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    Posted: 05 Apr 2015 at 16:46
Brotherhood of Kerala

'Excerpt from 'The Story Behind the Kerala Brotherhood', by the Knight-Poet, Edwin De Vantrie 

Southwest of Tallimar, surrounded by silt, sand and ocean, is the City of Temples, a port-city filled with sights and sounds that can only be described as strange and bizarre. 

This city was founded by the Brotherhood of Kerala. To fully understand the City of Temples, you have to delve into the history of the Brotherhood. 

The humans might look upon the Brotherhood of Kerala as just another splinter faction from the other elven kingdoms, but the elves view them in a far different light. In the eyes of other elves, every elf in the Brotherhood of Kerala is an exile, an elf that has fallen from grace and lost whatever purity of soul that was given to each elf as a present from their creators. 

These elves supported the Blood Thorn Queen in the Great Elven Rebellion that took place during the early days of Illyria. You’ll be able to find full details of the Great Elven Rebellion in other books, but none more comprehensive than that of Maestor Maegor’s ‘Elven Histories from the Beginning of Known Time.’ 

The Blood Thorn Queen’s rebellion gained momentum among several elven communities, but was ultimately unsuccessful. It was said that right after she was killed by the Seven Whirlwinds, every elf that had supported her fell to the ground, writhing in agony. Sharp thorns started to sprout from underneath their skin, and the bleeding wounds caused by the onset of this sudden strange deformation killed quite a number of the rebel elves. Not only were their beautiful forms marred by the sharp black and brown thorns, but the other Elves viewed them as cursed, their fate a righteous punishment from the Elven gods, meted out for their support of the Blood Thorn Queen. 

These elves were exiled from the Elven heartlands, and became forever known as the
Dark Elves

Bereft of the wonders of their beautiful forests that had hitherto been their homes for centuries, these Dark Elves stumbled into the outside world, filled with uncertainty about their fate. Many could not face being thrown out of their ancestral homes, and they took their own lives, something that was considered to be inconceivable by an elf. Their deaths served as a stark reminder of just how much damage the Blood Thorn Queen’s rebellion had inflicted upon the elven race. 

However, some of these Dark Elves persevered, taking their new, harsh life into stride. These elves learned from the other races, and grew wise in the ways of the world. They banded together and managed to survive the dangers of Illyria. The experience changed them, emotionally and spiritually, just as the thorns had changed their physical body. 

They built their new home far from elven lands, near the sea. Theirs was a meagre existence, having to depend on the bounties of the ocean to survive. After several decades, these Dark Elves came to understand the ways of the ocean, and like the Parlanese to the East, became fishermen of great skill. Trade between the Dark Elves and the other civilized kingdoms of Illyria began to flourish. 

With this upsurge in fortune, the Dark Elves began to amass their own wealth, and begun trading in another commodity: fighting prowess. Years spent living in the wilderness and facing all sorts of dangers that never existed in the Elven forests had toughened the Dark Elves, and gifted them with the skills and knowledge required to hire themselves out as mercenaries. 

And so their village grew to become the City of Temples. And these Dark Elves became the Brotherhood of Kerala. If you are fortunate enough be allowed into this strange port-city, you will discover that it is very aptly named: hundreds of temples line the crooked network of narrow streets, each one devoted to the Dark Elves’ strange gods, the very same pantheon that they took up during the Blood Thorn Queen’s Rebellion. 

The Brotherhood of Kerala sit in their city, and continue to hire themselves out to those who can afford their services. The money that they accumulate from this is added to the profits they make from their trade routes; the Brotherhood uses this money to fund the continual expansion of the City of Temples, in the hope that one day, the majesty and beauty of their young city will rival that of their Elven ancestral homes, now nothing more than wistful memories or recollections in an old book.

City of Temples [Brotherhood of Kerala]

A hundred domes rise above the houses, a hundred spires and a hundred towers. This is where sacred fires burn above sacred obelisks, which tower over sacred altars, all reflected in sacred pools. Gods and goddesses, well-known and unknown alike, are worshipped side by side, in a city of profound piety, or dangerous blasphemy, or both, depending on one's perspective.


