The Dark Elves are the dusky skinned children of Malin. Their name in Elven, Mali'ker, means Elves of the Night, though in common it is far more normal for them to refer to themselves as either Dark Elves or the Ashen Folk. In Arcas, they are split into three main factions - the Kingdom of Renelia, a monarchy based off of the society of Magara'lin, fabled first capital of the Dark Elves, which is aslo in a political union known as The Concordat with The Onyx Sanctum, a nation-state led by ancient clans whose worship revolves around ancestral veneration and the spirits. The Warhawkes, a tribal, ritualistic band also exists, alongside Asimu'lei, the peaceful moon glade, home of traders and merchants.
- 1 Physical Attributes
- 2 Other Attributes
- 3 Culture
- 4 History
- 5 Full Lore
Physically, Dark Elves are usually slightly taller than Wood Elves and quite a bit shorter than High Elves, averaging about 5'10" to 6'4" with some slightly shorter or slightly taller. Like all Elves, they are lithe and frail compared to other races, weighing in at only 100-160 lbs. However, they are the most muscular elven subrace, making them the best built for combat, particularly in close combat and skirmishes.
The one trait that most stands out for Dark Elves is their ashen skin. This skin tone ranges from a light gray to almost jet-black. Sometimes a slight hint of bluish or violet hue is seen in the skin tone as well. It is noted by some that these skin tones match the night sky or the shadows cast by the deepest forests.
Offsetting their dark skin tone is the pale colors seen in the hair of Dark Elves. Commonly seen is pure white, the color of snow, though platinum and silvery highlights are not uncommon. Very pale blonde or copper colored hair are rare and sometimes denote a mixed heritage though not always. Previously rarely seen was a black hair color, though it is noticeably more abundant in Warhawke and Onyx groups.
Eye colors are usually blue or violet, as typical among Elves, but red is also commonly seen. In rare cases the eye color of a Dark Elf may include crimson or green. These colors aren't as bright as High Elven eye colors, but rather subdued or pale. Black colored eyes are rare, while brown and yellow are unheard of.
Like all Elves, Dark Elves enjoy the long life of near immortality. And like their cousins, it is hard to tell the age of a Dark Elf except by the look in their eyes as they accrue age, wisdom, and experience.
See: Curse of the Elves.
Dark Elven culture overall lack the distinctness of High Elven culture due to continued intermingling with their cousins in Malinor. However Dark Elves still maintain some cultural differences from their neighboring Wood Elves and High Elves. While High Elves are reserved and almost dispassionate, Dark Elves are quite the polar opposite. Dark Elves live their lives through passion and expression. This manifests itself in the way they speak and the way they dress. Everything comes from the heart of a Dark Elf. Some note that Dark Elves are closer to Humans in their mannerisms than most Elves, however under close observation one can see that this couldn't be further from the truth. While a Dark Elf may favor action over inaction, they will not act foolishly or brashly. Like all Elves, Dark Elves have centuries of personal experience and a millennium of collective wisdom to aid them in their choices. So while a Human will be quick to fight the good fight against an apparent evil, a Dark Elf will consider their actions carefully before taking part in them.
Contrary to the base Dark Elf, however, there exist four distinct cultural groups, though all share common heritage.
Those whose leader claims descent from the first ruler of Mali'ker, the Renelians, follow a monotheistic religion and live in a monarchic state. Their belief holds that by following ancient traditions and ideals, they may avoid the pitfalls of shortsighted thinking. They are a hedonistic, proud group known best for their administrative ability and military prowess. They find their home in the Kingdom of Renelia.
Those claiming descent or leadership from the ancient clans of Magara'lin, called collectively Onyx Mali'ker, worship and venerate the ancestors and ancestral spirits, and have over the eras changed government styles between monarchies and Dark Trinities, groupings of three clan heads or otherwise powerful figures within their nation of the time. The leaders of the Dark Elves for the majority of its modern history, they can be found in the Onyx Sanctum.
Those living in primeval tent-cities and worshipping more ritualistically their ancestors are called the Warhawkes, and through martial ability they quickly rose to dominate Dark Elven thought for a half century in the modern era. They are found wherever their tribes have settled at the time, though it is of note that as of 1737, the Warhawke state had been collapsed for multiple decades but many still survive within Renelia.
Those living in the blessed moon glade, in Asimu'lei. Formed by the most influencial clans from Vira'ker, they took up a dream of peace and prosperity, offering a common ground for their kin to live in harmony. It hosts trade fairs and interesting architecture. Their culture is more progressive, allowing druidism and spiritualism to be the main religions.
