Virtue, Valor, Victory - A Treatise on the Ways of the Elven Warrior (essay)
Title: Virtue, Valor, Victory: A Treatise on the Ways of the Elven Warrior
Author: Lord Zolis Kyr'Resiv, Prince of House Chesylcha and Heir to her Throne
In writing on the ways of the elven warrior, I feel I must explain that I only claim to be an expert on the matter due to my years of experience leading forces of elven soldiers in some of the farthest reaches of the Faendryl borders. I have seen elves die defending border keeps from marauding giants. I have seen elves die in small uprisings over such simple things as gold and silver. I have seen good elves give away immortality for these things. I have watched them die with honor, and I have watched them die for duty. I have admired the lowliest footman to the highest-ranking officers as they've fallen in pursuit of our ate, our Way. And I have dedicated my life to Ateu Iyl, the Way of the Blade.
Countless hours studying millennia of strategems, tactics, and leadership bring one to understand implicitly the allure of this way of life. Endless meditation and constant introspection lead one to become part of the ate. Looking into the eyes of your foe as you drive him down takes hold of the essence of the soul, and calls to you from the darkest recesses of your being. Our life is dedicated to ideals that forgo individual concerns, yet promote the individual to a greater goal. I have dedicated myself to the direction of individualism and creativity to achieve discipline. It is discipline that drives the cause. It is discipline that moves the man.
Please indulge me your attentions but for a short while, and I shall elaborate on the subject greatly. My hopes are that our people better understand our bonds to duty, freedom, and the Empire. Fash'lo'nae has gifted me this ancient vision, this reward to elaborate on the code of the Elven Warrior.
In this essay I will define and describe the basics of Ateu Iyl, the Way of the Blade. The aforementioned precepts of Virtue, Valor, and Victory will be explained in relation to the purpose they serve in the making of a proper elven warrior. I shall detail the role of the Elven Warrior in modern society, the purpose for a large military presence in current world scenarios, and some of the many benefits of a highly trained and highly motivated army at one's disposal. Much of what I have to say may be the sense of the common elf, or the wisdom of a Faendryl Patriarch; in the condition of our world it is imperative that knowledge be kept in order to preserve it in these darkest of times.
1. Ken (Virtue)
One could extol many of the virtues of elvenkind, but I will select the most important aspects in relation to a warrior. It is the priority of one's virtues and the dedication to said virtues that determine one's overall integrity. It is this profound sense of one's character that pushes the elven warrior to improve in all facets of his life, and promotes his individual strive for excellence. These virtues, in no certain order, are Wisdom, Fortitude, Adaptability, and Determination. Each one is equal in importance to the other, and integral in all aspects of life as a warrior. These are the qualities of great leaders, soldiers, and rulers.
A great leader or great warrior requires the ability to see the world around him through critical eyes. One must have insight into matters of import at all times, and must be able to make the best decision for his people in any situation. It is the ability to understand the significance of events as they play out before you. It is the depth of intuitive knowledge that one needs to maintain clarity and prudence in all matters. It is necessary to see beyond the scope of one action in the greater scheme of the universe around you. This means the ability to follow orders without question, unless one is in position to give orders. In such a case all orders must be questioned and determined plausible before they are issued unto the enlisted ranks.
The wise elf walks a path of discerning caution; thus leading to greatness in measured steps with little risk to the stability of the nation. While the unwise walk quickly on uncertain ground, putting himself and those around him in unnecessary and avoidable danger. An elven warrior must possess great wisdom in order to ensure that he will make the right decisions for himself and his people, while maintaining personal honor.
This is a warrior's strength of mind, as well as resilience of the body. Fortitude is the measure of an elf's courage, patience, heart, and physical endurance. It is fortitude that allows the warrior to stand tall in the face of exhaustion, and resolute in the face of almost certain failure. It is the ability to, once resolved; remain dedicated to the quest for victory and the path of honor. A warrior of great fortitude has the stamina of body and mind to make the correct decision in any situation or circumstance, despite personal danger.
One must have the ability to be flexible and determinate in all manner of things. Whether in the heat of battle, in social interaction, in the planning of strategies, or in intense study, adaptability is the key to reacting properly to any task at hand. The universe is quite like a hydra with many different heads. One must be able to change his methods in order to sever each head and move on to the next. The great commander must see his opponent's tactics and adjust his strategy accordingly to prevail and crush his enemies. A warrior's ability to remain flexible is essential to his capacity to achieve his goal.
A warrior must be focused on his path at all times. One should have the willpower to keep his mind set on his ate. Determination can lend a warrior great strength in the face of adversity. It allows one to put aside all else in order to achieve his or her ultimate goal. One must constantly strive to improve and maintain personal honor. Determination promotes careful ambition, leading a warrior to excel in any role he might need to play and lending him the grit of character to fulfill it.
2. Phaer (Valor, Honor)
At all times, in every situation, a warrior must provide a shining example of inspiration to those around him. One represents their entire race in the eyes of other beings, thus one must act accordingly. Valor is maintaining personal honor and adhering to virtue. If a warrior acts with valor in everything that he does, he will surely succeed. He is presenting the level of his virtues, and providing an exemplary glance of how a properly trained, civilized elf should behave.
