Elves are one of the many races of the Blessed Living present in the world of Sidereus. Also called Soeli'ari, Elves are the creation of Aarûn, and are the First Born race of the Blessed Living. The Iron Elves are something of an exception to this standard, as they are outcasts from the divine light of Aarûn.
Unearthly beauty, treachery, betrayal and deception; these are all touchstones of the otherworldly society and culture of the Iron Elves. Immortal as their surface-dwelling cousins, the Iron Elves find their home deep beneath the surface of Sidereus, in natural caves and catacombs that have been magically bent and transformed over time into the strange realm known as Alla’hämärä. To surface dwellers, the strange and cavernous realm that sits even below the grandiose halls of the mighty Gûndre kings is known as “the Abyss”. Unlike the other races of the Blessed Living, the Iron elves were not created by a deity, or led into their nefarious and cursed existence by the hand of a god. Instead, the Iron Elves are the true evidence of the freedom of choice given to those members of the Blessed Living of Sidereus, as their lot as a culture was drawn by their own design. Created by the god Aarûn early in the first age, all of the various sub-races of the Soeli’ari, or Elves, were drawn from the essence of precious metals and given the immortal light of the stars within their very souls.
The most notable feature of the Iron Elves is their stunning intellect and their remarkable agility and dexterity. While the latter is shared with their surface kin, the former is something that seems to be unique to the Iron Elven people. Iron Elves spend their entire lives honing their various skills and talents to perfection, as their society is one that is bent on hedonism, competition, and cunning. Since the curse of necromantic corruption runs through their blood, and in fact their very genetic heritage, Iron Elves are all cursed with ghostly white or grey skin. The arts of necromancy and demonology are considered basic arcane sciences in Iron Elven culture and in these arts the Iron Elves are practiced and beyond compare in terms of skill and accomplishment.
Iron Elves are distinctive aside from their strange skin, for they are also cursed with a lack of pigmentation in their hair and eyes. Iron elves tend to have very pale eyes, and white or blond hair. However, they will frequently dye their hair, and eye colors do tend to vary to very dark depending on ancestry. Study and practice are considered absolutely essential to the life of an Iron Elf. From a very young age, Iron Elven children are enrolled in an appropriate academy to study their craft, which is chosen for them by their family based on close observation of their talents, and often with the aid of divinatory magic. Thanks to their necromantic corruption, long since imbued into their history, Iron Elves are commonly resistant to death magic, disease and enchantments. While Iron Elf mages are well known across Sidereus for their skill and cruelty, Iron Elven warriors are beyond compare in their grace and skill, and can be a terror to behold. However, despite these cultural distinctions, the one thing that separates Iron Elves from their surface-dwelling kin is their treacherous intent and self-centered and mercenary motivations.
The evolution of the Iron Elves from the proud and honorable people to whom they are related, to the depraved and vice-ridden culture that now consumes them is a long and disturbing tale of a descent into madness. Iron Elves live in a perpetual state of controlled chaos, their lives guided by rigid rules of behavior and law that are all ultimately a ruse to hide the existence of one cardinal rule; “Do not get caught.” Iron Elves subscribe heavily to a survival-of-the-fittest mentality, believing that if one can take something through use of force, and conceal their act through grace and deception, then they deserve to have it and none can refute their claim. To this end, the Iron Elves have many social structures and rules that are observed in nearly every Iron Elven society, as many of them have seemed to share these structures in the relatively short period of time since their fall. Iron Elven nobles rule their society, with each noble family being grouped into a household. Each Iron Elven house is given a position in the city to which they belong. The higher the position or rank, the greater the power and acclaim. Iron Elven commoners are generally treated as common rabble, and few of them are able to aspire to the great heights that a noble may be able to reach. Many commoners pursue lives as adventurers in order to break free of this stigma, but few succeed in doing so. One thing that has grown disturbingly common among Iron Elves is the worship and veneration of Onûs. The worship of the Void Serpent has interwoven itself into Iron Elf society to a disturbing degree, making high priests and priestesses of Onûs nearly as politically important as any member of a ruling house. To a lesser degree the veneration of Melantha and Perdita is also widely practiced, and in some Iron Elven cities, even surpasses veneration of the Betrayer.
