Cathedris Themesong

Grave Elk

Forest watchers

Quietly, in the dusk, to let the dead rest;
Silently, in the dawn, to give them peace;
Softly in the dark do the Grave Elk wander
— Soom-Shida Saying
  Grave Elk are tall quadripedal herbivores found most commonly in the eastern provinces of Hansun, where they have a strong cultural connection to many of the smaller cities and towns. The Elk have short, wiry hair, that comes in a variety of shades of dark lilac -- in the dark, they often blend into the shadows nearly perfectly. Both males and females sport antlers; male Grave Elk have exceptionally large sets of antlers with thick webbing between the prongs, while females have smaller antlers without the webbing.   Grave Elk are drawn to the smell of freshly turned earth -- as such, they are often found wandering graveyards at dusk. This has lead to many myths, legends, and folktales regarding the Elk, most of which have some word of warning or encouragement woven into their story. Grave Elk are both wild and domesticated, and with such a strong cultural connection, many Elk have found work within ceremonial practices across eastern Hansun.  

Grave Importance

Your loved ones will know if your afterlife is blessed or cursed by watching to see if the Ethelk visit your grave.
Soom-Shida wisdom
  To many in Hansun, death is an opportunity. Those with wealth will plan their funeral procession as a way of showing their success, and those without wealth will go into debt to attempt the same thing. In the eastern provinces of Hansun, this is mostly done through hiring of domesticated Grave Elk that then lead the march to the newly dug grave that awaits the recently deceased.
The tradition of hiring a Grave Elk for a funeral has become so commonplace that it's seen as insulting to the dead if there's not at least one present during the procession. The time it takes the Elk to walk to the grave, and how long it remains standing beside the hole in the earth, are seen as directly correlated to the quality of person that the deceased used to be.
I want four, no, five, Gravehorns at my funeral. Make that 6. And maybe sneak them some liquor before. I want them sluggish!
here for bonus info
— Desperate last wishes

Forest Gifts

The Grave Elk honor our dead; so too shall we honor theirs.
Soom-Shida wisdom
Honor for the dead is not exclusive to deceased humans in eastern Hansun; it extends to the wildlife that must be taken and consumed to prolong the life of the region's people. While they are generally the most protected species native to the area, Grave Elk are occasionally hunted for their meat. This is always a very serious event and is always done with the utmost respect -- the animal is never trapped or tricked into death, and never are the calves or nursing mothers taken.  
Meat from the slain Grave Elk is always shared communally, often dried and cured to last for long periods of time to ensure survival of a community. The antlers of the slain Elk go to the one who killed the animal -- they're hung in that person's home in a gesture of somber gratitude for doing what needed to be done.
Poach an Ethelk or take what you don't deserve, and you lose your right to any respect in death.
Soom-Shida wisdom
Grave Elk by Nnie
Common Names
Ethelk, Gravehorn


Full understanding of why the Grave Elk seek out the smell of freshly turned earth has not yet been gained. Most seem to agree that it's not related to feeding -- the Elk chew bark and leaves of local trees -- but instead think it must have something to do with finding a mate.  

Other Elk

Some keepers of Grave Elk have begun to breed for slight behavioral differences in the animals -- some, rather than being drawn to the smell of fresh dirt, are instead drawn to the smell of freshly spilled blood.

Blood Elk

What was at first seen as a new, grotesque behaviour, soon began to be seen as unique and useful. Grave Elk that seek blood rather than earth started to see use by local enforcement operations, in order to aid search operations and murder investigations.
Do NOT let the Blood Elk get loose. We don't want it out lookin' for Ichor.
— Ranch hand


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12 Jul, 2021 17:38

Ahh! I *love* this! The Soom-Shida saying just sets the whole tone just perfect.   And the use of a Blood Elk is great! I'm picturing a law enforcement task force searching the woods for a killer or a missing victim with Blood Elks out like bloodhounds! Nice!

12 Jul, 2021 18:18

Thank you very much! :D   I had to hold myself back a bit, I wanted to expand the part about the Blood Elks and introduce a Rendling version, but that'd be too many words D: For now it gets a quote, but... maybe after summer camp...

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
13 Jul, 2021 11:39

I love all the cultural significance and superstitions that have come to surround the elk. That's a really unique burial custom :D I was wondering if they behave like that because they want food but you've debunked that :p

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13 Jul, 2021 17:49

Thank you Amélie! You can always trust humans to build cultural significance around things relating to death and burials :D   Maybe one day I'll figure out what it actually is that draws them to the turned earth :P

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13 Jul, 2021 14:58

This is very wholesome even if it borders on creepy. Creatures that tell if you were a good person on your grave. I Like :)

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
13 Jul, 2021 17:50

Thank you, Avalon :D

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Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
15 Jul, 2021 19:36

Another phenomenal article storm. Well written and I love the idea behind it. I like the blood elk in particular. I think it's really cool how law enforcement learned to use them.

16 Jul, 2021 06:57

Thank you Dyl!   It's like I always say (I guess), never let a genetic accident go to waste! (or something)

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Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
20 Jul, 2021 00:36

I really dig the early-on explanation for why Grave Elk are found near cemeteries, and I really, really like the bit about their importance in funereal rites. Great stuff!

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20 Jul, 2021 05:13

Thank you! I liked writing those parts too :)

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9 Aug, 2021 00:22

Ichor Elk O.o

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
9 Aug, 2021 00:43

There's probably a myth or two about those things out in the forest, haunting up the place D:

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9 Aug, 2021 11:19

I love this so much. Such a nice funeral custom. And I love the idea of blood elks too! :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
9 Aug, 2021 17:26

Thank you for posting that image those months ago that inspired this :D

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2 Nov, 2021 06:22

Man this world is phenomenal

2 Nov, 2021 20:15

Thank you so much! :)

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9 Jan, 2022 00:36

The poem, the folklore, the little additions to the species, I cannot get enough.

11 Jan, 2022 03:53

Thank you so much <3

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