Author Topic: On Sithicus, the Land of Spectres & Its Forlorn Secrets  (Read 459 times)

The Prophet of Lies

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On Sithicus, the Land of Spectres & Its Forlorn Secrets
« on: October 28, 2022, 03:46:31 PM »
An Autocracy Without Its Tyrant

The political structure of Sithicus is a threadbare autocracy founded upon the principles of social Darwinism and stagnant hereditary rule. Like an embodiment of the primeval wood enveloping their crumbling society, might makes right and the mightiest sits atop the hierarchy. The first to occupy this seat - the High King - in recent memory was the Black Knight. His stewardship of the domain was paradoxically a rule which involved no rule whatsoever. The needs of his subjects went unanswered as the knight moldered in his decaying fortress. The population of Sithicus was left to fend for itself and for his decades of reign, the status quote defined their society.

Then without explanation, their king vanished, leaving his broken fortress as an impermeable reminder of his neglect. The knight's seneschal was all too eager to seize what authority he didn't already claim his own. A misshapen, odorous dwarf, Azrael Drak favored a "hands on" approach during his tenure as ruler. Though who displeased him - questioned him - or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time - were dragged before Sithicus' master and made example of. His covert security force, the Politskara, had run of Sithicus during this period. Inasmuch as their behaviors didn't conflict with his own or ruin his fun.

For a second time, their malodorous monarch vanished. Scouting parties dispatched to Nedragaard Keep found it absent the High King. Though vestiges of the Black Knight lingered; his skeletal warriors navigated its halls long after their master had vanished. Seeking out trespassers to punish. Knowledge of the High King's skiving has rippled through Sithican society but none have challenged Nedragaard Keep to proclaim their dominion over the land. Perhaps some have been so bold as to make the perilous journey to the old keep. If any had dared, none have returned. As always, it sits in the horizon. A bleak remembrance of Sithican kings and their dereliction of duty.

Throughout Azrael's kingship, murmurings of insurrection permeated Sithican society from its heights to its lowliest plebs. In spite of his efforts, the name 'Mason' incessantly plagued Drak's thoughts. Convincing the dwarf that his power was ever slipping. Mason, for all the awe his name inspired, was merely Har-Thelen's unusually ambitious Lord Speaker. His push for change ultimately resulted in his egress from the city he sought to reform. By a confluence of unrest, Drak's incompetence, and the true master of the domain asserting herself, the worst of dwarf's fears became manifest. In grim parody like Mason before, Azrael has been forced into retreat, abdicating his position.

Now more than ever before there exists an inexplicable undercurrent in the Sithican population to take the first and terrible step forward into an unknown future. The youngest of their ranks have had their ideologies and beliefs shaped by the myopic, self-indulgent politics of their ancestors and the malign abuse of two despots. Slowly but inexorably, it has undermined the unchanging zeitgeist of the elves. Curiously, it is an impulse of self-actualization which interweaves within all Sithicus' socioeconomic dichotomies. The Har-Theleni Black Robes have seized upon this impetus to entwine themselves in the effort to shape Sithicus' destiny.

They and many others call for the election of a High King and a council embodying all stations. To act as advisors and the counterweight to the High King's supreme authority.

Whispered perhaps, there are calls for the cessation of Mason's self-imposed exile. There are calls for Mason to reveal himself. For Mason to assume rule as High King.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2022, 01:27:36 PM by The Prophet of Lies »
"The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts in the hour of danger."
~Andrew Jackson


The Prophet of Lies

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Re: On Sithicus, the Land of Spectres & Its Forlorn Secrets
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2022, 02:10:27 PM »
Twilight of the Gods

The Sithican pantheon is a grim parody of its far removed Krynnish origins. A cohort of aloof draconic beings oft at odds at one another. Mythology suggests that their petty squabbles frequently spilt over into the mortal realms, capricious divine whims shaping the destiny of the Sithican elves before their imprisonment within the mists. Once uttered with fearful reverence, the names of the elvish divinities have since passed into legend; their remembrance of the Gods limited to titles and incongruent mythology.

Amidst them were the Adamantium Wyrm, a patriarchal figure of order possessed of immense and unfeeling logic. Juxtaposed to the Wyrm was the Many Headed Devourer, a manifestation of raw chaos and potentiality. Mother of the world who slew the Wyrm and fashioned existence from his bones. Their conjugation and conflicts sired now nameless progeny. The shrines to these godlike dragons have suffered ultimate blasphemy - desecration and worse yet, disregard. Their Silvanesti elves care little for their long-removed masters.

