The Realms of Evenandra

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The Realms of Evenandra

The High Elves of Evenandra believe fully that they are the gods’ chosen people. Mortal conceptions of perfectionism do no justice to the detail-oriented nature of the High Elves, who believe that even a single hair out of place is an affront to the gods – a taking for granted of the unerring gifts granted them by the Sept.

Perfection is demanded in any occupation or endeavor, from the simplest uttered word to the most in depth socio-economic planning, and the sacrifices needed to achieve perfection are considered matter of fact and unworthy of complaint. Given their incredibly long life span (350 years, second only to Snow Goblins), High Elves will take whatever amount of time is necessary to realize unerring success.

Once perfection is achieved in some small pursuit, High Elves demand of themselves to seek perfection in something greater. The pinnacle of High Elven achievement is found in works of great complexity, where difficulty in process lends a higher value to any finished product. High Elven architecture tends to reflect its people in this way – surreal spires that give the impression of breathtaking fragility. Evenandran art is universally complex, from its intricate melodies to irregularly metered poetry. Transnational political actions are taken only after strategists have projected an event-tree for every possible interaction. The only way to achieve beauty in product is beauty in process. Everything worth doing is worth doing well, and taking one’s time. Pursuit of idle hobbies is castigated as frivolous, and laziness is akin to heresy.

The High Elven work ethic is a puzzle to the rest of the world. In a nation where no need goes unmet, where safety is essentially guaranteed, and poverty is a foreign concept, one might assume that complacency would rule the day. Nothing could be further from the truth. High Elves pursue their trades joyfully and without the resentment that comes from working simply to eat.

It is thus that Evenandrans live in a constant state of diligence and revulsion. Diligence in seeking ever higher achievement, and disgust that the rest of the world could sit idly by and let the realm crumble. While those High Elves who travel elsewhere often soften their stance, Evenandrans who choose not to leave the city feel interpersonally isolated from the world, and their feeling of utter superiority to the other nations is softened only by a hint of pity.

Taking the extreme long view, one can not help but wonder where the Evenandrans quest for perfection will take them when the whole of Evenandra meets their Sept-centered standards. Scholars assume that they will not be dissuaded by the imaginary lines drawn on the map by dignitaries of the past, and that Evenandrans will not rest while a perfectible world roils on untamed.

History

When what would become the High Elves were dropped in Novitas, they found themselves at the gates of a city fortress of the Knight. This fortress became the core of the High Elven capital, Evenessa. Through the Knight’s blessing, the entire country was sanctified. There are thus no naturally-occurring undead within the borders. 

Living with this blessing created a society with inherent advantages to those living in other realms. The combination of a sanctified landmass and a people with a lifespan of 350 years caused Evenandran Elves and their society to develop in a way most unlike any other place or race.

Whereas the rest of Novitas was a wild place, untamed, with denizens living hand to mouth, Evenandra flourished from the very beginning. It did not flourish as a primeval forest. It flourished in the way that a perfectly manicured garden does. Each road and building carefully conceived of before the first stone was laid, and each individual sorted by his proficiency and passion – his destiny decided for the good of the whole.

Unchained by the shackles of individualism, fear of old age, and natural predators, the history of the Elves has unfolded as a storybook lacking conflict. While minor skirmishes have taken place on the Evenandran borders, no occupying army has ever even reached Evenessa, the Capital City, much less breached its alabaster walls. Dellin hordes pestered the Elves as a distraction during the War of the Avatars, but this skirmish is a mere footnote in Evenandran history. Given this incredibly long time frame, the capital city is now devoid of any wildness whatsoever. Plants which can not be controlled have been eradicated, individuals who demonstrated unpredictability have been exiled, and foreigners who would upset the balance were and are quickly escorted elsewhere.

High Elven Cultural Values

On the Morality of Elves

As much as any other race, The High Elves have a morality completely unto themselves. Where morality for Man is a question of black & white, for the High Elves morality is iron and gold. Iron is base and ugly, whereas gold is rare and beautiful. Iron is crude, whereas gold is refined. Iron rusts, and makes one vulnerable to corruption. Gold is incorruptible. Orcs are of iron: brutish and cruel. Septly Virtue is of gold. Ugliness and Evil to the High Elves are often synonymous, as are Goodness and Beauty.

