Illistim Culture - Part I. The Royals and the Court
Given the task to catalogue and succinctly summarize such a diverse and intrinsically elaborate culture such as our own for consumption by those unfamiliar with our ways is quite a daunting task, but I am proud to have been selected for such an honor, and will see fit to accurately describe the breadth of our heritage both modern and old.
Haethera Illuvassas Illistim
Dedicated of Lore
Illistim nobility is often regarded as more practical and accessible than any but the Ardenai's – while the court by all means fully embodies the royal spirit and attitude of our great people, they are often more open to change than perhaps the rigid structuring of the Vaalor and less prone to the pitfall of politics as the Nalfein.
Nobility among elves differs quite greatly from the traditionally 'Western' systems of nobility, and is often very visible to the visitor of the Shining City. Without digressing into the various intricacies of different methods of recognition, it is essentially held that all elven people are considered 'noble' in some fashion or another, and all families have a right to attend the court should they wish. What differentiates perhaps, say, an elven farmer and a distinguished and famed Illistim politician are familial background, individual accomplishments, wealth and the inclination and resolve to involve oneself in politics in the first place. There are some families which simply do not involve themselves in politics at all, and some who lack the means to attend the court due to being unfamiliar with protocol, dress and other requirements for attending. It is important to note that there is a mutual respect between our people which is often lacking in societies which mirror our own – namely, the Turamzyrrian Empire. Thus, there are no differences in the most basic of rights amongst all of our people, and the Illistim are no exception to this rule.
Lesser-known families often gain recognition and eventual status by performing duties for the House. The Sapphire Guard, the Loremasters, the Artificers and the various other branches of the House are often open to all elves of House Illistim and even those of other Houses in some cases. Exceptional performances, such as a trend of earning a number of jewels in a relatively short span of time, are often the gateway to which greater status is achieved. Recognition is awarded based on merit and ability in House Illistim, with land and even equipment supplied to those with a particular penchant for certain research. Overall, those actively involved in the court of the Illistim elves generally represents the very best of the House, continually advancing the wealth of knowledge available under their banner.
The court itself is comprised of numerous families within the city, each holding its own sphere of influence and lands. The power struggle within Illistim is fairly tame, waxing and waning as members of each noble family contribute to the overall progress of the Illistim culture.
While there are an almost immeasurable number of noble Illistim families within the city, it is imperative to mention some of the major players within the field of politics, and they are thus listed below:
While most of these families are quite large, there are obviously always some defectors from their roots. A descendant of the Chesylrae family may go on to become a great wizard – we merely touch upon the traditions and accomplishments within each family.
The Chesylrae bloodline has produced a number of famed healers throughout the centuries, its focus being on herbalism and deconstructing the healing properties of new plant life. Often overlooked for this fact, Chesylrae is also home to a number of renowned scouts and rangers, as they highly value studies in the field and abroad.
Family Flourish: a series of wispy pallid streamers
Family Statement: "To mend all that is broken."
The Veythorne line was once quite a prosperous and far-ranging family, with holdings and manors throughout the eastern side of the continent. However, in recent centuries their numbers have dwindled to a handful, and the only prominent figure actively participating in the Illistim political circles is Vothurre Veythorne Illistim, a high-ranking Elemancer and Master of Lore. The Veythorne family is famous for its research in the elemental planes – going as far back as the founding of the Elemancers centuries ago by Meathrix Veythorne Illistim.
Family Flourish: a series of intertwined grey and white streamers
Family Statement: "The winds of time carry the wisdom to overcome all."
The Javilerres are close to several families of the Vaalor, being highly interested in the expansion of all aspects of the mind – with a specific focus on the physical. The Javilerre family was integral to the construction of Ta'Illistim's walls and defensive structures ranging back to the founding of the city, and to this day they still hold important commanding posts within the Sapphire Guard's infrastructure, in both magical and non-magical divisions. A rare few have also gone on to become very powerful mages in the ranks of the Arch Magi.
Family Flourish: a series of elegantly silver curved blades
Family Statement: "The will to strengthen all things."
