- This is the story-based description of Elves. For their official character rules, go here.
The vast majority of elves on Earth live in D'hennex, in a single country covering the majority of a peninsula on the west coast of the continent. There, they serve as a buffer between the continent and anything that might arise on the Devil's Throne on one side, and are bordered by the Jungles of Ka to the east -- no one can enter via a land route without passing through the dangers of the Jungles. The Elves guard their home shores well, and repel or sink any foreign ships that might seek to land on their shores, though some adventurous elves have been known to sail to other countries to explore or to raid the undead lands. The name of their homeland is unknown to outsiders, who typically simply refer to it as 'the elven land', or some equivalent phrase. In actual fact, the elves have never bothered to name their land as anything other than 'home'.
- 1 Physical Appearance
- 2 Social Order
- 3 Language
- 4 Religion
Elves are generally humanoid in appearance -- to those unfamiliar with them, a large hat may suffice to disguise the elf as a human. Pointed ears are a universal trait amongst the elves. They tend to be quite attractive, from a human point of view, as well. Otherwise, they tend to be more lean and slender of frame than humans. In colouration, they can bear all the tones that humans can, in skin, hair, and eye colour, as well as naturally possessing some that humans usually only bear artificially.
The elven nation finds itself in what humans would consider an unusual, if not impossible, situation. At first blush, they appear to have something resembling a feudal culture, with a ruling monarch and a supporting aristocracy. However, the difficulty appears when one attempts to locate an elf who is not a member of either the royalty or the aristocracy. Literally every elf bears a noble title of one sort or another, all of which are carefully tracked by heralds (who themselves are nobles) to preserve records of their order of precedence (an extremely important thing to them).
However, elves do not view titles of nobility in the same manner as humans do -- possessing a noble title does not make them think that they deserve to have everything handed to them on a silver platter. Thus, many elves still work in what would be considered menial jobs, despite holding a title which, in a human land, would mean they would rule over a castle and have a personal army. On the other hand, even the least elf tends to think more of him or herself than of any given human.
Elven noble titles are also much more fluid than they are in human lands. Any elven noble with retainers may grant their retainers a noble title, usually up to one rank below themselves. Thus, rank typically accompanies service to a higher noble, who is in service to a higher noble, and so forth, until the monarch is reached. While there is a certain baseline that one inherits at birth, those who have earned a high rank through their own merit and effort are typically granted more respect than those who merely inherited the same title.
All titled elves belong to a House. This is something like a family, except on a much larger scale. There are three rankings of Houses: Baelandar, Banandar, and Serandar. Humans would likely refer to these as Imperial Houses, Royal Houses, and Noble Houses. Only one House is Baelandar at a time -- the current ruling House, whose highest-ranking member is the monarch of the nation. Occasionally (typically upon the death of the current monarch), the House of the deceased monarch will return to Banandar status, from which it came, and another House will become Baelandar. The Banandar Houses, in the meantime, support the rule of the Baelandar House, and typically have the rule of various territories throughout the nation. The Serandar Houses, however, can never rise to Baelandar status. These lesser Houses are typically found in more servile positions, albeit not always.
The method by which power is bloodlessly transferred from House to House is invisible to outsiders, indeed, it seems ridiculous to those accustomed to seeking and clinging to politico-economic power. In actuality, the elven ancestral spirits trigger the shift of power, always timing it to maintain the stability of the elven society. Sometimes this means ensuring that a good monarch sits on the throne. Conversely, sometimes this means ensuring that a bad monarch sits on the Jade Throne, either to prevent a worse monarch, or to teach the elven people a lesson to make them stronger. This passage of power is know to the elves as Illuiandar, which translates into the common tongue as 'The Turning'.
The Houses are named after a variety of creatures -- some of which are only found in the elven lands. The Houses traditionally take after certain aspects of these creatures, whether it be their ferocity in battle, their skill in stealth, or their cunning natures. These names are all in the elven High Tongue -- it is considered an insult to refer to a House by its namesake's name in a common language. Notably, it is not an insult to refer to a House by its namesake's name in the elven magical language, however, though this is usually only done in certain mystic rituals.
Baelandar (The Reigning Imperial House)
The current Baelandar House is the House of the Anfeuril. The Anfeuril is known to humans as the Phoenix. Its elven common name is Infaril, and its elven magical name is Tenauril.
The reigning Phoenix Emperor is <placeholder>, and he has reigned for the last one hundred and seventy-six years.
Banandar (The Houses of Royalty)
The House of the Yeuran - The Yeuran is unknown to humans, as it is a beast known solely to elven lands. It is a six-legged panther-like creature, known for great ferocity in battle, as well as cunning tactics. It hunts in packs, and elven patrols occasionally blunder and are never heard from again -- most likely due to being taken down by a Yeuran hunting pack. Its elven common name is Teuron, and its elven magical name is Garmandil. The current Yeuran Heir is <placeholder>. The House of Yeuran is renowned for producing warriors of unusual skill. War-generals are often drawn from their ranks.
The House of Jaareun - The Jaareun is known to humans as the Dragon. Its elven common name is Uinil, and its elven magical name is Ophenil. The current Jaareun Heir is <placeholder>. The House of Jaareun is renowned for mastery over rare forms of magic.
