THE ELVEN EMPRESS KÁSH'ÁV'TAYLÁ ("DAUGHTER OF A")

APPEARANCE - PERSONALITY - BIOGRAPHY - IMPORTANCE
- MYTH/LORE

According to elven myth, the Empress known as “Kásh'áv'taylá” (Styrásh lit. “Servant of Avá in this World”), is credited, or some say blamed, for lighting the fires of rebellion and dissent that earned the wrath of the gods themselves and led to the destruction of the great elven empire of Fá'áv'cál'âr in ages past before the Great Sundering. When she came to power as empress, she proclaimed herself the “Daughter of Avá”. The story goes that Kásh'áv'taylá used her position of empress and chief of religion to steer many followers towards a single object of worship: Avá the Beautiful, and regarded all of the other Avanian gods as inferior and less worthy of reverence. Cóor and these forgotten gods eventually came to regard the followers of Kásh'áv'taylá as corrupt and deserving of destruction. The surviving followers of Kásh'áv'taylá are known to this day as the Shadow Elves. For her part, the Empress herself was challenged by the avatar of the goddess Queprur and during a short, but glorious battle, Kásh'áv'taylá was slain. It is said that her spirit still haunts the place in ruined Fá'áv'cál'âr where she fell and when the full moon shines its baleful light upon the ruins, Kásh'áv'taylá rises from her swampy grave ready anew to battle her foes. [1]

Appearance. There are very few accurate records or accounts of ancient Fá'áv'cál'âr in existence today. Most of what is believed to be known from the empire is told in myth and legend by various elven tribes of Sarvonia. One dark elven myth, called the “Aelía Hylphereyís” (Styrásh lit. “Eyes of Wonder”), tells of the beauty of the last empress of Fá'áv'cál'âr that outshone all others. In this myth, Kásh'áv'taylá is said to have been a gloriously beautiful woman, depicted in typical elven fashion and appearance. It goes on to say that she was quite young (in elven years) when she took the office of head priestess of Avá. Estimates vary, but most scholars place her age of ascension between 200 to 250 years. A portion of the myth is detailed as follows:

“The great, illustrious Kásh'áv'taylá, devotee of the High Goddess, and holder of the scepter of Injera, was hereby recognized as blessed by the Great Mother to the position of High Priestess today. The Holy Kásh'áv'taylá was dressed in wondrously radiant robes, worthy of the Dreamress herself. Her countenance was bright, content and confident. Her youth inspires us all and nary a blemish mars her skin. With shimmering hair as like a golden veil and a brilliant smile that parts the clouds themselves, Kásh'áv'taylá accepted the Book of "Chó Reollchás" (Styrásh lit. "Mother's Bounty") in her keep to honour and follow for all her days. With pale, slender fingers, she opened the sacred tome and began to read aloud the tenants of the Great Mother. The words from her thin lips bestowed a vision upon the gathered audience and we were away in the High Goddess’ Dream where we saw a bright future, given to us in love…”

The Eyes of Wonder myth continues by further detailing the message of Kásh'áv'taylá, but gives no further clues to her appearance. From what can be translated, the High Priestess was a splendid sight to behold in her formal clerical robes, holding the physical representations of her office. It is no wonder, according to modern scholars, that Kásh'áv'taylá would appear as such. During that time in elven history, the elves were said to be much closer to Avá in deed and presence and demonstrated a much more brilliant aspect. In other words, the elves of that era were said to be “higher evolved” and that their fall from grace when great Fá'áv'cál'âr was sundered weakened the elves’ connection to the Great Mother.

Another legend, known as the "Tethís Quaér Iohanhé" (
Styrásh lit. “Sacred Court of Youth”), is said to have been written by one of the empress’ court historians whose name is long forgotten. The record gives a glimpse of her appearance in the days before her death. The short account is a sad one that contrasts with the Eyes of Wonder myth in that it almost seems as if Kásh'áv'taylá was expecting her demise. Yet she still bore the regal bearing of a proud ruler in the face of death:

“The sadness of the High Priestess gives us all pause. She has somehow been given over to a length of despair from which she cannot recover. Her words are still strong as she gives her message of Avá’s hope. Yet, her smile is rare and her once brilliant green eyes no longer carry their splendid luster. Perhaps the Great Mother has turned her back on Kásh'áv'taylá? The priestess faces much opposition, and many enemies plague her every move. Nonetheless, Kásh'áv'taylá still carries her burden well and her head is always held high.” Return to the top

Personality. Kásh'áv'taylá was undoubtedly a powerful voice in the latter days of Fá'áv'cál'âr. She was able to convince countless followers to heed her teachings. Such a person would have to be strong of will and confident of themselves. Kásh'áv'taylá was passionate in her beliefs that to revere Avá solely was the only true enlightened way and she demonstrated that belief in her active life. It is without doubt that her charisma and wisdom garnered so many followers.

