The Ashkel were once the Andarys, which can mean either “Blade” or “Pride”, and was the name of the Lirasi lord who led his people to Temir, where they participated in the founding of Scything Crag. Andarys was a powerful lord on the Lirasi ruling council who found the isolationism of the elves to be an act of cowardice, urging that they remain the proud warriors they once were, especially with kingdoms of humans growing on their borders. The tension among the Lirasi grew until they neared civil war, but refusing to take up arms against his own people, Andarys and his followers left for the east. One of the Andarys was always present among the Four Lords of Scything Crag until almost six hundred years ago, when the elven warmaster Jha’dur was defeated at the gates of Tachros by Andro Dratian, a simple captain who went on to become the first Warrior Prime of Tachros. With the forces of the Lords demoralized and scattered, the Lords sought someone to blame, and the Imaskari offered up the Andarys as scapegoats. Cast out of Scything Crag, they were welcome nowhere, becoming the nomadic Ashkel, the Exiled.
The Ashkel believe in all manner of things, but chief among them are stories, honour, savagery, and valour. The tattoos of an Ashkel tell where she’s been, and what she’s done. They tell of meetings of note, triumphs, tragedies, and when tribes of Ashkel take salt together, they can spent hours telling the sags of their marks. The handshake is another key aspect. How one takes the hand of another tells an Ashkel about their relationship, their mood, and their status. As a warrior culture, their rituals of etiquette are incredibly important, as giving offense can mean a fight to the death. And the Ashkel are warriors, even their mages and priests fight. They wander the wastes along hidden trails, and must be prepared to defend their tribe from all manner of threat. They trade occasionally with border forts, but maintain a closer relationship with the villages of the 5 lakes, though as the power of the Ivory Throne spreads, they have begun to lose friends.
The Ashkel embrace a dogma which the Saoshyar would deem heretical, relegating Arman of the Ivory Throne to a position of what is essentially non-existence, as the laws which govern the universe are not worthy of worship or praise. For the Ashkel, life is about the drama of good and evil. Nurzhan, the Lord of Blades, stands opposite his brother Serik, the Lord of the Word. They are typically depicted as armored elves with their hands clasped as those of battle brothers. According to the tales, they have been locked in each others’ grip since the beginning of time, battling each other through their intermediaries, because to cross swords directly would rend the world asunder. Nurzhan takes the overhand grip, as his is the hand which takes, and Serik the underhand, the hand which gives. Their children are arrayed about them, Nurzhan’s wife Erzulie the Temptress stand on his right, and his twin sons Anargul the mad and Tural of the Night to his left. Similarly are Serik’s kin arrayed, each waiting to do battle should their lord require it. His wives, Keres of the Sun, Almaz the Herbalist, and Murat of the Golden Wings stand beside him, and his son Gulnur, Guardian of the Road waits behind. This scene can be found in the markings of many Ashkel priests, and is played out in many of their rituals. In their daily lives, the role of the gods is represented as the waxing and waning of their influence, and can be seen in the handshakes of the Ashkel. Nurzhan and his kin, while undoubtedly evil, have their place in the Ashkel’s hearts as great warriors, for the warrior fights best when he is fearless of consequence.
Lirasi History in the region
The Lirasi are elves who hail from the elven homeland of Liras Tiniel, a kingdom on the coast of the western ocean. Over the centuries they’ve emigrated east as travellers, traders, scholars and
adventurers, and those who have visited the homeland speak of the beauty of its capital, Elith’Pal. There aren’t too many Lirasi residents of the Samarese City-States, chiefly because life there tends to be so fast. While the constant conflicts between the conquerors who rule the City-States are exhilarating to the young and foolish, as an elf gets older, their mind turns to stability. Even so, small communities have sprung up in a few states, most particularly Morghab, a land reclaimed from the Madjan by the Lirasi archdruid Isidora and her compatriots, fields springing up in what was once a waste of twisted trees and unyielding soil. There are Lirasi in Temir, though not very many, as they run the risk of being mistaken for Ashkel, and lack the protection of the Navarre this far from their homeland.