Content Warning: Discussions of racism, discrimination, and ethnic violenceThe Álfuríki (/a:lfuri:ki/listen) is an elf-dominated empire infamous for its increasingly aggressive and xenophobic stance toward non-elves. Despite this belligerence, they remain relatively limited in territory and influence due to a history of internal turmoil and political isolation. Their status as a major sorafaring power is heavily debated by scholars.
Social StructureThe Álfuríkian society is centered around the concept of elven supremacy, specifically that of the Øknodund, the descendants of those originally from Álfuríki's original home on Bjeoknjęíhaud. The root of this prejudice is an ancient Øknodundic religious belief that the original elves were so perfect that the gods themselves were jealous and stole immortality from them. It was an Øknodund who inspired this jealousy, so they are considered the most intelligent, beautiful, and pure of all the elves. This fanatic belief underpins every element of Álfuríkian society, making it highly intolerant, xenophobic, and authoritarian. This has led Álfuríkian society to become highly stratified, divided largely along lines of species and ethnicity. At the top are the øðjabrorm (lit. high landowner), members of the Álfuríki's noble houses. Only families of "pure" Øknodund blood are permitted to be øðjabrorm. More specifically, a member of an øðjabrorm must have only Øknodund ancestors. This requirement severely limits the number of people who can hope to rise to the ranks of øðjabrorm; new houses more frequently are split from existing houses than being raised from any of the lower ranks. Non-nobles are divided into three different classes. The highest are the ívaídumb (lit. free person), who are primarily those few Øknodund who are not already noble, elves with partial Øknodund ancestry, and a few other elven heritages. The ívaídumb largely hold a position in Álfuríkian society equal to that of commoners in most other nations, though theoretically they and all the own are considered the property of their lords. In practice, however, this ownership is incredibly rarely exercised, as ívaídumb pay a póbjaupp (lit. body tax) or "chattel duty" to their lord, comparable to taxes of other nations. This tax is viewed as compensation to the øðjabrorm for the value lost by not receiving the entire output of the ívaídumb's labor. Below the ívaídumb are the ívaísutú (lit. held person), who consist of most non-Øknodund elves and a portion of the elf subspecies like ellyll and nixies. Most ívaísutú live fairly difficult and tough lives often equated with serfdom from the histories of other nations. While the ívaídumb pay a moderate tax but are otherwise free, the ívaísutú are bonded to the land and the lords they serve. They are obligated to work on behalf of their lords in whatever endeavor the øðjabrorm commands of them. Most of what they make is given to their lords; they are only given just enough to provide for themselves and their families. Ívaísutú live under the heavy thumb of their øðjabrorm, requiring their permission to leave the land for an extended period, marry, or even have children. They do not own their own homes, but instead are considered a part of the land much as a forest or river might be. If an øðjabrorm sells the land an ívaísutú lives on to another øðjabrorm, the ívaísutú go along with it. At the very bottom are the oknilkant (lit. rejected), who are made up of all the rest of the populace: most subspecies and all other non-elf species. As their name implies, they are largely considered persona non grata in the Álfuríki. Legally, they can own no property, hold no jobs, and participate in no organized aspects of society. Mostly, they must subsist through begging, crime, or doing jobs which are considered exceptionally undesirable such as disposing of corpses or cleaning sewage. The Álfuríki largely views the oknilkant as invisible at best, akin to pests most of the time. While they don't normally engage in outright murder, the Álfuríki do everything short of this to deprive oknilkant of all necessities. Those oknilkant who are willing to abandon what is largely their ancestral homelands and can muster the resources largely flee the Álfuríki, living as refugees in other nations. Advancement between social classes is nearly unheard of; only those deemed to be of "pure" Øknodund lineage can be øðjabrorm, while those of so-called lesser heritages relegated to commoner status.
HistoryThe true history of the Álfuríki is obscured in a fog of propaganda. Historians across the Sora widely agree that the story provided by the Álfuríki themselves is heavily biased at best, though this is extrapolated from the contradictions between the Álfuríki version of current events with those given by others. What might have actually happened in the distant past of the Álfuríki may even be lost to them. The following history is based off the best reconstruction of events considered possible, with attempts to remove the bias injected by the Álfuríki where possible.
