- Editor's Note:** This article is currently raw text, cut-and-pasted from the Worldbook. It will be formatted and edited as soon as possible.
History of the Ylfshae In the Beginning History is supposedly the land of fact. But as with all things, one's perspective will divide what is factual from what is not. . . Perhaps the Real Elven History is nothing like any of us believes. That is for scholars to decide, and I am no scholar. From the Accounts of Janos Farstrider, Druid of the Shydal In the days of our ancestors, when the lands to the north of Novashan belonged to the Ylfshae, or Elven as they refer to themselves, those lands were known as the Emerald Kingdom of Ashan. Each of the Seven High Elven Clans claimed one Seat in the Grand High Council, which presided over the lands of the People. Their leader was chosen from among its members, and he was known as the Alari, Leader of the People. The Elves of Ashan embraced their lands, living in beauty and harmony. The wild Forest Elves nurtured the land, while those more civilized created vast sprawling cities filled with wondrous tiered and spired towers, crafted seemingly out of the living wood around them. Diverted streams provided wondrous fountains and running water through each city. Art and sculpture, statuary and gardens were unlike any seen by simple human eyes. They felt no lasting bond with the other younger races around them, as the lives of the people of Cro and Nilbog were fleeting. Their longer life spans made them view the other races as fickle, since bargains and treaties were long forgotten to their children, and children's children, before an Elven child could grow to adulthood. Wars were fought, but the Elven home remained inviolate, its glades foreboding, and its thickets impenetrable. Alas, Change comes to us all. The Time of Prophets The ancient history of my people is that simply to sum up, and no matter what other elves believe, in fact all elves are bound by the oldest Truth; birth, growth, decline, death and rot. From the earth we are, and to the earth we return. It just generally takes us longer to return there than others. From the Accounts of Janos Farstrider, Druid of the Shydal In the year 25000 in the Time of Prophets (T.P.), the two strongest clans, D’Kalin and D’Cyrion, joined to form a unified Elven nation. Seeing the prosperity that resulted, Clans D’Zandryn, D’Llythos, D’Traylin, D’Lyndalla and D’Wyndellin soon followed. After a rather lengthy debate, which spanned over 400 years, a monarchy was formed with the D’Cyrion chosen as the first Royal family of the Emerald Kingdom. United, the Clans become the Kingdom of Ashan. It is this great event, which the Elven chose to use at the beginning of the Time of Prophets. The Kingdom prospered under the leadership of the D'Cyrion royal family. Elven culture and art experienced a renaissance unlike anything that had come before. Joined together, the Clans were a strong people, and their peace lasted thousands of years. Nevertheless, unbeknownst to them, the children of Cro, Nilbog and Ergo used this time to practice the arts of war, mostly upon each other. Around 21400 T.P., a young Orc leader of surpassing skill and leadership by the name Sturm'ha was born. He was inspired by the glimpses of Elven culture he gleaned from the small border raids often made by his people into Elven lands, unlike others of his race. He had a vision, of Orcs rising to seize the lands of their proud neighbors to the west, and of calling himself King. He named himself Sturm'ha 'Duhla, and became the first king of the humanoid races. He gathered his forces, and attacked the Elves en mass, sparking the First Orc War. He continued pursuing his goals of Orcish domination until his death some 30 years later, and although never succeeded in his task, made a name for himself that would go down in history. The war would continue, but without his inspired leadership and unorthodox tactics, the orcs eventually retreated to the boundary of the Elven Kingdom just south of the Anadarrian forest, to a land now known as the Cantel Plains. Hostilities among the humanoid tribes continued, eventually spilling into Elven lands again in 19310 T.P. In a surprise attack, the D'Cyrion Royal Family was seized and spirited away. The proud family line of Leonthas, leaders of the D’Kalin clan, rose to military prominence in a crushing victory against the forces of the Ogres. The bravery of their family enabled the rescue of the D'Cyrion royal family, but not before all of their male heirs had been murdered. With no D’Cyrion male to assume the throne, a D’Kalin from the Leonthas family line becomes Alari (Asher D’Kalin). Thus begins the Time of Peace, which lasted 3500 years. The Creation of the Magical Creatures of the World All I have ever wanted to do is to touch a Unicorn. Squire Gabriel Angelfire, Master Ranger During this time, magical research experiences a great surge among those of the Elves. These Great mages, with powers so much greater than anything that exists today, discovered secrets of nature and begin creating “magical creatures” such as Griffins and Pegasus. The birth of most of the magical creatures of the land is attributed to the great mages of this time. Unfortunately, with great powers, eventually comes the great sin of pride, and many of the greatest mages began to refer to themselves as "Creators", putting themselves on par with Nature herself, and her Great Beginning. Sudden retributive action swept across the lands, and those forces were the Walkers. They stripped magic from the lands, leaving small seeds of hope behind. The magic of the lands is never again as strong as it was during these long days. The Dark War I write this with full knowledge that it may not survive the 1000 years that it must… The best information I can give you is that a sage will provide a cryptic saga upon the day of La’Reth’s rise. That saga will provide the keys to locating the Signs. From a Primer by Janos Farstrider, Survivor of the Dark War of 995 Wrapped in the despair of what they had lost, the Elves never even noticed as "Reth reborn", or "La’Reth", in the Elven language, slipped onto the Prime material plane and hid in the caverns of the Shae'dynarr, gathering both his strength, and his armies. He created the abomination known as the Dark from pieces of creation magic missed by the Walkers woven with his own blood. He recruited from the humanoid enemies of the Elves, forging together one of the most deadly threats ever to face the Elven people. He was legion, and the other races knew they could never defeat him. It was then, that the Prophesy was discovered. In 14600 T.P. with his armies complete, La’Reth attacked, and the Shae'Dynarr followed his lead. Undaunted, the Elves reached out to their allies, the Dwarves, Giants, Dragons, Merfolk, and Uman. Together, they search for the Seeker of the Signs, foretold by the Prophesy to lead to the seven special artifacts needed to defeat the Dark. Together, and with the artifacts, which included the legendary Sword of Raven, La’Reth was defeated and imprisoned in the center of the world. With the remaining threads left from the magics of creation, Heroes Lake came into being. There, the greatest heroes of all the Lands were laid to rest, at the seemingly bottomless depths of its icy cold waters. The great leaders of the First Dark War now rest in its depths, and each Elven Clan Leader from this time forward in their time is interred here. The Time of Man Men have always coveted the mysteries