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Elves

... i knelt before Tiairi in the center of a large area, that was mostly covered in darkness. It was night and only Emonaras pale light fell through the leaves, creating eerie, greenish tinted columns in the fog of water and organic dustmotes. The place was a crossroad of several giant branches and a marketplace at once, I had been here already, and so i knew that beyond the shadows it was still much larger. In this moment all my attention was focused on Tiairi though. I held her battered face and comforted her wounded body. Hamanuk, the chieftain of the Umalaq-Sitha was a capable healer and had done a great job saving her, so i was sure she would survive and heal, but seeing her like this, breath shallow, a red bandage around her belly, i felt rage boiling up in me, and my gnashing teeth showed.   Chieftain Hamanuk put his hand on my shoulder. He stood next to me, ironwood sword still drawn, but pointing downward non threatening. We were surrounded by more Sitha warriors and also their Draks, green scaled, wingless dragon creatures that reminded in their posture at dogs, but in their size at horses. One of them was still gnawing on the body of my former comrades... yet after what these "comrades" had done, what they had tried to do to Tiairi and then me, i couldn't care less, and so i granted the beast it's feast. Things were different here anyhow: Nothing goes to waste in the Eternal Forests. One thing Tiairi had taught me.   "I thank you for your help, Hamanuk of the Umalaq-Sithai. I know that she is Norn, and that you..." i began   "Stop right there, Sulacio. The right of hospitality is sacred, and those who are our guests enjoy the same protection as our own people. Even the Norn. Even the Humans. It is not you who has to thank us... it is us who have to thank you." the chieftain answered, and left me perplexed.   "I don't understand..." I answered truthfully.   "She is Umalaq-Norn, a daughter of the other tribe that lives on this tree. The tattoo on her shoulder betrays it. They are fewer, but as you witnessed with her, what they lack in numbers, they make up for with determination and battle skill. And if she would have died here... under our watch, the war would have returned to our branches..."   "But... Why?" i inquired further, even though, deep inside i knew the answer already.   "Greed..." the chieftain answered. "The Umalaq-Sithai... and to some part also the Umalaq-Norn, rule this area. And it is full with things humans desire: Ironwood, Cryst flowers, tameable draks. And if we fight each other..."   He didn't have to continue. I understood.   "We were just lucky, that you were at her side, when they wanted to strike. They didn't seem to have expected that..."   I smiled and it hurt, but i didn't want to tell him about me and Tiairi, and why we were sharing our restplace. For one thing i had the impression that he knew anyway, and for the other, not even my former "teammates" had known what had blossomed between me and the norn scout.   "Don't you think they will return?" I asked.   "Others might, but they? They are alone, hurt and without guide in Umalaq's deep branches. They won't return, they will die" he answered and knelt down next to me, before continuing:   "Lets bring her to the shamans cave. He can bring you a healing, dreamless sleep and also ease her healing meditation by entering it"   "Too bad they also took my diary..." i mourned, as the Sitha lifted her onto a transport lie made of ironwood and onauru leaves.   "Was it really that important?" the chieftain asked. I started with a nod while i answered:   "It was meant to help me write a book once i return from the eternal forests, but now... "   My nod froze. I looked at Tiairi, who was safe now, then into Hamanuk's big green eyes, and then at the darkness which hid the surrounding, neverending but everchanging wilderness...   "... i don't think i will."
— Sulacio Kerbikonen and Hamanuk of the Umalaq-Sithai talk after the fight that became basis of a profound friendship.
 
"Father... i must inform you, that i have heard the call. The deep roads are demanding for me..."   The old Norn, bent over a large kettle which was emanating a reddish fog, most likely another one of his healing potions or balms, stopped stirring the fluid immediately, startled by the words of his only son Tondak. He had seen many winters, and lost many Norn souls to the darkness beneath, even though, as it is usual with elves, his appearance didn't show this age. He hadn't reached the age of ailment yet, and he had always hoped that his son would take over when he did.   "Go to…" he started, but his son interrupted him mid sentence.   "I went to the stone of second chances already. This is the second time we have this conversation, father. The stone won't help me anymore…"   "We have probably a few weeks… months till it becomes unbearable…. i could try to figure out a cure… I know i tried so often... but there has to be one… If i work tirelessly…" the old norn babbled hectically, but his son again shut him down mid sentence.   "There is none and you know. Those who hear the call must go, you know that. I prepared everything. Friends will bind my eyes and lead me to the underdark, so i won't find back so easily. There i will reside until the beasts below slay me, or i turn into drow and join the armies below. I won't risk our society for a few days and a hopeless endeavor. Prepare some words to warn the others not to follow me.   The old norn inhaled, and tears welled up in the turquois giant eyes. He nodded. He knew it was the best and only way. But it was so painful. "What else can i do..." he asked, somewhat rhetorically, but his son answered nevertheless:   "I could need a good hug right about now…"
— Turasa Trustroot , Shaman of the Andulak Norn, and his son Tondak talking, shortly before Tondak vanished in the caverns of the underdark.  
   