One of the most important aspects of Dark Elven culture is the family. This is displayed through their expression in both where they live and in their dress. As stated above, Dark Elves wear jewelry to denote their accomplishments and their expressions, this is done so not only through the individual but also by their family. Family signets and symbols are commonly worn. Heraldry and family accomplishments also adorn the homes of Dark Elves. A Dark Elf places great weight on the opinions and choices of their family's eldest member. This is usually the parent of the Dark Elf in question but could also be a grandparent or other relative such as an aunt, uncle, or even sibling. Dark Elves try to live up to the standards set by their families and work towards the progress of everyone within the family. Parents are fiercely protective of their children and those under them, though this comes as a double-edged sword as they are also very demanding of their children. In addition, their parents prove to be a deciding factor in their lives even after they become adults socially. It is not uncommon for a parent to urge their child to pursue a certain profession and to take a big part in their education, either instructing the child themselves or handpicking their instructor. Arranged marriages, a practice almost unheard of in Elven culture, can take place among the Dark Elves, though still rarely so. When the practice is performed, it is set up by having the children quite literally grow up together. More often than not, the two child will end up falling in love with each other. Usually the presence of one's parent in a Dark Elf's life lessens once they marry and start their own family. Often, the families simply merge into a larger house with the eldest or wisest at the head.
Out of all the subraces of Elves, Dark Elves could be considered the most fashionable. Expression is very important to Dark Elves and one of the most favored ways of showing what is on their mind or how they view themselves in the world around them is through their dress. Dark Elves prefer to wear bold colors. These range from darker reds, blacks, dark browns to brighter greens, blues, and purples. They stay away from subdued and natural colors, including pastels, preferring to stand out in their natural environment. Dark Elves believe in the natural beauty of their bodies and will wear clothing to accentuate their appearances. Females will show a bit of skin but do not do such in a lewd or provocative manner. The point of fashion is to show their disposition and to express themselves, not to look like a harlot. It is important to note that according to tradition, Elves of all sub-races do not see the showing of skin or nudity as taboo or unusual. However in their wisdom they will keep themselves conservatively covered up around outsiders to respect their traditions and modesty. Many Elves in the modern age no longer view nudity as freely and it is considered more proper to be covered up. Jewelry is also important to Dark Elves. These are excellent ways to show off achievements or status. Commonly worn are signets of a family house or profession, be it rings, brooches, or even piercings. Dark Elves do not have the same reservations about invasive jewelry as their High Elven cousins, but still do so conservatively. The idea is to accentuate the person through these expressions, not entirely eclipse them. Like jewelry, tattoos are also used to denote clan or nation affiliation. With all that said, Dark Elves do not flaunt their wealth and prestige. Though they tend to wear bolder clothes and jewelry than their cousins, they still do so tastefully. Wealth and influence means very little within most Dark Elven societies, but it has been noted that showing off you wealth and living comfortably is a sign of honor to Renelians as it takes hard work and dedication to rise its economic ladder.
Dark Elves, like all Elves, are fervent patrons of the arts. They prefer lasting masterpieces that will survive the years as they do. Sculptures of fine stone (like marble or granite) or metal are regarded more so than ones made out of more perishable materials such as wood and paintings on canvas. Dark Elves prefer songs, poetry, and theater, as these methods of expression can be handed down throughout the generations and last forever.
Combat and Weapons
Martial arts are the most preferred of Dark Elves, with swordplay and hand-to-hand techniques at the forefront. All Dark Elves are taught swordplay or hand-to-hand combat at a very early age. The idea isn't to make them fierce warriors, but to open their mind and body to expression and discipline. Dark Elves are some of the best craftsman of swords. Their swordsmiths produce the finest folded steel blades with edges that last for a lifetime if well kept. Some of the more expensive Dark Elven blades use carbarum edged steel for strength. Other blades use a steel-gold alloy that makes the blade heavier and sharper but also more prone to losing its edge. The artwork inscribed upon the blades and hilt is also of exquisite quality. The downside is that such blades are hard to commission as they take years and sometimes decades to craft. The swords crafted by Dark Elves resemble a cross between a Rapier and a Longsword, making them versatile in both piercing and slashing attacks, require more finesse to use then strength. It is not uncommon for a Dark Elf to collect such weapons crafted by their kin or other races. Some value a well-made weapon highly, no matter what the race of the craftsman as there is no racial discrimination among such artists and craftsmen. However, others think differently about using weapons from foreign places and frown upon the act. Dark Elves are known to prefer the sword over the bow, but archery is not uncommon among them. Living with their cousins in the forests of Malinor, they take to the bow as a means of protecting their homelands. Dark Elven archers are most commonly soldiers or rangers in the Elven military structure whereas a swordsman may simply practice as a hobby.
Dark elves are not expected to adhere to any gods though they are expected to praise and honor their Ancestors. The Ancestors are the spirits of dark elves that have passed on to the Ancestral Plane. Through many forms such as the erection of shrines, offerings, or hallowed words of veneration, a dark elf can honor their Ancestors in a positive way. It's believed that acts of debauchery, kin killing, and other wanton forms of violence or other generally frowned upon acts will see the abuser's spirit barred from the Ancestral Plane. While the Ancestral Plan is reserved for honorable mali'ker, those that are not are simply cast out and left to wander a realm of cold darkness all alone. To the dark elves, family and friends are everything so to come into a realm of solitude for eternity would be a living hell. When a dark elf passes, their body is cremated. The belief here is that the soul of the mali'ker is released and may now ascend to the Ancestral Plane for judgement. Once they arrive, their spirit may be evaluated by the Ancestors and their fate chosen. For a more in-depth analysis, view the Official Belief Thread
A small minority believe that their creation was a result of a union between Malin and the supposed Aengul of the moon, Velulaei. However, this account is hotly disputed and widely regarded as a fairy tale, with many even doubting the existence of a moon Aengul. Some scholars have hypothesised a possible link between this supposed deity and the moon goddess of the Kharajyr, Metztli. However, this link has been widely condemned by both the Kharajyr and Velulaei believers.
