Something about mana I've always wondered

I just love the way he so nonchalantly continues the conversation after a six-year gap.
Well, Diavolo Rosso sent me a private message asking for help finding a thread he had read before where I described how the spell spheres would influence one's personality. I tried to find it for him, but failed as the search function in this forum has a limit on how many post it will show and I'd made too many between then and now. I then came across this one when Diavolo Rosso performed thread necromancy. Having read that I'd written such a poor explanation of the meaning of life, I corrected it in a PM which he decided to share here. Since then I've just been responding to questions.

As for the last questions, I'm not sure I have great answers but I can venture some guesses.

The Ashes of Brigdarrow actually calls Varn's people simply "elves" far more often than it calls them "Once Elves." A Ljosalfar character quotes the name as something he remembers reading one one of his people's maps, and then the narrator uses the term 3 times near the very end of the story. When actually interacting with the Once Elf characters, they just call them elves.

The term "Once Elves" seems to be an exonym which the Ljosalfar used to refer to the group. This is probably a mildly insulting term used to acknowledge that this people has elven ancestry while denying that they can really qualify as elves themselves. They may have elven bodies, but to the rest of the elven community they are outsiders who might as well be mere humans.

Both the Ljosalfar and the Svartalfar insist that there is only one elven nation. They share a strong sense of cultural identity and insist that the other group belongs to the same polity even if they are deluded into following a rebel government. (For a real world comparison, refer to the conflict between the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China.) Both of the Ljosalfar and Svartalfar are proud of their noble elven language and strive to keep it pure. They may learn other languages to interact with foreigners (as that is better than allowing foreigners to understand your private conversations and insult your tongue with their horrible mispronunciations), but they consider those tongues inferior and would never use them as their primary means of communication amongst themselves. It would be completely inappropriate to use a lesser tongue as a way of expressing the sacred songs and legends that form the heart of their cultural identity.

The One Elves have completely abandoned their ancestors' mother tongue, and all the traditions that go with it. Perhaps some scholars among them can still decipher and translate the classical elvish literature for academic purposes, but none of them are native speakers who naturally think in such a way. The language of the Once Elves is Classical Patrian, the common language of the human empire which Kylorin ruled. That basically means to other elves that the denizens of Barathrum may be elven on the outside but they're human on the inside.

We know that Arak the Erkling (Varn's and Haerlon's father) had no loyalty to either the Seelie or Unseelie Courts, and that he did not care about the worship of either Succellus or Esus. It would be hard to be so neutral if he grew up in the Umbrawood, so I suspect he came instead from a community of elves that lived within the borders of Patria and was mostly assimilated to the surrounding human culture. Whether or not the soldiers of his mercenary band had been raised among humans, they did serve mostly human clients and so would find Patrian a more useful language.

To the other elves, Once Elves may have already been Once Elves before they had any dealings with Laroth or the Netherworld.

The Once Elves are not dead and it is unclear if they were significantly changed by their sojourn in the Netherworld. They were however changed by spending centuries in the Shadow Rift, where neither the sun nor moon ever shined. It wasn't pitch black, as they had bioluminescent fungus as well as a large fire burning atop a watch tower, but it was dark enough that these elves became paler than even the palest of the Svartalfar.

According to Lyrr (the Ljosalfar boy in Auric's party), the Once Elves are friendly but very private. They not part of the elven nation and have never been known to set foot outside of the Whispering Wood. They really don't even go that far, as the Whispering Wood is but a barrier around the Well of Shadows, the actual passage to their liminal kingdom. This misty dead forest is under a "widdershins curse," a magical spell which disorients anyone passing through so that they walk in circles and get lost. Auric Ulvin's innate magical abilities allowed him to experience the curse like an audible voice telling him to go the wrong way rather that unconsciously changing his sense of direction, and he managed to use a mana source like a compass to keep him oriented. Waldrun claimed that that was impossible, and did not think anyone could overcome the curse without the proper charm meant to counteract it. Kael said that the Once Elves gave several of those charms to the Ljosalfar in order to allow caravans of merchants and scholars to come visit on occasion. He was not quite clear how they first got them the charms without entering Erebus itself. I would guess that Once Elf sorcerers were tasked with casting the widdershins curse after the first outsider found them, and gave that first visitor a few counter charms in order to allow only limited interaction. Lyrr was never part of an official caravan and he knew nothing about the charms. He was just a boy out adventuring on his own, who had seen something interesting on a map and wanted to prove his bravery by investigating it. The widdershins curse sent him so far off course that he got captured by goblins. If they weren't busy saving him though, Auric and his friends would have been killed by those goblins along with the rest of Brigdarrow.