Due to the strange social structure of their society, and the unique gifts they have developed, the Iron Elves are a patient and cunning people, who have a deep understanding of the value of waiting for the right moment to seek gratification. Iron Elves tend to enjoy comfortable surroundings, though they are willing to suffer any discomfort in exchange for more power, wealth or social acclaim. Iron Elves tend to be rather skilled in the arts of survival, if their career path demands it, though Iron Elf wizards and priests are significantly more likely to focus their skills elsewhere. Like many Elven cultures, Iron Elves do not tend to discriminate between genders, though it is more common for women to practice the art of divine magic and conversely it is more common for men to practice the arts of arcane magic. This cultural impetus seems to have evolved as a result of years of circumstance causing one gender to favor one path over the other. Women are not expected to bear children as a cultural responsibility, and rather the event is celebrated since it is particularly difficult for Iron Elves to bear children as a result of their heritage of necromantic corruption. Iron Elven families are strangely organized, with special emphasis being placed on the order of birth and the organization of the family hierarchy. The father is referred to as the Patron of a house, while the mother is referred to as the Matron. Because of the insidious nature in which Iron Elven society operates, the true power in a household typically falls to the females, regardless of how things appear. Few males possess the skill at subtle social manipulation to truly call themselves leaders in Iron Elven culture. Girls in noble households are generally only ranked in order of birth in formal situations, referring to them as “Eldest daughter of house so-and-so”, “Second daughter of house…” and so on. Boys born to noble households are given the title of “Elderboy” for the first born, “Secondboy” to the second born, and so on. When a child of an Iron Elf family dies for any reason, each child below the deceased child moves up in rank. Thus, if the Elderboy is killed, the Secondboy becomes the Elderboy and so on. This often causes great competition in any family, and as a result fratricide is common, particularly among the more powerful families.
The Origins of the Iron ElvesEdit
Wise, insightful, and deeply attuned to the flow of magic and the call of nature, the various Elven people carved a long and glorious history for themselves through the bulk of the Second Age, standing with their Chatûl cousins against the seemingly endless scourge of the Naga hordes. The Naga wars pushed on for centuries, and eventually with the aid of their Chatûl cousins, the Elves proved victorious, pushing the Blessed Living of Sidereus into a vaunted Golden Age of prosperity. None could have predicted the dark days that lay ahead.
As the Second Age pressed on, some groups of the Elven people had become debauched and consumed with lives of depravity and carnal and physical pleasures. These unhindered souls came to seek pleasure, knowledge, and power at any cost, and could not find it within themselves to stay their passions and live the pure lives their creator had intended for them. As these splinter elements drew further from the core of the Elves’ cultural beliefs, the resulting political and social unrest became more pronounced. Practices in necromancy ran rampant as these renegade individuals began to join together in groups to share their beliefs. As the end of the Second Age drew near, the death knell on the peace of Elven society was heard. A cold war of sorts ensued for many decades, pressing the Elven people into a strange but uncomfortable peace. In an attempt to repress the practice of the dark magics, the kings and queens of the Elves rose up and prohibited the practice of these arts, swearing that all who continued to practice without sanction would be punished severely. In an unfortunate turn of events, the ancient Elven king, King Daevan Teravainen was forced to implement this severe punishment. Much to the dismay of Elves everywhere, he put an Elven necromancer to death.
The execution of an Elf by another Elf, even at the command of a king, sent the entire Elven people into an uproar. Many voices stood then, feeling as though the cause of the renegades was just since they had now been given a martyr. The most classic example was among the ranks of the poets. The Second Age Elven poet, philosopher, and mage Kialem Lievonene had become a powerful political and social force in Elven society. A Silver Elf by birth, he spoke out in defense of the actions of his compatriots, and claimed that they simply exercised the power that was given them. He is eternally remembered for his damning words; “If the gods did not intend for the Soeli’ari to walk the lands of Sidereus as their kin, why would they have blessed us with the essence of the stars themselves? Why would they have instilled within us their very lifeblood? If the power granted us by control over Shadow was not as innate and intrinsic as the power we are given over Light, then why is such a thing possible? We are gods in our own right and it is time we silenced those who would halt our ascent to glory!”
