|Common Nicknames||Shadow Elf, Dark Elf (often mistaken for Sihndar), Fallen Elf, Ashen Elf, Ashskin|
|Languages||Kathar Elven Dialect|
|Naming Customs||Fantasy Elven, but not Tolkien Elven|
|Distinctions||Void-worshipping Nelfin with a vile culture and innate wickedness|
|Maximum Age||300 years|
|Body Types||Varied by Disciple|
|Height||Varied by Disciple|
|Weight||Varied by Disciple|
|Eye Colors||Varied by Disciple|
|Hair Colors||Varied by Disciple|
|Skin Tones||Varied by Disciple|
While this doesn't mean your character has to come from one of these places, it's recommended they do.
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The Kathar, or Dread Empire Elves, are the westernmost Nelfin species that occupy the Shadow Isles, the Kathar Steppes, the landmass of Saivale, and the Wolond Walds that make up the Dread Empire. The Kathar are seen by many other races as a force of true evil, and their Empire is at war with nearly every other state in the world as a result, constantly butting heads with the other Elven States, the Orcish Tribes and the Regalian Empire.. The Kathar themselves, often also referred to as Shadow Elves, are a fair but gray and pale skinned race of Elves with peculiar physical characteristics that set them apart from the other Nelfin species. Furthermore, they have vastly differing cultures and societies that make them seem otherworldly in comparison to other Elves. From inside their walled Khalor cities, the Kathar keep the old Elven Empire alive in a far more depraved and vile state, corrupted fully by the Void Essences they sought to bring into the world. To say they worship the Archdemon and serve him as leal followers would be wrong, however. Through the centuries, the Kathar have managed to master the Void Essences that once controlled them to turn the tables and harness their unlimited energies to wage war on the world both in body and in mind.
- 1 Physical Characteristics
- 2 Mental Characteristics
- 3 History
- 4 Society
- 5 Politics
- 6 Culture
- 7 Religion
- 8 Combat and Warfare
- 9 Economy and Technology
- 10 Trivia
There are three distinct breeds of main Kathar which are referred to as Disciples, and then a set of lesser variants that aren’t officially part of the Dread Empire, but who are essentially still Kathar. The Disciples refer to three somewhat differing groups of Kathar that converged during the Cataclysm, and were essentially all the same kinds of Elf during the infancy of the Dread Empire. However, with time, the three sets of Disciples diverged, with unique characterizations, while the variants formed after this distinction through societal events. These three groups of Disciples are as follows: the Disciples of Shenath, who inhabit the Shadow Isles and Kathar steps; the Disciples of Saivaile, who reside on the landmass of Saivaile; and the Disciples of Wolond, whose territories cover the Wolond Walds, as well as its forests, in Daen’s main landmass, near the Elven Empire’s old heartlands. The variants are as followed: the Variant of Lightburning, which are Exist touched rebel Saivale and the Variant of Wildering which are as elusive as peculiar with their nearly half Yanar half Nelfin appearance, and finally the Crimson Witches, the Kathar Vampire crossbreeds. In spite of the Disciples each having their own distinct habitats, migration between the Dread Empire’s territories is frequent, and interbreeding between Shenath and Wolond even more so. Kathar may live up to 300 years and age similar to Altalar over the span. Portraying a Kathar older than 150 requires a special permission application. See Permissions for more information.
Disciples of Shenath
The Disciples of Shenath are the most frequently seen outside of the Dread Empire, either as the foot soldiers of the Saivale with nefarious plans, or as lone-wolf acting rogue Kathar that either seek to tear down the establishments of the enemies of the Kathar across the world, or otherwise seek a better future for themselves away from the horrors that exist in their homeland. The Disciples of Shenath resemble in many ways the Altalar that live on the main continent, yet can be distinguished by their gray skin. Their bodily proportions are identical to the Altalar. They grow up to six feet and ten inches tall and typically have a fair appearance. Their ears tend to be much longer than that of an average Elf and certainly in comparison to the other Disciples of Kathar, often by a third. There are some minor appearance differences for the various Clans. The Shenath can have white or black hair, and green, blue or brown eyes.
Disciples of Saivale
The Disciples of Saivale are the ruling class elite of the Dread Empire and in many ways also descend from the classical heroes of the Elven Empire of old. Their ancestors were the ruling classes of the Empire that either fled or marauded their way westwards, and were seduced by the power of the Void. The Disciples of Saivale are arcane masters and keen intellectuals, with practically no chance of demonstrating any physical prowess or brawn. This reflects in their physiology; they are the tallest of the Kathar, and indeed of any Nelfin, standing up to 7 feet in height. However, their physical limitations never allow them to become more than Slim body build. By far, however, the most striking asset of the Disciples of Saivale is their universal beauty; their features are greatly appealing, and are paired with a fair complexion, having a skin tone so pale it borders on white or light grey, with only the slightest hint of pinkness remaining while their hair is pure white. There are some minor variations in appearance for the various Clans. Most Saivale have black eye whites and blue irises with a red limbal ring, but some Saivale also exist with normal blue or green eyes. Their hair is either snow white or jet black, with no variety in between.
Disciples of Wolond
The Disciples of Wolond are the most downtrodden of the Kathar race, although they could be considered the most free of the three groups; living in the border realms of the Dread Empire, the Disciples of Wolond barely feel the choking grasp of Saivale on Kathar politics. The Wolond could be considered a bastardization of the Cielothar, having the desire to return to their old roots, and live close with nature; however, what Wolond see as beauty could be seen as disgrace by their agricultural cousins. To the Wolond, beauty is only expressed in corruption; the most beautiful item is something twisted and remade, barely recognisable as its older self. This can also be seen in how the Wolond themselves appear; theirs is the only Kathar skin tone that remains anywhere near the tones of their Altalar ancestors, even if it has considerably dulled, as if their skin has been partially drained of color. They are the shortest of the Kathar, reaching only 6 feet and 3 inches. Unlike the Saivale and Shenath, the Wolond are fairly similar to one another with little in variation of physical appearance. Their skin is a dulled desaturated tan, much like the Qadir skin tone, while they have the capacity for far more aggressively and faster growing facial hair than their other Kathar cousins. Wolond often have small horns and spikes sticking out of their skull, and cranial ridges on their forehead. They have green or brown eyes, while their nails are sharp and blackened.
