On the island continent of Aerenal, the lines between life and death are blurred, and the living converse freely with the dead on a daily basis. The elves of Aerenal offer their prayers not to distand gods, but to their individual and common ancestors.
As many of these ancestors are long-since deceased, their spirits act as guardians of their family lines to this day, yet there are those dead who have not departed. These Undying elves walk the streets as free as any living elf, and are an integral part of Aereni society. These spirits and animated dead make up The Undying Court. These long-dead elves act as counselors, protectors, warriors, and holy figures to the elves of the island.
With a long-reaching perspective rivaling that of even the greatest dragons, the Undying Court carefully directs the elves of Aerenal through machinations that might take thousands of years to unfold. The Sibling Kings, the traditional living rulers of Aerenal, may rule over the daily affairs of the elves, but the Undying Court shapes the destiny of the race. The Undying Court is based in Shae Mordai, the City of the Dead, guiding the nation from there.
- 1 History
- 2 Death as a way of Life
- 3 Rites and Rituals
- 4 Divinity & Death
- 5 The Clergy of the Undying Court
- 6 Places of Worship
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
History[edit | edit source]
The elves has called Aerenal home for more than 26,000 years, and for most of that time, the Undying Court has ruled with a benign and guiding hand.
Before then though, the elves were slaves to the giants of Xen'drik. Little is known about this time, as history began to be regularly tracked with their escape from Xen'drik. These tales tell legends of the elves' grand race-defining escape, and are told to all Aereni, and form the foundation of their acceptance and reverence of death and their ancestors.
Aeren's Insight[edit | edit source]
During the later days of the Age of Giants, after the giant's war with the denizens of Dal Qour, the slaves of Xen'drik rose up against their masters. Elven legend tells of an elf named Aeren, who would come to lead the revolt and destroy the giant civilization once and for all.
Aeren served a mighty shaman, who one day ordered the elf to fetch his master a sacrifice for a ritual. Upon realizing that the sacrifice were to be a young elf girl, and witnessing her death at the hands of the shaman, Aeren came to understand the inherent magic found within the elves themselves - as the magic released by the sacrificial ritual was more potent than any they had seen their master perform before.
Aeren gathered a host of pupils, eager to learn what they had to teach, and these elves soon began conducting magical experiments of their own, away from their master's prying eyes. They soon found that the parchment and leather they stole from their masters to record their findings, were a liability as the giants might find them out. However, they soon discovered that their own blood was an ideal ink, and the bones of their own dead served as perfect records of their experiments. And so they continued, without the giants realizing.
Years passed, and so did many other elven sacrifices, until the day Aeren recognized what they had been missing for so long. The true force of magical power would not come from death, but from life. Sharing this revelations with his peers, Aeren began setting up for a ritual that would free all elves.
The Flight of Slaves[edit | edit source]
On the appointed day of freedom, Aeren and one hundred of Aeren's chosen stepped into their masters' chambers. They then spoke the final words of a ritual that had been prepared in advance over several months. As the words left their lips they gave up their lives, birthing mighty detonations of power within the giant strongholds, toppling them and upending their civilization. In the aftermath, the elves slipped away. Before the giants could retaliate and unleash horrific arcane magics the dragons of Argonnessen intervened and destroyed giant civilization for good.
The exodus from Xen'dik, which the elves call "The Flight of Slaves", was spearheaded by Aeren's faithful. Once the elves reached the shores they discovered a journal of Aeren's, concealed within a platinum urn. This journal contained the ritual that resulted in the great sacrifice of the elf heroes, as well as Aeren's notes on the rite that would eventually become the Ritual of Undying, or The Rite of Transition.
Conflicting accounts claim that different things happened to Aeren after this. One account claims Aeren, unlike the other heroes, did not truly perish. Instead his soul lingered in Eberron, as the flux of magical energies sustained his existence even as it ended his biological life. Aeren was thus transformed into the first of the Undying. Another claim has Aeren among those who escaped Xen'Drik, yet dying during the journey to what would become Aerenal. After the elves made landfall, Aeren was interred within the island, and the elves named their new home Aerenal, or "Aerens's Rest"
Between Then and Now[edit | edit source]
In the intervening years between the Flight of the Slaves and the Current Age, the elves were concerned with creating homes for themselves, as many of those who followed Aeren were of different tribes and wanted to eek out their own paths in life. For those who remained on Aerenal, the Undying Court would come to be their cultural touchstone.
