Alńy (plural Alńe) is the term Dark Lands people call their sorcerers by. They are the only ones knowing about magic in those lands, often as apprentices of another alńy. Common people fear them since they meddle in arcane arts as demons and spirits do. However, they constitute an essential part of society, granting powerful boons in fighting dark forces, as the magic field sensitiveness trance, and participating in important rites, as the birthday celebration. They usually live alone, far from villages and communities, sometimes in lonely huts, sometimes as nomads. They meet other people out of necessity when they need supplies or when someone needs their arcane help.
Alńe are magic users, and, as such, it is not completely clear who can access the role. The presence of chaotic energies in the Dark Lands further complicates the assessment of the situation. Most sorcerers become so after an alńy chooses them as apprentices, seeing in them the power of harnessing magical energies. Apprentices are usually young people, and their parents often oppose this path. If they allow it, their son or daughter will probably spend the rest of their life with the master alńy, becoming the heir and inheriting every alchemic material and possession the master had. Some alńe have a different origin instead. They are self-taught. They discovered their abilities in youth by chance, perhaps during a risky and dangerous situation, as defending their people against spirits or demons. In this case, there is no master. Aspiring alńe depart (often with the village relief) and study how to harness magical energies on their own until they feel confident enough to put their abilities to service. They either build an isolated shack or choose a nomadic life through the Dark Lands. Sometimes, benevolent spirits play the role of masters, choosing, luring and "blessing" people with their knowledge.
There are two main benefits of being an alńy. If they balance being an outcast is left to each person's judgement. The first advantage is strength. Magic is power, especially in the Dark Lands, where chaotic energies roam the region and make powerful effects easier to achieve. Second, probably most important, benefit is protection. Alńe can live alone in the woods, and no spirit or demon will disturb them. Reasons for this are unclear. Someone propose dark entities are afraid of magical powers and, since they can easily find other people to prey on, there is no reason to risk it. Others claim alńe side with the Abyss and the dark forces. They would help people to be tolerated, but will ultimately betray them and fight for the Abyss when the time comes.
Alńe are outcast in most villages. While they are helpful to cure sickness and fight dark spirits, they are also frightening. Their meddling in arcane arts and harnessing powerful energies make people diffident. However, a sorcerer's help is essential to survive in these lands, especially certain places, and people learnt to tolerate them. Sorcerers live outside in the woods, on their own, and people visit them when they need something. Villagers exchange goods for magical rituals, medicines and drugs.
Close to each village, there is usually a single alńy, if any. Their total number is difficult to even guess though, since many of them travel for most of their life.
Alńe work with many different alchemic materials to mesh potions and drugs. Sedentary sorcerers cultivate plants to extract ingredients directly from them or indirectly from lured insects and other animals. A fairly common ingredient is obtained from red lilies. Nomadic alńe rely upon raw magical effects and do alchemy more rarely, using common items a village can happen to have or find easily. Some of them travel with a puppeteer cart where they can stash a couple of ingredients or potions.