|Nations and States|
|Full Name||The Nelfin Empire of Ríë|
|Official Languages||Ancient Elven, Imperial Elven, Modern Elven|
|Sovereign State||Elven Empire|
The Elven Empire is perhaps one of the greatest, yet paradoxically flawed states to ever rule Aloria. Stretching from the edges of Teled Methen, all the way up to the grand cities of Ithania, this great Empire enslaved many races such as the Varran and Ailor during its reign. The Empire itself was an authoritarian body which asserted that by Estel’s divine right, it alone was the sole entity which could rule Aloria, deriving its right to reign from the Faith of Estel itself. The Elven Empire was brought to its knees when Nelfin overuse of magic led to the Veil tearing open, ushering forth the Fifth Void Invasion of Aloria. This invasion, and the devastating events that followed it, toppled the Empire. In spite of its tragic fall, its great historical significance is not one to be underestimated; The Elven language and culture has permanently altered Aloria’s demographics forever. Many Elves reminisce to the days where their grandparents ruled Aloria from lofty towers. Today, however, the ruins of Ríë are only a sorrowful far-cry from the previous glory the Empire represented. Furthermore, many Altalar revanchists wait in secret beneath the iron thumb of Regalia, waiting for their new parent nation to show a sign of weakness before carving out their old Empire from the territorial holdings of the Ailor. Only time will tell if the Elven Empire will see a resurgence, or if the Nelfin people will eventually assimilate completely into Ailor society, finally letting go of a past that has long abandoned them.
Nearly four thousand years ago, Gwännë-gellén rose to power as the young prince of a small kingdom in present-day Ríë Rivaëlla. This state was relatively small, and did not have much power in terms of military arms. Through a series of political alliances and planned assassinations, Gwännë-gellén was able to consolidate most of his power in what is presently known as Teled Methen. After a planned marriage with the sole daughter of a prince in pre-historic Hyarroc, Gwännë-gellén was able to force all remaining Nelfin princes in Teled Methen to abdicate and differ their rule to his. With his newfound power in the south, Gwännë-gellén sought to test his strength by moving northwards, into Daendroc. The subjugation of the otherwise tribal and disorganized Nelfin of Daendroc was a simple matter, and thus, a new age was ushered forth: The age of the Elven Empire. Gwännë-gellén styled himself as Emperor of the Elves, and commanded loyalty through martial strength, intelligence, and the divine right granted by Estellian priests. From there, the Emperor consolidated his power by sending expeditions out into the wild inland areas of the continents, slowly civilizing the people he had conquered. In spite of a few rebellions, the Empire eventually stabilized and began to prosper as one people, as opposed to many.
Throughout the next thousand years, various Elven Emperors pushed the borders of their empire to encompass Hadar, Ithania, and even parts of Fendarfelle. Throughout this period, several advances in technology and cultural practices resulted in various renaissances, bringing forth the rich High Nelfin culture many scholars and historians know so well today. As the Empire expanded, so too did the hubris of its rulers; Emperor Céar-néallë’ná (for which the continent of Ceardia is named) ordered the enslavement of the Varran, who occupied the Ithanian deserts to the north of the Elven Empire. Through the utter destruction of Varran society, culture, and technology, the Elven Empire was able to fully expand north into Fendarfelle, and eventually Drowda, where it subjugated the Drovv people and molded them into a client state. As time passed, the Empire looked eastwards, and formed colonies in modern Gallovia, Ceardia, and other Central Islands. This began a period of mass enslavement and displacement of Ailor. Ailor slaves were brought back to Daendroc and Ithania to use as slaves on the vast plantations, enabling their Altalar overlords to partake in more recreational activities. This ultimately led to the hubris for which the Elven Empire is known today; excessive amounts of free time and excessive amounts of indulgence among the upper class. Meanwhile, the poorer Nelfin grew poorer, as they were replaced by the dramatically cheaper labor of the Ailor slaves. On top of looming destitution, many of the Nelfin upper-class became increasingly wealthy from the influx of slaves, allowing them to focus on things such as art, music, and, primarily: Hedonism. Due to these rather drastic developments, many Nelfin turned to more nefarious means of salvation through Void Worship. Nearly five hundred years ago, the first Shadow Council convened to enact a long-term plot to fell the Elven Empire.
