Full Name: Elvmere of Abaef
Species: Theriomorph (raccoon) and Avatar of Metamor
Allegiances: Kyia, all Followers of Eli, and the Lothanasi
Religion: Follower, no formal denominational ties
Social Status: 6 (no regular salary; draws on Imperial expense account as needed)
Age: ~1350 as of 1999
Eyes: Dark Brown
Fur: Brownish-gray, with black "mask" as usual for raccoons
Height: 165 cm (5'5")
Physical Notes: Appears as a raccoon morph in the latter years of middle age, with white hairs creeping in among the brown around his mouth, ears and paws. In generally good shape for his (apparent) age, but very unimposing in appearance.
Behavioral Notes: Very courteous, but enjoys scholarly and theological debates. More likely to answer a question with another question than with a declarative statement. Never loses his temper; he carries an air of peace and restfulness around with him, and can often calm an angry person with just a few words.
Supernatural Abilities: Standard avatar abilities, including immortality; clerical powers as a priest of Eli, including supernatural healing and the ability to "turn" or destroy undead creatures.
Once, long ago, Elvmere was an acolyte in the Lothanasi Order at Metamor Keep. Before that, he was a bishop of the Ecclesia from the city of Abaef, in the Holy Land, though in those days he was known by another name that has long since been lost to history. Elvmere has walked a stranger path than most in the world, and has been called father, teacher, traitor and apostate by a greater variety of people than perhaps any other man in history. There are few today who know his name, and fewer still who know that he is an Immortal, but this quiet and unassuming man is one of the chief players in a battle for the souls of mankind that has been raging for centuries. He is, in the words of Rickkter, "probably the most important person in the world that nobody's ever heard of."
Elvmere's most important job is to keep track of potential candidates who seem likely to become the Key, the person prophesied by Zhypar Habakkuk who would destroy the dark wizard Nasoj once and for all. Elvmere studies genealogies and news reports, looking for candidates who possess the proper mix of bloodlines; this research, combined with frequent prayer and meditation, leads him to identify the individual or individuals he considers most likely, in any given generation, to become the Key. He then passes this information on to others, especially Murikeer, who make contact with the candidate and begins teaching, training, and testing them, judging their fitness to become the Key (and, also, the likelihood that they will become the villainous host for Nasoj known as the Vessel).
Thus far, of course, all of Elvmere's guesses about candidates have turned out to be wrong, since the Key has not yet appeared. However, he has most recently identified Kathryn Kitaen, an MCPD detective, as the current candidate most likely to become the Key ... and this time, he's actually going to be proven right.
Elvmere also serves as the "conscience of the Way of Eli", a spiritual advisor to the Followers of the world. His history (see below) gives him influence with both the Meraists and the Ecclesia, but he is not a part of the priesthood of either church; rather, he helps to guard all churchs against wandering too far from the faith, and works to promote mutual understanding and cooperation in hopes of eventually reuniting all Followers under the Holy Mother Ecclesia. He takes many guises in pursuit of this work, changing his identity every few decades, but he always serves as a voice of compassion, reason and godly devotion in the midst of the Follower sects' frequent disagreements.
Elvmere currently lives in the Citadel of Metamor, where he keeps out of the public eye while staying in regular contact with Merai and the other Immortals. He is particularly close to Majestic Kyia; he knows her more fully than perhaps any other human being, and the relationship between them is an odd one. They spend much time in each other's company, treat each other with great fondness and affection, know each other as intimately as husband and wife -- and yet their relationship is completely platonic and chaste, without a hint of sexuality. Many reporters who catch glimpses of Elvmere with Kyia incorrectly assume that he is Kyia's consort, leading to much speculation about why the Majestrix has never had children. Kyia is content to smile and let the reporters guess and gossip, knowing they would never understand the connection Kyia and Elvmere have even if they were told the truth.
Elvmere's role in the broader events of history came when he visited Metamor Keep in 706 CR as an assistant to Patriarch Akabaieth. It was the first time a patriarch of the Ecclesia had visited the city where the Lothanasi had been founded, the first time one had met with a High Priestess of the Lothanasi Order, and the first time any foreigner of such prominence had visited the city since the coming of the Curse. Tragically, Akabaieth died hours after leaving Metamor Keep when his caravan was attacked by Southlander assassins; Elvmere survived, but was gravely injured, and had to be taken back to the Keep for healing. It was there that he was claimed by the Curse and transformed into a raccoon theriomorph, a change that also restored his body to youthful health and vitality.
