When Nammoran woke the Secondborn, each tribe selected the Elf with the strongest aura as king (or queen, in the case of the Wood Elves). The tribes built homes, ranging in majesty from the gleaming spires of Nammovalle to the thatched huts of Jali, and each had a greater ring of Stones tended by a high priestess. Najahar, the Stones of Nammovalle, had a high priest and priestess.
|Mist Elves||Aelynar||The Aerie||Kylldahar||Neldynna|
The striking beauty of the Fair Elves could easily beguile those of lesser stature, and did, even before Sorrow entered the world. The tranquility of the Elder Days was highly overrated, in some respects. To hear Kandol tell it, Ylindelay started seducing his grandfather the first time they met, when she was a child of five. Kandol always described her as a stubborn, strong willed woman and a fierce matriarch who always put her family first.
Though they had little affinity for earthsong, the Fair Elves were accomplished sorcerers wearing auras bright like cloaks and had a special knack with enchantments. Noble looking and reserved by nature, they carried themselves with dignity and were humble in their power. Renowned as poets, artists and jewelers, they had a passion for the arts.
Viranor, their king had silver hair and sad, grey eyes and an aura bright for his enchantments. Most powerful of the Elven Kings after Nammoran, he cut a regal figure and had an intuitive grasp of sorcery. Like the Firstborn, he relied more on instinct than spells to ensorccel his foes. He was proudest of his daughter, Ylindelay, who had her mother’s look and his talent, and his status as the Firstborn’s father-in-law and first advisor.
Families of Grey Elves would come together to give the Earth Mother her due, using one of the untended Rings of Stones Annumbra had scattered about the Elvetur. As you might imagine, their prayers to the Earth Mother were rather subdued compared to the other Tribes. It was hard to find someone to pray with who you weren’t closely related to.
When Night came to Sangrar, the Grey Elves, or shadow Elves as they started calling themselves, adapted most easily. Already stealthy and elusive, they used the shadows to their advantage. Working alone or in small groups, they became soldiers of the Night, using their powers against the Armies of Darkness.
The Elf lord Elveros led them. A shade under 6’ tall, he dressed in an enchanted grey cloak over a white leather tunic and wore his blonde hair parted in the center. A silver fillet kept it from his eyes. A fast learner, Elveros was the first Secondborn to master his aura at the Congress and surprisingly, for one whose nature was decidedly introverted, statecraft came to him easily. He had a sharp sense of humor that was at its best in times of peril.
He had one daughter that he knew of, Elryssa. He might have had other children, but not much was known about his family. The Grey Elves permitted their king no home; instead, he journeyed from hearth to hearth, accepting the hospitality of his people. Elryssa was the result of one of these visits. On her first birthday, she was left in his care, though the identity of her mother remained a secret. From then until the day she married Nammydan, she traveled with her father from hidden vale to hidden vale. It’s no wonder that Kandol was a master of secrets, his mother was born into the world under a cloak of secrecy. When she and Nammydan swore their oath to the Earth Mother and Humak from the Stones at Jahar, did she know what sentence she’d handed her sons?
Quick, name a brand of ketchup. Seven of ten people surveyed said Heinz. It’s the same way the Fair Folk. When I say Elf, you picture a High Elf, whether you realize it or not. The High Elves were the prototypical tribe, closest to Elves of your legends and fiction. Fair-skinned, blue-eyed, with blond or silver hair and standing six and a half feet tall or more, Nammoran’s people were oh so pretty, slender and graceful, strong and fleet of foot. The mightiest Elves of olden times, they wielded the power of the Spires with the same expertise as Yo Yo Ma bows a violin. Thanks to the Seeress’s manipulations, Nammoran, his son Nammydan and grandson Kandol all benefitted from training with the three Harnae. Atar, Nim and Harrah were the greatest, in terms of pure sorcery, to ever live on Sangrar. I qualified that statement intentionally, by including the word pure. With his Earthmagery factored in, I’d stack Kandol against any of them any day, not that I ever said so to Tarik. He’d have taken offense, and then we’d have argued. To him, anything stemming from earthsong was tainted, cheapened as it were.
