The Fallow Deer, also Deerlings, are an efferus tribe that inhabits northern Harrowood. They number in approximately 300,000 and their territories form the Devletayïd Khanate. The Fallow Deer are subjects of the Ecclesiarchy and over 70% of them are undead.
The Deerlings are slender and elegant efferii, with bodies built for agility. Their animal forms have fur of various colors and patterns; these are inherited and act as "tabards", showing a deerling's adherence to a particular clan. Males may have antlers, and large antlers are a sign of natural magical ability. Males are also bulkier than females; their human form is comparable to average human men, whereas female deerlings are generally more petite than human women.
Deer efferii are highly dexterous and have a very sharp sense of hearing. They navigate the most difficult woodland thickets with ease, never breaking a twig. Thanks to their hearing, they have excellent awareness even when their view is completely obscured by vegetation.On the other hand, deerlings are notably weaker than other efferii of the beast kingdom.
Deerlings are herbivores. Their menu consists of foraged fruit, berries, roots and herbs. They also used to cultivate small amounts of cereal crops and bake bread, but these efforts were abandoned when parts of the tribe were turned undead and thus lost interest in food.
Living deerlings adhere to normal efferus biology (see Efferus article). Ca 98% of undead deerlings are ghouls and adhere to ghoul biology (see Undead article). The latter kind has engineered a suprisingly effective herbal tea that considerably slows decay of those who drink it regularly.
Deer efferii are very kind and openhanded. They freely share, give and take whatever they feel they need to. This has not changed much even after they were introduced to the concepts of "money" and "personal property". Deerlings' primary psychological difference from humans is their innate self-moderation - greed and jealousy are unknown to them. They are also very shy of conflict and will go to great lenghts to avoid it. Notably, they are the only nation so far to accept the sovereignty of the Church as a result of peaceful negotioations.
Habitat & Architecture:Edit
The khanate's territories encompass temperate forests in the northern Harrowoods and a small part of the Amber Steppe just north of that. Deerling villages are never more complicated than a collection of straw huts, aside from the occasional concrete Chapels of Light or blockhouses that have been built in some places.
Deerlings have no kind of organized production, but some of their crafted commodities are highly desired in other parts of the Ecclesiarchy. These include the anti-decay "embalming tea" that they brew from certain local herbs, and the colorful and sturdy clothes they weave from certain dried grasses (textiles are very expensive in Obsidian).
The Devletayïd Khanate is a feudal monarchy, and as such is highly decentralized. The khan's direct influence doesn't extend much farther than the village he lives in. Every other village is governed by a noble (noyan) who pays annual tribute to the khan but is otherwise largely independent. Missionaries from Obsidian and Destiny Forge are present in the villages to "bestow education and spiritual advice", but they don't impose on local politics, even though they can.
Family Life and Education:Edit
The Fallow Deer have loose families and no real parental codex. Deerling children are expected to be taught by life; pick things that interest them and learn ad hoc. Elders willingly teach youngsters, but only when persistently asked - deerlings consider it fair that wisdom and knowledge should only come to those who actively seek it. This means that personal development varies wildly between individuals; though the less successful can always rely on the charity of their fellow villagers when in need.
Culture & Arts:Edit
Deer efferii have a stronger creative spririt than their more predatory counterparts. They have a long tradition of extracting pigments from various flowers, which they use as body paint and to color the clothes and rugs they weave from dried straw and vegetational fibers. Church missionaries have introduced them to painting and sculpture, which have taken hold as well; though it's sometimes diffcult to get full supply of canvas and suitable stone.
Deerlings speak Esferin as their primary language. The Church considers them a "native minority" and does not require them to learn Hexxarin, along with several other privileges.
While they are subjects of the Church and close to half of them are undead, deerlings are only nominally faithful to Nagash. The majority of them still worships Harrowyn, even though she no longer answers their beckons.
Immigration & Emigration:Edit
The khanate's population is fairly static; the undead part of the populace is emigrating to Destiny Forge at a marginal rate, and some of the garrison troops from Obsidian have established permanent homes in the villages, but the activity is insignificant on the national scale.
The Fallow Deer efferus tribe has inhabited the northern reaches of Harrowoods since the founding of Nyxheim. Compared to their neighbors, their history is not overly turbulent. They have been ruled by the politically passive Devletayïd dynasty under their entire existence.
The khanate was independent until year 83 NT. During this period, the deer tribe reached the peak of its cultural prosperity, making significant advances in the fields of alchemy, shamanism, crafstmanship and agriculture. They have surpassed the more feral efferus tribes in these fields, and have shared some of their success, both as an act of generosity and diplomatic bribery to ensure good relations with their rapacious neighbors.
The bright and carefree times ended in year 83, when word reached the deer that the northern Steppe Horse tribes have united under the banner of the great Timur-khan, forming the Amber Horde. When it became apparent that the horde was sweeping southward in a wave of conquest, the deerling khan sent a message to request inclusion into the horde. He knew that the chances of Timur accepting such a silly proposal were slim, but he did what he could to prevent his domain from being pillaged and his people enslaved. Surprisingly, the envoys returned with good news.
But the news weren't all good. The reason for Timur's acceptance was due to the fact that the desert and jungle regions in the far north of the continent have been occupied by strange invaders, who were rapidly expanding south and have already entered Horde territory. The undead, at the time dubbed as the Nagashid after their leader (whom the efferii presumed to be a king) were Timur's new enemy. Ca 2,000 deerling hunters joined Timur's army as auxiliary troops during his campaign against Nagash, but were never deployed in battle and safely returned home after the great khan's main force won a crushing victory over the undead and pushed them out of the steppe.
After Timur's death and the Horde's disintegration 91 NT, the Devletayïds enjoyed a brief period of independence until 94 NT. At this point, the divided Horse tribes could not defeat the second Nagashid invasion and were rapidly annexed one by one. In year 94, the undead army was on the outskirts of Harrowoods, and the deerling khan (the last khan's son, by this time) decided to surrended ahead of time again. Narrowly evading slaughter for the second time, the deer became subjects once more, but this time permanently.
Although they could avoid military conflict, the deerlings did not quite realize what kind of peace they bargained for. With the foundation of Obsidian and the establishment of imperial administration (the Church), attention was turned towards the native population. Conversion to the true faith began. Chapels were built, missionaries were sent, economical and cultural investments were made, trade routes and communications were organized.
And then, the entire existence of the Fallow Deer was thrown into paradox - the life they warded and cared for - their forest, their Muse, their still-living friends and family - they were no longer part of it all. They were part of something different; something foreign. But surely, it must be worth it - the tribe's economy, literacy, artistic thought, scientifical and technological development were higher and better than ever before. Surely, the violent Wild Cats must be fools. Surely, there is no such thing as a good war or a bad peace... right?
"Clerics with ornate clothes and glowing eyes visited us; they brought many wondrous gifts and teachings with them; and they stayed and shared these things; and we shared much joy together. Every time before they left, they touched us with strange light; and those they touched became something that was not quite themselves. And every time the clerics said: we will return."
- From the diary of an anonymous deerling noble