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Elves, also known as the Elvenkind, or Elderfolk, are an ancient race of humanoid beings that once ruled the greatest empire ever seen on the planet. In the modern day, elves are divided into various subracial groups that are very contentious with each other, following their own history, cultures, and identities.

History

Origin and the Eldar Era

The elves are an aged race that were the first to develop known records and the basis for civilization. In the Terenic Era the elves were known to have formed a collective of tight-knit communities in their homeland, developing their own unique society, culture, language, and beliefs. These communities were small, and sometimes fought each other, but usually kept to themselves.

The Eldar Empire at its greatest extent

The elves truly started asserting their dominance under First King Aethelion, the one who started the first elvish records and began the Eldar Era calendar, though he only began the process of recording long into his reign. Uniting the elvish communities together, Aethelion began a rapid period of advancement and expansion, forming the Eldar Empire. His descendants would rule this empire, and thanks to its organized military and advanced weaponry was able to claim huge territories, reaching from the southern tip of Montia to Loria Lake in the Eastern Realms.

However, it was merely too large for the elves to hold for indefinite periods, especially as new rivalries began to form between various elven nobles. In addition, many new mystery cults began to spread across the empire as many nobles began to convert and pray to dark spirits and beings. In 923 Trow Helecan "the Darkbringer" created the Zildar or Dark Elves, and led them to the southern portions of the empire. With newfound and dark powers, the Trow Empire was formed and quickly went to war with the remaining elves.

Fall and Rise of Empires

The Lorian elves remained in the east, while the Quenian travelled far to the west.

This conflict greatly weakened the Eldar Empire, over the next few centuries it would shrink in size. In particular, the territories in the Eastern Realm would fall, though one group of elves remained around Loria Lake, becoming the Lorian or Lake Elves. In addition during this so-called "Elvish Migration Period" during the late Eldar Era, a large group of elves migrated far to the west, becoming the Quendar or Quenian wood elves.

Elvenkind would struggled during the Ananor Era. The Eldar Empire would limp along for a few more centuries, growing weaker and smaller, until finally it was destroyed utterly during the Orc Wars. The First Trow Empire, meanwhile, prospered, but was weakened by the Orc Wars as well. However, it fell apart thanks after a devastating civil war and then a resultant succession crisis, breaking up into a variety of small states around 720 AE. In addition, the Dokalfar elves were born during this period as well. The Quenian and Lorian elves, meanwhile, continued to develop and prosper themselves. The Eldar meanwhile began reforming their broken empire, thanks largely to the efforts of the Elkrana dynasty, and thus creating the Elkrana Empire.

Kina Era

In the Kina Era the Second Trow Empire would be reformed, and the two major elvish empires would battle in the costly and bloody Imperial War from 199-207 KE, though there was no true victor. Both regimes would survive for most of the Kina Era, until 1167 when the Second Trow Empire collapsed thanks to internal pressures and broke up into several small independent states.

Jian Era

In the early Jian Era the elves survived in their various groups, with the Lorian elves struggling to survive in the east while the Quenian battled with kobblins, yotunn, and other races in the west. The Trow fought several wars with each other, while the Elkrana empire began to stagnate. In the mid-Jian Era the Western Wars and Hundred Year Plague devastated Avaia, leading to the end of the Elkrana Empire. For the Trow however, this weakened their bickering states enough for one powerful force to reunite them. From 1450-1479 JE D'elzed conquered its neighbors and formed the Third Trow Empire. Around the same time, the Eldar elves quickly reunited and created the Elerisyensian Empire. The remaining independent elvish groups, such as the Quenian or Dokalfar, were subsumed into new states and governments.

Modern Age

In the modern age, the elves are either parts of greater nations, or divided between the major elvish camps, these being the Trow or Eldar. Still an ancient and often haughty people, the struggle in the constantly changing world, always hoping to rebuild their former glories of the past, with the Trow and the Eldar vying for supremacy, and the Dokalfar, the Quendian, and Lorian elves all parts of greater nations, struggling with their own burdens.

Biology

Physiology

Elves essentially possess normal human attributes, but ones that are greatly exceeding those of any human. Elves are naturally faster and more agile than regular humans, possessing fair features, long flowing hair for males and females, long fingers and greater height. In addition, most elves have better hearing and sight than other races. However, some features, such as skin tone, eye color, and a few other characteristics vary greater between the various elvish folks.

Special Traits

Long Ears

Elves are famed for the length of their longer and pointed ears. These has often earned them the derogatory name of "longears" or "sharpears" though the exact ear length varies greatly between different elvish groups. Dokalfar are known to have the longest ears, while the Eldar have the shortest, tiny pointed ends to their ears.

