Northwest of Elthern, upon the wide prairie there, roam many tribes. The Rhino Tribes have roamed around here for ages, trampling and decimating anything unfortunate enough to get in their path. One of those who have succeeded at getting out of the way of the rhino stampedes for long enough are the centaurs. These proud and swift nomads can move swiftly, often moving from one part of the prairie to another in search of better bounty. Yet, while they are well known, humans have not gotten to interact much with them. The centaurs often keep their distance from humans with ease, though some stories exist where a human and a centaur cooperate successfully.
The common lifespan for a centaur is shorter than that of a human; a centaur is at the same stage at age 14 as a human is at age 20, and usually centaur die when they are between 50 and 60 years old. A 14 years old centaur may still be found slightly childish by humans, if their nature is of the calmer and gentler kind. If they are of the wilder and fiercer kind, they often strike civilised humans (such as Ivelleans and Eltherners) as bloodthirsty savages, when in reality they simply have yet to mature mentally to the point where they will know when to stay their blades and when to draw them.
Their lower bodies are generally the same size as a smaller horse, making them quite bulky beside smaller races. They remain agile for their size, however, and most centaur warriors can react even better and faster than a rider on horseback. Their upper bodies are quite dextrous, making them able to reach down to pick things up from the ground and shoot backwards over their own rears. Of course, this comes with the disadvantage of not seeing where one runs.
While the centaur can accommodate themselves to other environments if they must or wish, they are at their peak on the prairie, where their appetites can be sated. A centaur clan eats as much in one day as a human band of the same size would eat in a week, due to their size and constant activity. Regions like Adrila can sustain a centaur clan with ease, but the journey from the prairie through Ivellea and the Fallathian pass will be far too difficult for a centaur clan to make.
Centaur tend to stay together in their clans, roaming the steppes between the Federation mountains, the western coast, Elthern and the Federation mountains. The centaur clans thus become tightly knit, where anything worth celebrating for one often becomes a clan-wide celebration, and likewise with sorrowful events. There is little organisation inside the clan, only that the strongest of them will lead them, with the assistance of the wisest. The rest base themselves upon a principle of sharing amidst each others, and any disputes are solved through a fistfight, most commonly. The centaur have a low birth rate, and their numbers have dwindled slowly in the last centuries, but they are still a common presence on the plains.
A centaur clan ranges from around 20 to 35 individuals at a time. It's common for a centaur couple to get two children, of which the elder stays and the younger is married away to another clan, often in exchange for a partner for the elder centaur in return. This double marriage is often celebrated with a great feast and afterwards a parting ceremony, where the centaur leaving to another clan will be given family heirlooms, many of which have been through this ceremony before. The clan's wisest will give the young centaur some words of advice and the promise of never forgetting. Then, the centaur's life in their new clan will begin, and the two clans depart in different directions.
The centaur are not very religious people. They believe that upon death, their spirits will find a new body to inhabit, so that while their memories and knowledge may fade, their souls will endure. The centaurs' only further development on the topic is the Soul Tearer, who will come to dying centaurs of particular greatness and tear off pieces of their soul, to make sure a great centaur in one life will not become even greater in the next. While this stands as an unlikely story to both followers of magic and followers of the Five, the centaur rarely bother discussing the topic and are not very eager to enter deep religious discussions.
As earlier mentioned, centaur population is slowly dwindling. There once was eighty clans of centaurs roaming the lands; now there are only half as many. Whether this is due to human and Xillidi expansion, or the eighty clans were simply too many for the lands to sustain, is unknown. The centaur themselves are largely undaunted by it, caring far more for their own clans to worry about the misfortune of others.
The centaur often interact with others, usually the Rhino Tribes when these wildmen once in a while stop to collect food and drink, and to let their massive mounts rest. The centaur often hunt smaller animals and collect edible herbs and roots, trading these to the Rhino Tribes. What the centaur get in return varies greatly. It may be weapons looted from enemy tribes, it may be goods stolen from plundered caravans. What is certain is that the centaur lean towards spears, halberds and ranged weaponry, as they as often fight Rhino Tribes as they trade with them, and while their arrows cannot harm the rhinos themselves, arrows and spears can take down a rider. It is a foolish centaur indeed who tries to face a rhino head on.
When it comes to more civilised people, centaur prefer keeping their distance, as there is no knowing what an Elthern slave dealer might do if an opportunity for an exotic beast of burden presents itself. The centaur and the Xillidi are able to interact, but rarely do so, as the centaur have little to trade to Xillidi merchants, and they know better than to attack the Xillidi Empire.
On rare occasions more adventurous centaur will leave their clan and venture towards human lands in search of excitement. As a result, centaur clans have begun adapting more to human contact, often wearing clothes on their upper bodies to avoid bipedes staring at them. They dislike physical contact with people they are unfamiliar with, but those who become a friend to the centaur will find the centaur having no issues with physical contact of friendly nature.
If one seeks to meet centaur, the best place would be Rhino Rock out on the prairie. Here, the Rhino Tribes gather often for tribal meetings, deciding on new areas to roam and trading armour and other equipment for their rhinos. Centaur clans often venture here to trade with the tribesmen. While the tribesmen find the centaur weak and puny compared to their mighty rhinos, they recognise the manoeuvrability of the centaur and respect them for this. On only one occasion did the Rhino Tribes and the centaur go to war together; this was against Chandeum many, many years ago. The tribesmen simply refer to this event as "The Charge", while the centaur, marginally less simplistic, have records of the event written down. It is considered the greatest victory the Rhino Tribes have yet won, and the most humiliating defeat Chandeum ever suffered. Even though Chandeum territory stretched even into today's Xillidi lands, Rhino Rock has never been conquered.
The magics of centaurs are not too far from those of a human, often being similar in nature. Some centaur have magical abilities outperforming humans, but these come at the price of a shortened lifespan. Most centaur care little for magic, often developing simple abilities like sensing impending threats or sleepvision, allowing them to keep running in their sleep without colliding with anything.
While centaur aren't taking pride in their craft, they can create extremely stubborn cloth. In old times, these were used as mere blankets, but lately these have become exotic trade goods to Elthern nobles, who often have them made into everyday clothes. The irony, perhaps, is that the common slave would be better served with such clothes, doing far more demanding work than the noble.