Saturday, February 4, 2012

Illithëon

Geography

Borders
Illithëon is located on the island of Nûmidëa, in the expansive northern forest. It shares its southern border, the Rushing River, with the human kingdom of Nûmidëa. To the west and north are the Red Mountains that run the western coastline of the island, while to the east is the coast, and the Worldsea. The forest of Illithëon is about 300 miles from north to south, and 200 miles wide along its southern edge near the Rushing River, narrowing as it goes further north.

Features and Landmarks
While the entire forest is called by Men the Illithëon Forest, the Elefdar (called “Elves” by most Men) prefer to think of Illithëon as their hidden domain within the larger forest. The forest is known to hold several breeds of trees that have not been found by Men elsewhere in the world, among them the silver maple and golden oak. Within the domain of Illithëon, there is a hidden mountain named Skyreach, that rises in the midst of the forest and forms the center of their realm, crowned with the silver maples and golden oaks that are rarely seen along the forest's outer edges. Few Men have seen the mountain, and none in several generations, for their relations with the Elefdar have suffered and dwindled over the past two centuries.

Geographically, Illithëon is bordered by the Red Mountains to the west, and the Elefdar keep a close watch on the passes coming out of those mountains, for goblins and trolls are known to dwell there and make occasional raids into the forest. The Rushing River, called Asca by the Elefdar, on the southern edge of the forest forms the border between Nûmidëa and Illithëon. While Men seldom cross that river, the Elefdar pass freely over it in their traffic with those few Men still friendly to their race. There are many hidden coves along the eastern coast of the island, and the Elefdar keep several shipyards there, and use their craft to travel between the island and the mainland.

Climate
Being an island nation at a mostly temperate latitude, Nûmidëa can have some strange weather patterns. Seasons are mild, with neither great highs nor lows in temperature. Summers are warm and humid, but tend to cool off at night. Winters are cool, with some snow but it rarely sticks for long. It does rain quite a bit, however. Due to the high humidity year-round, it tends to be quite foggy from autumn through to spring. The coldest days will bring the fog down as rain, snow or frost. The summers are generally warm enough that the fog lifts early in the morning. With the wet climate and moderate temperatures comes great wealth in growing plants and trees of all sorts. The forest of Illithëon has been called an Elefdar paradise for that reason, and there is great truth in the statement.

Cities
The nearest thing to a city in the realm of Illithëon is the central mountain which forms the base of Elvish power in the forest, and is their main dwelling-place. The Elefdar call this mountain Skyreach, and the “streets” (really more like broad walking paths), such as they are, wind up and down its sides in a pattern only visible from its heights. From that lofty place, it can be seen that the whole of the pattern is like a great silver knot of many threads, coming together and twisting apart in many places, mind-boggling in its beauty and almost indescribable in its complexity. This central settlement does not have a name, but Skyreach would suffice at need.

Politics

National
Elvish internal politics are on a small enough scale that national, regional and local are basically the same. They have a lord, Felaranthir, who stands as their leader and lord though he has no vain need for such lofty titles as “lord” or “king”. He is advised by a council of Elefdar of like stature and standing, lords all, each of whom represents one of the greater old families that originally settled the island. It is this council of lords that truly governs Illithëon, though Felaranthir is its popular face. The Elefdar keep a standing army called Guardians, composed of light infantry and archers, trackers and scouts who patrol their lands and keep them safe from troll, goblin, and even Human incursion. The Guardians are composed of all young male Elefdar, who must serve a minimum of ten years though many serve for much longer terms. Upon completing his service, a male Elefdar may then apprentice himself to a craft-master to learn a professional trade – but not before this service is complete, except in extreme cases such as disability.

Regional
See National politics, above.

Local
See National politics, above. The only item to add here is that there are other settlements scattered throughout the forest of Illithëon. These settlements conduct their own affairs independently, even maintaining their own small company of Guardians, but at need the people can be called by the council of lords to the service of all Illithëon.

International
While the Elefdar have grown more and more insular over the past few hundred years, they do still maintain some relations with Men. The Elefdar of Illithëon primarily deal with the Human kingdom of Nûmidëa. Across the Sea, they occasionally have dealings with Sildara and Danannsidhe, and the Men of the Vales, as all three of these nations also have dealings with the Elefdar of Ildallïe. Thus they have some common ground for trade and traffic, if only occasionally.