of our race. Perhaps our long life spans and our great beauty as a race make them envious. Whatever the matter, we were better off without them. Baronial-Consort Terik The Umans to the south in the Cantel Plains settled and progressed from primitive barbarians into civilized beings in the blink of an Elven eye. The Kingdom of Maelcor, as it was known then, had been born. As the Uman population grew, tensions increased between their shared borders. Skirmishes between the races erupted constantly, and it was not until the Second King of Maelcor, King Edward Narrdmyr the Good, gained his crown that the Elves and the Umans found a tentative, fleeting, peace. In 114 in the Time of Man, Good King Edward passed away, and the Kingdom of Maelcor had by then become the Kingdom of Narrdmyr. Umans continued to spread its people into Elven lands, and with tensions already on edge between the two great races, a war sprang forth a mere 40 years later. Throughout the fighting, the Elves sacrificed much, but in doing so brought the Uman's assault to a standstill. Audiences were granted, negotiations made, and the Council ceded the burnt and broken land where the battles had been fought, in return for a Peace would last another 200 years. In 350 TM, the barbaric tribesmen of Uman-kind, suffering through a string of particularly harsh winters spilled out of the forests to the north and into Ashan. Mistaking the barbarians for their Uman enemies to the south, the Elven Alari, with the Council's support, declared war on Narrdmyr. For a full year, the war eroded the morale of Elf and Uman alike. With no end in sight, the Alari and the Uman king once again met and signed a treaty for peace, and the rebuilding of the war-torn countries began. Inevitably, those who were once enemies found common ground in the rebuilding after the war, and trade flourished between them for over 500 years. But all good things end, and in 870, the Elves were again assaulted, this time from a large and mighty tribe of barbarians who called themselves the Queth. These tribesmen, armed with weapons and magics greater than the Elves had ever anticipated, quickly invaded Ashan. Soon enough, the capital city of Alandar lay in ruins. The Queth drove the Elves across all of Ashan, forcing them from their homes and cities and into the great, dark evergreen forests. Sometime during these battles, the Elven royal family vanished, leaving the Elven leaderless. After some 41 years, and in the absence of the Elven Alari, the Uman King of Narrdmyr, King Vallend Belthshazarr I, made a bold move, and claimed all the lands formally belonging to the Elves for himself. His reasons for this are a mystery still, but to the Elves, it was accepted that the lesser races such as Uman, that natural greed would eventually prevail over that which was just. Shamans from the Shydal Tribes begged Nature to remind the fickle Umans of their place beside the people of the Emerald Kingdom, their shared goal of eradicating the Children of Cro, Nilbog and Drae, but the earth was silent, and the Elves had no other recourse. The Bayomal Pact Battered and broken by many years of a war of attrition with the Queth, the people of the Emerald Kingdom, for all their might and prowess could not replace their troops as quickly as the fast breeding Uman. The Elves reluctantly entered into a treaty with the Kingdom of Narrdmyr known as the Bayomal Pact. This Pact removed all rights of the Elves to govern themselves as they saw fit, but to the Elven people, the Song of Peace was sweet, and it was many years since a true leader had arisen among them. Many of the Shydal Elven, disgusted with their brethren, moved further north and east, away from the site of such a disgrace. Elves now bent knee to Uman authority. The Grand Emerald Kingdom of Ashan was no more. Relations with the Elves only became strained as the Elves rebuilt their once magnificent city of Alandar, only to have it seized by the Uman King Vallend II. The former kingdom was divided like spoils, and split into the pieces, which later became the Twin Duchies of Anadarr and Pelanor. The Umans were comfortable in the new peace, and confident of their success. However, the memories of the Elves are long, and they did not forget the bountiful lands of their youth. Time passed, as it is wont to do, and rumors of an heir sparked the flagging spirits of the Elven people. Lavallion D’Traylin, former Captain of the Royal Guard of Ashan, and Kieran D'Kalin, headstrong upstart, and heir to the Throne of Ashan, led the Elven to defy their Uman leaders, and regain their lost independence. Uman settlements along the borders of the Great Divide of the Bayomal Pact suffered greatly for the hubris of their centuries-dead king. A Land of Many Races is Born Fate would change everything for Uman and Elven alike. In 988 TM, the entire Uman Royal Family of Narrdmyr was found mysteriously murdered, and Duke Lawrence Belthshazarr was named King of Narrdmyr. One of King Lawrence's first decrees was to reform the old lands of Ashan into a Principality, to be called Novashan. This Principality was presented to the King's youngest son, Prince Duncan. Prince Duncan, in his wisdom, saw only one way to join the warring peoples of his lands together, by raising the Elven heir, Kieran D'Kalin to serve as the Duke of Pelanor, and his cousin Thakalanthalas D'Cyrion as the Duke of Alandar. While the history books may scorn Prince Duncan as a drunk, and a womanizing scoundrel, around every fire, respect bloomed from his newly loyal Elven subjects, brought on in part by his role in slaying La’Reth with the Sword of Raven. This brought about an end to most of the hostilities between Uman and Elven in His Principality, eventually bringing together lands divided for thousands of years, into a land of many races with one leader. Historians were pessimistic that these changes would survive Prince Duncan. However, with the mysterious magical explosions just a few short years ago, it seems as though the long life spans granted to the Elven by Nature herself, have been whittled to less than nothing, and across the lands from Jaded Sea to the Western Coast, reports indicate that elves have begun to age on par with humans. Perhaps the price of such a great peace was higher than the Elven would have ever suspected. The Great Exodus - A Journey Through the Mists The Legendary Bard of Old, Lord Rasputin O'Shea does tell tales of the Great Exodus when travelling throughout the Lands of the Principality. A cheerful rake of oft-ill repute, Lord Rasputin tells this particular story with an uncharacteristically mournful air. His many lady friends suppose that his One True Love must have travelled on during the Great Exodus, leaving him behind. Nevertheless, his gambling table companions just shake their heads, figuring Rasputin misses more the fantastic Elven Wines that used to be brewed in the Old County. Owen Phyfe, Master Bard of the Kingdom of Narrdmyr In the year 1000, an Army of Dark Shae’Dynarr erupted from within the bowels of the earth, and attacked the human capital city of Maelcor, within the Kingdom of Narrdmyr. Prince Sir Kenneth, Duncan's brother, then Heir to the Throne, and Commander of the Kingdom Armies to the South, begged the Elven of the north to lend him aid. While the Elven Council convened to discuss how the Elves would react to this threat, the famous Battle of Maelcor was fought, and the once great capitol and shining jewel of the Kingdom of Narrdmyr, collapsed. Some quietly