The elves have changed little throughout their stay in Morus from when they first arrived as the Faerie, the mystical and fae breed of elf now termed "Grey Elves" by elvish history, though "Faerie" was the name used by the ignorant folk of the time. It is not widely known when the first Grey Elves came to Morus; the Good Folk have existed on Morus since time immemorial, and the Faerie were of old thought to be of the same stock. They come from outside of Morus, and when their time comes, they leave the mortal realm to return to their final home. The first elves, the Gray Elves, were creatures of legend - even the long-lived elves have little memory of them, and to the mortals they were mythical beings, amongst the Good Folk. Serious and grim, filled with terrifying power and strange motives, their ways have faded into obscurity. The elves of today can no longer be counted amongst the Good Folk, for they have made a conscious decision to live amongst the world of mortals. Nevertheless, even though they live amongst mortals, they themselves are immortal, and eventually they pass to the far realms, to Arvandor. Although they need to rest each day, elves don't sleep and are incapable of true sleep, though they can be knocked unconscious. Most elves close their eyes while they take their rest amongst humans, but they really just enter a sort of trance where they relive their past and "dream" the eldritch dreams of the elves, which they rarely speak of. Elves can even rest in this way while walking, singing, praying, running or doing other simple tasks. Though they need only rest in this way for a couple hours each day, as elves age they tend to spend more and more time withdrawn from the world, living in other times.
Due to their long lifespan, their small population, and their general alien heritage, the life and standards of elvish society is quite simply different from that of humanity in every way, no matter how human they may appear on the outside. The population of elves is limited at any one time, and they are counted in the thousands and tens of thousands rather than the millions.
Elvish society is one that is filled with nuance. Elves are incredibly long-lived, and have a very low fertility rate. Combined with the natural personality of an elf - calm as a pool of still water, but prone to extreme bouts of passion and emotion when something annoys them or catches their attention - this makes for a very nuanced society. Humans who come across elves are struck by their subtlety - elves never say anything plainly, and rarely speak bluntly or say anything that could give offense. All their words can be interpreted, and there is always amigbuity as to their intentions and true meanings. The elvish language only supplements this; humans can learn to speak elvish, but in truth they are only learning to communicate with elves, only learning the words and grammar. Elvish has a huge variety of subtext that is only truly discernible to a native speaker, and in truth speaking native elvish is like speak 5 or 6 human tongues simultaneously, and the older and wiser elves have ways of controlling inflection and implication that make the count rise even higher. As an extension of this, elvish society is highly ritualised and they have many "sports", simulated combat of every type - wordplay and battle of wits, ritualised dueling and fencing, competitions of archery, and so on. All these help to resolve tensions without an elf killing another over a feud as a dwarf does. Compared to the dwarves, elvish feuds are incredibly rare, but an elvish feud does not end until all involved are dead, along with their children, and their children's children. Even if not mentioned, they will be remembered for thousands of years, and always taken into consideration. An old proverb says that elves forgive, but never forget.
An elvish adventurer is one who intentionally travels outside of elvish society, and will usually both be a fairly young elf, and thus more prone to passion and interest in the mortal world than an older elf would, and less inscrutable and "inhuman". As adventurers, they have also made a conscious decision to live outside of elvish communities, and will not necessarily act completely as a traditional elf does, though centuries of mannerisms and practises are not easily shaken off. Most elven adventurers are between 40 and 150 years old.
Elves of Murthrid
The elves of Murthrid are said to be guarded, unforgiving and reclusive, and they are - to outsiders. Within Murthrid, their outlook is much more relaxed, though the elves of Lurkmoor find them to be more careful and measured in their actions, phrasing insults or harsh words in layers of subtleties and flowery words. The influence of the Druids is much greater in Murthrid than in Lurkmoor, and they are the closest thing that the towns and cities of Murthrid have to a ruling body. In general, the population density of Murthrid is even less than that of Lurkmoor, numbering perhaps 30 or 40 thousand elves despite the great size of the forest. The elves of Murthrid live sparingly and independently; while they value the counsel of the Druids and look to them for guidance, the Druids are leaders but not rulers. The elves of Murthrid generally follow the Druidic Way, adopting a partially vegetarian diet and refusing to farm animals, eating only meat that is culled from the herds to keep the balance. Most elves are skilled hunters (at least 1 level in ranger), and hunt for themselves, though many buy from the professional rangers that live out in the wilds. Murthrid is the source of high magic, and so the fabled elvish spellcasters in their Towers of High Wisdom are significant figures in Murthrid, weaving their enchantments and performing their research in wondrous towers of spun glass. More often than not, the magic that they seek is of a protective and utilitarian nature, and is used to create beautiful constructions, to perform theoretical research, or for other such peaceful purposes; fireballs and lightning bolts are rarely cared for by an elvish mage. Elves have a tendency to dabble in magic rather than attaining true power.
