Elanthian Vogue: Ivastaen 5120 (Part I)

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This Month's Edition

Editor-in-Chief: Rohese Bayvel-Timsh'l

Editor's Thoughts

Named for the Goddess of seduction, the month of Ivastaen is actually filled with celebrations of spring and burgeoning life. On the 1st day, Elanthians everywhere mark the Day of Kuon's Blessing with prayers and dedications for all green and growing things and on the 20th they celebrate the Festival of Oleani with songs of new love. But neither of these Arkati hold a candle – or smoky wisp – to Ivas when it comes to desire and sensuality.

Hailed by the unwary for her unearthly beauty, it only seems fitting that this month's Elanthian Vogue follows on from the recent EXTRA Elanthian Vogue: Olaesta 5120 EXTRA! on how natural beauty can be enhanced with cosmetics and takes a look at Ivas through the eyes of some of her adherents. But, in an unprecedented move we are actually going to publish two editions this month because we have so much to cover. Consider this to be Part I in which we will look at Ivas from the perspective of two very intriguing young acolytes.

It is also fortuitous that this edition features a particular winner of the 5119 Vogue Gallery but we will reveal more about that later! In the meantime, I'm sure you are all eager to learn more about an Ivasian lifestyle so let's dive straight in!

As always, don't forget to send us your comments on any of the articles in this month’s publication or suggestions for future editions!

Editor

The Seduction

A personal experience of desire, lust, and passion with Vincien Chase.

"Intensity - feeling so overcome you think you'll burn, or die, or both. That is what beauty is, to me." ~ Xanthium

Shortly after my meeting with Naamit earlier this year, I had the pleasure of being formally introduced to a rather engaging young woman called Xanthium. I had, of course, seen her at social gatherings from time-to-time and we had exchanged pleasantries but there was something about this lady that had always intrigued me.

Naamit happened to mention to me that she was not only the daughter of this month’s Vogue Gallery winner but that she also happened to be an adherent of Ivas. Given my remit for this Ivastaen edition, I was struck by the coincidence. Call it fate or flirtation, I was somehow drawn to her and I now have great pleasure in sharing my experience with you all.

You see Xanthium.
She appears to be a Half-Elf from Ta'Faendryl.
She is of a towering height.  She appears to be very young.  She has argent-haloed indigo eyes and pale porcelain skin.  She has long, cascading white blonde hair flowing down into a riotous tumult of textured waves and gold-touched spiral curls.  She has a fine-boned, heart-shaped face, a long, narrow nose and a bow of lush, mulberry red lips.  She has an urglaes black and despanal ombre glaze brushed onto her immaculately manicured fingernails.
She is in good shape.
She is holding a set of umber-hued wooden bagpipes with dragon wings stitched along the leather bellows in her right hand and a gracefully spiraled addax horn cornett banded with dark grey pewter in her left hand.
She is wearing an ornate black ironwood dragon earcuff, a waist-length necklace of graduated jade beads, a billowing jade green robe collared in hematite and pewter beadwork, a slender column gown of chitinous tiny green-black glaes scales, some sheer black stockings laced with fine braided satin cord under some smoky brocade lace slippers inset with lunar jasper tiger lilies.

Her height advantage aside, there is so much about Xanthium that draws attention. Public opinion would consider her to be a natural beauty but there is more to her than outward appearance; every movement and gesture of this siren lures you in. From the moment she enters the room, I am well and truly hooked and eager to hear her account of herself.

I have to confess that the allure of this young lady – from the way her gown adheres to her lithe form as she approaches me, to the hypnotic timbre of her voice as she fondly greets me - causes me to momentarily forget there is another person in the room with us.

You see Lazaryth.
He appears to be a Sylvankind.
He is tall and has a lithesome, nimble build.  He appears to be youthful.  He has long-lashed vivid sky blue eyes and tanned skin.  He has long, loose silver blonde hair with a trio of champagne moth orchids woven into the strands.  He has a long nose and a generous mouth.
He is in good shape.
He is wearing a front-ruffled alabaster silk jacket with a sprig of lavender-blue larkspur on the lapel, a loose blue silk blouse with wrist-bound sleeves, a pair of silk wrist ruffs, a pair of ivory kidskin gloves, a polished black leather belt, a silver ringed sword-frog, some soft ivory chambray breeches, and some high black boots.