In Renelian tradition, Luara, the Spirit of the Moon, is venerated as a goddess for her uplifting and salvation of the precursors to the Mali'ker - and it is in her honor that their religion, the Kervira, wholly revolves around. Velulaei is remembered instead as the first High Matriarch of the Dark Elves, a religious and cultural figure rather than an Aengul herself, and is the only ancestor to be venerated by religious authorities. Other spirits, by shamanistic tradition, are acknowledged, praised, and even worshipped - but never on the same level as Luara.
Very few dark elves existed in the land of Aegis. The few that did were associated with Malinor’s military group, The Wardens. Otherwise, not much is to be said of their existence during this time. Asulon, a land of hope, turned out to be a place of despair for the dark elves. Many dark elves were enslaved by the Mori'Quessir, abused and killed by the race. The dark elves that remained within Malinor continued to do their duties in the military, while a specific dark elf Khel Oussana started to gain notice within elven society. Khel, meaning ‘darkness’, returned after escaping enslavement from the Mori. He was a fierce fighter and exceptional leader within the Malinorian military, proving a name for himself. At the same time a dark elven community grew in the wilderness (Malin's Gorge), created by a group of families that venerated Velulaei (believed to be the Moon Aengul), led by Lord Goroth Klaren. This group and its believers would later clash with those led by Khel Oussana.
Because of the popularity amongst the dark elven populace for Lord Goroth, he was made Steward of the Mali'ker districts on the islands of Elysium and Kalos. Before the disastrous volcanic eruption on Elysium, the dark elves lived in a district buried into the depths of the mountain upon which the Malinorian settlement was built. Later, upon moving to Kalos, the dark elves joined districts with the wood elves.
Dark elves began to rise in Anthos, their population quickly growing while gaining prominent positions in government and earning respect from their elven brethren. Khel Oussana became a Prince of Malinor and sparked a nationalist movement within the dark elves, helped by the failed attempts at establishing a dark elven district by Steward Goroth. Prince Khel, however, noticed many problems within the Malinorian government and soon wished to lead his people from the nation. After being betrayed by fellow council members, namely High Prince Koylat, Prince Khel led his kind out of Malinor and founded the dark elven settlement of Darkhaven with his close friend Kaldo Raven’kor. While in Darkhaven, Khel and Kaldo introduced the concept of ancestral religion to the city. The practice quickly caught on. The worshipers of Velulaei, still led by the same now named Val'Goroth Klaren, were looked down upon because of their tendency to put Velulaei above the ancestors. While no violence occurred, constant political battles took place between the two groups for control of Darkhaven. Over time, the Dark Trinity, the group formed by the worshipers of Velulaei, subsided under Khel’s and Kaldo’s rule.
Khel Oussana suddenly died from unknown causes to the dismay of his people. Kaldo then stepped down from his role as Lord of Darkhaven, giving the Dark Trinity the opportunity to gain power. These families took over Darkhaven. Soon after this the Trinity decided to move their people to the wood elven settlement of Leanniel, abandoning Darkhaven. Here the dark elves lived in a district named Talonii Hollow, which was eventually destroyed when Leanniel was attacked by the Black Scrouge and decimated - the Dark Trinity apparently with it too. Yet again the dark elves were forced to move, this time to the Conclave of Malinor, a government which was cobbled together after the fall of Malinor. Here the dark elves resided with their elven brethren until the discovery of the Fringe.
With the discovery of The Fringe the high elves took their chance at power, creating a strong settlement in the war-ridden lands and offering refuge to the wood elves and dark elves. After a failed attempt by Val'Goroth Klaren to establish refuge for the dark elves within the walls of Haelun'or; the dark elves moved in with the wood elves in a settlement under Haelun’or known as Lin’ame where they were subject to the oppressive ways of the high elves. The dark elves were then forced by high elven leader Sohaer Kalenz Uradir to separate from the wood elves and establish their own district named Ker’lomi. During this tumultuous time a male dark elf named Dak’ir Des’Nox began to arise as a leader of the people. Thus, after gaining enough power within the dark elven community, Dak’ir banished the remnants of the Dark Trinity from power and established himself as the new leader of his people. Soon after he declared the so called 'moon goddess religion' as heresy and the ways of the ancestors became the dominant belief of the dark elves. The rest of the Fringe saw no major events within the dark elves, and the land of Thales saw a similar pattern of stability.