Valor, however, is not to be confused with mercy, weakness, or kindness. It rests on power, skill, and courtesy. An act of mercy is an individual decision, unless ordered to set such aside. An act of power is righteous in any situation to display an elf's courage and ability. An act of weakness is not an act that can be feared or respected, nor does it prove an elf worthy of his position. Any act of skill can both be respected and feared, even admired. When one displays his abilities to their greatest potential, it proves an elf deserving of praise and honor. Acts of kindness, like mercy, are individual decisions, unless ordered against such actions. Kindness, at times, can be construed as weakness, as many of the lesser races see it. It can inspire a sense of comfort within your enemy that you may be betrayed. Courtesy is quite the opposite. This allows one to hide his emotions so that his rivals can never be sure of his motivation. It is useful in keeping competition off-balance, and in a less desirable position for victory. Valor is built on one's personal code of honor, as viewed by both his peers and his enemies. It is essential to victory, as Virtue is to Valor.
An elf that shows his great valor is an elf that is worthy of the favor of the gods. Such is one that inspires devotion, to both elf and empire. The lesser races are able to see the greatness of the elven warrior and the race as a whole based on the valor of each individual. If all individuals act with valor, the lesser races are inspired to follow and take their proper place in the Empire.
3. T'tar (Victory)
Victory is achieved through total devotion and adherence to Virtue and Valor. We achieve personal victory in remaining true to our ate and achieving discipline. It is through discipline that one develops virtue, and from virtue that one is motivated to act with valor. From the pursuit of Victory, we promote and grow in Ateu Iyl. Personal and military victory are achieved and maintained through careful and relentless devotion to the ate. With victory comes reward, from reward comes motivation and loyalty, from motivation and loyalty comes promotion, from promotion comes greatness. A warrior my achieve personal and socially recognized greatness by for his loyalty, his sense of duty, his honor, and his status as victor in most any situation. The key to this is Ateu Iyl. It is the way, it is our life.
Military Presence in the Modern World
It is widely known that the stage is set for violence and aggression throughout the theatre of world politics. Humanity has increased its capacity for warfare, and pushes the boundaries of the elven nations consistently. The very heart of the human "empire" seeks to enslave the elven peoples, despite what prosperity they have gained under thousands of years of beneficent elven rule. They do not credit this semblance of civilization that they have acquired to the heritage of the elven empire, and this is truly a sign of the times. Our blood is mixing with foreign elements of the lesser races, and this of course is working against unity at the very core of our race. The more our people stray into the arms of non-elven partners, the more our blood weakens.
In this time of trouble, diplomacy is critical to the resurgence of an elven empire. Yet, diplomacy and debate can, and will, only go so far. I agree with the wise Lord Joshell Jolenn when he points out that, "The greatest victories come from wars that never have to be fought." I fear, however, with the southern human kingdoms and their pronouncement of racial intolerance, that war is imminent in our near future. The words of those skilled in negotiation are always lined with silver and can accomplish much, but when the opponent is unwilling to accept agreeable terms (in our case, submission to elven rule) then conflict is simply unavoidable.
The diplomat whose army is widely recognized to be of the highest caliber has a great advantage in this situation. An enemy is less likely to enter into direct conflict with a highly trained, highly motivated force. Millennia of stratagems and tactics enter into the minds of particularly unruly monarchs who might be set on warring with elven forces. Yet some are still bold enough to commit and engage us in battle, seeing that the Houses squabble amongst themselves, and are not likely to reinforce the borders of another House. A powerful military presence can smite such enemies, sending a potent message to all those who might have similar outlines for war against the elven nations.
I am truly a proponent of peace, at least on a worldwide scale. There will always be some sort of skirmish or border that must be maintained, so that the place of the warrior will never be obsolete. After all, one cannot hold land that has been won without troops to stand upon that land and fight to maintain it. I believe that diplomacy should be placed in high demand, but I also believe that in our lifetime a great war will break out. I see blood on the horizon if we are to complete our goal of elven unification. And such a war cannot be won without the presence of a large, and powerful military force.
In writing this I realize that I have left much open for debate in the way of the necessity of violent conflict. However, my primary purpose is to help ensure that Ateu Iyl does not die out altogether. Since coming to Wehnimer's Landing, I have noticed many elven warriors who are not even aware of their own great potential. They seem to have fallen to the corruption of humanity, and are content to settle with what they perceive to be honor and glory according to humanity's standards. I wish to give these lost elves a chance to see the ate, so that they may become proper elven warriors and strive for excellence in the eyes of the elven empire. To be quite frank, I refuse to consider that any elf would willingly abandon our obviously superior way of life. They are elves, after all, and superior by birth and by blood to the lesser races surrounding them. I cannot stand by and watch them fall prey to humanity's great trap any longer. We have much work to do, and most of our task is ahead of us. Yet we must look now to instill the proper values in future generations.
Taken from the House Chesylcha library, c.1999.