His hand rests on a smoke-etched silver vultite buckler.

The finish on this shield is striking, smooth and reflective enough to be used as a mirror.  Polished brass studs in the shape of roses encircle the shield, and their dark golden hue makes a vibrant contrast to the vultite's silver.  The center of the buckler is adorned with a muted green crest depicting an upward-swirling, stylized wisp of smoke.

Offering the first seat to Xanthium, Lazaryth immediately sets the tone of the interview and I adjust my approach. My attention now diverts to him and I am again surprised by the effect he has on me; my initial impression of Ivasians is one of admiration. By the simple motion of sitting, stretching out his long legs and adjusting his appearance to best effect, I am disarmed. His cocksure grin unsettles me even further and I realise that I am in the presence of a master of seduction.

Almost as if they are performing a ritualistic dance, Xanthium then settles into her seat, the light glittering off of her scaled gown. Her bearing is far less confident than her companion, but her poise and soft movements speak of a natural grace that overcomes her underlying reticence.

Xanthium was only nineteen when she first arrived in the Landing and she is quick to remark that she was both shy and sullen back then. Whether it was merely the transition to adulthood or the influence of Ivas is hard to determine in the short time we have, but her outlook on life has certainly changed. It is her belief that the donning of acolyte robes and friendships made within Ivasian circles were the catalysts she needed to understand and embrace the power of her innate beauty.

The pleated neckline of the robe is caught by a clasp of dark pewter, shadowed by the voluminous folds of the hood.  Intricate beading flows down the sleeves in a richly detailed thorn and cocklebur spear design.  The sleeves are split, the fabric artfully looped to expose the wearer's arms.  The diaphanous, fine-spun layers of wispy spidersilk shift easily as the air passes through it.

Having related a little of her early days, Xanthium attends to my next query with a warm smile, that outshines the momentary look of apprehension the question initially inspired. She glances over at Lazaryth, as if willing him to answer first and at length.

Lazaryth nods - just the once - and awaits my full attention; not an easy task, I can tell you!

Originally hailing from the Sylvan homeland, Lazaryth now resides in Wehnimer's Landing. He tells me that, growing up, his family moved quite frequently and he felt he was always the new boy in school. Over time, he discovered that flirting was a way of connecting with others and was, in fact, much easier for him than the kind of talk that seemed to come naturally to other boys. He shares that by being charming, he could insinuate himself into long-established social circles. One upshot of this was that all of his acquaintances ended up being girls, a theme that holds to this day.

Curling his lips upward in mild amusement, he flicks his gaze to Xanthium for a moment. I am making a mental note to ask for some pointers from him once this interview is over.

With more time, Lazaryth realized that not only did he very much enjoy flirting and its outcomes, but that he had a natural talent for it: he enjoyed being good at something. Every moment became an opportunity to practice. He went on to explain that he began to consider that Ivas had a special purpose for him, and felt a deep sense of gratitude for the gift that was given to him. While still at a fairly young age, he took to meditating daily in order to better hear Her.

He must have noticed my furrowed brow at this point – I must work on my poker face - and chose to clarify a few points for me. Apparently, in the Sylvan homeland, the Lornon Arkati aren't regarded as inappropriate outlets for worship as they often are on the outside; each has their own place in the natural order, and, whilst he values discretion, a practice of worshipping Ivas isn't something he feels he needs to be secretive about at home.

Clearly realising that I am thinking of the scandalous cult rumors, he shrugs slightly before continuing to explain more about his personal relationship to Ivas and how he doesn’t consider himself to be a mystic of any kind. At this point, he defers to Xanthium and turns his gaze upon her; I do the same.