Night of the Fallen Star
See main article: Night of the Fallen Star
Through the worship of Behesael and possession through the Void, the proto-Kathar enacted a plan to see the collapse of the Nelfin Empire—one they saw as evil and hubris. On the Night of the Fallen Star, thousands of Kathar cultists, then appearing as any other Altalar, took to the various temples and groves, cutting down the Nelfin spiritual leaders and Nenya; colossal and sentient trees that were thought to have a hive-mind connection to each-other and Estel. At the end of the night, the Shadow Council partook in a Shadow Ritual involving a long-lost magic, stealing the statue of Estel from her home in the Ivory Tower within the capital city of Ríë. When the Empire awoke, it was forever different; without the guidance of Estel, her Nenya emissaries and the priests that tended them, the Empire was blind and vulnerable to strike.
In the years following the Night of the Fallen Star many groups would begin to secede from the Elven Empire, seeing it for the sinking ship it was. The proto-Isldar, the Dregodarians, stole a clutch of Dragon eggs and left to live in isolation deep on the frozen continent of Ellador. Meanwhile, many Nelfin took to the wilds to live off the land in their own communities, eventually becoming the Cielothar, while others still became vigilantes, bandits, and hunters. Finally, the Kathar, their skin having permanently changed to grey because of their Shadow Rituals, vacated the Empire and regrouped at Níë-állonë, later to be renamed the Shadow Isles.
The Void Invasion
See main article: Fifth Void Invasion Due to the severing of the ties that bound the Nelfin Empire to Estel, Elven society as it was known began to collapse. As many Nelfin left the Empire, the ratio of slave-to-master began to increase and increase. Parallel to this was the Nelfin overuse of Void-based magic, which continued to exponentially grow with the numbers of Nelfin that were leaving the Empire. Eventually, in one abrupt event, the Veil tore open—spewing forth dark energies that twisted man, beast, and nature into abhorrent versions of themselves. This began the bloody conflict known as the Fifth Void Invasion, which brought most of known Aloria to its knees, but especially the already collapsing Elven Empire. The Void Invasion ended when the Veil was suddenly sealed for questionable reasons, and fed directly into the Cataclysm. It should be noted that the then-current Emperor, Emperor Máellë Médûí, was killed in the final stand of the Elven Empire.
See main article: Cataclysm The Cataclysm that followed issued forth a period of magical anomalies; all mages were cut off from using magic, the climate of Aloria was shaken back and forth and spontaneous natural disasters tore across the world, reshaping entire continents. The Cataclysm led to the separation of Saivalé from Hyarroc, as well as the destruction or weakening of many Elven coastal cities. Furthermore, it ruined many harvests, resulting in famine and the loss of a huge amount of Aloria’s population.
The Elven Civil War
Following the Void Invasion, the topic of Elven succession was up in the air. There were three potential claimants, all of whom would perish: Cédrón, Cédríl, and Cédrál, Emperor Médûí’s sons. Cédrál and Cédríl, a battle-hardened warrior and a Ranger informant respectively, formed a shaky alliance against their older brother, Cédrón, the powerful mage. During negotiations, however, Cédrál murdered his overly pacifistic brother, Cédríl, and took possession of both armies to lead the charge against Cédrón in a final battle. This was interrupted by yet another crisis that would knock the last nail into the Elven Empire’s coffin, and eternally seal its fate.
The Orc Invasion
As Cédrál marched his armies against Cédrón, something happened that neither brother had anticipated. With thundering drums and chant-like growls, the Orcs of Guldar arrived in Daendroc, razing entire forests and slaughtering Nelfin by the thousands out of fear for the native plantlife; the Orcs had recently fled Guldar, a land whose flora turned toxic. It was that same day that Cédrón was slain, whilst the Orcs lay siege to his citadel manned only by defenseless ex-mages attempting to wield weapons. Following the Elven supply roots, the Orcs razed a path straight across the border between Hyarroc and Daendroc, eventually making their way to Teled Methen, and ultimately, the capitol city of Ríë. Chief of Chiefs Ukharr planted the Great Bomba in Ríë, resulting in a huge explosion that encompassed the entirety of the city, killing Ukharr as well as Cédrál Médûí. The disarray was twofold; the Orcs were without a leader, as were the Elves, which gave everyone enough time to consolidate their own territory and protect themselves. While all three of the brothers lay dead, Emperor Médûí was survived by a single daughter: Céndríä. Not much was known about Céndríä, except that she was rather young at the time of her father’s death, and was sheltered from the public eye. This sole survivor’s fate is unknown, as is the existence of any children she may have had.
