Afsla Nisse (also called Arcane Elves) claim to be the longest living sub-species of Nisse. They are characterized by their pointed ears and purple rune tattoos on their foreheads and upper portion of their faces. The Afsla Nisse are incredibly adept at Occult rituals and magics, and their kind are at the forefront of the investigation into the Arcane Crisis in Sha'uru. Afsla Nisse often described as focused, indomitable, and controlled.
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The Afsla Nisse are definitively the oldest race living on Calydon and Lerna. They were the first to discover the leyline energy that permeates the world, the first to apply that power towards the destruction of monsters and the betterment of people, and the first to let you know it in an elongated treatise.
Occult Academia is the art of choice for Afsla Nisse society, and they directly correlate prowess in the Arcane Arts of Occult, Alchemy and Aethermancy (the Arcane name for Aetheric Sciences) to excellence in all things. So, it is no surprise that the History of the Afsla Nisse is directly tied to one of their greatest creations, the Collegia Hermetica. Though the magical institution is not exclusively composed of Afsla Nisse membership, because of their longer lifespans and cultural predilection towards the Occult Arts, the Afsla Nisse tend to dominate the ranks of the Magi. The tower of the Collegia Hermetica was built in the lands of the Afsla Nisse over 1,000 years ago, a few hundred years prior to the when Occultists estimate the Arcane Crisis began. It was made with an occult ritual that is a well-guarded secret within their ranks that allows stone and clay to be forged into a structure as a single, seamless structure. This same ritual has been applied to many major structures within the Afsla Nisse lands as well as the entirety of the Forbund Af Nisse, giving Nisse architecture a specific look of smooth elegance that other cultures have never been able to replicate.
When the membership of the Collegia Hermetica began to dwindle and their rituals began to fail, the organization began to move from being a purely academic venture to one of control and occult dominance, even shutting out its sister organization, the Curiositas Arcanum Circle. The circle filled the void within Afsla Nisse society as the primary occult education institute, but their inclination towards a purely Afsla membership meant that the Afsla continued the traditions while the rest of the world turned to science to fill the void. The Afsla remember what it was like to live in a world where the magi of legend exist, and they have strong feelings about the decline of magic in the last 800 years. It has been determined that the only form of magic that was safe to use was the traditions of the uneducated country practitioners, the Hedgemages, which ran counter to the Afsla Nisse long-standing belief of magic superiority. The Afsla then made the hard choice, if they would not be able to be the most powerful of mages as a people, they would then be the stewards of occult knowledge to lesser practitioners. They began to be less insular and reach out to the other denizens of the world, affirming that the Arcane Crisis is a worldwide problem, and if they were to solve it, they would need to begin forging stronger alliances and interacting with non-arcane folk.
Government and Politics
Of all Nisse, Afsla are the most consumed by their art. This results in much smaller family units, as the more children one has, the more divided their attention must become. Afsla households rarely have more than three children, and there are some Afsla that sublimate blood children with apprentices who carry on their knowledge and research.
The Afsla, like all other intelligent species, use the Kroner currency system, grudgingly. Some Afsla still find it a hard lozenge to swallow that the Nisse currency collapsed under the power of the Kroner backed by aurum ore hundreds of years ago. Afsla are just as likely to barter or trade goods/services as they are to use Kroner.
Ritual scrolls, artifacts, and history of their ancient kin are all very important material items to the Nisse. Books of all kinds are prized, many Afsla displaying their carefully cultivated collections in living areas and guest areas to better show off. They value knowledge of cutting edge Occult research and rituals. Upper crust greatly value sponsoring talented Afsla Occultists.
The Afsla Nisse nation is a part of southern Calydon. The vast majority inhabit that country, but a minority do call home in Human and Durren lands. Very few, usually criminals or the particularly destitute, Afsla reside in Goblin territory. Afsla would not be considered migratory.
The Afsla in particular find it irksome that the rest of civilized society has accepted the Kroner as the currency standard, but they use it knowing that they would otherwise be at a disadvantage. Afsla society also does not revere one religious system over the other.
Culture & Traditions
Wielders of powerful Occult ability are considered the highest of the social order, along with those who discover new rituals or improve known ones and the discoverers of magical artifacts.
Afsla society revolves heavily around their highest art, magic. With that in mind, most of the roles and careers taken up by the Afsla are related to this; historians and archaeologists of magical artifacts, manufacturing of components and goods necessary for occult rituals, teaching, research into the effects of occult on the body and mind, etc. Some may even be patrons of the art; paying particularly talented Afsla to spend their time tampering with established rituals and spells or to create brand new ones. Success of the talented Afsla can earn prestige both for themselves and for their patron.
Afsla Nisse celebrate the Feast of the Solstice (December 21) like most other intelligent species. Because of their long memories and longer history, most of the day is consumed by recollections of stories and lore from the past.
The Afsla coming of age test usually takes place between the ages of 16 and 30 and can last several weeks or months.
The Festival of Ash (June 3) is a Memorial Day for all the Afsla Nisse felled in the Orc Wars. Traditionally, Afsla Nisse take the day to visit museums, memorials, and other locals dedicated to the Wars and the loss of Nisse lives. When night falls, blue candles are lit in all the windows of their homes and left burning until midnight.