At first her melodic voice is so soft she can barely be heard, and she couples it with fidgeting with the scales on her gown, a flowing susurrus of sound that you have to strain to hear over. I catch myself leaning closer to listen and she tilts her face toward me - the angle of her delicate features, the deep red of her mouth, and the sweet scent of tropical flowers hanging to her is rather appealing. Perhaps the bashfulness amounts to its own sort of snare, like a pitcher plant just barely blooming for a visitor to light upon her petals.

I have to force myself to focus and opt to scribble notes as she continues to tell me more about how Ivas became part of her life.

Back home, in New Ta'Faendryl, she spent most of her time on her grandfather's plantation. Her Faendryl kin were accepting of her and kind, but also protective; they were afraid that if she ventured outside, she would be targeted for cruelty. She was brought instruments, tutors, hobbies to occupy her time, but much as she loved them, they were lonesome occupations.

The tethers of this set of carved pipes have been artistically looped to allow a second set of bellows to be led into the first and both of them connected to the chanter's windbag.  The chanter and drone pipes all have a slender, reed-thin fit to them, making these bagpipes almost sleek compared to typical sets.  The clever tinkering allows the bellows to pass air back and forth between the chambers, decreasing the workload on the player's lungs.

When she was fifteen, she had an accident that damaged her bardsongs, and her grandfather encouraged her to take up dancing and playing, in lieu of her voice. Eventually she started performing with her father's drama troupe, and the exposure helped her to heal. Her grandfather was gravely concerned about the loss of her loresinging, and decided that if performance was effective, then giving herself to "She who is Passion" would be the only way to regain what she had lost.

At that, Xanthium comes to a halt, gazing at me with a hint of apprehension. She smiles with a flash of pearl-white teeth and the anxiety vanishes into a blushed tinge rising across her cheeks. Having regard to my rapt attention for Xanthium, Lazaryth leans back in his chair and very deliberately settles an arm around her shoulders. I am conscious that his eyes remain trained on me the whole time, a slow, smug grin coming to his face.

Quickly remembering my brief, I ask if either of them can explain what being an adherent to Ivas entails.

Xanthium is first to respond by explaining that she serves in a more structured way than Lazaryth. Her thriving order operates out of Her Temple in the Vipershroud Swamp, not far from the trail to the Locksmehr Ferry and is small in comparison to Her great halls in other cities. She is an acolyte, the first tier of Her disciples. Many of her tasks are more domestic than salacious, as they have few servants and must care for themselves and the Hall on their own.

Favoring me with another grin, she leans towards me with a conspiratorial gleam to her dark eyes.

"You didn't ask me to come here and talk about laundry."

As she explains that the disciples of her order are often of mixed heritage, she draws her long, white fingers up over her ear, showing its more rounded peak as she pulls a few curls back over her shoulders. This small gesture is enough to cause me to forget my place again and I am forced to ask her to elaborate so I can pretend to be making notes. Little did I know that this would only add to my discomfiture!

Priests and priestesses - the acolytes' teachers and superiors - receive the pilgrims in the courtyard and speak with them for a little while, taking their measure. When this is done, they make suggestions as to who among the acolytes would best “serve their needs”. If the disciple agrees, they engage with the pilgrim, and take them to one of the sacristies. These are akin to confessionals and each one is marked with a flower to represent the work that goes on within. Xanthium answers my question before I can ask it and tells me she serves in the mournbloom sacristy.

She stops for a moment, her eyes lowering as she breathes out, stretching her long limbs about in a frisson of energy as she settles back once more.

"There, those who suffer from grief and loss come to me, and I help lighten their burden. I bring life back to their bodies and hearts, for a time."

I find myself doodling a mournbloom on the corner of my page. At the same time, I am conscious that Lazaryth is watching her quietly, but offers no comment. Xanthium's eyes flutter closed as she talks, and the hand in her hair courses down over the spill of her scaled gown, making the tiny, shimmering links jingle. When her eyes open once more, the blush on her face grows a little rosier, and she stops, holding her hand still in her lap. Her features take on a thoughtful mien, and she continues to educate me in the ways of an Ivas adherent.