The Elven Empire was ruled and governed by the current Elven Emperor, who was obligated to have descended from Emperor Gwännë-gellén, the first Emperor. Simultaneously, the Elves derived the right of the Emperor to rule from his holy crown, Arnadríë, which separated one heir from all others. Whichever son of the previous Emperor wore the crown was indisputably Emperor. The Emperor had final say in all matters, and was the only being who was permitted to commune with the statue of Estel, located in the capital of the Empire, for counsel and advice (when the Kathar stole the statue, the Emperor was without this great boon). The Emperor was supported by a board of priests and priestesses (who, in Nelfin society, were typically the scholars and intellectual elites) who advised the Emperor on most matters in weekly council sessions. Responding directly to the Emperor was a Tower of Lords; a senate of sorts, where each senator represented an administrative district of the Empire. These districts were not hereditary; though they held these offices for life, it was the Emperor’s prerogative to replace any absent seats. The Empire was split into the following administrative districts, from which three representatives were permitted to visit:
- Elven Empire
- District of Ríë
- Teled Methen
- Manne-llë Talar
Additionally, senate seats were given to the colonial lords who oversaw the colonization and enslavement of other races. These senators were often viewed as less prestigious in stark comparison to the mainland rulers, but were simultaneously much wealthier.
- Elven Colonial Realms
- Sunspear Isles
Administrative districts were quite centralized. Each lord from the Tower of Lords ruled over every citadel, temple, and academy in their realm, which can be compared to Regalian fiefdoms or baronies. While the Elven Emperor used the Tower of Lords to help administrate his realm, the fiefdoms did not pay taxes directly to the aristocracy. Instead, they sent their taxes directly to the capital of the Empire, Ríë, and in turn, the Empire paid the aristocrats for their service. This enticed the Nelfin aristocracy into loyalty; they could not rebel against the Emperor if they received their sole source of income directly from him. So long as the aristocracy supplied the Empire with designated resources and manpower, they were completely free to do whatever they pleased.
The law of the Elven Empire was created by the Tower of Lords and the Elven Emperor, the latter of which always had the final and absolute say. All Altalar were educated in the basic outline of Elven law, such as the rules on murder, chain of command, theft, etc. Additionally, almost every fiefdom within the Empire had at least one priest or priestess well-educated in the law. The idea was that the citizens would hold each-other accountable, and report any infractions of the law to the local priest or priestess to handle in a trial. Most of the times, so long as there were no opposing witnesses, many Altalar could get away with murder because of the lack of a unified law enforcement organization to enforce the law.
List of Rulers
Though there were hundreds of Elven Emperors, only a few are noted by contemporary historians as notable figures in Nelfin history:
- Emperor Gwännë-gellén: circa. 4000 BC
- Emperor Céar-néallë’ná: circa. 3000 BC
- Emperor Máellë Médûí: 68 BC
At a first glance, the law of the Elven Empire can be seen as very egalitarian. After examining the legislations of the old civilization, however, many find that it is perhaps more discriminatory than Regalia’s. The Nelfin have no distinction between men and women based on equality; individuals were free to pursue whatever path they wished, independent of sex. While this may have seemed idyllic, one key component of Elven Empire law is that the Nelfin were the superior race of Aloria. What constituted as a Nelfin slowly changed over the years, and is still in fact changing; Avanthar, Drowdar, and Kathar were disregarded as Nelfin. Therefore, citizenship in the Elven Empire was only granted to “Nelfin” similar as to how Altalar are considered apart of Regalia’s image of “Humanum”, despite not being humans themselves. Slavery was permitted and in fact encouraged; as a result, the Nelfin took thousands of Varran and Ailor slaves. The tasks of these slaves ranged from agriculture harvesting, disorganized military service, and even housekeeping. Ithania was the only part of the Empire where Ailor actually ascended to citizenship became equal to the local lords; as the Elven Empire declined, its border regions became more autonomous.
Yanar were never given formal citizenship, though among many agrarian communities, the plant-folk took up many advisory positions to local priests and priestesses. As opposed to being oppressed by an uneven system, the Yanar operated outside of the system, neither being benefited nor penalized by it. In fact, the upper echelons of Imperial society hardly even knew of the Yanar’s existence.
As previously mentioned, pre-Cataclysm Elven law lacked any sort of formal enforcement, meaning that so long as no glaring evidence was left of a crime, and no witnesses or victims were able to report it, then the crime would go unpunished. Disputes were always dealt with at a local level, though common feuds between Lords and other governmental positions were always mediated (though not discouraged) by the Emperor.