The Undying Court appeared some 25,000 years ago, and soon after followed attacks by the dragons of Argonnessen. The first skirmish between the elves and the dragons set a pattern of long periods of peace punctuated by short, devastating battles every few hundred years.
In approximately -9,000 YK, the elves attempted to establish a colony within present-day Valenar. Peaceful coexistence with the Dharkaani could not be maintained and soon the Aereni abandoned the endeavor when yet another clash with the dragons threatened Aerenal.
Circa -2,200 YK the first dragonmarks appeared among the elves of Aerenal. The Mark of Shadow and the Mark of Death appeared at about the same time, and both the elves and dragons quickly understood the significance of the event. House Phiarlan organized around the Mark of Shadow and began turning the abilities provided by the mark into an economic dynasty.
Around -1,600 YK, a green dragon, the Emerald Claw, was found to be colluding with the House of Vol matriarch, Minara Vol, to create a fusion of the species. This led to the birth of Erandis Vol, a half-elf, half-dragon. Out of mutual fear of the power House Vol could one day possess through these half-dragons, the elves and dragons united under the goal of exterminating the half-dragons and House Vol's bloodline along with it. Everyone bearing the Mark of Death was subsequently killed by decree of the Undying Court. With the slaughter of the House of Death and fearing further prosecution of dragonmarks, House Phiarlan left Aerenal and relocated to Khorvaire, where the elves intermingled with humans and helped lay the foundation for the Five Nations. However, this temporary alliance ended the millennia of intermittent warfare between the elves and dragons.
The Last War[edit | edit source]
Officially, the elves of Aerenal had little do to with the Last War due to their geographical separation from Khorvaire. However, the island nation did send observers to keep eyes on the war, and to ensure that it did not spread beyond the continent's shores.
Several of these observers bore witness to some of the war's greatest battles, and on rare occasions took sides, provided they could do so without being identified. This occurred most often in battles involving Karrnath, as the Aereni elves took great offense at the existence of the nation's undead armies and did what they could do aid its enemies.
The biggest exception to this rule came in 956 YK, as mercenaries from Aerenal seized lands in southern Cyre and declared the sovereign state of Valenar.
The Undying Court & The Draconic Prophecy[edit | edit source]
Some say that Aeren's journal contained not only the rituals that would come to shape elven life on Aerenal, but also a dedicated prophecy that Aeren gifted the founders of the island-nation. The myth states that this included a plan for the elves, and that that is one of the purposes of the Undying Court. Aeren's word might be a portion of to the greater Draconic Prophecy, but it may also conflict with it.
Some scholars believe that the dragons know the ultimate plans of the Undying Court, and that those plans are at odds with the Draconic Prophecy. Others, citing that dragons could easily have eradicated the elves if they chose, say that the dragons are molding the elves toward an unknown purposes.
Whatever the case, a faction of Argonnessen's dragons has tried for eons to wrest Aeren's prophecy from Aerenal, with no luck, as no outside force has ever been able to forcefully enter Shae Mordai.
Death as a way of Life[edit | edit source]
Religion and daily life is inseparable in Aerenal, as the Aereni believe that the spirits of their ancestors watch over them constantly, and their undying ancestors literally walk among them.
Although the Aereni faith is difficult to codify or quantify, their primary doctrine can be summarized in a way akin to the following: "Existence is a spiritual journey far longer than a single lifetime. Only the Undying can ever truly learn what great wonders lie at its end."
This statement is the core of the belief surrounding the Undying Court, and it is what lead the Aereni to not fear death. Instead, they welcome death as a new, and even necessary, stage of their spiritual journey.
Furthermore, the Aereni follow the Court's ancient commands:
- Obey the command of the Undying Court and its seneschals.
- Immortality is within reach if you prove yourself worthy of the gift,.
- This world is but one stops on the soul's journey toward perfection, and death is merely a passage.
Family Before All Else[edit | edit source]
The greatest expression of faith in Aerenal is devotion to one's family, as the Undying Court is composed of one's ancestors, and upon death you are charge with protecting and watching over your kin.
This ideal reaches far, as Aereni families are insular, keeping to themselves when possible, even marrying within their own lines, and the majority of religious devotion is aimed at ancestors and undying of their own blood. This also means that the actual worship of the Undying Court changes drastically from region to region, and from family to family.