As strong as they were in sorcery, the High Elves were also gifted in earthsong. They counted many Earthmages among their number and nearly one in four could channel, not nearly as many as the Ravirs, but more than other Elf tribes or most Elder Races. When it came to chest thumping, High Elves could lay partial claim to the granddaughter of Nammoran the Firstborn, Andis, she who won the Test of the Stones. That deed that proclaimed her Eyes of the World, the name reserved for the High Priestess of Leyrantha.
The epithet she earned was no empty title. As the Eyes of the World, Andis could see and hear anywhere when the goddess was with her, making her the most puissant channeler ever recorded in The Tale of Ages. Kandol, who had been high priest at Najahar with Calavenna before the Darkening, was Eyes of the World once, in Ardilun and the sensation nearly overwhelmed him. If you step back and consider the power to which Kandol was accustomed, that statement ought to give you a sense of the power Andis wielded.
Like other tribes, High Elves held Nyllen, Harnor, and Finbardin dear, and also Annumbra the World Walker, for binding Erlik. They paid deference to Deridean’s wisdom and justice, ever to Harnor’s displeasure, and gave thanks to Grandar for the curiosity and inventiveness he bestowed upon them.
It must be hard for you, who never felt the touch of the Three Suns, to imagine Nammoran’s splendor back then, when the world was still young and he wielded power like unto a god’s . He was king of the High Elves and High King of all Elves, and, in my humble opinion, the greatest of all the Firstborn. His face was young and wise beyond its years. Unchecked, his aura burned like Arra, warm and soothing to troubled hearts. His voice could calm your deepest fears and it’s said that his gaze could lay open your soul. He carried Jinvalle, a rune-carved staff made from a branch of the Silver Birch and with it in his hand, there was little he couldn’t do. A crystal likeness of the Spires topped Jinvalle, sparkling with a rainbow of light.
In the seventh century, Nammoran met Ylindelay when she was only a child of five. His future wife was a powerful enchantress, to whom Nammoran proved a willing victim. After they wed (Nammoran was no hillbilly, they waited until she was of age), she urged him to forge an Elvenhome for the Fair Folk, changing the face of Sangrar. They passed their power on to their three sons, who would never be mistaken for Larry, Daryl and his other brother Daryl. .
No mortals had as great an impact on the world as Nammoran and his heirs, and they were indelibly linked to the Sword and the Prophecies. Without the gleaming spires of Nammovalle rising from the slopes of Mount Tireal, without the Great Mural lighting terraced Indalle, without the three towers of Elrasirre rising over the Living Forest, the Elder Days would not have been so grand. All three sons were figures of legend. Indallar, Captain of the Blue Horizon, who met Umbar’s challenge, founded Indalle, defeated Zara’s Ulgarja in the Battle of Unending Night, and fathered Andis, the Eyes of the World. Elras, Lord of Elrasirre, possibly the most famous and certainly the most tragic of the three, with too many accomplishments to list. Forging Caerycal, living in Belecontar, awakening Sunome’s Pearl, and the Covenant would have made his top ten list, but they only scratched the surface of his legend. One might make the case (and I have) that no one figure affected the course of the world as much as Elras. Kandol agreed with me, but that was his humility talking, for if not Elras, then Kandol owned that designation and by the time I caught up with the Master of Pel Aesylle, he was well past wanting to take credit for anything.
Nammydan, the Firstborn’s middle son, was a disciple of the Harnae and high adept, but many thought his more flamboyant brothers and famous children overshadowed him. I, however, am not so quick to dismiss him. Staying in Nammovalle took a different kind of courage. Kandol once told me that before marrying Elryssa, his father had wanted to found a kingdom, but after he swore his oath before the Earth Mother and the Beast Lord, that was off the table. His promise cost him dearly; but not so much as it cost his sons.
