When the race of Eldar shattered , Quenn Ulthar was the first state to rise to prominence and attempt to take Eldari fate into its hands. Unfortunately for the uncountable many, this involved waging a genocidal war of revenge against their Quelari bretheren, the reasons for which are hidden from all but the eldest of elves, but grave enough for the war to continue for a millenium, with but a few very brief and gruesome interruptions.
With the Eldari capital destroyed by the unleashed storms of power, castle Weatherpeak lost to the accursed Un-dead and most of the Eldar land consumed by Gwynwald in a fit of the Fair Queen's rage, the Ulthari retreated East, into their ports and shore towns. There, within the cold depths of Eastern seas, the last great song of Eldari was sung, shaping the bedrock and stone into mighty pillars, on which the water-borne city of Quenn Ulthar was conjured in little less than a week. It soon became a home to one of the Realm's most feared and ruthless cultures; and its hidden underwater keeps - a place of eldritch research and a forge for many unthinkable instruments of war.
Government and societyEdit
Quenn Elthar's society is highly militarised, to the point that almost every elven endeavour is aimed towards the war with Quelari or is on its periphery. It is ruled by the council of Tetrarchs, that are the highest military leaders and arcane masters of the state. These Tetrarchs are:
- The Prime Cogitator;
- The First of the Vanguard;
- Supreme Magos of Quenn Mindon - the hidden underwater sanctum of dark elven magi, which allegedly hides the darkest arcane secrets that have ever scarred the Realm, including the mysteries of plague winds that once devastated Everard Boreale's armies.
- Warmaster of Ulthar - ironically, the closest thing the dark elves have to a civil leader, as it is in charge of the needs of the general populace as well as the armed forces.
The Tetrarchs' decision-making process is known to them alone; but their orders, once agreed upon, are absolute; failure to comply with them is severely punished (although very rarely with death, as the dark elves are strained for manpower as they are).
It is needless to say that any form of justice system is non-existent within Quenn Ulthar - the Warmaster-led military tribunals dispatch judgment as they see fit.
For all its authocratic tendencies, the government of Ulthari is also highly factionalised. What happens within the Vanguard is Vanguard's business, the magi of Quenn Mindon get murderously upset when ambitious hierarchs poke their nose into their eldritch research and pretty much everyone with a modicrum of power loathes the Cogitarium with a burning passion for their manipulative tendencies. Needless to say, that the only thing stopping the dark elves' elite from murdering each other is the fact that they already are a dying race.
As assessed by the First Secretary of Crown Affairs of Borealis (i.e. its de jure spymaster), as of 765 Ulthari general forces number only ~20000 fighters. The Albionese Guild of Ethnographers puts the number higher, at ~23000. Both of these numbers beg the question - how did a state with such a small fighting force resisted a 1000-years long war with wood elves and the intermittent wars with Borealis and dwarfs.
Before answering this question, another number should be mentioned. It is predicted by the Albionese intelligence that an average Ulthari soldier will kill 15 men of Albion or Borealis before perishing itself.
The Dark Elves' warriors are among the most feared fighters of the Realm and for good reasons. Most of them adopt a unique fighting style, that revolves around using extremely heavy, fortified armour and heavy weapons - glaives, halberds and greatswords. Each dark elf commisions its own set of armour upon reaching 100 years of age and gets a weapon gifted by its family.
Dark Elves seldom fight as a coherent unit, instead relying on individual strength of each of their ranks, although while in battle, each son or daughter of Ulthar has almost supernatural understanding of its fellow fighters' actions.
Perhaps the biggest technological push given to the Ulthari war-craft was meeting and trading with the Republic of Albion. It is from them that Quenn Ulthar adopted firearms and gunpowder artillery into its military doctrine. And while the former is often frowned upon and reserved for the conscripted youths who are too young (or adults that are too weak or unskilled) for the traditional armour and great weapon, the latter was embraced by the dark elves wholeheartedly, as it offered a significant range and ease of use advantage over traditional battle magic (it also doesn't require a general to humiliate itself by asking assistance from Qeunn Mindon).