Only months later, the Elven community across Sidereus was torn into civil war. It would be a war to last for nearly one hundred years. Over the course of this torrid conflict, the Elven community was torn apart. Brother turned against brother, father turned against son. The majority of the renegade Elves hailed from Gold and Silver Elven communities, but a very significant number hailed from the island and coastal communities of the Jade Elves . As the war churned on, the renegades sought greater power to combat their kin, and delved even deeper into the dark arts of necromancy and demonology. Calling upon armies of demons and the undead, dark pacts were forged as the war dragged on, with renegade Elven nobles giving over their daughters to be the thrall of the demons to whom they pledged allegiance. Whole Jade Elven communities turned to piracy and pledged themselves to the worship of Xi’rian , giving into their basest and most depraved desires. Gold Elven renegades harnessed their martial prowess and joined forces with Silver Elven renegades to bend the laws of magic to their will and create powerful magical items using blood sacrifice as their power source. Copper Elven rangers began to hunt other Elves, using poisoned arrows and insidious traps to slowly deplete the military might of any who would try to rise against a renegade encampment. Obsidian Elven renegades rose up as assassins and warriors of remarkable skill, leading berserker raids on smaller settlements and summoning magma demons to rain fire and brimstone upon unsuspecting villages. The days grew darker as all of the considerable power of the Elves was committed to war.
For eight decades, the Chatûl remained largely uninvolved in the turmoil of the Elves , but as the war grew more deadly and more life was lost, demons began to roam the countryside, unleashed by the careless hands of renegade Elven mages in their desire to harm their foes, to slay their former kin. The Chatûl saw the devastation and destruction around them, and had no choice but to intervene before all was lost. Quickly, the Chatûl stepped in to aid the traditionalist Elven survivors, and together they broke the alliance of renegade Elves and forced them into a retreat. After defeating their former kin, the surviving Elven leaders declared the renegades anathema. After receiving a divine writ of guidance from a harbinger angel of Aarûn, it was declared that henceforth these renegades would be Elves of Gold , Silver , Copper , Jade or Obsidian no more. They would be named Iron Elves, stripped of their place among the Divine Light because of their treachery against their kin and against the Ilith’ari to whom they owed their allegiance. Aarûn himself declared this was his will, and the Iron Elves were forever shunned from his Light. It is said to this day that any Iron Elf who seeks to follow Aarûn or any of the gods of Light must first prove herself worthy in the eyes of the Morning Dawn and commit an act of repentance for the deeds of her forebears. Once this has taken place, it is common for the Iron Elf to develop a scar or birthmark in the image of the god who has accepted their forgiveness. While most Iron Elves do not attempt this, preferring neutrality, all Iron Elves who wish to serve a deity of good must at some point attempt to seek redemption before the gods of Light will accept them.
As they were broken into retreat, the surviving renegades had no choice but to retreat into the cavernous depths below the earth, following their demonic allies into the darkness below. Fleeing deeper and deeper down, they came to make their new home in the deep darkness of the Abyss , hoping they would one day be able to strike out to the surface and claim their revenge on their former kin. As the years pressed on, the practice of necromancy and demonology became more and more prevalent. The dark magics took their toll on the Elven renegades, and their skin began to whiten. At first only the necromancers and conjurers of Shadow suffered this necromantic corruption, but after a time as the lands of the Abyss became fully inundated with the power of Shadow, infants were born with the corruption of necromancy already seeping through their veins. Before too long the necromantic power of Shadow infusing every nook and corner of the Abyss, combined with the long term effects of being deprived of sunlight, cursed the entire renegade populace with ghostly white skin. With this, the transformation and descent into darkness was complete. The Iron Elves claimed their chosen path and adopted it as a choice and their destiny, rather than lamenting it as a curse. Refusing to see their change as anything but a blessing, they strove forward and began to revel in their newfound sense of beauty. Impossibly, the depravity and hedonistic nature of the Iron Elves only increased as they carved their home beneath the earth. They used their strange exile as an excuse to create new forms of art and new forms of literature. Eventually, they began to create a new form of history, one in which they were the victors who abandoned the surface because it was a cursed and terrible place. One by one, individual, kith, and kin swore upon their lives that they would have their revenge. While that day has not yet come, the Iron Elves still prepare as time passes on to claim what they feel is rightfully theirs. As the darkness of the Fourth Age rolls on the Iron Elves still cling to this grisly hope, and to this day all souls who walk the world of the surface fear the shadows below the earth, and rightly so, because beneath the earth is the realm of darkness, despair and regret. The Iron Elves have surrendered the Light that was once theirs.
