The Black River Irregulars
The elven nation of Ios has long secluded itself from the kingdoms of man, and for centuries those who crossed its borders without invitation would not return. This nation is decidedly xenophobic, although in decades past it conducted periodic trade and maintained some limited communication with its neighbors. Its ambassadors were always close-lipped and secretive even in the best of times, but several decades ago Ios sealed its borders entirely. Outsiders know little of Ios with any certainty, except that its people have their own culture and a religion entirely distinct from the rest of the Iron Kingdoms, including unique arcane techniques and their own blend of magic and technology called arcanika. To most, elves are an exotic and dangerous enigma.
Unknown to the other nations, the Iosans have long endured awareness of a looming catastrophe, one that if left unresolved will result in their extinction. The Iosans are the remnants of a once-vast empire from the east and have been in gradual decline for thousands of years. Their plight has been brought into sharper relief by recent events that have led radical groups to rise to greater prominence. A sect known as the Retribution of Scyrah has transformed from an outlawed sect to a growing power within Ios’ military and government, and this group believes the woes of this nation can be solved only by the eradication of humanity, particularly human wizards and mechaniks. The Retribution has been secretly working outside Ios’ borders for centuries, establishing safe houses for their agents and conducting covert attacks on human mages.
As these zealots gain power, others who do not wish to become embroiled in open war fear the volatility of their agenda. Some Iosans reject the violent goals of the Retribution and would seek to solve their problems through rational means, including reaching out to other nations for information and aid. Even these more benevolent individuals are wary of revealing the secrets of their ailing people and do not comfortably mingle with outsiders, though. Despite this, they will enter into uncomfortable alliances as a matter of necessity, spending their lives working to unlock any secret that can forestall the doom of their kind.