OriginAccording to Álfuríki legend, their home realm of Bjeoknjęíhaud formed from the Sora nearly 20,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest inhabited realms known. The gods of Bjeoknjęíhaud created numerous forms of sapient life, including humans, varanids, and cinereus. These species lived upon Feóð, the only large landmass on the world at the time. After some time, the gods had supposedly become unsatisfied with their worshipers and sought to create a perfect form of life. The result of their efforts were the elves. These first elves were said to be beautiful, graceful, intelligent, creative, clever, and immortal. The gods were initially pleased, but the other species of Bjeoknjęíhaud were entranced by the perfection of the elves and began to worship them instead of their creators. The gods grew jealous, but were too enamored of their own creations to destroy them as they might other false gods. Instead, they created Domb as a paradise and transported all the elves there. For thousands of years the elves lived idyllic lives in harmony with nature, free of strife, disease, or hardship. This allowed them to focus all their energies on self-improvement, reputedly making them even more beautiful and wise. According to legend, an elf named Ívaimjisk was so beautiful that the gods became enraptured with him. Each courted his favor and love, but he rejected them all, finding none could equal him. As centuries passed, they continued to give him more and more elaborate gifts and he continued to reject them, apparently only growing more beautiful with each passing decade. The gods were eventually consumed with jealousy and furious that a mortal would reject them no matter their best efforts. In a rage, they took away the elves' immortality, allowing Ívaimjisk and his kin to grow old, lose their beauty, and die.
Reconnecting with FeóðThousands more years passed, the elves living in peace and harmony in paradise. It all ended when explorers from Feóð landed on the shores of Domb. Tales of the elves had been passed down by the people of Feóð for millennia since the gods had taken them. They were welcomed with open arms by the elves, who were eager to learn what had become of their former home. They were horrified to learn the continent had been plagued with violence and conflict. The different species had fractured into dozens of kingdoms, warring against one another for territory, resources, and fame. A contingent of elves from Øknodund, the descendants of Ívaimjisk, returned with the explorers to Feóð, hoping to bring peace back to the continent. Instead, they claim to find the situation even more ghastly than they expected. A massive war was sweeping the continent, involving four major kingdoms. The war was so bloody that fields were awash with the corpses of the dead, many of them despoiling the same fields they had once worked as farmers before being conscripted to fight. This in turn led to massive famine sweeping the land, causing more death than the fighting itself. Rotting corpses clogged roads and rivers, poisoning the land. The elves attempted to intervene, mediating and offering their druidic magic to heal the land. Not only were their efforts rebuffed, the leaders of the kingdoms supposedly seized and imprisoned them. The leaders demanded the elves perform miracles that only the gods themselves could. When told they could not, the leaders began to sacrifice the elves, aiming to use their lives to fuel blood magic aimed only at enriching themselves. A few elves managed to escape imprisonment and, stealing a ship, fled back to Domb.
Conquest of FeóðThe Øknodundic elves brought stories of what happened back to their kin on Domb. The stories horrified the elves, though they were split on what action to take. The Øknodund wanted to raise an army and invade Feóð, bringing it under the control of the elves. Most others, however, rejected this idea. They wished to fortify Domb and believed the Øknodund were merely acting out of a desire for revenge. The Øknodund denied this, at least partly, acknowledging that while retribution was part of the motivation, they had also seen the devastation the wars had wrought on Feóð's nature. They saw it as their duty to protect the world from the apparent depredations of the Feóðans. Their arguments went unheard, however, and the other elven nations of Domb refused to act. The Øknodund went forward regardless, mustering their entire civilization for the act. As a declaration of their conviction, they used great druidic magic to level their cities, overrun their fields with wild growth, and destroy all trace of their former home on Domb. They then sailed back to Feóð, landing some time in 5127 AC. The war was long and bloody, lasting nearly 500 years. The Øknodund had believed that they would be seen as saviors by the common people of Feóð, liberators who would throw off the shackles of their cruel leaders and return peace and plenty to their lands. Instead, the people fought bitterly to protect their homes and the leaders to whom they owed allegience. In those lands the Øknodund had conquered, the claim to have tried to rule with a light hand, but the species of Feóð continued to resist. Rebellions were common and defending against internal strife while warring against external foes ultimately proved untenable for the Øknodund. In an attempt to break the spirits of their conquered subjects, they imposed martial law. Initial attempts to punish those directly involved in insurrection seemingly did little to discourage dissent. Instead, the Øknodund began to punish the families of any suspected of being rebellious, enslaving them and forcing them to toil to repair the damage done to the land by centuries of war. This finally seemed to succeed in breaking the will of the Feóðans, as internal rebellion fell sharply. By the time the continent fully fell under full Øknodundic control in 4632 AC, Álfuríkian society had begun to take shape. Two clear castes were present, with the Øknodund as the victorious conquerors and the Feóðans as enslaved subjects.