PsychologyEditIf there is one word to describe the outlook and perspective of the Iron Elves, it is “corrupt”. Corruption, treachery, betrayal and an unquenchable thirst for power and control are among the most important tenets and concepts in Iron Elven society. Iron Elven society is built on a belief structure that centers on an entirely selfish and self-serving ideology. The individual is expected to seek to better the individual at any cost. Failing to do so is weakness, and weakness only serves to weaken the entire community. Iron Elf children are taught that the only way to better their society is to better themselves. They are taught that murdering a rival helps their community because if their rival is too weak to maintain a grasp on their position, they do not deserve it. As such, it follows that a stronger and more capable soul would be better suited to take their place. However, despite the generally distorted moral climate of Iron Elf society, there are some who escape and seek their own understanding of life.
It would be misleading to suggest that Iron Elves enjoy comfort. The reality of the situation is that Iron Elves enjoy sensation. Iron Elves believe that any feeling is ultimately a good feeling. Passions, as long as they remain in control of the individual, are meant to be experience and felt. Among these vital feelings is pain, and as a result, many Iron Elves become masochists after an effect, choosing to suffer pain to enhance their understanding of reality and live. It is not uncommon for an Iron Elf to adorn their body in piercings and tattoos, ranging from the mundane to the grotesque, and in fact doing so is seen as a mark of great beauty and artistry. Iron Elven cities and living spaces are commonly crafted into the very rock of the subterranean areas they call home. Using powerful magic, these areas are often infused with necromancy and Shadow energy, but are otherwise remarkable works of art in their own right. The Elven influence in Iron Elven life is unmistakable when one examines the interior of an Iron Elven living space, though the themes are often darker and more disturbing. Iron Elves tend to prefer tight-fitting clothing crafted from leathers or fine silks, though nudity is appreciated in good company as a chance to display the beauty of an individual’s body.
As a general rule, Iron Elves do not ever welcome outsiders under any circumstances, and that tends to be an understatement. Because Iron Elves actively practice slavery, it is not uncommon for outsiders to be quickly gathered up and forced to surrender on pain of death. Unwelcomed guests are quickly forced into a life of slavery and servitude from whence they very rarely escape. On many occasions, outsiders who manage to infiltrate Iron Elf society are killed on the spot. Surface Elves who encounter Iron Elves will be met with a quick and often times brutal death, as Iron Elven warriors will many times kill surface Elves on sight. In some cases, surface Elves will be abducted and dragged into the realm of the Abyss, where they will often be kept as harem slaves or servants of an even lower rank. Since Iron Elves do often practice blood sacrifice, it is not uncommon for slaves of this type to be kept in order to be used as a sacrifice later. In spite of this, the Gûndre have the greatest likelihood of being accepted by the Iron Elves, as they often bring precious materials and other goods for trade. This does not guarantee that the Iron Elves will not steal from or murder their Dwarven guests, and as a result many Dwarves are loathe to deal with Iron Elves on any level.
Knowledge equates to power in Iron Elven society, and power is the ultimate goal of any Iron Elf. Science, lore, and in fact any skill worth mentioning has great value to Iron Elves as they firmly believe that one must prove their worth in order to be of value to society. Since they typically dwell beneath the earth, the study of astrology is rarely if ever practiced among Iron Elven society. Wilderness lore is not uncommon, though those who have knowledge in this area tend to focus more on the areas of the wilderness below the earth. Iron Elves believe in the accumulation of wealth and knowledge, and as a result they tend to create elaborate ways to display their collections. They believe that displaying the wealth they have accumulated is an important part of declaring their importance in society and remembering the exploits and achievements of the past. Weaponry, armor, and paraphernalia associated with their career or duties are well cared for as a mark of pride, but are considered little more than tools unless they possess some other intrinsic value.
Travel is extraordinarily uncommon among the Iron Elves, as they don’t typically leave their cities of origin. Even traveling from city to city within the realm of the Abyss is highly unusual unless the individual is a trader or a merchant. Those Iron Elves who become merchants, travelers or adventurers will occasionally act as smugglers as well, trading items that may have been declared contraband in one city or another to those who have the money to acquire the items.
