Author: Matron Selidhn
Source: Academy of Learning of Riverhaven
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Beginnings and Myths
The Time of Sorrows
The Time of the Clans
City (Celestial) Elves
[Most of the research for the following text was taken from the Elven oral history, which is inevitably performed in songs, chants, dances, plays, or a combination of all four.
It is rare to hear an Elven sage speak of their history at any length in anything less than a well-organized recitation.
Perhaps this can be credited to the incredibly liquid and musical language of the Elven people, or perhaps this oral tradition is what has caused their language to be, essentially, spoken lyrics.]
I shall begin as all Elven kind begin. I am Matron Selidhn, daughter of Matron Ivydh, who is the daughter of Matron Eivyshay, who was the daughter of Matron Kalish, who was the daughter of the Two known as Mother Celestidhl and Father Keloryon, who all Elven kin are children of. I have written many times of the Elven history, and chanted with some of the First. I have drunk from the dream smoke that the World Dragon exudes through Its celestial maw, and tasted the sweet berries that hang from the jewel trees. I have listened to the lilting song of the Phoenix, touched the silver mane of the Unicorn in my youth, and seen the place where the shells of the Fourth Moon fell when it hatched in the Eastern Sky. My Tapestry is well-woven and rich, but not nearly done.
[*] Matron does not denote social status, but rather that the person in question has had children or has been a foster parent. Since Elves cannot have children until they are at least forty, and since many do not have any until they are one hundred and fifty -- and any birthing amongst Elven people, or the caretaking of any child for that matter, is a great honor -- this is a distinguishing title.
Since Elven children usually stay with their mother -- and since "the one who carries" is often thought of as the one whom the child "belongs" to -- most family lines are traced through the mother's lineage rather than the father's.
I have seen Sorril Fade.
I have heard Kanton's death cry.
I have lived through the Elven-Human wars and cried as I heard the tale of the Mountain Elves and their betrayal. I am a daughter of the ones who are known as the Celestial Clan -- we who watch the stars from high towers in great cities. I am rich in knowledge. In the years of my living I have seen many who have not understood my people, or myself. They find my tongue hard to master, and will not sit through our songs, which even the briefest ones they call lengthy. So it is with great difficulty that I lay down much of what I have learned as a sage in this format that is most appealing to those who are not of Elven kin. I entrust much of what I write to my good friend Chante, who, though mortal, has an eye for the way I will want my tale told, and may well write said tale in the format I desire. His comments are within the odd markings I believe he calls "brackets" [yes, that's what they're called].
I shall Begin with the Beginning, for that is where all Elven children learn first.
BEGINNINGS AND MYTHS (approx. 3000 years)
The Gods were most careful with us when we were first created. We were not created in large quantities, but rather two were crafted -- the ones known as Mother Celestidhl and Father Keloryon [hereafter Mother and Father] -- to start our species.
Within the green of the forests the Mother and Father spent much of their time, laughing and singing to one another, content in their joy and happiness.
It is because there were initially only Two that we Elves number so few; that, and our often infertile bodies do not produce children quite as adequately as the Humans or Gor'Tog.
The War of Tears [or the Elven-Human War] also greatly crippled us, but never fear.
We prevail doubtless.
The Mother and Father were the longest lived of us all, and the Mother was nearly a thousand when she had her first child. This child's name was Avaric, and he was perhaps the bravest of all the Mother and Father's children. After that came some twenty others, each gloriously beautiful in the eyes of their great parents, each raised with the lavish love and care of the Two. Time, however, is a steady mistress, and the children soon grew and spread out into the world. Many of them married humans, and hereforth something odd happened when these couples had children. Rather than coming out as a hybrid of their parents, the resulting children were invariably always EXACTLY like their Elven parent, or EXACTLY like their Human parent. This truth is one of the reasons Elves often disliked the Dragon Priests. That they would even SUGGEST that Elotheans were really half-Human, half-Elven children is ridiculous.
Now, by exactly I do not mean completely similar in likeness, but rather in species; a child who looked like his or her Human parent never had pointed ears and slanted eyes, nor did his or her children, nor did they live long lives. They were as their mortal parent; brief.