Light Elves worshipped the Light of Heaven and awaited the day of their rebirth. Most had eyes so steely as to look silver. A few, believed to have the favor of the Craeylu, had eyes yellow as the Suns. They lived in Alyrre, a secluded vale located in northern Elvetur not far from Jahar. Compared to the other tribes, the Light Elves were a bit short handed when it came to priestesses, but they did have Earthmages to spare, mostly gifted with powers of prescience and prophesy. Lyronie, one of the Secondborn, presided over Endartha, the Stones of Alyrre, though she had few disciples to help her.
The most reclusive tribe, Light Elves had little discourse with other tribes, preferring to spend their days in solitude praying for the day of their rebirth. A spiritual people with expertise in divinations, they were astrologers and studied Esel’s constellations hoping to find hidden meaning in their movements. While studying Heaven’s mysteries, they moved through the ranks of Loresinger, Loremaster and Elder, and looked to the Prophecies for clues to the future. Only Elders could unravel the Prophecies’ deepest mysteries and only those who passed the Ritual of the Seasons could attain that exalted rank.
Both Kandol and Velora were Elders, and they remained tight-lipped about the ritual even when I was with them, thousands of years after it had stopped mattering to anyone but a professor of history like myself. Some sense of obligation kept them from talking, not that Kandol needed much prompting to keep secrets. All I could get out of them was that becoming an Elder had to do with the passing of the seasons and acceptance of the Pattern Lillandra and Aerdran burned into the world when it was young. I think it bore some similarities to the ritual Zirkali performed to gain Lillandra’s blessing as the new baron of Tanylcar.
Compared to the solemnity of their mediations, the Light Elves’ prayer to the Earth Mother was marked by wild dancing and reckless abandon. Normally somewhat reserved, they gave themselves to her fully during times of prayer before returning to a fairly staid lifestyle. As for the other gods, they called upon those living in Esel most often – Numra, Annumbra, Ollare, and Celetran most of all. They also revered Solare the Summer Lord, master of Edda, Imma and Olla, and Arra’s mistress Aeriel, and paid homage to Norath the Seeress.
Exceptionally tall and thin, Arethnal wore white linens hanging loosely about his gaunt frame. His aura was soft and white and he had the calm look of a holy man, but was no pushover. His eyes, piercing yellow orbs burning with the Suns’ fires, were testament to the strength within. He discovered the Ritual of the Seasons and became the tribe’s first Elder. As strong in sorcery as he was, he was equally strong in earthsong. If not for the other demands on him, he could have been Endartha’s priest instead of Lyronie.
Wings are what made the Mist Elves special, huge magnificent wings with brightly colored feathers up to twenty feet across. And, their jade eyes were oval, like a bird’s, not almond-shaped. So, you might ask, how do I know that they were Elves? Well, they did have pointy ears, but better proof lies in their marriages. Despite Aelynar’s protests, some did marry into other tribes and if Aelynar’s folk weren’t Elves, that would have broken Lillandra’s Ban. But Sorrow did not enter the world, so it’s safe to conclude that the Mist Elves were, in fact, Elves.
They lived in the Aerie, a series of caves in the rocky crags topping the eastern edge of the Elvetur, along with birds of every kind. The main chamber, where Aelynar held court, was a massive cavern with hundreds of stone perches, and dozens of passages out, most of which could only be reached by flying, which was their greatest love. Mist Elves were most at home in Esel, flying amidst the clouds. I had the pleasure of watching Aeris fly when he visited Pel Aesylle and he could pull maneuvers that would make an F-18 pilot jealous. His bones were lighter, helping him glide on invisible wind currents. By the time I met him, the king of Dol Melerith had been the only true Mist Elf on Sangrar for more than an age. Winged Elves were born every now and then, but they were mutants not Mist Elves,
Aelynar, their king, stood eight feet tall and cut an impressive figure with powder blue wings that blended perfectly into Esel on a sunny day when fully extended. Now, don’t get me wrong, Aelynar was a good ruler. He cared deeply for his people’s welfare, maybe too deeply if the truth were known. His biggest problem was a false sense of pride. Aelynar thought wings made his people superior and he forbid them from marrying outside the tribe. He didn’t want to dilute the bloodline out of fear they’d lose their wings.