Iron Elven warriors are silent, swift and deadly. Their skill at arms borders more on artistry than on physical expertise or determination, and many among the surface races fear their prowess. The art of the quick kill is the specialty of the Iron Elves, a direct result of the lifestyle of their people. Being able to kill stealthily is far more valuable to an Iron Elf mind than being able to kill in large numbers or with great display. Since Mithril is easily mined in the realm of the Abyss, Iron Elven warriors will frequently don heirloom suits of Mithril chainmail, or carry with them weapons crafted from the rare metal. Generally Iron Elves wear lightweight armors, such as leather and studded leather. Iron Elven weaponsmiths are renowned for their skill at crafting weapons that are light and durable. Many Iron Elf weaponsmiths are also skilled enchanters, and are able to enhance weapons magically. Iron Elven warriors are commonly trained in the use of many weapons, since mastery of one’s craft is considered of vital importance. It is almost unheard of for an Iron Elven warrior to not be proficient in at least three different weapons, and at least two different combat styles. Anything less prevents the warrior from being considered a warrior at all.
Iron Elven artistry is an unusual concept. Like their surface kin, the Iron Elves have a long and elaborate artistic and musical tradition, and there are those among them who devote their entire lives to this craft. Iron Elven courtesans are considered artists in their own right, often skilled at dances and sexual performance to such a degree that their services come at an extraordinarily high premium. Most Iron Elven noblewomen are skilled at dance, and similarly most Iron Elven noblemen are skilled at the arts of massage and sometimes song. As a result of the Iron Elven tenet that one should excel at their chosen craft, Iron Elven artists are often utterly obsessed with their chosen art.
Out-of-Game, the primary Elven language is the real-world language of Finnish.
The Iron Elves have developed a warped distortion of the religious tradition of their past. The Iron Elves follow many gods, however nearly all of the Iron Elves revere Onûs as Aarûn’s rival and enemy, Melantha as the bringer of chaos and discord, and Perdita as a bringer of death and pestilence. The reverence of Melantha has become of primary interest as of late, and many have chosen to hearken to her call in the hopes of currying her fickle favor. Generally speaking, female Iron Elves choose the religious life far more frequently than males, but this is not always the case.
Ecology & CultureEdit
Iron Elves have spent millennia in their new subterranean home, and they have grown deeply accustomed to this uniquely harsh environment. As the overwhelming majority of Iron Elves see fit to dwell in the darkness and heat of the Abyss, it is rare to find an Iron Elf who is completely comfortable in the surface world. Those who do see fit to venture into the surface world are often seen as crackpots or bordering on insane by their kinsmen.
Like their surface kin, Iron Elves are immortal, and as such they have the potential to live for thousands of years. The unfortunate reality of Iron Elf life, however, has seen to it that many Iron Elves to not live past their second century, as the infighting and intrigue of their political structure means there are a fairly significant number of assassinations at any given point throughout a year. Because of this strange alteration to their intended lifespan, Iron Elves have developed a sense of drive and impetus that is uncanny for an Elf. Easily able to master any craft, Iron Elves are often warriors, wizards or clerics. Few bother to dabble in the life of a merchant or simple craftsman, but those who do spend decades perfecting their craft. It is very uncommon for Iron Elves to work in groups when they are not members of the same house, though Iron Elves who leave their home culture and strike out in the world quickly learn to adapt this skill.
Iron Elves do not fully embrace the concept of marriage as the surface races see it. To an Iron Elf, marriage is a way to claim one’s property. In a marriage, one individual is able to jealously lay claim to another, which nets both material and physical benefits. In the mind of an Iron Elf, one’s spouse is one’s property, and the sharing of goods is a binding legal arrangement that can only be severed by death or complete mutual agreement. It is not at all unusual for an Iron Elf who is unhappy with her spouse to arrange to have him assassinated if need be. As always, the primary rule of Iron Elf society is “Don’t get caught”. Polygamy is unheard of in Iron Elf society; since the concept of sharing is already so alien to them they would not even begin to understand the complexities of that social structure. The idea of love is not totally absent from Iron Elven culture, but arranged marriages are the standard. In general, pairs who fall in love generally find each other after they have already been married and extramarital affairs are very common. Strong marriages in an Iron Elf family are considered to be those where one of the partners does not keep a weapon or a dose of poison ready “just in case”. The concept of divorce is almost entirely unheard of since, generally speaking, if one wishes to be unmarried, one will simply have one’s spouse eliminated by force.
