Though much is known about the civilizations of antiquity, that which is known of the elven kingdom of Eldariel is shrouded in myth. The scattering of the elves in the Age of Embers and the subsequent destruction of their ancient realm has left little written information about the kingdom intact. In fact, most of which that is known is based on the oral elven tradition of wild elves and what has been discerned from Eldarien ruins. One thing is certain though: Eldariel had a profound impact on the world.
The temperate area of northeastern Caerundal had long been home to roving bands of elves. Originally nomadic, tribes of elves entered the area in the early Age of Creation, probably around year 9250, and spread slowly throughout the mountain slopes, lush forests, and fertile riverlands. Some groups settled, creating small farming communities, while others preferred to wander the forests and plains.
As communities were initially small, their growth hampered by the low reproduction rate of elves, large political units such as kingdoms were unknown. Tribal life played an essential role in the lives of elves during these formative times, providing both a system of security as well as a social net. These multiplied, combined, and grew in power over hundreds of years as the elven population slowly grew. More roaming elves began to settle down throughout this period, settling into the lightly forested and river-divided coastal plains of North Caerundal and some crossing the sea to settle on the isle of Taltaror. By what is probably 8500, the large majority of elves living in the region were settled into small towns and villages, often living in farming or fishing communities with a notable exception in that the elves in the south did not often make settlements but prefered to wander.
Tribal life became even more important as the elves of Caerundal came into contact with other races. Though there was little initial contact with the dwarves to the west, there was almost constant conflict with Suthan human raiding parties from the north. These raiders would navigate up rivers and would pillage as they go, seizing slaves, food, and wealth. Tribal leaders, local figures of authority, became responsible for the defense of nearby elves and grew in influence. Over time, tribes began to intermarry and band together to provide a united front against foreign aggression. By around 7100, most tribes had begun to follow a handful of larger ones that had vast swathes of land under their influence. These tribes included the Talathan of the northern elven plains, the wandering Amrodan of the southern shrublands, the Saeradan of the central forests, the Tareldan of Taltaror, and the sparse Hriwan of the mountain slopes.
By 7000, the usual Suthan raids, once in pursuit of slaves and wealth and now seemingly to displace the elves in pursuit of settleable land, had grown into full-scale assaults. The invaders would steer their ships up the rivers to pray on coastal villages, often making incursions further inland. The Suthans burned any ships that they found to ensure unhindered access up and down these elven waterways, effectively dividing the river ridden lands of the Talathan, Saeradan, and Amrodan into many pieces. Those three tribes, even with their increased power from minor tribes merging with them, began to fall apart as they were unable to muster a defense from their divided lands to fight the invaders. While the coastal elven lands were being ravaged, the Hriwan largely ignored the turmoil though the Tareldan in the east watched with growing anger. Taltaror’s lands had remained unmolested so far, the human raiders preferring the ease at which it was possible to launch raids up rivers to the difficulty of traversing mountains. Their anger was manifested in the young elf, Elcarien Anadhael.
While as myths about the fabled Elcarien Anadhael are as numerous as the leaves on a tree, there is a general consensus amongst elven scholars. Elcarien was the charismatic, young leader of the Tareldan tribe during these tumultuous tribes. After losing a sister to a human raid on Talathan lands, he decided to come to the aid of the mainland elves. Elcarien mustered a small force (the Tareldan were not a populous or militaristic people, but a scholarly folk who studied magic) and crossed the sea in a small, ragtag fleet of fishing sloops. After landing in the southern lands of the roaming Amrodan, he moved north and united the scattered tribes as he went. Brilliantly using his tiny fleet of fishing boats and tattered troops, he defeated large human raiding parties in a series of brilliantly strategized battles and is the first known general in history to effectively use a battle corps of mages successfully. The human raiders, recognizing a threat to their new hegemony over the elven riverlands, reorganized in preparation for a combined assault on the newly vivacious elves. Elcarien, sensing that an attack was imminent, struck first in the Battle of Raging Fire and resoundingly defeated the Suthans who limped northward and ended the war around 6985.
