The Burning Game
Eladrin culture is based on a love of magic, knowledge, music, beauty and the arts (martial and otherwise), revolving around the ways and nature of the feywild. This cultural bias towards beauty and elevated thought is a tradition from even before the fall of the elven empire at the beginning of The Blood Wars, and has only been enhanced and fortified by the mystical nature of the Feywild, and the eladrin people’s early need to find ways to coexist with the strange and often deceptively beautiful fey and elemental forces that dwell there.
Since interactions between creatures, forces and even objects in the feywild so often involve or even require some degree of artistic or at least aesthetic display, the eladrin quickly found that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing beautifully.
Further, because the Feywild lacks a day/night cycle, or any indication of passing time shorter than a season, the long-lived eladrin have adapted much of their culture to revolve around that rhythm. As such, their cities, politics, art, music and sense of time are often arranged and organized with strong seasonal themes. This tendency, rather than limiting the race’s art or activities as one might expect, has resulted in a tremendously complex, but very cohesive cultural structure that is consistent and regular enough to remain stable, but inherently cyclical, encouraging flexibility and responsiveness.
Rather than writing extensively about specific associations of different seasons, the complex use of this structure of thought should become apparent as one observes its application to the various areas of eladrin life.
Any respectable eladrin will have three names: his given name, his Family name, and his House name, in the form of [Given] [Family] An’[House]. Each eladrin House is associated with one of the eladrin cities, and therefore a particular season (see below), and each House encompasses several individual Families. Eladrin of any Family or House may live in any eladrin settlement, but functionally loses any say at all in politics in a city to which his House and Family does not belong.
Eladrin families are similar to those of most other “civilized” races, with a model involving a married couple of opposite sexes bearing and raising children being most common. That said, it is perfectly acceptable (though less common) in eladrin culture to partner with members of the same sex, or even in numbers larger than two. A Family in the political sense (see below) generally includes several generations of extended family encompassing second cousins, great, great grandparents, etc.
Marriages of any sort are rarely assumed to be for life, though because eladrin generally put a great deal of forethought into such arrangements before they are made, it is not uncommon for a marriage to carry on for several centuries, or until one partner passes away. Traditionally, marriages are made for a specified amount of time (usually 101 years), with an option for renewal if the parties are amenable.
Marriages within a family are taboo, but marriages within a house are extremely common, as are marriages withing houses of the same season. Marriages between seasons are less so, and are often viewed with suspicion, because such marriages often indicate alliances between houses of different seasons, which frequently affects politics and economics on a larger scale.
When two eladrin marry, part of the negotiation involves which of the partners will join the family of the other. Once an eladrin marries into a new family, they are considered a part of that family permanently, and any future marriages must involve new partners joining that family. For this reason, among others, eladrin family politics are often extremely complex.
Perhaps because of the eladrin preoccupation with beauty and aesthetics, few marriages and partnerships are sexually exclusive. Taking a lover, or lovers, outside of a marriage is common practice, and is most often acceptable or not based primarily on the perceived beauty value added by the tryst or affair. This balancing act can be tricky, since an eladrin spouse would never want his or her partner to become involved with someone of insufficient aesthetic value, but might also object to a partner’s attention being turned by a lover of perceived greater beauty. It is important to note that “beauty” as contemplated by the eladrin does not necessarily refer to the physical appearance of a potential partner; intellect, a beautiful voice, skill in art or even skill in arms are valid factors in determining such things.
In all cases, it is considered terribly gauche to conceive or bear children out of wedlock, and bastard children are seen as unfortunate and of inherently lesser value than those born into a proper family.
Because of their long life, and the limited nature of the eladrin’s control over the dangerous Feywild, eladrin families tend to be small, with a couple generally bearing only one, and almost never more than two children.
During their first few centuries in the Feywild, the eladrin people were ruled by powerful sorcerer priests of the dark goddess Khalipanofax. When The Redemption Wars ended, and the sorcerer priests of Khalipanofax were deposed, the new government outlawed the worship of any and all gods. In the eladrin cities, being a practicing member of any divine class is a violation of the law punishable by exile or, in the worst cases, death.