Like all Elves, Iron Elven females have a gestation period of approximately 12 months, and births are most commonly single births. The occurrence of twins is considered cause for great celebration, since Iron Elves as a people are generally less fertile. Iron Elven mothers engage in long periods of meditation and oftentimes prayer, to focus their bodies for the coming of the child. While most Elven births are essentially painless, Iron Elven births tend to be nearly as painful as human births. This is believed to be a side effect of the generations of necromantic corruption that is responsible for changing the Iron Elf physical form. Birth in Iron Elf culture is quietly celebrated among the inner circle of a family, through rarely with any significant fanfare. A child is generally welcomed in a sober even tone, named just as quietly, and then prepared for their life as a productive member of the family from that point forward. Iron Elven families rarely gather for what most races would consider important social time together, and in fact the individuals within a family will often prove to be extremely solitary, preferring to be alone where possible. Generally, the urban structure that Iron Elves cling to in the Abyss is what pervades all of Iron Elven society around the globe. Any exceptions are simply cases of Iron Elves attempting to fit into another society’s way of operating.
Iron Elven cities are elaborate and well decorated affairs, often enhanced in their aesthetic beauty through the aid of power ritual magics that conjure and control the elements and magical light and shadow. Iron Elven cities are not democratic in the slightest, and in fact the ruling structure of any given city is essentially a plutarchy. In an Iron Elven city, the house with the most control is the house with the most money, soldiers, social influence and overall power. The governing body is comprised of the Matron of the top thirteen houses. This is done because Iron Elves believe women are better able to make decisions involving social structure and organization. While it is not unheard of for a Iron Elf male to hold a position on the governing council, it is usually temporary as females are preferred. Politics are a very important part of Iron Elf life, and at least a superficial understanding is expected of all Iron Elven children.
Iron Elven children are generally assumed to reach maturity at the age of 25. The Iron Elves are an immortal race, and are able to live a limitless number of years as long as they are not killed by warfare or disease. Since Iron Elven society is so volatile, however, this is often the case. Most Iron Elves die before they see their second century as a result of the harsh and cutthroat lifestyle they lead. In general this goes unnoticed, since there are many higher ranking nobles who have been alive for many hundreds, if not thousands of years. Most Iron Elves choose to remain in their home city for their entire life, though on occasion an Iron Elf will strike out as an adventurer to make her fortune.
A typical Iron Elf settlement contains roughly 400 individuals. Iron Elves generally group only into large, urban centers as a result of the materials and space at their disposal. In addition to this fact, larger populations generally help deter the strange aberrations and dangerous creatures that dwell in the Abyss and make life difficult for smaller groups. The Matron of a family is almost always a high priestess of a deity, and the Patron is nearly always the house weaponmaster. This is a tradition that actually evolved more as a matter of coincidence and convenience than any other fact, as it simply came to be that the most powerful female member of the family would often mate with the most skilled or competent male available. This is by no means a hard rule, however, and has been broken on occasion.
Youth in Iron Elf society is a difficult and trying period of time that most children wait eagerly to escape. The harshly ordered lifestyle of the Iron Elven people means that younger children often act as pages to their older siblings and family members, essentially working as little more than glorified students until they reach the age of 16 and are considered to be entering their adolescence. At this point they are formally accepted into the family (if they have not been killed in frustration by one of the other family members), and they are given their place in the household. Generally this only applies to noble Iron Elves, as the lives of Iron Elf commoners are often far less restrictive. Names in Iron Elven society are important not because they convey meaning in some spiritual sense, but because Iron Elves are of the belief that an appropriately chosen name will grant an individual an edge later in life when it comes to social interactions and manipulation. There is no magic ritual associated with the process, the family simply names the child, makes a record of the naming, and moves on. The life of an Iron Elf youth is typically handled in this fashion for their entire existence. Commoner or not, they are seen as little more than property and have absolutely no freedom until they reach sixteen years of age and are considered members of the family. At this point they are treated with a certain measure more respect, though rarely affection. Iron Elven children will spend every year between the years of sixteen until the eve of their twenty-sixth year training for their chosen profession at one of the city’s many academies.
Iron Elves have very simple naming conventions that are rarely deviated from. When Iron Elves announce themselves, they announce their full name, their rank in the household, followed by their house affiliation, the rank of the house with which they are affiliated, and the city in which they reside. This will typically be announced as “I am Levos Virtanen, Elderboy of House Virtanen, 11th house of Varkaus”. Generally speaking an Iron Elf will not bother to announce themselves to a non-Iron Elf, but whenever they encounter another Iron Elf they will do so. Commoners do not have a house rank, but they do belong to a house. They will only announce their name and their house. Announcing one’s name and title is a very important part of Iron Elven life, as it helps an Iron Elf assert to those he meets his level of power and influence in the place he comes from. Iron Elves generally do not understand the concept of “familiar” names or nicknames, as nearly any form of address is formal or official. It is considered a great privilege (or sign of disrespect) to refer to an individual by their given name only, and generally this is avoided. Family and house names are generally given importance in Iron Elf society, while given names are considered little more than aesthetic tools. As with everything in Iron Elf society, what is socially important is the success of an individual’s house before the success of the individual.
