|[[Image:|250px|Map of Tuatha]]|
Hare Bensha, Namil Bensha
|Official Language(s)||Elvish, Archaic Druid|
|Official Religion||any nature-based|
200 years ago a community of Elven Druids on Ka'thalar were fed up with local raids by the Drow. The military leaders were pushing for an invasion of a nearby Drow city in retribution. Many of the council members did not agree that an open strike was an appropriate move. But they couldn't argue with the fury of those who had lost loved ones in the raids.
Hare and Namil Bensha were among the minority who objected to the proposed conflict. Hare convinced her husband to speak with the more militant of the Druids. He was able to call a few of his comrades from the war they were about to spark with the Drow.
The Benshas left, and their departure as well as the number of Druids who chose to accompany them created a schism in the community. Those going to war denounced the deserters as cowardly and disloyal. The group moved up to the northern region of Ka'thalar's western forest. Convinced they were the only ones who would survive, and wishing to take one last parting shot at their former brothers, the deserters named the community they would found "Tuatha," meaning "people."
After the Tuathans left, those remaining had their war. They invaded the Drow city and, despite their passion and the power of their gods, the Druid invaders were defeated. Very few managed to escape the slaughter to bring word to the Tuathan Druids. There were Drow in pursuit of the escaping Druids, but so far from their city and on unfamiliar surface territory, these Drow were easy prey for the Tuathans.
The Drow were a constant threat for the next 15-20 years, but the Tuathans became expert at dealing with them. The Wild Guard was assembled to keep watch over Tuatha in animal form. All Druids take part in Wild Guard shifts as soon as they learn an animal form. The Wild Guard is the first line of defense for the Tuathans. For the Drow, unused to surface life, the nearby terrain and the habits of normal animals, the Wild Guard was a nearly impassable obstacle. What few Drow entered the city discovered a society designed to defend itself from the outside world.
The Tuathans do not tend toward the worship of any specific gods. If anything at all, it is more common for a Tuathan to worship any or all of the Elemental Lords. Other Gaeran deities are generally viewed as foreign gods with one exception: Tunare. Even Tuathans who do not choose to worship her express a sincere reverence for Tunare. After all, she's reported to have created Wood Elves, and gods with nature-friendly agendas are always welcome.
The Tuathans are nothing if not isolationist. It is a young Druid subculture, especially for one comprised mainly of Elves. Thus their isolationism has had little past opportunity to be tempered by the influence of other cultures. Non-Druid outsiders who encounter the settlement without the permission of the council are generally not seen again on the outside.
Regardless of the intentions or origin of the intruder, he or she becomes a member of the lowest stratum of Tuathan society-- a slave. If the recently-acquired slave had come to speak on diplomatic terms with the Tuathans, they must generally find a representative (usually their current master) to bring their manumission before the council. This doesn't tend to be a lengthy process unless one Druid applies for the manumission of a slave belonging to someone else. Then the council must decide based on a simple majority. Factors under consideration include treatment of the slave by its current owner, the character of the slave, and a comparison between the current contribution of the slave versus their potential contribution as a free resident.
If the slave is free, they may then try to get an audience with Hare Bensha, or they may attempt to find a Druid to bring greater issues before the council. Needless to say, it's usually wiser to try and send word ahead of any visits. At the very least the visitor had better drop some pretty impressive names to the Wild Guard if they want to escape the red tape and general frustration of enslavement. For ordinary visitors who arrive in Tuatha by accident or come out of curiosity, the outcome is a little less open. The visitor is held for a couple days until a Druid comes forward with a request for a new slave. No payment is required, just proof of need.
Slaves are used for anything from agricultural labor to city maintenance to menial jobs as assistants to local craftsmen. Free residents do not own slaves, as only Druids are officially perceived as having the emotional distance to treat slaves humanely but firmly. Slaves are not permitted to marry Druids or free residents, though if a slave is manumitted they become a free resident and may marry anyone but a slave. A slave who accepts manumission as a precursor to a cross-class marriage must marry their intended or he/she forfeits the manumission.
Future of Tuatha
Tuathan society is in line for change, however. They have had some indication of this for a very long time. About 20 years after the Tuathans organized, a seer communing with the gods brought a vision to the council.
There will be an individual who will carry the Tuathans ahead to rival their foes and awe those who would befriend them. She will rise from nature itself to bless her people with a generation of leaders.
Years later (but not such a long time for Elves) such a person was apparently found. One night the Wild Guard, but more specifically Namil Bensha, found an Elven child in a den of foxes. The child was brought before an emergency meeting of the Druid council. They elected that primary care of the child be given to the Benshas, but it was made clear she was the daughter of the community, not of Hare and Namil. She was not given the surname of any Tuathan family. Her surname Volpecula was more of a title and an allusion to her origins. Yadali Volpecula's fox family was welcomed by the Tuathans as an expression of the sacred bond between themselves and their environment. Yadali herself is rarely seen without at least one of them by her side.
At a young age Yadali was already breaking down barriers between the Tuathans and other Druid communities. Many Druids who know nothing of Tuatha nevertheless know the name Yadali. The enthusiastic if somewhat erratic girl brought her people further into the public view when she started following a group of adventurers who were visiting a nearby Druid village. Their names were Rildyn, Ardam Elmine, Corrigan Heavensent, and Myrnal Shalienza. She followed them for a couple of weeks but didn't see any reason to make her presence known until the group was in combat with a prismatic dragon. The opportunity was too interesting to pass up. She threw her lot in with them, and found that outsiders can be a lot of fun when they used their magic to help her in the fight. She did fully intend to keep her distance, but when she simply waved goodbye and started off again, the adventurers insisted on knowing who she was.
Yadali's subsequent involvement with these people marked the first collaborative effort between the Tuathans and anyone else at all. She helped in the battle to stop a necromancer from taking control of the area. Aware that her people had a stake in the conflict (and a deep-seated hatred of all undead), Yadali offered their services to the Doman military as guides and supplemental troops. General Hakaril Silvar was able to persuade the Tuathan forces to participate, and Yadali's passion for Volt Cola prompted trade agreements between the Druids and an Enchufan inventor named Chandler Sablemech.
The latest diplomatic effort by the Tuathans was spurred by the destruction of the Jade Dragon Inn. Yadali and Kerov Altec traveled back to Ka'thalar to recruit Tuathan craftsmen for the purposes of rebuilding the inn.
Tuatha is currently in a difficult transition between their former isolationism and the potential gains of political involvement overseas. Yadali's influence, tempered by the careful diplomacy of Hare Bensha, will probably lead to some changes in official policy.