Demersae

Excerpt from 'Across Land and Sea', a popular collection of tales and exploits as told by the ex-sailor and adventurer Quixpan Wavechaser himself 

The first time I saw one, I was shaking with fear. 

My parents had told me that there was nothing to be afraid of, that they were just like us, except they looked a bit odd. 

Sure, the top half of it was more or less like a man’s...well, at least the general shape. The creature swimming towards me had a slim and slender build, thinner than my burly Pa or even my Ma. It looked like a man, except the skin was tinged blue, almost the exact same shades as the waves are on a bright sunny day. There were little markings on its skin that seemed to range from seaweed green, to a much deeper blue, much like the markings of certain fish my Pa had shown me before. 

The man-like creature had long, jet black hair, adorned with beautiful shells. As it came closer, it stopped swimming and started just floating in the water, studying me as I studied him. Its facial features seemed very defined, the cheekbones sharply defined, the brow prominent. It looked human, but with more striking features. Its eyes especially, unnerved me; they had a greenish tinge about them, and the pupils were slightly larger than that of a human’s. Those green orbs observed me, took me in into its view completely. I felt a strange sensation wash over me, as if it could see every sin I’d ever committed, sins that I hid from others, but that I could not hide from its pearly green eyes. 

About a minute passed, with each of us studying each other, not making a sound. I wanted to run back to Pa and Ma, but my eight-year old self was so fascinated with this new discovery in front of me. 

And then it reached into the water, and when its hands came up again, it held the ball that I had thrown out to sea. It nodded ever so slightly and threw the ball in my direction. I had just enough grace to catch it, only to then see my strange acquaintance swimming back out to sea. 

You see, the Demersae merfolk aren’t all that bad as everyone makes them out to be. Sure, you’ll hear about them attacking ships from the Kingdom of Larn, but considering how many folks out there find Larnish folk incredibly annoying, I’m not surprised. After all, when it comes to matters of the sea, they are but babies compared to we Parlanese who have been fishing and sailing the ocean for many centuries and generations now. We know how to get along with the Demersae merfolk because we respect their ways; we don’t try to go out and conquer their territories, nor do we consider the merfolk as enemies. Why, they’ve probably been living in Illyria much longer than we upstart humans. To them, we might as well be baby fish, barely hatched and struggling to survive! 

On the one occasion where I had the nerve to ask one of them whether the rumors were true, that they were the ancestors of what we know as the Elven race, the merman just smiled (a rare occasion that) and continued on its way. Some say that the Demersea merfolk might be what’s left of the ancient Illyrians; no one except the merfolk knows the truth. 

We Parlanese are a respectful lot, and we don’t push into places where we know we’re not supposed to push. We’re satisfied with trading with the Demersae merfolk in their trading post of Akualis, a modest-sized town constructed on artificial islands near the coastline. Trading with the merfolk is fast: we get there, we do our business, they thank us, and we leave immediately after. Nothing more, nothing less. Maybe one day, we’ll get invited to their true city, rumoured to lie all the way underneath the sea waves and islands, a beautiful and wondrous underwater city that no other race in Illyria has ever set foot in.

Akualis [Demersae]

Built upon a rocky mound on a low plain by the coast of Larn, the buildings of Akualis cling to the rock like barnacles. This is the Faction Hub of the Merfolk, but those who have visited, return, saying that they saw no Merfolk there, merely their quiet and evasive servants.

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Dyadans


Excerpt from 'The Elves of Illyria', by the now-retired Council of Illyria diplomat, Rannir D’Quanon 

"No more wars, no more fighting" the Dyadans preach to all who would hear. "Let us live in peace and prosperity" they shout out, all the way from the safety of Dyadin. 

The most embarrassing thing is not their continued calls for peace, but their refusal to see that this is simply not possible, at least in this lifetime. Even our great King Sigurd knows that peace is as unlikely as an Orc welcoming you to his home with open arms (even those strange ones from Pax Orcana). 

