At one time, the Talírith were visible in all the lands north of the Burning Waste; regarded with mixed amounts of suspicion, awe and resentment. All this slowly changed five hundred years ago with the last convergence of the moons. An unprecedented amount of damage resulted in the last shred of faith people had in the Talírith to wisp away. They figured that with all there supposed wisdom and piety, the Talírith should have been able to do something. Instead, the convergence went as expected and millions died, humans and Talírith alike. Fed up with broken promises of salvation and peace, the Sadiri, Thannist and Freeland nations forcibly ejected the Talírith from their lands until a time when they were lost to common memory; existing only in a few fairy tales and derided legends as sanctimonious, impotent, foolish ghosts.
Now, and for the last three hundred years, the Talírith have been restricted to a small territory in the far west of the Freelands, living amongst the handful of people who believe in what they have to say. This nation, known commonly as the Tal Protectorate, is a haven of peace and enlightenment. Despite it once being a wasteland, unwanted by even the vagabonds of other lands, the Tal Protectorate has become a fertile, well-settled land, free of war, strife, and famine. All who accept the Talírith ways are welcome and given a way to contribute. Those who come simply for an easier life in a more prosperous land are regrettably turned away until they renounce the ways of the outside world.
Although the people of the Protectorate are a happy lot, they are still aware of the problems of the Warlands (as they call the outside world) and do what they can to relieve them. For some, this means contributing various needed goods in times of struggle. For others it means travelling on missions into the Warlands where they do what they can to directly help by providing healing and education. Rarely do these brave folks travel openly for they are as slighted as the Talírith. Instead they go under the guise of regular people, working in secret, silently teaching their ways through action.
Central to Talírith existence is their knowledge (belief?) of the Vassi, the eternal, universal soul. All life is a manifestation of this force, from the lowliest insect to the Emperor of the Sadiri Empire. An act of against one life affects all.
For the Talírith, the Vassi is a palpable energy, infusing all of their senses every moment of their existence. For their followers it is more of a metaphysical idea, they themselves lacking the ability to sense it, although it remains no less real. For the Sharithítal, it falls somewhere in between; they can feel itís effects but cannot sense it directly. For this reason, they cannot harm another life intentionally; for them it would be as if taking a knife to themselves.
Long ago having foregone their ability to reproduce, the Talírith are a dying people. Their lifespans are long but far from indefinite, and, having accepted this, find little reason to dwell on this. Instead, realizing their fading existence, they have found a way to merge their spirits with that of a willing host. The number of human symbioses, or SharithíTal as they are known, grows steadily with each passing Talírith and for the most part, carry on as they did before, proponents of life, freedom and prosperity. These individuals inherit the reciprocal knowledge of the Vassi from the Talírith who inhabit them, elevating their benevolence accordingly.
Amongst the Talírith there are a few who do not share the common belief. This group, known as the Apostasy, have seen the world for what it is and they do not believe pacivity is the way to deal with it. Instead (although still restricted by their sense of the Vassi) they seek to undermine the causes of violence in the world. In doing so, they recruit humans with similar beliefs to accomplish what they canít; the infliction of harm upon others in attempts to further the greater good. This carries over to any human they inhabit after their passing; the Sharithítal they become being the ultimate culmination of the Apostate. They gain the ability to act directly to achieve their ends, sometimes overriding the hostís personality.
Serving more as a deterrent than anything else, the fighters for the Tal Protectorate make-up a large portion of the missions into the Warlands. Their presence ensures the safety of their parties while travelling and once arrived they provide much needed assistance to the healers. As such, all Tal fighters know how to dress wounds and give moderate healing.
Their lot is a difficult one due to the nature of the Protectorate and the Talírith who loathe violence. In order for them to be successful, they must constantly keep themselves in check. A moment of hot-headedness can cost them a lifetime of devotion and self-respect. This restraint causes them much trouble; both from their fellows and, more importantly, themselves. A Tal warrior who strikes out in anger will forever lose the trust of his companions and himself. One who kills, no matter how noble the cause, will invariably sink into madness, despite all efforts to pull him out, whether from within himself or by the Tal. To prevent this from happening, Tal fighters do whatever they must. Many chose to meditate for at least an hour a day, to reconcile the needs of the world with their own actions within it. But even those who donít, train themselves not to harm more than necessary. Lassos, nets, staves and body are all used before any potentially lethal weapon as well as many non-physical mean to avoid combat (a mission will sacrifice all excess possessions, except those for the aid of others, before entering into a physical conflict, among other things). When they must fight, they always seek to disarm before disable, disable before harm.
