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 Jade Elves are one of the ethnic subdivisions of Elves that exist in the known world.
The society of the Jade Elves is one of dichotomy. Unearthly beauty, discipline, regret and an unfaltering desire to make amends; these are all touchstones of the otherworldly society and culture of the Jade Elves. Immortal as are all Elves, the Jade Elves find their home on the islands and coasts of Sidereus. The realm of Ursya is particularly well populated by Jade Elves, where they even venture away from the shores and islands and into the more mountainous areas in the central regions of the continent. To other races Jade Elven lands are either seen as places of refuge or places of great danger, as some Jade Elves still follow the old way as mercenaries and pirates. Like most of the other races of the Blessed Living, the Jade Elves were created by a deity. 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 Jade Elves are no exception, their spirits drawn from the precious essence of jade and formed into the stalwart and proud people that now bear the name.
The most notable feature of the Jade Elves is their remarkable agility and dexterity, as with most Elven peoples. Jade Elves spend their entire lives honing their various skills and talents to perfection, as their society is one that is bent on perfection, discipline, and learning. The less refined Jade Elves who still cling to the old ways are more depraved by far – engaging in behaviors such as piracy, thievery and murder, these Jade Elves know little of the civilized and ordered existence the reformed Jade Elves lead. While many people across the face of Sidereus have forgiven or forgotten the misdeeds of the Jade Elven people as a whole – it is not uncommon for Jade Elven raiders to still visit treachery and murder upon unsuspecting coastal settlements, driving fear into the hearts of the unknowing.
Jade Elves commonly appear with dark hair and dark eyes. To Jade Elven reformists, appearances are a very important part of society. Jade Elven reformists live in a caste-based society, and their clothing and appearance is one of the primary factors used to illustrate which caste an individual belongs to. To Jade Elven traditionalists, very little of this matters. Jade Elven traditionalists live random and destructive lives where the focus is the gain of personal wealth and power. They wear whatever is appropriate for their situation and have little concern for culture or other doctrines. Study and practice are considered absolutely essential to the life of a Jade Elf in reformist culture. From a very young age, Jade Elven children adopted into small personal teaching groups often run by a single tutor. These tutors spend their entire lives focusing on little else but education, so each new group of students will benefit from the knowledge and wisdom of centuries. All Elves are commonly resistant to enchantments, and the Jade Elves are no exception. As Jade Elven reformists are commonly pacifists, it is not particularly common for Jade Elven warriors to be seen. However those that do appear in the annals of history are commonly among the greatest warriors the world has ever known. However, despite these cultural distinctions, Jade Elves have a great deal in common with the other Elves that can be found in the other regions of Sidereus.
The evolution of the Jade Elves from the piratical raiders, mercenaries and thieves to the disciplined, noble and proud culture that now sustains their people is an ancient tale. Jade Elf reformists live through use of a caste-based system that determines which individuals may be warriors, which are workers, and which manage government for their culture. This caste system was imposed after the elders of Jade Elven society witnessed the degradation that was taking place among their people as a result of the centuries of depravity and chaos that had infected their people. Always separate from the remainder of Elven society, the Jade Elves who later became reformists had little to do with the ancient civil war that forced the Iron Elves beneath the earth, and as such these Jade Elves are the Elven culture most likely to forgive the Iron Elves of their transgressions and have dealings with them. Jade Elven reformists subscribe heavily to a perspective that life is sacred, regardless of its source. Though they understand the necessity for bloodshed in some situations, they believe that this duty is best left to specific members of their society, so that the majority of their culture can remain free of the taint of violence and death. Most Jade Elven individuals belong to the non-warrior caste or the “Kuan’Shu”. This group makes up the bulk of Jade Elven society and includes commoners, laborers, most merchants, and young nobles. The second caste is the “Zun’Yan” or elder caste. This group essentially consists of the Jade Elves who have the power to make decisions for all of their community, as the management of government and culture falls to their hands. This is a somewhat democratic group, as any Jade Elf who reaches three hundred years of life is welcomed into the fold of the Zun’Yan. The third caste is the “Dou’Shyr” caste. The Dou’Shyr are the warriors of Jade Elven society, the only members of their society allowed to engage in combat with other races, while still being considered worthy of respect and honor. The Dou’Shyr act as a police force and military in most of reformist Jade Elven culture. The Jade Elven traditionalists have none of this organization, and live life simply in a “survival of the fittest” mentality. One thing that is particularly common among Jade Elves is a fear and loathing for the god Xi’rian. While many of the traditionalist Jade Elves still revere Xi’rian as their patron and liege, the reformist Jade Elves hate him utterly. The adulation of Aarûn, Aviaz, Zaria and Solon is far more common in reformist Jade Elven society.