The Aetern Curan

All elves are gifted with what they term the Aetern Curan or "Great Blessing" said to have been given to them at their race's birth, and a sign of their divine superiority over all other races. The Aetern Curan includes a number of natural abilities (in some cases, almost supernatural) the elves possess. They more resistant to several diseases, though plenty of deadly virus can be very crippling to them, possess extended lifetimes, usually living up to 200 or even 300 years and have youthful complexions during there entire lifetime. In addition, all elves have extended healing capabilities, able to heal wounds must faster than other races and are much more resistant to deadly injuries. Finally, all elves posses an innate connection to magic, and due to their long lifespans are able to become masters of the arcane arts. The Aetern Curan thus makes elves extremely skilled and powerful warriors, and in large armies they are nearly matchless. However, the Great Blessing does not protect them from fire or poisons, which their enemies have made use for centuries.

Subraces

The Elven subraces

Elves are divided into several major ethnic groups, who are so different that they are frequently thought of as different elvish subraces. Most of these different groups differ widely from each other, both in language, culture, and religious beliefs.

Eldar

An Eldar priestess of the Church of Nasera

Translated to as the "Fairfolk" the Eldar (known by humans as the High Elves) are the basis for other elven cultures and races. They descend from the Old Eldar, the original elvish peoples that formed the Eldar Empire of the Eldar Era, when their race was the most advanced and powerful on Avaia. Following the decline of said empire, the Eldar elves suffered through crisis after crisis, trying to remake their old glories. This has taken the form of the various different Eldar empires, most recently the Elerisyensian Empire, ruled by a powerful Eldar dynasty of the same name.

Known to be haughty and arrogant, the Eldar follow ancient traditions and rituals, and have an innate belief that they are better than other races, though their pride has been humbled many times over the ages. They despise change, for change related to chaos, and the end of their glorious empire of ages past. Thus, the Eldar are known to be very traditional, making them seem stagnant and archaic to other races, and constantly trying to remake their empire, currently in its third incarnation. The Eldar are, however, known for their elaborate and elegant grace in all things, as well as beautiful clothing, architecture, and poetry, and they have created some of the most glorious buildings and pieces of art ever seen in all of Avaia. In addition, they are touched with magical talents, but prefer to use only the mastered forms and spells carefully crafted after thousands of years by previous elvish arcanists, and Eldar magicians are some of the most powerful in all of Avaia.

The Eldar are physically very beautiful, with pale skin and long flowing blonde hair, and glistening eyes. They possess short and only slightly tipped ears, and could almost be mistaken for beautiful tall humans (a grave mistake to make, however, in the sight of the Eldar themselves).

Eldarines

The Eldar were once a large and wide-spread people, and have frequently struggled to maintain their empires over the ages. During periods of disunity, it was only natural that some elves would remain distinct and apart, and the Eldarines are one such group of Eldar. One of the surviving remnants on the eastern edge of the Elerisyensian Empire, the Eldarines are a group of elves currently apart of the Union of Ralecalia. These Eldar have a long allied history with the Duland humans to the south, whom they have long fought with against orcs, dwarves, and Trow. This close connection has made the Eldarine Eldar unique in that they worship the same spirits as the Duland (except for a very small minority right in the east) and a willingness to accept and honor humans, even choosing to unify with them over the Eldar. For this reasons the Eldarines have discordial relations with their mother-culture.

East Coast Eldar

The Eldar slowly retreated from the Eastern Realms as their empire crumbled apart, but along the eastern coastline where the last Eldar cities remained intact, a group of Eldar choose to remain in their new homes, forming their own states separate from their brothers across the sea. These became known as the East Coast Eldar, who soon formed a series of kingdoms under a confederacy. During the height of the Canian Empire they paid homage to the human empire, but were only actually annexed by the Republic of Vilrech.

The East Coast Eldar are nowadays very unique, remnants of Eldar culture right on the coast of Vilrech, though religiously they all long ago converted to Lithranism. Expert sailors, they have earned a place in Vilrech, but this has come at the cost of being rejected by the "true Eldar" who do not see the East Coast residents as "true elvish Eldar"

Zildar/Trow

A female Trow, or Dark Elf

Translated to as the "Darkfolk" (known to humans as the Dark Elves), the Zildar are the descendants of those who followed Trow Helecan into worshipping various dark spirits, thus becoming more widely known as the Trow. The Trow reside along the southeastern coastline of Montia, and have been united three times into three different empires, which periodically break up into various small states. Currently, the Zildar are united under the D'ezeldian Empire and enjoy their hegemony over the southern coast of Avaia, though the stability of the Third Trow Empire remains to be seen.

