Part 6: ElvesThe Aldryami follow the Plant Mythos. The father of all plants is Flamal, whose wife is the Grower. In the time of the Green Age, Flamal's children covered all the world: the Slorifings (ferns and mosses) and the Vronkali (conifers) were first. When Yelm the Flower Bringer came, the Embyli appeared, the broadleafed plants. As these plants spread, so did the influence of the forest goddess Aldrya.
When the First Darkness came, the ice and trolls and insects assaulted the elves, the children of Aldrya. Many forests changed, shedding their leaves. The elves and trees went to sleep, hoping time would be better. When Chaos came, things got worse, and the Aldryami were primarily defenders then, not attackers of Chaos. With the return of the sun, the world awakened, led by Aldrya, whose coming forth re-awakened her children. Of course, over time, the elves broke into racial tensions between the elf subtypes - the green, the brown, the yellow, the red, the blue and the black.
The Aldryami, you see, are all races that claim kinship to the plants. It is a whole range of creatures - some as different from each other as men from trolls. There are some traits they share, though. All elves are of a size based on the plant they associate iwth. A man-sized elf required normal-sized trees. The God Learners once estimated that it took a full square kilometer of forest to produce four brown elves. All Aldryami care for their plant-kin and tend to them.
Types of Elf
The Black Elves, the Voralans, are not true descendants of Flamal, for they are fungus-elves. They are creatures of the Darkness, often found near trolls, but culturally feel an affinity to other elves, who care for plant-kin as well. Black Elves are pretty short and very light and delicate. They never have body hair and often have big craniums, with grey skin and no nails. They are hermaphroditic but rarely have children. Children are born in large litters of near-identical siblings, who remain telepathically linked for their entire lives. The Black Elves worship the goddess Mee Vorala and create mushroom potions of many kinds. They are not true Aldryami.
The Blue Elves, the Murthoi, are underwater elves who die in air. They tend to seawood. Some live in freshwater, some salt. Their upper bodies resemble normal elves, though their skin is a pale purple-red, and they never blink. Their hair is violet, and their bodies taper into a long, thin tail which they vibrate to move through water. They worship the goddess Murthdrya of the sea.
The Red Elves, the Slorifings, were the first dynasty of the plant-people. They are the elves of ferns and spore-bearing plants, and they are the most varied of the Aldryami. Many are not even humanoid, and so other races call them goblins. All Slorifings of a single species share the same social function in their complex swamp, and all Slorifings are male. They require the aid of the Olarians, a race of love nymphs who are daughters of Uleria and Aldrya, and they worship these nymphs. After successful worship, the Slorifing in question will bury himself and sprout a spore-bearing plant that marks his grave. This plant will grow new Slorifings.
The "True Elves" are the Mreli, Vronkali and Embyli - the Brown, Green and Yellow Elves. They are slight of body, intelligent and quick. They are tied to the trees, and are quite shy outside their forests. In the forests, they rule supreme. They see themselves as caretakers, and they will clear out any threats - giant aphids, loggers, farmers clearing land...anything.
It is said that White Elves existed once but disappeared during the Gods War, while Fire Elves may yet exist in the far south, the realm of fire - but even other elves know nothing of them, for elves fear fire. Moon elves have been said to live upon the Red Moon, covering it with exotic forests, but most believe they do not exist at all.
The other known Aldryami are the dryads (elusive tree spirits whom the elves revere), the runners (the shrub-elves who tend to be timid and lacking in full intelligence) and the sprites (flower and weed-elves who may have minor magic powers).
The typical brown elf is light and not very tall - about 120 pounds and maybe 5'3". Green elves are a little taller, yellow a little shorter. Their eyes have neither white nor pupil, but are solid color. They may have leaves for hair. Each elf has its own type of tree, which it resembles - a birch elf is slender and pale, with green-yellow hair, while an oak elf is thicker, with dark green hair and darker skin. Both will be taller than the apple tree elf, whose hair is bright green and whose skin is reddish.
Elves have normal human senses, but better night vision. They also have the Elfsense, which lets them detect the health and emotional state of whoever they touch, as well as if they are in pain. When touching the soil, it tells them if the soil is nutritious, moist and generally good. Elves are believed to give birth to coconut-sized seeds, which they plant in secret places and tend until they grow. Once the plant grows, it produces a fruit which, when ripe, can be opened to find an elf child. This takes two years, and a newborn elf is about equal to a four-to-six-year-old human child.