Thanks largely to the discipline and order celebrated in reformist society, reformist Jade Elves are a patient and focused people who have a deep understanding of the value of life and a preternatural awareness of the beauty inherent in all things. Jade Elves are artists nearly as a whole, even the simplest farmer understands how to cultivate beauty in his crop, even the deadliest warrior seems to dance with elegance and grace as she moves through battle. Like most Elven cultures, Jade Elves do not discriminate between genders, though commonly accepted social behaviors for men and women are generally very different. At least one daughter from every family is expected to bear young in order to carry on the pride and honor of the family line. Jade Elven society is generally patriarchal despite the lack of discrimination, but this seems to be more of a cultural holdover from ages long past than anything else. Jade Elven traditionalists are rarely even concerned with these things, often leaving issues of breeding to the hands of chance before considering any of the long term implications. Due to their piratical lifestyle, half-breeds of various sorts are not uncommon in traditionalist culture
The Origins of the Jade 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 core of Elven society slipped into debauchery and became consumed with carnal pleasures, the Jade Elven people branched off in their own pursuit of pleasure and power – taking to the high seas in massive ships crafted with painstaking elegance. Piracy became a standard practice, as the Jade Elves adventured through the raging oceans stealing from Human and Chatûl vessels, and eventually even turning their swords against their own kin. Soon these renegade Elves fell into veneration of Xi’rian, the god of oceans and storms, and eventually veneration turned to absolute worship. It was not long before the entirety of Jade Elven society fell under the thrall of Xi’rian, becoming his willing and enthusiastic slaves. During the bulk of the Second Age the Jade Elves remained under Xi’rian’s control. Many of the Jade Elven pirates became entangled in the ancient civil war that spawned the Iron Elves, but the bulk of Jade Elven culture remained apart. Xi’rian was a cruel taskmaster and the Jade Elves under his dominion perpetrated horrible atrocities on the other people of the world to serve their violent patron. By the year 1110 of the Third Age more than half of the Jade Elven tribes broke away from Xi’rian’s control with the help of direct intervention from Eäminn; the god of peace, freedom and discovery. While some of the Jade Elven tribes remained under Xi’rian’s power, the majority who escaped have since sought to redeem the name of their people. As a result, over the past two thousand years the Jade Elves of Sidereus have taken up a pacifistic world view in the hopes of preventing history from repeating itself.
As the Jade Elves meditated on the great deal of violence and bloodshed they had caused, they began to become aware of the damage they had dealt to the world around them. Countless lives of the Blessed Living were lost, while the servants of Shadow grew and prospered. Unbeknownst to them, as the Jade Elves sailed the seas and murdered thousands – thinking their actions were somehow distant from the wars that wracked the mainland, they were in actuality being used as puppets by Xi’rian – used to harry the forced of Light and force them to expend their strength when the situation was most dire and in their times of greatest need. As a whole, the reformists of Jade Elven society fell into a deep melancholy as they realized the true impact of their actions. Much of the art and music of this period reflects this deep sense of mourning and regret, and it affected the development of Jade Elven society indelibly.
For much of the remainder of the Third Age, reformist Jade Elven culture experienced a series of “growing pains” as it struggled to find its way. Even though events across the world raged and stormed around them, the Jade Elves found ways to retreat further into their own culture, perfecting their arts. While many felt they were retreating from the conflicts of Light versus Shadow, in reality they were preparing themselves under the direction of the agents of Eäminn to play one of the most pivotal roles in the events of the Third Age. As war raged across the face of Sidereus and it seemed as if the agents of Light would falter and fail, the armies of the Jade Elves marched out across the world in their massive sailing vessels, decimating the numbers of their piratical brothers and sisters, and slaughtering the forces of the Naga by the thousands. The ranks of the Dou’Shyr caste had perfected the arts of warfare and swordplay and moved across the stage of battle like dancers, cutting down hundreds for each Jade Elven blade drawn. The armies of Light still survive in no small part due to the actions of the famous (and in some cases infamous) Jade Elven patience that stayed their hand until the last possible moment.
