Dominion Era/Elledynnë (Culture)
This page discusses a part of the lore of the Dominion Era Elledynnë. If you are interested in seeing the Tabletop RPG stats associated with this race, visit: Elledynnë (Stats).
|Dominion Era Elledynnë|
|Fair Folk, Golden Ones, Two-Faces|
Racial Insignia of the Elledynnë
|Land of Origin|
|Continent of Origin||Termalttë|
Known as Elledynë in the common ancestor tongue of Elledyn'ni and Tretalleri, the High Elves are the sister race of the Bone Elves. Whatever similarities between the two races may be, it is fair to say that most of them end there. A generally conceited and vainglorous people, where the Bone Elves live and toil under their prosperous Dominion, the High Elves built their empire: the Silvered Realm, on the backs of slaves from the peoples that they have conquered. Where the Tretallë believe that all children of the earth are equal before the eyes of Death, the High Elves believe themselves to not be born of the earth, made superior to all other peoples by the hand of their Triple Goddess.
The Eternal Rivalry
In the theology of Di'Ovyrë Ohyrda, the World-Faith, the Elledynnë were created by the Triple Goddess herself, shaped from her dreams to represent all that is good and noble and beautiful in the world. At the same time, this very same doctrine speaks of the Tretallë as Elledynnë captured by the Triple Goddess' jealous rival, the Raven Goddess. By this account, the Tretallë are said to be Elledynnë that were stripped of their natural beauty, twisted into shades of their past glory, and warped into embodiments of death, evil, and all that is ugly in the world of mortal men.
As far as the Elledynnë are concerned, this theological account of the schism between the two races that is the reason for the rivalry between the two peoples. Truth be told, historians in later years discover that there are many inconsistencies with the theological account and evidence that exists. However, to the vast majority of the populace and even large swathes of the aristocracy, common knowledge is that the rivalry began long before the Elfin Diaspora. What is known among the more studied of theologians and the highest houses of the land, is that the first king of the Silvered Realm after the Diaspora made sure that any records of the time would be gradually destroyed until they were forgotten.
The Tretallë tell a very different account of the Diaspora and the rivalry that sprung up between the two races. It comes as no surprise, however, that the Elledynnë—even their most learned and impartial—are the first to scream blasphemy should anyone even dare to suggest that perhaps the Tretallë know things that the High Elves do not.
Where the Tretallë are an incredibly somber people with few festivals each year, if any, the Elledynnë are a stark contrast, exorbitant and extravagant in their celebrations. When it comes to celebrating their own beauty and racial superiority, the Elledynnë know not the meaning of the word "restraint." Far too often, the coffers of the working middle-class run dry by the end of the last celebration: the Winter Moon Festival. In fact, most of the Elledyn'ni middle-class works solely to have some coin to spend on the many splendid displays of wealth and opulence of the Silvered Realm.
Whether the circumstances are noteworthy or inauspicious, the Elledynnë jump at any chance to display their wealth and their beauty. The Aristocracy are particularly to blame for this, sometimes even throwing lavish parties for young men not even belonging to their own families who have just had sex for the first time.
When it comes to more regular celebrations, however, particularly those of the more religious flavour, the Elledynnë also refuse to back down from the challenge of ever-growing extravagance. With festivals at the turning of every season hearkening back to the more druidic roots of the Elledynnë only making up a tiny portion of the numerous religious observances, it is no wonder that Di'Ovyrë Ohyrda is one of the richest and most powerful institutions in Elledyn'ni society, one often in direct competition with the Crown itself for resources.
The Feasts of the Twins
Twice every Elledyn'ni Year, a well-known astronomical event in the world of Sekhar takes place: the Twin Moons phenomenon. While historians and scholars alike puzzle at the simultaneous amount of incredibly accuracy and precision with which the event is detailed and the near-universal ignorance about its causes, the Elledynnë are more concerned with the Twin Moons for more hedonistic reasons. Of course, the excuse for debauchery is shrouded in religious language, but even the priests of the Faith are aware that the Feasts of the Twins are used more as justification for exorbitant spending on food, drink, and sex.
D'Sivalla Qivena in Elledyn'ni, the Feasts of the Twins are among the most important festivals for the Elledyn'ni. The dates for the feasts are typically decided by the high priesthood of Di'Ovyrë Ohyrda who keep a close eye on the skies and watch for the first signs of the Twin moon either emerging from behind the Prime moon or moving out of its light from in front. For religious and dogmatic reasons, the Feasts are so important because they serve as reminders to the Elledyn'ni people of the paradise that awaits them in the Great City, Di'Aqirë Selvë in Elledyn'ni, which they believe is built upon the Twin Moon.