Most Mist Elves didn’t object. They wanted for nothing under Aelynar’s rule and were content to keep apart from the other tribes, but a small minority chafed under his restrictions, including his son Aeris. You’d have thought Aeris would have been more tolerant as an adult, given what he’d put up with as a young Elf, but as he aged, he took on his father’s prejudices. Certainly there was more to the way he treated Emerre than Emerre’s lack of wings, a lot more, but his bigotry was part of it.
Aelynar had no objections to Mist Elves becoming fast friends with the nearby Pangral. With Lillandra’s Ban in effect, there was no risk of cluttering up the sky with flying cat-Elves and he encouraged his people to visit them, realizing that complete insularity was not healthy – the Mist Elves needed some contact with the outside world. They led simple lives with few needs. Armor only hindered their movements, for weapons they used simple spears and their clothing was practical for flying, plain and unadorned. Their priestess, Neldynna, led services at Kylladahr, the Aerie’s Stones, but the Mist Elves favorite god was Kandalla, Lord of Winter.
The Dark Ones decimated the Mist Elves in the Battle of Unending Night, leaving only Aelynar, Aeris and handful of others as survivors. Afterwards, Aelynar reconsidered his views, due in part to his son’s persuasions though he didn’t really have much of a choice. In the Age of Tears, Mist Elves attended the councils of the High Elves, providing intelligence they gathered from the air on the Dark Ones’ movements.
I gave the nod to the Mist Elves as the oddest looking tribe, but the Sea Elves were a close second. Their skin tones ranged from the deep blue of the ocean to the pale green at the center of a ripe avocado, and they had hair to match, along with a few shades of blonde. Cerelim, their king, had a body the color of the sky and navy hair perfect for the field of stars on Old Glory. He wore only a loin cloth of seaweed and, when he rode across the waves in a snail shell chariot pulled by a team of seahorses. Aglow with sorcery, he looked like a pale blue god.
The sea called to Cerelim and so, in the fourth century, he waved good-bye to Nammoran and led his people to the mouth of the Daraling where they beheld the Sea of Noontide. Rabyn welcomed them, along with a school of creatures from the depths, and took them to the islands of Orlos. Cerelim settled on Jali, the largest island, where they found a ring of Stones they named Taljirra.
The Sea Elves’ affinity for the ocean would put a Sangritharian to shame. They breathed water as easily as air, a gift now lost, and could swim for hours without tiring. They were strong too, to survive the pressure of deep water, and their spells gave them mastery over the sea. Cerelim was the strongest, with spear and spell, and always ready wrestle Umbar’s storm. He would have been a hit on WWE.
They lived on the beaches in thatched huts, no fancy towers for the Sea Elves, but these huts outclassed any you’d find on Gilligan’s island. As Tarik told me more times than he needed to, it’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little bit of magik. Kandol was more secure in his power and never felt the need to brag about magik’s virtues. I always thought it bothered Tarik that no one in Tirel knew who he really was, what he was truly capable of, whereas Kandol would have enjoyed the anonymity.
The Sea Elves built magikal ships, powered by sail and sorcery, to explore the Gulf of Noontide. They traded with the Dolforro, welcomed Indallar when he came down river on the Blue Horizon, and discovered the Caverns of Gloom. More than one Sea Elf proved his manhood against an Ulgarja that had slipped into the world.
Eager and adventuresome, Cerelim’s people lived without regret, always looking forward, and found inspiration in Aeriel’s unwavering pursuit of the Dark Lord. Other favorites included The Explorer, before raising anchor, Rabyn, Spollnar and Umbar, though their respect for the Lord of Sea and Storm came with a twinge of fear. His storms wrecked many ships. When it came to observing the Maiden, the Sea Elves were the shyest tribe. From the way Kandol told it, their prayer would have been lucky to get an R rating, which is somewhat surprising given that their normal attire was bikinis and loin cloths, stitched together from whatever washed up in the tide.
With a body cut like a tapered shirt from Barney’s, broad-shouldered Haleya was the strongest of the ancient Elven kings, even stronger than Cerelim. Known for his red ponytail and wearing a tiger fur vest, he swung from the trees like Tarzan, faster than the swiftest deer.
