Riverfolk are an amphibious people who mostly live along the banks of the mighty Cobaltine river in central Elanterra. Riverfolk have an extremely adaptable physiology, which allows them to survive both above and below the surface for long periods of time, but they cannot flourish very far from either environment. Their skin is extremely elastic, and a series of complex muscles allow them to alter their bodies’ shape. On dry land, they are short and squat. Their limbs actually fold in on each other to provide stability. In the water, they can stretch out to move more smoothly through the water. These unique physical properties provide several distinct advantages for the Riverfolk. Other peoples often mistake their reach and strength, which is exceptional.

Riverfolk have adapted their society to life along the river. Settlements typically extend along the banks, right down to and often under the water. In their capital city of Carabos, buildings often have foundations built under the water, and rise from the surface like icebergs. This construction is possible because the Riverfolk have access to a unique building material called ‘concrete’ which allows them to build under the water and construct some of their impressive architectural feats.

Riverfolk society is considered quite incomprehensible to outsiders. Unlike most of the other settlements of the Five Peoples, the Riverfolk organize their society along something they call “The Game.” Attempts to translate this concept to other members of the ancient compact have resulted in failure. The game is not limited to the power struggles and politics that Human nobility and the burgeoning merchant and artisan classes engage in, nor is it strongly linked to organized crime or tribal relationships, as with the Hillfolk and Half-Elves. The Game seems to involve every aspect and facet of daily life. It is a team sport, but exactly how these groups are determined is a mystery to outsiders. Some teams, or Houses, as the term is more often translated, are based on home region, or family, but some families support half a dozen different Houses. While there does seem to be rivalry, at the same time, Houses, or rather members of houses cooperate with one another to accomplish their goals. What these goals are and what they hope to achieve is another situation shrouded in mystery. To casual observation, nothing is out of the ordinary, and the Riverfolk consider prying into the House of someone who is not displaying their affiliation quite rude. A few outsiders have been known to join Houses, but if they have any greater understanding of the game, they are not at liberty to say. As masters of the Great River, as well as Engineers and Magicians, Riverfolk often come into contact with other Peoples. They are fond of saying that all People play the game, but only the Riverfolk know what side they are on. This sentiment, along with their bizarre physical appearance and habits, do not inspire trust in their fellows.

Riverfolk are also notable for spending their winters in hibernation. Towards the end of the year, Riverfolk gather in Carabos for a great festival. Due to unknown, most likely magical means, the lake remains above freezing until the final day, in which every Riverfolk citizen in good standing parades into the waters, which freeze over behind them. It is speculated that they gather in some hidden grotto in Spire Rock, the formation at the center of the lake, but others suggest they simply sleep through the winter. A Riverfolk who misses the gathering is shunned by his people, should he manage to survive the winter.

Compiler’s Note: Riverfolk remain the greatest Engineers and Magicians in all of Elanterra. Their expertise is highly sought, and the Magical Academy of Carabos, which is now open to other peoples, such as myself, is the most respected center of learning on the Island. The Game goes on, as ever.

“Elanterra Journal” is a look into the People, Places, and history of the Island of Elanterra, the setting of the Freelance Hunters stories.   “Glory’s Gauntlet,” an ebook collection of four Freelance Hunters stories is available from Amazon and Smashwords.

Advertisements