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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

More History on Elves

More History on Elves

The ancient elves of the time of Arlathan were a race of beautiful, ethereal immortals who lived in harmony with nature. Though they were not immortal, they did not suffer from deterioration of mind or body, but of the spirit. They were constant in their traditions, refusing to change. They felt no need to rush when their lives were endless. They worshipped their gods for months at a time. Deicisions were made after decades of debate, and an introduction could last for years.

While it did not happen often, the oldest of the elves were said to reach a point where they became weary of life. They would voluntarily step aside to let newer generations guide their people. And they themselves would enter a long sleep, known as 'uthenera'. The elder would retire to a chamber that is one part tomb and one part bed. To great ceremony from all of the elder's extended family, they would succumb to a slumber they would not wake from for centuries (often never). In time, the body would deteriorate and the elder would die in truth; all the while, the family would continue to visit the chamber to pay respect to one who had made such a sacrifice.

In those ages, all of the land was called Elvhenan, which in the Elvhen language means 'place of our people.' At the center of the world stood the great city of Arlathan. It was a place of knowledge and debate, where the greatest of the elves would go to trade knowledge, intermingle, and settle millenia-long disputes.

Then the humans arrived from the north. The elves called them 'shemlens' meaning 'quicklings'. To the long-living elves, humans' lives blinked past in an instant. When they first met the elves, they were brash and warlike, and had no patience for the unhurried pace of elven diplomacy. As well, they bought disease, which the ancient elves were susceptible to, and elves began to die of natural causes for the first time in millenia. Those elves that spent time bartering and negotiating with humans found themselves aging, a disease they called the Quickening. Believing that their gods were casting them down, the elves looked upon the humans as they would parasites, and moved to close Elvhenan off from the humans for fear that the Quickening would crumble their civilisation.

Elven lore on Arlathan's fall is scant. The human world changed, clans and tribes giving way to the powerful Tevinter Imperium, which came upon Elvhenan to conquer it. When they breached Arlathan, the elves chose to flee rather than to fight, for fear of disease and the Quickening. With magic, demons, and dragons, the Imperium marched easily through Arlathan, destroying everything within, rounding the elves up as slaves, the Quickening making them mortal as they did. They called to their gods, but there was no answer, and as to why, there is but a {{{legend}}}. It is said the magisters used their great and destructive power to force the very ground to swallow Arlathan whole, removing it from the world. All records and artifacts were lost, the whole of their lore only within their minds, soon to be forgotten.

When Andraste and Maferath led their army against the Tevinter Imperium, Shartan convinced the elven slaves to rise up against their Tevinter masters, and joined forces with Andraste. The rebellion was brief but successful. Even in Andraste's and Shartan's deaths, the elves fought on, winning their freedom in 1025 TE and a new home: Maferath and Andrastes' sons gave them the southern reaches of the land, known as the Dales.

In what is called the Long Walk, elves from all across Thedas marched to the Dales. Many perished on this journey, but those that survived made a new life for their people, and siezed upon the chance to gather and revive their lost lore. They called their first city Halamshiral, meaning 'the end of the hourney' and founded a new nation for the People. In the hopes of regaining the lost glory of Elvhenan, they isolated themselves from the humans, refusing trade or discourse. They created an order known as the Emerald Knights, charging them with watching the borders for trouble with the humans.

But it was a peace that would not last.

The worship of their silent, ancient elven gods angered the Chantry, which constantly sent missionaries to the Dales. They wanted to convert the Dalish to the worship of their Maker, but the elves would not submit. And the elves' lack of support for the humans in the Second Blight added to the humans' dislike of the elves. When the city of Montsimmard was nearly destroyed by darkspawn in 1:25 Divine, it is believed the elves simply watched from nearby. It was inevitable that, once again, conflict would arise.

Both humans and city elves believe that it all started with an elven attack on the village of Red Crossing in 2:09 Glory, and the Dalish believe it was a result of their refusal to submit and rumors spread by the Chantry, but whatever the reason, there was war. By 2:10 glory, the elves had captured Monstsimmard, then they sacked Val Royeaux, pushing well into human lands. The Chantry's response was to declare the Exalted March of the Dales, conquering them with their superior numbers. In 2:20 Glory, Halamshiral was conquered, and the elves were completed crushed. The Dales were appropriated by the Orlesians, and the Chantry uprooted elven settlements and forbade the worship of the elven gods. A canticle in the Chant of Light that had been devoted to Shartan was removed after this Exalted March, and was declared heretical.

Elves who accepted the Chantry's teachings were forced to live in alienages within human settlements as second-class citizens, and became known as city elves. They slowly forgot their old ways. Those who refused became known as the Dalish, and to this day wander the lands in their aravels and tattoo their faces to proclaim their belief in their ancient gods. Keeping to themselves, they are nomadic, and never stay in one place for too long, unwanted by the humans. Their job is to seek out and preserve lost
elven lore.

I believe there is a lesson here to be learned from our own past history

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