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Elves

Light Elven Cities: Geffenia, Avicennia
Dark Elven Cities: Umbala
Avg. Height: 5.5 - 6.5 ft (1.7 - 2 m)
Avg. Weight: 110 - 160 lbs (50 - 70 kg)
Life-span: 400 - 700 years
Proficiency: Finesse, Grace, Natural Knowledge, Magical Affinity

Elves are the second most common race on Aurora, behind Humans, and are generally tall and lithe - at least, slightly taller and lighter than Humans. They come in a variety of skin tones similar to Humans, from pale and fair to dark and rich. Most Elves have earthy tones or colors in their eyes and hair, and are known for their impressive dexterity and grace. Due to their proximity to the World Tree, literally living in its branches, the majority of Elves have a reverence for nature and the world as a whole - but not all of them. Those who don't feel this connection to nature are often unfortunately ostracized in their youths, due to how naturally it comes to others.

Elves are incredibly adept at using magic, bested only by their neighbors the Cubi, and especially in commanding the world's Primary Elements as well as Spirit. Their less magical, signature weapon of choice is the bow and arrow and occasionally the dagger or rapier. Many Elves are also encouraged to learn an instrument in their youth, so they tend to grow up with an appreciation for music and its enchanting tunes.

Typically, Elves either abhor or are not exactly supportive of advanced technology. This isn't specifically because they dislike the idea of technology, but more because the Republic of Schwartzvald's advanced factories and their rampant pollution have a direct correlation to it. The World Tree lies just under them, supporting the very world with its grace and magic, and the idea of squandering that gift in the name of progress disgusts many of them.

There are two sorts of elves, Light and Dark, though the only difference on a physical level is their skin color. On a societal level, however, Light Elves have a significant advantage over their darker kin by way of being born into a higher 'tier' of Elven society. Geffenia's history tells of a traitorous group of Dark Elves who attempted to usurp the World Tree by way of grotesque and abusive magics, and many in Geffenia use this tale as an excuse to look down upon their darker brethren. A rift exists between Dark Elves and those who live among the World Tree's branches, and it only grows wider with time.

Appearance

Elves are on the taller side, generally between five and a half and six and a half feet, though males can grow up to seven feet if they're very lucky. Their ears are pointed and features are typically angular. Their bodies are lithe, though not thin enough to appear grotesque or strange to most. Elves' hair and eyes are generally either earthy colors or at least have earthy tones, and they are one of Aurora's few races with Longevity. This means that their bodies don't age, after reaching their physical prime, though their hair will still begin to grey at around 400 years even if they don't develop wrinkles like a Human would. An older Elf's features may be more defined or intense, as a slight giveaway to his or her age, as well.

Similar but not entirely as dramatically as Cubi, Elves are also blessed with a certain level of 'prettiness' that is the envy of many less fortunate races. Many theorize it's due to their proximity to the World Tree, similar to how Cubi are nearly always beautiful, but no matter the reason it's surprisingly difficult to find a truly ugly Elf. Elves age differently than most other races as well, growing similar to Humans from birth until sixteen but then stretching out the final two years of a Human's development into an astounding thirty-five or so. They reach true peak physical maturity at fifty, after a very slow and barely noticeable aging process.

Fashion

Geffenian fashion, and therefore Light Elven fashion, is one of intricate design and incredibly rich history. Elves and Cubi, though Elvenkind especially, are blessed with slender and dextrous fingers that leave nearly all Vahk'Salan garbs and garments as some of the most highly desired in all of Aurora. Most in Geffenia prefer either robes, dresses or other flowing garments, whether male or female. Capes are common, as well as overcoats, generally sewn from fine silks or special Vahk'Salan materials that are even softer to the touch.

Geffenian clothing is often infused with magic and illusions that give off light or other spectacular displays. In fact, a common and unspoken 'competition' among nobility is to try and out-perform one another by wearing the most intricate or most outrageous dress or gown in daily life. It can lead to a few absurd situations, though these are generally outliers in Elven fashion… That said, jewelry is a decidedly important factor in Geffenian fashion! Necklaces, brooches, bangles, as well as finger and toe rings are all very common. Thin chains or ropes of gold and other valuable metals woven into outfits are also very popular.

Dark Elves follow a different pattern, mostly because of their location. Their hometown of Umbala rests within Vahk'Sala's harsh and dangerous jungle, necessitating a certain form of dress that allows for freer movement. Their clothes match their city's generally 'wild' architecture, often loose and flowing shirts and pants or shorts with carefully grown vines or flowers as aesthetic touches. Dark Elves have a certain gift with nature's less magical and more natural side that many of their World Tree-residing neighbors envy, in the form of some amount of exerted control over flora. Their supposedly primitive magics can twist and bend vines and flowers to its will, which is ingrained enough within their society to have a presence in the majority of their architecture and fashion.