On Life

To the High Elves, one’s journey through life should resemble the creation of a work of art. One’s spark is the brush or the tool, one’s conscience the hand. Through one’s actions one hews the marble of What Is to Be into the forms that one hopes will last through the ages, and paint a history on the fabric of the past. It is the hope of all High Elves to leave a legacy of beauty, to be remembered in story and sung in song. The Elvish have a burning desire to capture the fleeting beauty of the individual, and to preserve a spark of its flame for all time. It is for many the same reasons that their funeral rites are so unique.

High Elves view death as a loss of uniqueness. A body that can no longer speak, think, or create is a quintessential tragedy. In light of this perspective, even a corpse that has been reaped of its spark will be mended, and then encased in Amber or Quartz so that at least the person's physical beauty and uniqueness will live on through the ages. It is considered a tragic loss if the body is not recoverable or is disfigured to the point that the beauty of the body is lost. If a body is considered to be unredeemable, it will be cremated. The dead are universally remembered through art. Gifts of song, sculpture, or paintings are often the most common methods used to honor the dead. 

On Society

There are many who claim that Evenandra is a paradise. While many of those making this claim are High Elves themselves, Evenandra is a paradise of sorts. She is free from crime, hunger, poverty, and the undead. She is beautiful beyond compare. Her inhabitants are dedicated specialists that meld perfectly into the greater whole of society, a seamless division of labor that produces marvelous results. Children educate themselves in schools and temples until they reach an acceptable age to venture forth into the world to learn all they can from outside the Realms. By the time an Elf reaches the age of 49, she is expected to find her most suitable profession, join a Caste and become an apprentice. From then on, she learns from a master of her field and continues to strive for job perfection all her life.

One’s calling in life is not necessarily that which the individual enjoys the most. The philosophy is, instead, that each Elf does what he is best at. If each Elf does this, society as a whole is bettered. An Elf’s duty is to her society, and her society in turn has a duty to provide her all the things she needs in her professional and personal life: housing, materials, tools, a mate, recreation and more.

Evenandran society tends to be rather insular, and as a whole tends to look down on the younger (lesser) races. The worst are racist and stuck on themselves; the best are condescending and patronizing. Those that have not spent much time abroad are known to talk loudly and slowly to foreigners. Those High Elves that do leave are often struck by how similar the rest of the races of the world actually are, and are left shocked by their newfound humility. Some of these elves come to be reviled at High Elven society, and believe that the ineffable weight of this meticulously constructed society is doomed to crash down upon itself.

On Crafting

Beauty is a currency, with form favored over function. High Elven artists create beauty for its own sake. Art and finery are much adored.

Evenandra is the most advanced magical society in Novitas, known for the creation and implementation of all manner of rituals, from practical de-cursing rituals and the arcane technology used by the Crimson Couriers to deliver mail, to fanciful ritualistic magics that produce never-ending melodies, to weapons of concisely efficient annihilation. Those who study do so at Arcana Gorgannash Arcane University of Novitas, founded in Evenessa in the year 1276 NL.

High Elves are credited with the discovery of Elven Steel, although it was the Terrans who first thought to forge it into weapons. While Elven Steel is now forged throughout the Kingdoms of Novitas, it is the High Elves who use it most regularly, known for making the most intricate patterns in the Steel. In Evenandra, this beautiful metal is used for far more than just weaponry, as it is just as frequently integrated in fine art, sculpture, and even tableware (as it repels poisons and does not decay).

Lore has it that Elven Steel may be the root of the longstanding dislike between Terrans and Elves. The first King Quartzhammer received a gift set of fine Elven Steel tableware, made by the most skilled artisan of the age, but melted them down to forge a weapon, promptly and succinctly replying, “Not sure why you sent such funny-shaped ingots, but they worked great. Thanks! Please send more.”