The Elven Empire had a very xenophobic and militaristic view of the entire world. Any that were not mainstream Nelfin were liable to enslavement. Being an expansionist government, the Nelfin despised anything that stood in the way of their aspirations of global domination—or liberation, depending on one’s point of view. Though most history books and Nelfin historians will deny it, records still exist of the Elven Emperors privately contacting foreign nations, and striking various deals with their still developing realms. For example, while many hail Emperor Céar-néallë’ná as the grand conqueror of Ceardia, Céar-néallë’ná in fact offered education, a written alphabet, and many agriculture-based technologies to the Ailor warlords of Ceardia in exchange for slaves and an “easy conquest.” This conflict was entirely orchestrated: As the Nelfin armies marched across Ceardia, the Ceardian militias immediately surrendered, as instructed by their rulers. This same setup was also seen in Gallovia and even Farah’deen, though no Songaskian rulers ever subjugated themselves to the Elven Empire’s rule. The Elven Empire had very limited interaction with the Sariyd Empire, mostly due to its isolation from the Imperial Nelfin lands. They did at one point, however, convene and allow the Sariyds to take slaves from Ceardia, and even shared their knowledge of magic to encourage peace between one another.
The Elven Empire is often hailed as the sole nation with the best magic-focused military in the history of Aloria, barring the Seraph. Whereas many modern governments use Mages in support roles, or use soldiers that combine magic with physical might, the Nelfin of the Elven Empire created organized mage squads, where each mage was assigned to a specific role. Sometimes this included a Lyre Mage helping the rest of the group focus, while a Light Barrier Mage soaked up any incoming projectiles, providing valuable defense for Elemental Mages, who caused the majority of the damage. This method, called “Mage Synergy,” led to the Empire’s fantastic success when at war with its surrounding nations, and made easy pickings of any enemies. Unfortunately, the effect of the Cataclysm shook the Empire’s might irreparably; the sudden loss of magic in Aloria resulted in all Nelfin mages lacking their primary weapons. Without their magic, the Nelfin were easily overpowered by the slave revolts, who had long lived in fear of the very tool that was stripped away from their old masters.
The Elven Empire’s economy relied on two things for its success; both of which were lost following the Cataclysm. Magic and slaves are what fueled the economy of the Elven Empire, and the loss of both rendered the Empire, and indeed Nelfin society, unable to produce anything of value. The Nelfin relied on magic in many ways: Expert Stone Mages created intricate and tall towers, while Wind Mages powered windmills and sailboats. Water Mages used their talents to water plants, while Fire Mages heated long halls and helped cook large meals. In every way possible, the Elven Empire relied on magic to maintain its livelihood. When their magic was taken from them with the Cataclysm, Nelfin production stooped far below the level that was necessary for the Empire to sustain itself. With the sudden lack of magic, the slaves revolted en masse, forming their own communities carved out of the deteriorating remains of the Elven Empire.
The Elven Empire was predominantly Nelfin, though after the mass enslavement of the Varran species as well as the Ailor, many theorize that the entire populace was half Altalar, half slave race or minority. This excessive demography, as well as the xenophobic policies of the Elven Empire, easily led to the provocation of the minority groups residing within its borders.
The state religion of the Elven Empire was the Faith of Estel. While this was highly enforced through inquisitions and inquiries among the upper levels of society, it always seemed that the lower one’s status, the less everyone cared about adherence to the faith. This allowed groups such as the Cult of Dronnel, the Dregodarians, the Cielothar, and various others to form their own ways of life and their own religious beliefs. Before the Cataclysm, the Elven Empire worshiped all eight members of the Elven Pantheon. In addition to these various Estellian faiths, Void Worship was quite frequent in the Empire’s later days, mostly due to its reliance on magic. Many Kathar turned away from the Faith of Estel in favor of these practices, who eventually severed the link between the Elven Emperor and Estel.
The Elven Empire never had any formal flag; rather, the various Nelfin houses flew their own independent flags, which were all considered extensions of the empire, and thereby synonymous. There is one common carving used to represent the Elven Empire which is still found on ancient Elven ruins: The triple spiral. While very rarely did this symbol find its way onto flags or banners, the triple spiral insignia decorated nearly every piece of art and architecture. Food and cities were often arranged in this pattern, while carvings, paintings, and buildings can all be found with this insignia carved somewhere. Even some ancient trees retain the symbol carved into their bark. The triple spiral was used to embody the sole goal of the Elven Empire: Expansion. Through its three curled prongs, it demonstrates that life, and indeed the Elven Empire, are ever growing and all-encompassing. The unexpected irony stands in that this little rune is often the first thing archaeologists search for in their efforts to determine if a ruin or artifact is from the long-fallen Empire.
- All Elven Emperors were direct descendants from the original Emperor, Gwännë-gellén.
- Nearly any modern Altalar aristocrat can trace their lineage back to being a bastard child of an Emperor, which de-legitimizes almost any blood claim to the throne of the Empire.
- The Elven Empire stretched across the entirety of Daen, and even owned some colonial holdings in the Great Middle Sea, making it one of the largest state in terms of land that Aloria has seen since the days of the Seraph. Regalia has only recently beat this record through its ironic conquest of the northern Nelfin states of Daendroc.