Remains of the Fey
The primal magic of the elven peoples follows an entirely separate tradition than any civilized tradition, and is almost solely practiced by elf clans that continue to live according to the “old ways,” apart from the spreading influence from Dunland. Some clan speakers of those groups that have adopted a Dunnish way of life do maintain some link to primal magic, but they cannot compare to the influence that these old clans have. The five main traditions that survive all trace themselves back to the cults of specific gods and goddesses. Generally speaking, wielders of primal magic are elf-kind, but half-kind and humans are quite capable of learning the art. Between eight and fifteen of these Chosen exist in any one clan.
The Caths, or “Ravens,” are named after the elven goddess of war, life, and wisdom, Cath Bodva (“Battle-Raven”). They embody the attributes of the goddess on the battlefield, manifesting her anger with the force of earth and fire behind them. Though Dunnish nobles have described them as “berserkers,” they fight with lucidity and skill, and aim their savagery toward intimidating their opponent. Culturally, female Caths also act as mid-wives, and male Caths instruct young men and women in the arts of war and love. Caths of multiple clans come together once a season to re-enact memorable battles.
The Gwydons are named after Gwydion, god of magic, enchantment and illusion. Gwydion was a bit of a trickster and a notorious shape-shifter, and Gwydons must master the art in order to be worthy of the title. The role that Gwydons play in their tribe is complex and changes according to the needs of their tribe, but they are perhaps best categorized as storytellers and guides to their clan. It is the Gwydon that remember the old paths and hunting grounds, and the Gwydon that instructs on the dangers of the Faerie. On some nights, the Gwydon stalks the children of the clan in the form a wolf, frightening them and reminding them to keep their wits about them.
Cernos are named after Cernunnos, the god of animals, forests, virility and death. Cernunnos leads the Wild Hunt, and the season of Samhain is his own. The Cernos are the hunt masters of their own clan, and are adept at bringing swift death to distant quarry. Becoming Cernos entails a pact with lesser spirits that ride of the feathers of the arrow and the haft of the axe, bringing fortune and life through death. They are the arrowhead of a clan, sharpening its edges and bringing down the greatest game themselves. They are like wraiths in the foliage, and from their ghostly hands comes the food that a clan needs to survive. From their mouths comes the elven secrets of hunting.
Arawnos are named after Arawn, the god of the underworld, terror and revenge. Arawnos are the link to the ancestors for an elven clan, and though their most intimate dealings are with what they claim are ancestor spirits, they are often heard to say that the world is full of whispering for those with a trained ear. Perhaps the most esoteric, and uncommon, of the five remaining paths to primal power, a tribe considers itself lucky if it has one Arawno; most often a single Arawno is shared among multiple tribes. This is because becoming Arawnos is as much a matter of in-born talent as it is a matter of training, and it is not a common talent; there are some elves that have a modicum of skill, but unless an Arawnos can manifest an ancestor spirit to walk at his side, then he or she cannot claim the title. In function, the Arawnos are the pure link with the dead; Gwydons remember the stories, but Arawnos call up the essence. They finish the ceremony of the dead that the Cernos begin, transitioning the body from death to a spiritual existence. The Arawnos is always distant from a tribe, and always owes part of him or herself to another world, but that link to the dead and the non-living is considered vital to maintain a communal relationship with the rest of the world.
Scaths are named after the goddess Scathach, whose purview is prophecy, healing, and the fighting arts. There is a small sharing of roles between Caths and Scaths, but Caths express the large, social act of warfare, while Scaths focus on mastery of the self and the fusion of primal magic with martial skill; the physical expression of the Scath is often less violent, focusing more on beauty than efficiency. In actual armed conflict, both the Scath and the Cath will fight alongside one another, but the clan function of the Scath is centered on the role of guardian from threats within and without. The head Scath of a tribe is the closest thing that a clan has to a “chief,” and in civil matters Scaths direct the tribe. The Scath has also mastered a dreaming technique that allows veiled glimpses into the future, though the veracity of such visions is challenged by arcanists and scientists alike (when they can be bothered to know about it).