How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Eberron
In most places on Eberron, necromancy is a controversial arcane art. Most view it as the tool of villains, and at best, those who use it as a military device (such as Karrn) view it as a necessary evil. But in one place, necromancy is a sacred art that empowers the living gods of an entire civilization to rule over their society. Aerenal is that place, and the Undying Court is that powerful body.
Elven culture is as old as, if not older than most non-draconic cultures. Their long lifespans and fiercely proud traditions have formed a society that some call entrenched. With this long history, elves have come to honor their ancestors to the point of actual worship. When they were still slaves to the giants, this was informal, tales travelling from home to home lauding the brave and powerful. But after escaping to the island they named Aerenal, this admiration began to grow into powerful devotion. Soon though, they faced the ends of their heroes’ lives.
In the meantime, they had discovered the abundant manifest zones on the island, mostly connected to the twin planes of Mabar and Irian.
- Although there are no obligatory precepts of the faith, most followers would sum up their beliefs into one tenet: “Existence is a spiritual journey requiring far longer than a single lifetime. Only the Undying can ever truly learn what great wonders lie at its end.”
- The soul is always on a journey, and only the unworthy souls travel to Dolurrh. The Undying, having lived for centuries, can add power and wisdom to the elven race. They act as a conduit to the unknowable divine energy that permeates the universe.
- While many faiths place belief in gods, the followers of the Court believe in the Court as a whole. Each Undying councillor is individually powerful, but nowhere near a god. As whole, the Court represents the available power of the entire elven race.
- Priests to the Court are called soungralai, and focus on leading other elves’ journey, acting as the Court’s proxy in spiritual honor. The administer the Court’s temples, called souvrouhs, which are sometimes built as a pyramid. A souvrouh is always built around a death’s tree, a tree grown in grave dirt which slowly become undead. Tending the tree is a contemplative ritual for the soungralai.
- The members of the court become undead through the Rites of Transition (“levan mordr-oer” in elven), overseen by select soungralai called mordralai. The mordralai nominate elves for the Transition, but the Court has the final say. The candidate is brought to the center of Shae Mordai, where mordralai and at least a single Undying begin the Transition spell. Family members and friends gather around the subject, donating blood to be used in the ritual.
- Prayers are almost always directed towards a specific ancestor, as followers believe that a prayer to the entire Undying Court does not make sense, as its power is beyond mortal understanding.
- The Court’s calendar is a complicated affair, consisting of overlapping measurements. For instance, their short-term increment is three days (a tuern), but the first and last solar day of a tuern always coincide with the last or first day of the next tuern.
- Although most outsiders consider the death mask the Court’s holy symbol, the mask is not standard or even a central symbol. The court remains the central religious power on Aerenal, though it shares some administrative duties with the Sibling Kings.
- The requirements for undergoing the Transition are usually that the elven candidate be at least 300 years old and be a royal member of their bloodline, but exceptions for the most exceptional elves have been made. Martial heroes usually become undying soldiers, while the rest become undying councilors. After a thousand years, councilors can be put up for consideration to join the most elite circle of the court, the Ascendant Council, who only meet with most worthy of their race.