After the move to Athera, a cave system was discovered below the high elven city of Anni’sul, providing a suitable home for the dark elves. While things looked to remain peaceful between the elven subraces, tensions soon rose between the wood and high elves, causing civil war to break out between the two. The dark elves remained neutral in this, not wanting to get involved. Ultimately the high elves were banished from their own city, the wood elves taking over as the rulers. The high elves would not allow this to remain for long, however, and soon schemed over how to retake the city. Amid this time the dark elves began splitting between two sides. A new group named the Laurir’ker formed and started assisting the high elves in their plans to retake the city while Dak’ir stayed out of the war with his followers. Soon enough the high elves struck back with the help of the Laurir’ker and the armies of the Holy Orenian Empire, forcing the wood elves to flee. During the intense battles the dark elves' home was destroyed, giving an opportunity for the Laurir’ker to overtake Dak’ir and claim leadership over the dark elves. Dak’ir promptly moved to the city of Ceru’lin, the newly-constructed wood elven city. Here Dak’ir bid his time, slowly accumulating dark elven followers. Back in the main dark elven populace the Laurir’ker soon became unpopular, ruling with aggressive tactics. Within the next few years numerous events happen. Dak’ir discoverd a hidden cave in the forests south of Haelun’or, while the high elves again waged war against the wood elves, pushing them back into the refuge of the forest. During this Dak’ir founded the dark elven settlement of Ker’nor in the caves, reuniting the dark elven people as the Lauri’ker dissolved.
The dark elves were not completely left out of the war, however; soon Haelun’or pressured the dark elves into an alliance, forcing the dark elves to fight with Haelun’or against the wood elves. As the violence reached its peak between the elves, Oren attempted to intervene and end the war. High elven Sohaer Kalenz Uradir would have none of this, however, and in one of the most shocking events in Athera he assassinated the King of Oren. The many humans of Oren, now furious, forced the three elven cities to become vassals of the Kingdom, and thus Ker’nor became a vassal to Oren. Around this time the destruction of Athera occurred as all of the races fled to Vailor.
In Vailor, the dark elves settled on their own island near the wood elves, naming the island Ker’nor just like their city in Athera. In addition they founded the city of Vivec on the island. Soon after they noticed a nearby volcano to their south, naming it Khel’igne in honour of the great Prince Khel Oussana. During this time a rebel group, the Warhawkes, attempted to overthrow Dak’ir but were soon put down by a coalition of dark, wood, and high elven forces. After these events, Dak’ir was forced to step down due to illness. He then handed the leadership of the dark elves to his brother Arzota Des’Nox and another dark elf named Grimwald. Without warning, the volcano Khel’igne erupted, forcing the dark elves to flee to the wood elves with haste.
After healing from his sickness, Dak’ir returned and re-assumed control of his people, taking them from their refugee camp to create the city of Ebonglade in the pine forests east of Lareh’lin.
In Arcas, the dark elves established a new city of Vira'ker under the nation of Llyria, though a variety of political factors caused its eventual downfall. During the following years, the Dark Elven community split amongst four of its distinct cultural states - the Warhawkes, which for a century dominated Mali'ker politics through tribal and martial tradition, the Onyx Sanctum, successor to the various Dark Elven states of the Des'nox and Oussana, the Kingdom of Renelia, a state based off of the ancient Mali'ker cultural traditions of Magara'lin and the blessed Moon glade, Asimu'lei, land of merchants and progress.
In chronological order...
- Malin's Gorge
- Talonii Hollow
- Ker’lomi (Thales)
- Ker’lomi (Athera)
The history of the mali’ker, like all elves, begins in a fiery war which consumed the known world. In ancient times, while the four brothers were young, the archdaemon Iblees rose to power and sought to bend the mortal realm to his desire.
The elves were a distinct race at this time, lithe and pointy eared, but it would be a long time before they developed any characteristic sub-racial features or even the infertility and long life they were known for today. During the great war, the elves were merely the sons and daughters of Malin, and had the features to prove it.
As the war progressed, Iblees attacked on all fronts, isolating the four brothers. Malin and his children were pushed back to a few strongholds on what would become the isles of Axios. Slowly the war turned back into the favour of the elves. Taynei’Hiylu, the green dragon and ward of Malin pushed away much of the archdaemons’ blighted undead army. But Taynei was soon sealed away to prevent any risk of the dragaar being corrupted and turned against the forces of the living.
It was at this crucial turning point that Veluluai stepped up. She was one of Malin’s original children, fair of skin, hair and eyes a shimmering green. She held a mystic beauty to her which was only matched by her wisdom. Her counsel and strategizing was crucial to the elves final victory over Iblees on ancient Axios, allowing them to rejoin their kin and finish the Archdaemon for good. Although, at a cost.
“Malin, I curse you with sterility, you and your kin shall forever lack the children they need. May your forest halls forever be silent, and your hearts heavy with sadness.”
The elves had not undergone drastic physical change like the dwarves or the orcs had, but Iblees’ final curse had hit them hard. In the years after the war, many a mother lamented, even took their own life due to having to look into the eyes of their stillborn child. Sorrow ran rampant among the newly long-lived, but infertile elves.
However, Malin, forefather of the elves, pushed on. The war had cost him an extrodinary pupil, a dragaar he had considered his daughter. It had cost him the lives of many of his people. But he would bring his kin into a golden age. The elves- now a long-lived yet infertile people, were his to lead.
In this newfound era of peace, on the lands which would become Axios, he would build his kingdom.
