The Dark Elves( Known as A'lfar) live in the hostile depths of Underhill known as Alfheim: a place without any light, just the radiation of weird mushrooms and other plants. Their eyes, having once been accustomed to light, can still see just as well as any other elf in the light, however due to mutations and gifts bestowed on them by the Fomorians, they can see even where there is no light. However direct sunlight or other bright lights will weaken a Dark Elf who is not accustomed to it. A member of this race entering the surface world after living their entire life in Alfheim will be very weakened, up to the point where they are no more hard to kill or capture than a normal human. Continuous exposure to sunlight will diminish these effects until they disappear.
It's been many years since the A'lfar split from their surface cousins, millennia in fact; however, because of their shared lineage, the A'lfar retain the slender and lissome build of any elf, as well as the pointed ears and sharp eyesight of their progenitors. The gift of longevity is also shared, so a A'lfar will never appear to age much past adulthood, but are not immune to death. It is at that point that any common features will stop and the true markers of a Alfheim born take over.
The A'lfar are dark creatures, not only in mind but in general appearance and coloring. Their skin tones will range from deep obsidian, midnight blues; ashen grays to the occasional deep purple, anything lighter will be looked upon by the dark elves as testament to a mixed or corrupted heritage. Due to the nature of the Alfheim, eye color has become predominately shades of red - though there is the occasional orange, blue or violet. These are bright, piercing eyes, adapted to see in the darkness of their world. Hair color is also primarily bright whites or silvers, with a deviation sometimes occurring into shades of auburn or red. Finally, the average height for any A'lfar tends to vary, though between 4'8 and 6'4 tends to be the usual for most Dark Elves.
The origins of the A'lfar are important when considering the current outlook and hierarchy of how A'lfars work. The influences of their Fomoiri Goddesss has made the breed a matriarchal society, the females rule here and are considered superior to both the males of the species and any other surface inhabiting race. In the sub sects of the vast underground caverns in which they live, the Matriarch’s rule over Houses, and these Houses in turn rule over the entirety or the vast majority of the cities and lesser Houses within. Those who rule are expected to keep their power through cunning and power; for anything less, and an ambitious and devious A'lfar can usurp the reigns by any possible means.
This interaction between Matriarchs and Houses has led the dark breed to become a very devious, very cunning set of morally ambiguous creatures. They abide by an unwritten code of ethic and law, but flow between those laws by any means necessary if it means getting ahead of another. It makes the females arrogant and sexually aggressive, willing to do about anything if it means getting what they want. The constant scheming, backstabbing and topping of a rival more powerful than themselves is taught at a very young age for A'lfar females, for to know how to play the game is to ensure the survival of the House and female in question.
All Elves essentially came from the same origin, before the great rift and the Wars created the three subtypes. It is from this single connection that all elves tend to share some of the same advantages and disadvantages. The first that all elves are gifted with incredibly sharp eyesight that can easily pierce near darkness. They may not be able to see as far as the bird-winged races, but they are given a type of infra-vision that can allow them to maneuver in the dark or in the dead of night, and to see more clearly objects that are farther away.
Centuries of living under the surface, of scheming and learning to fight for their position have put the A'lfar race at an advantage when it comes to the fine art of learning their opponent; especially the subtleties of body language and how it might convey the unsaid. While the skill can vary from one dark elf to the next, it essentially allows the A'lfar to pick up the nuisances of another A'lfar's expression or the position of their body in how it translates to mood. This does not equate to an automatic lie-detector, but allows them to potentially anticipate the reaction of their fellow dark elf or to gauge their own next move based on subtle inflections of the other. This would not necessarily work as successful on someone of a different cultural background or racial appearance, though the technique can be applied, it won't have as much success at accuracy.
Blessed as they are with the ability to see far and within the darkness, all elves carry the commonality of slender pointed ears. These lobes have been known to be the not-so hidden g-spot of the race, with the slightest of pressure, both extreme pleasure and extreme pain given to these delicate extremities. Just the right pinch, pull or jab and an elf might be brought to their knees in bliss or in agony, proving to be highly embarrassing to the unlucky elf on an occasion.
The A'lfar have been a race diversified from their surface kin for millennia now, with the exception of some, most are born beneath the elaborate caverns that are set aglow by superficial or magical light. When pushed to the surface, sunlight can have a crippling effect on the A'lfar, to the point where they can be weakened physically or made sick by it. This effect can lessen as time passes, but even then, direct sunlight or bursts of bright light can still weaken or cause extreme pain to the surface dark elf if they do not take precautions
Society and Taboos
A'lfar ethics and values are an interesting study. Dark Elves are a thoroughly evil and treacherous race, yet they have a twisted but strong code of honor. For example A'lfar will murder their parents to rise in power without causing much affront in Alfheim - but to break one's sworn oath is considered a despicable act.