The House of Scamandil - The Scamandil is unknown to humans. It is a small feline in appearance, not much larger than the average house cat of Cardinal. However, its teeth and claws are a thousand times sharper and stronger, and it often demonstrates innate magical abilities, most commonly, the ability to teleport short distances. Elves have been known to domesticate (somewhat) the Scamandil, and use it as a watchcat and a messenger. Its elven common name is <placeholder>, and its elven magical name is <placeholder>. The current Scamandil Heir is <placeholder>. The House of Scamandil is known in war for its skill at ambushes, hit and run tactics, and other forms of guerilla warfare. In general, they are considered to be the most clever of the elves, and are often turned to whenever a plan is needed.
Serandar (The Houses of Nobility)
House of the Kannator - The Kannator is known to humans as the Horse. Its elven common name is Buranon, and its elven magical name is Eustanor. The current Kannator Heir is <placeholder>. Members of House Kannator often work in construction and menial labour, and are renowned for their laconic ways of speech more than anything.
The Houseless and the Unhoused
Two classes of elves fall into this category: those who have renounced their House, or been disowned by their House, and those who are born of a breeding between two different Houses -- a strict taboo, in Elven society.
The Houseless, those who have lost their ties to their House, are considered to be even lower than the Serandar. They typically become brigands or mercenaries -- many elves who have left the homelands are, in fact, Houseless, whatever they may claim to outsiders. They are considered to be without honour, and there is no known case of a Houseless ever being welcomed back into the fold of their House. There is a specific ritual to be followed in either case, and it always attracts the attention of House spirits -- so it can never be claimed that someone didn't perform such an act if they actually did, and vice versa.
The Unhoused, those born of illicit crossbreeding, are shamed below even the Houseless, for they are born incapable of being part of a House, and are never to know the joys of it. Ironically, if an elf were to breed successfully with a member of another race, they would be accounted as part of that House (though perhaps never honoured as another might be), rather than being considered Unhoused.
There are several organizations in the elven lands that cross House lines.
<placeholder> (Imperial Guard)
The guards of the Baelandar Palace, a vast edifice with tens of thousands of rooms, are drawn from all Houses. They give their loyalty to the current ruling House, regardless of their own House's relations. This is a matter of very strict honour, and successfully serving in the guard can give great boons to those who excel. Because it gives support and a degree of immunity, those who have fallen into trouble with the powers-that-be of their own House often apply to the guard, as well.
This Order is one strictly charged with keeping secrets. Their minds are hedged with every kind of protection, and their wits are sharpened through rigorous exercise. They serve as confessors and advisors to persons of power, giving them a trustworthy confidant when they might elsewise have no one else with whom they might safely unburden their heart. Once an elf joins the Order, they renounce their prior House, permanently. If ejected from the Order for misconduct (an extremely rare event), then they become a member of that most accursed class -- the Houseless.
The reigning member of the Baelandar family always has at least one Illiyeuvan assigned to him or her, and often has several, depending on the particular ruler's needs.
Elves do not age in the same manner as humans. Rather than the passage of time inflicting age on them, instead, the passage of events inflicts age on elves. The more experience that an elf accumulates, the more they age. However, simple things do not have a large impact on them -- events which they hold strong negative connotations to have a large effect, instead. For instance, given the value that elves place on children, an elf witnessing the death of their own child would have an immediate effect on them.
Given this, the Illiyeuvan Order's role as confessors has an even greater role in elven society than it does in human society. By sharing their grief with the Order's members, who are specially trained to accept such confessions, they can alleviate the damage such an event can do to their lifespan, significantly restoring it -- though certainly not delaying it indefinitely.
Elves have no less than three major languages, in addition to the common language of Earth. First, is the common tongue that serves for daily use, and that a few outsiders are more or less familiar with. Second, is a 'high' tongue that is used for formal purposes -- the rituals of court are performed in this language, and all official documents are written in it. An elf who is not fully fluent in the high tongue will find it extremely difficult to get anywhere in the higher circles of power. Third, is the language in which their magical knowledge is recorded. As all elves are trained in magic to some degree, all of them have at least enough knowledge to recognize the language, both spoken and written, but not necessarily to understand it.
As well, each House typically has its own battle-tongue, a compressed language for use in the heat of battle. These shorthand cants combine both words and gestures, but can operate off solely one of them. By this means, a member of a House can communicate with fellow members of their House without their enemies being aware of what they are planning. While there is no race-wide version of this, when multiple Houses are fighting as allies, they are typically fighting non-elves, and thus, regular language suffices to keep their orders secret.
Elves are not, by and large, Kamists. Instead, they subscribe to a form of ancestor worship, venerating the members of their House who came before them. They tend to locate (by studying House history, a required subject for all elven youths) ancestors who they particularly identify for whatever reason, and put the major portion of their meditations towards the consideration of these ancestors' lives.
The elven refusal of Kamism is not without its basis, however. No recorded vision of the afterlife by a creditable source has ever seen an identifiably elven soul there, for instance. Adding to this is the fact that elven spirits do not seem to disappear in the exact same method that most mortals' do. This may have something to do with their longevity -- since, barring an accident of violence, elves live until their memories become too great for them to bear, rather than dying of true old age.
This makes for an interesting question -- if not to the known afterlife, then where do elven spirits go? There are several answers, though these are completely unknown to outsiders, typically. Each House maintains a secret temple (typically in their core home territory). Inside this temple is where various important rituals take place, such as the Rite of Naming and the Recognition of Claim. The reason for this centrality is so that the elven ancestor-spirits may observe these functions, and recognize their descendents in the future. Elven spirits can be imbued into weapons, for instance, or have their knowledge passed down to their descendents (see: Family Heirloom). The spirits can also be communed with at the temple, on occasion, typically when an elf is in need of guidance, spiritual or otherwise.