Southeast of the Ilostrian Peninsula, west of Outremer, lies the elven nation of Nebka, said to be as old as the earth itself. When time began, the long-lived elves were among the first creatures to step blinking from their caves and into the gift of sentience, knowledge of the gods, and most importantly for the elves, knowledge of life and death. Couched in the fertile womb of the Iteru River Valley, Nebkan society ripened into one of the world’s first full-fledged civilizations a millennium before humans were burying their dead.
The exact age of Nebkan civilization is debated by scholars across the Ilostrian Empire but regarded as one of the Ineffable Mysteries by the elves. Deep within the Great Library of the Necropolis, written records from the earliest mortal dynasties exist that Nebkan scholars suggest are over ten thousand years old. While early examples of proto-Nebkan culture exist in some of these ancient writings, the Nebkan Empire as it exists today did not begin to take shape until the first Immortal Sovereign.
Approximately six thousand years ago, an elven priest and wizard, known as a wise man and a seer across all of the Iteru Rivery Valley, came to denounce the mortal dynasties. He argued that even the long-lived elves, still mortal, suffered the same shortsightedness, the same self-centeredness, the same narrowmindedness, that any living creature possesses. Living creatures are by their nature seekers of comfort and safety, and these desires were not congruent with the demands of leading a nation. Were not the gods immortal, unbound by petty concerns and fears? Did not the immortal gods posses a far-reaching vision tempered by the uncounted aeons of their divine existence? So should the rulers of elvenkind shirk the mortal coil and become unto gods, themselves. Thus, this elven wise man, his name now lost to the ages, sought a means for such a transformation. And while he did, his followers rose up against the mortal dyansties and cast them down into the sand. The wise man fasted and prayed, meditated and studied. He subjected himself to horrors of the body and the spirit and communed with powers beyond the ken of men even today. And while the ruins of the mortal dynasties smouldered, the Nebkan people waited. Tradition holds that it was finally during Calibration on his fiftieth year of searching that the wise man discovered his secret, straddling the fence between life and death and eventually overcoming the barrier.
The First Immortal Sovereign established a new government with himself at its undisputed head, serving as Priest-King and Chief Scholar in a land of priests and scholars. The rule of the Immortal Sovereign has lasted into the present day, with Nebka thriving under Their leadership.
It was during the reign of the Third Immortal Sovereign that Nebka established itself as a true empire, the armies of the elves subjugating various tribes of creatures in the Nabta jungle to the south and sending even greater forces across the Nebkan Strait to make war with the ancient human empire of Jedmet. Though Jedmet was at the time among the most advanced human civilizations in existence, they lacked the elves’ extensive understanding of of arcane magic and and so fell quickly to the invading Nebkan force. Some scholars believe refugees from the elven invasion of Jedmet may have been responsible for founding the first human settlements around present-day Ilium.
The Fifth Immortal Sovereign saw the Ilostrian invasion of Outremer, and it was They who many decades later established a lasting economic treaty with the Empire. The Sixth Immortal Sovereign, who still rules Nebka today, aided the Ilostrian Empire against the Golden Horde.
In modern times, Nebka is still a thriving and powerful center of scholarship, with the millennia-old wisdom of the Immortal Sovereign guiding them true on all matters foreign and domestic. While actively engaged in a war with the Taurogan Empire, Nebka proper has yet to feel truly threatened by the encroaching hobgoblin menace.
Some in Ilium claim the culture of Nebka is distasteful at best and blasphemous at worst, too obsessed with death to be considered truly of this world. Indeed, to an outsider, Nebka seems toritualize, even worship, some of the more macabre aspects of mortal existence. Grisly stories of dismembering corpses and temples guarded by the horrific walking dead are nothing new in Ilium, to say nothing for the wildly imaginative tales inspired by the Nebkan ruler, the Immortal Sovereign.
In truth, this aspect of Nebkan culture is scrutinized so strongly in Ilium because it is the most incongruent with Ilostrian social mores. Nebka does ritualize death and they do reanimate some of their dead, but at its core Nebkan culture is one of scholarship and piety. The Great Library of the Necropolis is only the most famous of many institutions of learning scattered across the Iteru River Valley, while the Great Pyramids, the Karnak Temples, the Great Lighthouse, and the Valley of the Sphinx all stand as testaments to the elven peoples’ extensive knowledge of mathematics and engineering, to say nothing for the vast piety that inspired the construction of such religious monuments.