A literal translation to "Soul" in the Fiirevik language of the Nordenfiir
. The Nordenfiir are a race of near-humans from Eretejva
that can often shift into the form of a bear. Svalen is also used to refer to their bear/beast forms, as the two [bear and soul] are nearly synonymous with one another within their culture
Finding One's Svalen
Many Nordenfiir undergo a pilgrimage/coming of age/rite of passage called "Taking the Path" in their early adulthood (generally age 16-18) and venture out into the wilderness for a year to survive on their own against many challenges and dangers. This path to self discovery can take many forms and may be different from individual to individual. Some acquire their Svalen during this time, others may not, and some yet never return home. It is unusual for a Nordenfiir to reach their prime and still have yet to gain their Svalen. As it holds great importance in their culture, those who never gain their Svalen usually leave in a form of self-exile.
Transforming from one form to the other is a magical affair that does not include ripping of clothing or other items of adornment. When shifting from one form to the other, any clothing or accessories are locked away on the previous form. For example: When Queen Maude
shifts from her human form into her Svalen, all of her supplies, armor, clothing, and weapons stay with the human form and become inaccessible in her Svalen form. If one wishes to maintain use of an item after shifting, they need to remove it from their figure and set it aside for the transformation.
The only exception to this rule are weapons, armor, or adornments made out of Solstal steel for that specific Norden using their blood during the forging process. Solstal steel taken from another Norden and used by a stranger will not have this effect. Solstal steel is exceptionally rare and only gifted to those who have earned the highest honors from the reigning King or Queen. Its unique properties are many, most notably is its ability to shift with the owner - Solstal steel armor made for a Norden in their human form will undergo the transformation in such a way that it fits their Svalen form as well.
The Nature of Svalen
No matter the age a Nordenfiir gains their Svalen, they must then undergo maturation in their beast form - denoted by the color of their coat and their size. All new Svalens begin with a black coat
and their size is comparable to a fully-grown mortal black bear (approx. 6' tall while standing on hind legs). Svalens age quickly, and the more a Norden takes their beast form, the faster they mature. Their coats turn from black to brown and eventually to white
, though there have been rare reported instances of a Svalen maintaining a black or brown coat through maturation. Fully-grown Svalen will top out at sizes that would be considered unusually large for a mortal polar bear (approx 10' tall while standing on hind legs, 5-6' while on all fours), though again some may remain smaller if they are slight of build in their human form. Males are typically larger than females, though the females boast the greater ferocity.
Once gained it is quite easy for a Nordenfiir to take their Svalen form and being in it is as natural to them as their human forms. Some Nordenfiirs grow to prefer the Svalen body and maintain it for the majority of their lives afterwards. Scars, wounds, and permanent injuries transfer between forms.
Things to Note:
- Svalens are able to speak, their voices are often deep with a resonating boom
- Svalens have opposable thumbs, enabling them to craft and wield weapons and tools
- Nordenfiir cannot use magic until they have found their Svalen. If they never find their Svalen, they will never be capable of wielding magic.
- Females cannot get pregnant in Svalen form. Impregnation can only occur in their human form and once a female Norden is pregnant she cannot shift again until she has given birth
- It is common for Svalen to fulfill the role of pack-creatures when on the move in large numbers, including carrying riders of Nordens or Nords in their human form as well as pulling sleds
- Svalen have even been used as war mounts for human-form Nordens