The Undying Court

On the isle of Arlathan, the line between life and death is blurred, and the living converse with the dead. They offer their prayers to no distant god, but rather to their ancestors. Most of these ancestors are long deceased, but their spirits watch over the elves of today, acting as guardians to their family lines. Some of the dead have not departed, though, and walk Arlathan still. This combination of spirits and the animate dead is the Undying Court: counselors, protectors, soldiers, and gods to the elves of the island. This religion is like no other in Daear, misunderstood and feared by many, yet it has produced a population more universally faithful than most “civilized” cultures.

The Arlathan faith is not rigidly codified or quantified as are many other religions, but if their primary doctrine were to be summed up, it might read something like this: 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.

Thus, the elves of Arlathan do not fear death. They welcome it as simply a new stage of the spiritual journey. To the Arlathan, no greater honour exists than to be accepted for the Rites of Transition, to become undying and to remain on Arlathan to continue the journey and to watch over their descendents. In living, they try to prove their worthiness for this great honour. Some adopt mannerisms to mimic the dead, even painting and mutilating their bodies to appear so. Others lead lives of great spirituality, honouring the Undying Court and serving their fellow elves to the best of their abilities. But the fullest devotion to the Undying Court is devotion to one’s family, for the Court is composed of one’s ancestors. Arlathan families are insular, keeping to themselves where possible, marrying within the line and focusing their worship and devotion on the ancestors and undying of their own blood. Thus, worship of the Undying Court changes—sometimes dramatically—from region to region and family to family across the isle.
© 2014 Tyler Yaehne
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