whisper, that perhaps the Elves took so long in their deliberations because some of the oldest among the Council still held a grudge against Prince Kenneth's father for annexing their own great capitol city. The Elves may have purposefully filibustered whilst Maelcor was overrun by a horde of dark elves and drowned in a sea of hideous magical ooze, which floods the city ruins still. Prince Kenneth, angry that the elves did not assist, threatened to end the Pact between their lands. Fearing further conflict with the humans, Peregrine D'Falconheart did lead a faction of the Great Council towards the decision to quit their ancestral lands, and depart for a Magical Island kept secret throughout the ages. All elves of pure blood were invited, but upon departure, they would never be permitted to return. By the year 1001 the vast majority of the Elven had gone, leaving behind barely enough to keep their race viable. The greatest number of those that remained were of the D'Kalin and D'Cyrion clans, although some stragglers of each of the other seven main clans can still be found scattered throughout Novashan. Many of those remaining were from smaller sub-clans under the rule of the Major Clans, who felt that to stay would provide more opportunity for advancement of their sects. Many younger elves, learning impatience from their Uman companions, decided to seek their fortune in by remaining within the lands of the Uman. Several distant clans of the Elven Brethren of the Forests stayed behind. Many believe that because of their nomadic ways, they did not receive word of the Great Journey until most of the Seven Great Clans had already gone. This is why to this day; it is much more likely to encounter a tribal Shydal Elven, than it is to run across those civilized elves once so common to the lands of the Principality. A dedicated few of the D’Zandryn clan also stayed behind to guard the Elven secrets that remain in the old Emerald Kingdom. The Calamity - Elves Lose their Immortality It is said that even today, the great elves of the land still believe there is a cure to the malady of a short lifespan. Whether or not it exists, it is commonly known that if there is such a cure, these great elves would do anything to gain the knowledge of it. High Templar Lady Berreth Late in the year 1009, a wave of mysterious magical energy pulsed through the lands. This wave, later referred to as The Calamity, seems to be linked to a most unpredictable result: the Elven race and the other elder races seem to have lost their immortality. Discovered initially by elven physicians and midwives, who noticed an acceleration of the aging process among pureblooded elves, many philosophers wonder if the Calamity is a result of the imbalance in the lands, caused by the Great Exodus. Sages calculate that elven children began aging at the same rate as human children from the moment the wave was reported to have passed through their region. The Calamity caused great confusion amongst the longstanding cultural values of the Elven people. Their society is based on the value of its elders, and although very literate, still dependent upon the long lives of those elders to retain the memories of times past. Elven scholars immediately scrambled to record all the ancient tales, with the impending dread that much of the richness of the ancient Elven heritage will be lost. While some elders seem resigned to their much-shortened lifespan, young and middle age elves from all regions seem almost desperate, if such a thing could be said of any elf. They for the first time in their lives now rush to accomplish tasks that they had thought they had centuries to complete. The Northern Lands of Llymyr are struggling to accommodate the huge changes that have resulted, although their Duke, Sir Kieran D'Kalin, has eased the transition dramatically by appointing members of shorter-lived races to travel to distant Elven cities to teach them how to adjust. It is only through discipline that the race as a whole has not yet fallen into a panic. The Future of the Elves Elders of the Elves are meeting to discuss the implications of what this severe change to the lifespan of an elf will mean. The change would be like telling the average human that they had only one year to live. Many changes in the way the elven culture perceived time are forthcoming, particularly with the new generation of elves that age to physical maturity far faster than their parents did. Elven children since the calamity will reach apparent adulthood at the same rates of humans, and therefore the generation gap will be considerable. In addition to this change, elven females began a reproductive cycle identical to that of humans, making them fertile all 12 months out of the year. Some sects of Elves living among the humans believe that these changes reflect that Nature looks to combine the bloodlines of her two favored children into one, in order to save the bloodlines of the Elven clans that remain from the Great Exodus. Others believe it is a curse, resulting from the other race's constant wars and obsession with forbidden magics. The Clerical Order of Serinth in Narrdmyr, has issued a paper which suggests that the amount of dark energies used to fuel the bodies of the undead have stolen some of the vital energy from the lands, and as a result, many Kingdom Elves not actively involved in the battles protecting their southern borders are now assembling in small groups to track down and kill all Necromancers and Undead, in the hopes of releasing enough of the trapped life force to slow or reverse the aging process. These self-named Warriors Against the Darkness have been seen frequently in the Kingdom, and word is that they plan to recruit their fellow Elven and Elf Friends in the lands of Novashan to aid them in their quest. Growing Old Given the advances in chirurgery and modern healing magic, many humans can live to be over fifty years old. Some rare humans have lived to be one hundred, but the difficulties inherent in human society and human cultures tend to make that unlikely. Historically elves, dwarves, and Halflings lived longer than humans, but that all changed at the winter solstice of the year 1010. Although the "Elder Races" lived longer, they appeared to mature at nearly the same rate as humans, although that did differ from culture to culture. As best as scholars have been able to determine, the elves, dwarves, and Halflings lived approximately one thousand, five hundred, and two hundred year, respectively. Now, they live as long as everyone else... unless you're a half-orc, in which case they still live a lot longer than you. Elven Culture and Lore "The Elven race has different cultures depending on any number of variables, just as we do, lad. There are elves who choose civilized life, and those who choose the ways of the forest. Think of the tribal elven communities much like you would the humans we call barbarians - for they are similar in most every way. The reason there seems to be two kinds of elf is that there are so few left; they do not have enough of any one type for there to be noticeable differences other than the most obvious ones. Best for you to judge each of Myrrhanna's Children by what they do, and not how they live. As with man, it is the choices that they make that define them. Of the Shae’Dynarr, you ask. It is best not to know, for to imply any relationship between any normal elf and their dark-skinned, underground-dwelling brothers would be construed as an insult of epic proportion."
