Ultima X Elven History
Disposition: Confident, capable, and eager to help, although at times seen as pretentious
Locale: Towns or small cities with warm climates
Organization: Most often preferring to live and interact with others of the same approximate age Physical Description
Elves are generally shorter than humans, averaging close to 5 feet tall - although the tallest elf would take great pride in standing an inch or two above the shortest human! Most elves are somewhat thin, their normal diets consisting of fruits and forest game. Grooming is considered to be of paramount importance, and elves are rarely seen in a state of disarray. Elves have smooth faces and light hair, and elven males' facial hair is generally either non-existent or very sparse. Their most recognizable feature is a pair of long, pointy ears protruding straight out sideways from their heads, and the epitome of elven beauty is considered to be ears that are perfectly symmetrical. The lifespan of an elf is thought to be extremely long, although since elven features change very little over time, the approximate age of any one elf is almost impossible to ascertain.
Long before the Sosarian Age of Darkness, magnificent elven cities towered high above the forest floor of Sosaria. It was believed that the elves were a gifted race, possessing high intelligence, keen combat skills, legendary beauty, and an innate sense of harmony with nature. However, while even the youngest inhabitants of Sosaria had heard stories about the wondrous elves, few could claim to have actually seen or spoken with one, because the elves considered themselves far beyond the humans, believing interaction with other races to be largely unnecessary. This air of superiority was often mistaken for disdain, leading many to believe that the elves cared not for the other races, or for Sosaria itself. They could hardly have been more wrong. While the elven race did see little benefit to consorting with others, they took their role as the self-appointed elite of Sosaria quite seriously. Many of the oldest elven tomes repeat a single unified theme, most easily translated as: "If you want something done right, do it yourselves." This belief led them to shun others, convinced that teaching others to do something was a waste of time compared to simply doing it yourself.
Their philosophy served them well - until the evil Mondain and his consort Minax began to wreak havoc on the people of Sosaria. As the fighting grew intense, most of the elves abandoned their cities, leading many to believe they had fled Sosaria completely. In truth, however, they had retreated to caverns known only to them, locked in deep meditation. Believing fully that they were Sosaria's final hope for survival, the elven race pushed their minds to the limits, determined to discover the answer that would rid Sosaria of the evil that had beset it. They refused to eat, relying on their body's natural cycles to slow their metabolism and allow them to focus completely on the task at hand.
At last, they arrived on the cusp of the answer they sought, but it was too late. It was reported to them by one of the few elves remaining above ground that Mondain and Minax had been defeated, and that a new and even greater evil had been unleashed - Exodus. The elves broke off their meditation to evaluate the new threat, but by that time, Exodus had ripped the Great Serpent from the Void, wreaking unimaginable change and terror upon Sosaria.
The elves were mortified that they had allowed this fate to befall the land they strove to protect, and the general belief was that they had failed utterly. Many of the older elves, as well as most of the ruling council, felt that atonement for such a heinous failure was impossible, and believed that their only option was to leave Sosaria in shame. Most of the younger elves, however, believed that this tragedy had been a sign that they could no longer protect the world on their own, and that they needed to reach out to the rest of Sosaria, sharing their skills and knowledge, making the world stronger as a whole.
One emissary from the high council was sent from the elven city to meet with the humans. As he traveled, he was shocked by what he witnessed. Fields were gone, replaced by jagged, gaping chasms where the earth had been ripped apart. Mighty trees had been reduced to piles of kindling. Many of the inhabitants of small villages had not made it to safety before Exodus's evil had taken its toll. The elven emissary saw all this, and was horrified.
When he met with the humans, he prepared himself for the anger he was sure would come, ready to answer for the heinous failure of the elves. To his dismay, he was not punished, but rather welcomed by the humans with open arms. Sosaria would be rebuilt, and re-named Britannia, and it was the humans' hope that the elves would come forth and join them in creating this new world.
The emissary returned to the council with the invitation, but he also shared with them what he had seen, in all its horror. Hearing this, the ruling council was so racked with guilt over their failure to protect the land and its inhabitants, that they made the gut-wrenching decision to leave the world of Sosaria. Quietly - so quietly that history never recorded when it happened - the elves left Sosaria in self-imposed exile, never to be seen there again.
