The Elves of the Taer
“My mother had left me at the tree, like all foundlings. As my head lay on the roots of the tree of the world. I stared into the sky and saw the stars. Some called them the pinpricks in the fabric of night. I knew what they were instantly, the spheres of life outside our own little cosmos. Thus I brought reason and logic to a people who had neither. When I went to the market, I could see our ruler’s tyranny, and thus I demanded equality, after all, we are all firstborn.” —Tier Trembalos, First Speaker
Elven HistoryThe elves consider themselves the firstborn of the Taerfalon (the full name for what is now known as just the Taer). The eldest of the elves awoke several millenia ago, at the root of the world tree. As the centuries passed the elves assembled their society around the world tree, and the elven binarchy (their King and Queen). The Vedeé (the ancient elven kingdom) once covered most of the Western Realms. The elves were strong both in blood and treasure in those early days. They taught concepts such as law, order and piety to the human tribes that began appearing on the fringe of their kingdom. In many ways that sealed their doom. The Ardevettin Empire, the first great human civilization, arose to the south. It started as a reflection of elven order, but soon became a rapacious killing machine. The elves were forced to sacrifice their best and brightest to war, and their bloodlines grew thin.
As all hope was lost, and the Vedeé was in danger of being lost to the ages, the conclave of Cameron Incanus was called. The Ardevettin Empire was shattered by external threats (the naultian and bransch tribes) as well as internal civil war. This gave a respite to the elven troubles.
War had suppressed the discontent of the elven society. When peace came, the binarchy was confronted by a powerful new movement, democracy. Tier Trembalos was the leader of this new movement. Originally a half elven citizen of the Ardevettin Empire, he recognized the good in a more democratic and egalitarian society. Having fought on both sides of the human-elven conflict, he saw the strengths and weaknesses of both races. He and his followers demanded the reordering of elven society, understanding its fragility. The weaknesses of the elves were shown in their war with the Ardevettins. The elven class system, and discrete (and oft times tedious) courtships had produced less growth than the dynamic and more egalitarian matings of the humans. Additionally the binarchy had not given the dynamic leadership that the Empire could sustain. It was time for change.
When the binarchy refused Tier and his followers they did the only thing they could, they left the Vedeé. Tier and his followers moved eastward, taking a significant amount of elves, and accepting half-elves and even the occasional man into their ranks. They settled in the vale of Talzû (the vale of steel). Tier’s people began crafting and building, forming the parliament of elves, with Tier as its first speaker. The centuries passed, and the Hemet prospered, fending off barbarian tribes and human expansion.
The Shattering of the Vedeé.
With Tier’s departure, the elven kingdom plunged into civil war. The kinslaying began when Arthalos ascended the throne as the elven king. His elder brother Dunthalos had been slated to be the king. Both brothers had been hunting, and during the hunt, a wild boar had pinned Dunthalos against a tree. Arthalos had offered to free his brother, but at the price of his inheritance. In pain, and without thinking Dunthalos sold his birthright in order to be rescued. When the news had spread, it caused widespread dissatisfaction in the kingdom. The followers of Dunthalos took his symbol, the Lindon, as their standard. While the followers of Arthalos took the redwood, Arthalos’s emblem as their standard.
When Arthalos was crowned the Lindon bearers protested, protests became riots, riots became bloodshed, and the kingdom was plunged into civil war. Many exiles fled to the Hemet, and the kinslaying lasted for almost a hundred years. Finally, after taking the worst of the fighting, the Lindon elves retreated to the south. A peace was drafted, with the Lindon elves becoming a principality of the Vedeé. In exchange for token vassalage, the Prince and Princess of the Lindon Elves rule the southern wood. This is the situation that exists even in this day.
Elven Society Religion and Culture.
In the Redwood.
Elven society in the Redwood is highly caste oriented. An elf child takes the profession of his or her same sex parent. The most prominent example is in the binarchs. The kingship and queenship are independently inherited from each other. The king’s sons and queen’s daughters inherit from their parent. The king and queen each have a consort who has no power in the official structure. The current rulers are Nessa (called ‘born of menfolk’), and Vardion (called the just).
