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Broken Lands: Elf factions

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    Posted: 12 Apr 2015 at 09:15

From the History of Loss and Hope, by Llanawi Puresoul of the Halls of Care, Chief Physician of the Office For Cleansing. 

Nobody can walk upon two paths. To complete a journey, to reach a goal, one must choose a single path, and set out upon it with clarity of purpose and certain determination. 

In the Second Age, the Order of Silver Light understood that sheep must have a shepherd, that the wise should rule the foolish, that the powerful should protect the weak. And they established a glorious age of peace and hope and prosperity. But they walked this path with uncertainty, one day keeping the ignorant in place and the next day bowing to their fancies, one day cleansing the land of those who threatened peace and the next making accommodation with them. 

The vacillations of the Order led to uncertainty and confusion. The confused became fearful, the fearful angry, and soon the ignorant and the angry rose up against those who had given them peace and plenty, and the land was plunged into chaos. From this chaos, the Order of Silver Light rescued the land, but at a terrible price, unleashing the magical fury which we now call the Sundering. 

Weaklings and fools in lands such as Virten hold the Sundering as evidence against the Order. But in truth the Sundering occurred only because in the years before this the Order was uncertain, because it lacked commitment to its purpose, because it did not do until the very end what needed to be done. If the Order of Silver Light had enforced the peace and order that it had created with true determination, then its subjects would not have risen up, war would not have racked the land, and the Sundering would not have been unleashed. 

The Sundering was a tragedy. But the greatest tragedy was that it could have been avoided, and peace and prosperity maintained, if only the Order had not wavered in its commitment to maintaining strong order. 

Of all the people who have risen over the centuries since, only the Argiri have learned the true lessons, the hard lessons, required to restore and rebuild the glories of the height of the Second Age: he who is ruled by compassion cannot save what he loves; he who cannot cut out the rot cannot cure the whole; for the foolish masses the only true freedom is servitude to those who can best guide them. 

There is hope. There is hope that the order and prosperity of the Second Age might be rebuilt. But this can only be accomplished by those who have the will and wisdom to pursue this vision with unwavering commitment. The sentimentalists of Virten do not have the determination. The blood-mad Drek-Hhakrall have no vision for the salvation of the people. The mages of the New Light seek only self-aggrandizement. 

Only the Argiri carry a message of salvation to the peoples of these lands. Only we have the wisdom to build a glorious civilisation as we knew in the Second Age. Only we have the will to eradicate whatever might threaten this grand vision. For us, it is a hard path to walk, fraught with difficult decisions and painful necessities. For the lesser peoples, it is easy, for they need do more than submit.

New Hope [Argiri]

In the months after the Sundering a group of elven refugees - administrators, soldiers, scholars and craftspeople - settled a new town here. The cataclysm had separated this 
little island from the rest of Glanhad, and they hoped to make a little home here for their people. Today, the Argiri have developed far beyond these early imaginings.

Silver Spires [Argiri]

Looking across the seas to the holdings of the disrespectful New Light, the port's stunning public buildings, intricately worked and faced in silver, are designed as a 
testament to the skill, intelligence and organisation of the Argiri. Foreign visitors are intended to marvel at the architecture, which was built over decades by dozens of 
artists, hundreds of craftspeople, and thousands of slave labourers.

Temple of Compassion [Argiri]

The religious centre of the Argiri, the street plan is based on traditional eleven temple designs, so that the whole city can be walked meditatively, as if it were a single 
huge, bustling religious site. Visitors are advised to watch their step in the roads, however, as the streets are punctuated with iron grilles, which provide light and air to
the huge prison labour-colony which stretches under the city.

Castle of Mercy [Argiri]

The Castle of Mercy is the military headquarters of the Argiri. Barracks, weaponsmiths and training grounds abound. Once each month, it is also the site of The Contrition, a 
ritual whereby disgraced Argiri commanders, diplomats and administrators first publicly confess their crimes and failings, then beg that their family should be spared any 
repercussions for their sins, and finally drink poison.

Halls of Care [Argiri]

The Halls of Care is the headquarters of the Office of Cleansing, which is responsible for organising the physicians, criminal investigators and prisons across the Argiri 
strongholds. Visitors are advised to visit (from the outside) the Great Hospital, which is considered a triumph of elven architecture, its carvings and frescoes a complex 
meditation on life and suffering and compassion; executions are held daily on the front steps.

Seven Blessings [Argiri]

When the leaders of New Hope had spread their influence across the islands of Glanhad, they built seven shrines here, dedicated to the blessings which they vowed to bring to 
the lands. Today, a great stronghold has grown around these temples, but the seven still stand at the heart of the city - monuments to Teaching, Dedication, Correction, 
Perseverance, Piety, Inspiration and Guidance.



From the History of Loss and Hope, by Llanawi Puresoul of the Halls of Care, Chief Physician of the Office For Cleansing. 

Far from the centre of the Sundering, it was not the fall of the mountains or a rain of fire from the skies that slew the ancestors of the Llwcharion. Their fall was more pathetic. 