But according to another legend, called the "Aváis Aelía" (Styrásh lit. “Eyes of Avá”), depicts Kásh'áv'taylá as a tyrannical ruler who ruled through fear and intimidation. Some elven sages of the Injerin tribe, known as the “Valturasía Ent'doseuías” (Styrásh lit. “Keepers of the Ancient Lore(s)”) hold to the view that Kásh'áv'taylá was indeed a convincing speaker to the masses, but she also enforced her will through her own personal guards. Those who openly defied her were subject to public humiliation and outright exile from the empire. Kásh'áv'taylá was generous to her followers, but it is said, she was also cruel to her enemies.

Without doubt, Kásh'áv'taylá was not perfect. She had her flaws, but there are more legends that tell of her infinite wisdom and benevolence than those less desirable traits. It is known, according to many stories, that Kásh'áv'taylá indeed had a personal guard but most regard their role as simply personal guardians of the temple office, not brutal thugs. But, as any ruler knows, there will be those who disagree with the laws of the land and make enemies of the authority. Surely, Kásh'áv'taylá’s teachings earned more than their fair share of dissident groups. Today, the myth of the Empress is regarded differently depending on who you ask: the dark elves regard her as a hero and martyr while the light elves cast a more negative light upon her life and teachings. Return to the top

The Empress Kásh'áv'taylá

View picture in full size Picture description. Kásh'áv'taylá, former Empress of  the legendary realm of Fá'áv'cál'âr is still said to haunt today's Water Marshes... Image by Eratinalinfalah.

Biography. Whole and genuine accounts and records from the Era of the Anvil are few. In addition, any complete records from the fall of Fá'áv'cál'âr are even more rare. Elven lore is quite detailed as to what happened to the empire: complete and utter destruction where only the skeletal husk of the civilization remained. Desolate and noxious swamp land, known as the Water Marshes, are dotted with large ruins that are believed to be the remains of Fá'áv'cál'âr. These ruins are said to still house the remnants of the shadow elves and no living witness has set foot within their realm and said to have survived. Accordingly, scholars study records from the best surviving elven tribe in the North: the Injerín. The following biographical information is taken from three different legends: “The Eyes of Wonder” myth, the “Sacred Court of the Mother” account, the “Eyes of Avá” legend and finally, a story known as “A Purity Defiled”.

Birth - Era of the Anvil (approx. 13000 b.S.). Ancient records are vague, but contemporary scholars believe that Kásh'áv'taylá was born during the waning years of the Era of the Anvil, approximately 13000 b.S. She is said to have been of “commoner” stock, meaning her family did not occupy any sort of royal or high status in the society. It is unknown if she had any other family, but one legend thought to have originated about this time, known as "Jahlýr Maeanhé" (
Styrásh lit. "Innocence Defiled"), concerns a woman’s amoral participation in a scandal involving some of Fá'áv'cál'âr’s rulers. It is implied in the myth that the woman may have been Kásh'áv'taylá’s older sister by describing her as the "Kin of Avá's daughter". The story ends in the woman’s exile from the empire never to return. Another version of the story makes claim that the scandal involved Kásh'áv'taylá herself and as a result of her union with an unknown male, a daughter known as Avásh'aelía was born. Avásh'aelía is also known by another name in elven myth: the Bone Queen, ruler of the cursed Shadow Elves.

Childhood. Kásh'áv'taylá grew up relatively quietly, according to the few sources of ancient Fá'áv'cál'âr that have been studied. She was a quiet child, quite timid by some accounts, and hardly able to keep a conversation with most adults. She was taught the basics of domestic chores, most of which are believed to have been sewing, farming or hunting. It is said that about this time, as she entered her young adult years, Kásh'áv'taylá became interested in serving in the clerical temples. It is believed that young women entered the service of the temples at a young age, perhaps 40 to 50 years of age by human comparison, but still quite young for an elf. Some scholars believe that service in the temples was mandated and required for young elven girls in Fá'áv'cál'âr’s culture. Regardless, Kásh'áv'taylá entered into the service of the Great Mother and rose in the ranks to eventual High Priestess.

Priesthood. By all accounts, Kásh'áv'taylá’s training as a priestess was uneventful. She is known to have written several works on the worship of Ava as well as cultural observations. One such work, known as "Chó Reollchás" (
Styrásh lit. “The Mother’s Bounty”) is a beautiful poem about Avá herself. It is one of the few surviving works from Kásh'áv'taylá, as it was inscribed on a thin tablet of stone that had been passed down for generations of Injerín clergy.