Elcarien Anadhael, “the Dancing Flame,” finished the war a hero. Hugely popular, all elves knew the name of the brilliant general that had come to their aid. The Amrodan, Saeran, and Talathan realized that they owed their survival to this young elf and swore allegiance to him, declaring him their king in 6901. Even the sparse Hriwan swore fealty to Elcarien, likely realizing that had more to gain from being a part of this new kingdom than being a hinterland nestled between the powerful dwarves and this new power. Elcarien Anadhael, having united the elven tribes, became the first of the Anadhael dynasty to rule over this new elven kingdom called Eldariel in honor of the elven people.
Following this devastating, failed Invasion of Eldariel, a renaissance started for this newly unified kingdom. King Elcarien created political unity, giving the tribes autonomy in exchange for subservience, and set about rebuilding. He sent workers from his native and untouched Taltaror to aid in the rebuilding of the mainland and commissioned the construction of infrastructure such as great riverside fortresses and coastal watchtowers to defend against other potential waves of human raids. He also commissioned roads to promote trade and to connect his realm. In 6746, he founded the mighty city of Oira’ambal on Taltaror to be a capital, and it quickly became a center of learning and culture. King Elcarien’s reign lasted for half a millennia and was marked by prosperity and peace. The five tribes flourished during these years of prosperity, though they each came to develop their own unique culture that was shaped by their environment and its consequent faith.
The Tareldan were the first tribe to develop a culture of their own. Their seclusion prior to the Invasion of Eldariel led to their initial deviance with the rest of elvenkind. This seclusion gave way to the rise of mighty scholars, mages that studied in peace for centuries and intellectuals that sought to create a model society. The vast majority of these scholars followed the patrons of Order, seeking to create a lawful and righteous society, and influenced much of the rest of the customs of the Tareldan. It wasn’t until the creation of Oira’ambal and the subsequent centralization of politics in Tareldan lands that their culture fully diverged from mainstream elven culture. The Tareldan developed their own customs, based on tradition and pursuit for a harmonious society. It was their seeking of a higher level of society than others that earned them the epithet “high elves”.
The Saeradan also likely developed their own culture while Oira’ambal was being built after the first Archdruid, Ornanwe Varnien, began teaching the faith of Life to the elves. Enthralled by his ideas and taken by the lively woodlands that they lived in, the Saeradan devoted themselves to their surroundings. Some became excellent rangers while others became attuned to the powers of life and became druids. Ornanwe Varnien’s planting of the first Belegorn tree was hugely significant to the Saeradan. As the trees, considered holy, began to spread, the elves began to move their settlements into the canopies to become closer to their faith. The Saradan’s reverence for these trees was so much that they built the Seorsinand, a great Temple of Faith, out of the first Belegorn Tree in 6148. Their devotion to nature their forest homes has earned them the name “wood elves”.
The cold mountain Hriwan of the western marches also became distinct. They clustered around the Karuthol Pass, making a living off of trading with the dwarves, collecting tolls from travelers. Their land was ill-suited for agriculture, so the Hriwan population never became large. The relative poorness of their land led to many Hriwan taking up the sword as mercenaries in order to support their families. Due to their inaction in the Invasion of Eldariel, the other elven trials largely viewed the Hriwan as a black sheep and only interacted with them when it is absolutely necessary. As such, they never had much to do with the rest of Eldariel. While they may have been part of the kingdom by law, most Hriwan ignored the edicts of their king and were largely autonomous. In their isolation, they became a hardy folk, becoming acclimatized to the frigid mountain surroundings and developing a proud and individualist culture. In their isolation in the frigid mountains, many Hriwan devoted to themselves to the patrons of Air and became known as “snow elves”.