They also host the Children of Ivas; those who have become a victim to some curse or malady that cannot be cured or healed by herb or empath - stricken with disfigurement, delirium, or catatonia. Ivas will apparently receive all who come to Her, no matter what state they have been left in. Often, they are brought by their families who lack the resources or knowledge to tend to them.

"They may never recover, but they will be cared for and kept safe by us."

At this, Xanthium falls quiet again, passing the palm of her hand across her lower eyelids. She takes a moment to compose herself before raising her eyes to me once more. Her bashful blush is gone, her face taking on its wintry porcelain hue. The smile is vanished as well, her generous mouth parted in a pensive breath. It's quite telling that I notice every nuance of her demeanor and behavior but would struggle to recall her answers to my questions if it weren’t for the copious notes I am taking.

As if continuing their aforementioned dance, I note that Lazaryth straightens, his arm slipping from Xanthium's shoulders to pluck an offending, nigh-invisible mote of fuzz from the fabric of his breeches and flick it aside.

"I've nothing to do with all that, and yet I'm Ivasian, so the question of what being an adherent means can't be answered simply."

I internally acknowledge that there is nothing simple about either of them. Forgetting my flower doodle for a moment, I learn from Lazaryth that nearly every Ivasian will tell you that while they themselves have a deep and profound practice, others only play at it, using Her name as an excuse to engage in wanton coupling without true sacrifice or devotion. This is something he agrees with.

He is also of the opinion that there are varying levels of devotion and that Her name does get used on a regular basis to justify some truly self-absorbed things.

"Anyone can embrace rapture and beauty; we do it at every chance, whomever we follow. We can scarcely help it. The hallmark of a true Ivasian is their ability to embrace Her teeth and tentacles as well. To embrace the pangs of want without fulfillment, the sear of jealousy, the messiness of loss, decay and disruption - even the clinging tendrils of love."

My expression must have been quite telling as Lazaryth chuckles. It is his turn to ask the questions as I attempt to compose myself. He addresses my surprise over hearing that an Ivasian can speak of love and comments that there are few more fertile grounds for lust and jealousy and all the rest of Her charms.

With the shadow of my editor's quill looming large over what I would actually wish to write here, I quickly move on to ask if it impinges on their daily life at all.

Seizing on the question, Lazaryth answers me immediately.

"It is my daily life. This is my work."

When he's not taking exercise or quiet time in nature, Lazaryth is about town, starting conversations with women he hasn't met before, or women he wants to work a bit more with, teasing out who is open to Her grace and seeing what paths it may take them down. He claims to be discreet, but that it's not a secret.

"I'm quite honest about it. I take it just as seriously as a blacksmith takes his forge, and put in full days at it. I've also begun to take on dedicated students, which is a welcome new challenge for me."

Xanthium waits patiently, nodding at Lazaryth, and at his final remark a hint of a blush comes back to her alabaster face. She finally halts her appreciation when she realizes that it's her turn to respond.

"How could it not? We must take care, when we wander the streets of the cities and towns nearby, to not greet those we see in our halls, to keep their wanderings safe and their own."

She goes on to explain that there are those who see their robes and symbols and make presumptions about what they will do to them and for them.

"When I'm getting a cup of tea at the cafe or standing in line at the bank. It's not so bad, though; the Landing has any number of oddball and iconoclast sorts, that its townsfolk have adopted a mostly accepting perspective."

Citing Lord Faerinn Greatsinger, she relates that he is helming an effort to start hosting events in the Temple again, to make it a destination for a wider range of visitors than just the traditional pilgrims. They have openly hosted art exhibitions, poetry recitals, and more recently a debate during the mayoral campaign.

"I greatly appreciate his efforts and look forward to the culture we will herald."

Here she pauses again, the hand in her lap passing over her thigh, straightening the green-black scales into a shining drape over her legs. I am back to shading in the mournbloom in an attempt to avert my gaze and keep the interview on track. Fortunately, Xanthium continues to talk and I resume taking notes.

