The origins of the elves has always been a mystery ... even to most elves. It is certainly curious that a race known for its long lives and memory -- one whose historical records set the standard by which many others are compared -- failed to note the most basic of its very own origins: that of its creation. Many postulate that the most ancient histories are stored within the very crypts of Cennebrae, and are for the Arch-Mage's eyes only, though few believe any actual record on the matter exists, aside from a few varied and fanciful creation myths.
The Origin of Elves
One known fact is that the elves are not native to the current continent of Silver Moon Empire, also known as Hyathis. Those who are privy to any hard information regarding this, however, have not made this information available for public consumption. Many have speculated that the elves may have journeyed to the current continent of the Silver Moon Empire from across the seas, or even across otherworldly planes. Some tales speak of the elves fleeing invasions from another world, and that the first elven tribe to set foot upon Lyran Tal was called the Shea. Of course, these are all mere speculations.
What is recorded in history, and is free to be reviewed by all, is that the earliest of Elven Cities were all located within the thick forests of Arboria. It is also recorded that their first encounter with the human race occurred during the prosperity of an ancient civilization, referred by the elves as the "First Empire," on Hyathis. Histories state that the initial encounter was that of open exchange, alliance and trade, and was not (as some have said) a string of bloody misunderstandings. Those came later between the humans and the elves. The historians are also unclear as to which civilization in Hyathan history encompassed this First Empire for they are referred to often in the ancient elven tomes of history and yet not found within the earliest recordings of Hyathan history.
The Hyathans noted that the elves had a strong affinity with the earth and nature, and using this affinity had refined the elves own magical energy, giving them more finesse and control over the magic that laced the land. Recognizing the need to lessen the chaotic and the unpredictability factor in their own unfocused magic, the Hyathans welcomed the elves and their magical control. In trade, the human natives of Hyathis made available their resources, which were rich and abundant.
By no means was this as open and generous a trade as many might like to think, however. The elves did exercise some caution in dealings with the humans, for they recognized the dangers in humanity's seeming haphazard use of unfocused magic ... not to mention the human propensity for power struggles and general mayhem. But trade knowledge they did, and both races became better for it.
They taught the Hyathans how to focus their powers, to draw upon the magic using well-studied elements. They also taught a theory that did not sit well with many Hyathans: that affinities to these spheres can be found within certain individuals that allow them to excel in magic above the others. A magical hierarchy at its inception.
Although many were resistant to the elven teachings, the exchange of knowledge continued between them, for the elves were also hungry for the knowledge of the new land and its resources. But when the Hyathans began to quarrel amongst themselves in their struggle for power, the elves were invariably drawn in. Blood spilled, terror reigned for a small number of years, and the elves eventually withdrew from the humans, retreating into the thick forests of what is now known as Arboria (the first region to be named). Using their superior skill in the art of Geomancy, the elves built great cities within the forestland, while protecting (some say isolating) themselves from the outside world and the chaotic ways of the humans.
The elves then watched from afar as the ancient civilizations fell and gave way to separate kingdoms. The elves seemed reluctant to make contact once more, but they knew contact was inevitable -- their self-imposed isolation could not last forever. And so when they did, it was on their own terms, with a peaceful and spiritual realm known as Luminii. Due to the peaceful nature of the farmers of the plainlands, as well as their well-grounded faith, the elves felt secure in forming an alliance with this group that so supported peace.
It was here that the elves, much to their surprise, discovered that the art of sphere-focused magic had been preserved even through the fall of first Hyathan civilization ... and even more so, the humans have developed it further into six separate spheres. They were both impressed and amused that Geomancy was in "development," though it only resembled the elementary form of what the elves already practiced*.
The earliest alliances were formed between what is now known as the Vivomancers and the Geomancers with, once more, an open exchange of knowledge between the two nations. This alliance runs strong even today.
It was after this peaceful coexistence was formed between Arboria and Luminii that the elves once again began to explore outside of their great cities within the forest, to the rest of the realms that have now formed into their own unique nations: Thermador, Oceanuus, and even Cloosidian and Balthazor.
*Note: The magical arts first termed as Druidism naturally developed within the elves due to their inherent link to the earth-spirit, and was a religious society far before their arrival upon the continent of Hyathis. Recent advances into Druidism by humans have proven the art to be not wholly elven in nature, either, as was the elves' claim for many years. More notes on elven history can be found in the history of the Druids.
