to reemerge from their burrows, and share their knowledge and wondrous treasure with the dwellers of the surface world. Until then, they continue to hide away, making sure their secrets do not fall into the wrong hands.   Shy Interlopers   It is only infrequently that chudy emerge into the surface world. Typically, they do it at night, for they are no longer used to the sunlight, which makes them queasy. Most frequently, they emerge at festival times around ancient shrines, and flee quickly, extinguishing their magical lights, if any Big Folk approach. At other times, they may be sent on expeditions to bring back certain seeds to their domains, or perhaps even to steal back an item taken from a mine or trove by humans who, in their view, misuse it, or are not ready for it.   More rarely, chudy befriend particular humans. They especially like skilled artisans and miners, for in their dedication to their craft above status, power, or wealth, they most resemble the chudy. In rare instances, they become patrons or teachers of such people, and rarer still, they become friends, protectors, or lovers. Products of unions between chudy and humans are regarded as important to Fair Folk as well, as they are used to allow the chudy to keep abreast of changes in human society. They often reach positions of authority among the chudy. Some remain behind among humans, usually becoming powerful spellcasters if they do.   Ignorant humans often confuse such half-breeds with changelings. For this reason, a well as the chudy's rejection of the True Confession, the Church disapproves of these creatures. Relations are further complicated by the presence of certain renegade chudy, expelled from the underground realm for transgressions, who use their powers to wreak havoc among humans.   Innokentii Fedorovich (aka "Kesha") definitely displayed some chudy heritage, including his talent for magic. His birth home was somewhere in the Svora Mountains.

Additional Information

Facial characteristics

pale/blank eyes

Average Intelligence

High

Average Height
4 - 5 ft. tall
Average Physique
Slight
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Fair

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