This began the beginning of the Time of Sorrows, which I will speak of, but first I must tell of the Fading.
The Mother and Father watched their many, many children prosper and breed, spreading more and more of the Elven kind across the lands. They smiled at their grandchildren and rejoiced at the formation of the many Clans. But as they watched their children leave them, they felt a great sorrow, a weariness of the heart. Their lives had been long, and slowly now they were beginning to feel they were no longer needed here, and that it was time to...move on.
The Father was hunting one day when he happened upon a tribe of Dwarves. Cruel creatures that they were, they accused him of killing one of their "prey" (a deer they could never have possibly brought down) and when the Father showed his pride and pronounced them liars, they fell upon him and killed him, rending his body into many pieces and setting those pieces to the winds.
The Mother Felt her beloved's death, and in anguish found the remains of his body. Fierce was the vengeance of her children, who hunted down the wicked tribe of Dwarves and killed them. The Dwarves, when they saw their cousins killed and witnessed the terrible anger of the Elves, fled into the mountains and buried themselves inside prisons of stone, living in eternal fear of the Elves. And this is why Elves do not like Dwarves. [I must note here that the Dwarven version of this story is significantly different, but since this is not my place to tell it, I will leave it to you, dear reader, to learn the truth yourself.]
The Mother saw her beloved buried, and then turned from her children, who wept bitterly for the loss of their Father. Silently she passed into the woods, and there it is said -- as her silver tears passed down her cheeks -- she Faded into the stillness of the forest, vanishing before her children's very eyes. No longer possessed of the will to live, she passed forever from the denizens of Elanthia.
The time soon after the death of the Two became known as the Time of Sorrows.
THE TIME OF SORROWS (approx. 1000 years)
Many of the Two's children learned the pain of living at this time when the ones they had called beloved -- mostly Humans -- flickered out of living.
It was a painful reality that shocked and hurt them when they saw their own children or grandchildren die of old age.
For this reason, Elves began to move away from the Humans, the Elotheans, the Halflings, the S'kra, and the Gor'Tog.
They could not bear to watch as those they cared for died, and the only other species that lived as long as they were the Dwarves, who they could care less if they lived or died.
Even isolated, the children of the Mother and the Father continued prospering, and began to organize their own clans. Because we do not like to dwell on the Time of Sorrows, I shall endeavor to move on to the clans.
THE TIME OF THE CLANS (current)
I shall tell now of each clan: their past, and some of their present.
Forest Elves - Sometimes known as the "Silent", the Forest Elves are perhaps some of the most numerous and least industrious of the Folk. It is hard to tell the true number of all the Forest Elves, but it is figured that they number well into the thousands of thousands. Since they fade so easily into the backdrop of the sylvan they live in, keeping a head count is obviously difficult.
Sturdy and tall, Forest Elves invariably dress in browns and greens and tans, and are rarely seen outside a forest. Ancient Leth Deriel was partially created by them that they might have a home during peacetimes and a fortress during wartime.
The Forest Elves are the natural "offshoot" of the Two, since those founding parents greatly preferred the woods to the city. Their leaders have varied over the years due to their involvements with various skirmishes and wars, and they were heavily involved with the War of Tears.
Their leader is currently an Elder Elf named Fiandehn, who is the great-grandson of the Two's first son.
River Elves - Perhaps the most curious of the Elven people, the River Elves roam over the waters of Elanthia on the backs of great boats and skiffs.
Sometimes called the "Floaters", their Elven name means "Wayward Flowers on the Cool Currents". River Elves are great traders, but are often mercurial and not fond of worldly things such as war and politics.
Their allies are, oddly enough, the Halflings, who share their free-spirited heart.
Wiry and thin, River Elves have darkened skin and sandy blonde hair. Often seen wearing the takbahn (a type of straw hat designed so the wind will not sweep it from their brow), the Floaters do not wear shoes often, and a River Elf is lucky to touch down on land for more than an hour in his or her long life. They tend to be shorter than other Elves, which has been speculated to be the cause of too much fish in their diet. Untrue to popular belief, River Elves do not have gills or fins.