"You must give to the church, what belongs to the church."   The tall figure straightened, giving the black haired eadun tax collector a slightly threatening appearance, when his head almost touched the ceiling of the low salesroom. The men behind him, two human guards who still wore their helmets, which made it difficult to make out their features in the halfshadow, didn't appear less threatening either. But people rarely gave the taxes freely. They did so when they were strongly pious, but the man certainly wasn't. In his head the eadun elf made a mental note, that someone should soon take a look at the family, and check if they were worshipping the right gods.   The store keeper, a man of middle age, with somewhat thin blond hair, but a build like a blacksmith, grabbed behind the counter and took out a short sword from underneath.   "No… what do we get from the church anyway? They bleed us out. And what for? My family needs food before it needs protection… Also... what kind of tax collector are you anyway?. Elvish? The church ought to protect us from your kin!"   "I consider this an insult… human... The kingdom of Haven doesn't take it lightly when you scrutinize the legitimacy of eadun citizens. And there is no higher proof of citizenship than working hard to levy taxes. Take him guys, and when you brought him to the brig, make sure the home is searched for forbidden religious tokens. Lets see if we can add heresy to the list of criminal offenses. "   The elf squinted his eyes almost mischievously,   "...And lets see how good his family gets along, when there is no one feeding them for the next six months…"
— A scene in Aidrun.  

Basic Information

Genetics and Reproduction

Even though Elves have genitals just like humans, this misled many humans into thinking that the procreation works the same. Like more than half of the species on Ardu, Elves belong to the seedless genotype, and like all representatives of this genotype, males produce no fertile seed, and female no eggs, making the procreation a matter of both the personal fae of the partners inolved and their willingness to procreate.   During the act, if triggered by the will to procreate, the personal fae of both partners join, sample genes of both partners and create a new life in the female body. The will that drives this process is usually the will of both partners, however, if the will of one partner is strong enough, or enhanced by magical means, the singular intention of one partner might suffice to trigger the process. All elves besides the drow consider such an act a crime though, whereas drow elves consider it the only reasonable way of procreation, as it conforms to their philosophy of the survival of the fittest, and ensures that those may procreate who can opress their will on others.   Humans, who, like all soulbearing species, create their own personal fae, are not excluded from this kind of procreation, making halfelves, an, albeit rare, possibility, which is most common between Eadun and humans.   As a side effect elf women do not show a phase of heightened fertility every 30 days like humans do, and they also do not have a period, a trait many a human woman envies them for.

Growth Rate & Stages

Elves do not age like humans. They reach maturity at around 16 to 17 years and keep their youthful apperance for almost their whole life, which lasts about 100 to 110 Years. This trait led to the false human belief that elves are actually immortal. The truth is, that only in the last few years of their life, they come into a phase of a quick degradation, which leaves them frail and in need of protection, that, unless they are drow, the tribe and the children happily provide until death takes them.

Additional Information

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Elves live almost everywhere on Ardu.   Most Sitha elves still live in The Eternal Forests and on the Evergreen Peninsula, however some tribes still inhabit other primeval forests, like the Wooden Bow and the Wolven Forests. Even the Long Forest far in the north holds some Sitha Tribes.   Norn elves are further spread, yet, even after the Norn Exodus, some tribes still live in The Eternal Forests, and continue to inhabit the lower levels of the worldtrees. Far in the east, the Norn are ruling the massive realm of Cun Moragh Norn, which is governed by the norn queen on her throne in Carcosa and which holds the majority of Norn on Ardu today. But besides them, there are still other Norn tribes living in the forests of Caldaven, Aquira, Culmeria and also the Wolven Forests far in the northwest of Ardu.   The Eadun elves live with the humans and are usual part of human settlements, even though Eadun elves try to remain aloof from their neighbors. The most Eadun live in the Kingdom of Haven, yet they also spread over the whole globe, and there is no human realm today which does not have it's share of eadun elven or halfelven citizens.   The drow live in the giant labyrinthine network called underdark, which spans beneath all of Ardu. Here they build their cities, and here they return to from their raids on the surface world. A large hub is naturally found beneath Cun Moragh Norn and The Eternal Forests, but as the underdark knows no boundries, so don't the drow.