Afsla are renowned for, and value highly, patience. They are a long-lived species and such are not often beholden to the quick decisions, tempers, and solutions the younger species live by. It is also for this reason the Afsla take very little interest in the actual settling of Antioch for themselves; preferring instead to confer on the best way to integrate themselves in the wheeling and dealing of the Dur and Goblin venturing parties.
Afsla Nisse are warned to not take the runes they earn lightly. The runes are chosen by the Afsla themselves and they often spend years deciding on them. Afsla are encouraged to choose runes from any ancient civilization or language and to choose ones that have meaning to them. Some Afsla families may hand down designs through the generations, others may encourage choice of the same style or type but not the exact design, and other families still may not have a unifying factor to their tattoos at all.
Fables of dragons and mage-knights in shining, enchanted armor is a popular theme in much of the adolescent Afsla reading material. There is a book series that is almost 500 years old known as the Leystone Trilogy that is quite popular and written by Ren L.R. Jitkon.
Erestwen Harris is a figure in history whose existence in highly debated; they are credited with developing the vast majority of higher levels magics, but there is no evidence of their existence aside from anecdotal stories and snippets. No records exist of someone with such a name and no grave seems to exist either.
Dur—"Convoluted" would be an appropriate way to describe the relationship between Ouranos Dur and Afsla Nisse. The Afsla admire Ouranos ingenuity; the flying prison is a work of genius and Ouranos Steam Technology is a masterwork to behold. But, the Afsla cannot abide the way they treat Vand Nisse and the detriment to many Vand businesses the rise of aetherships has caused. This leads to a myriad of conflicting feelings between the Ouranos and Afsla. The Vrachos Dur and the Afsla do not deal too closely as the Afsla tend to trade more with the Vuono Dur. The Vuono Dur hire the Afsla constantly to use their occult knowledge not only for magical protection and ease, but also to enhance art performances and installations.
Other Nisse—The Afsla find the Slagte Nisse government procedures to be a bit barbaric, but would never say as much. They appreciate the art of their kin and have a very grim respect for the parameters set by the Slagte. The Collegia Hermetica kitchen is one of the largest customers for Slagte hunting of wild game and Vand Nisse fishing. Afsla, out of near reverent respect for the Vand Nisse art, almost exclusively choose shipment and travel via Vand ships than any other.
Humans—The Afsla Nisse appreciate the fervor with which the Wayfaring Seekers are pursuing a cure for the deterioration of magic, but lament the remedy Starling convinced them of. Otherwise, the Seekers and Afsla often get along. Afsla find Imperial Human politics and social intrigue tedious. The Tribes of Barlethan are an enigma to the Afsla. On the one hand, Afsla can appreciate their hard-working nature and dedication to their beliefs, but on the other hand the Afsla find it baffling that the Barlethan would purposefully denounce the use of clearly effective tools. As such, the Afsla are typically polite but hesitant when dealing with Barlethan.
Goblinites—Afsla Nisse who birth a Kobold are mostly pitied by other Afsla. Many who have not been in the situation believe the Afsla would be better off unloading the "corruption" on the other parents. It is even stranger to Afsla when one of their kind falls in love and willingly raises Kobold children with a Goblin. Kobolds are seen as impure, never allowed entrance to Arcane educational institutes and laboratories (even as laborers), and are not allowed involvement in the government. Because Gnomes and Halflings are not allowed in Nisse territory, very few Afsla ever actually come into contact with them, only hearing rumors of the ragamuffin and boisterous Halflings, and the begrimed, pathetic Gnomes. Homunculi are bought and sold with a fair amount of regularity by the Afsla. When employed with the Collegia Hermetica, they are restricted from classrooms and areas of learning, supply stores, and dormitories.
Goblins—Goblins are vile and filthy creatures. Afsla find it lamentable that Humans have become so fond of them. They are cunning, manipulative, hateful little creatures.
The Curiositas Arcanum Circle is an Afsla Nisse institution for higher learning that can be found in every large Afsla settlement. It is not as prestigious as the Collegia Hermetica, however it does emphasize more on study and less on regulation of the wane in magic. Only Afsla are matriculated into the Circle.
Afsla Nisse earn their runes through a rigorous testing of topics pertaining to the occult and magics. Not all Afsla are Hedgemages, so the actual testing of their magical aptitude is not a part of the ordeal, however they are exposed to a retinue of written and oral examinations on all manners of occult history, current events, theory, effects, laws, etc. The testing phase can typically last up to a year, with the test scorers often spending weeks ruminating over the responses before providing a passing or failing grade. Successful completion of this test is met with a solemn ceremony.
Despite the rigor of the Afsla coming of age test, it is the only one of the Nisse tests that can be retaken. As long as a Nisse is between the ages of 16 and 30, they make take or retake the test until they pass. If an Afsla ages past 30, they are given a potion that renders them incapable of discussing the test amongst non-Afsla. Though this method of testing leaves plenty of room for an Afsla to escape to other nations and speak openly about the tests, this has yet to happen. No one is really sure why.
A large percentage of the Hus Nisse in society are Nisse born into Afsla households that refuse to take the coming of age test, accepting that the decline of magic is nature's course or that there is nothing that can be done to save it. These Nisse are often scorned by those Afsla who are aware of this stance.