Return to DombHaving pacified the Feóðans, the Øknodund returned to Domb, expecting a triumphant welcome. Instead, they found a continent which had largely forgotten them. They were even met with suspicion and hostility, their violent conquest of Feóð rendering them strangers to their former neighbors. The experience on Feóð had dramatically changed the Øknodund outlook. They had seen the harm that war had caused to nature, but also the way complacency and inaction had exacerbated the problem. They believed that, had the rest of the elves joined them on their invasion, the war would have been over in decades rather than centuries, greatly reducing the number of casualties. The Øknodund came to believe that the future required a firm hand to ensure the prosperity of society and nature. They believed the apparent laissez-faire attitude of the other Dombian elves ran counter to that necessity. They claim to have attempted to impress this necessity on their cousins, but the problems of Feóð were distant and unreal to them. Nothing the Øknodund did could convince the rest of the elves of the necessity of unity and order. The Øknodund debated what to do; many advocated simply returning to Feóð. A significant number, however, believed the only course was conquering the Dombian elves, much as they had the Feóðan species. The warhawks eventually won out, but allowed those who did not wish to war against their elven kin to remain in Feóð and oversee the conquered peoples. The warhawks privately looked down upon the Øknodund who refused to fight, viewing them as possessing the same complacency as the Dombian elves. They resolved, upon completing the conquest of Domb, to seize the reigns of power. These warhawks would form the initial generation of øðjabrorm with the doves becoming the ívaídumb, though neither term would be applied to them for another several centuries. The conquest of Domb was much quicker and efficient than Feóð. The Dombian elves had no experience in war and were completely unprepared for the strategic and tactical prowess of the Øknodund. Most Dombian elves lacked knowledge of weaponry altogether and had to rely on crude clubs or tools as improvised weapons. This was wholly ineffective against the organized Øknodund army, which swept across the continent in just over two decades. By 4600 AC, all of Bjeoknjęíhaud was under Øknodundic control. They declared themselves the leaders of the Pure Kingdom of the Elves; the Álfuríki.
Long StagnationOver the ensuing millennia, the Øknodund consolidated their control over the Álfuríki, gaining more and more power at the expense of others. The four castes became officially codified in law, with the Feóðans slowly losing what few freedoms they were left with. They suffered greatly under the yoke of the øðjabrorm and, from time to time, a rebellion would break out. Every time they were viciously crushed, with wholesale slaughters of the oknilkant following soon after. Over time, these rebellions changed the perception of non-elves in the Álfuríki, as the øðjabrorm came to see them not as savages needing to be civilized, but as completely irredeemable. This led them to be freed from slavery, but arguably found themselves worse off as they were displaced from their housing, refused work, and pre-soraflight had nowhere to flee to. Few elves objected to the treatment of the other species; challenging the status quo was largely not in their nature. Those who did were largely confined to the followers of Odr, the god of harmony. Small communities of oknilkant managed to build villages far from the largest elven settlements, but they were scattered and kept disconnected by the Álfuríki military. Though the øðjabrorm maintained control, it came at the cost of progress. Advancements in magic and technology were slow, as access to the best education was restricted to a small segment of the population and anything seen as a potential threat to the primacy of the øðjabrorm was stamped out. Eventually, however, the slow drip of innovation led to the discovery of soraflight in 123 PC.
Early SoraflightThe Álfuríki initially treated the Sora as an open frontier, there to be parceled out to the øðjabrorm. This initial rush of expansion quickly came to a halt, however, when the Álfuríki encountered a realm filled with sapient species, including elves. The people of this realm had recently discovered soraflight themselves, though their nations were fractured and warred with one another. The Álfuríki saw this as an opportunity and swiftly attacked, expecting the elves of the realm to join their side. When they fought against the Álfuríki, the øðjabrorm were shocked. Eventually, the Álfuríki won the war, with the øðjabrorm becoming convinced that the elves of other realms had been led astray by contact with non-elven species. They came to see it as their duty to rid the Sora of this non-elven influence. The Álfuríki continued to expand, encountering more and more realms along the way. They conquered them all, oppressing the natives and enforcing their beliefs of elven supremacy upon them. As the other elven cultures they encountered largely rejected the Álfuríki way, they became more and more xenophobic, regarding non-Bjeoknjęíhaud elves as inherently corrupted by their failure to seize control. In 287 PC, the Álfuríki first encountered the Dranomyr Archive. The contact was brief, with the Archive demonstrating the superiority of their crystalles before issuing their decree forbidding interaction with primitive realms. The Árisdauld largely kept knowledge of this contact secret but understood the severity of the decree and followed it to the letter. By the end of the century, the Álfuríki had reached its greatest extent, covering a total of 24 major realms and 52 minor realms. It had not encountered any empires which could contest its power, other than the Archive, who remained distant and mysterious.
