Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The Elves appear to be a chaotic lot with little in the way of a structured society but it is misleading to say that they lack leaders. Indeed they have their own legendary figures to direct the local population. The main difference between Elves and other societies is that they live such vast lengths of time that they eventually forget what came prior. With this in mind they appear content with the status quo. If a leader is present and is doing a competent job, well that is just the way it is and there is no reason to change. Elves do not lust for power, they have no have theological clashes like the Dwarves, and they have no guiding mission like the Halflings. And so upheaval was is exceedingly rare and those in power often remain so for as long as memory lasts.
This changed 180 years ago when the 9-year summer of Estaoculus wrought many families of Elves with the Oculus. It changed these Elves to be more than they once were, and in some cases not just physically. Some of these lines found themselves better than their peers and sought to place themselves in the proper role. Not because of a lust for power, but because it was a simple truth. Some Elves agreed with this, some were forlorn with the aspect of change being thrust upon them. Those powerful families of the Oculus eventually left, not wanting an open conflict and those who wished to follow them did so.
In a relatively short time, at least for Elves, this radical change took place and divided many Elven villages from those who followed the Oculus families and those who maintained their old way of life. Some of these Oculus families banded together and formed new powerful villages, sometimes resentful of those who did not follow them. About 90 years ago the first open conflicts took place between the Elves, notably those to refuse to the join the Oculus lines and those who deemed the Oculus lines as unnatural. Each side became more disparaging of the others and small skirmishes occurred over minor issues such as trade, territory disputes and marriages.
These inter-race conflicts were very new to the Elves and they mostly lack any sort of large organized military. Rather each village created a small but elite group of warriors who operate in stealth, sabotage, and assassination. They fought battles which were rarely large and usually very brief once one side or the other pulls their small force back. Although Elves fighting Elves is aberrant to most of the even-minded, there can be no doubt that those involved that both sides to a war seem to enjoy the revelry in the conflict. It is a bit of an odd conundrum to both despise the death, but enjoy the war, and so that appears to be the case. Some surmise that the revelry that Elves enjoys in life also carried onto the passion of war and conflict. Some of the more learned sages point out that Elves were likely war-like in the distant past and that all of this is cyclic.
In the past few decades many of the Elven villages have taken to hiding away from the martial conflicts and often move their locations around their territory. Also many seek to learn the ways of war from other races, notably that of men who seem to be masters of the art. Elven warfare is indeed on a much smaller scale, but it is most often carried about by the most skilled and most deadly hands. It is rare for an entire village to be wiped out, but this has occurred in the last few decades when conflict have escalated to unpresended levels. This has caused a race-wide panic among the usually benevolent Elves, and some are becoming increasingly xenophobic towards outsider-Elves. Many of their populace have beseeched the wisest of the Elves to find a solution. These Elf-sages mostly find the violence to be completely against their nature and teach the old ways of peace.
One of the wisest of the Elven Lords, Yondamo ¹ oddly enough takes the approach that these new conflicts to be an overall boon of the race. In fact Yondamo personally leads his village to skirmishes that are deadly in their effectiveness. It is perhaps no coincidence that Yondamo is among those who attained the Oculus.
Although most memories of Elves eventually fade away over the centuries, a few legends either make a page in one of the rare Elven tomes or are recorded through song. One of which is the tale of Yondamo and his mother Vansisa, an Elven maiden of a powerful village who was said to be courted by the sun the moon and the stars. She eventually chose the star after successive trials among the celestial bodies. There the stars took a mortal form, that of a soulless golden man whom she found difficult to love. She took this golden man to the birthplace of life, a sacred grove beneath the world tree and which rendered him into flesh and there they copulated. In doing so they had unknowingly desecrated the holy grove. Infuriated, the Haasi spirits of the grove demanded that the couple sacrifice of their nine offspring to cleanse it.
The couple naturally ignored the wayward spirits, but quickly found that they and their people became much more susceptible to the harsh seasons than before. Their crops died in fall, they froze in winter, and they were forced to toil in spring and summer to survive. After the urging of their people, Vansisa and her husband gave the grove their first eight children. Vansisa could not bring herself to give the grove her last child, Yondamo, a child of supernatural wisdom and vision. Yondamo scolded his mother for giving in to the spirits and went to the grove him self where he slew the manipulating Haasi. He claimed the holy grove as a home for the Elves and told them the toil of the season was a gift rather than curse. And so the Elves adapted and embraced the seasons lustfully.
Yondamo’s eight brothers and sisters still lived and were raised by the twisted Haasi. The siblings were schooled in the ways of treachery and each ingenious in their own way. Collectively they sought to bring Yondamo down low and perhaps sacrifice him to the holy grove where he now lives. Throughout the centuries Yondamo is the center of many tales associated with him outthinking, and thwarting his sibling’s ingenious plans to capture or kill him. Yondamo always seems to come out ahead, and is compassionate enough to merely humiliate his wayward siblings and teach them a lesson of virtue by their failed plots. One by one, the siblings learned from Yondamo and each returned into the fold of Elves, although often uneasily.
Each sibling is now a leader of their own smallish clan spread throughout the lands. Yondamo himself still lives in the holy grove beneath the world tree. Only Yondamo claimed the Oculus during the 9-year summer which has caused a rift between him and his siblings. Yondamo has ignored them in recent years, growly increasily obsessive with is own Oculus, much to the chargin of his once twisted but redeemed siblings. Perhaps it is time that they show him true virtue rather than the other way around.