On Elven Contributions to Society (essay)

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: An Essay on Elven Contributions to Society

Author: Lord Joshell Jolenn

The Elves have contributed many things to society throughout history, both technologically and culturally; without many of the contributions of the Elves, society as we know it would not exist. All of Western Elanith owes its gratitude to the contributions the Elves have made to society and life in general. In this essay the term "lesser races" will be used a number of times; this refers to all races not of Faendryl, Elven, or Sylvan blood.

The Elves fundamentally contributed to the spirituality and religious convictions of the majority of the people living on the continent of Elanith. Any knowledge the lesser races have of the Arkati is because of the contributions of Elven scholars. The Arkati chose to walk among the Elves and with it brought knowledge of themselves and the world. They then generously passed this knowledge on to the lesser races. The lesser races have a wealth of knowledge on the Arkati, yet without the contributions of Elven scholars they would have little to none.

The Lorekeepers are an organization dedicated to the spreading of knowledge throughout Elanthia. The Society of Lorekeepers was started by Elves and was originally exclusively Elven. Elven society nurtured the Lorekeepers into what they are today. Elven culture, unlike many others, allowed them to teach freely and spread their wisdom to the populace. They spread knowledge of art, magic, combat, history, the races, music, and writing to all the races. The organization has prospered and become what it is today because of the contributions of the Elves that originally started the organization.

The Elves have created technology that is years ahead of the technological capabilities of the other races. They've contributed such technical marvels as the airship, a vastly complex device that uses various gases and (some believe) magic to facilitate faster and more comfortable travel. None of the other races are even close to being able to produce technology such as this. The Ilyan Cloud (an Elven airship) brought with it many great luxuries and technological feats such as advanced weaponry and armaments, the ability to add the power of an element to a weapon (something rarely seen or done), and a plethora of skilled scribes to do writing for the mostly uneducated masses of Western Elanith.

Magic was as a whole developed by the Elves; none had had the skill to harness the mana of our world or to wield magic to their will as did the Elves. Almost everything known to the lesser races about magic and mana was contributed to them by Elven society. I quote from the History of Elanthia: "[Elves are] the most magically adept of all races."

One need only to stand in a market or the center of a town before hearing someone shout the phrase, "Meet me at ten o'clock Elven." The Elves devised a time system that is used all over Elanthia and is widely acknowledged as the standard. You won't hear anyone call out, "Meet me at ten o'clock Dwarven." Compared to the elegant simplicity of the Elven time system, all others are flawed.

The Elven Empire has set up a template for the perfect government on Elanthia. It is a democracy, an aristocracy and a monarchy in almost equal measure, and a more elegantly practical solution to the needs of the people for government has yet to be found. A Patriarch rules each house of the Elven Empire, with help from a ruling council made up of nobility. They rule for the benefit of the people; the populace can easily voice their concerns, desires, and needs to their rulers without fear of reprisals such as imprisonment or even death, as is the case with other so-called "empires" extant today. The Elves were the first in Elanthia to set up a government worthy of Empire-building and paved the way for all future empires; they were the example to the other races and in fact continue to be. Note that the Dwarven Empire, albeit not a great one compared to the great empire of the Elves, rose shortly after the Elven Empire was established, showing clearly that the Elves did not hinder the rise of others for their own sake.

Had it not been for the Elven Empire, all the lesser races would be enslaved to Despana now. The Elves were the first of the races to oppose Despana and her undead minions while the other races shrank away in fear. The other races did not join the Undead War until the Battle of ShadowGuard. And it is because of the Elves that Despana was finally defeated. The Elves of House Vaalor bravely made a stand against Despana and her armies at ShadowGuard. As stated in The History of Elanthia, "Modern scholars point to the battle of ShadowGuard as the turning point of the Undead War." The Vaaloran Elves slew Despana's General, Dharthiir, and the undead army took heavy losses at this battle. It was, of course, the Faendryl Elves who organized the armies to make a final stand against Despana and unleashed the magic that saved all of Elanthia from the Great Destroyer.