Squire Vedran, former member of the Town Guard of Illvaresh There are three 'subtypes' of elves: Common, Forest and Dark, although most surface Elven do not count the Shae’Dynarr as a part of their race. Elven refer to the elves of the forest as Shydal Elven, or, elves of the trees. Unlike their common city brethren, the Shydal prefer living as closely to nature as possible. Common Elven What does it mean to be Elven? Elven is the elven name for the people known as elves. Elves appear to be a slender version of the human race. They vary in height as much as humans do. It is uncommon for them to have facial hair. One trait that all the elven races share is their pointed ears. Long hair is the typical elven fashion. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine is.
Forlan Hummel, noted human archivist
A more accurate description of the common elf would be to call him a civilized Elf. Just as humans taught to follow Scotian, Norsican and Tomarran traditions, so there are different elven cultures which embrace different ideals. You may wish to note that the elves in human lands tolerate the label, but find it vaguely insulting. You may have heard of “Heigh” or “Grahey” elves, “Sylvani” or “Wyldish”. What humans commonly misunderstand is that each of these is not a "type" of elf; rather, these are some of the First Names of the People, from which all of the Garden-Born come. Much like the common human Surname of Smith, each of these families has developed over the years, certain characteristics that they have become known for. As the Elven spread across the Emerald Kingdom, new names were born, but the original bloodlines remained. Whatever the subtle differences between these bloodlines were, today they are so small as to make them irrelevant, especially now that the number of pure-blood elves have dwindled so low from constant attrition through wars, the migration of the Great Exodus, and their now near-mortal lifespan (so far as anyone can tell) due to the Calamity. The fact that they seemed to have gained the ability to reproduce at a rate approaching humans is small comfort indeed, to those who can count their existence by naming a star for each year since the birth of their race. Now the proud Elven people face the end of not only their Clan name, but their very race itself.
Culture Regardless of the clan to which they belong, most elves I have ever met come across as aloof. Even those friendly to humans place some small distance between themselves and others. It was well known that even though Sir Peregrine D'Failecuer of Athiel Lorean (in human, "The Green Wood" loved Baron Thomas as a Brother, and actually adopt him into the Falconheart Clan, that still there always remained a distance between them, as if even the love for a brother could not bridge the gap. Sir Navarr, former Knight of the Gauntlet, often spoke of Peregrine fondly, but never with the enthusiasm and vigor that he would use to speak of his other human companions. While it would be easy to perceive all elves as arrogant or haughty, those of us who have spent the time cultivating relationships with Myrrhanna's Children know that deep within their hearts, they feel as deeply about things as we humans do. Taught reserve from an early age, so as not to embarrass their Clan or their Family, those civilized elves raised in pure blood households often never entirely escape from their early training, which for the average elf child could span decades, even a century or more. This incredibly strong discipline is probably why we have not seen more despair from the Elves over the Calamity. When taught as children to expect to live forever, and then to then be told that you have so few years left, well, this blow would devastate even the most staid individual. I often wonder if most elves are somewhat insane from the knowledge of their mortality so brutally shoved into their faces. As their population declines, the Elven have opened their hearts to new ideas and new alliances, many unheard-of in the days before the Calamity. Where once before, to marry into a Lesser Clan would have been met with tremendous resistance, now even the most headstrong of their race seems ready to embrace couples willing to bear the future children of what is now a dying race. It is rumored that even the most heinous of pairings, that of pure blood Elven to Uman-kind, has been met with less resistance in the past several seasons. When the elven rulers signed the treaty that agreed to allow humans to rule over them, they gave up more than any human could possibly understand. Politics in Action Like Humans, the Elven have Laws, Knights, Orders and Guilds, and their Economic and Judicial structure closely resemble that of their Human neighbors. Scholars suggest that humans may have, at the Dawn of the Time of Man, been influenced by the glorious civilization of the Elven, and attempted to mimic their organizations and governing structure. Regardless of how it came to be, if it exists as an organization within human culture, it's close brother can often be found reflected in the culture of the Elven. Simon the Sage, Illvaresh For thousands of years, the value of an Elf in society was largely due to their place within the Clan. The eldest male of a major clan could expect one day to take his father or mother's seat on the Great Council. His long life would be one of ease and privilege, for all wanted to curry favor with a future representative of the Council. As with many patriarchal societies, a young female from a minor Clan would have little to look forward to in her life, other than to be bartered like currency to gain her Clan leader political favor and prestige, or the riches of the bride price. Those from the Major families in their Clan would have to less options available to them than, say one of the Minor families. Unhappy female Elves can avoid an undesirable pairing through Service in the military. Children are so important to the Elven people, that those women who actively avoid marriage and family find themselves shunned in ordinary circles. By following a militant way of life, they can work and live side by side and be treated as an equal to any elf in the service. Gender is not considered in any military policies. They receive no special treatment, and wear the same uniform as the men do. Most Elven female soldiers would have it no other way. Political favor translated into privilege, and political disfavor could unseat the Family of a Major Clan from his Council seat, allowing the next ranking family member to take over as Head of the Clan. Often these leaders would hold their seat for hundreds of years, so the