There is only one significant coming of age ritual in Iron Elf society, but this ritual speaks directly to the heart of the corruption inherent in their culture. Upon reaching the age of sixteen, and before moving on into becoming educated for life as an adult, an Iron Elf child is set upon with the “Rite of the First Kill”. The adolescent is given a weapon of some kind, and is told to kill a young slave child. The child is always of another race, and is always the equivalent of six or seven Human years old. The child is always conscious and unbound; so that the Iron Elf adolescent will commonly have to restrain the child in order to kill them. This task is posed to Iron Elven noble children to teach them the importance of being able to kill a foe, regardless of how one’s personal convictions may attempt to sway them to the contrary. In recent years, this practice has fallen out of favor in less traditional circles, but such communities are generally few and far between. Some houses may avoid the practice altogether, secretly detesting the thought of murder without cause. The unfortunate Iron Elf adolescent who is expected to perform this task is given a great burden, however, as failure to kill the child will result in the child being tortured first and then murdered while the young Iron Elf is forced to watch. In traditional circles it is believed that Iron Elves must be inured to hardship and loss, and they must understand that mercy is ultimately pointless for the gods take their due regardless of the concerns of any individual. Because of such practices, Iron Elven adolescents often mature into dour and determined experts at whatever craft they practice. Mercy and concern for others are not present in their hearts to hinder their desire for personal gain.
In traditional Iron Elf society, there are a number of celebrations and feast days that are celebrated within the community, however among these is the single most important day that is celebrated among all traditional Iron Elven societies; the Festival of the Pact. The Festival of the Pact openly celebrates the demonic pacts and infernal bonds that most Iron Elven houses have formed at some time or another in their history, culminating in a ritual of summoning that calls a number of demons to the material plane as guests of the various Iron Elven houses in a city. In many cases, pacts are forged anew with these demons and in some cases, noble females or males will mate with demonic partners in the hope of producing half-demon offspring. While this is somewhat rare, it does tend to result in a larger number of half-demons, or at least demon-blooded individuals in Iron Elf society. This festival is also a time where the followers of the dark gods call to their masters in the hope of receiving a boon or a portent of good fortune in the future. While such a boon is rarely granted, it is nevertheless a time of many blood sacrifices to curry the favor of the gods. It is not uncommon for Iron Elven communities to send out raiding parties to kidnap victims for these sacrifices.
Blood sacrifice remains an important theme in Iron Elven society; even in less traditional circles Iron Elves will often sacrifice non-sentient animals to their patron deities or to demonic powers in exchange for aid or blessings. Many of the holidays that Iron Elves do celebrate involve or center on blood sacrifices and other nefarious rites. Iron Elves have warped their own cultural perspective in such a way that they do not view such things as innately evil, despite the reality of the situation. Iron Elves do not, as a general rule, sacrifice other Iron Elves for any reason. To do so is considered absolutely vile even though murder and other practices are acceptable. Demonology and necromancy are widely practiced among the Iron Elves, and even the most insignificant commoner knows something of necromantic lore or demon lore. It is not unheard of for demons to be seen walking the streets of an Iron Elven city, or even bound demons dwelling in an Iron Elven household. In some cases, the pacts that bind the loyalty of certain Iron Elven families to demonic servants of the dark gods are so old that they are able to summon forth demons without protective binding magics to protect themselves from harm. In addition, Iron Elf demonologists are well known for traveling to the surface with demons in tow, openly declaring war on any angelic beings they may encounter. This unusual kinship that Iron Elves share with demonkind is one of the core reasons for their negative notoriety among the other races of Sidereus.
Trade with other cultures is vital to the continued survival of the Iron Elves, though this “trade” is usually conducted at the point of a sword. Iron Elves rarely engage in any sort of peaceful interaction with the other races, and as such they are quite commonly at the forefront of violent raids on caravans that wander too close to areas that provide easy access to the Abyss. Iron Elves rarely sack Gûndre caravans, as the stubborn resolve of a Dwarf proves all the more intractable when wealth and possessions are on the line. Iron Elves do conduct more peaceful trade from time to time, though their methods as merchants are rather draconian.
