Melu'ush Tradition / Ritual in Enthion | World Anvil
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Melu'ush (Meh-LOO-oosh)

The spider-kin, also known as the swamp elves, have a coming-of-age ceremony unlike that of any other elves. Melu'ush (The Blood Trial) takes place as swamp elves come of age, which is considered to be 100 years old. This is slightly younger than the ceremony for other elves, making Melu'ush seem all the more barbaric to them. Fatalities occur from time to time, and it has become one more reason for people, especially other elves, to hate the aggressive spider-kin. They call it child abuse and a barbaric practice. Perhaps it is.

That said, deaths are rare, and a non-lethal trial of fitness must be passed to even enter. Entering is a badge of honor, and passing the trial is required to be a combatant of any kind, so most young elves work hard to get to Melu'ush. Anyone who does not pass the fitness test, or opts out, as some do, celebrates the Tarilen (The Giving) instead. The Tarilen can be anything, so long as an elder approves the ceremony and it benefits the community in some way. Coming-of-age by way of the Tarilen is honorable, but it isn't celebrated the way Melu-ush is celebrated.

Scores for various sections of the Melu-ush gauntlet can provide opportunities in the military, and the champion is presented, by the spiders themselves, with five of their brightest and largest young warriors. A bonded pair from such a union can be a force that changes an entire battlefield. Two highly-trained, sapient beings moving in unison can make for a fearsome foe, all the more so when the giant spiders allow their bond-mate to mount them and the bonded elf wields a magical kurikash, a modified elven longsword. Add to that some of the finest specimens either species can offer and the result is terror for nearly anyone facing them.

The Melu'ush begins with a free-for-all. Armor is not required and some eschew its use. This is one of the sections of the trial likely to produce a death, though that isn't the goal. Weapons are blunted and spells are simulated with visual-only versions all spellcasters learn...easy spells to cast and realistic illusions that many find useful long after the Melu-ush ends. But no one holds back, and on occasion, a blunted weapon still cracks a skull or impales a body. Illusions lead combatants astray and sometimes into harm's way. Those in hiding are sometimes crushed accidentally. And so forth...that said, most know the hazards and prepare accordingly. And most survive.

Melu'ush continues with the top half from the free-for-all, determined by points gained for kills, for style, for tactics, and for various uses of skills. The next trial is dueling, a 1 v. 1 elimination scenario. These matches can be watched up close and the point system is notoriously complex and unforgiving. The top half again, by points, moves on.

The third and final trial is team combat, considered the most important. Points made for successful and daring sacrifices can mean someone taken out of the battle still wins the trial or even the entire competition. The importance of group success over personal achievement is engrained culturally from the time the spider-kin first open their eyes. That said, there are still three individuals called out at the end in addition to the winning team, based on scoring. A high score and a team win is the greatest honor, though it is possible to win a place without the team win.

The Melu-ush takes place once a year in groups of 100. There is no interaction between separate groups, but total points are compared across the board with every combatant to determine the top three. Ties lead to 1 v. 1 battles, and they are often the stuff of legends when they occur.

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Cover image: Castle by jameschg


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