Variant of Lightburning
The Variant of Lightburning are rebels and insurrectionists in the Dread Empire that are strictly speaking Kathar, but don’t consider themselves that way. It’s unclear how the Light Burning Variant came to be, but it is generally understood to be an accident caused by Exist dimension experimentation. It is assumed that by coming into contact with some of the more aggressive Exist tendencies towards justice and freedom, some of these Saivale are corrupted away from their original corrupted state by another form. They appear like regular Saivale in every respect, with the sole exception to the fact that their hair is platinum or gold blonde, while their eyes have normal eye whites and blue or green eyes. The Lightburning variant often disguise their hair deformation with dye to blend into Saivale society and undermine it from within, having some sort of hatred for the Dread Empire and their wickedness and oppression of the lesser peoples, but functioning like normal Saivale in every other respect.
Variant of Wildering
The Variant of Wildering is based on a population of Wolond that presumably traveled either to Daendroc during the Wildering, or Sundar after the Wildering. The exact path this Variant took to come into existence is unclear because everything about them is shrouded in mystery and they themselves aren’t exactly worldly people with a habit of talking about their past. The Variant of Wildering still have a number of Wolond traits like the horns and spikes sticking out of their head and their Qadir-like tanned and dulled skin, but many parts of their appearance also seem very alien. They have a chameleon-like curling tail with green scales which transition to a variety of hues of purple and red at the end. They have a number of fin-like growths behind their ears fanning away from their head with those similar red and purple hues, and their forearms are covered in green scales, ending in a set of feather-shaped fins again in red and purple hues around their elbows. Their feet are lizard like, including their digitigrade legs, but the scale pattern ends just above their knees. Finally, they have the bodily proportions and appearances of a Cielothar, including large round eyes and a childlike disposition. The Wildering Variant isn’t exactly very philosophical in nature, especially to those trying to figure out how they came to be, or how they actually mesh into Kathar society. In the Dread Empire, they are usually seen as pests or pets because of their thieving and verbal communication habits (though they can most definitely speak Kathar dialects), they often prefer to use mocking tones.
Variant of the Crimson Witches
The Variant of the Crimson Witches came about through a minor cult in the Dread Empire that worshiped Vampirism as a great source of power. Eventually through an event involving the Lust Arken, the cult was transformed into the Crimson Witches, which would then had a number of peculiar physical differences. Essentially, the Crimson Witches are Shenath at a base level, but there are a couple of surface level differences. Instead of having purely white hair, their hair gradients to a crimson red halfway down the length of the hair (regardless of how long the hair is, the transition always shifts as the hair becomes longer). They also have red eyes constantly, as if they are Vampires who are constantly feeding. This is applicable because Crimson Witches are incurable Vampires, no magical or ritual means can drive the Vampirism from their body and they are born as Vampires. Crimson Witches can give birth to more Crimson Witches, but when they breed with other races, Vampire Broods are born. Vampirism of the Crimson Witches behaves somewhat differently: Firstly, they can drink any blood from anything without suffering negative consequences. Secondly, they can only ever make use of the Bloodline Mutations of the Crimson Witches, of which they may choose only 4 Mutations. Lastly, while normal weaknesses apply to Crimson Witches, the sun no longer damages or negatively affects them. Crimson Witches act like the bounty hunters and bodyguards of the Saivale in the Dread Empire, excellent torture masters and hunters for anyone who dares to offend their master.
Kathar, despite covering numerous Disciples, all share the same defining mental characteristics. Many outsiders would call the Kathar evil and depraved, subject to centuries of degeneracy and vile conduct that would make even the worst and cruelest of Ailor shirk away. That being said, the personalities of the Kathar and their mental capacity are far more varied than what is initially assumed by many. While Kathar certainly have vile and callous members in their society, whose sole purpose is to oppress and destroy what others have, there is room also for kindness and camaraderie among them. Kathar families are large and (as long as they have no reason to compete with one another over politics) usually very tight-knit, with cousins even being more alike to siblings in their relations. The Kathar wield a level of extreme, cruel pragmatism that sees them survive calamity against their people time and time again. While a sense of superiority from one race to another isn’t new in the world of Aloria, the Kathar take it to a whole new level. To them, they are the only race that truly evolved with the Void (and in some lesser forms the Exist), meaning any and all races that exist are below them. This would normally result in universal disdain by Kathar towards races, but in practice, the Kathar are often so busy with self-contained politics and dealing with the Altalar that they don’t formally recognize other races as existing in the reality that they do. This has some peculiar results, such as the fact that the Dread Empire isn’t even aware that the Regalian Empire formally exists, and has charts dated back to before Cataclysm, assuming the Regalian Archipelago is still controlled by barbarian principalities.
To one another Kathar are, as mentioned before, rather welcoming, though only truly after it is established that someone is at least not an enemy outright. They are quick to gain the trust of, since Kathar are typically always very honest and open about their disdain and dislike of a person. This also extends in an extreme to the lack of theft or otherwise dishonest crime, lending to the fact that 90% of their crime rate is dominated by murder, the remainder being small scuffles and fights that usually end non-violently. Kathar have a very special relation to death and the Void. To them, the Void is the true place where all the dead go. The dead are embalmed and mummified, after which they are used as inanimate anchors for Void Essence Infusion, which usually mutates the corpse post-mortem. Then the Essence is taken from this corpse and consumed by the Kathar relatives, who consider this to be a method of absorbing the strength of an ancestor. Needless to say, ancestor worship is an important part of the Kathar psyche, and many Kathar will attempt to remind anyone, even strangers, of what glorious ancestors they have.