Rebellion. Once Kásh'áv'taylá became a High Priestess, she began to plant the seeds of discontent among her followers. It is unknown if she began to preach against the other Avanian gods earlier in her career, but it is doubtful, according to most leading clerics through the years. Had she preached her separation dogma, she would have unlikely become a High Priestess. It is thought that Kásh'áv'taylá was able to quietly gather followers relatively quickly as she began to teach that Avá alone was worthy of worship at the expense of the other gods. Surely, Kásh'áv'taylá was a shining example of a High Priestess as she was able to convince many people to secretly believe her. During this time, in order to fully overrule the prevalent cultural teachings, Kásh'áv'taylá began to make plans to become Empress of Fá'áv'cál'âr. As Empress, she also would hold the position of chief of religion, an office that set the standards for worship in the entire empire.

Becoming Empress. Kásh'áv'taylá’s rise to the highest office of Fá'áv'cál'âr came not without controversy. Some records from the time seem to indicate that the future empress began to manipulate the government as soon as she became a High Priestess. Some officials of the day caused a stir when they publically accused Kásh'áv'taylá of taking authoritative power as a High Priestess, which was not allowed. She was believed to have set in motion procedures to install herself as the next Empress by convincing the council that the other prospects were “blessed of Avá” and that she alone had been receiving visions from the Great Mother herself. Kásh'áv'taylá’s followers whom she had been raising for many years began a public campaign of support for her. Interestingly, Kásh'áv'taylá’s rise to power was said to have been engineered using deception and manipulation which was very unlike how a priestess would behave. She convinced the empire that she alone was worthy to rule and she worked hard to discredit the other potential rivals. Some said that Kásh'áv'taylá was corrupt, but that minority was silenced as Kásh'áv'taylá’s outward example and charisma gained her a large majority following, and even the previous empress was finally given to support Kásh'áv'taylá.

Chief of State Religion. The position of Chief of State Religion was a powerful one. Kásh'áv'taylá finally had the means to make her position official in the empire. She publically preached that Avá alone was worthy of worthy worship and that purity was attained through the Great Mother’s pleasure. The children of Avá, also important in reverence, were given second rate status and eventually expelled altogether from many temples. Kásh'áv'taylá had largely steered the majority of Fá'áv'cál'âr away from the other gods. In her view, Kásh'áv'taylá believed that Coór himself was not equal to Avá at all. She enacted several religious laws that banned the teachings of Queprur from funerary services, withdrew the laws of war of Armeros and taught that divinations were bestowed by Avá alone, and not Seyella. As Chief of State Religion, Kásh'áv'taylá had the power to enforce her laws and teachings using her elite rangers. Many clerics, leaders and common people were exiled or even killed for their failure to fall in line.

Death. Unbeknownst to the elves, the gods themselves walked among the lands in elven form during those days. The gods had become jealous that Kásh'áv'taylá had brought about their demise in the eyes of the religious establishment and demanded retribution. The seeds of the War of the Chosen were planted when Armeros incited rebellion among the elven subjects, firstly the orcs. As told in the story of Fá'áv'cál'âr, this did little to change Kásh'áv'taylá’s followers. Instead, it emboldened them to further draw sides. Kásh'áv'taylá was now the enemy of the gods and unfortunately, she had earned their wrath. The Eyes of Wonder myth details the following account of the death of Kásh'áv'taylá:

“Empress Kásh'áv'taylá took to the great altar with a glory that caught all who stood by. Her very presence was warm and inviting. She shone as a tender jewel of the sky, a true child of Ava and example to all. At her side were us maidens, all seven of us, and a retinue of royal guards. The crowd gathered quickly and soon the Empress had so many who stood to listen to her message, that the crowd stretched as far as the eye could see. The Empress spoke softly, her lips barely moving, but her voice could be heard by even the far last listener in the crowd. So great was her speech that no bird could be heard, no beast would move and the clouds themselves paused in their migration across the sky.

No sooner than the Empress had finished, that there was movement in the crowd. A lithe figure clad in armour black as night separated the people with her presence. They moved away from her as she emerged and ascended the temple’s steps. The Empress paused and drew her gaze downwards to the elven woman. With a smile, the Empress motioned to the newcomer with open palms.

“Have you come to receive the bounty of Ava, child?” spoke the Empress.

The armoured woman shook her head. Her pale face was framed by black hair so dark that they seemed to draw all surrounding light. Upon her head sat a crown inlaid with a single black jewel. Her presence was as a growing shadow that those people around her shrunk away, some turned and ran in terror. The black clad woman met the gaze of the Empress, her stoic face betrayed not a hint of emotion.

“There shall be no words to save you this night, Empress,” the mysterious woman spoke. Her voice was as harsh and deep as any I have ever heard. “Your heresy ends now. The true Children of Ava have agreed to this.”

The Empress nodded and smiled, but I could sense a hint of fear in her eyes now. This black clad woman was no ordinary citizen of Fá'áv'cál'âr. The Empress motioned to her elite guard with a short nod and the armoured men quickly surrounded the woman.