For these reasons, eladrin spirituality tends towards a reverence (not worship) for art, beauty and the “natural” world of the Feywild. That said, while practices such as druidism and shamanism are not outlawed, they are considered somewhat crude, and make many eladrin uncomfortable because of a perceived resemblance to the worship of gods. This is in line with the common eladrin philosophy that espouses a responsibility for bringing order and beauty to the Feywiled (and sometimes the other planes as well), using a combination of influence, respect and subtle manipulation of the forces and creatures found therein. A common saying in eladrin philosophy is: “Work your will in all ways on the world, and if it be good, the world will never know it obeys you.”
Perhaps obviously, this sort of precept is frequently interpreted in vastly different ways.
Unlike divine power, arcane magic is common and encouraged among eladrin, and most eladrin undergo at least a rudimentary arcane education. That said, if one plans to make frequent or serious use of arcane power, one is expected to do so with some art, skill, and appropriate attention to aesthetics and finesse. Thus, arcane classes unrelated to the Mage’el (wizards and swordmages) or the Man’callan (bards), are uncommon and, particularly in the case of warlocks, frequently shunned.
Eladrin Wizards are known as the Mage’el (mah-gay-EHL). They are divided into four Orders according to their philosophy and purpose, with each Order being associated with a season and element. Wizards are expected to dress in the colors associated with their Order.
Mage’el Vis — The Wizards of Spring — Air
Deal with healing, light, birth, marriage and fertility.
Colors are yellow and white.
Mage’el Len — The Wizards of Summer — Fire
Deal with war.
Color is green.
Mage’el Tem — The Wizards of Autumn — Earth
Deal with protection, crafting, justice, law and order.
Colors are red and orange.
Mage’el Om — The Wizards of Winter — Water
Deal with death and funerary duties, history, knowledge and politics
Colors are blue, purple and black
Wizards of any order are often accompanied by bodyguards called Surr’maga (“swordmages”), whose duty it is to defend the Mage’el or die trying.
The eladrin civilization in Western Namalcia consists primarily of three large settlements spaced north-to-south across over a thousand miles of mostly-untamed Feywild west of Lake Bessel. As with most eladrin institutions, the large settlements correspond in feel, aesthetic and in many ways character with seasonal themes.
In the north, in the Fey reflection of the ruins of Adridell, on the shores of Lake Ebid lies Temaurenell, The City of Autumn, The City of Gold, and the first city settled and built by the refugees of old Ahlveral.
To the south, in the Feywild where Jen stands in Mana’era, lies Len’Levinahl, The City of Summer, the largest and third city built by the eladrin.
Further south, in the Feywild corresponding to the Kozuni capitol of Kozukoto is Vis’Antrill, the City of Spring, also called the City of Redemption, or the New City, this youngest of the major eladrin settlements was also the birthplace of the eladrin revolution.
A fourth, abandoned eladrin city lies to the northeast, in the fey reflection of the Lost City of Cormorell. It is called Setheris-Om, The City of Winter or the City of the Dead. Once a funerary necropolis for the eladrin dead, the dark magics of the sorcerer priests of Khalipanofax were used here raise an undead army during The Redemption Wars, leaving the ill-fated city to follow old Cormorell into shadow and fear.
Smaller eladrin settlements can be found in the Feywild, but they are few and generally within a day’s travel of one of the three major settlements. Truth be told even the so-called eladrin cities are not very large. Even, Len’Levinahl, the most populace of the cities, holds perhaps a quarter the population of it’s Mana’era counterpart, Jen. While Vis’Antrill is barely more than a small town.
In the wake of the Redemption Wars, the eladrin have adopted a governmental system that tends strongly towards the overall decentralization of power, and a rapid (especially for eladrin) cycling of authority within the governmental structure. As with most things eladrin, the cycle is seasonal.
Each eladrin city is largely independent in it’s affairs, and each is governed by a Counsel made up of the High Lords (or Ten’Terrae) of each of the city’s Houses. Each city has a different number of Houses, and each House includes between three and seven Families. This structure corresponds to the eladrin naming structure described above.
