Elves

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[edit] The Elves

Elves are the most common Race on Mellus. Although they once were an advanced people, they were unable to resist the Katarious, who broke them as a race. Today there are Elves scattered everywhere, some seeking to regain or relearn their past, others seeking to forget and start anew. Much like the Humans, the Elves have no basis to build upon in the days after the fall of the Katarious Empire and must start fresh and from the beginning.


[edit] Elven History

The Elvish race was once a powerful, advanced and culturally rich people. Several kingdoms flourished and Elvish skill with bow and spell were widely renowned. But within Elvish society lat terrible schisms that ultimately contributed to the doom of the Elves. The real power within Elvish society lay not with the family lines nor the king and his court, but within the complex network of alliances and political liaisons. These various groups fought with one another for power by open battle, economics, assassination and changing alliances. Enemies of today’s battles could become allies for tomorrow’s. “All is fair in love and war” could easily describe Elvish political philosophy. Thus when the Katarious first began to move into Elvish lands, the Elves were ill-prepared for a race that would never negotiate, compromise or deviate from their chosen path.

The Katarious only knew two things: victory today and a set back before victory tomorrow. To the Katarious, willing alliances made by Elvish factions were seen as surrender. Changes of alliances to the Elves were considered as treachery and severely punished by Katarious leaders. Slowly over centuries, various Katarious kings held more and more Elvish lands and dominated over the Elves living there. Finally the remaining Elvish kings realized what was happening to their people and tried to coordinate their forces to resist the Katarious encroachment. But unfortunately their awareness came too late. Within the Katarious lands, a final great battle had been fought and all of the Katarious now fell under the rule of a single Emperor. Against the marshaled might of the Katarious Empire and aid provided by both conquered and collaborating Elvish nobles, the remaining Elvish kingdoms all fell despite valiant efforts.

Determined that vacillating Elvish politics would never threaten Katarious rule, the Emperor decided to break the Elvish race, to destroy the very foundations that bred the perceived treachery that the Katarious mistrusted. Elvish cities were razed and whole populations relocated to other areas within the Empire, distributed as slaves to the ruling Katarious nobles. Elvish records and monuments were destroyed. Popular leaders and all priests were killed in brutal and public sacrifices. Any remnants of the Elvish culture were slowly obliterated and replaced with blind loyalty to the Empire or slavery-enforce obedience to Katarious noble families. Special characteristics were sought after and used to breed within the Elvish race, creating four sub-races to better serve the Empire: the Tall Elves, the Oaken, the Light Elves and the Deep Elves.

Over time the only method of advancement or fulfilling ambition within Elvish society was in the service of the Katarious, usually in the slave armies serving the Nobles or as overseers, who helped to keep the other slave populations under control. Thus when the rebellion began under the leadership of the Daemons and Illiadians, the Elves fought hard against those whom they regarded as traitors and renegades to the only way of life they knew. It was not until much later, after the rebellion had dragged on and on, when those who were born and knew only of the rebellion, that some Elves began to consider life without the Katarious. Few groups joined in the rebellion, many did not, and others simply went into hiding too afraid or two proud to do anything other than wait.

During the near three centuries of the rebellion, three unique Elvish communities have been founded in safe forest domains: The Circital, The Duskenwood, and The Dark Branches. These communities are discussed in detail elsewhere, but in summary; the Circital is still a dangerous place for non-Elves to travel, although they are trying to be more open and less lethal; the Duskenwood is an open and prosperous hamlet, but the forest itself is fraught with danger and wealth; the Dark Branches are still secretive, hostile and very fatal to those not of their own kind.

[edit] The Elvish Sub-Races

[edit] Tall Elves

One of the methods used by the Katarious to break the Elves and better serve the Empire, was the selective breeding introduced under the first Emperor. For those chosen to serve in the slave armies commanded by Katarious warriors, the tallest and strongest were chosen. These slaves were called Tall Elves, bred for physical power, rapid maturity and martial skills, they were trained in the arts of war as support troops for main Katarious Legions and later for Orc heavy infantry. A Tall Elf could be expected to live to 40 years if not killed in battle or by discipline before that time. They were bred to grow quickly and then die in the service of their lord. The thought of dying of “old age” is only a recent concept to the Tall Elves.

The Tall Elves were virtually wiped out during the intercine warfare between the Katarious Nobles and in trying to suppress the rebellion. A very few towards the latter end of the fighting chose to stand against the Katarious and fight for their freedom, although they had no idea what to do with it. Those that survived for the most part seemed ashamed of their past and frequently would take ill-considered risks to somehow atone for having served the Katarious. Tall Elves are most eager to join with others to form communities and support or protect others rather than be in charge themselves.

[edit] Oaken

Those who were already somewhat a subspecies of Elvenkind known as the Oaken were allowed to continue their development under Katarious rule. Highly skilled with flora and fauna, the Oaken became masters at raising crops and herds for consumption by the Katarious. Hard-working and living off land, the Oaken remained of small stature and the soles of their feet toughened to endure the harsh outdoor conditions they were forced to survive.

The Oaken live an average of 50 years, at which time the Katarious usually had them killed so not to risk their work by becoming too feeble. Of all the sub-races of Elves to emerge under Katarious rule, the Oaken remain the closest to what they were in ancient times, although none alive have any memory or history of those days so long ago.