"Sheath your weapons, and run out to hug your enemies and make them your friends"they tell us. 

That’s a surefire way to find a dagger in your belly, I say. 

Look, peace is nice, and it would be a very nice dream indeed if one day I wake up to find myself not having to worry about war, not having to worry about the safety of my children. But the dream of peace through understanding and tolerance is just that; a dream that can never materialize. 

Our brave and wise King Sigurd will ensure peace and prosperity for all, but only after taming our enemies with sword and shield. Try telling the Crimson Skulls or the Marauding Skullsplitters to start singing and dancing and holding each other in the rain. Try telling that to the Barbarians and the Northmen. I’d like to see Dyadans try their preaching on them! 

And the infuriating thing is... the Dyadans are not weak! 

Sure, their pacifistic ways might see their villages get burned and looted by the Greenskin armies, but that’s because they’re fleeing when they should me making a stand. ‘Each life is precious’…well, yes, you’ll find no argument from me about that. But sooner or later, their backs will be pressed against the wall when the Greenskins come knocking on the doors of their forest homes. And then what? 

I’ve been told by other Elves that the Dyadans are very talented in nature magic, even more so than other elves, but what good does that do when all you’re using the magic for is to create your beautiful, precious homes in the trunk of some ancient tree? 

Call forth thorny vines to sink into the Greenskins! Breathe life into those huge ironwood trees to help us send those Northmen and Barbarians crawling back into their arctic wasteland! These are the things that bring about true peace! 

The Dyadans now find safe haven in their peaceful, beautiful home, happy to sing and dance their lives away. But it’s not going to be all song and dance when the Zau Brulk advances northwards. Our military intelligence divisions have noted that the trolls have been supplying weapons to the Greenskins for years; why should the Dyadans consider themselves safe? 

Sooner or later, the Greenskins will come a-knocking; axes and bolts will pierce the majestic splendor of the Dyadan forest home. This will then be followed by much bloodshed, death and destruction. 

The Dyadans had better learn the ways of war fast, or risk being remembered in history as yet another casualty of the Greenskin war-machine.


Dyadin [Dyadans]

Dyadin has no walls, and no armies. Traders, scholars, and wanderers find the straight roads through the forests easy to follow - the paths broad and the ground soft. But attackers who have sought out this tempting, soft target, report becoming hopelessly lost in the woods, ensnared by brambles as they stumble along winding rocky paths. No trader has ever had difficulty finding the place. No raider has ever found a way through the forest.


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Illians

By Sanir Di'qualinin, High Archivar of the High Kings court, Secretary of the Royal histories society, Magistrate of Pelimont. 

The Illians rightly believe that Elves are the descendants of the Illyrians: the first race to walk this world. 

They also believe that the Elves are the true and natural rulers of all of Illyria. 

Although this may seem extreme, there are arguments for it. 

Although humans constitute the majority of Illyria (and can be noble beings) they do not have the long liftetime of experience that we Elves do. 

On the other hand if we Elves do not rule with wisdom (as some rare examples of Illian leadership have shown in the distant past), we loose out to the Humans and Dwarves. 

I sympathise with what the Illians try to acomplish, but I wonder if war and conquest is the best way to proceed. 

At any rate they have shown themselves to be as wise and fair in peacetime as they are ruthless and victorious in war. 

Approach them with the respect they deserve and you will not be disappointed.

Sansouran [Illians]

Sansouran is a fortress of soaring towers, built to guard the remnants of Elgea's true rulers (the Illians, of course) from the barbarians and traitors who have defied them. Foremost amongst these traitors, the Illians say, are the weak, duplicitous, effete and defiant Elves of the Turyns and Lyrians, whose own strongholds lie close by. Sansouran, therefore, is in a state of war – a war for hope and civilisation, which began with the fall of Alda Amar a thousand years ago, and will not end until the wisest of Elves rule once again over all of Elgea.