Neither the Amrodan of the southern shrublands nor the Talathan of the northern plains developed a separate culture. They remained connected to traditional elven culture and weren’t influenced by any one faith or train of thought and were generally more welcoming than their Saeradan, Hriwan, and Tareldan kin. The Talathan leader Kraven created their first major city of Grixis around 5302, and it quickly became a commercial hub of Caerundal by being a nexus of commerce between Eldariel and the human kingdoms of Normandal, Linarae in particular. When the land beneath the city started to crumble into a lake of fire and lava the elves of Grixis quickly found themselves under siege from the denizens of the Nether: the Draema. Through decades of fighting these stone and fire monstrosities the Talathan became a cold, unforgiving race as they suffered numerous deaths and near defeats. Their attitude and new found isolation from the rest of the world, as the Scarlands spread, quickly altered their appearance. Their skin became shades of dark red and black and so to their eyes. They became devoted only to the patrons of Death and soon found themselves known as "dark elves".
But the Golden Age of Eldariel has lasted for many millennia, and the sun was setting for the great kingdom. Around 1320, after a series of ever increasingly stupid rulers who seemed to become more and more Human in their mannerisms, the Anadhael dynasty was ended on the point of a sword. The last King, named Eldaren Anadhael, was butchered in his bed by his own court, along with his wife and children. The other cultures of elves soon found themselves at each others throats, fighting over the lands of the fallen Kingdom. They had forgotten their sacred ways of life, thought some, and those who believed this simply walked away from their former homes in a great Exodus. When the Skinair at last united all the Faiths into one during the Age of Embers only already crumbling buildings were left as reminders of the great Eldariel, Kingdom of the Elves. Earthquakes, eruptions and landslides saw to the further destruction of their settlements, until Eldariel was nothing more than legend and ruins.
The Great Kingdom was dead, and no other has yet been so great as Eldariel once was.
Age: Elves can live for many centuries in a single place, creating a life for themselves in amongst their environment. By necessity, this long lifespan forces them to live in a more sustainable way than other races, such as Humans. They seek to create a symbiosis between them and their surroundings, rather than simply bending them for their own purposes. Elves' bodies slowly change over time, taking on a physical representation of their mental and spiritual states, and those who dwell in a region for a long period of time find themselves physically adapting to match their surroundings, most noticeably taking on colouration that reflects the local environment.
Height: Generally taller than humans, Elves possess a graceful, slender physique that is accentuated by their long, pointed ears. It is a mistake, however, to consider them weak or feeble as the thin limbs of an Elf can contain surprising power. Because of their almost ethereal physiques, some mistake them for being immortal descendants of the Patrons or sometimes even Ireneus. This is of course nonsense, but it feeds their racial ego nonetheless.
Weight: Being of slender physique an Elf is not normally considered fat by any sense of the word. In fact, Elven society despises obesity with a passion; they see it as an ultimate desecration of nature. It is considered that any person who becomes fat has exploited nature or others of food, and so has gone against all that Elves hold dear. Often bands of particularly fanatic Elves will go into the world and hunt down these people, to stop them from harming the Elves way of life further.
Garments: While Elven clothing often plays off the beauty of the natural world, those elves who live in cities tend to bedeck themselves in the latest fashions. Where city-dwelling elves encounter other urbanites, the Elves are often fashion trendsetters. Many garments that most other races wear were originally conceived by Elven tailors, said to be the finest in all Uthrandir. Cloaks, shawls, belts and dresses are but a few examples of clothes that were originally solely of Elven design.
Appearance: The eyes of an Elf are wide and almond-shaped, filled with large, vibrantly coloured pupils. The colouration of Elves as a whole varies wildly, and is much more diverse than that of human populations. However, as their colouration often matches their surroundings, the Elves of a single community may appear quite similar. Forest-dwelling elves often have variations of green, brown, and tan in their hair, eye, and even skin tones. Other Elven communities, such as those who live in the icy wastes of the North or in the vicious Scarlands are known to develop colourings of pale blues and greys or reds and blacks respectively. Oft-times an Elf's attitude towards the world will also change depending on their environment: Elves living in warm, summer climates will often become less bothered with their own mortality than those that live in constant cold.