While Iron Elves do not typically trade openly with outsiders, it is not entirely uncommon for their goods to find their way to the surface world through the hands of Gûndre merchants, defeated raiders, and other such sources. While Iron Elven goods tend to be of remarkably sophisticated quality, it is very commonly the case that these items are preferred by brigand, thieves and other individuals of ill repute, largely as a result of the negative images Iron Elf artifacts evoke.
Relationships with other RacesEdit
Iron Elves have a very long and painful history with their surface-dwelling cousins first and foremost. Despite how far they have fallen and the degree to which they have deviated from their original path, Iron Elves are still a part of the first-born race of Sidereus, and as such they share much of the history and cultural memories of their distant path with the Elves of the surface. Closely related to the Chatûl, the fond memories of kinship of the distant past have long since been washed away and nearly erased by the intervention of the Chatûl in the Elven civil war. The Elves of the surface and their Chatûl cousins have resorted to referring to the Iron Elves as “Katala”, which means “vile” in the language of the Elves. This word is generally considered akin to a racial slur, even to the point of being used against Elves that are not of Iron Elf descent in the way of an insult through suggesting an association. In response, many Iron Elves will put on an air of sophistication and arrogance, referring to surface Elves as “Laimea” or “weak”, and referring to Chatûl in a derogatory fashion as “Talja” or “furball”. These expletives are very well known in all societies involved, and insults are often traded during battles between the surface Elves or Chatûl and the Iron Elves.
The Iron Elves and the Gûndre have what most consider a barely functioning relationship. Gûndre, as a general rule, hate Iron Elves with a passion. In the Dwarven mind, Iron Elves possess all of the weaknesses of the Elves with none of the redeeming qualities like loyalty and honor. Because of the proximity of their living space, the Gûndre and the Iron Elves find themselves trading often, and engaging in war even more frequently. Generally, the Iron Elves and the Gûndre avoid each other, feeling it is more appropriate to conserve the resources on both sides rather than engage in long and bloody wars against a worthy adversary.
While the Iron Elves have few dealings with Derew Orcs and the Satyr, the often look upon these races as foolish and insignificant. Derew Orcs often look down upon Iron Elves, despising their various deeds and viewing them as unredeemable and inherently evil. Satyr tend to regard the Iron Elves with a significant amount of caution, as they share a certain love for things hedonistic and debauched, though Satyr have a tendency to avoid the realm of pain and masochistic desires. Satyr are highly sought after by Iron Elves as court jesters and slaves, celebrated for their gift as entertainers.
Iron Elves know little to nothing of the Arxus, nor do they have any reason to. Iron Elven fighting pits are occasionally graced with the presence of one Arxus warrior or another, but for the most part the two races do not intermingle on any level.
The Eidolon and the Nephel are seen as rude newcomers to the world of Sidereus from an Iron Elven perspective. Nephel often represent one god of Light or another, so the average Iron Elf has little to no desire to interact with these beings for any reason. Iron Elves tend to shrink away from the presence of a Nephel at the earliest excuse, because they are pragmatic enough to know that extraplanar beings have an unusual habit of attracting trouble. Eidolon are commonly met with apprehension and confusion by Iron Elves, who do not understand the strange mastery of the psionic gifts that the Eidolon possess. Many Eidolon have been captured and dissected for study by Iron Elven scientists, who have nevertheless been unable to uncover the secret of the strange gift of the Eidolon people.
Humans, the unfettered children, are the source of great anxiety and resentment for the Iron Elves. Iron Elves view Humans as upstarts and usurpers to what is rightfully the property of the Elven people, and specifically the Iron Elves. To the Iron Elves, Humans are an inferior race who are barely better than beasts and should be eradicated from the face of the world. There are many Iron Elven texts written on the subject of the inferiority of the Human species, commenting on how their inferiority can give the illusion of unique opportunity when compared against the ancient races that have a greater claim to the bounty of the world of Sidereus.
- "Pettäjä" is the Elven word for "Betrayer". It is the word they commonly use when they speak of Iron Elves. It is considered a serious insult/ethnic slur. Another variant is "Kavaltaja", though the latter is commonly used to refer to the Iron Elf people as a whole.
- The Elven civil war that resulted in the schism between the surface Elves and the Iron Elves is often refered to as the Ironblood War.