RELIGION:Eidolon - the Breath of Life:
Eidolon is the God of Men and Dwarfs. Church scrolls claim that Eidolon made all the races with purpose. Elves were first, chosen to bring forth nature's bounty. Men were second, to tame nature and give purpose to the world. Dwarfs were last as craftsmen and keepers of history, tasked with preserving knowledge and producing masterworks for others to emulate. The Dwarfs disagree with Men on the order of creation and the particulars of each role, but both agree that Eidolon gave each race a gift in return for their labours. The Elves were given the gift of Magic, so that they may create effortlessly. To Men went the gift of innovation, so that they might adapt and thrive in all corners of the world. The Dwarfs were given the gift of long life, so they might accumulate wisdom and be seen as sages by the other races.
Eidolon sits in judgement over his creation. When an Elf, Man or Dwarf dies, their soul is brought before Eidolon and he weighs how they used the gift of life. Those who lived well and served their purpose are returned to the anima, the great soul of the world from which all other life springs, to enrich it and perhaps be born anew. Those who were unworthy are destroyed utterly; all that they were, all their deeds and accomplishments are torn from them and cast aside, leaving the raw essence to be reclaimed without the taint of sin.
Man and Dwarf interpret what Eidolon deems worthy slightly differently, though scholars argue this is not itself an issue. Men consider the traits of honour, integrity, bravery and courage to be worthy, and believe Eidolon will embrace those who uphold those ideals. Dwarfs, by contrast, prefer a view of personal excellence; all that matters is that you excel in the role you are given. Thus where a Man born as a farmer might aspire to become a great warrior, a Dwarven farmer would instead strive to simply be the best farmer he could be. This often leads Men to view Dwarfs as rather passive, especially combined with their long lives, while Dwarfs see Men as being perpetual children, wasting their entire lives trying to find their purpose when it is right in front of them.
What Eidolon expected of Elves is rarely discussed now. Few Men remember at all, and Dwarfs see it as irrelevant. Elves are damned, and their souls are no-longer welcome in Eidolon's presence.
Elves are widely believed to be the first race Eidolon breathed life into, and were created to bring forth lesser life and make the land bountiful. Little wonder then that the ancestral homelands of the Elves were often lush forests, or grassy plains that teemed with game. Eidolon blessed the Elves with magic, and they used it to reshape their kingdoms into glorious realms of elemental splendour. Buildings constructed of frozen fire, entire cities grown from mystical trees, palaces solid light and a hundred other wonders are said to have been made by the Elves in this golden age.
Yet the Elves were not content with their lot. For all their power, their lives were short. Where a Dwarf might live for centuries, an Elf was lucky to live just eighty years, and the study and mastery of magic was so intensive that only the old could claim true mastery of it, leaving them precious few years to enjoy their power. Thus, the Elven Mages began to pursue new ways to use their magic, and find a way to extent their lives beyond their natural limit.
When Eidolon saw this he was angered, and he made his anger known. Omens and dark portents were seen across the lands of all races, and they were heeded by Man and Dwarf, but not the Elves. This perhaps is what damned the Elvenkind, for as the Elven people were shunned by the Dwarfs and suddenly beset by holy wars with Men, the ordinary Elves turned to their Magi, who in turn became more desperate in their plundering of occult power.
At last, after many years, Eidolon's patience was spent. A blood-red moon crossed the sun, plunging the world into darkness, and in the shadow of the blood moon the Elves were cursed. Dead Elves burst from their graves, ghosts and spirits emerged from the ether within their domain, and the practitioners of forbidden magic were gripped with a terrible, unholy desire to feed upon the living, becoming the first of the Vampires. Thus did the Elven lands fall into chaos. Many nations were destroyed by the walking dead, or put to the sword by zealous invaders in the name of Eidolon, but a handful of cursed Elves escaped - enough to carry the curse to other lands and begin anew.
It was Men that the Vampires turned to next. Men, being adaptable, had within their lands a few wizards of their own, though none were equal to the skill of the Elves. The Vampires corrupted these individuals, and with their aid found means to transform Men into blood drinkers like themselves. Thus did the undead spread themselves across the world. Some were found and slain, but enough escaped notice to gain power and influence, and many of them dreamed of revenge for the suffering inflicted on them in years gone by.
In time, the Vampires returned to their forsaken lands, realms where the dead still did not rest easily. In exile they had mastered their craft, and gained the means to bend the dead to their will. They left again not in secret, but at the heads of armies to bring an unholy war to those who had attacked them. The history of these wars is long, bloody and often forgotten, for it was by all accounts the end of the world.
When the dust settled, the ancestral lands of Elf, Man and Dwarf alike belonged to the dead. The remains of these races that had not been corrupted or enslaved by their dark masters hid behind stout fortresses or in remote corners of the world, forever fearful of being hunted by the creatures of darkness.
The last of the Elves are by far the rarest of the races, and the least inclined to make contact with the outside world. Many have become fearful of magic, or even of their own natural talents to bring life. Yet they are dependent upon magic to survive, as they are outnumbered by the dead many thousands to one, and the living will destroy them just as surely given half a chance.
Eidolon's Curse hangs heavily on the Elves. They know that they are damned and that their lives are worthless to their creator, that there is no reward in the next world. Many wonder whether eternity as a cursed monster would be preferable to oblivion. Yet others believe their race may be redeemed, if only they could find a way to purge the Vampire and end the dominion of the dead. These Elves strive for the future, hoping that their sacrifice will redeem their descendents in the eyes of their God, and restore the order that has been lost.