"We also know that our Service will make personal relationships rather challenging."

Few Ivasians marry, and while pregnancy does happen from time to time, the babies are nearly always adopted by others to be raised. When they take their vows, they become their own families with Her as their blessed partner.

Stifling a smirk at this, Lazaryth shakes his head, returning with clear effort to his previous composure. I decide it is time to ask what I suspect all our readers really wish to know: are the rumors of cult worship at the Temple true. What have I to lose at this point, apart from the last vestiges of my editor's respect?

Lazaryth's response is to put a negating hand up and simply glance to his right. A hint of Xanthium's amused grin comes back to her now, and she draws her cushioned seat closer to me, gazing into my curious eyes with a questing stare. I have to remind myself that I am here in a professional capacity.

"That's the million-silver question, you know."

She is quick to acknowledge the stories about how She inspires many an act of violence in Her unbridled lust. She elaborates a little by telling me that when men slay their wives to please their mistresses, it somehow a "Great Spirit" holding the blade, rather than their own folly and that women who take charge of their passions are labeled "Her Maidens" as a pejorative.

"It is almost as if these places do not value women, their lives, their choices, their agency and seek to undermine it, and excuse the men from any responsibility."

At this, the tinkling sound of her gown peals once more, as she crosses her legs, letting the side of her calf glance off of mine. The overt gesture is coupled with a more affectionate one, as she reaches down to take hold of my free hand, winding her fingers within mine. I barely notice that I have dropped my quill and the nibs hits the cuff of my trousers, staining it with ink in the process.

I was in two minds as to whether to include this next little extract of her explanation but it would be doing her an injustice not to do so - there’s that looming shadow of my editor's quill again.

"Within the Temple there are sacristies that house rites and rituals such as what you speak. The tuberose, the lady's slipper, salorisa. The sounds that echo from within are those of suffering and dark passions. But there is one thing that your cult worship rumors always seem to leave out. Those that go in those confessionals all asked to do so - consent is one thing that is absolute, from acolyte to priest to pilgrim. Everyone in Her halls choses their path."

And that is all I have to say about that apparently (according to my editor.)

It only seemed fitting to close out our interview by asking what their thoughts on the concept of beauty were and, again, Lazaryth shakes his head. I don't think this sylvan likes me very much.

"Beauty doesn't need to be defined; we know what it is the moment we see it. It draws the eye immediately. I know, also, that I can't live without it. Am I unusual in that, I wonder? Both my parents and the sister I'm closest to work in the arts, and I'm sure that shaped me."

He leans forward on one elbow, speaking with a focused urgency. It is worth noting that when he speaks, I am truly engaged and I am left wondering what I have to do to get him to change his opinion of me. It feels as if he’s speaking to me directly when he explains that each of us has a responsibility not only to seek out beauty, but to provide it.

"Allowing yourself to have a slovenly appearance is as bad as tossing refuse in a park, or letting your house go to ruin. We have a responsibility to present our best selves in every moment. In that way, beauty is as much action as inheritance. It is also one of the greatest things about being alive; we must make the effort."

He tugs on the cuff of his glove, the motion practiced. This is when I notice the ink blot on my trouser cuff and groan inwardly. His blue-eyed gaze is fixed on mine though as he reiterates that we must develop our own personal style and I am hoping he hasn’t noticed the defects in mine but, who am I kidding, of course he has.

"Look at me. I'm well aware that this is not the rugged, masculine effect many women are drawn to. But it doesn't matter, because those who do seek what I offer will be all the more compelled by it. If you try to appeal to everyone at once, you'll fail."

Flashing me an insolent, almost wolfish grin, he closes out his remarks with a final retort.

"And I do hate to fail."

