The Undying Court

undyingcourtTwelve mortals who were all that survived of the Battle of the Old Ones and the time of demons ascended to the heavens to become the court by which all elven souls are judged. Sehanine Moonbow carries the souls in to the sky and deposits them at the court, where the recently deceased must plead their case to be judged before its members. The Undying Court are represented as shadowy figures covered in cloaks and hoods, their identities concealed by the golden mask that is their symbol. They are named Urien, Nona, Theutrich, Gillis, Arntzenius, Barthélémy, Armonni, Xanthia, Damjana, Liina, Rooijakker and Arrigo. They are represented either as genderless or equally divided, six male six female. They each represent and judge each elf on different acts in their lives; honor, beauty, faith, kindness, generosity, love, humility, appreciation of nature, respect, loyalty, forgiveness, and honesty respectively. Those deemed to have lived their lives to the best of their abilities ascend to the stars, those most virtuous becoming the brightest stars in the sky, gifted with the ability to look down upon the world and follow their loved ones’ lives. They can also communicate with one another and with the Moon Goddess, and on rare moments, those on earth. The souls who have squandered their lives or who have committed grave sins are left to drift in the nothingness between the stars, doomed to float in the emptiness alone.

The priests of the Undying Court wear the long hooded cloaks of their gods, and on holy days wear the golden masks. The Court is impartial, and followers of the Court strive to be the same. It is important to his priests that all angles of a situation be examined and they are often called upon to be arbiters in contentious debates. They are all trained in embalming and the rites of death, and are the ones who prepare bodies for burial or cremation. Their temples are underground in a shaded area and are kept as cool as possible to ensure the preservation of the corpses. They are always kept meticulously clean, and are designed as a horseshoe with the priests’ quarters on one side and the mortuary on the other. Followers of the Court are not afraid of death, nor do they seek it out, seeing it as merely another part of the cycle of life. They are not at all morbid or dark; in fact most followers strive to please the Court with their good deeds in life, and are trained in counseling the bereaved and are capable of providing a sombre ceremony when needed. The Court’s holy days are the half-moon, a representation of balance. Outside of each temple are alcoves with statues of each of the court members, and candles are lit on the holy days to honor the dead. The locals bring offerings of flowers and food, and light incense and candles before the statues. On the half-moon closest to midsummer is the Festival of Flowers, where gardeners bring out their most beautiful creations to be admired and bakers prepare desserts with edible flowers. Offerings of these are left at graves, and when the sun sets hundreds of floating or flying paper lanterns are released to show respect to the ancestors.