In addition to this, many Aereni directly serve one or more of their ancestors on a daily basis. They do this by running errands or helping them keep up with current events. In exchange for their services, they are then rewarded with access to the undying's age-old wisdom.
Some Aereni take this devotion to family even further than what is commonly found on Aerenal. These individuals are regarded as being part of a group called "The Dynastians". The Dynastians maintain that the Undying Court is not a unified body, rather the ancestors of any given lineage make up their own "deity". These gods cooperate with one another, but ultimately, one must dominate the others. It's not surprising then that an individual Dynastian believes that their own familiar divinity must prevail. The Dynastians aren't overly hostile towards to each other, or others, they do sometimes sabotage the efforts of other families in the hope of advancing their own dynasty's position.
Perfection & Tradition[edit | edit source]
Due to the elves' expanded lifespans, they feel that they are free to take the time needed to accomplish greatness in everything. The elves or Aerenal strive to excel at everything they set out to do, be it artisans spending days or weeks on a single item, lawmakers studying and debating policy from every possible angle, or mages taking years to complete the perfect incantation for a spell.
This need and want for perfection is tied to their history, as it is still very much alive, and involved in everything both mundane and arcane. They do it to please their ancestors and to continue their own spiritual advancement.
Aereni Half-Lives[edit | edit source]
Reverence of death itself is essential for every Aereni, and some choose to wear this devotion openly by adorning Death Masks, and others wear it permanently etched into their skin, with elaborate tattoos of bones and skulls. Some even strive to emulate the mannerisms of the dead.
However, some Aereni take the worship of death much further than that, especially those of the line of Jhaelian. These elves undergo severe alchemical and spiritual treatments that result in an appearance similar to that of a zombie or other undead.
The reasoning behind this might seem farfetched for non-elves, but the Aereni believe that it serves two distinct purposes; on the one hand, it strengthens their connection to the world of the dead, and thusly their necromantic gifts; on the other, by giving up physical beauty and acknowledging that appearance is fleeting, the elf prepares a path they hope to follow, as well as serve as an example to others - all this is a way to recognize life as the least part of the path of existence.
Crimes against the Dead[edit | edit source]
Crimes are few and far between in Aerenal, mostly due to the fact that the punishment is so severe. Most egregious of these crimes are the ones against the dead and the undying. Common punishment involves exile, but executions are not uncommon either.
Grave robbing is, for example, considered a most heinous crime, and a repeat offender might suffer the ultimate penalty - to be killed and cremated, with no record being made of their life or death.
Another great offense is that of one disrespecting the undying. A person convicted of this crime will forever be banned from transitioning into a deathless state themselves - regardless of their deeds before or after the crime.
Although, more often than not, a dead or dying elf will be healed or returned to life so that they may continue their journey, an elf judged to be flawed or foolish may instead be left to die, without possibility of resurrection, leaving room in the community for a new and stronger soul to enter it.
The ultimate act of heresy involves the sect known as "The Death-Eaters". These religious zealots believe that if one were to consume the body of a dead elf before any funeral rites have taken place they can absorb the subject's soul, gaining its power and knowledge. Death-Eaters hide their allegiance well, as other Aereni, horrified at the implications of such an act, imprison or kill them on sight.
Rites and Rituals[edit | edit source]
Instead of many common holidays, the Aereni keep days connected to their own family lines as sacred days. These days include both the birthdays and deathdays of family members, and some families have close to daily observances of this sort. These rites are overseen by guides and initiates, and involves the lighting of fires, invocations of the undying, drawing sacred symbols on the ground in wine or blood, somber chants or songs, and slow steady dances.
Births and deaths are naturally of particular importance to the elves of Aerenal. Guides celebrate a birth with a joyous ritual marking the start of a new stage of the newborn's spiritual journey. Funerals are long affairs, sometimes lasting a full day, that commemorate the life of the deceased, as hundreds of their family members gather.
Prayers are simple utterances among the Aereni, little more than a request or expression of thanks to an ancestor, often preceded or followed by an honorific. Prayers are never aimed at the Undying Court as a whole, as the elves believe this to be folly, instead they focus on either a specific ancestor with relevant interests, or direct their prayers at the direct ancestors as a whole. These ancestors then carry these prayers to the Undying Court, unless their own powers are great enough for them to deal with the matter themselves.
