The Elohim inherit an ancient and honored legacy. Throughout the ages they have guarded sacred shrines, given comfort to the broken, and brokered peace between deadly rivals. The role the Elohim have chosen earns them the adoration of the humble man, but rulers often resent their meddling and seek the mysteries they guard. Though he prizes peace above all, Einion Logos will not let his followers be slaughtered like lambs. And though she is willing to sacrifice all to save her people from death in war, Ethne the White will not stand by as good works are undone by the growing evil that sees kindness as vulnerability.
In the Age of Dragons the gods waged war across the face of creation through proxies, fierce dragons, wild krakens, and armies of lesser angels and demons and, rarely, face to face. In either case, the destruction was cataclysmic.
Immanuel Logos was a follower of Sirona, Goddess of Wisdom. He ruled a small tribe in her name, dispensing wisdom and providing shelter for her followers. Until one day he observed her army, a phalanx of titans, marching upon a stronghold of Aeron. The armies met in a field worked by a group of subsistence farmers. When the battle ended, the armies were tattered, but the bystanders were worse: broken in body, fields destroyed, spirits crushed. It was a scene played out countless times, as dragons crushed struggling settlements when they clashed or holy fire rained down upon those caught in the middle. Immanuel believed in his goddess, but he could no longer stand on the sidelines, nor confine his care to his own people.
Off came his regal symbols. He tossed aside his sacred spear for the last time. He gathered orphaned children in his arms and doled comfort to the dying. Sirona watched this noble leader leave her service, but did not forbid him leaving. She knew that for humanity to survive, they needed more than someone fighting on their behalf. They needed care and shelter through the days of heavenly warfare to come.
Thus was borne an order of monks. Before the compact, they had no permanent home. They traveled the world, tending to the battered and broken under the guidance of Immanuel and his successors, who took his name to show their spiritual heritage and authority.Their service attracted other kind-hearted souls, and they became one of the most trusted groups in the eyes of men and angels. Thus, when the compact was forged, they were the only mortals who witnessed the handing of the Godslayer to the legendary champion Finner, avatar of Dagda.
The agreement of the gods to withdraw from direct conflict in mortal realms was met with great joy. At the location of the Compact seven fir trees were born to stand witness. Before departing creation, Sucellus tasked the order of the Elohim with tending to this and other sacred sites, some symbols of great importance, some fonts of power.
As the kingdoms of men arose in the Age of Magic, the Elohim continued this mission, peacefully when possible, with force when necessary. Warlords who searched for clues to the location of Finner’s tomb, wizards who coveted an angel’s tears for his magics, and others sought the Elohim’s knowledge, secrets they often died to protect. The warrior-monk tradition was born in these trying times, men who carried no weapon, so anathema was warfare was to them, but could subdue marauders in the blink of an eye. The monks’ purity of spirit was a ward against the more vile forces that sought to harm their charges.
Then came Bhall’s fall and Mulcarn’s breach of the Compact. The Elohim lost contact with many of their sacred sites, abandoning them to the elements and wildmen of the wastes. But they returned to their original mission, assisting desperate communities and preserving dying knowledge through chants and mantras. As in the Age of Dragons, their numbers swelled with those inspired by their example, and they become not just an order, but a nation.
Today that nation has emerged into the sunlight of rebirth. Einion Logos is the head of the ancient order of Elohim, a position of unequaled respect. He is ancient himself, but wishes to live however long enough to see his followers reclaim their shrines. Gariel the Strong was King of the Elohim nation which shelters the order. He led his people out of the Age of Ice, but his reign was cut short by illness and passed to Ethne the White, his daughter who must now withstand the trials of the Age of Rebirth.
1% Gnome (Forest)
< 1% Other
50% Neutral Good
40% Lawful Good
10% Chaotic Good
< 1% Other
Adult population Lvl 1 or higher: 3%
Other: < 1%
He always began with “culva,” the Lanun word for love. He went through his list, intoned each word and its meaning. At the beginning they were all recited from memory, but each week he added a few more, and he had to read from the journal he kept for the task when he neared the end of the list.
She died two years ago. He had promised that he would take her to the Aegean Isles, always postponing it. During times of war he was needed for battle, in other times he was needed to maintain the peace. Threatening armies retreated from cities once they found out he was in them, enemies unwilling to negotiate were eager to offer peace when he carried the treaty to their capitals’ gates.
But there is no good deal that can be made with demons. He had just returned from negotiations with the Infernals, a deep blue demon with a goat’s head and shattered bones had agreed to the peace treaty but with several demands. He had lost most of them and that infuriated the demon. He threatened, Einion ignored the threats and demanded complete surrender. The demon had no choice.
The treaty was signed, it agreed to end hostilities between the Elohim and the Infernals. That all crimes previous to the signing of that treaty would be forgiven. The demon signed, and smiled.