With each generation, the fractious state of their divine mythos worsens and becomes a step further distanced from the truth. The terror that kept their pawns in line has whittled away to less than an afterthought, a punishment equal to the confinement impressed upon the elves. In tales of old, their spiteful divinities charged the elves with the destruction of the Black Rose but his wrath proved their match. For the total failure of their divine task, the Sithican elves were cast from their world into the mists to suffer beside the apostate they couldn't fell.

A modicum of Sithican population keep to the increasingly nonsensical traditions of worship but their practice is purely habitual. The words they utter in false reverence to their Gods are heard by none, shallow offerings to wasted divinities. They obey to it simply because it's always been that way and to diverge would erode what little cultural identity they've maintained. Though fewer still offer actual worship to their expired Gods, their prayers go unheard. As far as they know, the Sithican elves are cursed with abandonment, masters of their own fate.
"The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts in the hour of danger."
~Andrew Jackson


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Re: On Sithicus, the Land of Spectres & Its Forlorn Secrets
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2022, 02:45:02 PM »
Forbidden Knowledge and the Order of High Sorcery

The rulership of Sithicus is one which shapes how its morbid enigmas are unraveled, either willingly or in more unwelcome ways. The Black Rose's lordship plunged the entire domain into perpetually worsening myopia; a disintegrating tapestry of half-truths that mirrored the muddying of his own history. The destruction of his escape from rule, the memory mirrors, liberated the domain from its total annihilation but left indelible wounds upon the land that have since festered.

Inza's rule as Darklady has flipped this paradigm upon its head. Dormant secrets seek to unearth themselves and be known. The unexplored depths of the Great Chasm have opened themselves to intrusion. Something ancient and malign stirs within its darkest places, seeping topside through the rents in the land left by Soth's egress into his dreams.

In a way, the Sithican elves have always known what awaited below in the Chasm. Their mythology is rife with parallels to the horrors found below but dispassion has twisted these stories into miserable nonsense. The Darklady's influence now ensures that no matter how intractable they prove, the elves will be made to come to terms with their past. Not all have demonstrated themselves so blind to the peril soon to befall them. Their are rumors abound of an 'Ebon Order' that sought to unearth their distant heritage and conquer whatever looming evils crept from the Chasm. Like all other things, the truth of the Ebon Order and its fate has fallen into obscurity.

Another more recently has taken up the mantle of this pursuit. The Har-Theleni Order of High Sorcery (frequently titled "The Black Robes" by the locals) have dispatched an unusual number of its apprentices throughout Sithicus. Those that return are frequently witnessed carting pilfered relics and tomes into the lightless entrance of their tower. Strangely, the few that have made their way inside tell of the oddly welcoming nature of the Black Robes; an invitation always seems extended to the curious and inquisitive. The way inside, however, isn't entirely clear.

On the subject of players, their characters, the Sithican elves, and ultimately 'what they can know', the truth is waiting to be found if one looks hard enough. However, the veracity of that truth is nebulous at best. Many in Har-Thelen have heard of the Ebon Order but specific knowledge of its ambitions has been lost to time. This exact principle can be largely applied to all of Sithicus' mysteries. Somewhere there's a story or fragment of myth that reflects a fraction of the truth. Unraveling the whole of it borders on the near impossible.
"The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts in the hour of danger."
~Andrew Jackson


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Re: On Sithicus, the Land of Spectres & Its Forlorn Secrets
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2022, 03:12:07 PM »
The Asphyxiating Fetters, Ties Which Bind

Tradition is the paradigm which shapes the fraying threads that bind Sithican identity whole. They are both a noose which strangulates progress and a net which wrangles in the wayward from straying too far.
All of Sithican culture is shaped by an ancient hierarchy of castes which define equally one's socioeconomic standing and role. Migration betwixt the castes is virtually unheard of except in rare circumstances; from birth to death, one's purpose is decided from the moment of their inception. A select adventurous few, those mostly with nothing else to lose or nobility suffering from ennui, dare challenge the status quo. More often than not, they end up skulking back to their respective castes in failure. The exception to this strict adherence to the mold is the divergent arcane caste - the Order of High Sorcery - which welcomes dissidents and lore seekers without question.

The Aristocracy, High Nobility

At the top of the Sithican pecking order are the eldest of the noble families. Those who have been born to rule and always ruled over those of inferior standing. They are the most far removed from the other castes, sheltered in the minor luxury their wealth affords them. The nobility is liberated from and want may spend its time however it likes. Though like all Sithican elves, they receive little happiness from world pleasures. Most of their activities devolve into entertaining petty squabbles and grudges that have endured centuries. When push comes to shove, the nobility possesses the unique ability to mobilize the other castes into action. Typically, through a confluence of proclamation and greasing of palms.

