Name: Imperial Ælven

The ælven are a long-lived race, skilled at magic and swordplay. Some of them believe that they predate the shards, and were instead brought to them by the gods themselves. High in the shards, close to the Solar Hearth, the ælven built a great empire. They dominated the other races, conquering shard after shard. Those who refused to serve as vassals were either slain or driven into the shoals. Only their ancient enemies, the drakken, lived without fear of the ælven. Their golden empire lasted for a nine hundred years, until the Beneath rose and almost touched the sun.

The ælven had grown overconfident in their security. The elders of the race died or disappeared into the darkness. When the darkness finally receded, the Ælven Empire was in chaos. Their Emperor was dead, and there was no clear line of succession to the throne. Even though the empire teetered on the brink of ruin, the proud ælven became divided and the ælven fought amongst themselves. Finally the Imperial Prince Tallisindar drove his sister and her supporter from the empire’s borders.

For hundreds of years, the empire kept to itself, licking its wounds and gathering its resources. The younger races began to venture into ælven lands, nibbling at the borders of the ancient empire.

Now the Ælven Empire of Xauphinelle rears its head again, its glory faded. Despite it all, the hearts of the Imperial Ælven still burn with a fierce pride and disdain for the younger races.

Personality: The ælven are a proud race. They often suffer from aloofness towards the other races of the shards, and see themselves as an elite, refined people. Around other races, ælven try to maintain an icy, disdainful self-control, regarding displays of emotion as signs of weakness in such company. They are, in short, bigots as the result of millennia existing as the only magically and socially advanced race in the Shards.

Though more recent generations of ælven seem to suffer less and less from this notion, the slow reproductive cycle of ælven means that this change in demeanor will take a long while to affect the more entrenched elders in ælven society.

Amongst their own kind, ælven loosen up, freely expressing emotions that they keep caged around non-ælven . For one unfamiliar with ælven ways, this sudden change in attitude from icy femme fatale to giggling daughter can come as quite a shock. In a few rare instances, ælven who spent much time around humans, dwarves, and sirens eventually lost their cold mask, and became just as expressive and emotional around their close non-ælven friends. This, again, is more common among the younger generation of ælven .

Ælven are great lovers of art, music, and song. They appreciate craftsmanship and artistry in all things, be it clothing, skyship design, jewelry, or weaponry. 

The ælven appreciate finesse and elegance over brute power and strength. For this reason the weapons of choice among ælven are light and quick, much like the ælven themselves. Rapiers, stilettos and the like, and little or no armor are usually seen carried by the average ælven warrior.

Appearance: The ælven stand taller than humans, but are more slender. The average ælven male stands six feet tall, while the average female stands five foot and ten inches. Despite this, their build and bone structure are slight, and they weigh about one-sixth less than a human of the same height.

Ælven ears are pointed and quite long, and can perk up when angry or excited, droop down when ashamed or saddened, and swivel depending on mood. Ælven ears usually stick out at nearly right angles from their skull, and are impossible to hide under hair, or anything less than a large hood.

Ælven facial features are sharp and angular, though this is lessened slightly among females. Their skin tone is usually a nearly luminous white, or a delicate pink. A rare few have skin of warm golden brown. Ælven eyes are clear and striking in their coloration. Violet, emerald, sapphire, and ruby eyes have all been seen among ælven. Ælven hair color is similar to that of humans, but more extreme. Black ælven hair is as black as midnight, red hair is gorgeous deep crimson, while blonde ælven hair is akin to spun gold. Their hair is generally straight; few ælven have curly or wavy hair.

Relationships: The Imperial Ælven tolerate all races, except the drakken, who they will act against out of spite when possible, and icily ignore if such action is ill advised. Younger ælven who are eager to experience the world beyond the empire’s borders tend to be more inclined to associate with the younger races. The ælven of Velsephay are looked upon with a mixture of pity and forced respect.

Alignment: The ælven are great lovers of freedom, and tend towards self-indulgence. They are as a rule not a warm and giving species, and will seldom go out of their way to assist those in need. Most of the younger ælven tend towards chaotic neutral or chaotic good, while the nobles of the empire are sometimes extremely lawful in some way. The lawful appearance of the Imperial Court should not be regarded as an accurate gauge of the race’s alignment, for beneath its cultured surface self-interest and intrigue runs rampant.

Ælven Shards: The ælven dominate the Upper Shards, though not as strongly as they once did. Their lands are beautiful and idyllic, among the most pristine and breath-taking shards in existence. Still, every shard has at least one or two now abandoned ghost-cities, which the ælven studiously avoid.

Unlike their Velsephayan cousins, the Imperial ælven do not live exclusively in woodlands. Though they hunt, play, and have summer homes in the forests, they generally keep their main abode in or close to the city, usually in the estate of their House.