Of course, their great palaces toppled in earthquakes. Of course their forests and fields were set aflame. Many were crushed and burned as elsewhere. But far from the centre of the maelstrom, many survived that great cataclysm. 

The pain continued for a generation. With the great palaces fallen, who could keep order? With the Orc armies killed or scattered or preying upon the other survivors, who would protect the people? With the fields burned, where would food be found? It is always remembered that the Sundering destroyed forests and mountains. What hurt these Elves the most, was that it destroyed the web of farming, production, trade and administration on which they depended. 

Millions starved, some were slain by rampaging brigands, many fell to illnesses which ravaged the weakened population. Many survivors huddled in ruined cities, hoping absurdly that civilisation would somehow rebuild itself, and perished as diseases spread amongst them. Others headed towards the traditional sources of their food, the farms and orchards, but these were burned and ruined, and such people starved even as the first shoots of growth appeared. Some stockpiled what they could find and barricaded themselves into fortified places, but these simply became targets for Orc marauders and human bandits. 

What saved the Llwcharion was intelligent cowardice. They fled. 

The Llwcharion made for the northern deserts. Here, with resourcefulness and geomantic magics they coaxed a little food from the desert. Nobody troubled them in this desolate land: no Orc warbands would brave the barren heat and drought of the place. They soon learned to live, and then learned to thrive. 

Yet their history has twisted them. No longer do they hope to make a better world. They hope only to survive. No longer do they seek the soft beauty of woodland glades, but revel in the barren desert. It is said that when they cry they weep tears of dust, but it is more likely that they simply do not cry. 

Their achievements in surviving are worthy of admiration. And they have developed an impressive range of skills. The secret magics that coax food from the desert are remarkable. Their torturers are highly skilled, and we of the Argiri have made good use of these craftsmen. But they have forgotten, in their hearts, what it is to be an Elf, to be the highest of mortal creatures, uniquely able to rebuild civilization. 

In short, for all their cleverness, they are little better than mere humans.

Alltudin [Llwcharion]

When the ancestors of the Llwcharion fled their ruined cities to the south, this was the place where they first hid in the desert. Originally a small oasis, they perfected 
the skills and magics needed to spread the lush greens of their watering hole across the barren desert. Within two generations they had made this stretch of sand bountiful, 
and set the foundations of what is now an impregnable stronghold.

Gorwyn [Llwcharion]

The second stronghold to be established by the Llwcharion, Gorwyn was deliberately chosen as the most desolate, remote, inhospitable piece of desert: if they could make this 
stretch of barren waste blossom, the elves reasoned, then they could prosper anywhere across the sands. The first settlers expected to starve, but their magics brought forth 
life, and today Gorwyn is a vast, verdant oasis.

Newyns [Llwcharion]

When the first Llwcharion settlers founded Newyns, their magics failed in the first year, the fruit brought forth from the desert proved rancid, and hundreds starved. The 
ossuary where their bones were stacked is now the great council chamber at the heart of the thriving stronghold, so that the rulers (and their guests) should never forget the 
sacrifices of the first settlers, nor the dangers of the desert.

Artain [Llwcharion]

Artain is home to the most celebrated craftspeople of the Llwcharion - the Crafters of Pain, whose skills provide key intelligence to the leaders of the Llwcharion. In other 
societies they might be hidden away within a shadowy secret service. Here, they are celebrated artists, publicly revered.


The College of Silence

From the journal of Barnard of Shelton, master trader in the employ of the Illyria Trade Council, recording his journeys to the Broken Lands. 

On my arrival I was somewhat shocked to find that, as a trader, I was directed to the dingiest, most miserable, labyrinthine maze of alleyways imaginable, in the shadow of the great college itself. In this ramshackle city I found a cramped market, shoddy lodgings, a bustle of traders and laborers and beggars, and, as the narrow streets are also open sewers, an unpleasant stench. 

Naturally I made straight for the College itself, proceeded up the broad steps, and at the huge wooden doors I requested an audience with the Mistress. My demand was met with some bemusement, but I was politely allowed in to the great building, which rises above the surrounding squalor like some giant majestic temple. 

Within, everything was in contrast with the world outside. The halls were light and airy, with hugely high ceilings supported by slender columns. Few people seemed to work or live here, though a few figures drifted through the halls, books in hand, not speaking. I tried to make conversation with my guide, but he rebuked me, saying: “Within the College we speak only to exchange knowledge. We might exchange knowledge regarding history, diplomacy, magic, engineering, or any other worthy subject. But we do not make idle chatter.” 

The Mistress of the college greeted me, also wordlessly, in a room which seemed to be a private library, its walls lined with bookshelves. She sat not on a throne, as a ruler of a great city might, but at a desk strewn with scrolls. 

I explained that I had traveled many miles, to establish profitable trade links with the cities of this land, so distant from my own. I’d like to think that it was a pretty slick pitch. But she dismissed all I said with two short sentences. 

“Base concerns are dealt with in the alleys. Inside the college we have a higher calling.” 

Obviously I was aghast. A higher calling than ensuring the prosperity of her city? What sort of ruler was this? I queried this, of course, and was brushed off again. 

