The Theran Empire had developed the Rites of Protection and Passage as a means to defend against the impending Scourge. The central idea of the Rites involved the creation of shelters, named kaers, in which Namegivers were to live to protect themselves from the Horrors during that time.
However not all realms accepted aid from Thera, for varying reasons. Queen Alachia, the ruler of the Elven Court at Wyrm Wood, rejected the Theran Rites and tasked her Warders with the construction of a kaer of their own devising (precipitating what came to be known as the Elven Schism).
A large kaer made from True wood was constructed to accommodate the elves of the Court. During the height of the Scourge however, the defences of the kaer began to fail. The panicked inhabitants were desperate for a means to escape their fate at the claws of the Horrors. Their Queen again turned to her Warders for a solution.
Research into the nature of the Horrors indicated that the actual act of causing pain and suffering was somehow related to how they functioned. The Warders theorised that the Horrors would not derive any sustenance, or at least pleasure, from a victim that was already suffering. They proposed enacting a ritual fuelled by blood magic that would leave the elves of the Court in constant pain, thereby averting the attention of the most sinister of Horrors.
That ritual, which came to be known as the Ritual of Thorns, was at first rejected by the Queen, but eventually accepted when it became clear there was no other recourse available. The Ritual functioned as theorised, and the more depraved and dangerous of the Horrors ceased to assail the elves within the kaer.
Ritual and blood magic can have far-reaching repercussions, and the Ritual of Thorns is no exception. The Ritual altered the true pattern of Wyrm Wood, and it is now known as Blood Wood.
Nature of the RitualEdit
The Ritual involves binding a plant spirit with the pattern of a Name-giver. Thorns grow from within the body through the flesh of the of the recipient, inflicting perpetual agony and causing a slow stream of blood to coalesce from the wounds and drip from the thorns. The Ritual kills many that undergo it, either through the physical trauma that it causes or the mental anguish that drives many to take their own lives. It does, however, provide some form of protection against those Horrors that appear to subsist on suffering.
Within the Court, elves that have undergone the Ritual are considered ‘Protected’, while those outside the Blood Wood are referred to as ‘Unprotected’. Outside of the Wood, elves that have undertaken the ritual are considered corrupted by most of the populace, and are referred to as Blood Elves.