The smile haunted Einion for the three days it took to return home. While the others celebrated his success, the end of the war, a dark cloud hung over Einion. When he opened the door to his secluded manor-house he understood why.
The stench slammed into him but he had been on enough battlefields to realize immediately what had happened. The curse of knowledge is that it kills hope, you know what has happened, what is happening, what will happen regardless of your desire to remain ignorant.
Einion walked through his house, wanting to run to his wife but unwilling to move any faster than a walk through the horrors around him. Blood was everywhere. An elegant glass cabinet in the foyer had had her faced pressed up against it. You could still see the prints of her face and hands in the dried blood, and the fragile shells she had painted herself were inside undamaged. No one had pushed her against the glass, she had been possessed and rubbed and held her face just enough to leave the mark.
It was like this in every room. She had climbed unto the rafters in their sitting room and tied her long hair to the rope braces. Then she had leapt off, her hair and patches of flesh from her head still dangled there. The paintings that hung in the hallway to their bedroom had been painted over with cruel messages to him, all in her handwriting. Einion tried to ignore them.
There was a grey light coming from their bedroom. It made odd jumping shadows in the hallway, like a tattered flag being waved in front of a lantern. Einion expected to find her dead, but she was unable to die.
Her skin was gone, she had carved it off herself, she had torn and pulled most of her joints out of their sockets, and they now hung and flopped at odd angles. The light was from a grey symbol on her chest. A mark that wouldn’t allow her to die, but wouldn’t relieve her of any of the pain she was experiencing. Her soul was trapped in a tortured body. Her body writhed in pain, her soul could be seen stretching out of it, trying to escape, but held fast by the symbol’s power. She had been driven mad by the pain and screamed soundlessly.
Einion wept as he knelt by the bed. He cast the spell to dispel the symbol and once it was gone, once he killed her, he collapsed by the bed and prayed for her forgiveness.
His Rue-de-guar (shield bearer) found him there that evening when Einion failed to show up to the celebration banquet they had planned for him. The city suffered with their favorite son and his tears were shared by the youngest child to the most veteran warriors. When the city called out for blood, that they must break the truce, only Einion said no. He addressed the Council of Ayes:
“If you grieve for me, lay down your arms; if you love me, do not march to the battlefield but return to your wives and children. Let your ships be those of trade and exploration, your dreams be of children playing in the yard and long years spent among friends. I go to bury my wife, with whom I had too little time; do not allow your time to so easily slip by.”
Ethne the White
On the day of her birth, the king decreed that his daughter would never witness the suffering of the world. So Ethne grew up in luxury, tended to by an obedient staff, and she never saw the world past the lavish gardens that surrounded the palace. She grew into a gentle-spirited girl, not expectant or demanding as one might expect of a child in her situation, but kind, without malice of any sort.
Her world remained tiny until the day she saw Splendor, a brightly colored blue and yellow parrot that came gliding over the palace hedges. Ethne was 14 and she expected the bird to come to her call, as all of the palace animals had been trained to do so, but he merely sat looking down at her from the branches of the Tulip Poplar tree.
Confused but fascinated by the strange bird she brought him fruit and nuts and after she backed away he flew down to the plate she had laid out for him. He landed beside the plate and hopped up to it on one leg, holding the other close to his body. Ethne realized he had been hurt, one of his claws was missing, and she cried for the first time she could remember as she watched him eat and hobble on the edge of the plate.
Unable to stand it, Ethne got up and came toward Splendor, wanting to somehow fix him but she only scared him away. His wings were uninjured and in a few seconds he was airborne and he flew out of the palace grounds. Ethne chased after him, overwhelmed with grief for the poor bird. She ran by the marble fountains, the topiary gardens, ponds full of sparkling fish, all without blemish, to the sculpted hedges that marked the borders of her world. And without thinking, she pushed through them and dropped onto the city street beyond into a world unlike anything she had imagined.
People pushed and shoved through crowded streets, tired horses dragged wagons through the mud, diseased beggars yelled for charity and were ignored by everyone. People argued over scraps in front of decaying buildings.
Ethne wandered the streets for hours, unable to comprehend the suffering that existed outside of the palace gates. Well past nightfall, she was stopped by a man with golden blond hair dressed in blue robes.
“Child, do you know that many search and worry for you?”
“I know.” She answered, too confused to say more.
“You have been able to see the world as one outside of it, to know something of perfection and how we fall short of it. It is a rare experience for the mortal mind.”
“There is so much evil,” Ethne struggled to communicate her thoughts, she didn’t have words for most of what she was feeling. “Everything is broken, even the palace life is wrong, when there is so much need outside of it. I haven’t seen anything that is good.”