The Avelleur line would be of little import as it is most unlikely to brag of its accomplishments – a thing which instantly sets it apart from most other families. The family rarely visits the courts except when specifically summoned for, and does not engage in the normal dalliances and frivolities that invariably flitter about every royal court. However, the Avelleurs have a long history of quietly announced magical breakthroughs, mostly in the field of sorcery. Their most prominent family member is known as "The Nameless Necromancer", a man whose research was recently used to create the Planar Shift spell, and to which they only recently avowed as being part of their bloodline. Their most important collective role to date was brokering the peace between House Illistim and the Faendryl during the disastrous events of 5105, when a rogue Faendryl sorcerer unleashed a scourge of demons within the walls of the city. Through their efforts, a peaceful exchange of knowledge was undertaken, eventually leading to the spread of minor summoning and the new defenses of Ta'Illistim against such a repeat incident.
Family Flourish: a trine of nebulous grey spheres
Family Statement: "Within oneself all power grows."
The Nellereune line is renowned for its revolutionary advances in magical items, having catalogued, found, and produced an astonishing variety of devices – Nerathas Nellereune Illistim was one of the lead researchers on dreamstone amulets after the destruction of Maelshyve, leading to the construction of the common crystal amulets we know today. Alerreth Nellereune Illistim was the first to distill the pure form of veniom, and his first experimentations with airship control and design lead to the founding of modern flight practices today. After Maelshyve and throughout the modern era, many family members of the Nellereune line continually work on the wardings throughout the city which protect it from magical attack while seamlessly blending in with the surroundings. While this family is generally admired for such accomplishments, they are often quietly avoided outside of royal functions – the Nellereune family members are one of the most prodigious users of Flow magic in the known world, and due to such highly volatile and chaotic forces involved, the family also has the unfortunate reputation of having the most magical accidents and tragedies. While most of the family traditionally goes into the field of research, there are those which choose to wander the world in search of ancient and obscure artifacts which are held in high regard by the family – if they are successful.
Family Flourish: a twisting, complex array of blue and white flows
Family Statement: "Walking the unwalked path."
The Greyvael line, more than any other family in Illistim, are most known for their embracing of the fine arts and all the associated things that go with it – their affection for such affectations rival that of the Loenthrans, and indeed, many a Greyvael has married their way into a Loenthran family, and vice versa. They are regular contributors to the Hanesyddol Museum in Ta'Loenthra, and several of the family's past prodigies have pieces hanging in various wings. Of all the noble families, the Greyvael's are also the most inclined to partake in court politics and all the associated indulgences and frivolities therein. This also makes them one of the social hubs of Illistim's higher ups, and their parties are legendary for their decadence and finery. Several of the youngest members of the family have proven to be quite shrewd merchants, already purchasing and renovating several pieces of property such as the small estate on Sylvarraend Road. A minor note is that a famous poet of the Greyvael – Isildrich Greyvael Illistim's famed poem "The Flight to Home" coined the common phrase 'The Shining City' that has since been used to describe Ta'Illistim worldwide. The poem is included below.
Family Flourish: a stylized silver harp
Family Statement: "Change the world to fit your vision."
I roam through the great wide world,
Vast vistas to rolling seas.
Yet, none of them can bespell,
This wandering Illistimi.
Verdant are the sea-like plains,
Of my brothers, the Ardenai.
I enjoyed their winter games-
On those shorter, darker days.
The beauty of the columbine-
The gift of a white alyssum-
Yet, I could not linger here-
And sought my Ta'Illistim.
Spring found me in Ta'Loenthra-
To see the festival of the Arts.
Where artists draw their flowers-
And the poets sing of hearts.
Of dainty Lady's Slippers-
Her women will seek as gifts.
But that's not the poet I am-
And so I hurried from her cliffs.
In Fortified Ta'Vaalor,
The summer dragonstalk grew.
The soldiers form their lines –
Wearing crimson and ecru.
Though mighty is the wyvern,
And dalliance calls for feverfew.
I saw the Lake of Sorrows,
And bid the fortress my adieu.
I fly to you, my Shining City,
To ease this horrid, burning ache.
I long to see the dainty pansies,
Floating serenely in your lakes.
You call to me, my Shining City,
Beyond thy sapphire gates.
That's where my feet will carry me-
And where my yearning abates.