On the Obsession with Gardening

The High Elves have become notorious in Novitas for their extensive gardening, and not without good reason. All of Evenandra is a garden. Every forest is an orchard in perfect rows. Every city street, every fountain, every river, and every building are the veins and bones of a massive, groomed arboretum. Even farmland is beautified. The effects of this planning are as functional as they are stunning. Wildlife prospers due to the careful accounting and planning done. Domesticated animals grow to huge proportion, as do planted crops and the fruits of the forest – all due to controlled genetic breeding. Still, some wonder if the High Elves haven’t gone a bit overboard. The Elves themselves feel they are merely trying to keep the land as they first found it when they inherited it from the Gods.

The High Elven Caste System

The seven castes of the Evenandran elves are sculpted in the image of the Gods. At the head of each caste are Knights. Caste Knights are responsible for seeing to it that ceremonies, internal disputes, and the general order of the caste are maintained. Within a caste, the Knights are arbiters of lower justice and oversee the process of choosing new members. Each caste is ruled internally by its own Knights, and the six lower castes are ruled in turn by the royal caste of The Knight.

Each caste's members are formally known by the name of their caste's deity. However, over time the use of more familiar names for individual practices have become so ubiquitous that it's more common to hear someone called a Matron rather than a Mother or a Muse rather than an Elementalist.

Mothers: The Benevolent Caste

Commonly called Matrons, Priestesses, and Priests

Among the Mothers are the caregivers, priestesses and priests, the healers and the midwives. Their mission is to see to the spiritual and physical health of society. To this end, all Septons are members of this caste. Ostensibly, each of the six lesser castes are supposed to enjoy equal influence, but it is commonly observed that the Mothers receive the most favor from her royal majesty. A Knight of the Mother is known as a Knight-Matron or a Knight-Priest(ess).

Scholars: The Learned Caste

Commonly called Magi, Philosophers, and The Wisest

Members of the Scholar's Caste are known best for their mastery of magic. Magi hold the deepest held mysteries and secrets of the arcane arts. It is well known that the most influential of the Magi escaped to Evenandra with the most precious mysteries from the Library City of Nalben just before its cataclysmic destruction two (elven) generations ago. Architects, teachers, researchers, theorists, strategists, high ritualists, and professional game players all belong to the ranks of The Wisest. Knights of this caste are formally known as Knights of Wisdom.

Elementalists: The Wyld Caste

Commonly called Muses, or Artists

There is nothing left of the wilderness that existed before the High Elves asserted control over their lands and erected The Wall. Druids are rare among the Evenandran elves and those that stay within the society become tenders of the vast leagues of manicured parks and gardens that make up the outlands of the country. Artists, sculptors, musicians and composers are members of the Wyld Caste. The famed “Escorts” are also members of this caste (about which there are many tales involving elven courtesans spending centuries to master the art of bringing pleasure to others). Knights of the Elemental are known as Knights of Beauty.

Crafters: The Caste of Hands

Commonly called Artisans and Makers

The Crafters are the most numerous of the seven castes. They are the makers. Weavers, bakers, smiths, diplomats, jewelers, masons, engravers, and farmers are all members of the Caste of Hands. The primary concern of this caste is the production and smooth integration of everything the society uses and consumes. A smith or weaver will have absolutely all physical, social, and even marital needs met by the society to free him or her for total devotion to his or her work. There is no unmet need in a Maker's life so long as he or she continues to practice his or her artisanship. Knights of the Craftsman are known as Knight-Makers.

Strangers: The Deathly Caste

Commonly called Shadows and The Faceless

The Deathly Caste concerns itself with the handling of sparks and facilitating the denouement of an elf’s life. The Caste is thus populated largely with Mediums, embalmers, spies, and assassins. The Deathly Caste is also charged with the keeping of secrets and careful use of misinformation. Interestingly, professional actors are also members of this caste. No one outside this caste is trained to wear another's face, and those trained are schooled rigorously in the use and interpretation of body language to perfect their vocation. Representing another elf in a culture so focused on beauty is considered a sober and solemn duty, even when the character played may be joyful and full of light. As such, actors are held to impossibly high standards of accuracy and perfection. Oftentimes, The Faceless begin living their lives to match the one whose name they will use on stage in order to best bring out the essence of the role. While few in number, members of the Deathly Caste are very well respected members of society. Knights of the Stranger are known as DeathKnights.