The isles of Axios, the lands which had one been a fierce battleground against iblees, became Malin’s kingdom. He had chosen this land to become the home of his kin after the children of his brother Krug became too warlike to coexist with, and Urguan’s spawn too greedy to live among.
Malin set to building his kingdom. Marvelous cities which would have been alien to the eyes of men and dwarves, great halls hidden deep in the thickest forests, homes which weaved their ways seamlessly into the trees, built perfectly to co-exist with the wild, not replacing it, but becoming a part of it. The greatest settlement of Malinor was on the isle of Malin itself, an island named by the forefathers’ children as well. The city built upon this center isle of Axios was more magnificent than any other, though its name has been lost to time. It was there Malin’s throne lay, in the trunk of the eldest elder tree. It was there he ruled his people from.
As Malin’s kingdom grew, he became very aware of the fact that he had to take steps to prevent another great war. Enter Veluluai.
Veluluai was one of Malins’ most trusted daughters. Her wisdom and counsel had already been established as immeasurably helpful during the war with Iblees. So, Malin gave her a mandate: To form an elite order of elven scholars, to gather up as much knowledge of as many gods and immortals as possible. To learn any knowledge which might prevent another malicious deity from trying to take over the world.
Proud of her new duty, Veluluai set to her task with a passion. She formed the scholarly order known as the Maehr’uhier and recruited the wisest elves of old Malinor to join her. Among them was the love of her life, Uradras, who had been a warrior during the Ibleesian war, and their son, the young Azul.
Veluluai and the Maehr travelled far and wide, pursuing all manners of leads and evidence involving gods and immortals. It was during her time upon the isles of Krug’s sons that she came into contact with the shamanistic spirits. Veluluai became enamoured with their power, seeing them as more primal and relatable than other deities commonly worshipped by the elves, such as the Aspects. Veluluai studied the spirits immensely with her guild, and although she saw their cruel side, it was this relatability which drew her to convert to shamanistic worship. Eventually, her acolytes followed suit.
Veluluai eventually moved on. She had accumulated much knowledge of many powerful beings by now. Xan, Tahariae, Apophet, Dragur, Malchiadaiel, and of course the Spirits. Tomes upon tomes of research which she intended on bringing back to Axios to present to her father Malin. But, on a lone isle on the way home, she heard whispers of something older. Nameless, ancient deities never worshipped or spoken of.
Veluluai followed the whispers. In many ways it was a wild goose chase. She sailed down the coast of the ancient isle of Asul until she found what she was looking for. A dense jungle. While it was within Malin’s domain, the harsh nature of this jungle made it so no elf wished to colonize it, and so it remained primal and wild. Veluluai ventured inside with her guild in tow, hoping to find evidence of this ancient, unspoken of god.
Curse and Exile
We had heard a crashing against the rocks the night before, during the storm. So once the weather calmed, we ventured out to investigate. We found them there, their ship a mess of flotsam, themselves ragged and strewn across the rocky beach. We approached to help them, but then they rose... there was something in their eyes.. something I cannot describe. It gave me the chills. They drew what weapons they had and attacked us. Eleyas and Maia w-were...were cut down. We ran. They chased after us, stormed into our defenseless city where we'd lived for centuries, killed everyone they saw. Some of them didn't have weapons... they just picked up sharp rocks and...and bashed at our skulls. -A survivor’s account of Veluluai’s insanity driven attack on Vallei’onn
Ruins, the massive, rotting carcass of a once great empire. Veluluai clawed her way into the heart of the Asul jungle to find the husk of an ancient city. It appeared once to have been made of gold, but was now rusted and rotten. Its’ once gleaming, twisting spires and statues now crumbled and fallen. She was amazed, as the architecture was certainly not elven, yet also afraid, as she could sense disease and decay in the air.
Nevertheless, she pushed on with her followers behind her, into the heart of what had once been a grand palace. Standing in the decay of the great hall, something incredible happened.
Red mist engulfed Veluluai and her order. They collapsed to the ground, screaming in pain and clutching their heads as if their souls were being torn from their bodies. When the mist faded away, all of them ran like startled cats, they ran not out of free will, but as if an ancient, deific presence was compelling them to.
Veluluai and her people were shaken beyond belief, and quickly boarded their ships to sail back to Tahn and return to Malin, but gradually the true nature of what had happened to them began to set in. It was as if their minds were no longer their own, as if they had gone insane. It came in lapses, but the oarsman of Veluluai’s ship lost control of his head, steering into shoals and running the vessel aground. They survived, and found they had crashed nearby a coastal town within Malinor.
The nature of Veluluai and her followers had changed, the very core of their inhibitions. No longer were they creatures driven by reason and logic, but now by emotion and anger. The Maehr scholars raided and pillaged the coastal town, killing many innocents. They did this not for any logical reason, or any material gain, purely out of the anger and confusion which had been cursed into their hearts.
Of course, word reached Malin of what the time was an unheard of amount of violence between elves. He was devastated, first at the needless loss of life, and second at the fact it had been Veluluai who had done it. She had, after all, been a favoured daughter of his. Be that as it may, Malin still had to take swift action, yet he could not bring himself to execute one of his original daughters, even if it would be the safest option. Malin exiled Veluluai and all her followers to roam the icy isle of Ceru, never to return to the mainland or dwell among the rest of elf-kind again.