Kathar Ritualism isn’t strictly a physical ability, but because most of the effects are physical, the information is provided in this section. Kathar Ritualism is a number of effects and things Kathar are natively able to do when they understand She’llaq, the ritualistic language used in a variety of traditions. Kathar Ritualism is a unique Proficiency that only Kathar can invest points into, able to perform a number of rituals unlocked at each set of Proficiency Points invested. The progression goes as followed:
- 6 Points Invested: The character can read/write/recite She’llaq, the Kathar ritualistic Void language. This language is not an actual language that can be used to converse, but a collection of phrases and expressions without a clear distinction of nouns and verbs to form actual conversations with. Essentially, while the speaker understands what the phrase roughly does, they don’t know what the actual syllables create or where each word starts or ends. While knowing She’llaq, the character can draw up ritual citations in Void Script, as well as tatoo others with Void Script preachings.
- 12 Points Invested: The character can use Bone Singing in She’llaq which allows them to craft and mold bone of other Kathar into decorative shapes to their liking. These rituals are not entirely painless, but only work on Kathar. Additionally, they can also bone shape bone materials used to create for example furniture, decorations or defences.
- 18 Points Invested: The character can use Blood Singing in She’llaq to draw blood from another Kathar (which usually sieves through their skin like a cloud and then forms a liquid in air that can be moved around) to heal another Kathar’s wounds. Every wound requires about a pint of blood, meaning any Kathar can provide 3 heals from their blood before they become anemic and pass out and it becomes dangerous to their health. The healing power of Blood Singing allows for the mending of deep cuts and internal wounds but not cure severed limbs.
- 24 Points Invested: The character can use Blood Singing in She’llaq to draw blood from themselves and create a Blood Sung Weapon. A Blood Sung Weapon is usually a dagger, blade or spear, which then hardens into a dark-red shining weapon, with the durability of steel. The character can create 3 such weapons (each requiring a pint of their blood) before they become anemic and pass out from blood loss. These weapons melt after about a week of not being used, though if they continuously draw blood this period can be extended by a week after each blood drawing.
- 30 Points Invested: The character doesn’t need to wait for an Arken or Void or Exist Herald to appear, and can directly communicate with an Arken through the burning of She’llaq ritual papers drawn up from the blood of a Silven. These messages are guaranteed to be heard, and will most of the times receive a response. Furthermore, the ritualist may also perform the Dread Corruption ritual as described on the Demonic Possession page to turn Altalar, Avanthar and Isldar into Kathar and subject them to their world-view and goals.
The Kathar have a special trait called the Threlwar Bond, which is in a way a natural resistance to any negative effect from the Void (not Exist). This includes immunity to Void based insanity, mutations that end up being detrimental, immunity to Void related infestations and illnesses like Dulofall, and a generally positive disposition towards all forms of Void Investment. Kathar also do not get sick or suffer any negative effects from Void Infestations and Demonic Possession. To them, Void Essence binding to their Soul Essence simply disables their unwanted emotions and allows them to have a clear conscience in whatever they chose to do, largely the reason why the entire Kathar leadership and military staff is always so brutally efficient. It is practically a requirement to be Demonically possessed as a Kathar while in the leading classes of the Dread Empire.
Threlwar Summons allows the Kathar to incite localized mutations with a high degree of success through the use of Void Script. It requires at least a Kathar who has 6 points invested in Kathar Ritualism, but can be done on any variety of Kathar, nor does it require any additional proficiencies or skills. The Mutations are consistent for the act described below:
- Shaving the hair of a Kathar and then applying Void Script calling upon the Beast on top of the head causes horns to mutate out of the skull.
- Applying the Void Script calling upon the Prideling on the forehead causes a functional third eye to appear.
- Applying the Void Script calling upon Malady on the hands causes nails to change into blackened claws.
- Applying the Void Script calling upon the Beast on the chest causes hair growth to become accelerated on the torso, forearms and facial hair.
- Applying the Void Script calling upon Death on the shoulders causes the skin tone to darken a few shades.
- Applying the Void Script calling upon Betrayal on the forehead causes patches of black scales to appear on the shoulders, forearms and neck.
- Applying the Void Script of the Prideling on the spine causes spikes to grow out of the spine.
- Applying the Void Script of the Prideling on the chest causes the skin to darken a few shades of red into the base color.
Void Worship, the cornerstone of both Kathar society and history, has existed throughout the millennia of Aloria’s existence, dating all the way back to the zenith of the Seraph. Void Worship, no matter how many states attempt to extinguish it, has always wormed its way back into the world through the most unexpected ways. The first true origin of Void Worship among the Elves of the Elven Empire is hard to accurately pin down because of how most of the early worship was done in secret. With their numbers swelling over the centuries, however, the so-called Vlae’lonä, or Void Cult, grew in number and boldness. Around 90 BC, many positions in the Elven Empire’s high ranking government were filled with worshippers of the Void Cult. Void Worship was very innocent early on in recorded Elven History, promising everlasting pleasure and joy for a basic sacrifice, often that of blood. Indeed, the effects of Void Worship and the extended influence it had over the Elven population through its leaders, started demanding more and more, but was very effective in providing exactly that elation that the Elves sought, while also empowering their magic usage.