If such oaths are sworn by one of their Deities, its breaking is absolute taboo, a thing that none will ever forgive, and if one is murdered by a mob, it would still be luck not to be slain by the deity themself. Such an oath is sworn very seldom and with great care therefore, and is used sometimes to solidify extremely important agreements.
There is no law in the Alfheim, rather a set of unwritten rules, enforced by the priesthood and the Noble houses. Apart from that, the fittest survive, and that is how the A'lfar believe it must be. It is any wonder that when one of the A'lfar find themselves upon the surface, for whatever reason, the ideal of Might Makes Right is easily taken up as a mantra to their actions?
Despite their dark, harsh nature, A'lfar are far from being savages. For the most part they enjoy their comforts and eases when they are not fighting or plotting. In their own twisted way, they are quite civilized, with developed arts and culture, though they might not be in every surfacer's taste, often bearing a distinctively sadistic touch. Yet as much as some like to indulge in these finer pleasures, their hard life and constant strife will always act as a balance and prevent them from becoming decadent.
Sex, Children, and Death
Dark Elves have no reservation whatsoever concerning sex, and they will enjoy it whenever and however they desire. Their interests are more often than not exotic and rough, and the prospect of being a A'lfar's bed partner can elicit both fear and anticipation. It is quite usual for higher-ranking A'lfar to have a small harem of pleasure slaves to fulfill their carnal desires.
There are no such things as formal marriages in the Alfheim. Sometimes a A'lfar will takes others (of the same or opposite sex) as a mate, but such joinings are usually simply in order to share carnal pleasure, and can be dissolved as easily as they are made.
If a female desires children, she will usually choose a male who seems best suited to her, and cast him out again after he has done his duty, unless she has some other reason to keep him. Few A'lfar know who their father is, and in any case that concept has little importance in the Alfheim; children are raised exclusively by their mother. Their education is conducted collectively, either by the House, or in the case of commoners, by the city's priesthood. A'lfar children undergo very rough training, which the weak ones usually do not survive.
Sundered as they are from their former kin the Fomoiri Goddesss, the A'lfar are still Elves, and thus do not die from age. But as with all Elves, sometimes very old age will bring a certain weariness upon a A'lfar, making him rather despondent--thus not surviving much longer in the dangerous Dark Elven society. Yet it is rather rare for a A'lfar even to become that old without being killed.
Dark Elven Taboos
Through out their own existence, all A'lfar kind has established a set of unspoken rules that if broken, come with severe punishment to the unfortunate. Even those stricken from their House, in exile, or taken to the surface for their own reasoning are considered beholden to these edicts.
The first is above all else; No Dark Elf will disobey their Fomoiri Goddesss direct wishes. Doing so will result in death. The Fomoiri saved their servants from certain death and will lead them to one day conquer all surface breeds, to turn one’s back on an oath made in their name or a direct order from the Mother of all A'lfar will not end well for the recalcitrant soul.
This goes without saying, but can often be punctuated through fear and force: Matrons are the Fomoiri chosen and no Dark Elf will disobey them, penalty being death. The role of Matron is believed to be the handpicked of Fomorian goddesses, to outright go against a Matron or to ignore a direct order is to go against the Goddess herself. Matron’s will often obtain their position through lies, careful deceit and manipulation, and often by the point of their sword; it is no guarantee that they will keep the position, but during their tenure the Matron’s are second only to Fomorian goddesses in decree and action.
Dark elven Society is purely Matriarchal, the role of leader passed from one daughter to the next with no deviation to the opposite sex. Males are still considered valuable, but as soldiers, stewards and breeding stock. It is adamantly upheld among all of the breed that no male A'lfar will ever be superior to even the lowest female A'lfar, not even if the female in question is in Exile.
Dark Elven Entertainment
Dark Elves enjoy the fine arts and other luxuries of civilization, despite their violent nature. Dark Elves appreciate tasteful foods and wines as well as a hot bath, or art, sculptures and even the arts of magic. They will often be the patrons of such arts, skilled librarians and connoisseurs of music and art; as elves, appreciation is in their blood despite their dark and militant behavior.
It is a frightening thing to be the subject of a A'lfar’s ire, even more frightening but equally titillating to be the subject of a A'lfar’s carnal hunger. Dark Elves, being as violent as they are, will usually not stop if they get aroused and find a suitable target. If the target struggles, they will most often just take what they desire against their will. Like a fly in the spider’s web, a struggle only aroused those wicked lusts further, letting them know it will be a succinct experience.