Veluluai and her people landed upon the isle of Ceru. Not acclimatized to the icy peaks and rigid pines of the isle, they quickly began to starve and freeze. They formed rudimentary camps and did what they could to survive, eating pinecones and twigs.
Veluluai grew desperate. It was already hard for her to control her mind, the curse of the unnamed god she had encountered deep in the Asul jungle had halted her inhibitions. Sometimes she saw some of her people freezing by a campfire, and simply felt the desire to kill them, and she couldn’t think of any reason why that would be wrong. Her mind would reel after, when her morals returned to her.
Unable to take it anymore, she made a pilgrimage high into the mountains. At midnight, with a full moon above her, she collapsed to her knees on the highest peak. She broke into tears and prayed fiercely to the Shamanistic spirits who she had grown so close to. She prayed for strength. She prayed for her family. Her love, the mighty Uradras and their gentle son Azul. Above all, she prayed for her sanity.
No spirit answered her, none but one.
Luara, the reflection of the moon, shimmered to life before Veluluai in the form of a great white wolf. Luna beamed down upon the great beasts’ mane as she presented herself before the weeping mortal. Luara spoke to Veluluai, softly, like a mother. She told the elf that she could restore her sanity, and that of her people. But, there would be a price. With spirits, there was always a price. Veluluai eagerly agreed, not wishing to spend one more moment living with her mind torn.
Luara ascended back to the moon, and a beam of Luna’s high gently filtered down unto Veluluai. Her skin began to turn ashen, her eyes, one a beautiful shimmering green, became a dark gleaming red. She looked down upon her now blackened grey body with horror, this was the price Luara had demanded.
Veluluai returned from the mountains, back to her people, who now all also bore the ashen skin that she did. They were shocked and horrified, worse still were the eyes of Azul and Uradras, who would follow Veluluai to the end, but now seemed horrified at their sudden ashen transformation, horrified at themselves, and what Veluluai had done to make them this way. Veluluai steeled herself and explained the pact she had made. Veluluai pointed to the full moon above them. Their sanity would remain stable while Luara’s presence presided over them. In return, their skin had been made dark, to fit the night in which Luara thrived, as nothing should be pale and lovely as the moon, but the moon itself.
The Dark Elven race had been born.
Era of the Magara’lin
With the blessing of Luara’s moonlight having restored Veluluai’s sanity, the wisdom and intelligence she had displayed before her curse resurfaced. She knew that her people were no longer creatures of the light. On top of that, the isle of Ceru was a cold, inhospitable place. There were hot springs and heated caverns inside the mountains, so Veluluai ordered the dark elves to dig.
And dig they did, over the next several years they excavated great expanses of tunnels and caverns. In these, they built their homes, and inside them they thrived. Great cities were built, carved into cliff-faces and great cavern openings. These cities were decorated with shrines to many spirits, most to Luara of the moon. Most cities had a place where light filtered in from the surface, a place where dark elves could go to catch moonlight.
Veluluai named her new budding underground kingdom Magaralin. Land of Caverns. Several clans formed during this time. Prominent families who would find themselves in roles of government and leadership in Veluluai’s new kingdom. Among these were the Oussana, the Des’Nox, the Ravexi, Klaren, Zanexes, Taloha, Shadeleaf, Nightheart and Ipos.
The dark elven population grew over time. From the hundred or so of Veluluai’s original followers to thousands. Elven infertility got in the way, but time and persistence beats all. Veluluai was of course the leader of the new Dark Elven nation. Her title was High Matriarch and she had a council of three lower Patriarchs beneath her to give her counsel. Among them was her lover Uradras, who was the strong arm of Magara'lin, forming the masked Vindicators to keep peace in the cavern streets, and Azul, the gentle bookish son who imparted his knowledge to his mother, just like Veluluai had done for Malin.
Culture in Magaralin revolved around the spirits, Luara paramount over all, and a new form of faith which had developed- Ancestral veneration. The practice was born from various family clans and spread to the rest of the dark elves. The theory was that even with Luara’s blessings, the mali’ker were not entirely free of insanity. Their ancestors, however, had been. The dark elves began leaving offerings and seeking the guidance of their ancestors, hoping the ghosts of their family members who had lived before the burden of the curse would guide them. After all, who better to guide your actions than your own family? Your own family from a time before they were cursed.
Even with ancestral guidance, Luara was still the paramount deity of the dark elves. It was her that Veluluai had made her pact with, after all. The mali’ker practiced regular sacrifices to her. Sacrifices were made to her regularly, livestock, blood, among other things. Spirits are prideful beings by nature, and the lengths the mali’ker went through to satisfy her pleased Luara greatly.
Of all cultural practices among the Dark Elves of ancient Magaralin, the Kervira was the most important. Once a year, on the night of a full moon, the mali’ker would all make a pilgrimage from their cavern homes, up into the surface to the mountain peaks, where special moon temples had been built. There, the mali’ker prayed fervently to Luara and basked in the moonlight, letting the blessing of the moon keep their sanity intact, as prolonged contact without lunas’ touch would render them insane as the old gods curse had sentenced.