Culture

Elven culture is one of magic and, by proxy, of nature. Light Elvenkind live within the World Tree's branches so pulling forth Elemental or Spirit Mana is often as simple as waving one's hand. Most of their kind learn to conjure mana naturally from an early age, some before they even speak their first words, though there are certainly outliers… Those who are not so adept, or struggle for reasons unknown, are often unintentionally ostracized or looked down upon for their slow adaptation. Light Elves are often creatures of pride and occasionally arrogance, though it's enough of a part of their society that most don't even notice it.

Light Elves are taught the wonders of magic from an early age, almost always, and for that reason even those who practice the bow or lighter blades will have some supplementary magical ability to go along with it. The only place they could be said to 'struggle' is with the elements of Light and Dark, though they can still perform admirably in these areas with enough practice and study.

Dark Elvenkind live beneath the World Tree, in its shadow, in the jungle city of Umbala. Their culture is equally magical, but grounded much more heavily in ancient traditions and customs. They practice a peculiar form of Spirit Magic called Vodun, said to be descended from an ancient school of 'Blood Magic' wherein practicioners could give their own lifeblood to empower spells. These tales are widely believed (at least by non-Dark Elves) to be pipe dreams, however, as no clear evidence of the practice still exists and no one has duplicated its rather frightening effects in modern times.

Their respect and reverence for nature is even more than that of Light Elves', and this is mostly because of their exerted control over it! Though minor and primarily used for aesthetic or agricultural pursuits, they carry the power to adjust and assist flora during the growth process. That isn't to say they can cause a plant to grow in minutes or stretch a flower as tall as a tree, but they have the minute ability to redirect the routing and perhaps increase the yield of a typical crop. It makes life in the harsh jungle a little easier, but still far from simple.

Cities

Geffenia and Avicennia are the cities filled with Light Elves, as well as Cubi and Dwarves, and are the most populated in Vahk'Sala. The city operates on several tiers, all built atop the World Tree, and is the home to a significant amount of magical wonder for visiting non-Elves. Geffenia and Avicennia do have a small Dark Elf population, notably those who are trying to escape the everyday struggle that is living in Vahk'Sala's jungle or those who married 'upward' and now live there. Most are unfortunately mistreated, whether openly and arrogantly or in small and yet still slightly painful ways.

Geffenia is mostly constructed of stone and gold, as well as other valuable metals, and is known for its grand and massive archways and aesthetic displays. Statues and fountains are very common, most of them made by the Dwarves that live there but still appreciated by Elvenkind. Avicennia is build nearer to the base of the tree, and is a large sprawling city with a canal system and gondolas to match. Its architecture is similar to Umbala's in that it makes an attempt to look 'natural' and like it was grown in, but it can't compare to Umbalan construction by a longshot.

Umbala is the home of Dark Elves, and rather unlike Vahk'Sala is doesn't have a very large Light Elf population at all. This isn't because they don't welcome them, though they are certainly looked at strangely if they choose to live in the harsh conditions that Dark Elves do, but mostly because the jungle is a terrifying place full of whale-sized wildlife called Behemoths. These, among other things, are a constant threat to the Dark Elves' survival… But against all odds, they seem to have managed to conquer the wilds.

Umbala uses primarily brick and wood in their construction for more recent buildings, generally grown over with flora to give the startlingly convincing appearance that these buildings were half-grown in. Older structures that have been around centuries are even more convincing, remnants of when the Dark Elves had more influence over nature's growth than they do today. Their city is just as grand and sprawling as Geffenia or Avicennia, though a Light Elf would probably disagree, it's just carefully hidden in the jungle in such a way that it can look small until you're standing in the middle of it.

Government

All Elves follow an Emperor, though some begrudgingly, named Octavian Goldwing. In the past, Geffenia's rule was performed by a council of four that were cycled out every one-hundred and eight years by vote. Not long ago one of the ruling council members was murdered, and after solving the mystery the other two stepped down to allow the fourth, Octavian Goldwing, to ascend to a singular monarchic throne. The decision was met with mixed reception, but Goldwing's rule has not been a disaster by any stretch.

Light Elves and Dark Elves do split on a city-to-city level, however. Geffenia and Avicennia favor a system of 'Ruling Houses', where the nobility and commonfolk alike are constantly vying for power and trying to move upward within the system. It keeps everyone active, to say the least, though the greatest of the ten houses hasn't had its balance of power upset in well over three hundred years, now. The greatest of them is the Goldwings, in part because of the Emperor, and another more notable competitor is House Norolund, more commonly referred to as the “Adventurers' House”.

