The Elves, also called the "Eldest Race," are one of the most ancient and powerful of all the intelligent mortal races of the Known World. They are tall, slender humanoids who are inherently magical and live for millennia.
There are three main cultures or kindreds of Elves in the mortal world: the High Elves (Asur), Dark Elves (Druchii) and Wood Elves (Asrai) and a number of less influental cultures that spiritually heir from one of the others.
Compared to Men, Elves are taller, fairer-skinned, and slender. They possess high cheekbones and slightly angular faces and slanted eyes. Elves eyes are of particular note, steeply angled and seemingly of a singular, often dark colour with no white showing.
High Elves are often depicted with blonde hair, Wood Elves with brown and Dark Elves with black, but these changes are minor and cosmetic and the three groups are for the most part physically indistinguishable and all members of the same biological species. What defines each kindred of Elves more than anything else is their different cultures.
Assuming they do not die a violent death, Elves are capable of living for several thousand years. It is not considered impossible for an Elf to live seven thousand years or more, although only Malekith, the Witch King of Naggaroth, and his mother Morathi, could claim such an achievement at present. It should be noted that such long lifespans even for Elves seem to be products of the use of Dark Magic.
Elves are inherently magical, and their long lives provide magically-gifted Elves more than enough time to train their skill at controlling many of the Winds of Magic. This is in contrast to Human wizards, whose short lifespans, weaker wills and inferior intellects mean that they can usually only hope to wield one form of magic during their lifetimes.
However this must also be attributed to the fact the Winds of Magic cannot dominate Elves to the same degree as Men, giving them the ability to wield them on balance without the danger a Human Magister would face of mutation or daemonic corruption. Human wizards have trouble using any Wind of Magic besides the one that they have chosen to dominate their being, though Elves may ultimately wield the balanced combination of all the Winds of Magic known as Qhaysh or "High Magic."
Elves are resistant to disease and to the physical mutations caused by Chaos though their flesh is not inviolable to truly corrupting influence like the plagues of Nurgle or the flesh-change of Tzeentch or Slaanesh.
There is some evidence that the energies of Chaos can affect Elven minds in more subtle ways than they corrupt the more susceptible mortal races. Elves experience emotions and thoughts more intensely than most other intelligent mortals. At best, this can result in them spending centuries obsessively training or honing a skill to perfection.
At worst, they can become "lost" in their experiences, over-indulging and losing track of reality, which makes them a favoured target of corruption by the Chaos God of pleasure and excess, Slaanesh.
For a race that can live thousands of years, the histories of other races are but a fleeting thing, especially in comparison to the horrors and wonders they themselves have witnessed. Even though there are no living elves anymore that can remember the birth of their race, elves still acknowledge their creation at the hands of the Old Ones even if only in old tales. They remember how they were groomed to wield and control the old magic in its truest form. But those first elves have grown distant enough to now be remembered as gods. But even in their magnificent, truly ancient history there are times that still linger like an old wound.
The Coming of Chaos
During the Great Catastrophe following the destruction of the Old Ones' polar Warp Gates, the Elves fought valiantly against the onslaught of Daemons who invaded Ulthuan as the Winds of Magic blew without restraint across the Known World, but slowly they were driven back and threatened with annihilation. A hero named Aenarion arose, and walked through the flames at the Shrine of Asuryan. Emerging unburnt as a sign of his favour in the Phoenix God's eyes, Aenarion was crowned as the first Phoenix King of Ulthuan and the Elves united under his rule drove back the Daemons temporarily.
The Keeper of Secrets N'Kari killed Aenarion's wife, the Everqueen Astarielle. Aenarion's children Morelion and Yvraine had been saved, but the Elven king did not know this at the time. In his grief Aenarion drew the Sword of Khaine and fought back the Daemons once more. During this time, the wizard Caledor Dragontamer made contact with the Dwarfs and learned from Grimnir of the Warp Gate at the north pole which spewed Chaos energy and empowered the Daemons, allowing them to remain indefinitely in the mortal realm.
Aenarion eventually remarried Morathi and she bore him a son and heir named Malekith. Caledor devised a plan to create a magical Great Vortex to drain away the excess magical energy flooding the world and banish most of the Daemons back to the Realm of Chaos as the ambient levels of magical energy dropped. Aenarion defended Caledor while the great spell was cast and successfully drained all the excess magic of the world away, forcing the Daemons to leave the material plane, but the Phoenix King was mortally wounded in the process. Before death, Aenarion returned the cursed Sword of Khaine to its place in the Shrine of Khaine on Ulthuan.