As the days of the Third Age came to a close, and the tumult that had consumed the world settled to some degree, the Jade Elves had now made their mark on the world and reestablished themselves as a worthy force for the armies of Light. While there were still some that straggled behind, tied to the old ways, and many had fallen over thousands of years into the curse that created them as Iron Elves, the core of Jade Elven culture returned as a redeemed prodigal to the loving arms of their father Aarûn. Their overwhelming show of discipline coupled with their obvious desire for redemption as a people convinced many that the Jade Elves had seen the error in their ways and were genuinely seeking atonement. This change in the cultural perspective of the Jade Elves was total and sweeping. As the Third Age came to a close, the Jade Elves spent much of their time combating the impressions of the other races, working against the remnant of their people who still reveled in the carnage and chaotic bloodshed of the old times. As Jade Elven pirates still sailed the seas, singing praises to Xi’rian the Destroyer, the core of Jade Elven society quickly turned toward the worship and reverence of Eäminn in the hopes of finding a new path for their people. Since the end of the Third Age and the fall of Asteria, the Jade Elves have become a powerful force for the Light. Jade Elven Dou’Shyr can often be found wandering the world as adventurers in the hopes of improving the perceptions of Jade Elves to the other races around the world. The Jade Elven people began to flourish as a whole as well; expanding their territory and assisting nearby Chatûl and Human settlements in the reconstruction effort that began at the beginning of the Fourth Age. The influence of the Jade Elves can be felt everywhere in Ursya, as many Human societies have adopted cultural behaviors they observed from Jade Elven practices. This has caused a marked increase in the veneration of Eäminn in the Far East, as well as significant changes in the arts, medicine and the manufacture of weapons and armor.
Now respected by any who come to know them, the Jade Elven reformists have come to be recognized as the core of Jade Elf society, while the traditionalists are more commonly recognized as a fringe element that is not representative of the culture as a whole. While the Jade Elves had always been accustomed to living off of the bounty of the sea, many of them traveled to the mountainous regions of Ursya and other lands as well. As the years passed on and time moved further into the Fourth Age, the Jade Elven people developed many ways of seeking purity and perfecting their arts. Magic became focused on preventing fouler beasts from entering where they were not welcome, earning the Jade Elves the reputation as masters of the Diamond College and any magic having to do with keeping evil beasts at bay or destroying them. Jade Elven Dou’Shyr developed entire sub-sects dedicated to the destruction of Undead, Necromancers and Demons. Typically speaking, Jade Elves abhor Necromancy, viewing it as an affront against nature and the natural order of the world. This has caused many political conflicts for hundreds of years, but these issues have come to a head in very recent history. Since the year 119 of the Fourth Age, many Jade Elven clans have waged war against their distant Iron Elf cousins, seeking to purify their ancient family lines of misdeeds committed long ago. Singular Dou’Shyr will often strike out against entire Iron Elf settlements, destroying vile artifacts and necromantic relics. To this day, the Jade Elves remain one of the most stalwart bulwarks against the threat of an organized Iron Elven invasion, standing against their renegade cousins whenever possible. The worship of Xi’rian, Onûs or Dúnmharú is entirely outlawed in most of Jade Elven society – seen as an affront against the very core ideals of the Jade Elven people and all they stand for. While the forces of Light have still not reclaimed all that is rightfully theirs, the Jade Elves diligently work to ensure that day will come, striving to reclaim the honor and purity that was once their birthright.
If there is one word to describe the outlook and perspective of the Jade Elves, it is “dedication”. Dedication, discipline, strength of will and an ironclad belief in personal honor are among the most important tenets and concepts in Jade Elven society. Jade Elven society is built on a belief structure that centers on family, community, and a core ideal that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The individual is expected to seek the betterment of her community and family as a whole before seeking her own betterment at all times. This is not seen as particularly selfless, only as a practical necessity in a world that is hostile toward anything good and true. Jade Elves are taught from a very young age to value the wellness of the community over their own wellbeing at all times. This proliferates through their art, culture, and even their mannerisms in warfare. Jade Elven Dou’Shyr units are renowned for their startling ability to operate as a cohesive unit, often times without any visible (or at least noticeable) form of communication between individuals.