Perception and Sensory capabilities

Elven eyes are adapted to the constant dim light of the forests, and thus more responsive to light, allowing elves to see up to 60 feet under usual night conditions without any inhibition, although absolute darkness blinds them just like it does with humans. Drow, who inhabit the constant darkness of the underdark, have adapted even better and can see almost twice this distance without inhibition, yet are at disadvantage when exposed to bright daylight, due to being blinded.   As elven do not dream, but rather meditate in a dreamless sleep, they do not enter the counterrealm like humans do. This inhibits their connection to the fae and makes them more resilient against being charmed. Also magic can't put them to sleep as there is no connection to exploit.

Civilization and Culture

Common Taboos

Not a taboo per se, more of an instinct: Elves try to avoid touching the ground as much as possible. This instinct stems from the fact that in the primeval forests, which are made of world trees, so much biomass lands on the ground level, that it has become its own biosphere. Many predators hide in the boggy ground, waiting for some careless person to step, where he or she better shouldn't. Also the ground itself is often not as reliable as it seems, hidden swampholes may suck a careless wanderer into a wet murky death within minutes, if he hasn't been eaten by other predators already, who are only waiting for a chance like this.   All elves still share this tick. It is (of course) weakest with the Eadun elves, due to their centuries long resocialisation, and strongest with the Sitha. It is also completely subconscious, because the elves of course know that the ground in a city is harmless, yet, whenever they can, they try to hold on to something that allows them to get their feet off the ground.   It is also the reason why drow move through the underdark rather climbing then running, making them seem almost eerily spiderlike when they move through a tunnel by its walls and ceiling, a sight that has shocked many an adventurer who went there, and something that further lends to the fairy tale that Drow and the giant spiders of the underdark mate in order to create even more terrifying creatures.

History

A History in Differences

  Depending on which elf is asked, so changes the history of the elves, and each version has its own inconsistencies.  

Earliest History (Sitha and Norn)

  The Sitha and Norn do show a significant overlap in their stories, yet only few tribes write it down or keep a legendstone large enough to hold everything, such that legend and fact mix. To find a common ground between Sitha tales and Norn tales one must go back to the legends which tell of a time before the great Norn Exodus. What Norn and Sitha agree on, is, that once the world was covered in forest. Once there were no Norn, no Sitha, no Eadun and no drow. Once the elves called themselves Ona Uru, the "tree people", and their home were the world trees, the Onauru trees. Then came the humans, and with them they brought destruction.   In contrast to Eadun elves and humans, Norn as well as Sitha elves argue that it was the humans, which brought The Plague, and that the elves had no part in it. The Ona Uru argued about how to face the humans and while the ancestors of the Norn wanted to fight them, claiming that The Plague was a human invention, the ancestors of the Sitha just wanted to maintain peace with the humans and, over time find a solution for The Plague, claiming that it was a natural occurrence and that Ardu produced enough ressources for all to share.   Thus began the split that led to the formation of two elven factions.  

Eadun Origin Story (Eadun and Human)

  The Eadun elves, and the humans, tell a different story. Together with the Gelfs (which the humans call gnomes), it were those ancestors of the Eadun who actively sought peace and tried to broker it with the humans, and they were opposed by those who would later become the ancestors of the Norn.   But they were betrayed by some of their own, who were secretly Norn working in their midst, and who later became the first drow. Together with one particular nasty gelfling called Gremm, these traitors had concocted The Plague. And while they also inadvertendly infected themselves with it, they also managed to infect The Founder, a holy man of the humans, who was the leader of the Church of the Creator. He had welcomed them with open arms, but, after being infected, turned into the Doombringer, the very first plaguebeast.   Appalled by these actions, the humans ended the contact and a terrible war, the Cataclysm, followed which destroyed many hometrees.   The Sitha that had tried to broker the peace didn't give up, yet, after years and years of fruitless attempts, broken heartedly they finally turned their back on their own brethren and joined the humans, calling themselves Ead uru, "True elves" which in their dialect over time turned into the word Eadun.   Today they have arrived in the human society, even though there are still animosities because of racism and the role elves played in the creation of the plague and the corruption of the founder.   They are still yet shunned from the two highest posts in the church, namely the High Inquisitor and the Primarch, yet, besides those posts, they fill almost every role humans do too in the societies they belong to, and with Conn of Caldaven they even provide an, although halfelven, king.  

