When all else is lost, there is always hope.
We were never the greatest of metalworkers, and our trees refused to flourish in the barren wastelands of Kylmävikk. To survive, we had to rely on the one thing we had left: hope.Of the many peoples to eke out an existence in the icy northern land of Iskaldhal, the snow elves are perhaps the least biologically prepared. The dwarves and orcs each have a natural talent for surviving the rough weathers and finding their own ways of life, whether that be through superior ability to handle mountainous terrain or simply through raw strength. Elvenkind hails from a land of luxury in comparison. Though it is true that the Isyrei are now quite accomplished in working both stone and metal, and that they manage to survive well enough despite their nomadic existence, this was not always the case. In the years immediately following the Worldrend - and by extension, the decimation of the elves living on Iskaldhal - the Isyrei struggled to find means of survival. No dwarven settlement would trade with them, and in those days, the dwarves were the most dominant of races. The few groups of human settlers traded them scant supplies for their elven crafts, but that avenue quickly depleted as their access to crafting materials (such as trees) faltered. Thankfully, whilst they were bereft of natural skills worthy of the North, the elves had never been short of the ability to hunt and their marksmanship soon had their plates filled with meats. Such a blessing was only briefly enjoyed: their bounties lured larger predators to them, and without the protection lent by mythril plates and steel shields, a number of the Isyrei warriors were slain. It was this desperate situation that led the few remaining clerics of the Isyrei to call out to their deities with one final plea.
"O great Ketephys, lord of the Hunt, why do you steady our aim yet allow our quarries to make prey of us? O wondrous Findeladlara, our guiding hand, how might we craft beauty from naught but air and blood? O shining Yuelral the Wise, where might we find jewels worthy of your recognition that we might gain their protection? O Desna, Lady of Luck, we beg of you - spare us this tragedy and grant us our lives!"Though it was exceedingly rare to ever receive a deific response (and remains so to the current day), this was one occasion where their cry caught the attention of the Outer Planes. And so it came to be that those first clerics were bestowed the ability to make manifest their hopes for protection in a strange form of abjuration magic. Whilst only those blessed with divine power were able to harness this ability, it was one they could teach - and the spindles of softly-glowing white thread they could form from the remains of leaves and strands of grass were not workable by them alone. The first clothing made from this new thread was equal in strength to sturdy leathers, and subsequent testing and experimentation with gemstones - and later, mythril - allowed the Isyrei to potentially make a suit of armour as strong as iron. They named their newfound material 'hopesweave', and it became a secret they refused to share.
In thread form, a spindle of hopesweave is not so dissimilar to a spindle of white cotton at a glimpse. However, cotton doesn't emanate a soft white glow, nor does it shimmer in the light as if made of ice. Once woven into fabric of any kind, this shimmering property is multiplied a thousandfold - hopesweave armour captures sunlight in the same manner that snow does, reflecting it and blinding any who stare for too long in the sunlight. Whilst its base colour is white, this pale colour is usually tinged with purples and blues, and sometimes strong emotion on the part of the weaver can cause a particular spindle of hopesweave to take on other colours. It can be dyed as any other natural fibre though this doesn't dim the glistening effect. Many elven wearers of hopesweave colour it to match their environment a little more - often choosing greys to blend slightly better with the mountains around them.
Physical & Chemical Properties
She wanted to weave him armour befitting a king. Now she's lying in the hospital and the armour's barely functional... it's made of hope, not desperation. Remember that.Hopesweave is surprisingly sturdy for its simple method of creation, managing to hold a level of defence equal to many standard armours depending on how thickly it is woven. This comes at a significant cost: each spindle of hopesweave consumes more of the weaver's power, making it risky to attempt to weave it too strong.
Origin & Source
To create hopesweave, a divine caster (such as a cleric) of one of the Elven Pantheon or a similarly-aligned deity must be taught the ancient ways of weaving by the Isyrei. This process involves a ritual wherein the caster invokes their deity and their emotional fortitude to imbue simple materials of the earth - such as grasses, leathers, leaves, and stone - with divine magic. No simple objects are capable of holding these powers: instead, they are transformed to a more primal form of creation energy that can be shaped into hopesweave by way of a standard weaving loom. From there, the spindles of hopesweave may be handed to crafters and clothesmakers that can shape it into its final form.
Life & Expiration
An unworked spindle of hopesweave is known to last as long as the initial caster lives. Woven hopesweave, however, lasts as long as those who wear it are alive: if a piece sits unworn past the death of all of its previous wearers, it loses all potency. This ability does not apply to those who take and wear the hopesweave by force. An element of consent must be present - killing an Isyrei for their garments will lead only to disappointment.
History & Usage
In the current day and age, hopesweave is very rarely used as an external garment. Instead, thin layers of hopesweave are worn under the armour of most snow elven tribes as a secondary form of protection. Crafting anything from it requires significantly more effort and talent than simply working leather or steel does, but it remains one of the Isyrei's most time-honoured forms of protection. The other tribes, as offshoots of the Isyrei, each hold it to similar regard. All are likely to attack outsiders daring to wear hopesweave garments unless significant explanation can be given.
Trade & Market
No snow elf would dare sell hopesweave. Most other settlements of Iskaldhal are aware of the dangers in attempting to do so, and instead choose to return it to the tribes for a rich reward of snow elven crafts.
Potentially over 500gp/spindle.
Snow elf only
I love the idea of weaving hope into a thing that you can truly see and feel. If someone was to be adopted into the Snow Elf culture, would they be allowed to use Hopesweave, or is it something the snow elves wouldn't trust even to one who feels they are part of their culture?
So you're saying I can go into battle and look good doing it? Count me in! And for some reason, I have this image of a granny elf sittin' in a rocking chair, sewing hopesweave together saying, "I ain't sewin' no shirt, I'm crafting armour!" Quite humorous. With that said, I think a little more touch can be applied on describing the situation between hopesweave clearly being able to be used publicly, and their intent to keep this practice secret. You say they don't want to sell it, yet it goes to crafters and clothesmakers. Are their borders closed off to anyone not of their kind? If not, and dwarves and such visit every so often, what contingency plan do they have to protect hopesweave from being known?
Love this. It's incredibly clever and distinctively Elvish. Really like the idea of the Elven pantheon reaching out to them and teaching them to weave creation magic into cloth, yet with a cost. That's a useful way of keeping things balanced. I'm a little confused about one point. Towards the beginning, you describe hopesweave as a secret that the snow-elves refuse to share. Later on, you mention that a divine caster of the Elven pantheon, or a similarly aligned deity, can be taught to create the material. Are there different deities from other pantheons that snow-elves follow? My brain could just be a bit fuzzy at the moment. Could that be clarified? Also, is there like a half-life or degradation rate for after a wearer dies before the material dissipates? Or does it happen as soon as the person dies, so it needs to be passed on before dying? Can that be expanded on, perhaps? Also, I reallyreallyreally love the quote box to set off the legendary prayer and the tone constructed with that. It adds an amazing touch.