When it came time for the Elves to rebuild their civilisation and elect a new Phoenix King, they chose Bel Shanaar of Tiranoc rather than Aenarion's son Malekith, due to the concerns of some of Ulthuan's princes about Malekith's temperament and Aenarion's altered personality after he drew the Sword of Khaine. Malekith instead became the leader of the Elven military and prince of Aenarion's own kingdom of Nagarythe.
Though he had outwardly accepted being passed over as Aenarion's heir, Malekith had internally seethed with rage and resentment against the other princes of Ulthuan, and sought to bide his time before making his move to seize the throne of the Phoenix King. Malekith used an inquisition against the Elven Cult of Pleasure dedicated to Slaanesh (secretly led by his mother Morathi) as a cover to murder his political opponents and enemies across Ulthuan. Eventually, he poisoned the Phoenix King Bel Shanaar, dismissing the king's death as a suicide.
Malekith proceeded to massacre many of the Ulthuani princes who opposed him for this act and then walked through the flames at the Shrine of Asuryan to claim the Phoenix God's blessing. However, Asuryan rejected Malekith's right to rule and he was horribly burnt in the fires of the shirne as a result of the god's wrath.
Malekith was slowly nursed back to health over many decades by his mother and grafted to a suit of magical armour to reduce the constant pain he now endured as a result of his burns. Malekith launched a great Elven civil war backed by his partisans among Ulthuan's nobility and the military of Nagarythe in an attempting to claim the Phoenix Throne by force.
Eventually, facing defeat, he planned to undo the Great Vortex to wipe away the forces of his enemies. However, loyalist Elven mages interfered with this plan and the resulting magical cataclysm sank much of western Ulthuan into the sea, an event known as "The Sundering."
Malekith and his followers fled northwards across the ocean, founding the new kingdom of Naggaroth on the northern continent of the New World. The loyalists of the Phoenix King remained in Ulthuan and became known as the High Elves or Asur while Malekith's people revelled in their new appellation of "Dark Elves," known in their own tongue as the Druchii.
War of the Beard
After the Sundering, the Dark Elves, seeking to stir up dissension in the growing alliance between the Asur and the Dawi, posed as High Elves and attacked a Dwarf caravan. Outraged, the Dwarfs sent a messenger to Ulthuan to demand recompense from the Phoenix King.
The High Elves, always arrogant, responded by shaving the Dwarf's beard and sending him back to the mountains of the Old World, claiming they knew nothing of the attack. This angered the Dwarfs even more and they began to attack High Elf colonies in the Old World in what became known to the High Elves as the War of the Beard, but to the Dwarfs as the War of Venegance.
The war raged for many years and finally culminated in the 14th siege of Tor Alessi, where the Dwarf monarch Gotrek Starbreaker killed the Phoenix King Caledor II. The Dwarfs took the crown of the Phoenix King and retreated to their holds, while the High Elves abandoned their colonies in the Old World as assaults from the Dark Elves on Ulthuan itself intensified. Relations between the two Elder Races have never fully recovered from this tragedy.
The High Elves, or the Asur, as they call themselves, are one of the most ancient and powerful mortal civilisations of the Known World. Hailing from the mighty mist-shrouded island-continent of Ulthuan located within the centre of the Great Ocean, the High Elves are a proud and mighty nation of masterful warriors, peerless mages and lords of the sky and sea.
They are an ancient race with powerful armies and even grander magic, building a glorious and all-mighty civilisation who, alongside the Dwarfs, fought a long-forgotten, apocalyptic war known as the Great Catastrophe which saw some of the greatest and most powerful mortal heroes battle against the great darkness of Chaos that tried to consume the world many thousands of years ago. At the zenith of their power, the world was truly theirs for the taking.
Yet their noble and compassionate nature, which was once one of the Elves' greatest and most noble character traits as a people, was soon replaced by a great sense of pride and hubris in their own superiority. In their blind arrogance, they have only succeeded in shattering their once-powerful friendship with the Dwarfs, culminating in the War of the Beard which only crippled these two Elder Races and shattered whatever bright future there was for this young world. Isolated and alone in a world they no longer control, the High Elves are facing the twilight years of their existence, their cities no longer bustling with vibrancy and life as they used to be but now serving as a gloomy reminder of their ultimate, impending demise.