With the guidance of their ancestors, and Luara’s moonlight blessing, the dark elves had begun to fully overcome their curse and had developed a prosperous lives for themselves in the cavern expanses and grand underground cities of Magaralin.
But, this was not to last.
Who are you to claim what is best for us? You, whose actions have brought us nothing but misery. You are why we were forsaken by Malin. You are why we must spend our lives appeasing a tyrannical spirit. YOU, mother, are why we must hide in caves while our cousins forge their own destiny.” “My son, you speak as if I willingly sought out our curse. As if I had any other option than to seek the blessing of the moon mother. I beg you to see sense, our temporal urges are not our nature. They are a burden laid upon us by a malicious god. I implore you, child, do not pursue this dark path. Come back to us. -Exchange between Veluluai and Azul
As the culture of the the dark elves, Veluluai and Magara’lin slowly set into a comfortable rhythm, one mali’ker slowly became more jaded and bitter over time. Azul, the firstborn son of Veluluai and one who sat on the council of Patriarchs, ruled by his mother. Azul was a studious man, he, unlike many dark elves at the time, had been present when the old god Poison had inflicted the curse of insanity. He had watched his own skin turn dark.
Azul had been on diplomatic missions to the various cities of the Mali’thilln high elves, and the deep forest tribal Seeds of the wood elves. Neither of the other two subraces were the old original children of Malin he remembered. He began to see things differently. Why were the dark elves the pariah folk? The exiles? Were the rest of elf-kind not as mutated as they? Were their mindsets no less changed? The wood elves enjoyed their forests and the high elves their silver spires. If the other descendents of Malin could embrace their true nature, why must the dark elves abstain? Why must the mali’ker serve a prideful shamanistic spirit to keep their most basic inhibitions at bay, when they should be embraced?
Azul knew that to publicly swear off the moon’s sedating light and to scorn Luara would be political suicide, so he was cautious. He created a conclave, a small group of likeminded mali’ker, and slowly this group grew, right under the nose of Veluluai. Perhaps out of vanity, he named this secret faction the Azulites. He prepared to strike, but tactfully, for he loved his mother and wished no harm upon her.
The two met on the peak of the highest mountain in Ceru, on the night of a full moon, under the shelter of a temple to Luara. They met not as political opponents, but as mother and son. They spoke of small things, of Azul's childhood, of their lives before the curse. They teased Uradras, their father and husband respectively, for how buffoonish and stoney he was. Then, the conversation turned to ideology. Veluluai was no fool and knew what had been brewing in her son's mind. The debate began gently, then escalated, emotions flared, not even the calming light of the moon could dampen the passions of the two mali'ker.
Towards the end, Veluluai's anger bled away, and instead she simply began pleading. Pleading for her son to forget all this, to see how foolish it would be to embrace insanity, embrace the curse. Azul, looking into his mothers eyes and seeing her sorrow, seemed to agree. The pair calmed down. Azul poured them both a glass of vine and proposed a toast to their family.
Veluluai choked, and fell to the floor, unmoving.
Azul had tried to maintain a composed, stoic gaze, to no avail. He fell to his knees and wept before the body of her mother, wept until the moon was nearly gone, and the sun had almost risen. He had not wanted this, but he saw no other way. He loved his mother, more than anything else, but duty came before love, and it was his duty to free his people.
The violence began shortly afterwards. The Azulites saw their chance and would make guerilla attacks on populated areas and cities in Magara’lin. They would burn down taverns, farms, and kill civilians. The Azulites fought with savage insanity, as they lived deep underground and avoided the moon, Luara’s blessing no longer was there to preserve their sanity. Above all targets, the Azulites would storm and burn down as many shrines and temples to Luara as possible, her priestesses horribly mutilated then killed.
Uradras was crushed by the death of the love of his life, and was distraught at the actions of his own son, but he had no choice but to fight back. He formed the holy order of the Div'cruan, a gold-masked elite wing of the Vindicators whose job was to root out Azulites and sympathizers. They did their job brutally, capturing and burning anyone they suspected to be an Azulite cultist, in the name of Luara and the Ancestors who guided them.
The war had truly become a contest of wills between two men. A father and a son, but the former was very clear on the status of that relationship. Azul had once been his pride and joy, but Azul had taken his lover, he was guilty of matricide. He was no less corrupt than a ghoul or a lich. As far as Uradras was concerned, he had no son.
And so the schism war continued. Uradras against Azul, Vindicator against Azulite. During this time, the culture and traditions of Magara'lin came to a standstill. Veluluai had very much been the cultural mother of the ker, and everyone was simply too busy either fighting or surviving to offer much to Luara or their ancestors.
Slowly, the fighting turned in the favour of Uradras and the mali'ker who believed in order, sanity, and the blessing of Luara. The Vindicators were simply better armed than their Azulite counterparts. The Azulites were burdened with the growing curse of insanity which came from their voluntary isolation from moonlight, this made them more disorganized, savage. It was Azul himself who managed to maintain any semblance of order in his cult. Yet, on the last year of the war, Azul was captured, a covert Div'cruan operation finally managed to pin down his location and take him alive. He was draped his chains and taken to the Magara'lin throne room, presented to his father.