Dark Elves have no such Ruling House system, as their society has no room for those kinds of petty noble disputes. Umbala is instead ruled by what they call a 'Treekeeper' who functions very similar to a Runian Governor. The Treekeeper lives within Umbala's oldest structure, namely a grand and ancient tree that was grown specifically to house him or her, and is in charge of keeping their city from falling apart. Other important figures in Umbalan Government are Lorekeepers, Soothsayers and - for protection - Rangers.

Regardless of skin color, all Elves submit to the will of an organization known as The Ebony Eye. Some live in fear while others in wonder of the Eye, knowing that it could be anywhere at anytime. Akin to a 'magical secret service'; the Ebony Eye is a secretive organization in which its members do not reveal their identities (sans those near its top) and very heavily polices the use of certain magics. It's unlikely that you'll see or be contacted by the Ebony Eye simply for using magic, as it's so deeply ingrained in all Elven culture, but you will be for using the wrong kind of magic. Anything deemed 'too powerful' or 'too dangerous', such as Superior Magic or in some cases even Artifice, will generally get you a knock on your door and a badge in your face.

The Eye commands a worrisome amount of power and sway, even in the face of the Emperor, and many know at least one story of a friend or neighbor being arrested with little evidence of their misdeeds only to wind up imprisoned for decades or even centuries over supposed 'magical abuse'. Some see the Ebony Eye as a necessity while others see it as a corrupt and over-reaching secret society that should either be reigned in or dissolved. This is made worse by the fact that nobility, and especially the more powerful Ruling Houses, are curiously immune or at least enjoy a relaxed alternative to the iron grip the Eye has on Vahk'Sala's magic study and other magical affairs.

Names

Dark and Light Elves follow the same naming structure, as their societies came from the same place… Despite where they stand now. Elvish names are typically rather vowel-heavy, and may even contain apostrophes or other symbols that are sure to confuse any non-Vahk'Salan. Many who are not Elves see their names as 'whimsical' or occasionally just hard to pronounce, but both are vaguely insulting to Elvenkind. The length and complexity of names varies wildly from long and confusing to short and simple.

Examples of Elven Names:
Cilian Maeth
Lith'yonaon Berlaellyn
Orwaith Rhuielion
Jaren Odo'miel

History

The history between Dark and Light Elves is a troubled and, some will say, one-sided and misrepresented one. The legend goes that when the world and its races were young, both existed in harmony and drew from the World Tree with their magics as they do today. The tale diverges in many directions, generally between either a disagreement or a full-on attempt at sabotage, but in some way or another it's said that the Dark Elves sought to abuse the World Tree's gifts to their own benefit. Many believe that the truth of this tale is likely more related to disgust over 'Blood Magic', and some of it is only symbolic or mis-told, but it's difficult to say.

Regardless of the actual circumstance, a rift swiftly developed from there and history diverges once more! Most Light Elven texts say they were exiled out of Geffenia and Avicennia to eke out an existence in the hellish jungle below, but Dark Elven recollections and legends explicitly state that they left of their own accord due to mistreatment. The split remains, and comes with a centuries-long grudge, even to this day regardless.

Not long after the Dark Elves began to leave Geffenia and Avicennia en masse, whatever their actual reasons, came the formation of the Ebony Eye. History says that the organization was formed in response to the aforementioned Dark Elven 'disagreement' or 'sabotage', dependant on which version of the story you believe. Both Light and Dark Elves' records do agree that the Eye itself first 'opened' just after their departure, however. Most recollections will say that it has always held the same impressive sway and and far-reaching sight as it does today, in regard to dangerous and potentially abusive magics.

Geffenia and Avicennia's Ruling House system came about roughly six or seven hundred years ago, though they were something more akin to 'Clans' back then. Their transformation from simple clans to noble houses was a slow one, but some remnants of the old systems remain - for instance, houses will still often 'assimilate' members from other houses or even commoners who show a particular interest or skill. House Norolund is the most well-known for this, assimilating most who wish to be classical “Adventurers” into their fold and taking large cuts of their earnings in exchange for leaner intervention by the Ebony Eye.

Race Relations

Light Elves

Dark Elves

Light Elves look down upon their darker kin thanks to a certain happening in the distant past. The majority of them see Dark Elves as 'savages' due to their ancient and slightly gruesome traditions, despite the fact that they are perfectly civilized and have moved into the modern Vahk'Salan era with little difficulty. Dark Elves are welcome, if only barely, into Geffenia and Avicennia… But most agree that they shouldn't get any dreams or ideas of grandeur.