The concentration of the Void Cult was especially strong on the western isles which would later become the Shadow Isles. This early Princedom had a flourishing elite that publicly relished in Void Worship, using Varran as blood sacrifices. Many of the Shenath cultural heritage actually descends from this specific state, giving birth to wild traditions like the Blood Feast of Llöv and the Carnage Feast of Thräl’laniir. Around 50 BC or so, some unknown interaction with what was later presumed to be some Arken, led to the creation of the first Shadow Council, though it is more commonly known as the Princes of Osc’ïrd to the Kathar. The Princes of Osc’ïrd were the noble rulers of this western isle princedom within the Elven Empire, as well as the lands further stretching towards Saivale, that were transformed into the first Kathar beings (notably Shenath and Saivale). With their gift, they learned of the first Kathar forming rituals, which did exactly as Void Worship had always promised. In exchange for servitude, the ritual would grant the Elf extreme ecstasy. Within a period of ten years, most of the island principality converted. The remainder of the Elven Empire was either oblivious to it, or partook in it as well as droves of Elves converted to the gray skins (early on, there was very little difference physically between the Shenath and Saivale, the Saivale changed later), the infiltration of Void Cultists in the Imperial government making the Elven Emperor and purists blind to the changes that were overtaking the Empire.
When the first generation of the Kathar had reached critical mass, the Shadow Council enacted its first great act that would shape the future of Aloria, the Great Fire Dance, which is commonly known as the Night of the Fallen Star elsewhere in Aloria. The Kathar used vile magics and fire to tear down the Nenya, first servants and emissaries of Estel, slaughtering the fading loyalists to the Faith of Estel in the thousands. With one massive event all across the Elven Empire, the Kathar shattered the Faith of Estel and tore down the foundations of the Elven Empire, weakening it and making the Void Cult the true force in the religious vacuum left behind. The Kathar were poised to absorb the Elven Empire in its entirety over the following years, had it not been for the Cataclysm. The rampant destruction and magic usage by the Kathar had thusly saturated the world with Magic so much that the Veil tore open once more, laying bare all the demonic forces that now poured into the world of Aloria intent on destroying all. The remnants of the Elven Empire fought to resist the Fifth Void Invasion, while the Kathar continued to usurp more and more land and power from the true Altalar. An event that shattered their momentum, however, was the destruction of the Veil and the collapse of the Demonic Invasion. The death of the Elven Emperor created a power vacuum that exposed the true downside of the Kathar collective, their unquenching desire to be at the top. The empty throne became a hot contention item and even the Shadow Council turned in on itself as they all vied to become the strongest Kathar. What eventually halted their rise to power and diminished their numbers greatly was the unexpected Orc Invasion that occurred shortly after the Cataclysm, which in itself already caused massive casualties besides the Kathar. Successive slave revolts by Humans and the Varran brought the Kathar to their knees, their shattered remnants retreating to the Shadow Isles, a last final haven where the Orcs did not follow them completely. All the land they had gained on the continents of Daendroc and Hyarroc was absorbed by the Orcs and later reconquered by the Avanthar and the petty kingdoms of the Altalar.
It was on the Shadow Isles however that the Kathar found new allies in the same Arken that had originally interacted with them to form the Shadow Council. The Shadow Council was all but abandoned, and the Arken aided in the rise of the Empress of the Dread Empire, giving shape to the new state. The Arken then went out into the remnants of the Elven Empire, using a mixture of false promises, bribery and trickery to draw more and more Elves who were fleeing the destruction of the Orcs or simply chasing power westwards into the hands of the Kathar. Over the decades that followed, the Kathar were taught the principles that would eventually form their psyche, culture, and statehood by the Arken. The Arken would disappear, but the Kathar continued to develop, eventually creating the Wolond Disciple and the Saivale who became more genetically distinct from the Shenath. With much of the Dread Empire having formed its modern day borders around 150 AC, the following decades were spent simply consolidating into the terrifyingly powerful Empire they have become in modern times. With the rise of terror warfare, slavery and even biochemical and magic-biotic research like the creation of the Dulofall infection, the Dread Empire stands poised to attack the Altalar to reclaim the borders of the old Elven Empire, proclaiming themselves the natural heirs of the world, having mastered the powers of the Void like no other race ever had.
Kathar Society is extremely diverse, and to many could be considered a world within the world of Aloria. The principal split between the three Disciples is mostly geographical, though many Shenath tribes move between the lands or settle in Saivale lands simply because they can, or because they are forced to. As much as the three distinct Disciples could be considered subraces of a subrace of Nelfin, they are inherently so similar that many urbanized mixed societies also exist beyond the fairly homogenous tribes. Kathar society has it all, from naval settlements, coastal towns, fortresses, vast urban metropolises, small tribelands, forest camps and temple cities for grand worship. The vast majority of the Kathar population lives in a massive sprawling city with even larger slum towns and shanties around it called Paärthalaär. This city is in fact so large that many have claimed that it is larger and more populous than Regalia, twice as large in fact, which makes sense given the insane death rate this city supposedly has, not only from living sacrifices, but also from the towering crime rate isolated in the poorer areas that are purely being controlled by military cruelty. Kathar society outside of their homelands is often strange and is generally just a group of outsiders attempting to get by in whatever slum they find themselves in. While there are certainly success stories of Shenath or Saivale born outside of the homeland, clean of their cultural depravities living successful lives in Regalia for example, the Kathar are generally reviled across the world for their evil nature.
Structurally speaking, the Dread Empire is a fairly decentralized state, unlike for example the Regalian Empire or even the more modern Altalar-ruled Inheritor States of Rie. The Dread Empire is certainly the largest political entity that Elves control in Aloria, and also has the largest number of inhabitants, even if the Kathar are not in the majority. Many coastal cities are controlled by the Dread Empire through vassalage but also through annexation and military conquest, thus bringing vast numbers of Altalar into their empire, usually as slaves or resources. At the very head of the Dread Empire are the so-called Blood Pures, or the Pathar Dynasty. The members of this Saivale and Shenath mixed lineage claim descent from the Void Prefects of Pride and Pleasure themselves, making them the so-called Perfect Silven. While this cannot be ascertained as a complete and absolute truth, there does seem to be some validity to it as all their members are born as Void Silven even without the presence of an Arken closeby, and they all seem to possess otherworldly skills in magic and manipulation.