Age of Remorse
Elven historians are well-known for creating extensive and reliable histories of events, but elven history takes an unusual turn in the years following their departure from Sosaria. Very little was recorded during this time, save for one short paragraph found in an otherwise empty tome, and only partly legible:
Our writings no longer hold their former appeal; the power of hindsight shows us that our own histories served naught but to bolster our pride... the writings of our deeds not so accurate as once thought, and instead brimming with folly... to scribe the happenings of history would have no meaning now that we are locked in the Age of Remorse.Over time, many citizens of the new Britannia forgot that elves had ever existed there. But there was one who did not forget - one who had fought with them, and who had witnessed their skills and talents firsthand. In his fight to strengthen the Virtues in Alucinor, the Avatar decided to reach out once again to the elves, certain that with their immense wisdom and strict moral code, they would play a crucial role in his fight against the Guardian.
Age of Alucinor
It was the younger elves who decided first to join the Avatar in Alucinor, seeing immediately that this was their chance to make up for their failure in Sosaria. They were determined that, given another chance, they would help the other races as much as possible; that they would use their advanced intellect to strengthen the world and the unity of its races.
The older elves, or the Elders, as they preferred to be called, also came to Alucinor, but they did not share the younger elves' affinity for the other races. To an Elder, the elven race was still considered vastly superior to other races, and it was thought that too much interaction with inferior races could impair one's judgment, or even worse, sully the purity of the elven bloodline. Watching the younger elves embrace the others with such open arms was disconcerting to the Elders, who feared that this openness would impair their ability to stand as guardians and protectors of this new land.
Over the years, the younger elves grew resentful of the older elves, believing it was this aloofness that had prevented them from helping the rest of Sosaria before it was too late, resulting in their exile from the new world of Britannia. They separated from the older elves, choosing their own path and referring to themselves from that point on as the Enlightened.
Not long after their arrival, a settlement of the Enlightened discovered a burgeoning race - the phoda. Far behind the elves in their knowledge of technology and magic, these phoda nonetheless showed great determination and promise. The Enlightened immediately saw this as their opportunity to vindicate themselves, and took the phoda under their wing.
The Elders did not approve of the Enlightened's tactics, believing it dangerous to share that much of the ancient knowledge of the elves. However, they chose not to interfere for fear that any rebuke would further widen the chasm that had developed between the older and younger castes. It was not until many of the Enlightened gave their lives in defense of a small phoda town that the Elders became truly concerned, and talk began of ways to tame the younger elves' rebellious nature. The distance between the Elders and the Enlightened grew ever greater, and some thought that complete separation was imminent.
To the surprise of Elder and Enlightened alike, it was the phoda that bridged the gap between the two divisions, when they arrived in the nick of time to help a besieged elven town fight off an immense horde of gnolls. The Elders, moved by the willingness of the phoda to use what little resources they had in defense of the elven city, left the younger elves to their own devices and retreated once again within their cities to immerse themselves in the study of the Virtues, believing that to be the most effective use of their superior intellect and wisdom.
Elves in Alucinor are currently broken up into two distinct castes: the older elves, or Elders, and the younger elves, or the Enlightened.
Elders generally reside in small, elegant cities amidst beautiful trees and forest settings. Elven architecture is known for being strong, and for never looking worn. The ruler of the Elders, or the Omniarch, can be a male or female, and holds absolute power over all decisions concerning the Elders - although the ruling council is often consulted for advice. To an Elder, the lack of a single authoritative leader is the first step to utter chaos.
The Enlightened usually live in the same towns with the Elders, although they prefer to live and work together in small groups called sodal. A sodal generally consists of a dozen or so younger elves, and there is no centralized leader due to the Enlightened's belief that it was the Elders' inability to engage in true and open cooperation that led them to tragedy. To the Enlightened, the Omniarch is a respected figure, but they do not recognize the position as one of absolute authority.
To be clear, the term "younger elves" is actually considered a bit of a misnomer, since many of the Enlightened are believed to be significantly older than the oldest humans. No one knows for certain, of course, since the elven lifespan is long, and elves are generally loathe to tell others their age. Regardless, the initial division, based on age, evolved over time into a division based on philosophy - although the general perception of the Enlightened still leans towards them being the younger of the two groups. Once an elf is considered an adult, he can choose for himself whether he wishes to stay with the Enlightened or join the Elders. Very few choose to live with the Elders, leading many to believe that eventually, the older caste will be completely eliminated.
