Ice Elves: The Crissen'Thalan

Ice Elves

Language: Portuguese

Subset of the Elven race, the Ice Elves come from Jormunger. They live in ice caverns beneath the surface and are strongly xenophobic. Due to the independence of their society Ice Elves have a very strong sense of unity. The only sin for a members of this culture is in the extreme circumstance that he or she denies Pandora (Shiva, the Mistress of Pain) and her teachings. Ice Elves are known for strongly defending one another and banding together in times of need. Perhaps surprisingly, Ice Elves have a cultural tendency towards adopting children, even those of other races. Ice Elves see it as vital to the survival of their culture to teach children the proper ways of Shiva and thus adopting lost children assists in the continuing of their culture.

Ice Elves appear as light- to dark-blue skinned elves, typically with white hair. They tend to expose vast amounts of skin, as environments south of the tundra causes them to feel overheated, even in the winter.

Racial Maturity

Child 1-15
Teenager 16-20
Young Adult 21-50
Mature 51-100
Middle Age 101-400
Old 400+

Age of Majority: 13

Number of children born at once: 1

Gestation Period: 1 year

Social Structure: There are three levels of social structure amongst the Ice Elves. The first, and smallest, is the family, which is comprised of direct blood relatives. The head of the family is the Eldest (or eldest couple) member of the family. Second, and most important, is the Band. Comprised of a minimum of five families, and run by the eldest head of family, the Band is the primary social structure of the Ice Elves. The leaders of the 12 bands that comprise the most families (except the most populated family, see below) sit in council in the capitol city of Braganca, which is in turn ruled over by a king and queen, leaders of the largest family. While city dwellers follow the laws and rules passed down by their monarchs and council, the wanderers that remain on the tundra only pay lip service to them, managing under the rule of the Band leaders.

Ancient History:

Originally a faction of grey elves who left their homelands after the betrayal of the human race, the first ice elves stumbled into the arms of Shiva in the frozen northlands. Wanting little to do with the other races, they hoped to find isolation and seclusion but instead found nothing but war and pain.

The Founding of Braganca

Myth says that the first ice elves to arrive in Shiva's domain had just finished a long harsh winter, and the herds they brought with them had been struck with a terrible disease. Food was scarce, and there was a great fear that the band would soon be wiped out by hunger. They travelled every day, hoping to come across new herds, or at least some form of food. After a month of burying the weakest of them, and watching the strongest of them slowly waste away, they came across a river that flowed through the ice. There the band collapsed, set up their tents, and crawled in. Most assumed it would be for the last time.

That night, the druid among them got up, looked around at his sleeping band, and went out onto the frozen river to pray for deliverance. In the middle of his prayer, he looked up to see a pale woman wearing nothing but pale blue silk wrapped tightly around her body, and a cruel smile on her face. She asked the holy man what he would be willing to do to save his people. He looked back and his starving, dying band, and answered without hesitation "Anything"

She waved her hand, and at that he fell asleep. He dreamt of a city built on the edge of the river, a great capitol that would rise up. The centre of the city was a giant temple, dedicated to the woman that had appeared to him.

The next morning, he awoke to find the band sitting up, and staring around them blinking at the gigantic herd of deer that had wandered into their camp. The band had been saved.

At that, he began preaching of the woman, and the city that would come. The band's deliverance was so total that they could not help but agree, and began to put together a permanent settlement on the banks of the river. The holy man would dream every night of the woman, and she would share her sermons with him, which he would pass on to his people. He became the first Ice Elf priest of Shiva.

Modern History

Braganca quickly became the capitol of the Ice Elves, and soon blossomed into a major city. As time passed, more and more of the wandering bands of Ice Elves came to the city, and built permanent structures there. The priest of Shiva, who had had the vision that founded the city, lead the people along with the head of the original band, governing the secular and religious life of the city. Shiva worship became first the official religion of the city, then it became mandatory. Many of the cultural traditions and superstitions were kept, but they slowly were altered to fit into the new, softer city life. The society grew, based on the principles born of hard living. The Ice Elves would build other, smaller cities in places of significance throughout the tundra, Braganca would outstrip them all in terms of size and culture. A society based on the principles of "Hard decisions are needed for hard living", "Cruelty is necessary to survive a cruel world" and "Pain and suffering bring courage and strength" flourished, as learning, both magical and mundane, grew along with the towers of the city.

Not all Ice Elves flocked to the metropolis, however. Some, seeing those who gave up their wanderings for the city life as being weak and false to their wandering ways, turned their backs on the city. They name themselves "Santarem", or "True Ones", and went on living the harsh wandering lifestyle of their forefathers, in small bands, scattered over the tundra. Some would leave the bands for the comparative ease of the city, and some city folk, seeing what they perceive as weakness, would leave the city to join the bands, but mostly the two factions kept their distance.

Rites and Rituals

While most Ice Elves worship Shiva, not all do (although those that don't are looked at with suspicion at least, outright hostility which usually leads to exile at worst). Whether or not they do, culturally the Ice Elves have always used pain and suffering as badges of strength and courage. The following are examples of the most important of the rites followed by all ice elves. There are hundreds of others, as each family and band have their own.

The Rite of Birth:

City Version: At birth, the moment the umbilical cord is cut, the priest takes the infant from the birthing place, and takes it to the local church, where a small room is kept under the main alter for this purpose. The child is left alone in the room, without light, heat or comfort, for 24 hours. It's cries echo throughout the church, being used as music by the congregation for services held during this time. If it survives, it is returned to the family, as it has proven its strength.

Wanderer version: At birth, the moment the umbilical cord is cut, the band's holy man takes the child out into the tundra, and takes it to a small snow-cave that was built and consecrated when the delivery of the child became immanent. The child is left there for 24 hours, its cries echoing over the tundra to the tents of its band. If it survives, it is returned to its parents, and a large party is held in honour of its survival. Not many survive.