Embalming Rituals[edit | edit source]
The soungral are the masters of the elven art of embalming and of the scribing of life chronicles. They spend days preparing a dead elf for interment in one of the many necropolises below Aerenal.
During this time, two accounts of an elf's life are written. One of these accounts is buried with the deceased, and the other is shelved in the grand libraries of Shae Mordai. This ensures they will never be forgotten, and if anyone were to find their body in a future age, they will learn of the great deeds of this person.
The preserved bodies of the fallen are then laid to rest in the catacombs deep below the cities of Aerenal. Here they rest alongside the assembled dead of tens of thousands of years.
In more recent times, some have brought the embalming arts to the great cities of Khorvaire. They now practice this as their breadwinning trade.
The Three Great Honors[edit | edit source]
According to the will of the Undying Court, as spoken through the Priests of the Transition, a fallen elf might be given one of three great honors:
- An elf who has great potential or who has performed grand deeds might be restored to life through a ritual of resurrection.
- One who has important knowledge or great wisdom can allow their soul to be tied, sleeping, to their embalmed corpse - these subjects are then regarded as spirit idols, also called soul idols.
- The greatest honor is the Transition, in which an elf becomes one of the undying.
Spirit Idols[edit | edit source]
The Priests of Transition are burdened and blessed by a tremendous responsibility. They believe that Aerenal can only support a certain number of undying councilors, yet there sometimes arise situations where the loss of a certain soul would be of great detriment to the Undying Court. In such cases, there exists another option: the creation of a Spirit Idol.
A spirit idol is an elf who's soul is forever bound to its physical remains, preventing its passing onto Dolurrh. This leaves the spirit in a state of prolonged torpor until a speak with dead spell is cast upon it. When such a spell is cast, the spirit awakens for the duration of the spell, making it able to perceive its surroundings, and is then able to communicate verbally with the caster, substituting the normal effect of such spells. Not just anyone can converse with a spirit idol, however, as only one who matches the alignment it held in life is able to connect to it. The answers one can gain from a spirit idol are often brief, cryptic, or repetitive, but never false - at least not intentionally so.
Due to the fact that the ritual of creating a spirit idol preserves both the spirit and body perfectly, it is possible to resurrect an idol by the use of a raise dead spell even long after the normal time limit of such a spell has expired.
A spirit idol is not all-perfect though, as the destruction or dismemberment of the body results in the end of the spells binding it to the world of the living. After such an incident, the soul is freed and passes to Dolurrh.
The Rites of Transition[edit | edit source]
To the Aereni, there exists no greater glory than to become one of the Deathless, and subsequently watch over their descendents. In life they try to prove their worthiness for this great honor, and at the end of life they hope to be accepted into the ranks of the Undying Court.
The ultimate goal for any Aereni is to be subjected to what they call "The Rites of Transition", or levan mordr-aer in elven. These rites can only be performed in the City of the Dead, and involves multiple mordraloi, or "Priests of Transition".
For the ritual, at least one of the Undying must attend as witness, and does so next to the closest relatives of the subject. It proceeds with bathing the deceased in oils and embalming fluids, drawing holy symbols on their body in blood drawn from willing witnesses, and casting the spell create deathless or create greater deathless, as well as other spells and blessings. All in all these rites are performed over a 48-hour period, and anchors the resulting Deathless to the positive energies of Irian.
It is said that those few Deathless created elsewhere, are unable to become Ascendant Councilors, no matter how old they grow. Furthermore, the Aereni claim that these rites only functions on elves, but since it has never been attempted on anyone else, the truth of this statement remains in question
Leaves of Death[edit | edit source]
During rites, priests and practitioners alike, might consume what is known as the mordrei'in, or "leaves of death". These are the leaves of the modril tree, a tree only found on Aerenal, and which only grows in grave dirt.
Though the leaves are deadly if consumed in their raw state, proper application of herbal and alchemical techniques make them only mildly poisonous and can enhance the consumer's ability to focus during meditative trance. Worshipers hold this state to be a bridge between the living and the dead, and thanks to improper treatment or low resistance, some practitioners don't return from the journey beyond.
Divinity & Death[edit | edit source]
Despite what outsiders may believe, the Aereni do not regard the members of the Undying Court as gods, instead they are viewed as ancient, wise, and powerful conduits for the power of the Court itself. So while the counselors hold great knowledge they also hold relatively little power, it is the Court itself that is the true divine.