Soldiers: The Caste of Blood

Commonly called Warriors and Wardens

If the Mothers enjoy the most favor in the eyes of the Queen and society at large, then it is the caste of the Soldier that is viewed with the least. Physical acts of enforcement and violence are seen as necessary evils, almost always lacking in beauty. As such, the art of war is left to the military leaders in the caste of the Knight, the soldiers acting as the brushes and pigments with which they paint the battlefield. Among the ranks of the Soldier are War-Mages, Scouts, and the enlisted army and navy. Also included are City Guardsmen and the Night Watch. Knights of the Soldier are formally known as Knight-Captains, and it often falls to them to take responsibility for any ugliness that occurs in course of military duties.

Lawgivers: The Ruling Caste or Knight’s Caste

Commonly called Lords, Nobles, and Lawgivers

The noble’s duty is to follow the example of the patron god, The Knight. All members of the Knight's Caste are nobility to a greater or lesser degree. Among the Ruling Caste are the Lawgivers, Justicars, Agents of the Crown, military leaders, and positions of social prominence. The leaders of the lesser six castes are directly accountable to the Knight’s Caste in keeping order and beauty among the Evenandran people. Any disputes or concerns that occur beyond the scope of one’s Caste’s internal judgment are offered up to Justicars - Knights whose very existence is dedicated to the concept of order.

While among the other lesser castes the leaders may hold the title of Knight-Maker or DeathKnight, only a Knight of the Knight Caste is granted the privileged, simple title of “Knight” in the Elvish language. Outsiders often find this distinction confusing, and it has become a common practice to for foreigners to describe the highest positions within the caste as “Royals”.

Religion

Worship in Evenandra is uniformly centered around the Sept, and while good Evenandrans attend worship frequently, it is a moral imperative that each citizen consider the Sept’s wishes in each moment. Pursuit of a craft, a well considered joke, a thoughtful response to a child – worship of the Sept can be found in each of these moments. Evenandrans spend little and less time pontificating on the Sept’s wishes. They spend no time in debate as to what the Sept demands: patience, persistence, and perfection. Evenandrans are thus entirely dedicated to the Sept while being unlearned in theological theories.

Until a time when the undead cross Evenandran borders, or even until a stone is set out of place on a cobbled city street, High Elves will continue to bask in the knowledge that their ongoing achievement and superiority is an affirmation of being the Sept’s chosen people.

Economics

While the High Elves are self-sufficient when it comes to satisfying their carnal needs, they do a fair bit of trade in an attempt to spread their culture throughout the realm. Evenandrans are eager to sell items of their creation: instruments, wine, art, literature, finery, and the like. Form always is preferred over function, and thus other nations tend to prefer weapons of Terran make instead of Evenandran. While Evenandrans are quite ethnocentric, they do value artist works from other nations as well, as being a collector of unique works of art can be a calling in its own right. Thus it happens that Evenandra imports as many luxury items as it exports.

Military

Evenandra is rarely ever assaulted, attacked, or invaded. The Dellins of the Tribelands attempted an attack during the War of the Avatars as an attempt to keep Evenandra occupied, but this siege was held off easily, hardly noticed by any outside the soldiering castes. There has never been a successful outright occupation or invasion of Evenandran soil. Secure in their military position, the High Elves occasionally send out armies to assist other nations, should some unruliness in one corner of the realm threaten to expand elsewhere.

Primarily, though, Evenandrans focus on matters of defense, prioritizing the preservation of what they believe to be an untainted nation. The first step in any matter of defense is political manipulation. High Elven ambassadors are a mainstay in noble courts throughout Novitas. Due to their longevity, High Elves are unbelievably patient, often forgoing what seems like a fruitless parley with a firm monarch and moving directly onto to his more impressionable children. After centuries of carefully cultivating these relationships, the High Elves have favorable trade agreements with nations everywhere, and have little reason to fear external hostilities.

