Fireborn: Dark Phoenix
Leataana, the Elven Nation
[Map: Black borders]
The Elven Nation, called Leataana by its inhabitants, is a key – perhaps arguably the dominant – power bloc in the world. Despite this, estimates of the number of Elves tend to congregate arund 8 million, a tiny number compared to the estimated 1,100 million Uruk and 300 million Dragonborn. But these enigmatic, long-lived (allegedly, immortal) beings have knowledge of magic far beyond their small numbers, and expertise accumulated over centuries of learning with which to use it.
Elven society is small, passive and distributed; most Elves live in small villages being fed by agriculture and gathering; or as nomadic bands focusing more on the gathering side of the equation, trading with the villages. Despite this apparent primitivity, the Elves are far more advanced than they appear; capable of building great monuments, oceangoing vessels, works of art and poetry, and of magical artifice. The simplicity of their lifestyle allows them a great deal of leisure time in which to practice ‘higher callings’, such as creative or philosophical pursuits, or religious ones; the Elves revere nature and the natural world with a great deal of adoration, and protection for the rights of animals and even plants are enshrined in their (relatively few) enforced laws.
The Elves are a meritocratic gerontocracy, in which the ablest and eldest rule; the Eight, the High Elders, are the ruling committee, elected by the remaining High Elders as vacancies develop through resignation or death. It is said that no Elf below 10,000 years of age can even be considered for such a post; and the main job of the Eight is to meet at times of crisis and decide how best to approach the situation for the good of all Elves. Most Elders are powerful mages as well; and individually they are amongst the world’s most powerful persons.
The Elves officially worship the Celestials, godlike beings of Good who exist on other planes of existence and who created the material world with thought and willpower. In this mythos, Magic is the force through which the Celestials act; and both magical Symbols (the cornerstone of magecraft) and Concepts (the empowering force of sorcery) are simply aspects of the Celestials, and understanding those is understanding the nature of reality itself.
It is said by some Elves that the Celestials are engaged in a great, primal conflict with another force beyond the comprehension of physical beings; and that the suffering and anger and pain caused by this battle bleed into the world; and that through destroying what is good and beautiful in the world, the selfish and greedy simply weaken the Celestials and push the world closer to destruction by the Great Enemy. Yet despite common themes of Elven belief, the religion is astoundingly disorganised and largely personal, with no formal holy texts nor priests; though Gurus – who claim special insight and connection to particular Celestials – exist and are highly regarded. Elven religion encompasses all this and more, yet most Elves disagree – at times, strongly – with at least some of it, and many variations exist.
Perhaps because of this devotion to the Celestials, the Elves have focused heavily on tapping the power of magecraft and magic, to study and explore its mysteries. Some Elves – the eldest – allegedly develop magical powers from within themselves, tapping deep and innate flows of magic that the younger generations – and the mortal races – simply haven’t had long enough to refine and control; but most instead study symbology, the method of magecraft using appropriate Symbols. It’s disputed how much Uruk knowledge of the Arts came from Elven scholars originally, and how much was invented by the few Uruk mages in existence; but some knowledge transfers must have occurred.
Young Elves, though, are often more impetuous and less mellow than their elders; each year thousands leave Leataana’s shores to travel the wilder and more dangerous areas of the world beyond, and some hundreds go instead to Uruk lands to see life as mortals life it. Often they are experts at multiple crafts already, and their command over magic (and immortality) make them few friends; in fact, many find they are far from welcome. The stereotypical Elf, in the eyes of the Uruk, is a naïvely arrogant busybody who loves meddling despite not understanding (or caring) a jot for how life really is for most people on Taan – not an endearing image for the race, however they might wish to be seen.
The origin of this tension between races dates back over a thousand years to first contact; the pacifist Elves were aghast to learn that the new race, the Uruk, had many factions and were at war (war itself was a concept that they needed time to grasp). They sent emissaries to try and stop the fighting; a delegation of their own High Elders, in great magic ships of silver and gold, designed and created to be beacons of beauty and strike amazement into the hearts of those who saw them; they believed, sincerely, that they could awe the Uruk into halting their battle, and persuade them philosophically to set aside their differences and become as peaceful and contented as the Elves.
It worked as well as one could imagine, with mysterious metal craft trying to slip into the forefront of a battle. Three of the four ships were sunk, taking three of the four High Elders present with them; and the Elves realised they could not simply persuade the Uruk to stop – and probably worse, the Uruk might not honour their borders nor respect their lands. Fearful of an end to Elven society, the surviving High Elders built a navy of wood and metal, filled with the best mages and most devoted navigators in Elven society – and sent them forth to make it clear to the Uruk that the Elves were not a force to be trifled with.
The Elves tried repeatedly to start peace talks, but it was some years before the Uruk nations of the world began to realise that the Elves were not only serious, they were also a threat – and worse yet, a threat that was too powerful for force of arms to overcome, with Uruk ships burned to the waterline by magical force before they could get within trebuchet or cannon range of an Elven ship. The eventual outcome of the slow acquiesence was the Treaty of Grelda, signed on the small remote island of Grelda in the vast but shallow Agaron Ocean; and the most controversial clause of the Treaty was that Uruk nations were forbidden to expand their borders beyond current limits. Though this restriction was relaxed in instances where it came at the expense of other Uruk nations, the effective ban on new colonisation has long been a sore point for Uruk patriots and nationalists, and the method by which Elven ‘security’ was achieved has been a matter of great debate amongst the Elves themselves.