An important thing to remember about the elves of Murthrid is that while they are the guardians of the forest, they are just a small part of it. Murthrid is deadly and vast, full of trolls, dragons and all other kinds of terrifying creature found in the wildest of lands. They do not rebuff humans who enter, but neither to they aid them, and humans who come to Murthrid with the intent of bringing sheer numbers against it to brave the dangers therein will find they have more than enough to worry about long before the elves become a problem. Those who do not know the secret ways of the elves will quickly find that they are swallowed up by the trackless forest.
For more information, see the page on Murthrid.
Elves of Lurkmoor
The elves of Lurkmoor are far more populous than those of Murthrid; although it is less than a quarter of the size of Murthrid, Lurkmoor contains half as many inhabitants, numbering about 15,000 elves. It is relatively populated, with great elvish cities whose spires peek out from the above the treetops, and "The Greenway", a great elvish road which passes through Lurkmoor from north to south, crossing through the elvish cities, along which travellers through the Borderlands pay to cross safely. Unlike the elves of Murthrid, they hold a ruler dear: the Elfqueen of Lurkmoor, Alaunda Sindarion who rules from the capital city of Menhedrul.
The army of the Kingdom of Elves is small, but powerful. Its soldiers are elite and well-trained, veterans who have lived for centuries and hunt the dangerous beasts of the forests in times of peace. They are equipped with fine elvish spears, longbows and blades at the very least, and it is not uncommon for an elf who distinguishes themselves to receive some armament of fabled mithral. They are well supplemented by elvish battle-mages, and those battlemages often have skill with a blade themselves, and wear the legendary elvish chain that protects them while allowing them to cast their spells unimpeded. In all history, no human kingdom has ever been foolish enough to make war on the Kingdom of Elves, and with good reason.
Druidism has far less influence in Lurkmoor; although still a significant force, it is mostly concentrated in the rangers and druids that keep the forests safe. Worship of Corellan Larethian, the god of elves, is much more widespread in Lurkmoor, and the cities of the Kingdom have many beautiful temples to the Protector. The Elfqueen keeps a council of 9 advisors, one of whom is always a Druid and one of whom is always a Priest of Corellan Larethian, known as the Small Council or Larethas.
These elves live in the Daggerwood, in northern Lorknir - just on the border of Nirkivish. They have long since been sundered from their southern kin by the bitter axes of mankind. The forest was preserved in ancient times, when the deforestation of men had already scattered the elves of the region and weakened their ancient connections with the land. The Blue Queen, Elemmire, was filled with sadness at the destruction of the woods - for her fellows elves were unwilling and unable to stop the inevitable. Her forest was oldest and most beautiful of all, the place where many ley-lines of power crossed to make a forest verdant with natural magic. In order to protect her forest, she laid down the Fell of Elemmire: a blanket of silvery blue mist that covers the Daggerwood.
The Fell of Elemmire persists to this day, and, though more than a thousand years old, Elemmire still rules the kingdom of Daggerwood. Any who does not bear the elven blood succumbs to that mist, collapsing into a deep and dreamless sleep. They remain so until the elves find them and bring them back to the edge of the forest, where they can do no harm. Within, the kingdom of Daggerwood holds some of the oldest and wisest elves outside of Murthrid. The crossing of so many ley-lines in the Daggerwood is unique and very rare, and the result is that the beauty and splendour of that forest is alike to Arvandor itself. The elves of Daggerwood rarely feel the Reckoning, and elves of more than five centuries in age - a relative rarity in Lurkmoor - are common there.