River Elves are good friends with the merfolk. A ship crafted by a River Elf is a masterpiece of Elven workmanship; to be given one as a gift is as great an honor as a suit of armor from the Mountain King. River Elves are the only species on Elanthia who know what lies on the other side of the great white and blue waves.
Their current leader is an Elven woman named Truly T'neir, granddaughter of the Two's fourth child, Rili'ki.
Wind Elves - So called for the windy plains they reside in, the Wind Elves can fade into invisibility amongst the grasses.
Fierce in battle with a paired spear and handaxe, the Wind Elves are often quiet people who do not speak unless they feel they have something to say.
They are sometimes called Catwalkers for their silent strides.
Wind Elves are hearty folk with tanned skin. Tall and slender, they frequently dress in soft and pliable deerskin garments. With feathers and beads braided into their hair, and their faces painted in wild colors, they can present a formidable scene to the naive. In truth, their softspokenness belies a gentle spirit and a strong grounding in common sense. A clan of Catwalkers have been known to follow a caravan of traders within their territory for a hundred miles without once being noticed. Wind Elves are master horse breeders; Horse Clan is an offshoot of this clan.
Wind Elves were top scouts and hunters during the turbulent years before the Seven Star Empire, and several of the Catwalkers weakened the Dragon Priest lines during Dzree's War. Unlike other Elven clans, Wind Elves choose their names to emulate a mental image, and many of them will have sometimes up to five names in their lifetime, depending on how many changes their life goes through. They typically keep one name as their "heart name"; the name loved ones and close comrades will know them by. For a Wind Elf to give out his or her "heart name" to another person who is not of the clan is a rare honor.
Their current leader is actually two -- a husband and wife (who take the honorary title of Mother and Father to the clan) by the names of Falcon and Bright. They are both great-grandchildren of the original Mother and Father.
Mountain Elves - Perhaps the most political and devious of the Elves, the tale of the Mountain Elves is the most sorrowful of all the clans.
The Mountain Elves did not always reside in the dark holds of the Spine Mountains. Originally, they were an offshoot of the Wind Clan, wild and free on the Plains of Elanthia. Innocent they were, and they flourished as they fed on the creatures of the grasslands and lived their quiet lives. But Dwarves, still smarting over the slap on the wrists that the Father's children had dealt them, sought vengeance, and when they found the innocuous clan one day, they did the unspeakable.
Luring them into their mountains with promises of a truce, the Mountain Elves went happily, entranced by the idea of peace at last. But peace they did not find. As their chieftains went to speak to the Dwarven Mountain King, the artisans of the Clan were poisoned where they feasted on breakfast and the warriors slain as they moved through the halls toward the meeting. Only the children remained, and these the Dwarves carried off and threw deep into the dark bowels of the Mountains.
The children were raised to accept their lot as servants to the Dwarves. Greedy creatures that they were, the Dwarves believed they had enslaved their age-old enemy. But they discounted the memory of the Elven folk, and especially the memory of a young Elven child by the name of Morganae.
Silently seething as a mere servant, she bided her time, growing into beauty and personal power as the Dwarves grew fat and lazy. One day, one hundred and fifty years after the Outrage (as she came to call it), she began her own slow poisoning. She told tales of the great tragedies that had descended on them, and in the eyes of some who could still remember sparked a fire, bright as the sun they had not seen for nearly two centuries. Now that they had grown in numbers, the time had come.
At Night's Vigil, she and several others took up their hammers and chisels, and slew the Dwarves who had been their overseers. Taken off guard, the once-slaves took up the weapons of their enslavers and destroyed all within the Mountain -- men, women, and children. The Mountain King Morganae executed personally -- slowly.
With the Mountain King's crown now beaten into a thin gold circlet, the self-proclaimed Queen of the Mountain Elves turned her eyes toward the world she had been forced to forget so many years ago. But time had changed her, and changed her brethren. Many of the Elves found the sunlight intolerable, to the point where they simply could not venture out into the light without crying out in pain. A few of the more sturdy left, forming the loose collaboration of folk known as the Bone Elves.