[edit] Light Elves

Elves of fair skin and fair hair, with gracefulness and intelligence were selected to serve in Katarious households. Here these Elves fared very well, adjusting and adapting to the Katarious notions of power and rule. Within the bloody and violent in-fighting of the Katarious Noble families, these Light Elves were perfectly suited for serving their masters with guile and cunning. Rewarded for superior behavior in the later half of the Empire, Light Elves were even taught minor magic by their Noble masters against the wishes of the Emperor as a way to increase their power and position against one another within the Empire. Prior to that, the Emperor’s orders were to kill on sight any Elf that demonstrated any hint of magical power. But with Illiadian influence, this guidance was slowly eroded and forgotten.

Light Elves often regarded one another socially not as fellow Elves, but as members of the various Katarious households and as allies or adversaries. Due to the improved lifestyle and removal from harsh environments, Light Elves often lived much longer than all other Elves. Although routine put to sleep at 45, the oldest living Light Elf was 62 before succumbing to old age and infirmities a few years ago.

With the rebellion, most Light Elves fervently supported their masters but as time and tides of fortune changed, a some began to look to the rebels as their next best place for service although a rare few honestly began to consider freedom as its own reward.

[edit] Deep or Dark Elves

The most ill-treated of the Elves and curiously those who became the most vicious, were those sent to the Katarious mines. Sentenced to be locked away from sunlight for generations or longer, these Deep or Dark Elves took on the brutal nature and appreciation of power from their Katarious taskmasters. As the Elvish skin darkened over time, the Katarious encouraged the breeding of light or eventually white hair so that they could readily locate their Elvish slaves in the gloom of the pits. Within several generations, the Deep Elves were virtually the rulers of the darkness below, second only to the Katarious. After a few centuries had passed, even the lesser Katarious were uncomfortable in the lairs of the Deep Elves, fearing that their breeding program to instill malice and cruelty had worked too well. No one is sure how long a Deep Elf will live, since the harsh conditions and constant struggle for control rarely permits one to survive beyond 30 years, but it is rumored that some have survived to 45 years.

When the rebellion began, the Deep Elves were unaware of the events on the surface. Even when all the Katarious guards and overseers had been withdrawn to fight above, the Deep Elves continued as before. Only when the delivery of food ceased and all stores had been eaten, did the Deep Elves come into the light. Oddly the Deep Elves seemed unconcerned by the fall of the Empire. They continued to rule and run the mines, trading their wealth and minerals for food and supplies from above.

[edit] Elven Religion

None living amongst the Elves remembers nor any Elvish history records who the Gods of the Elves were before the Empire, but in the near 3000 years they have been under Katarious domination, they adopted the Religion of the Katarious and accepted the Lord of the Katarious, whom they call Ic'atarious, as their primary god. However, with the fall of the Empire, each Elven sub-race has embraced other gods to whom they pay homage.

Common to all but the Oaken is Ic'tharious, the Gate Keeper of the Halls of the Dead. According to the Elves, Ic'tharious is the goddess that opens the veil of this world to allow the shade to enter the Otherworld. Which Hall in the Otherworld that a shade will arrive in is dependent upon the power and prestige accumulated in life, and the various Halls range from pits of fire and torture to golden palaces of delight and pleasure.

The prayers and rituals conducted at an Elven funeral can also have significant influence over which Hall that Ic’tharious will guide the shade for entry. As a result Elvish families spend all they have accumulated for funerary rites that will convince Ic’tharious to open the veil to a Hall of great standing. This is one of the factors that feeds into the overall Elvish conduct and underpins why lies, treachery, and deception are often regarded not as evil but as merely tools. It is the end goal of power and position when an Elf dies that helps determine his or her destination in the afterlife. A common Elvish saying is “It is better to be a feared ruler than a loved gardener when one meets the Gate Keeper”.

The Tall Elves hold weekly rituals as well as special pre-battle rituals to Ic'castrus, the Lord of Battle. Ic’castrus is shown respect by the ceremonial cutting of a warrior’s flesh. Before a great battle, Tall Elves will take a special blade and make incisions along their arms and chests as a sign of strength and devotion to Ic’castrus. After a battle, they will take the highest ranking and most powerful captured enemies and sacrifice them to the Ic’atarious, while the others are put into a large wooden framed effigy of a humanoid and burned in the name of Ic’castrus. The goal of every Tall Elf was to be sent to the Red Palace, home of Ic’castrus, where they would continue to do battle for their lord during the day and return to feasting during the night.

The Oaken worship Ic'erthea and pay minor tribute to Ic’tharious. They have quarterly rituals of sacrificing animals and food to Ic’erthea to insure a good harvest and good livestock. The Oaken view the killing of any of Elvenkind as anathema and frown upon the sacrifice of any intelligent humanoid peoples.

The Light Elves do not hold special rituals to any god, although Ic’tharious is highly revered. During the Empire, they usually attended the same rituals for Ic’atarious that their masters attended. Thus with the fall of the Katarious from power and collapse of the Empire, the Light Elves are adrift spiritually. Sometimes the weaker ones are known to give themselves in self-sacrifice in hopes that Ic’tharious will guide them to a Golden Palace.

The Deep Elves hold Ic’atarious in a higher regard than the other Elves. The sacrifice of living beings is a common activity as it is thought that any request made by the people of the Lord must be made with a slaughter. This belief is so fervent that scores of Deep Elves will offer themselves as sacrifice, for to be a sacrifice to Ic’atarious is a guarantee that he will tell Ic’tharious will guide them to a Golden Palace in the Otherworld. The sacrifice of others who are not Deep Elves is considered to be an insult to Ic'atarious.

In the three major forest homes of Elves, it is rumored that new religions have begun to rise and all worship of Ic’atarious has ceased becoming some combination of worshiping Ic'castrus and Ic'erthea.

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