Generations of Elves
All elves are technically immortal, living for thousands and thousands of years, and do not die of old age. As such, all elves are divided into Generations, with each generation lasting 1,000 years. These generations form the backbone of elvish social structure, as respect for age is paramount amongst the immortal elves. However, even though they are technically immortal, elves do not remain in the world of mortals. A young elf is "more mortal", more grounded and concerned with earthly affairs - perfecting music, the arts, pursuing their passions and learning magic, perhaps even intervening in the affairs of humans. As an elf ages, such earthly concerns mean less and less. A young elf is filled with energy, with passion, and an old elf spends their time in contemplation, thinking on their experience, on their long life, being long in their counsel, thinking much and acting little, until eventually they withdraw completely from the world, and the Reckoning is upon them. For some elves, the Reckoning comes sooner than for others, but there are no elves left on Morus who are older than 1,000 years. When an elf is ready to leave the world of mortals, they construct beautiful white-winged ships and sail from the eastern shores of Murthrid. It is unknown where they go and how they get there, and those who try to follow the Elfships invariably become lost in strange mists that confuse and bewilder. The elves hold that these elves go to Arvandor, the realm of elves where Corellan Larethian rules over the elves of each world in the Eternal Court, adjacent to the Beastlands where the Good Folk still reign.
Of course, not all elves live long enough to experience the Reckoning; elves may die of accident, illness, or in combat, and many do. An elf who dies in this way does not go to any afterlife; they are beings of nature, and their spirits are the spirits of nature. If an elf dies on Morus, their essence disappears, vanishing into the great elemental force that is Nature - there to become a dryad, the guardian of a tree, or some other woodland spirit, or simply to join with the great motive force of Nature, source of the power of the Druid, the great power that underlies all natural beasts. Only by making their eastward voyage can an elf achieve their "afterlife".
According to elven reckoning, the generations are as follows:
- First Generation (6,000 - 5,000 BE): These were the Grey Elves that dwelled on Leng before any mortal eyes ever beheld it. They were newly arrived to the fledgling world of Morus, and few in number. They lived in the wild amongst Fey and Elemental spirits, and used their incredible lore to produce great works.
- Second Generation (5,000 - 4,000 BE): These were the Grey Elves descended from those who did not tire of the forests of Leng and return to their home realms - the first generation born upon Morus. Though lacking some of the art of the mystical beings who had preceded them, the Second Generation were nonetheless powerful and skilled - and in constant contact with their forebears. The very oldest records from this period indicate that mortals arrived on Leng during the Second Generation. Many of the oldest Grey Elves left as a result.
- Third Generation (4,000 - 3,000 BE): The last generation of Grey Elves. During this period, those elves who were intent on staying watched warily as humans forged from the south, while vying against the monstrous beings who had landed on the north. They made friends out of the ancestors of the halfling race during this period. By the end of this generation, it is said that all those with the knowledge of how to bridge the gap between planes had departed - thus marking the end of the Grey Elves on Morus.
- Fourth Generation (3,000 - 2,000 BE): A period of turmoil, as the Wood Elves of the Great Leng Forest came to terms with their new environment. Without the wisdom of the Grey Elves, many disagreements brewed - especially over whether humans and other mortals should be ignored, appeased, befriended or destroyed. The Fourth Generation were the first elves to record the arrival of the White-Winged Ships at the isle of Valerin.
- Fifth Generation (2,000 - 1,000 BE): A time characterised by retreat by the Wood Elves from the advancement of the terrified humans coming north from the Plains of Dust. The White-Winged Ships were burdened by the sheer number of elves leaving the shores of Morus. The depopulated elves formed into two rough factions: those who believed humanity should be kept at bay and prevent from causing harm, and those who believed they should be guided and befriended. The former was much larger than the latter; the distinctions would form the beginnings of the Wood Elves of Murthrid and the High Elves of Lurkmoor. At this time, the two forests were connected - but somewhat tenuously. Lurkmoor was the "shallow forest", surrounded by human lands, while Murthrid was the "deep forest", secluded and safe from mortal interference.
- Sixth Generation (1,000 - 0 BE): The generation in which the High Elves and Wood Elves became permanenlty sundered. The first Elfking of Lurkmoor comes into power. The Wood Elves grow more isolationist, reverting to old arts and the path of Druidism while forging more and more powerful enchantments to protect their borders. The elves of Lurkmoor cooperate with other races to stem the so-called "Reign of Monsters" - forging alliances with humans and dwarves.
- Seventh Generation (0 - 1,000 AE): The current generation. They are born into an established order; there is Murthrid and there is Lurkmoor, now fully separated. The relationship between elves and the other races are now stable and well-established.
In truth, the Reckoning is recognised by the oldest elves as a natural process. It is living amongst mortals that is unnatural, a form of conceit. Elves are, by their very nature, above mortal beings. They are descended from the fey, which themselves were born from the Astral; their very nature is tied to very natural forces of the multiverse, and this is why they so love the fruits of nature. Their ultimate destiny is different from that of mortal beings, and remaining amongst them is tantamount to an embalming of their culture and personality.