They rule the Dread Empire officially through two seats, the seat of the Empress, which is usually the matriarch, and the seat of the Champion, which is usually not the Empress’s husband but one of her lovers who also happens to be an imposing and skilled warrior. The Empress uses a variety of magics and Void Essences to enhance her Champion through mutation and enchantment and uses him to profess her will to the people. The Empress, however, has only limited directional power for the Dread Empire at large and usually acts as a neutral party between the warring Warlords. She can still declare war and outlaw individual Warlords, but must tread with caution as the Warlords could at any time rise up and dethrone her in favor of one of her sisters. The Imperial seat is also not inherited, but taken. Any woman from the Pathar family that kills the previous Empress takes her place, and any male that kills the previous Champion becomes the new one. This has on occasion led to brothers or sons or fathers becoming lovers and Champions of the Empress, which is considered natural and normal among the Kathar, as strength supersedes family ties.
The real local power is vested in the Warlords which are the fourteen big Kaahls (families) who are divided across the nine clans of the Kathar, mostly concentrated among the Saivale while only one is held by the Wolond. The Warlords enforce their power with the Sceptres of the Void Prefect of Power, which are terrifying magical weapons in and of themselves. They each command vast armies and it is not unheard of for Kaahls to engage in feuds with one another, which the Empress will then attempt to solve. That being said, they will for the most part work together to expand the Dread Empire and are content fighting the Altalar on the mainland or slaving across the coasts of various western kingdoms and states to provide the Dread Empire with labor. On a more local level, the military controls the population, which makes the Dread Empire very similar to the Regalian Empire. Officers in the armies of the Warlords often double as magistrates and important officials of towns and cities, and their soldiers under them control neighborhoods or businesses. The Dread Empire’s military structure is far more advanced and mature than that of the Regalian Empire, putting the simplistic Levy system of Regalia to shame. In practice, the Dread Empire’s army is constituted entirely of professional soldiers, which makes their army so terrifyingly strong.
Kathar culture is extremely diverse and can range, much like Ailor culture, from barbaric leathers-strapped savages to the haute-couture fashionable Saivale who can give murderous looks for wearing the wrong garment in the pristine capital. Two central pieces of Kathar culture however, are death and the Void. Death is a concept that is worshiped, and in many ways normalized by Kathar society. The dead are repurposed in vast necropolises as conduits for Void Essence, while in the north of the Empire, they are used to grow Dulofall roots, and in the south, the Saivale have even raised a form of art centered around the taxidermy of leather dried corpses. Tattoo art remains popular both among the living and the dead, The Kathar having developed techniques to even tattoo the skin of a Varran that consistently changes the fur colors that grow out of it.
The Void is the other major aspect of their culture and stands central as some sort of primordial power source that each Kathar seeks to acquire and make use of. From the lowest ranks of the slum dwellers that murder for sacrificial power, to the more tribal free clans that engage in violent and lavish feasts and communal worship for the blessings of the Void, to the supposed Arken that walk freely among their people like living gods. Kathar art, particularly paintings, but also Arkth dë Morkh, or Death art being the taxidermy corpses, describe and showcase lavish displays of Void powers in battles past and in struggles to come. Kathar Cuisine is almost entirely carnivorous for various reasons though especially on the Shadow Isles, as Dulofall is prolific to the point of poisoning any attempt to even engage in agriculture. The Kathar developed (mutated is perhaps the better word) a breed of cow called the Shadow Bovine that naturally only lives within the borders of the Dread Empire. Through careful Void Essence mutations, the Shadow Bovine went from a stupid herd animal into an aggressive strong animal with a staggering virility and growth speed. With this species practically almost always reproducing and also having been mutated to be much larger and contain more meat, the Dread Empire is one of the only nations not dependant on Regalian food exports and practically the only nation in which famines never occur.
Kathar fashion differs wildly from Disciple to Disciple and sometimes even from Clan to Clan. The lower free clans enjoy leather and light tunics or cloth wrappings while the higher and wealthier Kathar prefer fine silks. Many of the Kathar primary colors are white and/or black, but red and purple are not unusual colors and to say that the Kathar are devoid of color in their life is not accurate. In fact, the Kathar have a very lively Ruby and Emerald industry and intricate and expertly crafted jewelry sets that glimmer in the sunlight. Their clothing is of a very fine and skillful weave, usually even outcompeting the silks found in the more eastern parts of Aloria creating a truly sensational demand for Kathar weave in for example Regalia, where the produce is smuggled in. Tassels are a frequent decoration as well as swirl and wave-like patterns that represent the washing of the ocean and the strong waves crashing onto a shoreline from powerful gusts of wind.
