Heroes of the Vale
Common (sometimes also referred to as the Trade Tongue and less commonly as Low Rhestilorian in the Elsir Vale) is a derivative of High Rhestilorian and is the language widely spoken by humans throughout the world. Common is also well known by all but the most xenophobic inhabitants in the Vale and is widespread in dwarven, elven, and halfling communities. It is not unheard of for the “learned” few among the humanoid tribes to be versed enough in Common to carry a conversation.
The second most widespread language throughout the Vale is Dwarvish. Not only do both dwarves and gnomes speak it, but many of the humanoid creatures including orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, and giants use the written language regardless of what they speak. Dwarvish script can be found throughout the ruins scattered through the Elsir Vale, remnants of the ancient-dwarf kingdom that spanned the Wyrmsmoke and Giantshield Mountains more than a thousand years ago.
While once popular among the Rhestilorian nobility, Elvish is rarely learned outside of the two large populations of elves in the Elsir Vale. Elvish is a very beautiful language to hear and speak and the written form is almost an art form. Bards take great pride the recitation of elvish hymns.
Both Halfling and Gnomish are oral traditions only; the languages leverage written forms of Common and Dwarvish, respectively. Halfling is rarely spoken among the halfling youth of the Brown Hills Shires, who consider the language antiquated. Gnomish is rare as most gnome clans adopted dwarvish as their native tongue centuries ago.
While scholars have noted that most individual humanoid tribes have their own dialects, most fall within three families of languages – Goblin, Orcish, and Giant. Goblin, the language of most goblinoids (including goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears), is a harsh, disjointed language. Orcish, a guttural language that can only communicate the most basic of ideas, is common only among the orc tribes. Giant, consisting mostly of grunts and hand gestures, is a rare language outside of its clans. These humanoid races all employ a bastardized, simplistic form or Dwarvish for written communication. Chieftains, shamans, and witch doctors speak and write a language called Seer, which considered holy to them. It is a language of mostly pictures combined with strange symbols. Dhungar Oakeye, a distinguished dwarven linguist, once described Seer as the “artwork of a child mixed with the scribbling of a lunatic.” Gnoll is a haughty barking language isolated to Gnolls and a few remote human barbarian tribes that roam the Endless Plains.
Rare and Extinct Languages
High Rhestilorian, as it is known today, was the language of the kingdom of Rhestilor. When the kingdom fell to a savage humanoid horde two hundred years ago, much of Rhestilor’s knowledge and culture (including the High Speech) fell with it. High Rhestilorian is considered a dead language today, though the language is still feverishly studied by those rare few with wizardly pursuits. During the period of Rhestilorian rulership of the region, High Rhestilorian replaced Draconic as the primary means for arcane notation. Most of the recovered and enduring magical texts from which today’s wizards learn their arcane arts are from this era.
Draconic is one of the oldest languages, second only to the languages of the gods. Draconic, using its own distinct alphabet, is the language of dragons and either influenced or created the language of other reptilian races such as kobolds and lizardfolk. It is speculated that the reason so many reptilian races speak a form of Draconic is not because they are related physically to dragons but rather because at some point early in their history the dragons had enslaved them. Draconic is still studied in wizardly circles for many arcane tomes predating the kingdom of Rhestilor are notated in this language.
Pious is the official language of the Suzerain Host and is known by the clergy and the knights of the Radiant Church. A language that traveled to the Elsir Vale with the first missionaries to the region, Pious even predates High Rhestilorian in the region. Inscriptions in Pious can be found on many Church artifacts and is the language used for all official Church documents. Celestial, the holy word of the Suzerain Host, was brought to the world through contact with angels sometime in humanity’s past. Only fragments of Celestial are still known and integrated into Pious and are implemented in the holiest of rites and divine spells.
Infernal (the language of devils) and Abyssal (the language of demons) were brought to the world through contact with evil beings from other planes. Radiant Church canon describe these languages as beautiful, yet alien in nature, since the otherworldly languages were developed among beings with thought patterns very unlike those of humanity. The written form of these two languages, Nethros (using the infernal alphabet), is an unholy language used in dark pacts and demonic summonings. Anyone who possesses something written in Nethros faces arrest by the knights and clergy of the Radiant Church and is vigorously illuminated.
Eth (also known as druidic) is a language similar to Elvish spoken by the near-extinct druidic folk that have lived in the Vale for thousands of years, particularly the shamans known as the Keepers of Eth. In their faith, stories and knowledge are told from one generation to the next. Little writing exists from the pre-Rhestilorian era; what little remains can be found carved into odd-shaped stone circles and ancient trees in the Sylvan language. Sylvan is all but lost to humans – the language is closely guarded by elves and other sentient creatures of the forest, including the fey.