Álfuríki-Koganush WarThe Álfuríki's unchallenged expansion came to an end in 300 PC when one of its fleets encountered the Koganusân Kingdom in the middle of an eddie. The two sides were aggressive from the start, though it is unclear who fired the first shot. Whoever it was, both fleets fully committed to the fight, with only a small handful of survivors. The Árisdauld was furious with the destruction of their fleet and immediately ordered their entire military to prepare for an invasion. The Kingdom had the same thought and the two sides began massing forces along their border. In late 300, the Árisdauld ordered the attack and Álfuríki ships poured into Koganush space. Spurred forward by the belief they were superior, the Álfuríki forces attacked with a ferocity the Kingdom did not expect, pursuing retreating ships and fighting well beyond where Koganush doctrine would call for a withdrawal. Though the Álfuríki suffered heavy losses, they forced the Kingdom back and conquered a dozen realms by the middle of 301. With blood in the water, the Álfuríki continued to push on while the Kingdom scrambled to rally its forces. Álfuríki intelligence on the Kingdom's forces was scant, but the Árisdauld assumed it was somewhat inferior to their own due to the success of the initial push. However, the Kingdom managed to muster the remainder of its fleet to the front, stalling the advance. This only caused the Álfuríki to redouble its efforts, attacking the Kingdom at nearly every opportunity. The overall strategy was to wear the Kingdom down through sheer attrition, thus the Álfuríki kept its forces in the field for extended periods, even keeping damaged ships at the front rather than cycling them out for repairs. At first, it seemed this strategy was working as the Kingdom forces began to dwindle and it appeared the Álfuríki was on the verge of breaking through. However, the stress of staying constantly at the front had taken its toll on the Álfuríki's forces. The majority of its ships had suffered some degree of damage, most patched together with hasty field repairs. It was forced to supplement its forces with retrofited civilian ships which were vastly inferior to true military ships. The Kingdom, meanwhile, was beginning to field new ships it had constructed during the course of the war. The final battle came at the end of 302 around the realm Óksholmosh. The Kingdom's fleet outnumbered the Álfuríki forces approximately 3 to 2 and were in far better shape. The Álfuríki fought tenaciously, refusing to surrender even when defeat seemed inevitable. Heavily damaged ships even crashed themselves into the Koganush forces, inflicting severe damage in their last moments. Eventually, the few remaining Álfuríki ships retreated, leaving the Kingdom victorious. Panicked at the defeat, the Árisdauld commandeered a number of the remaining civilian ships and hastily retrofitted them, anticipating the Kingdom would press its advantage. However, the attack never came. The terrible losses suffered by the Kingdom had whetted its appetite for war, so it merely held to its own territory. The Álfuríki, as usual, did nothing to acknowledge the end of the war or ever concede defeat. Instead, it simply began the long process of rebuilding.
Álfuríki-Tanzit WarThough it had engaged in several small skirmishes in the decades following its loss to the Koganusân Kingdom, the Álfuríki remained mostly out of war for a long period. It's relative peace finally came to an end in 396 PC, when they invaded the realm of Odaisa, which bordered the Tanzit Suzerainty. The Álfuríki claimed the realm was part of their historic borders and the Tanzit colony was a violation of their sovereignty. The Suzerainty ignored these claims, as the realm was previously uninhabited and was three days distant from the nearest prior Álfuríki claim. The invasion took the Suzerainty by surprise, but they responded and recaptured the realm a few days later. The Álfuríki escalated, launching simultaneous invasions against several Tanzit worlds. The Suzerainty held off the initial assault, but the Álfuríki sent second and third waves, eventually overwhelming the Tanzit defenses. By 400 PC, the Álfuríki had occupied five Tanzit realms, pillaging them and driving the Tanzit citizens out of their homes. This was as far as the Álfuríki would get, as the Suzerainty regrouped and began forcing the Álfuríki back. By 404 PC, the Suzerainty had recaptured their territory, but the Álfuríki continued to send forces against in an attempted war of attrition. This constant assault wore on the Suzerainty more than the Álfuríki, as the Tanzit citizens were used to a higher quality of life and were less acclimated to a war footing. Eventually, the Suzerainty launched an invasion into the Álfuríki starting in 408 PC. Finally taking the offensive, the Suzerainty was able to grind down the smaller Álfuríki, liberating several of their realms and reducing the Álfuríki's territory to only 18 realms and 46 minor realms. The Árisdauld, the ruling council of the Álfuríki, became deadlocked, with two members wishing to surrender, but one hold out. The rules of the Árisdauld required a unanimous vote for surrender, so the war pressed on for another two years. The war finally came to an end in 410 PC, when the Árisdauld finally unanimously voted to surrender, following the sudden death of the hold out and the swift consent of their replacement. This loss precipitated a severe decline in the Álfuríki's power.