The Norn Exodus (Norn)

  Around the time of the 3rd Shadow war, the Norn of The Eternal Forests grew increasingly discontent with their role in the elven society.   Once only a small subgroup of the Elves, who rebelled against the pacifistic ways of their brethren in order to protect them, they argued to take up arms against the humans. Thus, in the eyes of their brethren, they caused the catastrophic Cataclysm, the first human-elven war, which reshaped the world, and cost the elven much of their former hometrees. For this crime they were banned from the elven society and the from fertile upper layers of the world trees. They gave themselves a new name: Norn-Uru, which means "Root people", while the other elves took on the name Sitha-Uru (Leaf people) in order to distance themselves even further from the Norn.   In the centuries following their banishment, the numbers of Norn grew, their language changed and their culture, more martial and hardened by the harsh environment they inhabited, became alienated from the Sitha cultures that dominated the upper layers of their world trees.   New tensions between the Norn and Sitha arose. From the perspective of the Norn these tensions were mainly driven by two things: As the ones who inhabited the lower levels of the world trees, they were the ones hit hardest by drow raids. Nevertheless the Sitha, enjoying a very carefree life, due to the involuntary protection by the Norn, held the monopole on the fruits and products of the fertile upper levels. And they weren't ready to share, always referring to the Norn crimes of old as a justification.   A long time the Sitha were able to hold the Norn at bay, due to their superior numbers, granted by a higher fertility, which was again driven by their access to better ressources. After centuries, the Norn of different tribes had connected with each other though , and the great elven civil war begun.   Far in the east, in the region around the Anvil of Storms, the Norn succeeded in their rebellion and drove the Sitha out. Yet, in the regions of traditional Sitha dominance, like The Eternal Forests, the Evergreen Peninsula and some other, yet intact, primeval forests, where it was, due to the density of the World tree population, easier for Sitha tribes to lend assistance to each other, the rebellion proved unsuccesful, leaving the norn worse off than before, by further fueling the prejudices held by their Sitha brethren, and cementing their status as a lower caste.   Over the next centuries the Norn that lived around the Anvil of Storms forged an empire and once they felt strong enough, they called all Norn tribes to join them. And thus began the great Norn Exodus, when over seventy percent of all norn heeded the call and wandered eastward, in the largest migration Ardu had seen yet.

Lifespan
100-110 years
Average height
1.8 to 2.13 meters (6 to 7 ft)
Average weight
70 to 100 kg
Average physique
Elves are usually larger than humans, adults reaching from 6 to 7 feet, with the females being slightly smaller.   Elves feature broad, flat, almost straight noses, which broaden only slightly at the tip. Together with the large eyes and the prominent irises, this lends to a somewhat predatory, almost catlike impression. The ears of elves are elongated and end in small pointy tips.
Norn woman and Sitha man
  Elves are comparably slender, with long legs and arms, which aid them in the natural habitat: the forests. Elven feet are slim, long and feature an opposable large toe, allowing for the elf to hold on branches or ledges with their feet as well as their hands.In order to do this they must wear elven shoes, which are basically leather gloves for the feet, or none at all.
Elven feet
  Unlike humans, elves have no facial or bodily hair besides the hair on their head, which proves to be slightly thicker and faster growing than that of humans.
Body tint, colouring and marking
The skin colors of elves ranges from the dark bronze of some Sitha elf tribes, which live in The Eternal Forests, to the pale white of drow, with Norn and Eadun ranging somewhat in the middle, sporting everything from a whitish beige to a rich brown, depending on the region which they inhabit. Just like humans, elf skin, if exposed to sunlight, tends to turn darker over time.
Related Ethnicities

Comments

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1 Dec, 2018 09:08

I enjoyed envisioning the various range of elven subgroups that fill your world. The way they procreate is also fascinating! Do your Drow have an origin story as well?

1 Dec, 2018 09:51

Hello Sai, they have sort of. It centers around being freed from useless moralities by the Plague. They also do believe it was the humans who brought the Plague to Ardu. They consider themselves better than any other race and the ones naturally inclined to be the rulers by the ruthlesness that was bestowed on them by becoming drow.   It is a work in progress though as i am focussing on PC Races in the moment and am working on Humans at the moment.   I am happy you liked the rest!

2 Dec, 2018 00:18

This puts my article about my world's elves to shame. I wish i was this good with in-depth history about a race. nice work.

2 Dec, 2018 12:15

Many of the things i wrote down here i didn't really "came up with". i created a unique environement (the eternal forests) and "the Plague" first. most of the things written down here are just natural conclusions, which makes things also feel more natural, as a reader thinks "oh... of course... That's how it should be. When thinking about your species, think about where they live first, and which ressources are available there. Once you did that apply a little "evolution".   Also i had a specific campaign in mind, when creating these, which also gave me hooks to expand upon. That's how our brain works, we need little prompts that allow expanding upon. This helped a lot with the History part, as i could aim for the story i want to tell, and things basically fall in place.   Also: its not about the quantity. If your elves are D&D Elves, and for the purpose of your game a few lines of description suffice, than thats fine. Better create little and start playing. Players will come upwith better ideas than you could ever have anyway (it always happens)