Santellya [Illians]

The fortress-city of Santellya is dominated by the spires of The Chambers Of The Lords Of Elgea, a palace for the Illians' ruling nobles. In the future, these Elves say, this will be the centre of administration for the whole of Elgea, from which wise Elven lords and ladies will command the submissive masses of all lands. Visitors returning from Sansouran suggest that it is best not to argue with the Illians about this.


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Lyrians

From the journal of Saxil of Tundale, diplomat, 1019. 

The first evening of my visit with the Lyrian Elves, we stood on a verandah formed from the twisting boughs of still-living oaks, and sipped wine which, my host assured me, tasted of "...honey and regret"

I looked out across Lanarrin, at the huge oaks which cloak the city, wooden buildings and bowers cradled in their branches, and at the delicately-carved marble buildings which sheltered beneath the oaken boughs. 

I listened to the singing from the streets below, three Elven women improvising a love song - half music and half conversation. 

As a diplomat whose speciality has been dealing with the most brutal races of Illyriad, I can honestly say that I have never seen a place so beautiful in its construction, so refined in its manners, so peaceful in its atmosphere, nor so utterly baffling. Nothing here made any sense. 

I attempted to be polite to a servant, and I remarked on the sea of bluebells which carpeted the ground beneath us, and he asked, 
"Would you go sailing upon that sea, my lord?" I made some evasive answer, unsure what he meant, and he asked me,"Would you not cast your net there?" I could not think what I might net there, so stammered something about butterflies. 

He smiled politely, nodded, and backed away. My host informed me that I had 'lost' that conversation. I have no idea how I had lost, nor what I was meant to have said. 

I discovered, in the days which followed, that I would frequently have no idea what the Elves were talking about. 

Whether musing over obscure philosophy, or engaged in vital diplomacy, or discussing the most mundane chores, they would start speaking in a kind of convoluted rhyme, or would have a dialogue only in quotations from ancient Elven poetry. Sometimes they would start singing as they spoke, and I was told that the notes conveyed meanings separate from, or complementary to, the actual words. 

I was told that one skilled in the 'art' of speech might convey four or five meanings with one sentence, in order to keep several discussions open with each phrase. Often this was done to convey deeper meanings, and sometimes it was a kind of game. Then, obtusely, they might abandon meaning altogether, and start speaking nonsense, delighting in the sounds and rhythms of the words alone. 

And that was just their speech. Everything for these people was a work of art, to be indulged and enjoyed on any number of levels. For an outsider, of course, this renders the entire city incomprehensible. On another occasion, I remarked on some beautiful carvings; the capitals of marble pillars carved to resemble vine leaves in the most exquisiteness detail. 

"Ah," a local woman exclaimed, "but of course you can see how offended the priests were when the sculptor had finished his work!" But of course, I could see nothing of the sort. 

In the week I was there, no one threatened or injured me. My life was never in danger. And I have never been so comfortable in lodgings, nor surrounded by such beauty. But I longed to escape. I would rather have been sent to deal with Orcs, again. At least with Orcs, I understand what is going on around me. 

When I left, my host presented me with a gift. It was a wooden goblet, carved to show a man in a ship casting a net over three women who swam through a sea of flowers. He smiled politely as he handed it over. The cup was beautiful. But I suspect that it was a joke, at my expense, and that my host was mocking my human ignorance.

Lanarrin [Lyrians]

The more northerly of the Lyrians' two strongholds, Lanarrin's attention is focused still further north, toward the lands of the Illians. The animosity between the Illians and Lyrians continues to flare frequently into open warfare, and visitors report that as a result of the conflict, this city has come to be suffused with a sense of sorrow.

Lantellyn [Lyrians]

It is reported by Elven travellers that Lantellyn is one of the most beautiful cities on Elgea, built amidst the boughs of living trees, its architecture traditional yet thoughtful, and the whole city suffused with life and joy and gentle magics. They praise the insight of its poets, the truth of its singers, the charm of its men, the elegance of its ladies... Visitors of other races are less enthusiastic, however, reporting the place to be, at best, bemusing, and at worst pretentious, effete, incomprehensible.


