Cardinal Elves

""Praise be the High Will, who lights our path to retribution."

Written by: jester2b
Artwork by: K Stormcrow
The Cardinal Elves are the original race of elves and the progenitors to future elven species. Their society is ruled by faith, which has been the driving force for much of their history. All elven races can trace their origins back to the Cardinal Elves. Despite not possessing any special traits like the other elven races, the Cardinal Elves have thrived, producing many of history's best explorers and academics.  

Appearance

  The Cardinal Elves are not very different from humans biologically. The only thing that sets humans and Cardinal Elves apart is their pointed ears. The name Cardinal Elves comes from Saint Cardenali, who is believed to have led the early elves to San Cardel in the early Ancestral Era. Cardinal Elves are susceptible to genetic defects such as the Thorned Braids, where a woman's hair is replaced by thorny vines, although fortunately, these conditions are quite rare.  

History

 

Origins

The theory most commonly accepted by researchers for the origins of the Cardinal Elves is that they originated somewhere within central Ostenland circa 800 AE. Based on their use of the Arrini language and carryover of some customs, these early elves more than likely came from lands controlled by the ancient Arrini Empire. The most popular candidate for their region of origin is the dry steppes of Gidderra in the northwest of San Cardel. Thousands migrated southeast towards the relatively unpopulated Genesis Peninsula within the next few decades and established the early Cardinal Elven society.   According to the Sacteatura, the holy book of the Dencentur Church, the elves followed Saint Cardenali and the Prophet Magnus from Gidderra to the Genesis Peninsula. He took the elves far from the Arrini empire, which persecuted the newly emerging elven species, and offered them a chance for freedom. Guided by visions granted to him by the High Will, the downtrodden elves followed the saint, the possibility of a brighter future for their people pushing them on until they reached their new home.  

Formation of the Decentur Church

As the early elves settled in their new home, Saint Cardenali and his mentor, the Prophet Magnus, delivered sermons to his followers of the High Will, how it had shown him the way to the Genesis Peninsula and the bright future that awaited the elves. The two of them taught the elves that they are sin-branded, and the only way to find redemption was by following the teachings of the High Will. The Prophet would write the Sacteatura, a cryptic collection of his teachings that would become the holy text of the newly emerging Decenturan faith. The majority of the elven settlers excepted The Prophet's rhetoric, although the few that didn't were forced out by threats of violence. Some of these fleeing elves would eventually evolve into the Roctane and Frost Elves.   Before the Prophet's death in circa 880 AE, his son, Adules, was given the name Herus Divna and would become the new leader of the Decenturan faith. Herus would rally the elves and form the Decentur Church, a theocratic organization that would rule over the elves. Herus's wife, Cantia, would found the Soroibus Sanguina, the first Coventry of nuns that would serve alongside the Decentur Church. The order of succession would also be established, where the oldest man of the Divna bloodline would take control of the Church, while the oldest woman would lead the nuns of the Soroibus Sanguina.   Herus's son, Hantuim Divna, would be his heir to the Decentur Church upon his death in circa 950 AE, with his sister Plina taking her mother's place within the Soroibus Sanguina a decade after. Hantuim would declare that the country of elves would be called San Cardel in honor of Saint Cardenali. He would establish the elves' dominance in the Genesis peninsula by beginning a crusade against the peninsula's scattered human settlements, with whom they had tenuous relations in the past. This nearly three-year-long war ended with the near-complete annihilation of the humans and established full elven control of the Genesis peninsula.  

Rise of the King

When Auren Divna died in 1599 AE without an heir, the Decentur Church was thrown into chaos. The Altum Orator Senaca convened every Orator in San Cardel at Mesonera to discuss their plans moving forward. Before the meeting, however, a wealthy and ambitious man named Codius Irenus approached Senaca with an offer. If the Altum Orator relinquished the political power of San Cardel to Codius by declaring him the king by divine right, he would keep disturbing crimes committed by Orators under wraps. Afraid of the damage such information could do to the Church, the Altum Orator accepted the deal.   Altum Orator Senaca would proclaim Codius Irenus as blessed king of San Cardel. His disregard of the Church had infuriated the other Orators, with many taking things into their own hands. Orator Isador attempted to stage a coup against King Codius and Altum Orator Senaca but was quickly put down by the king's forces. Cyprian joined the northwestern region of Cedillia, which had seceded from San Cardel to become an independent nation. Orator Raxian and Alleric gathered followers across San Cardel and sailed west towards the Peregrinus River Valley; these elves would eventually become the battle-hardened Sun Elves of Crucible.   Despite the pushback from the faithful, the king would hold onto San Cardel. Once the dust settled from the chaos of his coronation, King Codius set upon bringing his vision for San Cardel. Among his accomplishments, King Codius vastly expanded trade routes and grew the nation's economy. He fostered new alliances with the Cardinal Elves neighbors in Barbaross and New Brauven, even reaching out to the Varaki of Marasstrix. He is also indirectly responsible for spreading the Cardeña language in San Cardel, which replaced the old Arrini language.   The Irenus dynasty would rule over San Cardel for the next few centuries, bringing the nation onto the world stage as one of the strongest nations in Nostrina.  