Dwarves

Dwarves are one of Geffenia and Avicennia's three inhabitants, and they are greatly appreciated! Dwarves handle almost all of the construction and labor within both cities, leaving Elves free to go about their more magical business. They're far more than just 'useful' though, even if some Elves are arrogant enough to think so - Dwarves are good company, and are generally welcome everywhere.

Goblins

Goblins, similar to the Humans in the Republic, are not well-appreciated by Light Elvenkind. The Republic of Schwartzvald's factories do make to damage their World Tree, that much is true, but Goblins seem especially reckless and uncaring for the Tree as well. With few safety regulations and a very flexible code of 'moral ethics', Goblins also make use of tools like oil in their machinery that deal serious damage to the world when (frequently) mis-used.

Kobolds

Most Light Elves have little to say of Kobolds, because they're not often seen around Vahk'Sala… They know of them, of course, but little of their culture or people.

Orcs

Similar to Kobolds, the majority of Light Elves know little of Orcs that can't be read in a book or seen in a picture. Their recent affiliation with Goblins is sure to lose them a few 'points', however, and with Karnorc being rebuilt as a technological fortress (even if that technology is pulled and salvaged from the Republic's fallen war machines) they're sure to become a target of Light Elven ire sooner rather than later.

Humans

Humans are well-known, as they are to all of the races of Aurora, and some even live in Vahk'Sala - whether in Geffenia and Avicennia or down in the dump that is Umbala. Most Elves are a slightly xenophobic people, however, and a recent conflict with Rune has left them on especially shaky ground. Runians and other Humans are still allowed within Vahk'Sala, but they may get odd looks.

Cubi

Like Dwarves, Cubi are one of Geffenia and Avicennia's three primary races. They are similar to Elves in many ways, blessed with Longevity as well as the 'pretty' look to them that Vahk'Salans pride themselves on. Cubi are far more blessed in magic, which makes them a target of envy, but it evens out in their poor physical strength and inability to properly use most weaponry… Even the Elven bows and rapiers, sometimes.

Dark Elves

Light Elves

Dark and Light Elves are and have been at odds for a very long time. The former take what could be called a more 'measured' stance, but they're far from innocent by any means… The same sort of seething hatred and arrogance is ingrained within Dark Elven culture all the same, though it has been less severe in the younger generations - especially within the last 100 or 200 years. The same can't be said of Light Elves, unfortunately, and most who travel to Geffenia or Avicennia with stars in their eyes and ideas of progressive change in mind are left with much to be desired.

Dwarves

There are Dwarves within Umbala, too, but not nearly as many as in Geffenia and Avicennia. Dark Elves prefer to handle their own architectural pursuits, so the majority of Dwarvenkind in the lower village set to work on arms and armor instead. This is particularly helpful in warding off the gigantic Behemoths that threaten them in daily life, and many warrior-Dwarves take up residence in Umbala in the pursuit of glorious combat as well. It's a win/win.

Goblins

Similar to Light Elves, Dark Elves are not so keen on races that would actively harm or at least ignore their effect on the World Tree. Goblins are one thing that both skin colors can agree on - messy, loud, annoying and harmful to the world. It might be better off without them…

Kobolds

Dark Elves are a little closer to Rune than the Light Elves, but even they don't often see these furry little creatures. The amount of them that have shown up within Dark Elven history could probably be counted on two hands, so most of their knowledge comes from texts and books. Wild Kobolds seem to share a similar plight as them - one of struggle and underhanded subversion by an arrogant foe. For that, they have some respect.

Orcs

As far as the majority of Dark Elves in Umbala are concerned, Orcs and Goblins work together often enough that they may as well be grouped together as one 'unit'. If Goblins are a problem, which they are, Orcs are sure to become one soon. Another race that Aurora could probably manage without.

Humans

Umbala didn't suffer the same sort of loss as Geffenia did in recent history, though relations between Humans and Dark Elves weren't perfect before then. They're still less side-eyed than by the Light Elves, at least, but many don't care for Humans very much all the same. Umbala has a few of them, but they have trouble adjusting to the jungle… That, they suppose, is the Humans' funeral.

Cubi

Dark-skinned Cubi have it a little easier; they don't carry the same curse thanks to the color of their skin as Dark Elves. Many are the subject of envy for this reason, and Cubi of all colors may be turned away from Umbala because of their decidedly 'privileged' place in society. Those who have nowhere else to go are still accepted into Umbala's fold, if begrudgingly.

world_setting/races/elves.txt · Last modified: 2016/08/20 18:36 by karn