Rise of the Church of OdrThe loss to the Tanzit Suzerainty empowered the Church of Odr, which had long been a marginalized sect within the Álfuríki. The Church advocated for more equitable treatment of non-Øknodund, which made it largely unpopular with the Álfuríki authorities. However, as Odr was a god of harmony, his core dogma rejected any belief that caused division and conflict. The constant rejection by other nations, particularly elves and the Bláthaofa Kingdom, coupled with the losses in war, convinced the god that the rejection of all non-elves and relegation of non-Øknodund elves was a primary cause of conflict and division. The weakness of the Álfuríki military and overall morale shock following the surrender led the Church to push for massive reforms, including the abolition of the oknilkant and ívaísutú castes. The other gods, meanwhile, continued to promote discrimination and the concept of Øknodundic supremacy. The popularity of Odr's sect grew immensely during this time, becoming the most popular individual sect within the Álfuríki. While mostly composed of the ívaísutú and ívaídumb castes, a fair number of øðjabrorm supported it, particularly from those who had lost territory in the Tanzit war. As their influence grew, so too did the pushback from other sects and the øðjabrorm in general. Though they were the largest sect, they were still a fraction of the combined size of the other sects. As the decade wore on and the military had begun to recover, the opponents of the Church of Odr began advocating for a new war, this time against the neighboring Koganusân Kingdom. The architects of this push aimed to force the Church of Odr into a confrontation with the Árisdauld, which was firmly traditionalist. In 412 PC, the Árisdauld called an unprecedented conclave consisting of the heads of the most influential øðjabrorm and the leaders of each religious sect. The conclave was aimed to be a refutation of Odr's dogma, with everyone voting for war and forcing the Church to either relent and accept the decision (thus breaking their support) or openly oppose the will of the Árisdauld and provide an excuse for their own suppression. As expected, only the representatives of the Church of Odr voted against the war. What happened next threw the Álfuríki into disarray. The priests of Odr pulled stood as one and slit their own throats, activating a number of contingency spells. In the moment, the spells summoned a horde of demons that slaughtered the priests, house heads, and Árisdauld completely. Elsewhere, the followers of Odr were provided a vision, commanding them to rise up in rebellion. With this single act, the Álfuríki was plunged into a civil war.
Álfuríki Civil WarThe followers of Odr attempted to use the power vacuum to seize control of the Álfuríki. For a few weeks, they managed to gain control of several realms, but the majority of the Álfuríki military remained loyal to their leaders, who were firmly on the side of the traditionalists. They rallied their troops while the øðjabrorm and other churches attempted to recover from the assassinations. They were able to halt the advance of Odr's forces, though with an extreme cost. Casualties were incredibly high on both sides, forcing both to abandon realms which they held only mild control over. The Church attempted to seek allies among foreign nations, reaching out to the Bláthaofa Kingdom, Tanzit Suzerainty, and Koganusân Kingdom, but were all rebuffed. The willingness of the Church to consort with demons disturbed the leaders of these nations. This in turn forced the Church to rely on demon summoning even further as the Álfuríki forces rallied and regrouped. While the Church was able to recruit new troops from the ívaísutú, their internal support began to erode as well. In order to placate the demons and keep them under control, they had to sacrifice prisoners of war to them, causing mistrust and hatred even among the very people they planned to support. The war ground to a stalemate until 415 PC, then slowly began to turn against the Church. In 417 PC, they had been reduced to a single realm under their control, but it was heavily fortified and Odr took the unprecedented step of intervening directly in the war. Combined with the demons, the Álfuríki assaults on the realm resulted in heavy losses, with casualty rates nearing 70%. Incapable or unwilling to expend more lives in doomed assaults, in 422 PC the remaining Bjeoknjęíhaud cults gathered large assemblies of their followers across Álfuríki territories and conducted a mass prayer. It is estimated that nearly 10 billion people, nearly half the Álfuríki population at the time, all prayed in tandem, beseeching their deities to destroy Odr. Though they were unable to destroy Odr directly, this massive influx of devotion empowered the gods. The provided the heads of their cults with visions, instructing them how to reach the gates of Ljeónø, the Bjeoknjęíhaud afterlife. The gods used their power to physically manifest Odr outside of Ljeónø, where the Álfuríki forces attacked en masse. Over the course of a day, the Álfuríki forces assaulted Odr, who transported legions of his followers and their bound demons to his side. The fighting was ferocious, with destructive eldritch magics disrupting the very fabric of reality. At one point, the Álfuríki unleashed an ancient relic which literally opened a rend in existence, completely erasing an area of nearly a cubic mile and everything within. At the end of the day, Odr finally fell, his power completely drained. All those present were overwhelmed as Odr died, their minds flooded with visions and thoughts which were not their own. They then saw a flash of strange color in the sky, one that none could describe. The now powerless priests of Odr lost control of their demon thralls, which immediately turned upon them and began slaughtering indiscriminately. The Álfuríki forces fled the field, having secured victory.