Shedding of Holy Tears

By 2186 AE, the Decentur Church was at its weakest. Years of infighting and civil war had chipped away at the Church's influence on San Cardel as the rival Cyprian and Magnaleal Churches had risen in the independent countries of Cedillia and Salvadín. Furthermore, King Adan Irenus had completely stripped away the little political power the Pontiff of the Decentur Church had left. With its influence waning, many Cardinal Elves, particularly those in the cities , were on the verge of a full scale revolt.   Isolated from the chaos in the cities, the rural villages in the quiet countryside of San Cardel continued on with their lives. In the small hamlet of Herraldea, tucked away in the southern hills, was a young woman named Bescella. She was respected in her community for her selfless and kind heart and devotion to the Decenturan faith. Bescella spent most of her time helping out around her local church, taking care of tasks the aging Orator could no longer do himself. Bescella's selfless devotion to the faith made her the ideal candidate for the old priest's successor, who broke from tradition by allowing a woman to assume the role of Orator. When the old elf died in his sleep, Bescella was given the role and responsibilities of Orator of her local church. Some old, traditionalist townsfolk objected to the decision, but her village accepted her in her new role as a whole.   After taking on her new station, Bescella was plagued by visions and horrific nightmares. Every night, she watched the same scene play out in her dreams. She saw the grand cathedrals burning to the ground, violence and decadence flooding the streets, and Menra, the Lord of Lies, watching over it all alongside King Adan with glee. Menra would approach her, placing his cold hand against her cheek, and utter the same thing to her:   "Lift the veil of faith, dear Bescella. The High Will has abandoned San Cardel. I will take care of you now."   The Lord of Lies words were burned into the back of her brain, but it only strengthened her resolve; she knew what must be done.   During her sermons to the village, she rallied her congregation against King Adan. Slowly, her rhetoric spread beyond Herraldea, reaching across all of San Cardel. News of Bescella's possible coup reached King Adan, who had her arrested and sentenced her to beheading with the town square of Mesonera.   On the day of her execution, Bescella was dragged out in front of the chopping block for the entire town to see. Her crimes against the king were listed out for the crowd to hear, who simply watched in silence. Before the executioners were to behead her, she was given one last chance to pray for forgiveness for her crimes against the Church. She kneeled down and closed her eyes to give a soft prayer. As she was giving this prayer, liquid gold poured from her eyes like tears down her face. However, the gold was cool and soothing, gently flowing down her cheeks. However, the faces of her executioners began to burn as if molten liquid had been applied to their faces. The High Will had shown its favor to the elves, who turned their newfound zeal against King Adan. The mob stormed the palace and dragged out the king, who had attempted to flee the city. He and his closest supporters were tied to a stake and burned alive, their screams drowned out by the collective prayers of the mob. With the king dead, Altum Orator Ferran took the opportunity to regain the Church's place as the theocratic leader of San Cardel, although he saw value in the monarchy's role. The Batanero dynasty would be founded to jointly rule San Cardel under the Decentur Church.   Bescella was canonized as a saint of the Church for dethroning King Adan and restoring the Cardinal Elves' faith in the High Will. A new age of religious fervor swept San Cardel in the wake of the Shedding of Holy Tears as the Decentur Church quickly reestablished its influence. Bescella chose to return to her life in Herraldea, serving her town as its Orator as she had before. In the wake of her death in 2242 AE, her tomb in Herraldea's church became a holy site for pilgrims to pay respect to the saint.  

Culture

 

Society

In the Second Era, San Cardel is a semi-theocratic nation with a joint church and monarchy rule. The Decentur Church oversees the religious and civil parts of San Cardel, while the monarchy handles the political and economic side of the nation. The Church is lead by the Altum Orator, who is voted in by a committee of Orators every ten years while the title of king is passed on to the king's oldest son. The monarchy delegates power to dukes and barons who govern the cities and towns of San Cardel. In most communities, the duke or baron rules over the community while the Orator takes care of the religious needs of the people. The independent country of Cedillia is ruled by the monarchy, which has held steadfast against the pressure to reassimilate into San Cardel by the Decentur Church.   When traveling San Cardel, one may notice how rural and urban lifestyles and cultural stylings differ. City-dwelling Cardinal Elves are seen as more conservative than their rural counterparts with their stricter adherence to the practices of the Church and their simpler modest and plain clothing. Rural towns are recognized by the vibrant colors in their buildings and clothing, many of them valuing expressionism alongside their faith. Many of these communities have been the homes of many painters, musicians, and writers, who often found inspiration in the Decenturan faith and the lively life of the rural countryside.  

Religion

The primary religion of the Cardinal Elves is Decenturan, a monotheistic faith that worships a being known as the High Will. The Decentur Church of San Cardel is the religious authority of the Cardinal Elves and the Decenturan faith. Smaller offshoots like the Cyprian Church have an ideology that differs from the traditional Decentur Church but still worships the Prophet and the High Will. Followers of Decenturan live their lives by the doctrine of the Sacteatura, an ancient text written by the religion's founder, Father Magnus. The Sacteatura teaches that elves are sinful creatures who must seek salvation by seeking forgiveness for their sins and purging the world of decadence. Many of the Church's devout partake in acts of self-mutilation and sacrifice to appease their guilty consciences. Decenturans believe that Menra, the Lord of Lies, is the enemy of the High Will that seeks to drive the Cardinal Elves away from the path of salvation. Solid gold is seen as the manifestation of the High Will's blessing, which the elves denote objects and buildings as having religious significance. Molten gold is believed to be the High Will's wrath, often used in a horrific practice known as Purgatio Sanctulus, where a heretic is chained to a alter and has molten gold poured onto their face.  

Language

The traditional language of the Cardinal Elves is known as Cardeña, which is a descendant of the ancient Arrini language. It is often described as a beautiful and simple language that glides from one word to another. Fluent speakers tend to talk very quickly, which can make learning the language hard to follow for some. Cedillian is an offshoot of Cardeña, which is most commonly used in Cedillia, which some describe this language as a more emotional version of Cardeña. The old Arrini language is spoken in select parts of San Cardel and is still used in holy texts.

Saint Bescella, The Heralda de Lágrimas by whitewingedcrow

Genetic Ancestor(s)
Genetic Descendants
Scientific Name
Cultroaruis Cardinali
Lifespan
80 Years
Average Height
1.7m (5'6ft)

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