Realizing she could never return to the days of old, realizing she no longer even desired to go back to that way of life, Morganae encouraged her people to learn how to shape the rocks, just as they had once learned to sculpt trees. From the ore of the rich mountains they mined metals and gems. The found beauty in the stalactites of the deep, secretive caves and formed out of quarry and minerals cities and villages of graceful stone.
But bitterness at the life they had once led remained embedded in the Elven hearts, and perhaps this is what gnaws at the Mountain Elves, twisting them politically and ethically. Morganae has had numerous assassination attempts on her persons in her life; she has killed two of her own children who aspired to take her throne before she wished to relinquish it. Morganae herself is as cold hearted as the cold mountains she dwells in. She has remained a steady control over the Mountain Elves over the many years of warfare and upheaval, and it is whispered that it was she who poisoned the Empire of the Seven-Pointed Star into chaos. Morganae (and all Mountain Elves, in fact) loves dabbling in politics, so long as she does not lose.
It was Morganae and the Eloth lord Corik who built the city of Shard many years ago; Morganae's design and materials, Corik's magic and lands. Morganae and her folk sometimes venture into the city to sell their wares, though this grows more and more infrequent as the Mountain Elves recede further away from the world they perceive as being against them.
Mountain Elves are commonly pale and thin with dark hair and eyes, although a child of summer season's hair or sky-colored eyes does appear from time to time. Black-hearted as the night, a Mountain Elf's devious mind is not to be trifled with.
Snow/Sand Elves - Fierce and savage, the Snow Elves -- like their counterparts, the Sand Elves -- are a vicious tribe of barbaric Elven folk.
In the case of the Snow Elves, they live in the cold tundras, believing that those who resort to cities or warmer climes are weaklings.
Snow Elf life is often short and cruel; dwelling in the wastes of the wind-torn snowfields, they have little room for art or love, instead living an existence that is wildly passionate in the knowledge that each moment could be the last.
Snow Elves do not often speak with foreigners, and disdain most of the other Elves.
They are frequently tall and stocky, with pale blonde hair and chapped skin.
Their leader is the great great great great great grandson of the Mother and Father, a barbarian chieftain named Trebar.
Sand Elves are almost exactly like Snow Elves in existence, living life in the parched and desolate deserts instead. Dealing with the sandstorms, the constant risk of dehydration, and the savage beasts of the dunes, the Sand Elves ride over the sands on the backs of giant packbeasts called the yeehar. Hardy and strong, the Sand Elves are usually tall and wiry with long black hair, ebon to mahogany skin, and bright (sometimes even blue) eyes. Their leader is the great great great granddaughter of the Mother and Father, a fierce warrior named Zeelah.
City (or Celestial) Elves - Not so much a clan as a designation, the City Elves (or Celestial, as they like to be called) is any Elf who no longer dwells in a clan.
Celestial Elves are who helped build Leth Deriel and who initially ruled Shard.
Celestial Elves commanded the Empire when the Empire still stood. Since they come from many varied clans, they do not have any particular appearance.
Celestial Elves are fairly recent, having existed officially since approximately fifty years before the arrival of the Seven Star Empire, a blink of an eye to an Elven Lorethew. Their leader is Nelix.
Bone Elves - Mysterious and feared, Bone Elves carry much of the anguish of the Mountain Elves and have converted it into bitterness and hate.
Bone Elves are necromancers and enchanters, destroying for the sake of destruction.
Bone Elves despise all things pure and are followers of Huldah and Harawep.
Perhaps most frightening is their ability to melt in amongst other Elves -- their only discerning feature is that they are very intolerant to alcohol and shun the light.
Bone Elves consort with the demonic creatures of other planes, and welcome all and any Elven "undesirables" into their clan, their leader is the original nemesis of Morganae -- an Elf named Sidhlot. Morganae despises Sidhlot since he is one of the first to challenge her "right" to rule the Mountain Elves, and he despises her because she has retained that right over the years. Sidhlot teaches much of his dark magic to the clan members, using this as a shield against dissension. Traitors to the clan are put to a slow, painful death, and their soul passed over to the demonic forces that Sidhlot has bargained with.
Bone Elves look like any other Elf.
End of the Account