The Trow are known to be harsher and crueler than their Eldar cousins (whom they loath), as well as being more chaotic and freedom-loving. Extramarital affairs are common and even encouraged in certain circumstances, and during Trow golden ages they are known to engage in lavish and wild hedonistic practices, from slave fights to drunken orgies. However, they are also quite quick of mind and during periods of broken unity they can be harsh, cold, and unyielding, and have even surprised the orcs with their stoutness. Zildar magic is wild and rampant, with the Trow encouraging free-style forms of magical arts and training, and Trow mages are carefree but powerful in their unpredictability.

The Trow are perhaps the most different of all elven species, with black or dark skin of various shades, flowing black (or rarely) pale white hair, and glistening red eyes. Despite this, the Zildar still possess the trademark graceful features of elves, and are known to be very seductive and secretive, leading to the common phrase of "As trustworthy as a Trow!"

Quendar/Quenian

A Quenian ranger

Translated to as the "Woodfolk" (known to humans as the Wood Elves), the Quendar were a unique group of elves that followed Solas Lunathion across the west, led by the holy Triune of spirits. Eventually settling in a far western region, the Quenian formed into a variety of small communities under a King of Leaves, frequently fighting with the yotunn, kobblins, and later aj'snaga. During the Western Wars they battled the yotunn and later kobblin confederacy, but eventually united with several yotunn tribes and dwarven communities to help form the United Republic of Montia.

Despite their association with forests and thick woods, the Quendar stretch over a wide area with varying climates, from the small Therenthi Grasses to the deeply forested Kelenial Taiga. The Quenian do, however, have a deep reverence for the forests and natural environment, and try to live in harmony with it, and are especially known for their "woodsingers" who create choral songs that they sing to the trees in order to spur on growth. They are famed for their simple leather dresses embroidered with colorful patterns, but most famous are the Quenian Ranger Corps, who patrol the Republic of Monita's borders with excellent skill and secrecy.

Physically, the Quendar are similar to the Eldar or Lorian elves, but are slightly slimmer and faster, and most notably have longer ears than either of them. They are also known to possess deeper hair colors, usually brown or black.

Lordar/Lorian

The Lorian Empire at its greatest extent

Translated to as the "Lakefolk" (known to humans as the Lake Elves), the Lordar have had the most interactions with mankind than any other elvish race. When the Old Eldar began to retreat and their empire began to crumble, one group of elves refused to leave the region around Loria Lake, becoming the Lorian or Lake Elves. The Lorians would reside in only a few small cities and settlements, but in the early Ananor Era they organized under the wise administrative reign of Sylvar Ergwyn, even forming a regional Lorian Empire. However, the rampaging human tribes inevitably came into with them and shattered their empire. Despite this, the Lorians would survive for thousands of years, working out trade relations with human nations, though they gradually dwindled in size. As their numbers continued to grow smaller, humans continued to exert more pressure upon the Lorians, who took on the role of sailors and traders around the lake, becoming credited merchants, and left largely alone. However, recently the Republic of Vilrech annexed the territories of the Lorians following several owed debts the Lorians owed the republic, as well as due to nationalistic and political pressures. Despite this, the Lorians have, for the most part, remained content, able to benefit off of various economic benefits given by Vilrech.

Modern-day Lorians have a very distinctive culture, revering the waters of the lake itself, and centering their culture around trade, fishing, sailing, and the water. They produce beautiful flowing patterns based upon waves and water, and have many elaborate festivals, usually including fire and water. Lorian culture also has a deep emphasis on dance, which is related to several customs (from marriage ceremonies to oath-making), and they are skilled in fishing and sailing as well, The Lordar also have long history with moneylending and working as merchants. Despite being an elven race, the Lorians care considerably less about magic than their cousins across the sea, partly due to their own taboos about it, and the distrust many humans have for it. Many Lorians, in fact, are quite accepting of human ideas and culture, with a small portion of Lordar even converted to Lithranism (though it should be noted that a very small portion of neighboring humans have converted to Lorian beliefs as well).

The Lordar are very similar to their Eldar cousins, with pale complexions and fair features, though the Lorians are known to have slightly longer ears, and deep green eyes. They possess flexible bodies and are excellent swimmers, able to hold their breath for long periods of time.

Tarayn Selanidis, a Dokalfar noblewoman leading the rebellion against the Trow.

Dokalfar/Dokdar

Translated to as the "Nightfolk" (known to humans as the Night Elves), the Dokalfar are a rare subspecies of the Trow. In a similar fashion to the origins of the Zildar, the Dokdar were born from a pact with a Valduri being, causing the Night-Blessing and the creation of the Dokalfar. Led by Tanyisa Sardonia they settled in a northern region, forming their own state separate from the rest of the Trow. Conflict between the two elvish races has been quite frequent, and in the currant age, the Dokalfar are fighting in an uprising against the Trow.