To the PresentThe civil war devastated the Álfuríki, reducing it to half its previous size. Isolated from the rest of the Sora, they lacked the influx of migrants that in other nations might have been tempted by the expanse of suddenly empty land. As elves, they also reproduced slowly, even when incentivised to bear multitudes of children. The fears of the øðjabrorm, that the vacuum of lives would be filled with angry, desperate lower castes, exacerbated the problems as they enacted harsh, restrictive policies of austerity. While many outsiders thought the Álfuríki would shrivel away, they managed to stabilize internally. The øðjabrorm reasserted control and reestablished the order of their society. However, their ability to expand and grow had effectively been neutralized, as their neighbors grew larger and more powerful in the decades following the end of the war. The only colony they have managed to establish has been on the realm Bjentdøplø, which sits very close to the entrance of the Neahmidath. This was more luck than anything else, as the entrance to the Neahmidath was discovered midway through the civil war. The minor eddy leading off that entrance, however, was not located until several decades later, in 465 PC, by Álfuríki scouts. The natives of the realm, mostly consisting of ellyll, had been sorafaring for just under a decade when the Álfuríki located them. The Árisdauld, eager for some conquest, engaged in subterfuge to convince the locals that they wished to help bring the locals to parity with their own sorafaring capabilities. Over the course of a decade, they managed to seize the reigns of power on the realm, then fully annexed it with the assistance of collaborators who believed they would be rewarded. Instead, they were cast into the ívaísutú with the rest of the natives, while colonizing Øknodund elves were given primacy over them. Since then, the Álfuríki has largely been isolationist. Outsiders have long expected them to collapse in on themselves, but in the century since the civil war have remained remarkably stable.
PoliticsThe Álfuríki is dominated by conservative factors internally. Due to the empire's social and species-based stratification, the øðjabrorm hold the vast majority of political power. Change is slow and has largely been regressive, especially in the past few centuries. The few alterations to the nation's power structure have invariable concentrated power in the hands of fewer individuals. The few attempts made to move the Álfuríki toward a more egalitarian society have been violently opposed by the øðjabrorm.
GovernmentThe Álfuríki is a feudal aristocracy, ruled by the øðjabrorm, a term which applies both generally to a noble house and more specifically to the designated head of that house. The number of øðjabrorm houses has fluctuated over the centuries, but currently floats around 400. Each house oversees a set territory known as an éstjeu. Within their éstjeu, an øðjabrorm has near limitless control, technically owning everything within it. This includes the land, buildings, natural resources, and even the people themselves. Legally, all residents of an éstjeu are the property of the owning øðjabrorm. However, the level of control an øðjabrorm holds over their subjects varies greatly based on the social class those subjects occupy. Among the øðjabrorm are thirty-six houses known informally as the Þreóbrorm. While these houses do possess marginally larger and more valuable éstjeu than the average øðjabrorm, it isn't wealth that sets them apart. Rather, the Árisdauld (the ruling council of the Álfuríki) are chosen from them. This council is composed of the heads of three of the Þreóbrorm, who serve for life or until they voluntarily step down. The Árisdauld alone commands the military, makes laws, and governs the Álfuríki as a whole. For most issues, only two of the three need to agree on a course of action for it to be taken. However, certain major matters, such as declarations of war or stripping an øðjabrorm of their titles, requires a consensus. This ensures regular matters of governance are not frozen by an obstinate truimvir, while the most important decisions are unanimously decided. Whenever a new member of the triumvirate must be selected, the Þreóbrorm vote on who among them is to take the seat. A house can only hold one seat on the council at a time and the house who previously held a seat is ineligible to hold it twice in a row.
Laws and Criminal JusticeMost laws in the Álfuríki are centered around the enforcement of its speciesist hierarchy, codifying the supremacy of the Øknodund and their placement at the top in the øðjabrorm. The vast majority of laws enumerate either the rights the øðjabrorm have over commoners or the obligations commoners have toward øðjabrorm. The bulk of rest explicitly restrict the rights of non-Øknodund species and ethnicities. For instance, the practice of magic is strictly forbidden for non-elves and is heavily limited for non-øðjabrorm. Unlike most other nations, the Álfuríki has very few laws defining criminal conduct or civil disputes. Instead, the øðjabrorm are given wide latitude to set rules, regulations, punishments, and restitution as they see fit. The laws can thus vary wildly from éstjeu to éstjeu. The few criminal laws that do exist revolve around the infliction of bodily harm. Killing is forbidden except in cases of self defense, as long as the victim is an elf. Assault or the infliction of other bodily harm is also generally illegal, with the perpetrator to suffer as much as the victim, proportionate to the difference in status. For instance, if one ívaísutú blinds another, the attacker will be blinded in turn. However, if an øðjabrorm blinds an ívaísutú, the øðjabrorm may only have a single digit, usually a small toe, amputated. In neither case is monetary restitution mandated by law, though some øðjabrorm do enforce it within their éstjeu. Additionally, this only considers direct physical harm; injuries sustained due to labor required by or orders given by a higher class do not fall under this restriction. None of these laws apply to the oknilkant; though the other classes do not typically go out of their way to harm them, doing so carries no punishment Within their éstjeu, the øðjabrorm is judge, jury, and executioner. Any member of the house may serve to dispense justice, though the head of the house is the highest authority. In most cases not involving an øðjabrorm, a minor member of the house tends to preside with more senior members getting involved only in intra-house disputes. In the rare event of a legal challenge being brought against the head themselves, the case will be heard by the Árisdauld. Charges against a member of the Árisdauld are heard by the other two members.