The Aereni believe that no mortal can truly understand the divine, and that offering prayers to gods themselves is meaningless. Instead, they pray to their ancestors, who acts as emissaries and servants of the Undying Court, knowing that these individuals can present their words and deeds to the Court as a whole.
Like other religious leaders, members of the Undying Court can lend powers to their followers in the form of spells and other boons.
Souls and the Afterlife[edit | edit source]
The Aereni claim no knowledge as to the origin of souls, but according to their belief souls travel on their journey before birth, as well as after death, once their physical journey is completed.
Furthermore, the elves believe that elven souls, the ones belonging to those who do not become undying that is, forever remain in Eberron as spirits. These souls cannot continue on their own spiritual journey, only the undying to that after death, but nonetheless they remain to watch over their descendants, and guide them on their own journeys.
Only the truly unworthy of the elves join the other races in Dolurrh upon death. These are the souls of those who gave up or failed on their journey.
Those Who Came Before[edit | edit source]
A few Aereni believe that some form of divinity existed before the formation of the Undying Court. This divine entity is believed to have been a race of beings who, as a whole, reached to the end of their spiritual journey, much like the elves of Aerenal seek to do.
These beings ascended to godhood, and would then come to shape the world as it is today - something the feeble minds of mortals can comprehend as Eberron, Khyber, and Siberys. It is the belief of these individuals, that once the Aereni finally reach the end of their own spiritual journey, they will come to shape the world to come after this one.
The Undying & the Undead[edit | edit source]
While the Aereni honor and love the undying, they despise true undead, especially those who feed on the living, and it is a religious duty to destroy such creatures.
Unlike other undead, the Undying Court are sustained by the positive energies of Irian and the devotion of their descendants, and have no need for blood or life energy as other undead do. True undead are seen as a violation of the laws of nature and spirit, and are to be destroyed, as they are a corruption of the order constructed by the Undying Court. An Aereni who becomes undead is the worst of all abominations - a blight on the world and the Undying Court alike.
Although the elves of Aerenal, as well as those of Valenar, understand the fundamental differences between the undying and the undead found elsewhere, most other races of Eberron do not. This has led to long-lasting misunderstandings and outright fear of the elven isles, the inhabitants, and their bizarre faith. To many outsiders, the elves of Aerenal seem like sinister necromancers or death cultists. These misconceptions does not bother the elves, as they care little for the outside world, and would expect as much from those who do not understand what it truly means to live.
The Blood of Vol[edit | edit source]
The traditions of the Undying Court and the beliefs of the warclans of Xen'drik were not the only creeds among elves. A third belief system rooted in the line of Vol involved darker necromancy. Vol's methods created creatures such as vampires and liches that required life energy or blood from living creatures. The idea of preying on the living to support the dead was repugnant to the followers of the Undying Court, and it became a point of conflict between the two sects. The appearance of the Mark of Death in the line of Vol only made matters worse.
The schism erupted into war when the Cairdal Blades, the elite soldiers and agents of the Sibling Kings, discovered an alliance between the line of Vol and a cabal of dragons. The Undying Court declared that the line of Vol was to be destroyed. For the first and last time in history, the dragons of Argonnessen joined with the elves to annihilate Vol. It is believed that the line of Vol was destroyed, and any who practiced Vol's traditions abandoned those ways or fled Aerenal.
Common citizens of Aerenal knew little of the reasons behind the assault on the line of Vol. Some of those who bore the Mark of Shadow feared that they would be next in this pogrom, while others believed that the spilling of elf blood by elf hands tainted Aerenal. Most bearers of the Mark of Shadow fled to Khorvaire, where they eventually formed House Phiarlan. Some of those who carry the mark, however, are still born among the Aereni.
Today, almost 3,000 years later, the cause of the line of Vol has been taken up by the followers of the Blood of Vol. The Aereni view these cultists as abominations, and loathe their creed with a passion not often seen in this somber, restrained people. Their idea that undeath is a path to immortality, and something to aspire to, is repulsive to faithful Aereni who see this as a hideous perversion of their own beliefs.