In terms of family unions, the Kathar are a predominantly polyamorous and polygamous race, though not preferential to one gender over the other. Every male Kathar can have up to two wives, and every female Kathar can have up to three husbands. First removed husbands and wives are considered part of a family unit from the perspective of the most important member. For example, a Kathar named Heÿlath has two wives: Isol and Felmë. Isol also has another husband named Üthwel and Felmë has three: Y’thäal, Olthärwe, and Mëlaakish. All these named individuals are considered part of Heÿlath’s family, even if the men married to Heÿlath’s wives also have additional wives. Those additional wives would be considered second-rate family and are barely interacted with. This marriage principle often results in seriously confusing family trees, especially when two or one generation down the line the marriages cause inbreeding in cousins. Still, despite being so large and prone to jealousy from the perspective of outsiders, the Kathar are surprisingly open, transparent and kind to each other in family units. There exists, in fact ,no jealousy between husbands and wives, and in many cases, these people can go years without seeing each other and still feel strongly for one another. One-on-one romance is also not very frequent (though not unheard of). There is usually is one or more partners involved in lovemaking as well as general romantic engagements. As mentioned, a family unit is declared by the most important member (usually a Saivale, though it can also be one of the other Disciples). This importance is usually weighed by either strength in Magic, political position or military position. Children are strongly cared for and usually groomed to become heirs to their parents. Within the family unit of first rate wives and husbands, husbands sometimes raise the children sired by other husbands of their wives, and they consider this very normal. Within families, children acknowledge their mothers as their singular mother parent but consider all fathers their father. Other mothers are care mothers, which might take care of a child, but children always acknowledge their biological mother as superior. Female children often try to inherit the work of their mothers, while male children inherit their father’s work. This doesn’t underline some form of gender inequality, however. Kathar society is strictly gender neutral and does not favor one over the other, with the sole exception of the Empress of the Kathar being female, and the Champion of the Kathar being male as a sole acknowledgement to the physical differences between Kathar genders. The Kathar also have several cultural holidays:
The Feast of Llöv
The Feast of Llöv is a blood sacrifice feast hosted on different days in the first four months of the year which involves the sacrifice of large numbers of slaves and sometimes even weak relatives of Kathar families. Neighborhoods in Kathar cities are often built in such a way that their streets all pool down to a central area with a large pit. This feast asks for the ritualistic slaughter of sufficient pre-selected slaves and relatives at the top of these streets, causing their blood to seep down to the central square and the pit. The feast effectively continues until the pit has filled to the edge in blood, after which the Kathar that are still alive come together in the pit which is often filled with blood to knee-high level, to dance, sing and revel for the rest of the night. This feast is attributed to the Cult of Dread, as it often inspires intense fear in the weak and the slaves.
Carnage Feast of Thräl’laniir
The Carnage Feast of Thräl’laniir is a tournament consisting of fights to the death which is often hosted somewhere in the middle eight months of the year. During this feast, the fighters are challenged to kill each other in the ring, after which the victor must consume the heart of the loser and bathe in the blood of the arena. With each fight, this arena becomes saturated with blood more and more until the sand is so drenched in blood that it turns almost muddy. The winner of such a tournament is declared Mi’trais, avatar of Az’shaq, the Void Cult of Fury. After the tournament is over, the spectators revel in three days of excessive drinking until the entire city or town is in such a drunken stupor that it simply ceases to function for three days more.
Carnage Feast of Ultharanc
The Carnage Feast of Ultharanc is the less deadly cousin of Thräl’laniir, a tournament in which the contestants fight for the honor of strongest of the Feast. While Thräl’laniir is more chaotic, Ultharanc is structured and organized. It is called for when an Arken visits a Dread Empire or Kathar Society gathering, and announced the Ulthar to those present. This essentially means that the Arken demands a show of strength and to create a Faï'Qal. A Faï'Qal being a Shadowbrood, the Arken demands the Kathar engage in a tournament of which the victor will be chosen to perform the night of passion that leads to the birth of a twin Faï'Qal, one of whom is left with the victor of the tournament, while the other is taken with the Arken who leaves.
Birthing of the Faï’llir
The Birthing of the Faï’llir ritual is an especially strange ritual in which female Kathar desperately seek out Arken across the world. The objective is to use copulate with an Arken to produce a blessed Silven child. The Kathar believe that any child conceived from such a bonded state is avatar of Faï’llir, or the Void Cult of Destruction. Faï’llir are often given special Magical or combat-related training to become the champions of Kathar military. While birthed out of wedlock (which is normally a capital crime to Kathar), these Faï’llir are not considered children of their mothers (even if they gave birth to them) and more like blessings from the Arken to the Kathar people, therefore belonging to everyone and not just the biological mother. The Birthing of Faï’llir is rare among the Kathar because only a hand full of Arken exist in the world of Aloria, and not every one of them is willing to copulate with a mortal Kathar. Those that do succeed however become the Bride of Üthewer, or the Bride of the Prefects. This offers them a specific honorary position in Kathar society that makes it a religious offense to murder them, and religious worship to provide for them, thus safeguarding them from death and destitution in Kathar society. There is a male variety of this ritual as well, but it is far less known, and scoped to a smaller group. A number of males in their prime might challenge each other to a Faï'llir Thoq, in which they make a bet which of them will be able to convince or seduce an Arken to let them copulate with them. The winner becomes the Champion of Üthewer, which much like the brides, have an honorary position in society, but because female Arken are notoriously difficult to accept such a proposal, are rarely seen in many centuries.
Fenestrations of Melir
The Fenestrations of Melir are a less deadly and more cultural feast that Kathar engage in, during which they approach strangers and outsiders (even other races) and hand them black ribbons. Those who discard the ribbons on the spot are labeled as enemies of the Kathar, while those who wrap the ribbon around their right wrist are welcomed to move among the Kathar for the period of three days, as long as they show interest in learning and discussing the Kathar ideologies in a peaceful setting. While those Melir ribbbons are on their wrists, it is a heresy to the Kathar to attack them, unless they themselves break the vow to the Void by uttering insults on the Kathar and their beliefs.