DiplomacyNo nation maintains an embassy with the Álfuríki, nor does the Álfuríki send diplomats to others. The Álfuríki does not recognize the sovereignty of any other nation, considering them all to either be barbarians to be conquered or rebels to be crushed. Its maintains a belligerent stance with all others, waiting for a sign of weakness to attack. Technically, it exists in a constant state of war with all its neighbors. While it has signed peace or non-aggression treaties with other nations in the past, it regularly proves willing to violate these treaties, thus no others bother to enter into agreements with them any longer. The only nations it even acknowledges in the most insignificant terms are the Bláthaofa Kingdom and the Dranomyr Archive. It regularly sends missives to the Kingdom, referring to it as the "Bláthaofa Province" and issuing commands which the Kingdom completely ignores. The Archive, on the other hand, is sent threats, insults, and demands of surrender, which are also ignored. The Archive closely watches the Álfuríki for signs they are violating the decree, but so far they have contented themselves with hostility against sorafaring realms only.
TerritoryDue to its history of aggression against all others and internal instability, the Álfuríki is significantly smaller than the major sorafaring powers, though not as small as the numerous minor powers scattered throughout the Sora. It currently counts 13 major realms and 25 minor realms under its dominion, though it has in the past been nearly twice the size. Most of these realms are clustered in a small volume of the Sora near its homeworld and capital realm of Bjeoknjęíhaud, though it does have the unusual distinction of maintaining control over the realm Bjentdøplø, which sits very close to the entrance of the Neahmidath while being fairly distant from the capital.
Trade and EconomyThe economy of the Álfuríki is fairly decentralized, with each éstjeu being largely independent of the others. Internally, each éstjeu has its economic policy set and determined by the ruling øðjabrorm. Most éstjeu have economies based on agriculture, mining, or other manual labor, with the ívaísutú responsible for most of the work. These éstjeu make up what the Álfuríki term the sjáplýdau, or "first land", the lowest economic tier. They provide materials to the antęplýdau, or the "second land", which takes the raw materials to manufacture goods. The mostly-ívaídumb artisans produce a variety of goods, many of them luxurious in quality. The majority of Álfuríki-produced goods are sold domestically, but in comparison to their nonexistent presence in diplomatic spheres, the Álfuríki has a relatively wide influence in trade. While most nations refuse to deal directly with Álfuríki-based traders, many øðjabrorm work through intermediaries and third parties to mask their involvement. This means less of the direct profit comes to the Álfuríki, though this economic shortfall comes at the expense of the lower classes rather than the øðjabrorm who continue to advance the isolationist policies that causes it.
DemographicsThe Álfuríki has a relatively small population compared to most other sorafaring powers, numbering only 23 billion people. Just over 1 billion are part of the øðjabrorm, accounting for roughly 5% of the populace. A much larger percentage, nearing 30% (6.9 billion), constitute the ívaídumb, while the largest class by far are the ívaísutú at nearly 60% of the population (13.8 billion). The oknilkant make up the remained of the populace, at 5% (1.1 billion). Most of the populace of the Álfuríki is of elven heritage, with just under 22 billion belonging to one of the elven subspecies. Of these, 75% are common elves, 20% are nixies, and the remaining 5% are ellyll. Of the 5% of the overall population who are non-elves, the majority are human at 4% of the total. Dwarves, goblins, and other species have been largely displaced in the majority of Álfuríki territory, though small pockets remain. Just under 6 billion live on the Álfuríki homeworld of Bjeoknjęíhaud, with a majority of the rest living in a core pocket of realms within a few days' travel from the capital. Because of the poor conditions which most of their population lives, this centralization is largely considered a necessity for the Álfuríki. Revolts and rebellions have been commonplace through the Álfuríki's history, necessitating the ability to swiftly respond with military force.
LanguagesHewirski is the only officially recognized language in the Álfuríki. While accurate statistics are difficult to come by, it's estimated that less than half of the population speaks it as a native tongue, with the rest speaking a mixture of other languages originating from various worlds the Álfuríki has conquered. A good number of fluent Hewirski speakers likely speak it as a second language, though there is likely a significant number of people who have only partial or no fluency.