Elvmere's coming to Metamor was noticed in particular by Kyia, who in those days seldom revealed herself to the Keep's inhabitants. Kyia had been following current events and was aware of the incredible religious tension that surrounded Akabaieth's visit to Metamor; listening in on Akabaieth's private meetings with Lothanasa Raven hin'Elric, she knew that a deeper understanding was needed between Followers and Lightbringers if there was to be any hope of lasting peace. She took an immediate liking to the Patriarch and respected him, but Akabaieth was old and would not have lived many more years, even had he not been killed. She knew that the path toward real understanding between the two faiths would need to be made not by Akabaieth himself, but by one of his aides. Watching their interactions with the patriarch, she knew that Elvmere was the best candidate for the difficult work ahead.
Kyia was also aware of a prophecy, made centuries before, of an individual known as The Son, who would be a contemporary of the Starchild and play a part in the events surrounding her great work. The Son, the prophecy said, would "walk two paths and join them in himself", which Kyia felt sure must refer to the sort of reconcilation she hope for between Followers and Lightbringers. Seeing how Akabaieth related to Elvmere, like a father to his son, Kyia sensed that this was the man the prophecy had spoken of.
Kyia reached out to Elvmere in his dreams, keeping her identity veiled in mystery until she could be certain of whether she was right about him. She gave him the name "Elvmere" herself, a name taken from the Old Tongue of the Midlands -- the ritual language of the Lothanasi. He did not adopt it for himself until after the patriarch's death, when he was given a new face and body by the Curse. Even then, it was nearly three months before he revealed that he was, in fact, the same man who had been the bishop of Abaef. It was only the beginning of Elvmere's work.
Elvmere's early years at Metamor were surrounded with uncertainty about his religious status. While he might once have been a candidate for patriarch, his transformation utterly removed that as a possibility, for most of the Ecclesia still looked on Metamor as cursed by Eli. Akabaieth's successor, Patriarch Geshter, excommunicated Elvmere while under the influence of Chateau Marzac, the same demonic force that had orchestrated Akabaieth's death. Elvmere had nowhere to go home to.
Still, though shaken, Elvmere did not lose hope. He was loyal to the Ecclesia even in his excommunication; since he believed that the Holy Mother Church was the only proper church in the Kingdom of Eli, he did not join one of the Rebuilder factions that practiced their faith at Metamor, though he surely would have been welcome in them. Instead, he went to Lothanasa Raven hin'Elric, and -- to her complete surprise -- asked to be admitted as an acolyte in the Lightbringer Order. He felt sure that Eli had some lesson for him to learn during this sojourn in the wilderness, and he believed that the Lothanasi Order was the only proper place for him to be.
After an initial period of probation and testing, in which Raven and Merai examined him minutely for any trace of duplicity, they eventually realized that he was sincere and began to assign him more significant work within the Order. Raven gave him the most important task of all: as a bishop who had been in the highest circles of the Ecclesia, Elvmere possessed invaluable intelligence on the structure, tactics, philosophy and resources of the Holy Mother Church. Since the threat of war was looming between the two religions -- with various nations and empires serving as the proxies for both sides -- Raven knew that it would be essential to know how Yesulam operated if they were to avoid unnecessary conflict between the two faiths. Elvmere's knowledge became even more important during the Lothanasi Reformation following Great Fall; with his help, Raven was able to anticipate and counter a number of attempts by the Ecclesia to destabilize the Lightbringers during this fragile period, thus preventing a total collapse of the Lothanasi Order (and the war for earthly conquest that would have inevitably followed).
It would be years before anyone in the Ecclesia discovered how the Lightbringers had learned of their tactics, but when they did there were many who reviled Elvmere as the worst sort of traitor. It would be decades more before they understood his reasons: since Eli had orchestrated events so that Elvmere had nowhere left to go but the Lothanasi, he naturally deduced that Eli wanted the Lothanasi to survive for some great work that still lay before them. He also recognized, long before most others, that the Kingdom of Eli was a heavenly kingdom, not an earthly one; the church's meddling in earthly politics was unhealthy for both the church and the state. A victorious war of conquest over the Lothanasi would have given the leaders of the Ecclesia exactly the wrong message, that violence and bloodshed were the tools by which Eli's kingdom would grow. Elvmere knew that the Ecclesia must learn that Eli's kingdom was to be built in peace and love, not in war. Elvmere was eventually exonerated for his actions, receiving a full Apostolic Pardon from the patriarch, but he never rejoined the priesthood of the Ecclesia.
Elvmere's presence at Metamor also prepared him to assist in another pivotal event of Western history. Having gained the trust of the Lightbringers at Metamor, he became quite close to Merai hin'Dana, the young priestess who would become the Starchild. Merai was developing a growing interest in Eli, which was sealed when Yahshua appeared to Merai in a vision shortly before the Battle of the Starchild. It was this divine revelation that led Merai to instigate the Great Fall, declaring unequivocally that Eli was the Creator-god Iluvatar.