Economy

Exports
The Elefdar do not have any exports, though their rare gifts to Men are often traded, sold, or stolen as being considered of great worth. Their ships they keep to themselves, as with their armor and weapons and other implements of war. They are generous with jewelry and decorative items, to those whom they call friends. But again, there is no industry to speak of, nor any goods that could truly be called exports.

Imports
As with exports, the Elefdar of Illithëon do not import anything to speak of. Certainly they receive gifts from their brethren across the Sea, and even from Men such as those of Nûmidëa. But as for imports, the Elefdar have all they need within the forest, and generally only trade with other Elefdar if they are found wanting anything. 

Religion

The Elefdar do not practice formal or organized religion, as it is found among Men. They do honor the One, whom they name Illë, though they seldom invoke His name. They also revere several lesser Powers whom they occasionally name. Elefdar have been seen to meditate for hours at a time, resting the body whilst the mind travels elsewhere. They are rather elusive about how and what they do in such a trance, but it has been seen by enough Men that it is recognized as a common practice among the Elefdar.

Society

Class Structure
The Elefdar do not have a class structure per se, however they do tend to break down into two groups: lords, who are elder Elefdar, and the rest. All Elefdar are free, in that they are neither bonded nor enslaved to other Elefdar, but they are mostly subservient to the greater needs of their people and will willingly set aside personal desires and personal freedom if need demands it. Those who are called lords are viewed as governors, but also as servants of the Elefdar, and it is a noble calling to ascend to that role when one becomes old enough and is considered wise enough to do so.

Values
The Elefdar value that which has beauty and that which endures, whether their own creations, or special regions of the world which have stood for millenia, or more rarely, the creations of others. They value freedom over slavery, and right over wrong, as all peoples of good conscience would, but they also value truth and wisdom over wishful thinking that leads to self deception. When an Elefdar marries, it is for life – and the Elefdar live for an exceptionally long time, barring a fatal sickness or injury. Thus they value a good reputation, and an honorable word.

Taboos
The Elefdar have an absolute taboo regarding any violence against others of their race. This stems from violent civil wars in aeons past, and given the long lives of the Elefdar, there are some alive today who still remember those dark times. That doesn't stop them from getting into heated arguments – but one will never see an Elefdar come to blows with or draw a weapon against another Elefdar.

People

Appearance
Elefdar of Illithëon look much like their mainland counterparts, with almond-shaped eyes and pointed, lobeless ears. They share the same build as well, males averaging five and a half to six feet in height, and women five to five and a half feet, and sharing the light bone structure common to all of their race. Illithëon skin tends to be somewhat paler than that of other Elefdar, seeming almost white or silver, and are sometimes called “Moon Elves” (by Men) because of this. They have lighter hair as well, ranging from platinum blonde to golden yellow. Their eyes have the same bright colorings, blue and violet being most common, but also green, golden and (rarely) gray can be found. Both men and women tend to wear their hair long, either tied back in some sort of braid, or held in a circlet or other piece of jewelry.

Dress
Illithëon Elefdar tend to dress like their mainland brothers, preferring bright colors for their flowing clothing. Clothes may be made from common fibers such as cotton or wool or silk, but they are generally of a very fine weave, with complex knot-work and other decorations sewn into the fabric. At home, men wear a long tunic and hose, while women prefer a fitted dress with a close skirt. When traveling, they generally dress in more utilitarian woolen clothing, cut and fit similar to that worn by Nûmidëan folk, though still of fine weave with complex colors and patterns.

Culture and History
The Illithëon live in the forest just to the north of the Rushing River and kingdom of Nûmidëa, on the island of Nûmidëa. They are governed by a council of lords, as are their eastern brothers, but the Illithëon have much more traffic with humans in Nûmidëa than the Elefdar among the other human nations, and are considered to be actually friendly with Men rather than xenophobic. There are Illithëon Guardians, and every young adult male serves for a minimum of ten years, but the Guardians of Illithëon are more concerned with troll and orc incursions from the Red Mountains to the west than they are with human expansionism from the south.