Elves reach full size in 20 years, and maturity in 40-50 years. Young elves, between 20 and 40, often become adventurers. Elves are long-lived, but not immortal: their lifespan is similar to that of their associated trees. Green elves typically live around 300 years, though those of the ancient redwoods can last over a thousand. Brown elves live to around 250, though some with rare, long-lived trees can live up to 500. Yellow elves usually live around 200 years. As an elf ages, it gets more and more treelike, with gnarled, barky skin and leaflike hair. Strength and dexterity decrease, and eventually the elf goes to sleep and never awakens.
All elves are vegetarians exclusively. Thye do not often cook, but do prepare their food via various means (puree, pickling, marinade, etc.) and never use salt. Some elven food can be eaten by humans, and none is poisonous. Yellow elves occasionally mix an insect, piece of fish or scrap of meat into their meals, but other elves see this as loathsome. Blue elves eat algae, and black elves eat fungus. Goblins eat many types of food, sometimes even large amounts of meat, but most live on mud, water or plants.
Worship of Aldrya is nearly universal, and almost no elves have turned from this course. Yelmalio and Flamal are respected and welcomed as secondary gods, but Aldrya sits over all. It is said that Aldrya is the daughter of Flamal and Ernalda, and so beautiful that it got her into trouble. She was loved by two jealous gods, and each threatened to destroy her if she loved the other. She fled to the Celestial Court, living atop the mountain called the Spike. Thus was the first tree planted there.
She bore great fruit, which was sent far and wide. Each became a Great Tree, and each was called Aldrya. Each bore fruit that covered the earth in vegetation - and so, all the Aldryami know they are one kin. Aldrya married the god Shanasse, a son of the goddess of Love. He brought new depth to her, and together, they explored the forest spirits. The trees gave forth Dryads, the tree-souls, who could move but were bound to their groves. The bushes and shrubs gave forth the Runners, less subtle and intelligent than their larger kin. And, as it was fashionable for the gods to do so, Aldrya grew a race with Grandfather Mortal: the People of the Woods, the Elves.
The Aldryami did not recognize the inherent dangers as the world changed and beasts began to devour things. The ancient woods reacted only very slowly to the Gods War, and were often broken. During the fighting, the power of Death came into world and the Aldryami got it via a wager with the Trickster. They took Death and slow many dwarf foes, for the Aldryami had long hated the Mostali. In so doing, they turned all the world's stone cold forever.
The weapon Death, whcih the Aldryami say was an axe, was stolen by evil gods of the trolls, becoming the bane of elves when Zorak Zoran slew Flamal. In her grief, Ernalda withheld her bounty from the world and Aldrya went into the unending sleep. Her children began to die, in the cold winter of the Great Hunger. The Lightbringers rescued Flamal in what is known as the Secret Quest of the Lightbringers, the Greater Bonus. HGowever, even that would have no meaning without the struggle of the Protectors to save their dreaming brethren.
The Protectors were led by High King Elf, the leader of the Green Elves. He led them through the Darkness to protect the forests, aided by the survivors. Thus, when Dawn came, there remained a place for Aldrya, kept by the Protectors. When the elves prosper, so does their goddess. When they fail, so does Aldrya. All Aldryami believe that they are reincarnated successively in a long, organic growth that will eventually unify their consciousness with that of the woodlands. The right rituals speed this along. The Aldryami bury their dead, to reunite them with the soil from which they grow.
The Aldryami hate the trolls for their slaying of Flamal. They disdain the dwarves for their machines, which blacken the land, and for the ancient wrongs which the Mostali did to them. Chaos, of course, is the foe of all living things - even elves. The elves are friends of the earth gods and goddesses, as well as many sky-gods - gods like Ernalda and Yelmalio. To the elves, the god Yelm is the Flower-Bringer. They also worship the god Shanasse, who taught the elves the Food Song (which allows them eat any plant), and the High King Elf, who became a demigod.
Oh - and the Aldryami are vegetarian cannibals. They will eat other elves.