Children of the Elves
A tool of the extinct elves, hokhala are now sentient plant beings that seek to bring the world more stability and expand their verdant forests. Always exploring the leavings of their creators, the hokhala see themselves as the legacy of elves. Perhaps one day they will discover what truly took their creators away from the world.
When the elves came to Theia, they had to adapt to their new world – one quite different from their old. They were, as ever, drawn to trees and forests. As they learned to manage viiz, they realized there was a need to extract it in a sustainable way, a way which fit with their beliefs and would strengthen the forest. The obvious answer was to use plants. They magically modified a plant to extract viiz from its surroundings without causing harm. These plants helped the elves grow their civilization. When the elves were extinguished by a god of their own creation, the plants continued to grow in the ruins – with none to harvest them.
Until that is, the cataclysm struck. The storms of magic interacted with the viiz the hokhala were still accumulating in leaf and stem – and awakened them to sentience. They came to be in the ruins – and promptly turned their attention to solving the mystery of their own origins and who made the lost woodland cities. Most of the hokhala, on discovering that they were created by a dead race, chose to see themselves as that race’s inheritors – the only children the elves had left. Calling themselves the “Firstborn,” they shapeshifted into the form of elves, albeit still as green as the plants they were. They adapted elvish language and script. The elves had left magic lore, everything except the names of their gods – for those, of course, had been erased by the dragons so that nobody would again provoke the godkiller. They studied that magic, learned to use it, and understood the circumstances of their own birth.
Two other factions formed – the “Dreamchildren,” who believed they were literally the receptacles of elven souls and the “Wildborn” – who rejected the idea of being inheritors of the elves, retained their primal shapes and separated themselves to create their own civilization.
All three, though, found that they had a problem: The hokhala did not produce seedlings that were sentient. With no true knowledge of their lifespan, they devoted themselves to their first great work. They discovered a way to create new hokhala by using powerful magic items – but this meant children were rare and precious. They kept careful track of the items they found in their forest, but they knew there was a limit. They would need to find…or make…more.
Lyrata grew into a nation of equals – the hokhala had no kings or chiefs and involved everyone in decision making. All hokhala, that is. Lyrata remains a peaceful, old kingdom.
Physically, most hokhala (with the exception of Wildborn), resemble green-skinned elves, their hair usually a darker shade of green than the rest of their body and often worn long. Hokhala do not, however, have sexes in the way humans or elves do. An individual hokhala may appear as male, female, or some combination of the two. Those with a lot of dealings with the outside world tend to have a more binary appearance because they have noticed that humanoids seem to be uncomfortable with things outside that norm, but “male” and “female” tend to be rather arbitrary concepts that hokhala see as of little importance. In fact, some hokhala may change from male to female or neither at some point in their life. It is also far from unknown for leaves to grow from random points on a hokhala’s body.
Wildborn hokhala resemble mobile plants or trees, with multiple flexible branches used instead of hands. However, their form is not fixed in the way of those who choose to walk as “elves.” A wildborn hokhala can easily take a humanoid appearance – and they often do if they interact with others. In general, wildborn take human form, but they may also duplicate whichever species they are talking to – which can be disconcerting. This is only an outward appearance, however, giving the hokhala no benefits (or drawbacks) of the chosen form.
Although the hokhala are plants, if they take humanoid form they will need to eat and sleep, although their sleep requirements are low, especially when compared to humans and they eat less than most – they do provide some of their energy needs, especially sugars, through photosynthesis. Because of this, hokhala tend not to have a sweet tooth – they prefer salty and sour flavors. They are immune or resistant to some magical effects, most especially sleep effects. A hokhala kept away from sunlight for extended periods will wither – and eventually die – magical light may be able to mitigate this, but hokhala are generally ill-suited to spending long periods of time underground.
Hokhala are unable to naturally reproduce. Although they produce pollen and seeds, the result are non-sentient mobile plants, part of the migrating forests of Lyrata. In order to create a hokhala offspring, the seed has to be infused with a large amount of viiz, normally produced by the use (and often destruction) of a powerful magical artifact.
The magic that creates a hokhala is held in their Soulseed. If a hokhala is killed, then the Soulseed can be recovered and returned to the forest, where their soul can enter into the network of ancestor trees, to continue to exist amongst the others who have passed. In rare cases, a hokhala can be reborn from their Soulseed – this takes a lot of effort and viiz and is generally a privilege reserved for those who have made or are needed to make particularly important contributions to society. In a few cases, hokhala have been pulled back out of the ancestor trees into a physical form in order to perform some important task.
Hokhala do not age and die the same way other races do. Instead, they enter senescence, their mind becoming less focused on the physical world and more on abstract concepts. When they no longer have the desire to remain physical, most hokhala choose to die and enter the network from their seeds. A few, often individuals of great willpower, instead allow the process to complete, becoming the most important of the ancestor trees.