The Dokalfar are noticeably different from the Trow, with a deep reverence for the moon and the night, and famed for their elegant dresses and love of song and dance. In many respects they are the combinations of the orderly Eldar and the wild Trow, believing in a sort of balance between ideals, represented in the figure of the moon, which is "neither burning hot like the sun, or pitch black like the night". They are skilled artisans and perhaps the most magically inclined group of elves, with mages forming the core of their society. All Dokalfar are expected to be able to wield spells, and they use these natural talents to create wonders and provide for most of their needs.

Physically, they are brighter than the Trow, with a light gray to purplish shaded skin, various tattoo-like markings on their faces, long deep hair, and very long ears. Interesting as well, the Dokdar also have glowing pale eyes, the "Crescend-Mark" and supposed to be a sign of their blessed nature and specific status as the Nightfolk

Culture & Society

Religions and Spirituals Beliefs

The religions of elves

The elves have many different beliefs, all originally stemming from their ancient animistic customs. Elves worshiped innumerable spirits and beings, and a few notably powerful ones called the orishas.

Following the fracturing of the Eldar Empire the different elvish races, while generally following similar fundamental beliefs, began worshiping different beings and beings in different ways. Several specific orishas arose and fell in prominence among the various elven races. Most elves worship minor or major spirits and deities tied to natural cycles, though recently the human religion of Lithranism has been growing among them.

Eldarism

For more information see here.

The largest and most organized of elvish beliefs, with over 3.7 million followers, Eldarism was a direct offspring of the chaos following the fall of the Eldar Empire. Worship in the one Elduri known as Hlynasera, a dualistic god/goddess, representing the forces of chaos and order, and playing into the Eldar's belief in the natural rising and falling cycles of their empire and world.

Despite the Eldar's long and complex religious history, a small but growing number of isolated Eldar in the far north of the empire are converting to Lithranism, along with the northern drakes of the region.

Trow Beliefs

For more information see here.

The Trow worship a plethora of mysterious Valduri in several mystery cults, with many rumors abounding about terrible practices and vile rituals performed, though their is plenty of exaggeration in many of these stories. Most Trow spent some lengthy period in any mystery cult or worship of a Valduri, embracing their chaotic heritage. Due to the large size of the Trow, and the endless possibilities one can take for religion and faith, there exists a constant unseen tension, and all manner of religious fighting and behind-the-scenes machinations can result, leading to even more instability in Trow society.

Other Elven Beliefs

For more information see here, and here, and here.

The other elvish peoples have their own distinctive worship practices and beliefs, but are usually quite similar in most regards. The exact Valduri or Elduri they worship, and how they worship them, is often different, but all elves are quite faithful in any regard.

Each elvish culture has, however, been affected by its neighbors, including in religion. The northern Quenian, for example, worship the same gods and ancestors as the yotunn, despite wide cultural differences, due to their long history, while the Dokalfar have only recently been introduced to Lithranism, which has yet to make any headway in their culture.

Other

Less than five percent of elves follow a non-elven belief system. A small amount of these are the Quenian elves in the far west, who worship the same spirits as the yotunn. However, many elves are now converting towards the originally human religion of Lithranism. Notably strides have been in Eldar, Lorian, and Trow cultures. As part of the Lithranism movement in the region, many Trow, along the northeastern edge of D'elzed, are intrigued by this new belief, and several small cult-like groups have grown around the religion. While relatively informal for now, more organized Lithranism priests and even Trow clergy are beginning to emerge, and the Trow in this small but growing region are beginning to grow serious about their new beliefs. Lithranist Trows are rapidly changing their ways, and are growing more zealous by passionate priests and clergymen, adding more friction into the unstable nation. Some are even beginning to whisper of a holy rebellion...

Culture

Elvish culture is multi-faceted thanks to the many subraces that make up elvenkind, making any summary of one culture practically impossible. However, a few key characteristics are generally present in all elven cultures. Elves normally value excellence, grace, and beauty in all things, be they art, language, culture, architecture, etc. In addition, they are especially known to be quite arrogant in any regard, viewing themselves as inherently superior than other races, be they man, dwarf, or drake.

Society

Elvish society is usually centered around any powerful magnate and figurehead, someone who demonstrates powerful skill and talents, though rival factions and houses are just as frequent. Elves themselves distaste more menial work and labor, and so strive to employ servants or lower classes to do more difficult work for them, thus often resulting in a very clear class system.

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