Hierarchy is very important in A'lfar society. Due to the influence of their goddess, females have a highly preferred position. They hold most leading positions, and males born beneath a certain rank are looked upon with superiority, and even disdain. Within a House, one's rank is usually decided by how closely one is related to the Matriarch. Between Houses, rank is a more subtle business, obeying complex unwritten laws, but in the end being an interaction between the current status of one's House and one's individual status within it.
There are of course also commoners among the A'lfar, but most of them are at least distantly affiliated with one of the Houses, as they would otherwise find it hard to occupy any worthwhile position in the Alfheim. Yet they are not disregarded by the nobility as in other races. Rather they are seen as loyal followers and worthy kin, potentially able to rise above their current station.
And indeed birth only indicates one's starting point in A'lfar society. Any Dark Elf can rise in the ranks, either through skilled politics, military success, or exceptional clerical devotion. A commoner having gained enough distinction in this manner will usually be given the chance to join one of the Houses. It is even possible for males to gain some respect in this manner, in very rare cases even equal treatment... but such a struggle is quite hard.
Besides, the lowest commoner will still be of higher regard than any surfacer--for the A'lfar firmly believe in the absolute superiority of those of their blood. Yet there have been some very rare cases in which some A'lfar made alliances with some of the stronger and more vicious surfacers. Such events happen very seldom, however, and are frowned upon by most Dark Elves.
That is not to say that the A'lfar will not enslave their own kind. Many males suffer that fate in any case, due to their subordinated position, and many females believe that serving is all they were ever created for. Yet there are also females slaves, some fallen to that position through political machinations, a few having willingly chosen that path. They are never owned by males. Some disdain them, seeing them as degenerate weaklings, but others say they were simply born into that place to serve their betters--and those female slaves who accept their lot are usually very skilled, and quite sought after.
On the subject of A'lfar half-breeds, opinions differ. The majority considers them just as low as surfacers, or even lower. Others, however, are willing to accord them a little respect if they believe the A'lfar blood to be stronger.
Due to the physical properties of the Alfheim, the A'lfar Empire is rather decentralized, consisting of cities built in caverns linked by broad tunnels. Each city is nominally ruled by a council, but that council is usually dominated by the noble House that resides in the respective city. There are some exceptions however; some cities harbor more than one House, who are usually in conflict to each other, while certain Houses extend their influence to several cities.
Indeed the Houses, and the Matriarchs that rule them, are the main drivers of A'lfar politics. Their power and influence varies greatly, and also fluctuates as every House always plots to become more powerful. There is no central authority, but rather a web of complex and ever shifting alliances and pacts. Politics within the Houses are also dominated by scheming and plotting, and often succession is assured by assassination.
In such unstable conditions, it might be surprising that the empire has subsisted as long as it has. But it must be noted that treacherous though they may be, A'lfar always clearly realize when something threatens their race as a whole, and are well able to lay aside their plotting for a while until the common threat has been defeated.
Dark Elves Religion
The A'lfar are all considered Bé Chuille's Children and worship her as their goddess. Yet only the most fervent concentrate on her alone. Most worship her through one of the Fomoiri , who act as patron deities to cities and Houses. Some are quite powerful and are revered by many, while others draw their worship only from small local groups... especially the male Fomoiri, whom no female will worship.
Few deities intervene so directly in the life of their people as those of the A'lfar. The Dark Elves are not mindless puppets and will for a great deal be allowed to follow their own courses, but should one rebel against the deities, cruel punishment will soon find them... unless they choose exile, in which cases even Bé Chuille has been known to pass up revenge, for reasons that none can be certain of.
But often certain A'lfar will be used as pawns in the greater plans of the deities. These dark plots are intricate and beyond even elven comprehension. The Fomoiri are treacherous, toward each other and even their mother Bé Chuille, but never letting their rivalry become destructive. Ultimately, their common goal is to eventually find a way to crush all surfacer races under their might, and elevate themselves and the A'lfar as absolute rulers Above and Below. How far or near they are to fulfill that plan, no one knows...
Politically, priests and clerics of a certain Fomoiri obviously have higher authority in places where that Fomoiri is worshipped with particular fervor. The followers of Bé Chuille are the most powerful of the clergy, and their authority touches every Dark Elven city. Likewise, the highest A'lfar military commanders are often Dark Paladins.
Dark Elf Rituals
Birth is not celebrated in Dark Elf society, unless it is a daughter to a Matron. Male births are even less noticeable, usually no attention past birth is given. Birthrates in Dark Elf society are rather high for elves, as they need to replace the losses they suffer due to the amount of deaths resulting by infighting. Newborns that display birth defects are usually killed in ritualistic sacrifice.
