The Elven Dominion
“While this is by no means a complete record of elven history, it should provide some insight as to their world and ways”
–Mugara, in a letter to Kadima, Giant Matriarch of Goshen
The history of the Elves of Pellorea is ancient, yet young as dragons regard such matters, and as full of joy and hope as it has been with sorrow and tragedy. Long before the Men of the East began to multiply, the Elves awoke, as they put it, in the vast forest of Melloren. Gifted in magic, the Elves possess an intimate bond with the lands in which they dwell, and are capable of “listening to the earth,” and discerning much of what is afoot in the world from what they “hear.” Many among them lived a somewhat nomadic life, spending their summers on the windswept terraces of Bawarra Ridge, where some developed the study of earth and rocks and the working of metals. Still others would summer on the southern coasts, taking to the sea in bright-sailed ships.
They lived in relative quiet for many years until the greed and violence of the dragons of the ancient world drove them to learn war, and to develop the arts of magic beyond craft-making and forest-tending they had practiced thus far. It was during that age that much of what is now called combat magic was developed, and in time Elven mages were known to be the most formidable of the gifted, surpassing at times even the Elder Magisters of the Menelek.
It was also during those terrible years that a great schism occurred in the leadership of the Elves. Some believed that the ongoing wars with the dragons called for a permanent migration to Bawarra Ridge, which was easily defensible and less vulnerable to dragon-fire than the great trees of Melloren. Others called for the Elves to settle on an island they had come to call Borinken, meaning “land of the Creator,” because of its great beauty and abundance. Most held that they ought to defend their ancestral home, and strife ensued. One elf, a respected seer known as Chemgar, came forward and silenced the dispute by declaring a fast, at the end of which he stated there would be a vision to guide the people.
Chemgar and the elders gathered in a clearing near the center of Melloren and constructed a small lodge for the ceremony, and after several days Chemgar rose to his feet and, began to prophesy in song. His voice filled the lodge and trickled out into the forest, and it is said that even the animals stood silent at its sound. For several hours he chanted what came to be known as the Witness of the Nations, and within that lodge arose images of rock and sea and tree which rose and fell with the passage of time. The elders never disclosed all of what they saw, but in that vision it was seen that the People of the Wood would disperse as some had planned, establishing three distinct Elven dominions: Bawarra, Melloren and Borinken, over which would reign a high king. The vision shimmered, and began to fade, but then there came a golden glow, and there arose an image of the Eastern Deeping, its waters storm-darkened and tossed into great waves. Out of the roiling waters arose a ship unlike any the Elves or Men had ever known, a great mountain of steel blazing with lights and belching a heavy fume as it came to land. As the vision continued, the image of the ship faded from sight and in its place came forms like Men, but taller even than elves, lean of build and cold of eye, and strange in their manner of dress. These people built great works of stone, and devices of war terrible to behold. The vision showed times of war, devastation, sorrow, and of restoration, and while there are some with the seer’s gift who still sing it, the vision never appeared again.
The elders agreed to allow the Elves to be divided, and when Chemgar refused to be made high king, they chose a Kriel, a brooding artificer who soon thereafter began the construction of a great pavilion where the vision had been seen. This later came to be called the Obsidian Throne, and remained the seat of the high king’s dominion until after the Desolation War. Kriel established the order of the Pelethites, specially trained warriors gifted in combat magic and healing, who served as the messengers of the kingdom as well as the defenders of its borders. At the mouth of the Essor River, Kilara’s Keep was built, and a perpetual Watch was set on the seas of the Eastern Deeping.
Many years passed, and with their passage, so too passed all regard for the warning of the Witness. The elves lived carelessly, and the rule of the high kings began to fail. When Whitehawk’s armies marched on the Melloren Essora, the elves were largely unprepared. After the battle at Kahu-Kel, the elves of Melloren flourished once more, for though Syrgestus refused the high king Herriath’s request to be his heir, he did serve as an advisor to several kings. It was during these centuries that the Elves of Melloren and Bawarra devised a peculiar system of rule, which was followed by both the high kings in Melloren and the Clan Lords of the Bawarra. A king or lord would reign until either his rule began to fail, or until weary of its burdens, or until he sensed that the land itself needed a new vision for the people, and would then appoint a successor from among his offspring or from among the people, and he would then join the council of elders, which lent its wisdom to the new dominion. In later years, some of rulers of Melloren disregarded this practice, which led to a great decline in Melloren’s strength. The elves on Borinken lived under the rule of the Pelethites, who chose their Champion by virtue in combat. This did not always prove to be the best means of succession, as would become plain in the Desolation War.
it is also of note that during that time the Wall of Syrgestus was built, or rather, grown. Some distance to the northeast of Kilara’s Keep, Syrgestus stood at the southern end of the mountains and began the casting of a spell which some say took him more than a century to devise. With this spell he raised a great wall of blue stone that appeared to grow out of the very earth and ran from the mountains to the sea, towering high above plains, impassable by Men and seemingly proof against even the best of their weapons. The few who witnessed it said that the old mage slept for days after this feat, and afterward was seen no more. It has since been called the Wall of Syrgestus, and stands to this day.
As these years sped by, the elves of Borinken grew lean and dark of skin and hair, with eyes of green or amber, while the Melloren retained their reddish hue. The Bawarra took on a maroon tone, with dark eyes bright hair, most often in shades of violet. It is believed that their continual contact with the dragons, their work with minerals, or perhaps both, caused this coloration. It is also possible that because of their affinity for magic, the appearance of the three elven Nations diverged in response to their separation.