“We have a vital duty to perform here,” she frowned. “When the King dies, his successor will be chosen based on who in the lands is most blessed with wisdom, justice, compassion, duty and purpose. It is vital that people understand, and particularly, that the Kartur-Hhakrall understand, who might be worthwhile candidates, what their strengths and weaknesses might be. The whole continuity, peace and stability of the Kingdom relies upon the quality of the King, and so our role is key. During the reign, we simply amass information, and advise if and as we are requested. I am sure that you will understand that compared with this calling, to haggle over commercial transactions is insignificant.” 

I tried to remonstrate, of course, but I was cut off with “Here we speak to exchange wisdom. You wish only to exchange gold, and so you should return to the alleys outside. The local merchants will welcome you. Farewell.”

Wylvale [The College of Silence]

The huge marble College of Silence dominates the wooden shacks and crude stone houses that surround it. The bustling settlement exists purely to service the needs of the 
College, and here market traders, paper sellers, quill makers, translators, spies, messengers and more jostle to find space in the cramped streets.

College of Silence [The College of Silence]

Here the elves who run the College of Silence uncharacteristically welcome visitors, run an academy, and organise meetings of diplomats. The College usually shuns outsiders, 
but at the Hall of Reflection one can find well appointed taverns, polite greetings, and deep conversation.

Hall of Reflection [The College of Silence]

The Hall of Contemplation is a retreat for the scholars, and the rules of the town are designed to help those seeking quiet study. Speaking loudly in the streets is a 
criminal offence, and market traders are encouraged to haggle through sign language. Libraries often have signs demanding silence, but only in the Hall of Contemplation are 
similar signs posted in taverns.


The Tears Eternal

From the journal of Barnard of Shelton, master trader in the employ of the Illyria Trade Council, recording his journeys to the Broken Lands. 

A visit to these Elves is first perplexing, and then depressing. 

They have no collective name. Other groupings in these lands have names, as most sensible people will – the Kartur-Hhakrall, the New Light, and so on – but not here. If one asks who they are, they simply say “We weep.” 

Common courtesy is similarly confounded. In most lands I might say “How are you?” and receive the polite, meaningless response “Fine, thank you.” But not here. Here the polite response is to pause, smile knowingly, nod, and reply, “I weep.” 

Their public events, too, are infected with this mawkishness. Other peoples might have parades, or carnivals, or feasts, or present plays or rituals. But here they simply get together to be quietly miserable. For a really important ceremony, I’m told, the most admired of their holy men and women will get together and sob silently for days on end. 

At first this is just bizarre. But after a while it gets to you. To spend all day surrounded by joyless, somber Elves, who stalk about with their eyes cast down, never laughing, to walk streets where even children do not play or laugh, where long flute solos or vocal laments drift through the air from each dour tavern, this is just depressing. I truly wish that I would hear at least one song that is not about the horror of the Sundering or the futility of life or our alienation from the divine. 

Clearly I am not the only one who is affected by this maudlin atmosphere. I found a human trader, who has lived here for seven years, and he has certainly suffered for it. I asked him, hoping for some glimmer of cheer, how he has found his time here. 

“I lost my love of life in the first year,” he told me, sounding as miserable as anyone I’ve ever spoken to. “Then I stopped seeing any purpose in work, and because I stopped bothering I lost my business in the third year. Then I spent two years living on the street as a beggar. But now, well, now I understand.” 

Today I became so exasperated that I shouted at one local, “But the Sundering was five hundred years ago!” She just looked at me with pity, as one might look at an idiot child, and said softly, “no, it is every day.”

Hall of Contemplation [The Tears Eternal]

Nestled deep in the woods, Wylvale is the smallest and quietest of the Weeping cities. There are few public buildings, and the private homes are stout log and stone 
structures with heavy shutters to keep out the cold night air, so that most life passes behind closed doors. Visitors looking for bustling taverns or late-night markets will 
be disappointed; the streets are empty after dark.

Galarwood [The Tears Eternal]

Galarwood is home to a huge elven mortuary temple, where each day a feast is laid out for the dead, amidst much ceremony and ritual weeping. As an unintended consequence, 
Galarwood has also become a favoured destination for the destitute of Virten, who know that, as the feast's food is distributed to the poor after the ceremony, they will at 
least get one good meal a day.

Dolunhill [The Tears Eternal]

Duolunhill is a place where every visitor has a tale to tell, and they are all tales of sorrow. Centrally located in Virten, set amidst light woodland and beside a navigable 
river, Dolunhill's easy access has made it a place of pilgrimage for many living outside the Weeping cities. Elves from the College of Silence, from the human cities, even 
the Argiri, come here to mourn losses, before returning to their happier homes, relieved of their mental burdens.

Ildibrook [The Tears Eternal]

Ildibrook stands aside from the other Weeping cities of the south. Far from their dour fellows, and pitying the cruel Argiri to the east, they try to stand apart from the 
world. But traders have different ideas, and many hope to drag this riverside city into a network of international trade, between the Argiri to the east and the peaceful 
lands of Virten.

Edited by demdigs - 16 Apr 2015 at 19:54
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