Blood and Thunder
The Valk are the shortest of the common races, with the exception of the Pygmies. Most are slightly over five feet tall and a Valk surpassing six feet is considered a giant.
They have black or brown hair, with the exception of the Valkyrie, their priestesses, who always have white or blonde hair (usually dyed). The warriors use long braids, and cut them only in case of dishonor. The longer the braid the most powerful and brave the warrior. They have little or no beard, because one of their rites of passage, the Blood Offering, consists in self inflicting wounds to the cheeks, thus preventing the growth of facial hair.
The Valk are dressed in leather and both sexes use trousers and boots, the most practical garments for a race of horse riders. They learn to ride even before being able to walk and are incredibly skilled on their ponies.
The basis of Valk economy, in times of peace, is herding sheep, cows, and, naturally horses. Horse milk and goat meat are their staple and they are particularly fond of fermented milk spirits, which all the other races find disgusting.
They are organized in clans, led by warlords, who share the power with the Valkyrie. Except for the priestesses, who are respected and feared, Valk women have a very low standing in society, so much so that marriage is rare and a warrior simply keeps in his tent the women he wants, in a condition of semi slavery. Only after the birth of a son, the father becomes responsible for supporting the woman.
The Valk religion deeply influences their way of life. They are demon worshipers and see demons in many manifestation of the natural world, such as thunder, the steppe winds, and the terrible plagues that often decimate the cattle and bring famine onto the clans. They don’t fear the demons, at least not openly, but recognize and respect their supernatural powers.
Valk names are throaty and with many consonants: Dhaar, Khull, Dakka, Rigga, Throgg, Vulkat are all good examples(think Klingon or Drow).
Umberto Pignatelli. (2011). Beasts & Barbarians, p. 29. Studio 2 Publishing.ISBN 978-8393179657