The Reliquery Grounds Building / Landmark in Enthion | World Anvil
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The Reliquery Grounds

The Reliquary is less a place where one might find relics than it is a relic itself, but it is quite large, and it is said to be the last object touched by the notorious elf of legend, Iniralei, and also to contain her essence if not her remains. Pilgrims travel to see it, and they treat it like a shrine. Whether it's technically a relic and not a reliquary is of little importance, at any rate, as it is known throughout spider-kin territories as simply The Reliquary. This is a reference to both a statue and to a shrine erected next to the statue. The entire area, called The Reliquary Grounds, includes a temple and a dormitory for pilgrims.

The object of attention on the grounds is a statue of an ancient elven hero, Taroute. Though it has no visible marks of any kind and this is often attributed to divine will, it is quietly (though not secretly) tended to by a group of monks in the region. Nightly, they look it over and repair it where they can, buffing it back to a shine. It has stood for hundreds of years without suffering serious damage, but that's less than one elven lifetime and the sculpture is well look-after, which makes it slightly less miraculous.

The Reliquary stands twenty feet high, for though life-sized, it stands on a wide dais and a base with an inscription of dedication. The work was erected in honor of the legendary warrior Taroute on a large hill south of one of the great swamps and in view of Nitira, an ancient township that was in taiga elf territory at the time of its creation by, according to records, an elven woman who went only by Gritte. Gritte, it is said, had fallen in love with Taroute, but she was a commoner and he was a noble. Taroute gave up his nobility, title and lands both, to marry Gritte. He was such an impressive warrior that his deeds were unmatched, and eventually, a cry for the return of his title and lands grew. When it was offered by a marquess with the stipulation that Taroute's was a special case, Taroute refused the title and lands. He went on to win a pivotal battle almost single-handedly when most of his band were lost, saving the marquess he had turned away, and subsequently, the public outcry was renewed. Eventually, the king himself had a ceremony for Taroute and he not only returned Taroute's lands and title, he honored Gritte with the same and made it clear that nobles could marry anyone "noble in their eyes," which appeased both parties...commoners could hope to be nobles, and nobles considered the new nobles to have been nobles all along, hidden among commoners where only noble eyes might find them. In any case, it worked, Taroute helped to end the current war and the public were happy with the king's decree.

Gritte's new title (Duchess of Evenfall, married to the restored Duke Taroute of Evenfall) gave her artwork greater exposure to the public. She is said to have made several works for the kings and lords of the court, though they are largely lost to history. She also made The Reliquary, initially called The Might of Righteousness, as a fiftieth birthday present to celebrate her husband.

But all of that precedes the sculpture's current use and significance, though it affects it. After the swamp elves had broken from the Blue Lotus elves, those believed to be sympathizers were run out of town or put to death. A woman by the name of Inaralei was more than a of the swamp elves, Hirana, was her lover. But Inaralei was a decorated field commander for the Blue Lotus, her name known well by the locals in and around Nitira, where she lived. In the swamps on the backside of Nitira and the sculpture The Might of Righteousness, some of the swamp elves had erected an outpost to keep tabs on the Blue Lotus empire and report back to their secret arcology deep in the swamp. Hirana stayed at the outpost, and as Inaralei could no sooner see her at the outpost than Hirana could show up in the Blue Lotus town of Nitira, they would regularly sneak into the hills near the swamp to a little cabin they had built together.

A Nitira local tipped off authorities when the hushed rumor became the secret everyone knew about, and a small force was dispatched to the cabin. Iniralei could probably have taken out all of them, but she made no move to do so. Sadly, Hinara was then executed on the spot, run through without notice. She was just able to reach out and touch Iniralei's hand before she perished. Though beside herself with grief, Iniralei let the arrest continue and was imprisoned. At her trial, Iniralei would neither lie about the tryst nor would she distance herself from the country she had sworn an oath to protect. Her sentence was death. Given her status, she was granted both a last wish and last words. She chose the statue as the site of her execution, and her wish was to be slain while she was touching it, for it represented purity and love that resonated with her. Her last words were, "The deserters are just and uncorrupted. I cannot say the same for my own country, for though I love the people and the land, it was wrong to turn so many out, worse to demonize them, and worse yet to hunt them down even as they took refuge in the most inhospitable of places, still more hospitable than rigid traditions and feckless leaders of the Blue Lotus. And yet, I keep my oath and go quietly to my death. I may as well, for my love has been sent ahead by reprehensible tools of the Lotus. May the gods take notice. Hinara, forgive me!" With that, she nodded to her executioners, three elves standing ready with ceremonial, curved blades and the full regalia of the Blue Lotus decorating the pristine plate mail they advanced in. Inaralei was allowed to wear any clothes she wished, and she chose a yellow dress she had borrowed from her love. Inaralei's hand rested softly on the calf of the majestic statue of Taroute as an officiating elf read aloud from an ancient text before giving the signal to slay the erstwhile hero of the Blue Lotus. It was bloody and brief, for Iniralei did not move.

It is said that her essence was infused with the statue's sword and lives within it still. As Nitira was one of the first territories, not coincidentally, taken back by the swamp elves when they resurfaced as the seemingly unstoppable spider-kin, the statue has become what is now one of the most venerated sites among the spider-kin. Many sapient spiders, both bonded and unbonded, are curious, and also make the pilgrimage.

The statue is still held in high regard by the Blue Lotus for its history with them, and its new designation is a sore spot for many among them who want both Nitira and the sculpture back in Lotus hands. But The Might of the Righteous has been The Reliquary long enough that any return of the site or the city near are extremely unlikely while the spider-kin reign. While it was once seen as a sign of the righteousness of the Blue Lotus, it is now seen as the same in favor of the spider-kin, who associate the site with loyalty and love, though they also consider it a symbol of justice since they took the town and the statue from their oppressors, vindicating Hinara and Iniralei in the minds of the spider-kin.

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Cover image: Castle by jameschg


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