The strict rules of the Undying Court, and the small amount of elves accepted for the Rite of Transition, has led to a troubling development in recent times, as some young, disillusioned, and arrogant, Aereni have sought an allegiance with the Blood of Vol. These "Skullborn", as they call themselves, wants a way to become one of the undying without paying their dues, and gaining honor in the traditional sense. They have now found a new way to achieve something akin to deathlessness, as they believe that the Blood of Vol's ideas regarding vampirism and lichdom fits their purposes.
The Undying Court & Other Faiths[edit | edit source]
On the isles of Aerenal, only the worship of the Undying Court, the Spirits of the Past, or both, are accepted among its permanent elven population. That being said, no ill will is held against foreigners practicing other beliefs, even though the elves have very rigid opinions on the other faiths of Eberron.
Worshipers of the Undying Court hold that all other faiths, bar the Blood of Vol - as disguised above, fall into the same category: foolish misunderstanding of the nature of divinity. They regard the Sovereign Host and the Silver Flame as nothing but a mental construct, a flawed and futile attempt by mortal minds to comprehend the vastness of the divine.
The Aereni believe that no true divine would, or could, hear the words of simple mortals. This ultimately means that a cleric's powers come from their own belief, and not from the divine they worship at all.
Smaller sects, where focus is directed at lesser beings with a connection to the divine rather than the divine itself, are closer to the truth of the matter. And yet, they too fall short in regards of fully understanding divinity, as they worship these beings in their own right, rather than viewing them as conduits.
Only once one recognizes the dead as the only true conduit to the divine, and by comprehending the spiritual journey of the soul beyond mortal life, can one hope to shake the misconceptions of these "gods" and begin to truly worship.
The Clergy of the Undying Court[edit | edit source]
There exist three distinct levels within the clergy of the Undying Court; initiates or acolytes (ersvitouri), guides (soungraloi), and priests (mordraloi). These levels are more practical than formal, and they each serve the faith in their own way.
The Ersvitouri[edit | edit source]
Those of the faithful of Aerenal who strive to become guides, do so by a prolonged process of apprenticeship, one often lasting decades.
To become a guide, an elf must approach an existing guide and ask for training. A guide usually assents to such a request, making the seeker an initiate, provided they have shown sufficient reverence for the ancestors, and participated in the faith and rites.
All initiates are expected to perform their duties and learn the ways of the priesthood with diligence. An individual initiate serves under many guides, and one guide can take on many acolytes at the same time. In time, when the faith and diligence of the initiate has been proven, these teachers then decide whether or not the initiate is worthy of becoming a guide.
The Soungraloi[edit | edit source]
A soungral, or "guide", are ones who, rather than seeking to Transition for themselves, act as spiritual advisors to other Aereni. A guide encourages other elves to behave in ways worthy of their ancestors, and advise the Aereni on matters of faith and service of the undying
The soungral are the ones tasked with conducting religious rites, helps administer elven law, and advises important heads of families as well as rulers. They also acts as protectors from supernatural threats. The soungral serve the Undying Court directly, and speak for the ancestors.
Soungraloi dress primarily in white, and during rites they paint their faces like skulls or wear death-masks. Some soungral even wear these masks when not performing rituals, and while not uncommon even among the general public, a soungral does so to identify themselves as one of the clergy.
The Mordraloi[edit | edit source]
The Undying Court chooses guides to become what is known as Priests of Transition. Only one out of a hundred soungral is chosen to become a mordral. These holy personages act as ambassadors of the Undying Court. It is their duty to travel across Aerenal, and sometimes other lands, to find those worthy of the transformation into one of the Deathless. These priests are not concerned with any other priestly duties, and lead no other ceremonies, but their role in Aereni society is crucial.
They are the ones who suggest candidates for the Transition, and then perform the rites that transform an elf into one of the undying. Although the Undying Court itself holds the right to deem the true worthiness of someone seeking to become one of their kind, the Priests of Transition provide them with recommendations, and they are the only living beings whose counsel the Undying would ever consider.
Clerical Hierarchy[edit | edit source]
The members of the clergy in Aerenal do not adhere to a strict form of hierarchy of ranks, instead the length of time a given priest has served the undying corresponds with their authority. Even in cases where a younger soungral is more respected within the community, or if they were to be of a higher class level, they must show subservience to an elder as only length of service counts.
However, should a soungral and mordral happen upon a situation where they disagree, the mordral's wishes take precedence, regardless of how long they have served - the only instance in which age and experience do not decide authority.