The Counsel (or S’erra’Tahl) of each city (commonly referred to as “The Counsel of Summer,” and so forth) makes all decisions of law and policy affecting “The City alone, and all in The City.” The exact interpretation of this credo is often hotly debated for years at a time, but generally means that matters affecting eladrin in more than one city are beyond a single Counsel’s scope, as are matters that do not, reasonably, effect all or most of a cities inhabitants. The larger issues are handled by the eladrin High Counsel (see below) and the smaller issues by the Houses or Families themselves.
In practical terms, a Counsel makes decisions by simple vote of its High Lord members. Each member, as the head of a House, is responsible for discerning the will of each of of the heads (Lords or Len’Ter) of the Families within his or her House. The High Lord then casts his or her vote according to the overall will of his or her House. When there is sufficient discord between the families of a House, a High Lord may declare Shel’Terrae’Sa, or a Divided House, which may either divide that House’s vote between several of the given options, or eliminate it from consideration entirely, depending on the will of the Counsel’s Lethan’Ter.
Each Counsel elects a Lethan’Ter or for lack of a better term “Speaker” or “Chairman,” whose vote decides ties and who has other specific powers such as calling for a vote, discerning the best use of a Divided House’s will, and declaring an Shurethsuhl’en or “common vote”.
A Shurethsuhl’en is called when a matter is deemed of too great an importance or to broad a concern to be left in the hands of the Ten’Terrae alone. It involves gathering all of the Lords of all of the Families together for a vote seeking a simple majority. With a few exceptions (such as choosing a new Lethan’Ter), the calling of a common vote is at the sole discretion of the sitting Lethan’Ter.
For matters of law and policy that affect multiple eladrin cities, or for matters concerning the High Law (called the Shi’in’Ahl ), which governs all eladrin, decisions are made by consideration and vote of the eladrin High Counsel (Ta’erra’Tahl), which is simply a gathering of all the High Lords of all the Houses in one place to vote on an issue in much the same way at regular City Counsel deliberations.
Any gathering of the Ta’erra’Tahl is hosted in the City which corresponds to the current season. This means that meetings of the High Counsel that take place in the summer happen in Len’Levinahl, autumn meetings in Temaurenell, and so forth. The Counsel who’s City is hosting bears a host’s burden, but also the honor and precedence of having their Counsel’s speaker act as the High Speaker (Tan’Lethan) of the High Counsel. It is easy to see how this, as well as less concrete advantages, make it very desirable for eladrin Lords to attempt to have matters of broad consequence decided within their city’s season.
In other words, the central eladrin government, such as it is, can be found in different places at different times of the year.
The High Counsel generally meets once per season, but can meet more often if it is deemed necessary by the Tan’Lethan.
As a tradition bordering on law, the eladrin Counsels of any level do not meet or do business in the Winter. This is for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to a respect for the fall of Setheris-Om. A City Counsel may meet rarely in an emergency, and the Ta’erra’Tahl similarly, but the latter has happened only twice in the 100 years since the Redemption.
As mentioned above, the major eladrin settlements are separated by great distances of largely untamed and very dangerous Feywild. Despite that, the eladrin maintain good communications and even fairly safe travel between their cities. This is, of course, accomplished with magic.
While eladrin with resources to spare may sometimes use the sending ritual to communicate with others in the Feywild, most communication and travel between cities is made through the use of permanent teleportation circles which link the cities. Each city has a designated House of Travel in which is located an incoming teleportation circle that delivers travelers entering the city, and two outgoing teleportation circles that send travelers to each of the other inhabited cities, respectively.
There were once teleportation circles that led to and from Setheris-Om, but they were all destroyed during the Redemption Wars.
Needless to say, the Houses of Travel are very well guarded at all times.
Similarly, each eladrin city has a permanent gate between Mana’era and the Feywild, called Gates. The exact nature and location of the Gates of the eladrin cities is different for each.
Details on each eladrin city can be found on the pages below.
Temaurenell – The City of Autumn
Len’Levinahl – The City of Summer
Vis’Antrill – The City of Spring
Setheris-Om – The City of Winter