The Ashrim established all sea travel and exploration. It is they who developed the first and the best ships. It is said that only Charl himself can construct a better ship or Navy than The Ashrim. Even today none can match the sailors of Ta'Ashrim or the design of their ships. House Ashrim also established trade with many of the lesser races living on the coast. The Ashrim could have easily traded with the Elven Empire instead, as there was no benefit for them to trade with the lesser races. However, had it not been for trade with Ta'Ashrim, the lesser races living on the coast would have died out; they survived due to the generosity of The Ashrim. The Elves of House Ashrim also greatly contributed to the knowledge of elemental magic to all the races of Elanthia, especially in the spheres of wind and water. I quote from The History of Elanthia:

"Bhoreas Ashrim's line took to the sea. None could match their skill with elemental magic, especially that of wind and water. They were said to have achieved control over the weather. They used this skill to master the waves, and they used their mighty city of Ta'Ashrim as a base for trading with the races of the coast. Coastal dwellers of the other races came to fear the warships of the "Sea Elves", as they were known."

The Faendryl have contributed more than any other race to the art of Sorcery and all arts Arcane. Libraries in Ta'Faendryl contain a wealth of knowledge on Sorcery, Elemental, and Spiritual magics. The Faendryl single-handedly developed Sorcery into the art it is today. From The History of Elanthia, "No other race had mastered both spirit and elemental magic as well as had the Faendryl Elves." Without the brilliance and great contributions to magic that the Faendryl have made, it would be a shred of what it is today. The Faendryl used these powerful magics to ensure the survival of all the races and defeated the greatest foe Elanthia has ever known with them, Despana. As stated in The History of Elanthia:

"The Faendryl chose that moment to reveal their secret, their new magic. Inscribing circles upon the ground, they summoned a flight of lesser demons to battle the undead hordes. Their foes fled back through the gates of the keep. The Faendryl then cast their final spell, causing the keep itself to implode, leaving nothing but smoke and rubble. Despana and her armies are said to have been utterly destroyed.

The Elves had won the war."

Many of the luxuries found in Western Elanith are afforded the lesser races because of trade with the Elven Empire. Western Elanith was almost completely devoid of musical instruments until they were imported by the Ilyan Cloud from Ta'Loenthra. All bards are now able to better perform their craft and owe their sincere thanks to the Elves of Ta'Loenthra. The Ilyan Cloud also brought a variety of armor, weapons, and shields that are of superior craftsmanship to the gear previously available in Western Elanith. The useful and beautiful metals faenor and eahnor, both of which are highly magical as well, are imported from the Elven Lands.

There have been other great contributions made to bardic society thanks to the Elves of House Loenthra aside from fine musical instruments. Loenthran Elves have created many of the greatest musical pieces on Elanthia. Experts and simple lovers of music alike all acknowledge that Ta'Loenthra is the center of bardic arts. Some of the greatest operas created were composed by the Loenthra -- for instance, the immensely popular Elven opera "The Bright Sails of Ta'Ashrim."

None can speak of strategic combat without mentioning the Elves of House Vaalor. They developed many of the most brilliant military tactics, and their combat techniques are still studied today in most military academies. As The History of Elanthia states, "The Vaalor have always produced the finest warriors." As mentioned previously, the Vaaloran-fought battle of ShadowGuard was the turning point of the Undead War, although this is far from their only notable battle.

The Illistim Elves established a golden city of knowledge. The libraries found in Ta'Illistim are an aid to any scholar doing research in virtually countless fields. Holding membership in any of the Illistim libraries is an honor that many scholars strive for and very few achieve. "And none can match the knowledge of the Illistim Masters of Lore," states The History of Elanthia. The libraries of Ta'Illistim are stocked with shelf upon shelf of knowledge that the Illistim have contributed to Elanthia. Linsandrych Illistim is often credited with being the greatest scholar in history.

House Ardenai and the Sylvans bring a love of nature to all the other races around them. They revere nature like no other races can, not even the greatest rangers of the other races. The Sylvan and Ardenai are responsible for the creation of the bow, a graceful yet fierce and lethal device if wielded properly. Many of the lesser races commonly use the bow in their hunting, yet none can match the skill of the Ardenai or the Sylvan. As stated in The History of Elanthia, "All Ardenai grow up to revere the hunt, and few can match their bowmasters."

The center of all politics is undebatably Ta'Nalfein. The Nalfein are great speakers and orators. There are many schools of great debate and politics in Ta'Nalfein and only the best speakers can gain admittance. The Nalfein, among other societies, are often consummate traders of information and provide valuable knowledge to other races as well as to the other Elven Houses.

Contributor's note:

Taken from the House Chesylcha library, c.1999.