Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Masks of the Elf Queen's Court

Wood, high and dark elf masks
It is said that the Elf Queen is the most beautiful elf in existence. To ensure this legend go unchallenged, The Courts of the Shard are conducted with all participants fully masked. Only the Queen stays unmasked, the center of a whirling pool of intrigue, beauty and danger. Every elf has a mask ready to wear, just in case they receive a summons from her majesty or encounter her on one of her rare trips outside The Eternal Wood. Every elf grew up on tales of previous Elf Queens dressing as a commoner to see how her subjects lived.

Each mask starts from the same basic construction. A full-face porcelain mask in the shape of a face.  That's one reason proper elocution is important in court. Expensive masks can afford enchantments to allow the wearer to be heard. New masks must require the wearer to speak up over the crowd. Removing a mask in the presence of the Elf Queen definitely means expulsion from the Court. The length of the term depends on the severity of the offense. An accident usually means the end of the night. Removing a mask to do violence results in an exile of at least a decade.

Wood elf masks feature nature elements, of course. Some elves prefer animalistic patterns, predatory stripes, or colors that compliment the bright floral colors of wood elf hair. Many masks look to encorporate a type of anaimal as a theme. Bright birds and striped fur are common looks. Those elves who truck with the High Druid disdain using pelts and other animal pieces, preferring face paints and natural construction from renewable sources.

High elves spare no expense on their masks. Gold inlays, jeweled brows, and bright, bold colors that turn the mask into a beautiful, alien, androgynous face. These masks often incorporate sun motifs for those elves who wish to show their devotion to Luxana, the High Sky Goddess. There are those who would argue Luxana is the one elf more beautiful than the queen are often kept from the Elf Queen's sight, lest political favor clash with religious fanaticism.

Dark elves masks  are studies in contrast, with the white of the mask balanced by charcoal greys and dark blacks. Often, these masks feature intricate skull and death patterns drawn outward from the eyes. These patterns can only truly appreciated when seeing the mask from a very short distance, which allows the dark elf to whisper advice, rather than shout. Spider motifs are common, but have fallen out of favor thanks to rumors of a hidden cult devoted to She Who Spins In Darkness.

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