“I am sorry to hear such disdain from you, child,” the Empress said. “Please remove yourself from the steps of the temple. There shall be no disturbance here. Have you come as an agent of the Shadow to disrupt the light of the Great Mother? Begone!”

I gasped as the woman extended her right hand and there appeared a mighty scythe, with a blade glistening in the moonlight. The rangers cast upon her in rapid succession with their own weapons in a flurry of deadly motion. The scythe made one swift arc in a complete circle and the rangers all fell dead. Each of their heads rolled down the steps to lie still at the feet of the horrified commoners.

The Empress somehow recognized her own fate at that moment as she asked: “You are the Iron Mistress. It is true that the gods have sent you to kill me. Know that your success shall not quell my vision. My followers shall remain in this world for all time.”

The Iron Mistress stepped further closer to the Empress. No one dared interfere. “That remains to be seen, Empress.”

The Empress dropped her right hand into her cloak and drew forth her sword known as “Aváis Cár'scarál " (Styrash lit. "Ava's Edge"). She met the Iron Mistress’ strike with her own weapon and for a brief moment, the blades of the two women caused thunderous roars across the land and flashes of brilliant light that set all those who watched to their knees. But it was over as soon as it had begun. The Empress’ head fell at the feet of the Iron Mistress. I fled in terror only to look back to see my Empress’ head impaled upon a spike for all to see…”
Return to the top

Importance. The Empress Kásh'áv'taylá is regarded by many dark elves as a martyr who died for her beliefs. She is believed to have been one of the wisest and most powerful elven rulers ever known. Her death is regarded as something extremely rare in elven lore: to die at the hands of a god. To some, this is praiseworthy in its own right in that Kásh'áv'taylá was not worthy to die by mortal means. Only a god could kill her, and that is believed by some dark elves as a truly remarkable accomplishment.

In contrast to the dark elven belief, the light elves whose ancestors did not follow Kásh'áv'taylá’s teachings hold her with some measure of contempt. To them, the last empress of
Fá'áv'cál'âr betrayed her own faith by disregarding the other gods and brought about the destruction of not only the empire, but many countless of her own people. The light elves give her the name of “Caeh'hylpheréy” (Styrásh lit. “Cursed or Ill Wonder”). This name describes the empress’ final punishment as someone fallen from grace. Despite the differing opinions of Kásh'áv'taylá, there can be no doubt of the both positive and destructive influence that she bestowed for all Sarvonian elves since Fá'áv'cál'âr.
Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Avásh'aelía (Styrásh lit. “Wind Eye”). “The Innocence Defiled”, as mentioned previously, is a well known legend among elven scholars. Some interpretations of the ancient story tells of the only child born to the empress whose name was Avásh'aelía (Styrásh lit. “Wind Eye”). She is known as the “Bone Queen” by other races, most notably the orcs and humans. She is said to have united the scattered elves who remained in Fá'áv'cál'âr after its destruction and who still rules the Water Marshes to this day. It is said that as a child, she stood by calmly and did nothing as she watched the Goddess of Death decapitate her mother for the latter's sacrilegious preaching against the other Gods.

The Haunting of the Water Marshes. The depiction of Kásh'áv'taylá rising from her watery grave with the Edge of Avá in hand has been popular among northern elven tribes for generations. Many dark elves refuse to believe the empress is truly dead and have whispered sightings of her “spirit” that haunts the ruins of
Fá'áv'cál'âr. It is believed that Queprur herself bestowed eternal punishment upon the empress for her heresy by never allowing her to rest in death. Instead, when the moon is full and casts its light upon the waters of the marshes, Kásh'áv'taylá stirs and walks forth. The moonlight shines upon the very blade she used in her futile battle with the death goddess giving it a pale, orange glow. Kásh'áv'taylá’s ghostly appearance changes with each supposed sighting, though in truth, the Water Marshes are a dangerous place that most races avoid as its very presence is a noxious blight upon the land. The fear of the Shadow Elves within also keeps adventurers and wanderers away. Still, the ghost is said to be quite beautiful, even in death, with grey skin and white orbs for eyes. She still wears the crown of empress upon her head. Her hair has long since lost its radiant shine and is now black and writhing in a non-existent breeze. It is said that the ghost’s blade, the Edge of Ava, is the same one used in the battle with Queprur and though it may be thousands of years old, it is still sharp and deadly. Though Fá'áv'cál'âr may be long gone, its last ruler still walks among the once gloried halls reigning between life and death, never to know either one.
Return to the top
__________

Footnotes.
[1] The empress’ true name has long been forgotten in the ages of history. This entry hereafter refers to her by her self proclaimed title of “Kásh'áv'taylá” for ease of identification and reading. [Back]

 Date of last edit 24th Changing Winds 1670 a.S.

Information provided by Azhira Styralias View Profile,
Styrásh translations by Artimidor Federkiel View Profile