For the High Elves, long hair is a symbol of strength, power and nobility -- the clearest token of a real warrior. Just as the Dwarfs find great significance in their beards, so too do the High Elves hold their hair in high esteem. Because of this, locks of hair are also important talismans for the Elves. This ancient custom stems from the greatest heroes of Elven legend, who have always been depicted with long flowing hair, and it is said that it is from here that their might springs. All High Elves decorate their hair with combs made of silver or gold, and embellished with bright gems. Each jewel has a different meaning, and reflects the High Elf's role in his family, his rank in battle, or can even be a token of favour granted by a betrothed.
The vast majority of Elves do not live in the Old World but upon the island-continent of Ulthuan. The Elves are accomplished international merchants; their ships effectively control passage of the Great Western Ocean, enabling their fleets to travel freely between Lustria, Grand Cathay, and the Old World. Most of these travelling High Elves are known as "Sea Elves" who originate from the outer-coasts of Ulthuan, often merchants or travellers spending a year or so in the Old World before moving on to somewhere new.
To facilitate their trade with Men, some Elves have settled in Old World ports, usually within an "Elvish Quarter" set aside for them by city authorities. Because the Human cities highly value Elven trade, Elvish Quarters are allowed to administer their own affairs, and are regarded as being off-limits to uninvited Humans. Many of these quarters are fortified, the Elves maintaining their own watchmen and militia. The largest population of Elves is that at Marienburg, where there may be as many as 500 individuals at one time.
Every Old World port with a population of over ten thousand has its own Elven Quarter. A typical Sea Elven trading community would have a population of about 1% of the total city population. Although trading posts are sometimes maintained in smaller Human cities, this is rare, and often this Elven occupation is sporadic or comprised only of temporary traders coming or going, an Elven family settling for a few years before retiring back home.
The Dark Elves, or Druchii, not so unlike their High Elven brethren, possess a cold if not glamorous beauty which only helps to hide the corruption and vileness which lurks beneath their porcelain skin. All Elves are beautiful, but such beauty is different between the three peoples.
The beauty of the Asur is one of light and glamour whilst the beauty of the Asrai is feral and wild. Yet the beauty of the Druchii is a cold beauty, being said to take a man's breath away, both figuratively and literally. No matter their allegiance, all Elves are long-lived to the point of immortality, possessed of a self-assurance that falls little short of other-worldliness. They are swift of both body and reflex, capable of an effortless grace that shames the most elegant of Men. Though all Elves can broadly be accounted equal, the Dark Elves deem that only they make full use of their natural gifts, for they alone of Elvenkind do not allow such concepts as mercy and tradition to shackle their deeds.
Elves are cunning of mind and clever beyond the ken of mere mortals. Their every word conceals a depth of meaning that is altered wholly by the slightest change of inflection or stance. Dark Elves, in particular, are adept at the art of twisting speech to serve their cause and can gleefully manipulate the emotions of another to whatever end best suits their own interests.
Thus do the Naggarothi make and break alliances in a careless fashion, knowing that their silver tongues can always be counted upon to heal the wounds of the past. It is this, more than anything else, which renders Dark Elf society so opportunistic and impetuous.
When the deeds of old can be erased by a cleverly-spoken word, what need is there for integrity and law? Though a Dark Elf's swiftness of mind and deftness of body serve them well individually, it is the combination of the two which grants them such murderous prowess in battle.
Every detail of an opponent's poise and stance speaks volumes to an attentive Elf, telling them not only where and when the enemy intends to strike, but also the manner in which the act of attacking will weaken the foe's guard. Thus has many an enemy died midway through a blow they thought fit to end the battle, their life stolen by an impossibly swift blade, guided by a quicksilver mind.
It must be pointed out that Chaos has left its mark upon the Elves, just as it has on almost all the other mortal races of the Known World. In this race, however, the power of the Dark Gods has taken a subtle form. It has fanned the arrogance of the Elven soul, reinforcing all that is prideful and hubristic. Long ago, compassion could have been said to be the Elves' defining trait, for such was the nature granted them by the Old Ones, but now generosity has been eclipsed by narcissism, empathy by conceit. However, Chaos has not changed all the Elves in equal manner.
To the Wood Elves, it has made them isolationists, deniers of the wider world who blindly hope that, so long as their realm knows order, no danger can threaten it. The High Elves have become ever more stubborn, having gained certainty beyond words' ability to convey that they, and they alone, can shield the world against the perils it faces.