All elves, younger and older alike, are proficient in reading and writing, and much of their schooling revolves around learning how to write the elven alphabet with great skill and artistry. Elves without artistic skill are considered slow, and often end up performing more menial tasks.
Elves, as a whole, are an extremely confident race, seeing themselves as a superior force and protectors of those around them. They will almost always try to help others, although the Elders and the Enlightened go about this goal in very different ways.
Elders believe that it is the destiny of an elf to forever seek new ways to alter the world for the better, through gaining new understanding and meditating on these findings. They care little for their social standing among outsiders, although they are careful to never appear weak in front of others.
Enlightened elves feel it is their duty to help all the races of Alucinor reach new heights, through offering protection and teaching them new skills. While their intent is generally good, however, it's also believed that the Enlightened elves thrive on the attention and adoration they receive. They will often concentrate their efforts on impressing those around them, which can make them annoying, helpful, and amusing - all at the same time.
For example, if an Elder and an Enlightened were asked to help a small human family whose crops have refused to grow, the Elder might choose to spend several months in study and meditation, becoming at one with the land and seeking a formula that will result in the perfect nutrient balance for the soil of Alucinor. At first glance, this could seem to be an ineffective way of dealing with a small problem, but it's wise to never underestimate the innate powers of an elf. The results of an Elder's meditation, while sometimes subtle, can be world-changing in nature.
Presented with the same problem, the Enlightened might grab a shovel and a hoe and head out to the farm. Together with his sodal, he'd spend a week or more helping the family till the land, as well as teaching them whatever he could about native fertilizers and seeds - all the while bragging about his experience with growing fabulous crops.
While the Elders and the Enlightened have diverged greatly over the course of history, they do still share many tendencies. An elf's confidence and abilities come from his own sense of pride, and his awareness that he has contributed in a positive way to the world around him. This is the drive that fuels most of their good deeds, but it also pushes them to prove to others that their way is the best one; that of all the beings in Alucinor, it is the elves that should be considered superior.
Elves are extremely conscious of fashion, and it's often assumed that their clothing is made from magical materials, as they always appear neat and pressed. Elves wear only jewelry made of materials found in nature, although the skills of elven jewelers are such that elven jewelry is considered to be some of the finest available in Alucinor.
Historically, elves have preferred armor made of leather, cured with a rare tree sap that hardens the leather to almost magical proportions when dried - although Enlightened elves have been seen wearing other types of armor as well. Color choices for armor often reflect colors found in nature, such as forest green, sky blue, or even a brilliant yellow, as is seen in the sun.
To an elf, well-formed ears can hold a significant amount of aesthetic appeal, much as other races would focus on beautiful eyes, or a shapely figure. As such, and also because of their spectacular hearing, most elves refrain from wearing anything that fully covers their ears, even when in battle.
Elder elves generally refrain from entering into physical combat unless they deem it absolutely necessary, while the Enlightened, in their self-appointed role as caretaker for all other races, find their way into battle quite often. Always conscious of their appearance, and looking to impress, elves rely on speedy, efficient attacks in an attempt to win the fight early.
Elves use a wide range of weapons, depending on the situation. When patrolling or traveling, they usually prefer easily concealed blades which, when combined with their blinding speed, can be quite a nasty surprise to would-be attackers. In large-scale battles, however, elven warriors prefer showy weapons and armor, and elven spellcasters will often use wildly dramatic gestures.
It's said that there is hardly a sight in the world quite so awe-inspiring as that of an elven army prepared for battle - unless it's the sight of an elven army engaged in combat.
Enlightened - Term coined by the younger caste, used to refer to themselves. Not usually used by the Elders.
Elders - Term coined by the older caste, used to refer to themselves. The Enlightened also uses this term as a polite way to refer to the older elves.
Vernal Elves, or Vernals - Term for the younger caste, used by the Elders. Considered somewhat insulting by the Enlightened.
Magister - Term for the older caste, used by the Enlightened. Considered somewhat insulting by the Elders.
Omniarch - Sole ruler of the elves, a position not recognized by the Enlightened. Can be male or female.
Sodal - A group of Enlightened elves. They live together, fight together, and generally act as a family.