After battle, all members tend to the wounded in order of severity, enemiesí side or their own. Any dead are buried and prayed to for their forgiveness.
Forming an elite class of wilderness rangers are the Tal Striders. With speed and stealth on their side, they venture across Rhischal tending to all life. Although they maintain formal allegiance to the Protectorate, few live within its boundaries, aware the Tal will protect its life on its own. Instead, they venture through the Warlands in places where man has not yet tread or is just beginning to venture into. Whenever possible, they attempt to assist settlers in creating sustainable community, knowing well the destruction that has occurred under the hand of civilization. However, when this fails, the Striders will not hesitate to protect life that cannot protect itself.
Because their allegiance to the Talírith grows thin with distance, isolation and necessity, the Striders do not always share the same beliefs. More turn to the Apostasy the more they witness the destruction wrought by man. These rangers will not hesitate to harm humans if they are left with no other options. For these reasons, Tal rangers do not suffer the same penalties, as fighters will for doing the same things. This does not mean that they enjoy killing; quite the opposite. In order to deal with the difficulties they face, both physical and spiritual, Striders often meditate for several hours a day and fast during the last week of the year. This annual reflection ensures their belief in the demand of their actions by the world. By abstaining from food they reaffirm the tangibility of hunger and strife, and the need to quash it when it arises. If a Strider fails to observe this ritual, they will abandon their lifestyle permanently, knowing that what they have done has not been with a pure heart.
Tal philosophy forbids a champion of their cause to fight; violence is never praised in their society.
As in touch with the Vassi as any human can be, the priests of the Tal Protectorate are the pinnacles of their culture. Serving as healers, spiritual and communal leaders, and the intermediaries to the Talírith, the priests keep the faith alive in the hearts of their people. Always, the Tal priests lead the missions into the Warlands, knowing how and the best way to help. It is their faith that keeps everyone else together and prevents them from losing hope.
Unparalleled as healers, the Tal priests have both an arsenal of healing lore and spiritual aid. Their affinity with the Vassi allows them to restore dwindling life in all living things. For the same reason, they can NEVER bring anyone back who has returned to the Vassi, to do so would be heinously unnatural and would tear the Vassi apart. But, besides from that, no matter how far gone someone is they can revive them. However, because they use their own part of the Vassi to work their healing, they tire easily from it. This diminishes as they grow in ability but if they are not careful they can easily lose themselves while treating a patient.
Note: Tal priests cannot cure diseases of any kind, to do so would be harming the bacteria and thus the Vassi.
Although magic and the Vassi are unrelated, the two can still coexist equally; the Tal Mages are an example of this. Somewhat misunderstood by the Talírith (the Talírith have no understanding of Magic despite their advanced nature) the mages still get along with them amiably. They have proven once and again that magic does not harm the Vassi and can in fact be quite helpful in friendly hands and have thus earned themselves a place in the Protectorate. This has led to the founding of one of the finest schools of magic (next of course to the Thishan Academy in West Sadir) and many smaller townships who host teachers. Education is free for those who wish to attend (no one is ever forced) and have the natural aptitude. For this reason, students flock from the Freelands and even as far as the Kingship and Sadir to attempt to gain entry. Regrettably, most of these are turned away as many of their hearts are clouded and unwilling to accept the Vassi. Still, a handful does get in who are then welcomed as part of the society.
Often serving as messengers and protectors of the Tal missions, mages generally only know informative magic or, at most, defensive magic. There are however a few who have lost their place in the Protectorate the same way as some fighters by innovatively using their magic and accidentally causing a death.
Bearing little resemblance to their counterparts in other nations, the rogues of the Tal Protectorate carry the same moral codes of the rest of their people. Because stealing does not inherently harm others, a handful put this to use, mostly in the Warlands to aid others however. The rest of their abilities come in handy in the more civilized areas of the Warlands, their stealth and keen senses providing many easy ways around difficulties.