Despite the discipline a self-denial that is an integral part of their day-to-day life, Jade Elves do enjoy physical comforts, wealth and sensual pleasures just as much as the next culture. In reality, Jade Elves believe that sharing one’s joy and pleasure is a benefit for all, as opposed to selfishly hoarding wealth or prosperity. To a Jade Elf, honor is everything. Jade elves value the honor of their families above themselves, and that of their community above that of their family. Jade Elves are a deeply emotional people, though they rarely show it in the form of outbursts or brash behavior. They are reserved and patient, and most communities teach their younger members to be respectful of all peoples and all life – regardless of origin. Jade Elves have a specific social taboo against killing other Elves in addition to their standard pacifism. If an Elf of any ethnic group is killed by a Jade Elf, that Jade Elf is considered a “Pan’Tu” or unforgiveable traitor. This Jade Elf is told to leave Jade Elven society and may only be redeemed by sacrificing their life for the good of Elven society as a whole. Killing a Pan’Tu does not follow this same taboo as they are seen as unworthy of respect and have no honor.
Jade Elven cities and living spaces are commonly built for extended families to live in relatively close quarters. Designed to coexist with the surrounding environment rather than dominating it, Jade Elven communities are often constructed from natural materials, and are often difficult to locate from a distance. Using powerful warding magic, these cities are often protected against the attack of Demons or Undead. Even in locations where a Jade Elven family is living far from the core of a Jade Elven community, their house will often be protected against invasion or even approach by unnatural creatures. These protections are not inviolate, however, and do not always hold in the case of more powerful creatures. Jade Elves tend to prefer roomy clothing that allows the wearer to move comfortably. This clothing is often crafted from fine silks and other fabrics. Unlike most other Elven cultures, Jade Elves do have a rather significant nudity taboo, where members of different genders are expected to keep their private parts concealed at all times, particularly areas of the body that are considered especially sexual – such as the neck, upper legs or waist.
Jade Elves are very welcoming to outsiders under most circumstances, feeling that turning away a guest is an affront on the honor of one’s community, family, and household. If guests choose to violate this hospitality, they are dealt with swiftly, often through the use of binding magics, and removed from the area so as not to create a threat for the family that sought to house them. Outsiders are never left in this situation unable to defend themselves however, and they are always given all of their belongings and often times a night’s worth of food before they are ejected from the community. This is even true in the case of Iron Elves, who generally expect no quarter from any surface Elves, and are commonly surprised when they are welcomed without reservation by a Jade Elven family.
Magic is considered an art of the highest form and not a tool of war. Mages who call upon arcane magic tend toward non-destructive spellcasting, using the schools of Illusion, Divination and Abjuration. Mages who use more destructive magic must take warrior oaths just as one who would use a bow or a sword in times of war. Divine magic users in Jade Elven society very rarely use their magic offensively. Jade Elven priests prefer to focus on healing and protective magic. Jade Elven priests who do engage in combat must also take the oaths of the warrior. Jade Elves do not approve of the use of Necromancy. Healing magics are acceptable, but necromantic magic and spells are generally avoided by Jade Elves. Spells that create or bolster undead, or despoil life in any way are considered evil in Jade Elven culture, often more so than in other cultures. Necromancy is also seen as evil because of its corrupting effects on the living user. Weapon and armor crafting is viewed as a high art form among the Jade Elves also, though weaponsmiths and armorsmiths are required to keep a similar set of ritual behaviors as the warrior sect. Weaponsmiths and armorsmiths are often warriors themselves. Weapons that can also be used for hunting do not suffer the same social taboo. Spears, staves, bows, hand axes and other such items are considered tools before they are considered weapons. A crafted item that is used as a weapon is considered tainted and is permanently considered a weapon from that point forward. Some such weapons are purposely crafted to be used for war. Such items are often crafted from a material that is dyed red in some fashion, as if permanently stained by blood, to represent that their purpose is to spill blood and wage war.