Henate's Duel is the penultimate Kathar battle ritual between two individuals for honor. If one Kathar feels dishonored by another (or tries to prove a point about how they are stronger), they may challenge the other to the Henate Duel. The Henate Duel is held in a Kathar pit or duel ring, which is glyphed and enchanted with Kathar Ritualism She'llaq writing from a ritualist. While Henate's blessing is intact (which will remain for an hour after casting, or break after the duel is over). The two duellists enter the ring, after which the ring is magically closed, it becomes impossible to enter on account of an invisible wall that pains to the touch. The fight between the two is to the death, but not final. That is to say, if either duellist should die inside the ring, they die, but then are immediately revived and their wounds are completely removed. This resurrection is perfect, but only works for the duration of the Duel, and cannot heal wounds gained before the duel. The winner is then declared the stronger and more honorable, and the loser is often tasked or demanded to nurse or serve the winner for a period of time while they recover from their wounds, as the winner does not have their wounds restored after the fight. When the fight is over, the ring becomes inert.
Feasting of Kolthar
The Feasting of Kolthar is a strangely peaceful feast for the Kathar, which is mostly aimed at food. Every participant Kathar must bring their own made dish (no matter how terrible it is) and present it to all the others at the table. Then, when the feast begins (usually after a speech from the highest ranking Kathar), the Kathar have to present their food in bite-size chunks and with no cutlery, and feed the others present. For example, a Kathar who produced a plate of friend squid curls, will have to take several in their hands (or in a bowl) and proceed to present them to the others present, and if they accept, hand-feed them with the food they produced. Every participant Kathar continues to do this until all of them signal that they feel satisfied, and then the Kathar say a collective praise to the peace and stability of the food table. Why this feast is so peaceful is not known to even Kathar scholars because of how old it is, but it is speculated that this feast was appreciated as one of the few times when the Kathar did not need to fear being poisoned by anyone, since the participants have to hand feed everyone else, and if they had poisoned the food, this would immediately be seen, and they would be slain on the spot.
Feast of the Golden Hour
The Feast of the Golden Hour is a Kathar feast in which each group of Void god/Arken worshiper gathers together to choose a single representative among their own. Generally, this should result in a representative of Pride, Trickery, Power, Pleasure and War, which are the largest groups. Then, all these representatives challenge at least 3 of the other representatives to a tactical game of Thonq (which is very similar to Chess). Those with the highest amount of wins is declared the Golden Hour Lord, and thus announce to all the others present that their chosen deity is declared the most favorable and most charitable in blessings to the Kathar. This is generally seen as a means to try and convert followers of other Prefects to one's own Prefect. (For the feast, it is recommended to make use of a free online chess program to actually play out the games fairly).
The Kathar follow a syncretic faith that combines aspects of traditional Arken worship as well as Void Worship. As such, a Kathar can both be a Katharist (a follower of the Kathar faith) and a Void Worshiper at the same time. The way this works is that the clans each have a patron Prefect of the Void. This Void Prefect is seen as their great patron, but not specifically their god. In many ways, the Prefects could be seen as the prophets that proclaim their own specific version of a Void God’s central theme. This means that even though the Shenath of clan Käyth, for example, follow the Void Prefect of Pride, this Prefect can represent very different views of life depending on what Void God they are applied to. The Void Prefects are also based on real-life individuals that were most likely Arken, though the actual connection between modern Arken and what the Shenath call Prefects has not been established with complete certainty. Below follows a list of all Void Prefects, and how they are seen as Prophets of the Void Gods.
- The Void Prefect of Pride (also called the Pride Host) is generally considered to have been a very powerful Elven Arken during the waning days of the Elven Empire. The Void Prefect of Pride has always been described as an extremely powerful mage with an arbitrary temperament, and also the creature that taught the Kathar how to read and write Void-Script. The Prefect of Pride assisted the rise of the Dread Empire by collapsing numerous strong Elven Principalities that tried to smother the Empire in its early creation. The Void Prefect supposedly took the shape of beastly terrors, assaulting city walls with armies of beast men and murdering every living being in sight. The Void Prefect of Pride is worshiped through a small shrine which includes a stone or granite statuette of a wolf-like beastman with long claws and limbs, half wolf half man. Beastmen are very frequent in Shenath folklore and legends.
- The Void Prefect of Trickery (also called the Trickster Lord) is generally considered to have been a relatively low-publicity Arken during the waning days of the Elven Empire that trapped thousands of Elves with trickery into joining the Dread Empire, some to become rulers, others to become slaves by the many. The Prefect of Trickery is said to thus have assisted the Dread Empire by providing necessary early resources. The Void Prefect of Trickery is rarely actually worshiped through a shrine, but more passively praised by deeds of betrayal and subterfuge. Each time an act of betrayal is performed or a clever plan is hatched, the Trickery worshipers bring a small food offering to wandering black cats. There is a single massive temple to the Trickery Prefect in Saivale that houses over 900 black cats.
- The Void Prefect of Misery (also called the Bottomless Misery) is considered to have had a pivotal role in the induction of the Shenath into the Saivale aristocracy, by teaching them the vessels of power and ambition through the opportunities presented by the Saivale. That being said, his message became corrupted over time as he also caused a lot of misery by forcing the Shenath into service under the Saivale, and in many ways also brutalized the people he championed by consuming them through cannibalistic rituals, a harrowing metaphor for the ever damning cycle of life and death that exists inside the Dread Empire where the strong survive and the weak die. Offerings to the Misery Prefect are brought through feeding wild animals, which seems rather mundane but is actually quite violent. Shenath that worship the Misery Prefect seek out a hungry pack of wolves and tie down slaves or captives where they either starve to death and have their carcasses eaten by the wolves or are eaten alive by them.
- The Void Prefect of Power (also called the Sceptre Lord) is considered to have had an important role in the creation of the fourteen warlords that control the lands of the Kathar and lead their armies. The Void Prefect of Power supposedly created fourteen sceptres or staves of great magical power, items which by today’s terms are considered artefacts of great dark magic. These were supposedly able to incinerate a person by will or mutate a person by mere touch into a horrible monster. The holders of these sceptres continue to be the warlords that control most of the Dread Empire on a local level to this day. The Void Prefect of Power is worshiped by crafting ceremonial staves with intricate carvings, and then burning them on a once monthly Prefect Festival where these staves are planted in a circle and then set aflame.