The three elven nations were distrustful of the Stone Prophets, but the elves of Melloren again grew careless, while the Pelethite order came under the shadow of lust and greed as the Pelethite Champion Huacal slowly turned it into a body of mercenaries and assassins. During the Desolation War, the Pelethites did not openly betray the other elves, but, when most of the Pelethites lay dead, Huacal fled Borinken and swore fealty to the Harkad Empire. His followers later became known as Ku’ja assassins, and their order thrives in Qrnrin to this day.
The war that began when the Stone Prophets tested one of their war machines on the Dragon Lord Ceranyx devastated the Elves of Melloren, and all but wiped out the Borinken, the remnants of whom were scattered throughout the continent. The Bawarra were likewise decimated, though the ancient fortress of the Ridge stood against the Stone Prophets’ devices until the day that terrible race suddenly retreated, and disappeared from Pellorea shortly thereafter. It was at this time that the Harkad Empire, which had to some extend aided the Stone Prophets, discovered that in addition to being weakened by the horrors of war, the elves’ magic had greatly decreased in power. At the time, it was thought that this was attributable to the fact that most of the more powerful mages had been slain, and even the great Syrgestus was nowhere to be found and thought to be dead. The Empire then launched a full onslaught on Melloren, and over time established strongholds and colonies on its borders. What followed were centuries of war, enslavement and depredation, and the Obsidian Throne fell vacant. While the Empire was never able to fully take the vast forest, it had succeeded in capturing its eastern borders and controlling the River Essor. Even the dragons could not fully stop the Harkad conquest, because the Empire had acquired some of the Stone Prophets’ weapons, including great siege engines which hurled exploding stones and fire over distances.
The lands south of Melloren during these years became a befouled marshland, and much of the ancient knowledge of the elven dominions was lost. The Order of Arsa likewise dwindled, and even the Menelek disappeared from the great forest, appearing so rarely that in this age they are regarded as creatures of legend.
During this time, the conquest of Melloren’s eastern forests brought with it slavery, murder, and a new manner of people. The reaving ways of Harkad’s armies gave rise to a great many half-elven children, who came to be called the rechaizo, meaning the Unwanted. Most of these had elvish features, but lacked the heightened magical gifting or long lifespans of the Elves, often living no more than 50 years. Despised by their human sires and rejected by the Elves as rape-get, the Rechaizo sometimes became vagabonds, wanderers, and adventurers of a baser sort, though some who escaped slavery fled to Borinken, where the few elves who remained were too few to drive them away. As the centuries drew on, there were also many Rechaizo born of willing unions and marriages, and they were viewed with a grudging tolerance at best in the border kingdoms south of the Glass Hills.
By this time, word of the Fetters of Wizardry had reached the elves, and though many regarded the accounts as mere fables, none could deny that strong magic had become rare indeed, and no truly great mages were to be found in the land. In the east, Men, in whom the gift for magic was weak by comparison, began to study the darker crafts anew.
Some 15 years ago, Moab, a descendant of the elven high kings, gathered a group of renegades and began to assassinate the rulers of the border kingdoms while mustering the who remained of the Melloren to attempt to retake their ancestral homeland. With him in these adventures was the half-elf, half giant thaumaturge Arrikhan, considered the first true combat thaumaturge in many centuries. In their travels they recruited to their cause many heroic figures, including a human artificer calling herself Witherspore, whose skill in the making of armaments rivaled even the elves. They also gained the friendship of a half-elf known as Katarina the Dragon Slayer, who dared the Trial at the ruins of Kilara’s Keep to become the first true Pelethite Champion since Huacal turned to wickedness, and some time into one of their most daring intrigues (an attempt to steal certain magical artifacts from the Harkad Palace at Qnrin, they encountered a half-elven assassin who had claimed to be nearly 150 years old. The assassin, who called himself Gladden, also reported that he had lived among the Krog and had been trained at Cador’s Stronghold, and much to Moab’s amusement, he had taken up a surname: Darkfell. This group was quickly outlawed by the Empire after their failed raid on the palace, and became known as the Character Assassins.
Two years later, after Gladden succeeded in assassinating the Harkad Emperor, the Integrity War began, culminating at the battle of the Glass Hills. Since then, the elven nations have been reunited under the reign of Moab, who continues to collect magical artifacts in an attempt to restore the realm to its former strength. Katarina set out for Borinken to train a new generation of Pelethites, while Arrikhan travels the land, seeking to heal it and and drive out those who would defile it. Witherspore was permitted to settle within Melloren, where she continues to devise armaments for the Elves. Gladden was not permitted to remain in the forest, and so he returned to the Dark Fells where he became the Ku’umah (clan chief) of the Darkfell clan.
The Bawarra continue under the rule of Daku, who is one the last of the generation which saw the Desolation. He had had no sons but his elder daughter, Talari, prepares to take on the spiritual leadership of the Bawarra. His younger daughter, whom he has named to rule after him, has taken to traveling in search of adventure, and is known to be a friend of the Dragon Lord Ceranyx.
A hearty race, elves are said to be immortal, which is true to a degree. That is, an Elf may live on indefinitely unless taken by mishap, or murder, for example. It is thought that they share a common origin with Men, and were altered by Kurrumarak (the Creator) for some unknown purpose. They are often about two meters in height, and are stronger and more agile than most Men. They generally possess a keen affinity for magic, although their gifts may not always manifest themselves in readily apparent or even useful ways.