chance of advancement was slim. The political influence of the Members of the Council was formidable indeed. With an Uman King governing the decisions of the Great Council, Elves had no way to leverage political superiority amongst their peers. Trade agreements and business contracts broke down as the families who had made them, no longer had any influence with those who were in authority. The Council still met, but now a foreign king, who demanded that decisions be made within weeks, when the normal span of time for the same decision in an elven Clan would have meant years, ruled them. The Council had power no more, and it was this realization, which led Peregrine D'Falconheart to make his famous speech to the other Honorable Members of the Council, declaring his intention to lead his people away from the lands of the Umans to a far sunnier shore. Taking over the governance of the Northern Lands of the Elves affected the very framework of elven society, changing the nature of the world. The Elven High Council departed, leaving the small remaining contingent of elves as vassals under an Uman King. If all that were not bad enough, there was the Calamity. No one quite knows what will happen, now that the Elves share a common lifespan with the human race. Some Elves view it as a second chance to rebuild and protect their culture. Since Elven females appear to be fertile, repopulation is much more certain. However, some Elves believe that it is a sign, that the Walkers ultimate design is to have the Elves and umans become one race, in order to combine their might in the fight against the Darkness. This is an understandable reaction, considering the wars we humans have fought over the last 10 years. However, as always, the design of the greater powers of the spirits is ever beyond our grasp. Family within the Clans It can become confusing when deciphering the familial line of a particular elf. Most humans assume that all elven Clan names refer to one great family of elves, and that is not the case. In elven society, names have power, and family surnames are rarely shared except in the most formal circumstance. Using a family surname instead of a Clan name is usually a sign that the family has done something to put them out of favor with their Clan. In these cases, the clan will sometimes withdraw their permission to use the name of the Clan from the elf who shamed them, or even from their entire family bloodline. Subtle social cues such as this are often lost on humans, but to an elf, these little details are a signpost as to the ultimate prominence of the person to whom they speak. Clans of the Elven We are unfortunate witnesses to the decline of an entire race. Of the Seven Great Clans that have survived over the millennia, and the ninety-three known minor clans, only scattered examples of each now exist. Of those seven, three Clans chose to stay behind in larger numbers: the Clans of D'Cyrion, D'Kalin, and D’Zandryn. Many scholars disagree about the reasons why so many of the elves that are left are from these three clans. Mysterious as always, the Elves have kept their silence. Clan D'Kalin: This Clan was by far one of the strongest, producing some of the greatest warriors of the Elven. Clan D'Kalin's previous leader Duke Kieran D'Kalin was in line for the elven throne before the Emerald Kingdom was defeated by the Umans, and swore fealty to an Uman King. The deeds of the D'Kalin clan are well known, and stretch back thousands of years. During the Great Exodus, many members of this once great Clan chose to remain behind, for reasons unknown. Clan D'Cyrion: This clan at its height was nearly equal in strength to the D'Kalin Clan, and was the Last Royal Clan of the Elven before their previous patron died without a son. Some of the best cavalry that the elven people had to offer came from this clan. They are famous even in Narrdmyr for the quality of their horses. If you can imagine a breeding plan spanning thousands of years, then you can begin to comprehend the quality of their elven equine mounts, which are highly sought after by the Ladies of the Human Courts as a fine bottle of Elven Birth Wine is to a friar. Elven horsemen prefer lighter and quicker warhorses when compared to their human counterparts, sacrificing some of the power of a typical warhorse for speed and agility, and specially bred for grace and beauty. Many of the minor clans such as D'Falconheart owe their allegiance to this Clan. Clan D’Zandryn: Known even amongst their fellow Clans as woodsmen of extraordinary skill, the D’Zandryn Clan is probably the least tolerant of the human encroachment on what they still consider Elven lands. This may in large part be why they chose to stay behind when the Great Exodus took place. Quiet whispers among the Elven suggest that of all the Major Clan Families, the D’Zandryn Clan most resembles the Shydal Elven in custom and deed. As they have already mixed their blood with those of the Shydal successfully in the past, rumors suggest that they plan to attempt to increase their population by encouraging even more pair bonds with those distant cousins the Shydal Elven, and repopulate the Lands of Ashan. Many Elves of the Arrowthorne clan stem from this clan. Clan D'Llythos: It is surprising that Clan D'Llythos never rose to great heights in realms of Elven military and politics. Even the smallest and youngest among their studied would give a Master Mantleman of the Kingdom pause. Their elders were legendary in their field, and were rumored to have been at least as powerful as the collared mages of the Human Tomarran wars. The majority of this clan departed during the great exodus, but some have remained to look after ancient magical artifacts that are hidden throughout the former Emerald Kingdom. Clan D'Traylin: Another of the stronger clans, these skilled artisans will be sorely missed. The greatest smiths, engineers, and architects of the elven people came from this clan, and enchanters from across the Emerald Kingdom would gather at the Clan D'Traylin Homestead to obtain the works of art they produced. The majority of the elves of this clan travelled west during the Great Exodus, but a few of these skilled artisan can still be found. Many say that those artisans that are left refused to leave their creations behind, and were tasked by the clan to save and protect those treasures that could not travel with them into the Mists. Clan D’Lyndalla: Known to be weak in the areas of political and military power, this clan was nonetheless a vital asset during the reoccurring wars, for their skills in healing legend, even among their own people. The members of D’Lyndalla pride