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Turyns

Excerpt from 'The Elves of Illyria', by the now-retired Council of Illyria diplomat, Rannir D’Quanon 

The Turyns are one of the former Great Eight Noble Houses of Alda Amar, the Great Elven Empire of antiquity. 

They wielded a lot of power during the time of Alda Amar, at the dawn of the Second Age, with their military power second only to that of the Illian’s. The Turyn were known for their diplomacy in the Elven Court, and their skills were such that it led to an old Elven saying, literally 
"to out-spider a spider in its duplicity as a Turyn might"; since translations from Elven tongues lose much of their poetry, we Humans might render this as "to weave like a Turyn" or to "deceive like a Turyn"

With the breaking of Alda Amar, the Turyns now stand alone, in their twin cities of Turyin and Tudeyll, deep within the forests of northeastern Lan Larosh. They keep vigil over the Parvacones Kobolds to the south east. Turyn rangers patrol the border, making sure that the greenskins do not so much as set foot within Lan Larosh. For the rangers, it is a shoot-on-sight policy, and Turyn rangers are among the best archers in the land. You can imagine why the Parvacones have never decided to expand in that direction. 

The Turyns, like the Illians, believe that Elven dominance of Illyrian politics is the only way to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for all the civilized races of Illyria. They view King Sigurd and the Council of Illyria as 
"nothing more than an upstart child who forgets that he sits at the table with his elders" (as I once overheard one Turyn ambassador tell his assistant). 

Unlike the Illians, however, the Turyns believe that Elven dominance can come about without the need for strong-arm tactics. They, in their "great wisdom that has seen a million springs and a million autumns" (quoted from the same Turyn ambassador), have decided that the other civilized races of Illyria are just "stubborn", and will"eventually come to see the bright light of reason without us needing to punish them like little children" (yes, same overheard ambassador again). 

The arrogance is simply astounding, perhaps even worse than that of the Illians. At least the Illians acknowledge that we 
"poor humans" are strong enough to pose a threat to them, whereas the Turyns simply believe that we are like some petulant child, to be bribed by sweet words and pretty gifts. 

I repeat, what arrogance! 

'Elven dominance?' They accuse us of being like children, and conveniently ignore the fact that the Elven confederations have been squabbling amongst themselves since the breaking of Alda Amar! And they expect us to docilely nod our heads at everything they say? 

I can only pity them. 

Like most Elves, the Turyns are still living in the glory days of Alda Amar, still basking in the sunlight of their once-great empire, now nothing more than a poem and story to the younger Elves. 

Their diplomats come and go, entering our lands with their stately entourages, filling our ears with sweet, honeyed words, expecting us to bow down to their superior wisdom. 

I say smile at them prettily, nod your head in agreement to whatever rubbish they’re spouting, then turn around, roll your eyes and get on with your life. Sure, by all means let’s continue trading with them; my children simply love playing with the toys the Turyns make, and I have to say, their wine is second to none. But also make sure you have enough wool in your ears the next time you hear a Turyn lecturing you about 'Elven wisdom'.

Turyin [Turyns]

Since the dawn of the Second Age, this city has been a haven for the Turyns. Since the fall of the glorious empire of Alda Amar a thousand years ago, it has also been their stronghold in a sadly ruined world. It is a place of reflection, study and trade, and although it welcomes outsiders, it does so without enthusiasm. Travellers say that in Turyin, one feels always that one is being judged... and judged unsympathetically.


Tudeyll [Turyns]

The hilltop city of Tudeyll is, aesthetically, a wonder of Elgea. Set upon a leafy island amidst sparkling waters, the city is compact but not overcrowded, every building wrought with care, and decorated with intricate painted carvings. The carvings, the Turyns note, are “What the city stands for.” Most visitors have no idea what that means.
Despite its beauty this is not a carefree place, for the Turyns have a long-standing and often bloody disagreement with the Illians to the west, and the Elves here know that they live always under threat.



Edited by GM Rikoo - 16 Apr 2015 at 20:34
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