For the Dark Elves, however, Chaos has brought enlightenment -- the knowledge that the world exists only for the pleasure of the strong. They have embraced this revelation with a burning passion that shames the cold hearts of their ancient cousins. Indeed, it may yet set the very world afire.
For the Dark Elves, all of the world's bounty is theirs to do with as they wish -- provided that they have the strength to claim it. They have turned aside the benevolent gods of the Elven Pantheon, flocking instead to the worship of their more capricious and cruel deities, in particular Khaine, Lord of Murder.
It is a match well made, for the Dark Elves care nothing for the sanctity of life and consider the "lesser races" to be nothing more than insects begging to be ground beneath a boot heel if no more productive or entertaining use can be found for them. Naturally, the Dark Elves consider all of the other intelligent mortal races inferior. Even those who approach them in skill and intellect, the Naggarothi dismiss as weaklings, sneering at the laws and traditions that waste resources nurturing the weak even as they shackle the ambitions of the strong.
The Dark Elves have no such restraint; in Naggaroth, the weak perish, and the strong take whatever they desire. None of this is to say that the Dark Elves wish to see all other peoples exterminated out of hand. So long as mines must be worked, farms must be tended, fortresses must be raised and ritual sacrifices are required to win the favour of the gods, there will always be a place for primitives in the realm of Naggaroth. Indeed, some of the more capable Human barbarians can even be wielded as weapons in their own right, manipulated by threats, trinkets and empty promises into assailing the shores of hated Ulthuan or else wreaking havoc upon the high seas.
Only the High Elves have no hope of survival under the yoke of Naggarothi rule, for every Dark Elf dreams of the day when their ancient enemies will at last be scoured from every corner of the world. None consider the possibility that, when the last High Elf dies screaming in agony upon Khaine's altar, that ultimate victory might leave a void of purpose that is impossible to fill. On that day, the Dark Elves will learn just how much of their souls have been devoured by their ancient hatred -- and they may not find the tally to their liking.
During the reign of the Phoenix King Caradryel the Peacemaker, the Dark Elves launched a new invasion of Ulthuan. In response, Caradryel recalled the High Elven forces from the Old World to deal with the Dark Elves. However, some High Elf colonists living in the Old World refused to leave as they had grown attached to their new home. Without the protection of the High Elf military, these colonists were vulnerable to attacks from Greenskins and Beastmen as well as the vengeful Dwarfs.
Over time these Elves retreated further and further into the mysterious enchanted forest of Athel Loren on the eastern border of what is now the kingdom of Bretonnia. The powerful spirits of the forest were wary of the Elves at first, however they soon discovered that the Elves could protect the forest during the long winter months when the forest spirits were dormant.
Eventually two Elves, named Orion and Ariel, became the mortal avatars of the Elven gods of the hunt and fertility, Kurnous and Isha, respectively, and they rule the Elven kindred known as the Wood Elves or Asrai to this day. Over time the Wood Elves became inextricably linked with the fate of Athel Loren itself.
This union of spirit and flesh grew ever deeper as the long years passed beneath the mighty boughs of Athel Loren and nowadays the distinction between the Asrai and the forest spirits is hair thin, often crossed over completely, many of the guardians of the woods now more spirit than elf.
The Eonir inhabiting the forest of the Laurelorn are a distinct Elven culture that borrows traditions from both the Asrai of Athel Loren and the Asur of Ulthuan. Although Men consider Eonir to be just another variant of "Wood Elves," there are several key differences between the Eonir and true Asrai.
Eonir are not spiritually bound to their forest by ancient spirit-pacts in the same way Asrai are bound to Athel Loren. The Eonir's relationship with forest spirits is weaker, and they're more inclined to venture from their glades to interact with outsiders.
In fact, the kingdom of Laurelorn is older than Athel Loren and retains elements of Asur culture from the original Ulthuani colony. Eonir regard the Asur as hypocrites who abandoned the Old World, and then had the audacity to dispute Laurelorn's independence. On some level, Eonir sympathise with the Druchii of Naggaroth because they were also ostracised by the Asur.
Eonir religion recognises the deities of the entire Elven pantheonic mandala, making them spiritually closer to the practices of the Asur than the Asrai. Meditation, divination, and burial practices vary according to birth kindred. Cityborn (Toriour) Eonir kin bind deceased souls into gemstones, whereas departed Forestborn (Faniour) souls are surrendered to the Weave and often reincarnate as Tree Kin. Eonir settlements are organised by a longstanding genealogical tradition that distinguishes between settler and refugee families.
Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum