While all the chattel of Tairos belong to me, these creatures in particular are most in need of my attention. I am the one thing that can truly live up to the terror they hold in their hearts.
In polite circles the elfs that live along Lake Lunarch outside the walls of Melanthris are known as Lakesiders but most simply refer to them as the elven peasants. While their lives may be humble compared to both their metropolitan kin and city-dwellers throughout the rest of Tairos they themselves could not be more satisfied. This is, of course, by the design of Melanthris.
The Lakesiders' origin can be traced back to ancient times prior even to the Fang Crusades or the coming of the Gnomes. In those days the agricultural responsibilities fell upon the druid-like sects who tended to the land with magic and with prayer to gods like Galidir The Hunter , Atel The Beast , and Tatayne The Breath of Life. The pressed the land for greater and greater yields as the island population of Melanthris grew. That is until the soil became so permeated with magic that crop growth became unpredictable at best and dangerous at its worst. It's believed that many of the west's most dangerous carnivorous plants were born from these humble beginnings.
When the land could no longer be tilled by magic a new path forward was developed. Noble houses were given plots of land and paid handsomely in gold and royal favor in exchange for their efforts in farming the parcels. The powerful houses soon became the primary source of food for the elven nation; though like all things in Melanthris politics and ambition soon followed.
Noble Houses began trying to undercut each other for the crown's favor or payments. In other cases they worked to buy up each other's plots in the hopes of creating large enough monopolies to extort Melanthris for even greater reward. While this annoyance was typical and not unforeseen by the King it soon spiraled out of control. Melanthris exposed several plots (some say invented) and severely sanctioned many of the Houses involved. Some minor nobility were even forced to commit ritual suicide or face public execution and further dishonor to their names. The crown also took the severe step of seizing the farmlands as well as they workers manning them and "nationalized" all aspects of the agricultural industry.
The elves formerly associated with the noble houses were given a choice, serve the crown and reap the rewards that comes with it, or to face exile for their complicity in the extortion. Virtually all of these workers joined opted to serve Melanthris; the few that didn't left for Rylan Woods and what became of them is unknown. Once the disloyal had left the crown of Melanthris enacted their plan to ensure agricultural goods would never be used as a gambling chip again.
First, they restricted certain businesses from opening in the farmlands unless they were operated by trusted allies from within Melanthris. Restricted businesses included construction companies, large forge-works, stone masons, and any other industries that would allow the farmlands to have independent access to infrastructure improvements. This prevented them from expanding without aid from the government. Secondly, and most importantly, they offered considerable wealth to even the common worker compared to what the noble houses were paying. However; that wealth came in the form of scrip that could only be used to buy from certain approved vendors (vendors either owned or allied to the crown). This allowed the government to manage the cost of employing these farmers and to further enforce their dependence upon Melanthris and curtail them from dealing with the noble houses. Finally, the nobility were strictly regulated when it came to their interactions with the Lakeside elves. News was regulated, travel monitored, and magic strictly penalized (under the notion that it could spoil the farmlands as it had before all of this worked in concert to create a class of workers that relied on their employers for every aspect of survival.
The result is that the average Lakesider believes they are generously compensated, well protected, and cherished by the people in Melanthris. The truth is plain to see for anyone aware of the history though. Lakesiders are under-educated, lack access to magic, prevented from buying necessities and luxuries that are common to other free begins, are deeply superstitious and religious, and have a zealous loyalty to their lords in the shining city. Any Lakesider who disagrees or glimpses the truth are often ostracized by their fellow elf or silenced by the constables loyal to the crown. For this reason these aberrant Lakesiders quickly choose to take to wilds and find a new place to call home. Many disaffected Lakesiders can be found in Frial or occasionally Ghal Pelor where they can truly be free.
Today, the Lakeside elves exist almost as a world unto themselves. The farmlands they're tied to are vast and isolated from both the outside world and to each other. Their deeply rooted religious beliefs and penchant for superstitions have evolved into an unquenchable appetite for something to be afraid of. This manifests in a fear of the unknown, of outsiders, and of magic. They believe the gods have turned their back on Tairos because of the faithless urbanization of cities like Frial and Ghal Ankhar. They view the coming of the Tengu as an ill omen. Magic users tread on the power only divinities should wield. And, most importantly, foreigners bring with them only their troubles and a desire to take advantage of what little the Lakesiders have.
The lucky few to have escaped life in the farms may carry within themselves all manner of backward thinking when it comes to the people and places of Tairos. While far more open minded then their kin back home they are deeply misinformed and ignorant of the way of things. This can put them at the mercy of those they've accidentally offended or worse still... those who prey upon vulnerable minds.
Family names will vary from household to household; the only names that won't be found here are those of the Great Houses of Melanthris
Major language groups and dialects
Elven is the only language spoken in the farmlands. It has evolved many of its own nuances and phrases unique to the region though anyone familiar with the base language will get by fine enough
Shared customary codes and values
Lakesiders are uniform in their appreciation for those who keep the faith of the old gods and those who live modestly. The only exception to their appreciation for modesty is the elves of Melanthris. The Lakesiders are for more forgiving of their city-dwelling kin because they are the ones supplying the farms with everything they need to survive.
Average technological level
Low. Lakesiders are limited to very primitive tools and weapons compared to the rest of Tairos. They are often reluctant to embrace new technology as well unless it comes with the blessing of trusted priests or at the hand of Melanthris
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
The Lakesiders observe most of the religious holidays practiced in Melanthris while the gods could still be heard. Very humble structures can be found in every village dedicated to one god or another as well. Their faithfulness is such that most greetings and departures are intertwined with a prayer or some kind of benediction of one one of the gods.
Birth & Baptismal Rites
So superstitious are the Lakesiders that dozens if not hundreds of rites exist regarding birth. They can vary from village to village, even family to family. Some of the most common include: delaying birth until a favorable alignment of the stars, having a priest deliver the child, believing triplets to be a very ill-omen, birth defects being a sign of congress with wicked entities, and many others.
Funerary and Memorial customs
Cremation is the most common means of disposing of the dead. The customs around cremation generally call for long affairs where food, drinking, celebration occur while the corpse is left on display and surrounded by holy symbols while visitors take turns saying prayers to the departed. This generally lasts till a full sunset and sunrise has taken place. The reason for this is two-fold. First, they believe the celebration, prayer, and gathering of people will keep away evil spirits looking to inhabit the body. Two, if something dark had already afflicted the body prior to death they'll be ample people around to deal with the corpse should it rise.
Any kind of disservice or dishonor done toward the gods is met with the harshest disdain from Lakesiders.
While beauty ideals typical of elven kind apply to the Lakesiders they are much more forgiving of physical characteristics. They lead hard lives and as such cannot afford much in the way of cosmetics, fine attire, and fancy soaps. They are also more likely to have physical imperfections like scars, missing limbs, wounds that haven't properly healed and the like. These too are often overlooked by many of the Lakesiders
The work required on the farms is such that little distinction exists between male and female societal expectations.
Authorities loyal to the Crown of Melanthris have to approve all marriages. This requirement exists to help prevent the formation of powerful houses in the farmland that could threaten the flow of food into the capital. While most marriages are ultimately approved it takes a great deal. Lakesiders who are financially well-off can expect corrupt officials to seek bribes in exchange for marriage approvals. Depending on the depravity of the official these bribes can be anything from donations of scrip, to large shares of foodstuffs, and even conjugal rights one or both of the marrying parties.