The elves are of the same average height as humans, some ranging taller and some ranging shorter. But the common thread that seems to run within the elven heritage seems to be their slim frame, pointed ears, and almond-shaped eyes; features that lends them a fae air. Unlike the offworld elves, however, the elves of Arboria have ears that are pointed more horizontally than vertically, their length ranging up to half a foot outward. These enlarged ears that are capable of limited movement, give them their heightened sense of hearing along with their magical blood. Astute observers of elves can sometimes just watch the slight movement of the elven ears to sense their mood, or the direction of an elf's focus and attention.
Like the offworld elves, many say that the elves of Arboria are lighter of bone, making them naturally quicker on their feet. Their complexion can vary however, depending upon an elf's fondness for the sun. Druidic elves or those that live in Thermador, who are likely to spend their entire day under the sun, may be darkly tanned, whereas a Geomancer elf who prefers the polished interiors of a stone building may sport a fair and light complexion. Another feature that distinguishes the elves from the humans is their vibrant color of hair. Ranging from stark white to midnight black, with shades of blues, greens ... even candy pink ... to normal blonde or brunette, elven hair lends yet another credence to the old adage that the elves are distant cousins to the colorful faerie.
As the elves say, "this has yet to be proven." Should one fancy to dye his or her hair an unnatural color, people would remark that they were "touched by the elves."
Elven to human lifespan ratio is ten to one, which means a 200 year old elf looks 20 years old in human age. This also means, for the first 10 years of their lives, an elf will have body of a one year old equivalent human baby. Magic that is entwined with the physiology of elves act to slow down the growing and degrading process. Does this mean that elven babies need 20 years to learn to speak? Nope. Because as they are still exposed to the environmental stimulus and training throughout those 10 years (language, song, poetry, coordination and the rest), so such things as coordination, education, and speech are far, far advanced compared to a human. They learn to talk after the first year and so on.
There is a delicate balance between capability determined by environmental factors, and capacity determined by the maturity of the body, with their magical nature thrown into the mix. Elven babies in the first five decades of their lives are pretty vulnerable, highly developed and fully intelligent, but still in a small helpless body. They are strictly protected and raised in a highly sheltered environment, and never let out outside of an elven society. Non-elves never see just how elves truly age. It is a well-kept cultural secret amongst the elves.
Regarding perception of passage of time, a day to an elf is a day to a human. As in, the time isn't moving in some molasses matrix time for the elves. They carry on the routines of the day as same as humans. So then why haven't the elves taken over the world?
Because they have the elongated lives, they do not feel the need to overly dedicate themselves to anything in particular. They've got all the time in the world to study, train, and such, that a dedication that has to be found in humans who become highly knowledgeable, never has to be found in skilled elves. If an elf was dedicated solely to one craft, they would become incredibly bored of it come their fifth decade of the same study. It is just not in their cultural make-up to encourage that kind of dedication.
So if an elf puts five years into a study of a craft, they learn the same thing a human would in five years. They just don't feel the need to concentrate their efforts on one sole thing alone, because why should they? They have all the time in the world to come back to it. This is also the reason why many cultures perceive elves as superfluous because most of them do take part in enjoying the arts and poetry, because the culture encourages it, and everyone has time to indulge in it.
This same outlook is reflected in the study of Geomancy, where after some years of study within the Earth Tower, they are sent out into the world to serve the community, rather than learn learn within the institution. They are encourage to take part in other things as well as bond with nature, and serve and teach the community.
Sexual maturity is a fun thing for the elves. Once they reach the hundreth year, and through until their second century, their curiosity in sexual relations blossoms. They are also known to be quite carefree in their lovemaking and loving. It is the time of exploring themselves and their passionate whims, and it is completely acceptable in the elven society to have younger elves explore many lovers. This expectation and acceptance however, does not extend to elven-human inter-relations.
It is also in this age that some elves do make their first venture out into the world outside of the elven society, and that is where the myths that elves are "smaller creatures" originated because during this time the elves are in the body of a teenager. But their mental capacity is that of someone who has lived 100 to 200 years, just without the outlook of an old man, "I have lived my years..." They are also highly coordinated because they've been practicing now for a century.