Jade Elven warriors are among the most skilled, determined, and dedicated in the world. Their skill at arms is a staggering amalgam of poetry in motion, terrifying precision, accuracy, and determination. Despite their rather remarkable skill, the Jade Elven predilection with the concept of honor is paramount even in their style of warfare. Jade Elven Dou’Shyr will never slay an unarmed foe that is worthy of honor and respect. Of course, Undead, Demons, constructs, and other beings considered unworthy or dishonorable are not afforded this good will. Jade Elven smiths commonly make use of Mithril in forging their blades, as the metal keeps a preternaturally fine edge and has little trouble slicing through most materials. Generally Jade Elven Dou’Shyr wear little armor at all, preferring to rely on their speed and agility to see through through a conflict. When they do wear armor, lamellar styles are most common. Jade Elven weaponsmiths are renowned for the invention of the tachi, a style of weapon greatly feared for its keen edge and incredible durability, and also in recent years for the development of the uchigatana – a similar weapon that surpasses its forebear.
Out-of-Game, the primary Jade Elven language is the real-world language of Standard Mandarin Chinese. This is referred to as “Jade” in-game.
The Jade Elves have developed an elaborate religious tradition in the years since they broke away from being the thrall of Xi’rian. The Jade Elves revere many gods from the pantheon of Sidereus, but they hold particular veneration for Aarûn and Eäminn. While some Jade Elves still choose to revere the Dark gods, this is not entirely common as such practices are considered immoral and, quite frankly, dangerous. There is no typical difference in frequency of religious affiliation between the genders, though women are more likely to revere Zaria than Aarûn.
Ecology & CultureEditJade Elves have spent millennia subsisting off of the bounty of the oceans and seas, causing them to grow accustomed to their environment in ways that have shaped their evolution as a people. Jade Elves are particularly at home on or near the open sea. Their traditional diet consists of seafood and harvestable goods that can be grown in close proximity to the ocean. Many Jade Elves learn to sail and swim at a very young age, and their familiarity with island and oceanic environments is unparalleled.
Like all Elves, Jade Elves are immortal, and as such they have the potential to live for thousands of years. In reality this does not take place that often, as the hazards of any life in the world of Sidereus are such that disease, warfare and other conflict will often cull the numbers of any race. It is not uncommon to see a Jade Elf who makes it to her third or sometimes fourth century, as their pacifistic and caste-based lifestyle will often keep them away from conflict for the majority of their lives. With centuries to excel at their varied areas of interest, Jade Elf artisans are often unparalleled at their chosen craft. Personal pride and pride in one’s family line often keep craftsmen from passing on the secrets of their art to anyone who is not a member of their family line. This often means that Jade Elven items can be identified by the “house” or family of origin.
Jade Elven reformers have a relatively standard perception of the concept of marriage. To a Jade Elf, marriage is a way to improve the standing of one’s family, and strengthen the bond between one family and another. Jade Elves often engage in the practice of arranged marriage. This is not to say that Jade Elves do not marry for love, quite to the contrary as Jade Elven families will often go to great lengths to ensure that their betrothed children are astrologically compatible. The Jade Elves consider it a delicate art and science of subtle manipulation to encourage two betrothed children to love one another as time goes on. They are very carefully guided through their lives to see one another first as friends, then as romantic interests. In many situations, the two children will be sent on a quest together as they approach maturity, sharing their coming-of-age ritual in the hopes that a romance will spring forth from the time spent together during this particularly sensitive period in their development. These practices are a very carefully guarded secret that few adults would ever dare share with children. Divorce in Jade Elven culture is almost unheard of, as most couples consider themselves very much in love. Generally speaking there is no restriction of marriage between castes, though once a member of any caste is wed to a Dou’shyr, they are considered Dou’shyr as well and must adhere to all the requisite restrictions.
Like all Elves, Jade 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 it is considered a sign of good fortune for the family in years to come. Jade Elven mothers engage in long periods of meditation and oftentimes prayer, to focus their bodies for the coming of the child. Most Elven births are generally painless, as Elven physiology does not have to endure the rather traumatic body changes to allow the child to enter into the world. New births are celebrated with great feasts and fanfare, as any addition to the family strengthens the family unit. This is possibly the most notable exception to the usual perspective of Jade Elven society where the individual is less important than the community. Children are named by the oldest members of the family. Generally it is discussed in private between the eldest male and female of the family, but in some families it is an open debate between all of the elders present. It is considered a great honor to be named after a particularly gifted or successful ancestor. Jade Elven families typically gather together (regardless of family size) to share a meal at least once a week, and will often build large compounds rather than smaller houses to keep large family units together (if the finances are available to make this possible). Where resources do not make this possible, families will often simply choose to live together, securing whole areas of a village or a city to ensure they can remain close to one another.