The stranger knelt down beside Ethne, his grey eyes locked on her watery blue as he told the following story:
“A farmer’s horse jumped the fence and fled his field. The following day his neighbor came to console him for his loss, saying, ‘I am sorry for the evil luck that has befallen you.’
“The farmer only replied, ‘Who is to say what is good and what is evil?’
“The next day the horse returned and it brought a wild horse with it. The neighbor came back and congratulated the farmer on his good fortune.
“The farmer only replied, ‘Who is to say what is good and what is evil?’
“A week later the farmer’s son was trying to tame the new horse when he was thrown from it and broke his leg. Again the neighbor came back to curse the farmer’s bad fortune.
“The farmer only replied, ‘Who is to say what is good and what is evil?’
“On the following day the captain came to the town to recruit men for the war and passed by the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. Once again the farmer said to the neighbor, ‘Who is to say what is good and what is evil?’”
Ethne considered the story before replying, “If this is not evil, then what is?”
“Good, or evil, isn’t what happens to you. It isn’t creation. It is what you do about it. When you return to your palace after seeing this, how you have changed will be for good or for evil.”
Ethne returned to the palace that night, and she took to her studies with a new fervor.She had the hedges removed and looked daily out into the country she was the princess of, determined to take the lesson to heart.
As Corlindale walked towards the overgrown walls, his heart was filled up with equal portions of excitement and fear. His first battle! This was what he had been training for, during the long and hard years of being locked in the Amurite citadels, forced to study moldy old tomes and practice vocalization for unbearably long stretches at a time, listening to the elder mages droning on and on about ancient runestones and vagaries of magic while secretly wishing them to oblivion.
His fellow mages marched beside him, all in a strictly ordered formation, all with equally expressionless faces. He realized that he must look a fool in all his excitement, and made a partly successful attempt at emulating their indifferent expressions.
Moments later: chaos. Everyone was gone, the ordered formations falling into disarray as the Ljosalfar sentries that had been hiding in the treetops unleashed a hail of arrows at the unprotected mages. He had managed to evade it by quickly evoking a protective spell, in a more instinctual than rational reaction. Then he had started to run. Now he was all alone, in the streets of an enemy city. Thankfully, most of the enemy forces seemed to be concentrated at the outer walls, but he still felt very exposed as he walked around the empty streets, marveling at the mighty oak trees. He almost felt as if he were walking in a dream, so eerie was the beauty around him, and so distant the sounds of the battlefield. He found it hard to recall what the cause for the present conflict had been—perhaps a dispute over borders? Perhaps the elves had been overly protective of a source of mana? It all seemed so distant and insignificant now.
Suddenly he stumbled upon an elvish patrol, coming towards him from a side-street. As one of them saw him, he called out in the melodic elven language. The vigilant sentry and the other soldiers started approaching Corlindale, though somewhat warily. They had probably been warned about the skill of Amurite mages.
It did not do them much good, however. He held out his palm, and drew heat from the surrounding air to create an enormous fireball, glad of the recent rainfall that would minimize the risk of a forest fire. He flung the fiery ball at the patrol, and closed his eyes at the searing explosion of light and heat which ensued. Naught but ashes remained of the leading elves, while the ones who had evaded the blast threw their weapons and fled. The cowards.
Feeling strangely exhilarated, he walked on. His first victory—as is so often the case with the young upstarts in military life—had made him feel all but invincible, and he almost wished more elves would come.
Moments later, a wish fulfilled. He heard the rustles of leaves behind him, and immediately invoked another ball of fire. Remembering the rain of arrows with dread, he elected not to take any chances, and in one whirling motion he turned around and flung the ball in the general direction of the sound. Time stopped.
Before him stood a female elf, her hair long and silvery, her eyes almond shaped and beautiful, but her face marred by an expression of pure terror. Worse still, at her feet stood two younger children, a boy and a girl, clinging to their mother’s dress, the older girl mirroring her mother’s expression of terror, the young boy just seeming curious about the fiery object traveling towards him at a rapid pace. Corlindale had time to take all this in, in a moment which seemed to linger for centuries. He reached out his hand, and desperately and fervently willed the ball to stop, to cease its flight towards destruction, even to turn around and consume him. Anything but this. At last, as it became evident that nothing could be done, that no force in this world could reverse his magic, he closed his eyes, and his howl of misery almost served to drown the shrieks of pain.
One evening in the late autumn, a stranger approached the city of Cahir Abbey, in the lands of the Elohim. He was clad in a brown cloak, with no symbols or markings of any kind, and seemed very frail and fatigued, so the sentries on the wall took him in, and gave him food and shelter. Some were curious about his origin, but one look at his eyes was enough to convince them that not all stories were fit for human ears. This was a broken man, in spirit more so than in body, and their hearts ached with pity for his cruel fate.