With no real reason to fear outside invasion, one might think the High Elves see no need for a standing army. Nothing could be further from the truth. With an army that rivals only the Civenite in manpower, Evenandra’s plan of defense is as carefully cultivated as its cities.

Surrounding the nation is what is colloquially called The Wall, a wall of simple stones, two inches high, all identical in shape and shade. The juxtaposition of the two sides of The Wall is startling to those gazing on it for the first time. The Evenandran side of The Wall is lush and fertile, with small game animals flitting about with lively fervor. Just beyond The Wall lies desolation. Fields of burnt grass and dusty soil as far as the eye can see, and no wildlife whatsoever. The soil stripped of any nutrients by magical means, nothing grows except for thorny weeds.

Dellin mothers tell their children to beware setting foot over the wall, for fear that the Evenandran arch-mages will use their ability to follow the ley-lines in two directions to eliminate the invasive threat. Burnt humanoid husks of various sizes are littered infrequently on the outside of the wall, daring onlookers to challenge the claim.

Those who manage to breach the two-inch wall are greeted by the Wardens. This elite fighting group is filled with masterful users of magic, dissipating archer corps, and whole legions wielding magical weapons and wearing plate armor. The realms of Novitas should feel grateful that the High Elves have kept their focus on cultivation rather than imperialism.

Government

In Evenandra, ‘Knight’ (with a capital K) is usually synonymous with ‘Noble’, as Nobles take the lessons of leadership, justice and virtuousness from teachings based on The Knight’s principles.

Elven Noble Houses are matriarchal. It is up to the females to manage their estates, arrange marriages with other Houses, and preside over house affairs. Females own the house assets. The Realms of Evenandra as a whole are also matriarchal, ruled by a female monarch. Family names in Evanandra are passed along the female line. Females head up the households and in the case of noble houses, own the estates.

It falls to the males to defend their houses and to be married off to increase their and their house’s status. Nobility is hereditary, and as such noble children are bred for greatness and the qualities of leadership. To this end, the arrangement of a marriage is a very thorough, scientific process. Young nobles are groomed for leadership and all measures are taken to instill a strong moral foundation.

Nobles preside over the disputes of those within their house’s secondary Caste, and more often than not command at least some retinue of staff, whether it be a small group of artisans or a battalion of soldiers. All Noble Houses bow to the Royal House of Her Majesty Queen Agralana, Blessed by the Seven. The Great Houses, including that of her majesty, preside over the lesser Knights. There are many lesser houses, and even more minor houses – too numerous to name or keep track of for anyone outside the walled city.

Titles of Greater nobles may include Duke or Duchess, Magistrate, Seneschal, or Marquis. Titles held in Lesser Houses may include Knight or Dame, Count, or Baron. Minor Nobles are simply called Lord/Lady, or by an honorific of their profession.

Places of Interest

Evenanessa

Capitol city of Evenandra, the “Alabaster City” is built in and around the citadel of the Knight himself. The existing fortress is of such scope that entire city districts sit within the many courtyards and gardens possessed within. Seven individual keeps overlook the major districts wherin are housed the distinct castes. There are several books written by Elvish scholars about the intricate layout and history of each district. Art and sculpture in the form of building and living spaces adorn the Alabaster walls from inside and out, granting them purpose and beauty unrivaled anywhere else.

Tirion

Tirion is a city run primarily by the Caste of the Craftsman. They spare no expense when welcoming diplomats and merchants alike. It is said that the city shines almost as brightly as Evenanessa itself. The city is designed to make itself accessible to large volume trade with warehouses, counting houses, and loading docks.

Belethil

Among rows and arcs of carefully tended trees are tall, narrow buildings paneled in carved rosewood and mahogany. Residences are built atop them with balconies and glass windows above the glistening green treetops. Dawn from there has been described as seeing the sun rise over a gently rolling ocean of trees. Roaming livestock and tame sika (spotted deer) wander within their enclosures of manicured hedgerows and deep streams stocked with trout and perch.

Firimonde

Firimonde is widely renowned for it’s wines, ciders, and sweet scents. The orchards and vineyards span several miles in perfectly groomed rows as far as the eye can see. Firimonde is a very popular vacation spot for wealthy nobles of all nations due to the immense beauty during the autumn season.