Underneath their pompous guise festers an undercurrent of shame that impels them to maintain the crumbling vestiges of their ancient ways. The noble families were tasked by their Gods to depose the Black Knight. In this task, they failed absolutely. The unceasing suffering that the elves have begrudgingly swallowed is directly a consequence of their monumentous failure. It is a humiliation which rots their humanity and resolve. To acknowledge it is ultimate taboo within noble circles. When an aristocrat acts, it is because tradition dictates it must be done pursued as such. Even if the individual knows better. The Sithicans have endured millennia of tribulations this way. It is the only way to persist.

The Protectors, Minor Nobility

The most bellicose and forthright of the castes, the irregular forces of the Sithican elves are composed of the sons and daughters of lesser noble houses. Trained to navigate the treacherous and incomprehensible pathways of the Sithican forests, Rangers embody the martial power of the high elves. They are each capable of eking out a path to and from the perils of the domain's woodland, skilled in brand and bow alike. They truly shatter the mold of their dispassionate ilk, unrelentingly stern and professional in their duties.

Interestingly, the Protectors are the only traditional caste that invites others, even half-elves, into its ranks. Though they don't betray the xenophobic tendencies of their kind, it was the Har-Theleni Rangers that safeguarded the stragglers of the Veidravan mines as they sought refuge. They have proven an immovable bulwark against the increasingly common raids of salt shadows. Incredibly, such as in the outskirts of Veidrava, they maintain a permanent foothold against the vile expansionism of the fiends within.

The Rangers are the caste which chafed the most under Azrael's misanthropic rule. The elves were known to be cruel; their vertically challenged tyrant crueler still. Drak's mercurial reign was at total odds with their grim adherence to routine. Defense strategies they'd organize with his men would crumble into chaos as their diminutive master changed plans from one moment to the next. At the irrecoverable cost of elven lives. The expiry of one or many is no different to the Rangers - their weakness is universally unforgivable. If ever had Mason been afforded to overthrow Azrael, the Rangers would surely have demonstrated themselves half the backbone of his insurrection.

The Mystics, Students of the Arcane
The arcane caste is in a state of ever intensifying disrepair. Its exclusionary and secretive vision of magical study has impaired its capacity to successfully recruit new blood to replenish its ranks. Imperious and its ways truly amaranthine, the mystics struggle to grapple with the evolving political reality of the elves. Ages old tradition is the firmament of their stability and long lived as they are, very little undermines their innumerable contingencies. Until confidence in the traditions themselves waned. Even still, the elves continue to regard the enigmatic teachings of the mystics with equal fascination and mistrust. The arcane caste wouldn't have it any other way.

Their enmity with the Black Robes is a poorly disguised secret and petty conflicts between the factions are increasingly pervasive. It is an irony that neither caste has learnt to appreciate; their goals virtually the same though their methodologies greatly differ. Admittance to the arcane caste isn't achieved. It is instead "rewarded" (or rather, impressed upon) prospective students that demonstrate talent or simply catch the attention of high-ranking members. Pompous to an extreme, the hierarchs of the arcane caste send cryptic invitations to these potential acolytes, frequently devolving into labyrinthine games of cat and mouse. Those satisfy the nebulous requirements of their task discover themselves enjoined to the caste.

In contrast to the cutthroat practices of the Black Robes, the teachers of the mystics are known to form genuine bonds with their students. Though detached like the rest of their kin, discussions of sorcery inspire enthusiasm unusual for the elves. The opportunity to teach -- to impart upon others their knowledge -- breathes new life into them, albeit briefly. Though prisoners of their arcane traditions, the mystics embody passion for the craft and the desire to coexist with it, rather than to subjugate and master it. If they fade into obscurity, the Sithican elves will lose the heart of their magical prowess even as the Black Robes achieve ascendant might.

The Order of High Sorcery, "Black Robes of Nuitari"
Uncompromisingly secretive and few in number, the Order of High Sorcery is a peculiar caste. Its origins are somewhat of an enigma to the Sithican elves. In times long ago, perchance even before their imprisonment, the arcane caste was divided into three colors - red for neutrality, white for order, and black for chaos. Legend goes that Nuitari, goddess of magic, devoured her sisters and achieved supreme magical apotheosis. In her ascendance, her followers quelled the other schools of arcane study. Thus started the rule of the Black Robes and like all high elven tradition, it changed much in the slightest since. Whether any of this myth is true or merely a fabrication of the Order of High Sorcery to confound those delving too deeply into their past is like the story itself, totally uncertain.