I cannot fail to notice that Xanthium's eyes shift to her companion at this point although she doesn't react to his challenging tone. Instead she seems to agree with his assessment and casts an admiring look across his polished and lithe silhouette. I also cannot fail to notice that she is now gripping my hand a little tighter, drawing it from her lap up to her mouth for a press of her lips, and she leans forward to plant another soft kiss upon my cheek, keeping her steady gaze locked upon my face.

I must have adopted my own wolfish grin at this point because I can sense Lazaryth glancing between us with his arms tensely folded over his chest. Point to me, I think!

"What is beauty? You are, of course."

Addressing me directly, Xanthium continues with her flattery by expounding on my features in turn. Modesty prevents me from expanding on it here but, needless to say, having my hand now pressed against her breastbone and her face mere inches from mine, I consider myself well and truly in her thrall.

In hindsight, I am impressed that she then used my earlier experiences with Naamit to her own advantage. I will share her further insights into beauty word-for-word to demonstrate how skilled she really is in the art of seduction.

"I know the banshee turned her power upon you. I can see the haunted cast to your eyes, you do not know what to do with all of what you feel. Part of beauty is to find the damage that has been done, and make it whole, again. I would bring your truth back to you; make you greater than you were. And after, unlike her, you would not be afraid to be alone, again. You would welcome the dark, to dwell and imagine about our time, your soul filled and light."

I now admit defeat and draw this article to a close. All I can say is, I was pleased to see Lazaryth silently shift his weight and rest his hand on the hilt of his falchion in its sword-frog. The bore of his gaze never left mine. Another point to me, I think!

  • The interviewer was asked to refer to Ivas with a capitalized pronoun.

Postcards from Elanthia

Postcards from Elanthia Inner Sanctum ~ anonymous A flat grey sunless chamber fills the expanse of card with skilful touches of golden yellow lending a sinuous quality to the walls. Central to the image is a tentacled statue, its gaze seductively lowered yet somehow commanding your attention. Occasional splashes of red have been added to both the stone floor and high on one of the statue’s tentacles to depict an object in its grasp. On the backside reads a description: Subject of rumors and speculation, the holy shrine of Ivas offers an insight into the passion and sensuality of the Seductress. The lustrous curves of Her statue are as inviting to the hand as to the eye.

On the Spot

Once in a while we take the opportunity to put someone “on the spot” with 5 random questions to gain a quick peek into their lifestyle choices. This month we would like to congratulate the charming Ysharra Nagorn on being the Ivastaen portrait from the 5119 Vogue Gallery and we are even more delighted to put her “on the spot” as well.

Ivastaen Ysharra Nagorn Brilliant white paint, almost dazzling to the eye, fills the floral border on the page. The clever application of silver leaf and delicate brushwork brings to life a pair of intense cobalt blue eyes framed by thick waves of hair and the softly defined cheeks of a perfectly proportioned half-elf. A pair of full, pink-tinged lips are slightly parted, feigning a youthful innocence that is betrayed by stems of cocklebur and wolfsbane in one hand and assorted fungi in the other. Portrait as featured in the 5119 Vogue Gallery

Where do you call home and, if it’s not where you were born, explain why you consider it to be your home now?


Three words you would use to describe yourself Three words you think your friends would use to describe you


As well as being a beauty in her own right, it may also amuse our readers to learn that Ysharra happens to be the mother of the aforementioned Ivas acolyte, Xanthium. We couldn't resist asking her to tell us a little about her relationship with her daughter.


And finally, by way of a sneak peek, next month's edition of Elanthian Vogue will be touching on spirit animals so we asked Ysharra what her spirit animal be and why?


Coming Soon!

Our next Ivastaen edition – in about two weeks - will feature an interview with Lord and Lady Verethundi. I guarantee you will be as entranced as our reporter was.

As well as a reminder to check for the next publication, you may also wish to make a note in your diaries for Restday, the 24th day of Ivastaen. Everyone is invited to an informal forum where we can hopefully firm up plans for FashionFest 5120. Join representatives from The Looking Glass, Elanthian Elegance, and the editorial team of Elanthian Vogue in the Wehnimer's Landing Baker's Shop at 2 as the elves reckon time.