Occasionally Matrons or even other Priestesses of Bé Chuille will don their ritualistic armor, which clads them from top to bottom in cloth lined with chain and velvet. During these rituals it is not uncommon to see representative spiders of Bé Chuille, called gwe'r corryn. The robes are heavy because a bite by a gwe'r corryn or spindle spider means certain death.
Marriage and engagements:
These two things are unheard of in traditional Bé Chuille-abiding Dark Elf society. If a female wishes a male, she will simply have him brought to her chambers for her pleasure. If the male pleases her, and she is a matron mother, the male will be granted the status of patron until he displeases her and is sacrificed
Known Rituals of Bé Chuille:
Cleansing of Soul:
A'lfars are really all about causing chaos to have a form of control and an established power over weaker dominions. Yet when this foundation is tested within a A'lfar and they are found to be swaying towards a weaker way.. of smiling, petting, giving away to an unknown without any real need of gaining something in return, Bé Chuille would look upon them as to be pitied but to be brought back around. At this time, the A'lfar might run into a bit of hardship, or bad luck. Perhaps a favored slave had run off, or their horse had mysteriously been killed. Bé Chuille is not a gentle task Mistress.. she believes in tormenting those that live will bring them back to her particular road of darkness. Once a A'lfar had slipped off the path and now recognizes that their Goddess is kicking them back upon her path, they will need to quickly find something that is most precious to them. Be this, alive..(though I do not recommend this for PC's period.. perhaps for a pet they bought or were given or trapped but nothing graphic. If it is destroyed, its dead, permanently) a bit of jewelry, a favored hat, or a magical Item.
Alone, they will travel within a place of acute silence, be it very early morning within a forest or an unused cave or perhaps even the side of a mountain. They will bring with them a bottle of wine, a pouch with their treasured item within, tea leaves, and a water flask or cup that is empty. Upon finding their spot, they are to find anything they can to build a small fire. And before lighting it, they must put their precious item within what will burn. A circle must be made. A stick they found on their way, either ripped from an Ash tree, or found as some believe that the very smoothness of this tree and defiling it is something Bé Chuille would smile upon. With this stick they make their circle upon the earth. All clothing is removed, the wines poured to the ground and then left open by the fire and Bé Chuille offered the first drink. The one performing the ritual goes first, followed by the second. Then you must light your fire. If the Item you brought is destroyed.. Bé Chuille has NOT accepted you back into her fold, nor will she accept your apology. If it has NOT been destroyed then the A'lfar can consider themselves forgiven and must quickly keep to the track the Goddess has always laid out to them.
Honoring the Night:
This ritual is made at least twice a Year. One, usually within a group, the other alone, because night is a time where the Dark elf may flourish and sweep away their enemies, because the A'lfar needs no light to guide them in their path. And because the night affords them cover and the warm embrace of the Goddess herself, twice within a year’s span will a A'lfar bow to their Goddess. This ritual is really overtly simplistic and yet the darker measures that lay about the A'lfar like a cloud of whispers hold true to them until the next ritual is done. This gives no benefit other than making them feel empowered; yet who would not have an ego boost from a night of true debauchery. A night where slaves are traded and shared, where the fruits of their labor is brought and shared with those that come, and half is as always favored and given to Bé Chuille herself. Yet some claim to gain memories, or the touch of Bé Chuille is what gave them these memories of when their time, as a race began, or perhaps when they had been given life, or when they will die.
Blood Swan Moon
The name itself is laughable, given from Bé Chuilles sweetly cruel lips to the ears of her most trusted High Priestess. The thought had grown and grown within the dark Goddess that her children so gifted, so cared for in her own twisted way, seem to have grown fat and lazy. Their collection of slaves, the assurance of few enemies and great numbers to deal with them below. The abundance of odd funguses that helped cure the sick and made grand scents when boiled and then left to burn in the middle of the large caverns. The many wards to keep out what was light.
They weren't displaying what they should, they had grown less and less reliable on her gifts as newer slaves from above were brought downward and shared their knowledge’s. Angry, wanting to see her children laugh and play in the anguish of others, she called to her Zo'lel, a rather fiercely loyal Priestess and let her words touch to the sharp tipped ear of the black colored woman. "My essence shall be blown to you, my Priestess, and you shall spread my disease, my care, my anger and retribution. You shall share it with others of your like mind; let them spread it through all my caverns. To all those that remember where they came from, it was I that gave them first life. And it is I that will dictate to them when their violence must be at their peak. Go now... "
She'd leaned forward, placed cold hands to the cheeks of her Priestess and breathed into her the very cruelty of the Mother from her black heart and evil essence. Then she sent her off with a snap of a fist... and sat back to watch.