themselves in mastery of all the healing arts, including the use of herbs and medicines, as well as magics. Some believe that towards the end of the Narrdmyrian War, they had discovered how to harness the gifts of the Tree of Life, but it was not in time to save their people. Demoralized at their failure, they were among the first to travel through the Mists. To run across an Elven of Clan D’Lyndalla is lucky indeed. Clan D’Wyndellin: Dedicated to internal security within the late Emerald Kingdom, the Clan of D’Wyndellin was no doubt the source of all military intelligence during the wars. When not applying their select skills towards defending their Kingdom, it was rumored that this Clan new as much about the secrets of the other Clans, as they did the Uman King. While many took their leave to travel west with their brethren, those of this clan who have stayed behind are rumored to have control of the remnants of the Emerald Kingdom Underground. Still loyal to the Lands of Ashan, the remaining Elven of Clan D’Wyndellin keep looters and treasure-seekers away from their most valued artifacts, banding together with D'Traylin and D'Llythos in order to protect their culture's most prized possessions. Often, one mistakes D’Wyndyl as the clans name; however, D’Wyndyl is an offshoot branch of this clan. Shydal Elven - Elven of the Forest Shydal Elves spurn the choices of their city brethren, choosing a society based on a tribal, nomadic way of life. They pledge their troth to Nature and the Great Walker Myrrhanna, and dedicate their lives to caring for those treasured forests, which Nature provided to the Elven people. Ordinarily, as long as travelers were respectful of the forest, they would have no problems with the Shydal Elven. However, once the Seven Great Tribes took their Long Journey into the Mists, and the Uman King Vallend III became ruler over their precious forests of Ashan, many Shydal Elves believe their homeland to be in danger. Prince Duncan Belthshazarr, Leader of the Principality of Novashan, and current Uman ruler over the Lands of Ashan, has assuaged their fears for now by installing members of prominent Clans into positions of leadership in his government, and by embracing any of the Shydal Elven who travel to the Southern Lands of Uman. Everyday Life in the Woods Before the calamity that robbed the Elven of their immortality, Shydal Elven lived in an idyllic land. The passage of leadership from one Ashani to the next was rarely anything but a footnote in their nomadic world. While eager to fight alongside their city cousins when called to battle, the Shydal Elven spent the majority of their days avoiding city life, surrounded by their one great love, the Great Forests of the Land of Ashan. For all their respect of all that nature has wrought, Shydal elves have a special love of hunting, with both bow and spear. Their society demands that respect is paid to any animal hunted for food, and often you will see them say a brief word of thanks over their kill. Their love of the forest and its inhabitants leads them to try to use as much of anything they kill as possible. Their skills in the woodlands are arguably the best. Shydal Elves are more prone to show emotion then their Common elven counterparts, being even lighthearted and cheerful openly. Shydal Elven women in particular are known for fiery tempers. This is most likely a result of their upbringing in a strongly Matriarchal Society. In this, they more resemble Umans than their staid and serious city cousins. Shydal elven clothing is generally made of natural woven materials. Tight clothing that is not prone to snagging on the foliage of their forest homes is a common sense fashion choice. They prefer to wear clothing of natural colors such as brown, green, and black to blend in with their surroundings. More easygoing than those elves of the Seven Great Clans, the elves of the forest focused their attentions on bonding with the lands in which they lived. Plunging deep into the frontier, they settled in places where civilizations were unlikely to encroach upon their simple way of life. To these woodland people, the beauty of a simple Maple Tree in her full fall colors was more beautiful that any spired tower or ornate jewel. Most Shydal elves live in smaller tribes and families rather than being part of a major clan, disliking the politics that often arise in the clannish lifestyle of their Common elven counterparts. One exception to this was the powerful Tribe of D’Zandryn, more commonly known amongst the City People as Clan D’Argentfox. Clan Stories Tribal stories tell of an elven leader of extraordinary woodland skill. Her name was Argentfox, and it is said that she was the last Elven to witness the blooming of the One Tree in 11896 in the Time of Prophets. Although a surviving widow of the Dark Wars against La’Reth, she managed to retain leadership of her Shydal Tribe. Up until then, no female Elven had ever led the Forest People. Many of the males in her tribe thought to woo her, and thus gain leadership of the tribe for themselves. However, she was granted a dream from My’shalla that instructed her to lead her people alone. Through her special bond with nature and her faith in the elven Walker, she was able to coax the One Tree into one final bloom, from which she and her tribe harvested the seeds, which were foretold, would someday save her race. She must have fed her life essence into the Tree, for soon after she fell ill, and passed away. She rests now in the Lake of Heroes, one of many who made a great sacrifice for the good of the Elven People. As is the way of elves, the largest of the Forest Tribes adopted her name in tribute to her faith and sacrifice. When the D’Zandryn Clan came to court the women of the Forest, they were surprised to find that their Shydal Cousins had reverted to a Matriarchal Society. The D’Zandryn Heir fell madly in love with the leader of the strongest tribe of Shydal, and insisted that they wed. However, she was wise, and, seeing the benefits of merging her tribe with one of the stronger city clans, negotiated a contract. While in the Cities of the People, she would be called a D’Zandryn. But in the shady forests of her native lands, the Clan was to be called D’Argentfox, her Tribal name. Among other conditions she bartered for her hand, was the demand that each heir to the D’Zandryn Council Seat of the Emerald Kingdom would be married to an equally suitable woman from the Tribes of the Forest. To this day, D’Zandryn blood mixes with that of the Tribes of Ashan, and throughout the Time of Man, has produced strong and healthy children with a special affinity to the woods.