The redwood elves spend a hundred years in childhood, usually apprenticed to an aunt or uncle who follows their parent’s trade. When reaching majority at one hundred eleven years old an elf is given a set of adult clothing, and three acorns. The acorns are planted with the elf’s child clothes. The trees that grow are revered as a source of augury for the elf’s life. An elf who is slain is often buried amongst the copse of life trees. Redwood elves do not die by natural causes (they can be slain violently) per se, but as the millenia slip by they begin to long for the world tree. After about five millenia they set off to seek the world tree which has been placed outside the reach of lesser races.When a redwood elf reaches two hundred they are usually expected to marry (to a previously betrothed consort), and produce children. Often times elves will marry sooner, due to societal need for heirs. Redwood elves prefer solitude, and nature. They look at Lindon elves as lesser, more man-influenced representatives of their race. They find the Hemet to be a nest of rebels and brigands. Redwood elves in general find Menfolk to be foolhardy children; dwarves to be miserly and unfriendly; Merfolk to be mere thinking fish; halflings to be lazy; and other races of the Taer not even worthy of contempt. Orcs and goblinkind are hated with a passion (as they are seen as corruptions of nature), and redwood elves have a hard time tolerating half-orcs with most being verbally abusive of their kind.
Redwood elves dedicate their prime worship to Tarsháilion, Lord of the Sky. Although other gods are revered, Tarsháilion’s temples are to be found in the largest cities to the smallest hamlets. The elven reverence for the sky-god is primarily shown in night time prayers. Before the Cataclysm, the Skylord granted his priests and clerics an ability to perform miracles that primarily deal with wind and air, usually of an offensive nature.
In the Lindon WoodIn the Lindon wood, elven society is primarily class based. A child may take the profession of either parent, although a clan or familial choice is not discouraged either. Government is by Princely binarchy, although the current ruler is merely the Princess Yavanna, the Princedom being unfilled at present. A Lindon elf is bound to his or her class, and is usually encouraged by society to fraternize in their class of origin. It is not unheard of for elves to rise or fall in class status, but such moves may take a millenia or more. Lindon elves generally have a childhood of seventy or eighty years. When reaching adulthood a Lindon elf will plant a Lindon tree as a sign of their promise to remain faithful to their family. The tree holds no other meaning for the elf, but most Lindon elves will cherish the tree as a sign of their bond to family. At one hundred twenty a Lindon elf will usually marry their betrothed. Betrothal takes place in childhood, and is usually done at the consent of both elves (as opposed to their redwood cousins who have no say in their consort). Since betrothal is consent based the elf couple will marry joyously and produce offspring quickly. Six or seven children is not unheard of in a Lindon wood family, and such clans are the strength of their society. Lindon elves do not die naturally (they may be slain, and can die of sadness, grief, or choice) per se, but as the millenia slip by they begin to long for the world tree. After about three millenia they set off to seek the world tree which has been placed outside the reach of lesser races. Lindon wood elves prefer semi-solitude and natural settings, usually with their consort as an adult, or a sibling as a child. They look on Redwood elves with sadness, seeing them as a decaying relic of their race. They see the Hemet as radical, unorthodox, and foolhardy. They are fond of humans, but pity their short lives. Dwarves are considered rude and unfriendly, halflings to be slothful, yet friendly. Merfolk as exotic but too xenophobic for friendship, and lesser races as freakish. Lindon elves have a passionate hatred of Orcs (and all goblinkind), and will at best only tolerate a half-orc, seeing orcs as a perversion of the elder races.
Lindon wood elves dedicate their prime worship to Fiallaliel, Lady of the Stars. Although other gods are revered, Fiallaliel’s temples are to be found in the largest cities to the smallest hamlets. The elven reverence for the Starlady is primarily shown in dawn prayers, which usually are a dirge at the dying of the starlight. Before the Cataclysm, the Starlady granted her priests and clerics an ability to perform miracles that primarily deal with wind and air, usually of a defensive nature.