The Feasts of the Twins are typically a community affair for the commonfolk, though the aristocracy often find themselves torn between grand rival balls in the upper echelons of society. A vast feast, where food is served alongside a dazzling array of condiments and sauces that make creative use of moonflower seeds, is typically the first order of business during the Feasts of the Twins. Wine is a commodity that flows freely from the earthenware jugs of enslaved creatures to the solid-silver or silver-leafed goblets of their masters on nights like the Feasts of the Twins.
When the dinner is finally devoured, the musicians, dancers, and singers abound as the tables are cleared for traditional dances that tend more toward the luridly sensual than the modest. It is not uncommon to see male dancers easing their hands into the sheer, nigh-on see-through breeches of their male partners as they spin to the feverish tempo of the music.
When finally the drummers and lutists, and the singers and dancers grow tired, the harpists come out of the woodwork as Twinberry wine is brought out. Most Elledynnë, and often the harpists themselves, partake gleefully in the wine until all things become so blurred that plucking the strings of the harp with skill of any sort becomes nigh-impossible.
Twinberries, Vetisarë in Elledyn'ni, are considered sacred to the Triple Goddess for three reasons: the berries of the plant are formed in identical pairs of clusters of three, the leaves of the vine are trefoil with a hint of copper in their veins, and the six-petalled, faintly-glowing, pure-white flowers of the vine only blossom when the Twin Moons are present in the sky.
Considered a potent poison to most other creatures, the Elledŷnnë can shrug off the plant's effects on the two days that the sale and consumption of Twinberry wine are sanctioned by the government. During the Feasts of the Twins, when the Elledŷnnë are at their peak arcane power, Twinberry wine merely causes heightened arousal and hallucinations of the most pleasurable kind to the Elledŷnnë. This hallucinogenic and aphrodisiac effect leads the Elledŷnnë quite nicely to the invariably long, loud, and fervent coupling that stretches until dawn the next day.
The Feast for Blossoming
This feast, called Gi'Sivalla Flerinë in Elledyn'ni, is so pervasive and ingrained in Elledyn'ni culture that it is considered a cornerstone of Elledynnë society and is in fact written about as an important part of achieving manhood.
Though most Elledynnë would call the Feast for Blossoming a fitting name for the occasion, the more learned among them often find the traditional name for the feast a rather laughable euphemism for what it is truly meant to celebrate. The Feast for Blossoming is ubiquitous, and though it is most often celebrated in cities and larger villages where there is a family that has enough wealth accrued to host a significant portion of the population, even smaller families celebrate this feast—though they do so with understandably more humble fare and less extravagance.
There is no particular day of the Elledyn'ni year that is designated for the Feast for Blossoming, however, this fact does not make the day of its celebration any less auspicious. For smaller families, the Feast for Blossoming is celebrated whenever one of the male children of the household casts aside his virginity and begins to take part in the culture of sexuality that permeates Elledyn'ni society. The tragic truth, as far as the Tretallë are concerned, is that there is no equivalent celebration for when female children reach their own sexual maturity.
The Feast for Blossoming takes on an entirely different meaning for those of the nobility—particularly those in the higher echelons of the aristocracy. To these wealthier, more powerful people, the Feast for Blossoming becomes less an event dedicated to the achievement of manhood, and is more a celebration rife with opportunities for political manoeuvring. In addition, the Feast for Blossoming puts an inordinate amount of pressure on otherwise-heterosexual male children to have their first time experience with other males due to the cultural stigma against aristocrats partaking of any pleasure with females.
As large or small as the celebration might be, there is one particular dish that is never left out of the Feast for Blossoming. Affectionately called Viftë in Elledynnë, it rather lives up to its illustrious reputation as being a homophone of Vifttë, the Elledyn'ni word for the male genitalia. Suffice to say that Viftë is served typically as a tube of tender meat—typically deer or elk—that is stuffed with a mixture of cream, cheese, and a dash of salt. It is no difficult task to imagine what purpose this particular dish serves, and how most young Elledyn'ni males, particularly those not belonging to the aristocracy, find the custom of eating this dish rather discomfiting.
Beyond the political underpinnings of the event, the Feast for Blossoming is a rather straightforward occasion. The night is kicked off with the parents—particularly the father—of the guest of honour declaring that his son has become a man. In olden times, this would be followed by baring the poor child to the masses as a sort of trial by fire, ensuring that any bashfulness is beaten out of them from an early age. This tradition has fallen out of popularity, but the father's speech is nonetheless expected to be followed by a sensual display between the guest of honour and the partner to whom he surrendered his virginity.