Uradras, who had always been a stone-hearted warrior since the days of Malin, looked upon his son. He saw savage, wild eyes staring back at him. Yet, in that moment, he felt something he rarely had in the past, sympathy. Yet, Azul had torn apart the mali'ker at their foundations. Punishment was necessary, but it was not in his hands. It was in Luaras', whose patronage Azul had fought so hard to free himself from.
Uradras took his son onto the same mountain top where Veluluai had been killed. It was once again a night of a full moon. There, with his son before him in chains, he bellowed to the sky, pleaded for the moon mother to descend down upon him as she had with Veluluai so long ago. And she did. Luara, the great white wolf appeared before father and son. She knew why they were here, she had been watching the war. Uradras implored the moon spirit to deal justice upon his son, but not to kill him, as he could not bare to lose the last of his family. Luara promptly agreed. But, like always with spirits, there was to be a price. Tentatively, Uradras accepted this.
Azul screamed, struggling against his chains as the moonlight burned into his skin, his pupils dissolved and his eyes became a solid, monstrous red. He then fell to all fours, panting and growling, like a feral wolf. The moon spirit spoke, gently, but with a malicious chill.
"I have given him the insanity he so fiercely fought for. His mind is gone from him entirely. From now until the end of time, he will be like a savage beast, free from the sentience I so graciously helped your people preserve. You wished him to live, and I will ensure he does so, until the end of time. He shall never die, and he will never sleep again. Let this be the fate of those who break my pact."
Uradras' heart was shattered, for this was a fate worse than death for his son. Yet he knew he could not argue with a spirit. He dragged his son deep into the Magara'lin caverns, deeper than anyone had ever gone. He chained him there, watching Azul howl and struggle like a dog. It is said Azul is still there in the modern age, tragically immortal. Unable to think, unable to sleep, unable to die, struggling against his chains.
The rest of the cultists had fled. After all, they operated on embracing their curse of insanity, and without Azul to guide them, order broke down. It became easier for the Vindicators, guided by Luara and the whispers of their Ancestors, to track down and burn the remains of the Azulite army.
The Final Schism
The war came to no true end, but instead a slow, painful decline. Being unable to hide and having lost most of their organization, the Azulites fled from the caves and back out onto the surface, where no Mali’ker had lived in centuries. They knew that the order-loving Luara worshipping elves and their vindicator warriors would not pursue them there.
The Azulites scattered across the four corners of the world, creating a large diaspora. The result was many dark elves in many different nations, often self assured, cocky, and to varying degrees, insane. Even to this day, the descendents of Azulite dark elves remain across many settlements across the various continents the main races have settled in.
Meanwhile, many dark elves remained in Magara’lin. They held true to Luara and the ancestors, but with their Matriarch Veluluai dead, a void had been left in their way of life. It had been her who had led the Kervira on every full moon, and her who had been the heart of government.
Uradras called upon a conclave. The clans of the mali’ker and the remaining primarchs met in a council. There, the Des’nox, Oussana, Ravexi and Zanexes among other families and dignitaries came to an decision: Without Veluluai to guide them, Magara’lin was no longer sustainable.
After sending out envoys, the dark elves got word out that the mali’ame of the deep Seeds had recently migrated and formed a new city on the island Malin himself had been born on- Aegis. They decided that it was time to finally make the great exodus out of the cavern expanses under the isle of Ceru. It was time to rejoin the rest of their kin. The mali’ker were a stable, sane people now, their internal troubles were behind them. Azul had been right about one thing, all the elves were equally mutated now. No longer should the dark elves be the pariah folk.
It was a harsh journey, and the great fleet the mali’ker built was hit with rough waves, but they made it onto the shores of Aegis and found the fledgling city of Laurelin. The mali’ame, weary of their own recent civil war, welcome the dark elves with open arms. And that was the end of it.
Over time, the dark elves intermingled and interbred with the wood elves, creating more of a cultural melting pot. It would be a few decades before they started to purify their bloodlines. Until then, they began to forget their ways, losing themselves in the common lifestyle of Laurelin. Luara, the moon spirit, seemed not to mind that her people had forgotten her. Or did she? Many a dark elf would have insane tendencies over the years to come. Many, but far from all.
An era had certainly passed, and some believed it would never return.
But, like the waning and waxing of the moon, nothing is truly gone forever.
Reviewed by LM: ~~~~
- Khel Oussana was the long-time leader of the Dark Elves and his spirit is still believed to influence decisions made today. His original name was Dezar, but he changed it to Khel, meaning darkness, after escaping enslavement by the Mori. You can read more about his origins here.
- Despite differing views, the Dark Trinity do worship their ancestors - it simply happens to be that they believe their oldest recorded family member ascended to become an Aengul. This is what caused conflict with the Des'nox and Oussana.
- On a different note, did you know that the Dark Elves have a close relationship with the Wood Elves? You can read more about their allies
- For a guide on making new dark elf character you can click here.
- For help on elvish names, click here.