Another favored story of the Shydal Elves is that of the Great Healer Arymis. It is said that Arymis had an incredible gift, and was able to channel the energies of the One Tree to heal any malady. It was Arymis,who first created the Resurrection Ritual, utilizing pieces of a fantastical material called simply, Ore. It is said that the D’Lyndalla Clan leader was injured in a great battle against the Orcs, and would not heal. In his prime, he had yet to be married, and thus had no heirs. His family was distraught, for if he died childless, the title of Clan Leader would then pass to another family within the Clan. In a great panic, his family went in search of this great forest Ylf, who had become a legend even to her own people. Unbeknownst to the Elves, the Orcs were taught the skill of creating toxins from the Shae'dynarr, and were using those poisons in their raids against the Elves. This Clan Leader, whose name has been lost even to the long memories of the Elves, was slowly dying. Once the family found her, Llyndalla refused to leave the One Tree because she was immersed in researching a ritual of great importance. Therefore, his people decided to make the long journey to her, carrying him by stretcher many long days travel through the Great Forest. By the time he arrived, he was very near death. The Shydal Elven say that when the clan leader looked first into Llyndalla's eyes, he knew he had found his soul mate. The City Clans however, tell the story that Llyndalla saw at once that this Clan Leader was the key to providing a way to bring her knowledge of healing to the City Elves. Whatever the truth of the matter, we know this - he died in her arms, even as she raised the cure to his ailments to his lips. The journey had been too hard, and his health too fragile. The D’Lyndalla Clan leader was dead. Llyndalla wept over his body, filled with the guilt that in her obsession with her research, she had allowed another to perish. With great resolve, she raised the Ore high in the air, and wove her remorse into the ritual words. With a great rush, breath filled his lungs, and he rose to life once again. He married her soon after, and in honor of her he made the declaration that from then on, the people of the Shydal would know his Clan by the honorific, D’Arymis. To this very day, when in Shydal territory, the D’Lyndalla clan is known as D’Arymis. Traditions For a bottle of that Birth Wine, oh, the secrets I could tell you about the Lands in which we live. Hostler James, Owner of the Heartskeep Inn, Bannor Nogath Births and family life You perhaps are familiar with the dusty old history tomes reveling in our race's glorious victory over the noble Elven race, what these books don't often say, is that they only accepted rule by humans as the last resort. It was not because the human race was so very strong, but that we breed like mad, and the elves just couldn't keep up. It all comes down to simple biology. Human women appear to be fertile at least once a month. Elven women used to be fertile but once a year. It was a joyous blessing when elves have children. Centuries of Elven children being rare have instilled strong traditions about the role of children in the elven culture that are not likely to change. Elven children are valued more than anything in a home, and protected jealously. To harm an Elven child is a slight that will likely make an enemy of that Elven and his or her family or clan for hundreds of years. Elven births are dangerous, and complications are common. Half-elven babies in particular pose more danger as the newborns are considerably larger than pure Elven children. Death in childbirth is a great fear when an Elven mother gives birth. Generally, an Elf will give birth to only one child at a time. When an Elf gives birth to twins and the mother survives, it is generally seen as a sign of great fortune for that Elf and their family. Due to all the danger to overcome, when an Elven birthday is remembered it is no small occasion. The celebration is marked usually by the entire community that an Elf resides in. The most sacred of traditions is setting up a large amount of wine to celebrate the year of a child's birth. This wine is created from the best grapes harvested during the year, and that batch of wine is set aside as a gift to the newborn. This gift is birth wine, and is only shared at the most special of occasions. While some humans have reported that elven birth wine contains special properties that make it particularly appealing, elves seem to suffer no more than the same effects one would expect from an ordinary brew. Marriage Most Elven marriages are planned for centuries. From the moment an Elven child is born, potential mates are discussed. Suitors must have the appropriate lineage, family name, and clan affiliation in order to be considered. Love matches in Elven society are very rare. Elven weddings are grand occasions generally performed outdoors in a secluded glen. An Elven cleric normally presides over the ceremony. The bride and groom exchange vows of their own making. Rather than the rings often exchanged by humans, Elven couples exchange necklaces, kept close to their hearts. When choosing the necklace they will give their future bride or groom, an elf will pick something that represents them to their beloved. From the Common Elves this is usually something to do with one's family or clan. From the Shydal Elves it could be a tribal or personal totem. Both the bride and groom pick one of their friends or family to be a guardian of their marriage. It is customary for the groom to pick an Elven woman, and the bride, an Elven man to serve this purpose. These guardians are present for the ceremony, and swear vows of their own to safeguard the union of the bride and groom against any infidelity or attempts to lead the new couple astray. They also serve as godparents to any children that come of the union. A grand feast, with singing and merriment, follows the wedding. It is one of the rare occasions where the typical reserved nature of the Elves is let loose. Casks of Elven birth wine from both the bride and the groom are a traditionally used for the toast, and the celebration can go on for days. Funerals Elven funerals are solemn occasions. Mourners paying their respects remain silent through most of the proceeding to honor the dead. Whatever friend or family member gives the eulogy, is deemed to have been closest to the departed. The ceremony that follows is generally performed by an elven cleric. At its conclusion, the participants leave the friend or family member alone with the departed who stands vigil. There are legends of lovers who lost their beloved maintaining the vigil for years. At the conclusion of the vigil, the body is set alight with fire. Elves prefer to cremate their dead. This has a lot to do with a superstition involving their people and being raised as undead. Normally an Elf will never marry again if they lose their husband or wife. The Ritual of Edhel Mellon, or, The Rite of "Elf Friend" With great reward, My Edhel Mellon, comes great responsibility to Our People. - Peregrine D' Falconheart, High Council Seat of Clan D'Cyrion, to Sir Thomas Falconheart, Baron of Aladine It is a serious honor to become “Edhel Mellon” to an Elf. On the exceedingly rare occasion that an Elf finds a worthy Companion, Brother or Sister amongst the other races, there is a ritual that they may perform to convey the title of “Edhel Mellon”, or Elf Friend, to someone of another race. One of the reasons this ritual is so unusual is its use of the rare herb Sprinnibud as a component to the ceremony. When concluded, an Elf's Worthy Companion becomes an honorary member of the Clan's family, which is no light matter to the elven people. Forever after, the “Edhel Mellon”, can add the elven surname to the end of his or her own without the honorific D' at the beginning. Thus, an Elf Friend to a D'Failecuer, would in the common human tongue be named Falconheart. Elf Friends may use their unusual status when passing through elven lands, and be accorded the same rights and privileges of any Elf. Unfortunately, there are other consequences to this Rite. “Edhel Mellon” is answerable to all Elven custom, law, and punishment, has the responsibility to know them all. It is so obvious to