ReligionThe worship of the Øknodundic pantheon is the only permitted religion within the Álfuríki. Common worship involves the entire pantheon, though each of the eleven deities have individual priesthoods and temples. Bamb, the god of order and nature, and Køkt, the goddess of conquest and victory, are given the highest standing and thus have the largest and most important festivals and holidays. Most holidays are marked by days of rest, relaxation, and feasting, typically accompanied by large public celebrations and sacrifices to the dedicated deity. The three most venerated days on the Álfuríkian calendar are Ǫuslauknjambhriþømb (literally "celebration of ordering") to celebrate the creation of Bjeoknjęíhaud, Fryttrǫusk ("Lord's Day") in veneration of Køkt, and Hrisvearǫusk ("Victory Day") to celebrate the slaying of Odr. Religious observation is largely restricted to the øðjabrorm and, to a lesser degree, the ívaídumb. The ívaísutú are theoretically allowed to take part in all festivities, and many øðjabrorm make a display of granting leisure time to celebrate, but typically must spend the days working to survive instead. Oknilkant, on the other hand, are explicitly restricted from participating in most aspects of religious celebration.
EducationThere is no organized, public education in the Álfuríki. Education is largely the domain of the øðjabrorm and ívaídumb, both as students and teachers. Øðjabrorm typically employ tutors (often other øðjabrorm but occasionally ívaídumb) to provide primary education to their children, then attend small, private instutions for higher learning. Ívaídumb usually attend schools which are privately maintained and funded by the community. Higher education among the ívaídumb is rare, with most learning trades from their parents. The quality of education for both øðjabrorm and ívaídumb varies greatly depending on the ability of the teachers, though the tutors available to the øðjabrorm is generally high. The ívaísutú rarely have access to quality education, mostly because they lack access to the resources to run high quality schools. Even in those rare communities which have them, they are typically suppressed and discouraged by the øðjabrorm. Most ívaísutú are educated by their parents, learning the skills necessary to work for their øðjabrorm. A few who are talented and (more importantly) lucky enough to noticed by an øðjabrorm may be given more structured education, but such instances are rare. Oknilkant education varies incredibly widely; in elf-controlled cities, there are no official schools and even unofficial schools are rare and supressed by the øðjabrorm. Oknilkant villages, far from the øðjabrorm influence, often have community schools, though the quality can fluctuate greatly depending on the skill of the teachers.
MilitaryWhile it doesn't improve their social class, military service is one of the few ways ívaísutú are able to improve their lives while remaining in the Álfuríki. The rank and file of the Álfuríki military are largely made up of the ívaísutú and this service is widely considered a sign of loyalty and submission. Such self-sacrificial qualities are rewarded by the øðjabrorm and the families of ívaísutú military are, if not looked upon any better, at least compensated for their service. The actual rewards varies based on the øðjabrorm, but typically consists of tax concessions, better housing, or even direct payments. Of course, while the øðjabrorm and (to a lesser extent) ívaídumb look fondly upon ívaísutú soldiers, it can evoke anger and hostility from other ívaísutú. Many view it as craven sycophantism at best, naked collaboration at worst. A great amount of tension exists within ívaísutú communities over the issue. While ívaísutú largely fill the rank and file, the officer corps are split between the ívaídumb, who make up most of the junior officers, and the øðjabrorm, who compose the senior ranks. Attending the Wygjaplý (Officer's School) is the primary method ívaídumb use to enter the military ranks. There they receive training in leadership, tactics, logistics, and other important skills. Most attend for at least a decade, though many stay much longer as longer terms typically equates to a more prestigious posting after graduation. The øðjabrorm are instead directly appointed to their posts by house heads without any formal training, though only the most nepotistic øðjabrorm houses don't require some level of training and competence. This usually comes from retired officers who are members of their house. A much larger portion of the Álfuríki's population serves in the military than other nations, though due to their relatively small size their armed forces are still smaller than the other major nations. They currently maintain a navy of roughly 200 soracraft, most of them soraships of various sizes and designations. The Álfuríki is aggressive and favors conquest, so its ships skew on the larger size. In addition to their soraships, the Álfuríki does possess a small number of lepicephs, estimated at about a dozen. It is believed they obtained them by stealing a gravid female from the Bláthaofa Kingdom roughly a decade ago and successfully rearing her eggs. All of the lepicephs reported under Álfuríki control have similar markings and coloration, indicating they are related, though this is also what makes it difficult to get an accurate count of their numbers. It is unknown if the Álfuríki have managed to successfully breed their lepicephs, though if they are siblings as is widely assumed, it is likely such efforts will be incredibly difficult.
Purity through supremacy.
The Álfuríki postures as if the Kingdom is merely a rebellious province, while the Kingdom considers the Álfuríki to be an utter perversion of elvish values.
Xenophobia does not, fortunately, give two different nations enough in common to like one another.
The Álfuríki despises the heavy handed Archive. The Archive generally considers the Álfuríki to be a bemusing nuisance.
The Álfuríki considers the Syndicate to be uncultured materialists, while the Syndicate views the Álfuríki as a violent impediment to trade.
The Álfuríki sees the Kamakari as hideous moralists, while the Mandate cannot fathom the cruelty of the Álfuríki society.
These two militaristic, nationalistic powers would love nothing more than to utterly annihilate the other.