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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Dark Elves

Dark Elves

If there are light elves it would only seem reasonable that there should be dark elves. Or so it would seem. Well, to the best of my knowledge there are indeed dark elves and this is what I have been able to learn about them.

The dark elf hates the sun and lives in the murky underground. The dark elves can not be exposed to sunlight, if the sun’s rays hit them they will immediately turn into stones. They are hideous in appearance and can be a great nuisance to humans. Some have been described as extremely annoying and nothing but trouble.

Many believe that dark elves are responsible for the nightmares. These dark elves are called mare. A mare will sit on a sleeping person’s chest and whisper bad dreams to haunt the person. A mare can also haunt animals, especially horses.

Their skin color ranges from darker shades of purple to lighter shades of gray, although many groups have skin as black as night. At twilight, dark elves are virtually invisible, almost undetectable unless they desire to be seen. Some have white hair and some black, some glowing red eyes while others have white eyes seemingly without pupils, and yet others have normal appearing eyes. Eerily beautiful, these elves exude a sense of wickedness cloaked in mystery.

Although associated with the dwarfs by some accounts because their lands are adjoining, the dark elves really have very little to do with dwarfs. While dwarfs busy themselves with creating, dark elves tend to be users or destructive.

The literary Dark elf is actually a product of the writings of a famous Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson, c. 1179-1241. Snorri’s famous book (poem), the Younger Edda, makes a short reference to the dark elves as being the maintainers of the fires burning deep below the world tree, or Yggdrasil:

Then said Ganglere: Great tidings you are able to tell of the heavens. Are there other remarkable places than the one by Urd’s fountain? Answered Har: There are many magnificent dwellings. One is there called Alfheim. There dwell the folk that are called light-elves; but the dark-elves dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike the light-elves in appearance, but much more so in deeds. The light-elves are fairer than the sun to look upon, but the dark-elves are blacker than pitch. 

Another place is called Breidablik, and no place is fairer. There is also a mansion called Glitner, of which the walls and pillars and posts are of red gold, and the roof is of silver. Furthermore, there is a dwelling, by name Himinbjorg, which stands at the end of heaven, where the Bifrost-bridge is united with heaven. And there is a great dwelling called Valaskjalf, which belongs to Odin. The gods made it and thatched it with, sheer silver. In this hall is the high-seat, which is called Hlidskjalf, and when Alfather sits in this seat, he sees over all the world. In the southern end of the world is the palace, which is the fairest of all, and brighter than the sun; its name is Gimle. It shall stand when both heaven and earth shall have passed away. In this hall the good and the righteous shall dwell through all ages (Sturluson, 17).

The dark elves, also known by their ancient Norse name dökkálfar, are a sinister subspecies of elf found in many fantasy settings and having their origins in ancient Norse mythology where they were named svartálfar ("swart elves" or "black elves" in Old Norse) and were depicted as light-hating supernatural beings akin to the unclean spirits and demons of later Christian tales and legends.

Dark elves were seen as greedy and troublesome in regards to humanity but were not strictly malevolent, although they shared some common traits with the trolls - such as turning to stone when exposed to direct sunlight and being humanoid in shape but extremely ugly.

In all fairness, it must be said that the majority of dark elves live by their own code of honor -- much as giants do. If you bargain fairly with them, it is possible to survive an encounter with a dark elf. However, entering Svartalfheim is a risky proposition unless you are quite powerful, and even then you may well find that entering was much easier than leaving.

Female dark elves are universally attractive, beguiling men of other races easily. Their sexual capacity is legendary although their predilections and unwholesome appetites make such trysts difficult to survive. Still, men, dwarfs, and elves are all fascinated with these dusky, erotic creatures.

Many if not most, dark elves practice sorcery, although their magics are bent on thieving, assassination, warfare, and other dark pursuits. Some claim dark elves are necromancers, acquiring magical potency through the deaths of others. However, it is difficult to verify these claims as few survive their encounters with the dark sorcerers.

In public at least, dark elves eat whatever everyone else eats, normal food such as would be fit for humans as well. However, as giants do, it is rumored that dark elves dine on the flesh of the other races. It is even possible they are cannibalistic, although this is never been determined in any verifiable way.

I wouldn't want to meet up with these guys but, again, are these traits the fabrication of a human's perception of another species, or is there a duality in the unseen world?

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