The Black Robes are widely known to have their fingers in just about every element of Sithican society, particularly in Har-Thelen where their primary tower stands. They are a phantasmal glue that keeps certain things stuck together when it's beneficial to their schemes. While this influence is a greivance to the aristocracy, it isn't one worth broaching as their interests seem to have always aligned. To keep their threadbare society from total collapse. The arcane caste is unique in that it welcomes dissidents, outcasts, and the simply curious from all walks of Sithican life. Anyone that manages to breach the seemingly impenetrable walls of their tower is offered unusual hospitality; even non-elves have known to be welcomed. It is this exceptional diversity of talent which allows the Black Robes to so adeptly interweave themselves into the happenings of their brethren.

The Tower of Har-Thelen's current mistress, Archmagess Shadowlore is frequently witnessed at the heights of the structure, gazing into the sky with unknown purpose. She is known to be uncharacteristically inquisitive for a Sithican elf, frequently egressing from the safety of her tower to explore the domain and interact with interlopers. Her origins are, like her order, enigmatic. The lady of the tower possesses an intense displeasure for a former outsider pupil whom self-appointed himself the title Shadowlore, formerly afforded solely to her. Despite her vexation at his antics, the pair are witnessed cooperating for the betterment of their cause between bouts of vitrolic reparte. Before he vanished, the Lord Speaker Mason was known to have made strides in mending bridges with the Order of High Sorcery. What became of these efforts, if anything at all, remains unknown.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2022, 12:27:05 PM by The Prophet of Lies »
"The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts in the hour of danger."
~Andrew Jackson


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Re: On Sithicus, the Land of Spectres & Its Forlorn Secrets
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2022, 03:24:26 PM »
The Once And Future King

"Why always must we turn to the matter of the knight?" It was rare for the tower's foremost guest to entertain company of his own. The single-mindedness of his visitant might prove tiresome, but he was one of few even willing to converse. After all, his countenance, that of a leering skeleton, sent most hurriedly into flight. It was best not to be picky.

"His return I do not imagine the realization of prophecy; to be possessed of any more meaning than any other triviality we ascribe with importance." The truth of the matter is that the Prophet hadn't much better an idea about the inexplicable appearance of the death knight than the man seeking his erudition. "Few dare make mention of it. Fewer yet know the truth. An imbecile or two tore him from the moorings of another world. Endeavored to introduce their own pawn into the conflicts of the Core.. and failed miserably."

"Whomever they were, they're long dead now. Names amidst the many he culled in his rampage across the countryside." The neophytes of the tower had done well scrounging the darkest corners of the Core to tease out the truth. Still, it was hardly -everything- he'd wanted them to unearth. The Black Rose's reentry into Sithicus was a mystery that eluded the best of his scrying and research. Might've Soth discovered a means to circumvent the capricious attention of the mists? Or was it dumb luck as he presumed it had had been with Strahd? "No matter my conjecture, I'm sure you're privy to the evident. Lord Soth has found his way back to this domain."

"What now earns his curiosity? I would not foresee his want to reclaim this miserable land. Rather, he'd gleefully burn it to the ground if it served his purposes. Retribution is certainly a potentiality. Yet then we must ascertain whom slighted him the worst." There was a plethora more he could divulge to his guest but this was their first meeting. The exchange of a morsel of knowledge for the promise of future exchange. Most he knew thought of Sithicus as a domain of illusions but his reason led him to conclude otherwise. Instead, it was a realm of unfaltering juxtaposition. Where one's inescapable past was set as a mirror in reflection of their future.

And it was to the man before himself the bag of bones witnessed the juxtaposition he'd long hungered for. So as to the Knight there was his parallel, the Swordsman, surely one must exist in parallel to himself. Fortuitously had the unliving mage unexpectedly joined the company of his counterpart. The pair, commensurably ignorant to the other, yet inexorably drawn to this moment. Like the return of the Black Rose, this wasn't an act of fate, a moment of destiny. It was bizarre coincidence at best. A cruel diversion at worst.

"I hear tell of a Blue Lady. Follow the road she's paved to herself and inevitably you'll find him."
« Last Edit: November 18, 2022, 03:29:13 PM by The Prophet of Lies »
"The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts in the hour of danger."
~Andrew Jackson