Kael never made it very clear why the Once Elves established a law forbidding anyone that had seen the Netherworld from returning to Erebus, but they took that rule very seriously.

I presume that they still feared the power of Laroth, and thought that anyone who might have been touched by his power was a threat to the world. They could not even trust themselves as Laroth was so good at manipulation that he might compel wicked deeds from someone with no conscious knowledge of what he was doing. As much as Haerlond trusted Waldrun, he did not trust him enough to let him bend that law. Waldrun may have commanded the guards, but the guards knew that orders contrary to that law should never be obeyed and would arrest their commander if he broke it.

Even separate from Laroth, there may be many evil things vanquished in the past which would love a chance to escape back into Erebus. Perhaps even the realized nightmares of the wicked dead could even move beyond the world of dreams. (As you may recall, the environs of the Netherworld are generated by its inhabitants subconsciouses. Those who deep down believe themselves worthy of punishment may create some true terrors to punish them.)

There are artifacts which have been taken from the Netherworld which could cause great harm. In addition to books written by the dead, the Once Elves brought the Heartstone with them. This petrified heart of Anesidora (the first woman after Gabella) was stolen by Gosea the Dwindling for some very nefarious purposes. It probably has something to do with ending the word. The Once Elves were very upset when it went missing, and they may suspect that there are even more dangerous items which could find their way from the netherworld to Erebus too. The existence of the Netherblade makes this worry quite reasonable.

It is also possible that they feared Basium, as it was the archangel of life who was supposed to be responsible for guarding the passages back into the world of the living. Kael did say that Basium tried to exterminate the Sidar at one point, and was restrained only by his twin sister (the archangel of Death) Gyra's intervention on their behalf. It could be that he recognized a taint from the netherworld and thought it needed destroying. Although Gyra is practically the only one who is seriously trying to fight against Laroth and the Sidar are unwitting helping him, Gyra thinks that innocents who revere her god deserve protection.

It is hard to say what exactly happens when shades die. We do know that those who become shades tend to loose their willpower over time, continuing to do what was once their passion only out of habit. The death sphere becomes strong in them, leaving them little better than the bulk of the spirits in the netherworld even if they remain in Erebus. Laroth is specifically trying to recruit those with great strength of will, who are willing to resist the temptation to surrender to the dream world. You could say that the heroic sort of souls he needs to fight against the god of death are those strong in the precept of life even after death. I don't think that many shades would be of much use as foot soldiers in Laroth's army, so I assume they are of more use as way to power his weapons. Perhaps the willpower siphoned from them before death could be transferred to those already dead to swell his army that way.
And thanks for that MC. Answered my questions completely. I am an adept at necromancy, and nonchalance is one of my spells.

So a few more questions: I was thinking about how it might be interesting to make a storyline, entitled "Rise from Hell." The premise being Bhall entering Erebus as Mulcarn did. Could Bhall, as the god of fire and passion, ever be goaded into entering Erebus? Would it take a god's doing, or could a mortal perhaps bring this about? Then, assuming she had sufficient motive to do so, can she enter creation at a whim? At the signing of the compact the gods agreed to withdraw from creation, and coming back would make them slayable by the godslayer, implying they can re-enter. However, Mulcarn only entered creation because the Illians performed a ritual. Does this mean Mulcarn was summoned against his will, or wanted to crash the party but needed the ritual to do so?

EDIT: Been combing the forum for old lore, Magister stated earlier that Mulcarn openly and purposefully violated the Compact. Still leaves me wondering though whether they need to be summoned by mortals to enter creation, because it seems that they shouldn't need to be summoned as entering Erebus is a violation, where as a ritual almost sounds like following the rules.
Felt this deserved another post instead of an edit.

Been combing the forums for lore and found the answer to the question about Mulcarn:

MagisterCultuum said:
Also, it has been stated that until Trenton Mojosi discovered the ritual (which he would have used to summon Dannalin to save his beloved Aifons, but was too afraid that it would start a new godswar), it was thought to be impossible for a god to enter creation at all.

Also another question, this time bringing the this thread full circle I think due to the thread name. Here goes:

The mana resources look like giant crystals, I've read the pedia entry about Belenus and his fire gem, so I know that mana can crystallize, however the mana in the game looks proportionally gigantic. How large would a crystallized mana deposit be? or is this just a game mechanic that doesn't resemble the lore well, if so are there particular environments where crystallized mana is naturally found?
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