Haleya led the Wild Elves north on the promise of a good hunt and a tree to sleep in and that was good enough for them. They didn’t need or want more. Thin and wiry, with red to russet hair, the Wild Elves could disappear into the trees and had eyes sharp enough to see a mouse at a hundred yards. Deadly with a bow, most of them would trust an arrow over sorcery any day. Haleya did establish Halidar near some Stones, but it was more a campsite for layovers between hunts than a town or village.
After Elras broke Tildienne’s curse, she’d been turned into a deer, and made his covenant with the trees, Haleya and his people abandoned Halidar for Elrasirre and set down real roots for the first time. If it hadn’t been for the covenant, I don’t think Haleya would have gone along. Gleaming towers and crowded streets were not his style, but a city grown from the boughs, a city that was one with the forest, now that he could accept. In Elrasssire, he took on the role of elder stateman, though he was old only in years, and enjoyed smoking his pipe and telling children tales of the hunt. When Elras was slain, he stepped in as regent and ruled Elrassire until Elnos was ready to take the reins.
Aptly named, the Wild Elves took to observing the Earth Maiden with great enthusiasm and their rites were long, song-filled drunken revels, often lasting days. Russylla led them in prayer, both at Xandalar, the Stones at Halidar, which she and Haleya sealed up when they left for Elrasirre, and later at Tethahar, When they weren’t having fun praying to the Earth Mother, they honored Sudnar, a frequent visitor, and Garruth. Fall was their favorite season and they paid homage to the Laughing God at every harvest.
It’s easy to confuse the Wild Elves with Wood Elves. Compared to the High Elves or Fair Elves, both were like country cousins, born on the rustic side of the tracks and both had names starting with W (in English only, in Elvish their names didn’t sound at all alike). I keep them straight by remembering the wild times the Wild Elves had between the Stones. The Wood Elves were more straight laced. Not prudish, like the Sea Elves, but they didn’t get carried away.
With skin the color of a deer, tunics sewn from leaves, and brown hair, the Wood Elves could make themselves invisible in the forest. Hunters and trackers to rival Haleya’s folk, they had incredible stamina and could run for hours without tiring. Most of them lived three days south of Nammovalle in an area known as Elwarre, named for Queen Lindarelle’s oak tree, though some lived in Nammovalle. When Prince Lindal went to Elrasirre to reunite with Elras, he brought many Wood Elves and not a few High Elves wishing to be part of Elras’s kingdom.
Wood Elves’ sorcery was the weakest of any tribe. Very few could draw more from the Spires beyond what they needed for daily chores, but the earthsong sang loudly to them. Quite a few were priestesses; others were Earthmages with gifts of healing, woodcraft, or animal lore and some, like Hirandal, were Earthmages with more powerful, singular gifts. They revered all gods of nature, especially Aerdran the Thunderer and his sister Lillandra, Humak the Beast Lord and Shamran, Lord of the Forest. Feldyrra, their high priestess, tended their Stones, which were in a cave behind a waterfall.
Queen Lindarelle had long brown hair and bright blue eyes. She wore a shirt of silver chain mail under a vest of oak leaves and carried a spear, Lanyarr, made from one of Elwarre’s branches. As Queen and Secondborn, she had more talent than many High Elven sorcerers born later, but she had no training and any spell more complicated than what a first grader could understand was as likely as not to sputter like a car running out of gas, Her true calling was as a priestess. When she stood in the Stones, the forest was hers to command.
She and Ylindelay, the Firstborn’s wife, became close friends. Lindarelle’s son, Lindal, was Elras’s age, and she sent him to Nammovalle for fostering where the two became like brothers, sharing a bond so strong that later, it bound Lindal to Elnos, Elras’s son. After Elras died, Ylindelay was heartbroken. She left Nammovalle and came south to Elwarre, where she found sanctuary with Lindarelle. The High Queen never recovered from her loss and spent the rest of her days in mourning. Lindarelle tried to convince her to return to Nammovalle, and the Firstborn came to Elwarre many times, begging her to return home, but Ylindelay refused him every time, saying that too much in Nammovalle reminded her of the son she lost.