However, battle magic remains the biggest source of pure firepower in Ulthari - most regiments have several battle magi of Quenn Mindon supporting it in combat, either as short range artillery or combat support.
And then there's the Vanguard.
Occasionally, the unexpected happens - the magi of Quenn Mindon fail to discover an elf's magical potential before its puberty. It then manifests violently, with the young elf being unable to control its new powers. Unlike mortals, who fear and ostrasize the uncontrollable sorcerers and warlocks, the Ulthari turn theirs into a weapon of unspeakable power.
The aspiring Vanguard are taught how to control their wild power, are given the harshest, deadliest military training in the Realm and are provided by the Tetrarchs with an armour made entirely of angelskin - a rare form of unbreakable silver, for which the dark elves massacred an entire dwarfen kierk after the trade relationships broke down post-shattering.
The Vanguard are the spearhead of Ulthari forces and one of the deadliest fighting forces of the Realm - each of them as proficient with destructive magic as it is with a glaive.
But what makes them truly fearsome is the angelskin's affinity with weather control mechanisms, that once belonged in castle Weatherpeak. Although most of this ancient craft was lost, the magi managed to salvage some of them. As a result, the Vanguard use literal lightning strikes for instant teleportation within a rather broad area around Quenn Ulthar - making a surprise attack of deep strike into the Eldar Shores almost impossible because of the speed and savage force of the Vanguard response.
Drunk on their power and status amongst lesser dark elves, the Vanguard are the most hardline and radical factions of Quenn Ulthar, advocating complete and utter annihilation of the wood elves and forceful subjugation of all other lesser races. However, there is yet a faction within the state that keeps them in check.
Sometimes, the other extreme occurs when a dark elf is born. It is found to have no magical powers whatsoever - as opposed to the base minimum that every dark elf possesses. As is the pattern, the Ulthari loathe wasting resources, especially when they can be forged into a weapon, and otherwise pathetic magic "blanks" are no exception.
From the youngest possible age, the blank elfs are spirited away into a secluded Cogitarium, where they are slowly molded into cogitators.
Cogitators reject all emotions and physical training and instead focus solely on forging their intellect into a razor sharp analytical tool. Cogitators are able to find connections and patterns where even the wisest humans would see coincidences; they arrive to conclusions in time that can only be achieved by hundreds of years of experience and thinking.
While they do try to supress emotions so as to not interrupt the cogitation process, occasionally some of them break through - although usually only one or two dominant emotions resurge, which a cogitator then proceeds to manifest to their extremes. The best of cogitators manage to preserve their full, undamaged emotional state while maintaining the cogitator's powers. They refer to the period when they feeled nothing as their soul death and usually go on to take the highest positions among the dark elf hierarchy - as pure objectivity is seldom needed (and is often harmful) in a complex world of politics and statecraft.
Those cogitators who have regained their "souls" tend to be among the moderate dark elves, often advocating closer engagement and contact with the mortal races. It is then quite telling that none but the most progressive cogitators (who are usually silenced) ever consider ceasing the endless war against the wood elves.
Ever preoccupied with wiping out the wood elves, Quenn Ulthar has little regard for other states. Yet it's worth mentioning that on some occasions the dark elves ceased fire with the wood elves - all in order to punish foolish mortals who meddle in their affairs or wage war on the Eldari. The most notorious example of this, is of course, the Battle of Lysica .
No official relationship exists between Quenn Ulthar and Borealis sans for some border skirmishes (which usually end in dark elves' favour).
At the same time, however, Quenn Ulthar has shown willingness to trade and exchange intelligence with some of the free cities of the Far Reach and, more importantly, the Republic of Albion, with which it has an unusual and rather alarming affinity.
Dark elves consider dwarfs - both exile and Kharad - beneath their notice, as they do with Faraam and other "lesser" races.