In the wake of the Great Fall, as the Reformation of the Lothanasi began, Merai assumed that her profound revelation would form the foundation of the new Lothanasi Order. While Lightbringers could not accept the Ecclesia outright, due to a boatload of cultural and theological baggage being carried by both sides, Merai felt sure that the two faiths could at least agree that Eli was the supreme lord of the universe. To her shock, however, Raven and the other high priests of the Order downplayed her great revelation, stating that she had seen Iluvatar but that the Creator's majesty was impossible for the human mind to comprehend without fabricating some sort of structure to define it. To their minds, Merai saw Iluvatar as Eli because she had already been predisposed to perceive Him in that way; her vision was, in essence, a hallucination triggered by her encounter with the Ineffable.
Merai saw this repudiation of her vision as the worst sort of betrayal and seethed with anger, most particularly toward Raven. It was Elvmere who took her aside and drew a comparison to his own excommunication: that event had also seemed unjust, but it had opened the door for Eli to teach him things that he otherwise would never have understood. If the Order no longer held the answers Merai was looking for, and refused to walk with her down the path she believed was right, then perhaps it was necessary for her to walk her own path for a time, so that she could find whatever Eli intended for her to learn at this stage in her life.
Merai took Elvmere's advice to heart and left Metamor, joining Akkala, Velena and Artela on a journey through the lands of the West. It would be years before she reconciled with Raven, but during that time she maintained a correspondence with Elvmere in which she shared the thoughts and ideas sparked by her travels and he helped her to sharpen and refine her thinking. They often disagreed on particulars, and Merai identified many points of Ecclesiast doctrine that she felt to be theologically unsound, but their back-and-forth exchanges helped Merai to develop a coherent philosophy for what she felt a church of Eli should be for her people, in their particular setting and culture. She compiled writings of Ecclesiast saints and patriarchs and Lightbringer sages, along with reams of her own notes. Even after she reconciled with Raven and returned to the Northern Midlands, taking on the role of the Lightbringer priestess at Sorin, Merai continued to develop her model of what the church of Eli should be, aided by numerous visits from Elvmere (which invariably turned into doctrinal or philosophical debates). Her agreement with Raven gave Merai permission to spread her ideas as she wished, and by the time she reached her mid-forties she had already gathered a small but ardent following, and her collection of writings was being copied and passed around the community. A copy eventually found its way to the University of Ellcaran, where an unknown publisher began distributing it broadly as the Codex of Merai.
Elvmere thus, quite accidentally, was a central figure in the creation of what would eventually be called the Church of St. Merai. While he never supported Merai's idea of setting up a new church of Followers outside the Ecclesia, he eventually recognized that Merai had brought many to faith in Yahshua who would never have been able to embrace the Ecclesia at that time, due to the cultural differences between the North and South. Elvmere still believes, however, that the Meraist Church is only an intermediate step in Eli's grand design, and that the churches will eventually be reunited into one Body. (Merai has applauded his optimism but wryly advised him not to hold his breath.)
After the death of Merai's husband, Calvis, Merai returned to Metamor Keep at Kyia's request. Soon thereafter she received a prophetic message from Eli that she must remain on the Earth until the prophecies of the Felikaush were fulfilled. Since the only such prophecies that remained unfulfilled were Zhypar's Last Prophecy and the last few stanzas of the Prophecy of Felix itself, Merai knew that this meant that she was to remain alive until Nasoj was defeated for good. Since there was no telling how long it would take -- and Zhypar's words indicated that it would be a very long time -- Merai allowed Kyia to make her into an avatar, keeping her immortal and unaging until the prophecies were fulfilled. Elvmere soon received similar instructions from Eli, as well, and Kyia made him, too, into an avatar of sorts.
As the three talked over their various feelings on the subject, it was decided that Elvmere would take responsibility for watching out for potential candidates for the Key and the Vessel, to train the Key in his or her duties when s/he came. In order to prevent destiny from being tampered with through manipulation of bloodlines, they kept their work secret from the rest of the world, recording genealogies without ever telling anyone the purpose for them. Elvmere also promised to keep an eye on the Ecclesia, and give them occasional words of guidance if they seemed to wander from Eli's path. Merai, in turn, would watch over the Lothanasi (and eventually the Meraist Church), while Kyia would assume responsibility for the secular realm of Metamor and its territories. This pact has held firm to this day, and while Merai and Elvmere continue to debate theology and philosophy almost endlessly, they remain fast friends.