Wintercast

A region of Evenandra so harsh that it rivals the Snow Kingdoms of Gersh. The juxtapostion of the outside climate and the inviting indoor spaces are an expression of architectural artistry. Though few, stuctures are constructed from worked crystal buttresses with polished ice panes refracting light into the spaces beneath. Within the low transparent domes are greenhouses and homes built with open trellises as opposed to rooftops. Subtle heating is accomplished through directed hot springs. The rarified air is used to imbue the much sought after produce grown within with the exotic fragrances and flavors that only the local mineral waters can provide.

Relationships with other Countries

The Freelands

Seen as a wild, untamable place, the Freelands and its inhabitants are something of a mystery to the High Elves – even more alien than the Dellin Tribelanders, who have at least formed governing bodies and recognizable tribes. With no political structure to parley with (and insert itself into), the Evenandran government does not know what to make of these buffer lands to the southwest. The Evenandran Temperance League has sent representatives to aid Freeland adventurers with the cause of exterminating the undead, but was discouraged to learn that Freelanders themselves engage in necromancy.

Empire of Civen

Civenites are a great trade partner with the Elves, and while their militaristic imperialism is seen as distasteful, the productivity of the Civenite farmers, military, and merchants is respected. Some distrust still lingers from when it was learned that the Civen government was overtaken by an Avatar of the Dark Three, as Evenandrans believe themselves to be ultimately uncorruptible.

Dellin Tribelands

People of the Tribelands are viewed disdainfully, as the actions of Rannigar, the Avatar of Grak, have not since been forgotten. Dellin forces harried the Evenandrans during that war, and while no great losses were incurred, Evenandrans view those transgressions as the ultimate affront to their culture. Dellins are never permitted in Evenandra, and those that attempt to enter are dealt with swiftly and forcefully.

Kingdom of Gersh

Snow Goblins of Gersh are considered only with disgust and pity. They were elves once, but were robbed of their beauty and grace when the seal of Wahkarn was shattered, left twisted and broken. The fate of those beings is considered to be as terrible as the fate of those torn from the Stranger's arms and raised as undead, the fall from elf to Snow Goblin being as drastic as one could possibly imagine. And yet, these creatures were once elves, and are thus pitied and treated with remote dignity. These grotesque parodies are permitted to exist only as a terrible reminder of the dangers the dark gods can bring.

Great Forest

Kin from the Great Forest are always welcome to come into the fold and take up a craft or service within the queen's kingdom. The elves still recall the stories of their grandmatrons and their heritage from when they were all one people. As part of this sense of family and tradition, those High Elves who cannot find a way to integrate into the caste system are welcomed by their cousins in the Great Forest. Elves will often greet each other as "Cousin," a tradition acknowledging that all are one people.

Kingdom of Terra

The feud between Terrans and High Elves is not one that has ever been fully understood. Some point to a long standing-offense involving a High Elven discourtesy, but most Evenandrans believe that the pragmatic Terrans are too simple minded to know true beauty. While the Terran commitment to function is lauded, calling a project “complete” before perfect beauty is achieved is incomprehensible. Terrans and High Elves that actually meet each other find that they have more in common than they might have thought, but these meetings are quite rare.

Theocracy of Vlean

Evenandra and the Theocracy are not hostile toward one another, but aren’t exactly allies. The two nations trade frequently due to their proximity, but Vleanoan priests are not allowed to evangelize on Evanandran soil. Evenandrans admire the Vleanoan attempt to create structure and order, and the artist works created by Vlean’s master artisans, but keep Vleanoans at arm’s length due to their fervent proselytizing.

Other Information (Unsourced)

The eastern coast of Novitas is dominated by the Realms of Evenandra. Here, in the beautiful white coastal city of Evenanessa, dwells the pinnacle of Elvish art, beauty, culture, and scholarship. Evenanessa is home to the largest university of magic on Novitas, as well as the largest cathedral of the Sept. Attached to the cathedral is a seminary, a college for priests. The Septons trained here are the finest in the Kingdoms, and admission depends solely on an applicant’s faith, not his race or social standing.

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