Places of Worship[edit | edit source]
As so much of Aereni worship is dedicated to one's own family, few proper places of worship are dedicated to the Undying Court. The true temples of one's ancestors are found within the heart, home, and community. Most elven homes have shrines dedicated to that family's ancestors, while elven towns and cities have public monuments of the honored dead.
Commonly, the clergy maintains stone buildings called souvrouh, the largest of which have multiple levels and resemble pyramids. Within these locations, many guides and priests live communally, and they are used as gathering places for public rituals. Within these halls, the guides also conduct the rites of embalming.
In places without access to a souvrouh, or means to build one, a patarouh will suffice. This is simply an empty lot surrounded in religious symbols, consecrated for use as a shrine. The ground of a patarouh must be earth, stone or wood, living vegetation is unacceptable.
Furthermore, one could argue that the catacombs of Aerenal are also to be considered holy places, as they house the remains, and even still-living souls of the ancestors.
The City of the Dead[edit | edit source]
While Shae Cairdal is the seat of the rulers of Aerenal, Shae Mordai, the City of the Dead, is the spiritual heart of the nation. The City of the Dead is built on a manifest zone tied to the plane of Irian, the Eternal Day, and within the city, spells that use positive energy, including cure spells, are maximized, while spells that use negative energy, including inflict spells, are impeded.
The City of the Dead is the only city in Aerenal built from stone instead of densewood. It is cluttered with shrines and monuments dedicated to past heroes, including those who now reside in the Undying Court as well as the ancient heroes of Xen'drik. The city is a center for arcane study and a place of worship, as well as the only place where the ritual of the undying can be performed. As a result, commerce is minimal despite the city's size, and visitors of other races usually receive a cold welcome.
Undying soldiers can be found throughout the city, and undying councilors can be seen consulting with arcane scholars and advising visiting descendants. A vast area at the center of the city is devoted to the Undying Court itself. The Priests of Transition and the Sibling Kings are the only living beings allowed to enter the confines of the court. Whispered tales say that the court is far larger than it appears, and that hundreds of mystical guardians and traps protect it. Rumored to hold the greatest Aereni treasures, including relics of ancient Xen'drik, the court has never been breached by thief or force.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The conflicting accounts of Aeren's death come from the 3rd edition book Magic of Eberron, and the 4th edition Player's Guide to Eberron. While they do not conflict in principal, the difference is worthy of note: Aeren might have survived the sacrifice of the elven heroes, with their body becoming infused with the power of the elven ritual. They may then have fled with the other elves, only to ultimately perish on the ship sailing for the future Aerenal. They could then have been interred once the ship reached its destination, becoming the first of the undying in the process.
- The 4th edition Eberron Campaign Guide notes that Aeren "never made it to Aerenal's shores", adding to the confusion somewhat. It can be assumed, however, that this simply means that Aeren didn't survive the journey, as the other sources state that their body was laid to rest on the island, and not that they were left behind on Xen'drik.
- Additionally, the Eberron Campaign Guide refer to Aeren as "she", while previously named sources use male pronouns. For the purpose of this article, the singular "they" has been used for Aeren, which is also in line with the pronouns used on Keith Baker's personal website as recent as 2019.
References[edit | edit source]
- Eberron Campaign Setting, p. 14, 67, 216. Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, & James Wyatt (2004). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
- Faiths of Eberron, p. 138-144, 153. Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, Ari Marmell, & C.A. Suleiman (2006). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3934-6.
- Magic of Eberron, p. 28-30. Bruce R. Cordell, Stephen Schubert, and Chris Thomasson (2005). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3696-0
- Player's Guide to Eberron, p. 18-21. James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Luke Johnson, Steven Brown (2006). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3912-5.
- Races of Eberron, p. 74-75. Jesse Decker, Matthew Sernett, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, & Keith Baker (2005). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3658-4.
- An Adventurer's Guide to Eberron, p. 16, 36. Logan Bonner, and Chris Sims (2008). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3855-8.
- Eberron Campaign Guide, p. 32, 174-178, 257-258. James Wyatt and Keith Baker (2009). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-5099-4.
- Eberron Player's Guide, p. 18-19, 149. David Noonan, Ari Marmell, and Robert J. Schwalb (2009). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-5100-1.
- Eberron: Rising from the Last War, p. 20, 132-134, 141, 148-149. Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-6689-0.
External Links[edit | edit source]