the Elves that sometimes they do not explain all aspects of their unusual gift to the unsuspecting recipient. Fortunately, there is no record of an Elf Friend ever being put to death for their missteps in Elven society. One wonders if this is because they are taught before the ceremony that to bring shame upon the Clan is unacceptable, or whether secretly the Elves do not believe humans capable of upholding the rigid standards that they themselves follow. Elven racial loyalty Elves, regardless of their problems or quarrels, still take the good of their race as a whole very seriously. With so few children born into families for so many centuries, it is one of the greatest sins for an Elf to murder one of his or her own. This sin can be considered completely unforgivable, and if proven, an Elf could be shunned from his entire race. This does not apply to punishing criminals. Crimes visited on Elves by Elves are serious offenses that do not go on without incident. When strife occurs, Elves are likely to take the side of another Elf over any other race. Holidays Elves have festivals at the Solstices and Equinox's of the moon. Each of these festivals corresponds to one of the four elements. Celebration usually lasts the either from dusk to dawn, or vice versa. The most famous of these is the festival of fire, known as Agelong. Spring Equinox: Elhaine Elves celebrate the festival of earth on the date of the Spring Equinox, when all that is old becomes new, and the land experiences Nature's rebirth from the cold of winter. Called Elhaine by the Clan and Tribe alike, it is celebrated by feasting and revelries held outdoors to enjoy the return of warmer weather. It is a festival that celebrates love and renewal, and oft times the Eldest Female Elf in each tribe or Clan dances for her people, eventually inviting the next youngest who in turn invites the next, until all that is left are the beautiful eligible young female dancing in their best clothes. Many a marriage is arranged on this date, as it is considered good fortune to begin anything new during this festival. Many Tribes of the Shydal will re-enact the History of Creation, and great efforts goes into the creation of masks, costumes and props use to tell the stories of Cro, Nilbog, and Drae. Storytelling, dancing and singing, for both Clan and Tribe festivities last into the early morning. To stay up to see the dawning of a new day is best of all, as the Elven people believe that this lucky happenstance will fill both their fields and their purses in the coming summer months Summer Solstice: Agelong The festival of fire is as old as the Story of Creation. In fact, it is lucky to draw the ancient symbols and marks from the old creation stories upon face and body as tribute to the luck of the hunt. Each orc killed is an embodiment of Cro, and it is through this that the Elves seek favor from Nature in all her guises. This festival is called “Agelong” by the elves since the Time of Man. The summer's heat brings on a fire within in the blood of most elves on the night of the solstice. It is said that ancient spirits of elves and orcs who died fighting over the years come back to possess their ancestors on this day. To the more shamanic Shydal elves, this commonly manifests in the form of an almost outright blood lust to slay orcs. The Common elves, sensitive to magic, are prone to be more short-tempered, but do not normally lose their careful aloofness, for it is considered poor form to demonstrate any lack of control of one's faculties. Legend has it that the orcs also consider this day a special one, where the blood of elves is harvested to cure a disease called "belataga" that occurs once every few years. A moot is held on the day of “Agelong”, and the Elven people of all clans and families consider themselves one people on this night. Any feuds between Elves are set aside on this holiday, and violators of this sacred trust risk becoming enemies of their own people forever on. The moot ends at dusk, when the hunt for orc begins. The fighting continues until dawn. Normally this holiday is practiced by Elves and Orcs alone, but in rare cases a non Elf will be given the honor of accompanying them in their holiday. Customarily, any Elf who chooses to bestow this honor may only take one non-Elf along for the hunt. Fall Equinox: Felunasaad As the lightning bugs start blinking their lazy mating call, it signals that the festival of air, known as Felunasaad, is close at hand. With the veil thin at this time between the material world and the netherworld, many elves pay homage to their ancestors during this night. More somber then the other elven holidays, this festival marks a time to remember departed loved ones, their teachings, and contemplate the influence they still have over that Elf's life. This holiday is celebrated by a quiet gathering where each of the Elves in attendance tells a story about someone departed from their lives. After each story, it is customary to drink a toast, and then offer a tribute to honor the one who is missed, usually by placing a paper boat into a stream or river. This symbolic gesture pays homage to the ones who have gone before, with the boat travelling in the stream symbolic of the Journey West into the Mists. Since the time of the Great Exodus, paper in the Duchy of Llymyr becomes incredibly scarce for weeks after this day, as the Uman merchants have not yet realized the importance of this solemn ritual. These gatherings are generally had far away from civilization so as not to be disturbed. This holiday is very important to the Elven people and as such it is uncommon to see an Elf in or around human settlements during this time. Winter Solstice: Yulashead The festival of water is known as Yulashead by the elves. For this holiday both the Shydal elves and Common elves exchange gifts with family and friends. This holiday marks an end to the darkness and a rebirth of both life and light to the Elven people.
Taboos and Superstitions: Elves cremate their dead. They believe that a buried body will be stolen from under the earth if buried, eventually to be raised as an undead slave to the Shae'dynarr. These dark-skinned cousins to the surface Elves live underground, and stories of their evils are told at bedtime to naughty Elven children with the admonishment, "Be a good Elf, or the Shae'dynarr will make you a Token". Known for their skills in the arts of necromancy and trickery, the dark elves are a constant concern to all Elves of the surface lands. Some Common Elven cavalry believe that brave cavalry men are reincarnated as fine Elven warhorses, so that they can look after their fellow soldiers in their next life. This myth is often provided as an explanation as to why the Elven breed of horses exhibit an almost supernatural intelligence, and grow very attached to their riders. Names have power within the culture of the Elves. The quickest way out of an Elf's good graces is to insult his or her name. Family names are rarely spoken except to trusted friends. It is common to hear an Elf introduce himself by his first name and clan allegiance only. At formal functions and court events you are more likely to hear full names. Formal functions within Elven society have all but vanished, except for funerals, or the rare marriage or birth. Nevertheless, the Elven people cling to their vanishing culture, of which this is but a small part. Common Elves look down upon any efforts made to shorten language. Contractions, abbreviations and even nicknames shorter than your given name are considered lowbrow. Their long life spans up until now have given them the luxury to take their time when communicating an idea. Council Meetings during the Wars often lasted for weeks or months, and requests for aid took so long to decide, that the children of the originator of the request wouldn’t remember when the aid finally comes. For an Elf to lose their ears is a great dishonor. The Elves believe that their ears were the mark of nature upon them, to set them apart from the other races. It is not uncommon for enemies of the Elves to exploit this, cutting the ears off of any Elf they defeat. Elves who intentionally dock their ears are looked on with shame and loathing by other Elf, for it is viewed as a rejections of all Nature's gifts to their race.