Because they are magical creatures, they do not need to carry a fetus in their womb for nine years. One year. Slightly longer than a human, but not overly long. But also because this is a magically taxing process for the elves, elves do not reproduce as often as humans or rabbits do. Hence, no overpopulation.
The father generally heads the family. But the old adage holds true in many households, that there can always be a better woman behind a good man. Surnames are passed to sons and unwed daughters.
Elves mate for life, once they are wed. But any deviation from this can happen as it does in any society. But there is no official "divorce" and an elf is expected to take just one mate.
With elves however, there is a greater spiritual bond that can also be formed that seems to somehow link their spirit-souls together. An elf must allow it to happen, and it links him/her to the spirit and life of the mate they have bonded themselves to. Their partner becomes their anacéile, their Soul-Chosen. Through this bond they know of their mate's well-being, proximity versus distance, and some say even communicate through dreams. One also suffers greatly when their Soul-Chosen dies.
This bond is not necessarily formed between all wed elven couples, nor is marriage a requisite for the bond to be formed. It is said that the bond is formed through some great emotional event or during a time of passionate intimacy. This bond is not a common thing amongst elves for they cannot create a bond when and with whom they wish. The special connection must be naturally present, and that is beyond an elf's control, no matter what their feelings are for that person. The Soul-Bond finds the elf, not the other way around. And it is not a stigma for an elf if this special connection is not found with whom they have fallen in love with or wed. Some elves even openly declare it a curse, for it has been known to split apart loving devoted couples. But if the Soul-Bond finds a couple who are deeply in love, none would deny the strength of a love between anacéilen. This bond is not made very often nor lightly, because it is lifelong and poses much pain should the partner die. Some elves may chose to do without such suffering even if it can be formed.
Rare incidences of an elf finding their Soul-Chosen with a non-elf has been known to happen. This is a stigma within the elven society, and it is a taboo for the elves to even consider allowing themselves to form such a bond with non-elves for great suffering is inevitably to follow.
How an elf chooses to live depends entirely upon their location. If they live in Thermador, they do as Thermadorians do, etc. But for most elves that live in Arboria, one theme runs true: Live in peace with the land.
The earliest teachings of the elven history support a harmonic coexistence between the elves and the Mother Earth -- also known as Gaia. Through the centuries they have upheld this truth above all, and it is still a strongly held belief today.
It was after the formation of alliance between Arboria and Luminii that there was any significant influx of humans into the forestlands, and though the elves frowned upon their ignorant ways of life in relation to the Mother Earth, they tolerated their presence. Some elves even incorporated themselves into the human society that was springing up within the forestlands, in an effort to teach them the ways of the elves. The elven stance against human encroachment softened, and the elven nation welcomed the humans that wanted to live on their land and learn of their ways.
Unfortunately, not all the humans who came to the forestlands wanted to live in harmony with Mother Nature. Many saw much profit to be gained by massive logging and expansive ore-mining, both practices which were forbidden by the elves. Many humans disagreed with this, accusing the Arborian government, then termed the Elven Hand, of persecuting humans and not allowing them to prosper.
It was then that Icaruss rose to power and defied all authority in Hyathis. The humans who wanted to claim Arboria for their own sided with the mad sorcerer and took advantage of his war in order to engage the elves. Suddenly the elven government was under fire by both the human rebels and Icaruss' forces, and Cennebrae itself came close to falling from the forces that betrayed it from within. But through their alliance with the Druidic society, which by then had a strong human presence that openly opposed Icaruss, the elves and their allies defeated the human uprising. That organization responsible for the uprising was termed The Resistance.
Since the fall of Icaruss, all humans who had standing or held positions of power within the elven society lost their positions and wealth, and were exiled. Those that remained, or were responsible for crimes, were condemned into life of servitude.
The elven society prospers once more, though there are current uneasy stirrings with the resurgence of a society that also calls itself The Resistance. Due to their long lives, most Arborian elves today still remember the war with Icaruss and the original Resistance, and look to the humans with distrust. Many, however, have lost this bitterness, seeing the humans that have taken up the ways of the Druids and the Rangers, with Cytorak "Brownleaves," the reigning High Druid, as their prime example of a man peacefully coexisting with nature.
All is not fair with the elves, but all is not lost.
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