- The Void Prefect of Pleasure (also called the Bride of the Void) is considered to have had a crucial role in the rise of the Dread Empire Blood Pures, which is a lineage of Shenath and Saivale which are considered the truly ruling classes of the Dread Empire. They are a single lineage of strongly inbred Elves that claim their lineage from a passionate encounter between the Void Prefect of Pride and the Void Prefect of Pleasure, two of some of the strongest Void Prefects, giving birth to a permanent lineage of Silven, or the “Perfect Silven” as the Kathar call them. These Perfect Silven or the Pathar Dynasty, have ruled the Dread Empire ever since its creation, enforcing their rule with their extremely exceptional control of magic, and abilities that seem to thread into the realm of the Arken themselves. The Void Prefect of Pleasure is worshiped in acts which are understandably related to the concept of pleasure, usually in groups of at least four or more.
- The Void Prefect of Control (also called the Void Chains) is considered to have had a pivotal role in the allowing of Void domination by the Kathar. The Void Prefect of Control appears like a sickly old man, and is often also worshiped through small statuettes resembling that, but was always immensely powerful. The Void Prefect of Control supposedly performed the ritual on the entire Kathar race that made them immune to the Dulofall and Dulo infestations and disease. The Void Prefect of Control also taught the Kathar how to shield themselves from unintentional Void Mutations and Void control, allowing them to retain their sanity in the face of the corruption of the Void, at the cost of their humanity.
- The Void Prefect of War (also called the War Beast) did not have any particular role in the rising of Kathar culture or the Dread Empire, but is worshiped nonetheless by the Wolond as the prime form of what it means to be strong, to defeat the strongest, and to become more powerful through martial force. Curiously, the Void Prefect of War resembles the Void Prefect of Pride through beastmen folklore among the Wolond, though there are some differences. As opposed to the Void Prefect of Pride, the beastman form was the Void Prefect of War’s natural form instead of a shapeshifting form, and the Void Prefect of War was supposedly also much larger than a house, a monstrous beast that could wipe out entire regiments with a single slash of its claws. The Void Prefect of War is worshiped through the hunt of dangerous beasts.
- The Void Prefects of Nothingness & Beastliness are barely known, surprisingly even to the Kathar themselves because of the relative secrecy among the Wolond and their isolation. Supposedly they are actually the same Arken in representation, but nothing more is known than the fact that this Arken supposedly had no face or hair, and had long limbs with sharp nails.
- Smaller Cults exist outside of the boundaries of the Prefects with a variety of Arken based worship. These are including but not limited to Betrayal, Dread, Avarice, Destruction, Gluttony and Sloth. There is no centralized rules or traditions for these Cults, however because they only take up a miniscule part of the population and in general are only just acknowledged through public festivities without any real worship rituals, once a year.
It is finally not uncommon for clansmen of various clans to move between clans or marry with others inside other clans to convert to a different Void Prefect, even outside of their own Disciple that set apart the various categories of the Kathar race. While the Kathar have some temples with venerable priests and oracles spread across their Empire, there is no official centralized structure for priesthood or worship, and religion is in many ways a very private matter that rarely if ever results in conflict between Kathar, save for those who follow Misery, and are treated as Pariah’s. Only the Saivale can be very secluded and selective towards those wishing to join their clans or Disciple on the grounds that they demand a certain standard of class and civilization that many of the more un-civilized and barbarian Wolond and Shenath tribes lack.
Combat and Warfare
Kathar Combat and Warfare is very two-fold, the Dread Empire having both a strong army and a strong navy. While the Navy itself is largely based on slave labor, both in construction and rowing, it largely focuses around naval boarding. The Kathar do not possess any artillery and use only limited skirmishing capabilities, thus focusing entirely on reaching their foe as quickly as possible and then to board their vessels. Once boarded, the Kathar proficiency for combat combined with magic really shines through like it does on the battlefield also. Regalian vessels often fare well when outnumbering Kathar vessels, but when overrun, no naval foe can outspeed or outrun Kathar ships. On land, the Kathar boast massive armies filled with mostly Shenath soldiers and Saivale officers. Throughout nearly every level of rankings within the army, combat oriented Magic is frequently practiced and Mages are a staple warrior in any combat unit. Kathar themselves prefer fast and light combat styles, mostly related to daggers, short swords and unconventional weapons like javelins and whips.
Economy and Technology
The Dread Empire has a self-contained economy that does not interact with the outside at all, which also covers its technological progress (of which there is surprisingly little). Most if not all of the economy is fueled by slavery, notably Altalar slaves but slaves range from Humans to Varran to even Orcs. Above the production engine of slavery (which usually takes care of all basic resource gathering and crafting), Magic controls a large sector of the economy too. Magic is primarily also used as a substitute for Technology, and magical trinkets and resources are bartered. The Dread Empire Elves and thus the Kathar by extension are the only people in the world not familiar with the Regal Coin, and maintain the use of their own currency, the Shard Tablets which are small rectangular tablets made of Void Stone.
- The Kathar are the only race in the world that universally practically worship Silven. To them, they are not called Silven but Üwell. If they are Silven and Kathar however, they ascend an even higher position in worship and are called Faï’llir.
- Many Elves consider the Kathar to be just as vile as the Regalians, the Dread Empire and Regalian Empire having many parallels except being of a different thematic origin, between Military and Magic.
- The Kathar are deceptively excellent sailors and slavers, having kept alive the Elven ship building techniques and augmenting it with their own natural abilities.