On Ælven Life:

Ælven society is stratified by power and wealth. Within the Ælven Empire there exist a number of noble houses. Nearly all ælven are connected to a noble house; if they are not of the House’s blood, they find employment as a retainer of noble House. Few ælven exist on the bottom rungs of the empire. These social strata are mainly filled by the descendants of the long-ago conquered human vassals who have adapted to life in the empire.

In each empire the noble houses are named according to a single theme; in Velsephay the houses are named after flowers and trees, while in Xauphinelle, they are named after legendary beasts. Thus among the many houses there can be found House Unicorn, Wyvern, and Kraken, among others. These Houses vie for the favor of the current ruler of their kingdom, making the cultured, beautiful courts of the Ælven Empire rife with intrigue and treachery. Dueling is not an uncommon way to settle a dispute between ælven nobles, though such a duel is almost always only to the first blood; the ælven have lives that range into the thousands of years, and regard death as the ultimate horror, and murder as the ultimate crime.

The remaining ælven cities are places of wonder. The ælven are naturally inclined towards wielding magical forces, and their cities reflect this. Magical globes illuminate the streets, ornamental streams flow uphill, and enchanted songbirds sing intricate ælven compositions. Much of the ælven empire, however, is in ruins following the Beneath’s rising, despite the hundreds of years that have passed. The empire still strives to recapture its lost glory, and the great ælven cities are a testament to that which the Beneath destroyed.

Religion: The ælven have a strong priestly tradition, though they do not worship the Pentatra. Instead, they worship their dead ancestors. The souls of dead ælven do not pass on to exist amongst the gods. Their magical essence over the millennia has lingered, becoming a powerful spirit approaching divinity. Some sages believe, however, that the Great Houses of the Empire were founded by various gods themselves and this is the source of their potency. Regardless, the Spirits of the a House grant potency and divine magic to those who choose to venerate them. Each House has domains, much like those Pentatric clerics call upon. House clerics are champions of their House, the very essence of their long heritage of magic. They are advisors to the House rulers, healers to the sick of their House, diplomats who speak with the voice of the House behind them, and the embodiment of their House’s puissance upon the battlefield. To the ælven, their lineage is a sacred thing, and none know this more that the clerics of their House, called Godspeakers. The Houses and their Domains are found at the end of this racial description. The Spirits of a Great House are sometimes called lares by humans, though in Ælven the name is more properly 'aelvata' - roughly translated as the 'truth of Magic', or the 'spirit of mystery'.

Language: The ælven have their own flowing, songlike language, which some individuals mistake for music if they are unfamiliar with the ælven tongue. It is rife with subtle intonations and intricate grammar. While ælven writing is rich and varied, it is ælven song, music, and poetry that the race is renowned throughout the shards for.

Names: Ælven names grow, adding new names or syllables as the ælven grows in deed or social importance. Pieces of the ælven ’s name may be taken from gods, heroes, or respected relatives. Each ælven name is thus unique, and changes over time. This makes the herald an important station in a court, as he keeps the assembled courtiers abreast of changes in stature and achievement. To not be up to date on an ælven’s name is considered a gross faux pas.

In addition, each ælven is part of a great household, named after a legendary beast. Sometimes, ælven traveling among humans will translate their name into Common.

Male Ælven Names: Arialtis, Valis, Torvellanishek, Tierudari, Malvostur, Parennilian, Vornaliraedar, Xieristallan, Ashekaenil, Tuirvinalorn, Tallisorval.

Female: Amarilethe, Avasata, Niirifina, Chalinnél, Adragaille, Ollavasha, Õenaulla, Qishalla, Pheydraena, Xauphinae.

House Names: Aeluvorn (Unicorn), Daeladroethani (Dragon), Vornaptor (Griffin), Chaelsavata (Naga), Irachalas (Harpy), Tulluvalo (Sphinx), Chalysari (Phœnix), Vornagul (Sea Serpent).

Adventurers: Some imperial ælven seek to escape the static chaos of imperial life, and dare to leave the empire and seek their fortune. Others find adventuring a good way to make promote their life in court and fund political ambition later in life. Being an adventurer is a regarded as somewhat risqué, and an ælven who successfully returns from a journey of adventure is sure to be the talk of the court… especially amongst the opposite sex.

Ælven Racial Traits

House    Domains    Stereotype
Aeluvorn (Unicorn)    Protection, Healing, Strength    Noble Patriots
Daeladroethani (Dragon)    Luck, Fire, Magic    Great Warriors and Leaders
Vornaptor (Griffin)    Air, War, Travel    Finest Skyriders of the Empire
Chaelsavata (Naga)    Charm, Earth, Soul    Wise advisors and mystics
Irachalas (Harpy)    Destruction, Trickery, Weather    Tempestuous Intriguers
Tulluvalo (Sphinx)    Knowledge, Creation, Charm    Enigmatic Servants of the Empire
Chalysari (Phœnix)    Sun, War, Trickery    Masters of tactics and strategy
Vornagul (Serpent/Wyrm)    Water, Strength, Guardian    Practical Bureacrats