The cruel twist of the Blood Swan Moon was that it sounded more a freak of humor. The races of above took it as a joke when rumors began to spread. How could one shake and quiver at the name... Swan.. when the Swan was the true beauty and innocence of the calm lakes? They laughed, flicked it off. Felt as Bé Chuille did. These A'lfar knew nothing anymore of true wars. They only sprinkled their hatred upon their lands. Not poured it. They were soon to find out the joke was on them. For the Goddess of the Dark, had known they'd but laugh.
Once a year, the High Priestess or Priests to Bé Chuille, gather into Her temple, fall to their knees and drink what is called 'Kas'eli' A mixture of Bloodwine and moon flowers crushed. The hallucinogen hits the bloodstream quickly, leaving the High Priests and Priests alike into an uncaring zone of full worship. They cry out for Bé Chuille to give them the strength and the fierceness she so craves to see in her followers. They ask for her judgment to be passed upon land dwelling rivals. They sway and writhe until the sun shone upon the upper reaches of the land they live on, and fall into an un-wakable state of dark dreaming. The blood moon rises, and so to, does Bé Chuilles blessing to all her A'lfar. A touch of insanity; a thorough need for violence, chaos, they thirst for it and the Priests weave the magic outwards from their very inner dark souls, releasing it into the night sky to be tasted by those within a 30 mile radius.
The A'lfar breath in the very essence of their Mother; they writhe and near choke upon the need and then set out with sword to magic’s at the ready to do as bid.
The first night is utter violence and chaos unhinged. The second day is tamer, the A'lfar seems almost normal until the skies darken and the richness of their ruby hues shines with their need again. It only lasts until past the Witching hour and then they must eat.. they must rest. The third day finds the A'lfar twitchy... easily set off. Going at friends and lover alike with no real reason until their lust for that violence is curbed.
Once the essence is drained from their system, the A'lfar WILL sleep a full day. They must replenish what was lost. And they must relinquish what was given... but they will rise again. Renewed in their faith and of what they truly are. A'lfar. A gifting from the Dark Mother Bé Chuille.
OOC note. For the Priests(es) of Bé Chuille. You should begin your Ritual In June on (The 5th) Prepare yourselves. You may bring nothing with you. No weapons. Nothing to drink or eat. This will literally put you down until night falls. Once woken, and you will wake sharply. You will quickly leave the temple and move through the Tavern, Town,and forest to spread the 'essence' of Bé Chuille to the others. It ONLY lasts three days. No more, no Less. And it will begin on Tuesday night (the 6th)
Anyone may participate or ignore at their choosing. In no way is this automatic ooc consent for anyone’s death. In no way is this ooc consent for raping. These rules still apply. However, if you deliberately go out of your way to incite the A'lfar further, you are giving willing consent for whatever follows. Implied consent rules apply. So mind yourself. Above all have fun with this. This will be a Yearly Ritual. Goddess help you all
As noted, there are many more Fomoiri , of greatly varying fame and power recognized through out the different house of the Dark Elf race. Contained within the annals of Dark Elf history there are a relative few that are mentioned with consistency in both name and nature. The following are those deities that are acknowledged in the entire Nethergloom.
The Dark Mother of the A'lfar. She is the final authority to all things, the one all Dark Elves owe their lives and servitude to, and who will in time bring them to the greatness they deserve. She is extremely harsh and cruel, feared as much as loved. Her symbol is a spider upon a web.
The god of male power. He is revered by all males, even those who follow other Fomoiri as well. He stands for what power lies in the male body and mind and can be put to the service of the A'lfar cause. He is one of the more accepted male Fomoiri . His symbol is a black staff in front of a triangle.
The goddess of darkness, secrecy, and magic. She is revered by the practitioners of arcane secrets, but also by those who value stealth and cunning. Her symbol is a black, expression-less mask.
The goddess of death and revenge. While Bé Chuille and some of the more powerful Fomoiri all have some power over the spirits of dead A'lfar, Ethniu guards the Dark Elven gate between life and death. Many assassins are devoted to her. Her symbol is a portal with bones as bars.
The goddess of pleasure, mistress of all from the most civilized to the most debased enjoyments. Her most devout followers are often those who take their pleasure from others, without caring about the latter’s condition. Her symbol is a feather within a circling chain.
The god of physical strength and battle-skills. Revered by many knights and warriors, as well as those who like to solve their problems through brute force. Hissymbol is a fist within a flame-circle.