This formality is followed by the feast. Among the Aristocracy, the only acceptable amount of food to serve on such an occasion is enough food to make the table bend in the middle. After the feast, the celebrant is then fully exposed to the Elledyn'ni culture of hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. It is considered unimaginably offensive, rude, and neglectful should the father of the celebrant not hire a veritable harem of pleasure slaves for the night for the celebrant.
The Standard of Beauty
Nothing is more important to the Elledynnë than physical beauty. Skin bronzed by constantly lounging naked under the bright purview of the sun, eyes as green as the most precious emeralds and hair that glitters like fine-spun gold or glows like strands of wispy moonlight are considered the pinnacle of the Elledynnë standard of beauty. Many individuals who have the means undergo extensive and sometimes downright agonizing procedures in order to make themselves more fit to this standard.
It is justifiable to wonder why it is that the Elledynnë view beauty with such high regard. The answer is rather simple: no one is safe from the Elledynnë caste system, and by the supposed word of their Triple Goddess, it is physical beauty that determines a person's lot in life. Regardless of the opulence or poverty of one's birth, it is ultimately beauty that decides one's place in society—there are no exceptions.
To the Elledynnë, an ugly child of even the most noble of families can be cast down to be masked. To be treated lower than even the dirt beneath their feet. To the Elledynnë, a slave born with a face most pleasing to the eyes can rise up through the castes, buying his way from one superior's bed to another, until he someday takes a mantle of governance.
The Elledynnë were strong enough in the arcane arts, they were able to conquer and subjugate many other races, enslaving them as producers of raw materials and food. These slaves provided a cheap but strong labour force and allowed the more lucrative work of processing the raw materials fall into the hands of the Elledynnë commonfolk. With the costs of production lower than they would have been if raw materials were produced by freemen, merchants were able to reap better profits from their stocks.
The Elledynnë middle-class possessed a decent amount of disposable income, but perhaps more importantly, the powerful individuals that controlled the production of goods became vastly wealthy because of slavery. With wealth in copious amounts and an obsession with beauty to back it, one industry rose to prominence in the Elledyn'ni economy.
This singular, dominant, industry is that of corrective thaumaturgy. Mounting pressure to be beautiful in alignment with the standard of beauty drove the aristocracy of the Elledynnë to the use of magic to correct whatever may be seen as unattractive with them. The relative rarity of the practitioners in the early days of corrective thaumaturgy made it a rather difficult, albeit lucrative, line of work.
Over the years, however, the growth in the number of practitioners of corrective thaumaturgy has made it accessible, to some extent, to even the commonfolk. The Elledyn'ni aristocracy and nobility, however, have made sure that the prices of corrective thaumaturgy are steep enough in order to prevent the commonfolk from rising up through the castes.
While the majority of corrective thaumaturgical procedures focus on correcting physical 'deformities' such as hair colour or eye colour, there is a growing group of thaumaturgists that dedicate their entire practice to the 'correction' of sexuality. This particular subset of corrective thaumaturgy has become intensely popular among the aristocracy, who typically enrol their sons in 'corrective' programs as soon as any hint of heterosexuality is displayed.
Perhaps one of the most gruesome pillars of Elledyn'ni society, Di'Veývysnë, the Masking, is often cited as a justification for the Tretalleri crusade against the Elledynnë. Though many outside the Silvered Realm would say that the practice is not reason enough to declare war, there are very few who would argue that it is not gruesome and inhumane.
When an Elledynnë individual, who has been deemed ugly by elders and priests of the Faith, reaches the age of 13 without being subjected to the necessary—and sometimes ludicrously expensive—thaumaturgical treatments to grant them physical beauty, they are seized from their homes with no warning. They are given no chance to say goodbye, and they are stripped of whatever names or possessions that they might have had until this point.
This Elledynnë individual is then given only one thing—the only thing that this individual would ever own from this point on. It is a porcelain mask that is shaped into a twisted visage of the Elledyn'ni standard of beauty. This mask is also enchanted to rob its wearer of any free will, granting them awareness, but robbing them of the ability to influence their own decisions.
The Masked individual is then sent to one of four things—the farms, the brothels, the mines, or the army. The most "twisted" by Elledyn'ni standards are cast aside to the mines. Some of them are sent to the farms to forever toil upon the fields. Those who are not particularly bad are sent to the army to be trained as living weapons that do all the dirty things about war that the Elledynnë in general believe themselves to be above. Those that look relatively pleasant, except for a few problematic places are put into brothels. There, the Masked are forced into a life of honing their bodies and studying glamour to cover up their imperfections.