In either case, if the child survives, it is adopted by the entire band, and while its parents are the primary care givers, the entire band is responsible for the care, rearing and education of the child.

The Rite of Adulthood:

City Version: When an Ice Elf turns 13 years of age, they are given a party in the style of a funereal wake, and then they are taken to the garden of testing, a patch of woods at the outskirts of the city. The garden is very large, and kept as natural as possible, as close to the wilderness of their origins. Animals are kept in the confines of the walled garden. The child is stripped nude, and enters the garden at sundown on their birthday. They may not exit the garden for 30 days. They must use what skills they have to fashion clothing, weapons and tools. They must survive in the garden and gather up tools and equipment, because at the end of the 30 days, they must leave the garden, and enter the actual tundra, where they must survive for 3 days and 3 nights, with only what they managed to take from the garden. On the morning of the 4th day, they may re-enter the city, and a second larger party is held to celebrate their survival. They are now considered an adult.

Wanderer Version: When an Ice Elf turns 13 years of age, they are given a party in the style of a funereal wake, and then they are stripped nude, and with nothing but their wits, are sent out into the tundra to survive. They must travel due north for a period of 5 straight days. Then they must remain there for 20 straight days. Then they may make their way home. They must use what skills and knowledge they have to survive, make clothing, weapons and tools. The harshness of the climate makes this a challenge that quite a few parish from. If a child is born in winter, it is considered an ill-omen, as this test is infinitely harder in winter. However, if they survive this challenge, they are considered blessed, the ill omen lifts, and they are now good luck symbols for the band. After surviving this challenge, they are considered adults.

The Rite of Marriage:

When two Ice Elves wish to marry, they must get permission from the local priest, or the band's holy man. If it is given, the two must go out into the tundra and live by themselves for 7 days. They may bring whatever they can carry on their backs. This is not a test of survival, but of partnership. At the end of the 7 days, the partners will take a dagger given to them especially for this purpose by the priest (it may be used for no other purpose, and must be consecrated by the priest before each rite), and will cut their family's crest into the flesh of the other (In the very rare instance that a marriage occurs between members of different bands, the individual band's crest is used instead, and from that moment on, both bands are merged into one, being lead by both leaders). They must re-cut the crest once per night for three nights deep into the flesh of their partner. On the third morning, they may rejoin their band, and they are considered married. The blessing on the dagger is such that the wounds will scar deeply, and the scar will never heal. It is said that if one partner is unfaithful, the crest in the cheater's flesh will fade, and the crest in their partner's flesh will begin to seep blood. The only difference between the city and wanderer versions of this rite is wanderers tend to put the crest in visible locations, such as the face, or the lower arm, whereas city dwellers put it somewhere more hidden.

The Burial Rite:

This one rite has not changed in the millennia in which it has been practiced, and city-dweller and wanderer alike follow it in the same way, to the point that if one comes across the other performing the rite, they will often join in. In death, there is only one people. A dark, somber, quiet ceremony is held by the priest or band's holy man. At the end of the ceremony, the deceased's entrails are removed from their body, and placed in a special sack consecrated by the priest/holy man. The congregation, normally comprised of the entire band of the deceased, carries the body out into the tundra, while the priest/holy man carries the entrails. The entrails are scattered across known hunting trails, to attract predators of the tundra to the area. The band kills the first animal drawn to the entrails. A pyre is lit, and the corpse of the deceased is placed on it. The pyre is lit, and as it burns, each member of the band in turn tells a memory of the deceased. These memories can be good or bad, it does not matter, and no one is judged on what is said, it is merely seen as a way of letting the deceased go. Once the pyre is down to coals, the dead animal is roasted over the coals, as the deceased provides one last meal to their band. The band eats the entire animal, down to the marrow, and the bones are left amidst the ashes. The deceased is then gone, never mentioned again by the band.

Roleplaying an Ice Elf

Ice Elves are, even when their lives are soft and city-bred, still creatures born of suffering, of trials and tribulations, and they take pride in their ability to deal with pain and the harshness of life. An Ice Elf's ability to handle pain is a mark of their courage. That being said, withstanding pain is not the goal for Ice Elves. Those that just muscle through pain and suffering are considered to be fakers and weak. The goal is to handle the pain, to let it flow through you, and to learn what it has to teach. While there are some who go out of their way to find pain and experience it, by self-flagellating, or cutting, or even being reckless in battle, most ice elves understand that there is enough pain in the world to experience, and there is no need to seek out more. Ice elves are seen sometimes as haughty and cruel, but this is for the most part simply the face that the world has shown them, mirrored back. Ice Elves are extremely loyal to their band (a collection of small families under the same crest), but have no problems turning on other Ice Elves outside their band, if the needs of their band necessitate it. Survival of the fittest after all. Non-Ice Elves are seen with distrust. No one outside your band is completely trustworthy. However, they are not completely xenophobic, they merely keep everyone at a distance to ensure the safety of them and theirs. Survival before all else is their credo. While seen as barbaric by many, especially the more "civilized" elves, Ice Elves have a deep sense of art, culture and beauty. There are scholars and poets amongst them that rival any other race, although the art of the ice elves is disturbing to most, as it tries to teach the lessons of pain. Ice Elves are fierce warriors, having had to survive some of the harshest conditions just to earn the right to grow up, and do not believe in honour in combat. There is a pragmatism in all things they do. The one exception to the stand-off attitude are the Einher. A racial hatred dwells deep with each race for the other. It is rumoured that this hatred began as an edict from Shiva to her high priest, who passed it on to the government, many millennia ago, but it runs very deep.

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