Once, they were the most common native species seen on Lath. Now they are largely confined to small parcels of land and not allowed to leave without written permission from local authorities. Most provinces in Lath have passed strict laws against wood elves to keep them from moving around and practicing their traditional culture. Some rulers have even made it against the law to be a wood elf and live in their provinces. Common Law in Lath states that all wood elves over the age of 16 must wear a crest that bares the mark of their tribe. If they were adopted into a tribe, their crest must have two circles. Children under the age of 16 are not allowed to travel without a parent/guardian. Traditionally, wood elves all had to travel around for several years when they reached 15 years of age. This age has been changed to 16 to accommodate the new laws.
Appearance: Wood elves are distinct in their appearance. With large ears, dark skin, and stripes, they are hard to miss in a crowd. Many wood elves also have horns and a few have ear tuffs. Originally, all wood elves had three horns that started to grow on their foreheads at the age of three and ear tuffs. Now, due to breeding with humans, a three horned wood elf is very rare and ear tuffs only show up in half of all wood elves. Some have completely lost the horn in their lines. One of the other traits that has been lost in several different lines is the ability to move their ears. Despite their name, wood elves are not related to elves and have very free moving ears. Wood elf ears are very expressive as well as good at picking up sounds most humans and elves would miss.
Brown eyes are the most common eye color among wood elves. Green sometimes happens but is usually rare. Those with green eyes use to always become part of the group called Baad'ta that served as priests and lawers. Blue is unheard of except in those that have mostly human blood in them.
Spotted wood elves once resided on and around the Rioko Mountains, dominating mostly on the northern side. After human colonization, wood elves were completely removed from the northern provinces and Riokos. In all of the northern provinces, it is illegal to be a wood elf and enter the kingdoms. This led to the death of most of the spotted wood elves. Those that were left often ended up marrying and having children with striped wood elves, resulting in striped children since the spotted gene is a recessive trait.
Culture: Most of the wood elves have been forbidden to practice their traditional cultures for multiple generations. A great deal of their traditions have been lost in this time, including their original languages and a priestly class called the Baad'ta. Unique traditions among the many different groups have almost all been lost as well. Many younger wood elves, particularly those that were old enough to remember the slaughter after the Kithryn Rebellion, have sought to recover as much of their traditions as they can.
Some traditions have survived, however. The braid is the most notable. Upon reaching 10 years of age, wood elves are expected to start earning their first rights as an adult. When their community feels they have done something worthy of being their first step towards adulthood, they are given a brightly colored strip of cloth and allowed to have their braid. The color of the cloth signifies what they did. Yellow means that you have done something to provide food for the village. Red is for courage in the face of great danger. Green is for those that have shown great leadership skills, particularly in solving a problem or dispute. Blue signifies healing or saving someone's life. Brown is the last and most uncommon of the colors and indicates a great scholarly/intellectual accomplishment that has benefitted the community.
The other most notable tradition to survive is the requirement that all children must travel for at least one year after they earn their braid. Typically, this is when they reach the age of 16, but some don't leave until they are older. No one can leave before the age of 16 due to local laws. The purpose of this travel is to learn about the world and then to return home and teach everyone else. This practice has led to a 90% literacy rate among wood elves. It is rare to find a wood elf who can not read.
Life Span: The average wood elf ages about half a year slower than humans, but varies depending on how much non wood elf blood is in their lines. This means that the average 1 year old wood elf is more like a 6 month old human. Some, however, will age as much as a year slower, and some age at the same rate as humans. It depends on how much human blood is in them. Most wood elves live to be between 70 and 80 years of age, regardless of their sex.
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