When they are young, an elf can fool themselves that they are not so different from men, or even dwarves. They become attached to their houses, or to their forests, their seaside homes or their beautiful creations. Many elves, as well, take delight in being older, fairer and wiser than the "younger" races, acting as teachers of leaders to them. But as they age and the fullness of history is revealed to them, the gulf that separates them and mortals widens. Houses crumble, wondrous crafts are lost to time or destroyed in conflict, and their true nature can be ignored no longer. They must then leave, and rejoin their kin in the immortal vales of Arvandor, living in the second root of the World Tree.
Relationship with Gryphons
The gryphons of Leng have a long and special relationship with the elves. They make their eyries on forested cliffs and precipices, but many of them spend a great deal of time in elvish settlements, where the elves often build accommodations for them. Gryphons are powerfully intelligent, good-aligned, and most speak elvish as well as the language of birds from a young age. They feel a sense of deep friendship and kinship with the generally good-aligned elves that springs both from a long history of peaceful coexistence and kinship in their fae nature. Gryphons spend much time in the company of elves.
As part of the brotherhood gryphons feel with elves, they will often accompany them on foot or carry them through the air, though they are no taxi service. They prefer wilder environments and the sky above all else, and are most at home when travelling through the wilds of Lurkmoor - as such, they will rarely turn down the request from an elf for companionship or transportation, though they may periodicallly disappear to hunt or even become bored or notice some pressing matter and leaving their companion behind. After all, though they are fiercely loyal to their friends, gryphons have a reputation for being easily offended and very capricious when little as stake.
A member of elvish royalty returning to Lurkmoor will most likely be greeted at the border by at least one gryphon, though a regular elf will probably enter unheeded. However, an elf need only call out in elvish and if there is a gryphon within 1 mile they will often appear unless they have some other pressing business. If a gryphon is flying and sees a lone elf travelling in the forest, they will often land and offer their company or their wings to the traveller. However, as noted above the gryphons are extremely intelligent and proud. They act as taxi service or servant for no one and are very vocal about those they disapprove of. An elf who acts in a particularly "neutral" or evil manner will earn the disdain of the gryphons, and they may even refuse to carry them. When this happens it is often kept secret by the elf in question; for the gryphons to refuse an elf's call carries a social stigma almost akin to that of exile. Indeed, it is seen by many as a sign that exile is imminent and that it is only a matter of times before they are branded as Dark Elf and cast out.
Gryphons are most common in the western ("safer") parts of Lurkmoor, where they make their eyries. They do this both to be be close to the elvish cities and because it gives them easy access to the Borderlands, where they do much of their hunting.
Relationship with Outsiders
Elves live quite differently from humans - so much so that it is not difficult to see why they are often seen as being privileged and aristocratic. Elves are born rarely and grow slowly, living in small communities. The great cities of Lurkmoor are a relative oddity, but outside of those cities elves live a very community-focused life. In the forest villages of Lurkmoor and in the whole of Murthrid, these tight-knight communities ensure that every member will be looked after.
As a result, elves need rarely worry about going hungry or not putting a roof over their head. With less of a struggle to survive, they are less concerned with money and making a profit. They tend to prefer working with those who will provide honest value to the community as a whole; likewise, they would rather their wares fall into the hands of someone who will look after them than the highest bidder. Certain goods are more likely to be sold to outsiders than others, though - some are produced primarily for trade. Having lots of wealth never hurts, even when it isn't needed - elves have a taste for the extravagant after all.
The sea elves have a partially-secret sect dedicated to Sashelas of the Deep known as Arvaqathir, or "the Crew of the Afterlife". They are responsible for boarding and crewing the swan ships of Arvanaith and ferrying elves to the edge of Arvandor. The members of the Arvaqathir are many thousands of years old as they do not experience the Reckoning.
The sea elves are much as described in the MM as far as the structure of their society goes. They are dedicated chiefly to the worship of Sashelas and Corellan Larethian, and Ehlonna is only worshipped as minor deity, being seen as the consort to Corellan. The sea elves of Morus can survive for about 20 minutes in air before they begin to have trouble breathing. While sea elves are as reclusive as indicated in the MM, the sea elves of Morus do occasionally travel through the oceans or even to land while going about their own business. For this purpose, they have specially enchanted ships which can sail both above and below water, the innards of which are under the effects of a constant airy water spell. Amulets of Airbreathing and Waterbreathing are treasured amongst the sea elves for the rare occasion upon which they must associate with surface dwellers.