Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Whispers in the Trees - Elves in the Valley of Baryn

To the East of the Valley of Baryn, across the Dragon's Claws can be found the elven kingdom of Ilithenor. Though this land has little to do with Vale itself, its people do travel to the Valley of Baryn for a number of reasons and have for thousands of years, for the valley holds a very sacred place to the Elves - The Shrine of Imin Thiel.

Since the days when they left the valley, the elves have never tried to return to make a home. No living person can say for sure why this is and any elf asked will not share the secret. However, this is not to say that there are no elves in the valley and transient elves and small groups of local "residents" are common. These high folk are welcome guests among the humans of the valley, bringing luxurious trade goods, fare music and ancient tales of a time long gone.

Huntsmen and Rangers
The most commonly encountered elves in Vale are roving bands of warriors. These youthful (by elvish standards) and often brash warriors tend to be of noble blood and bearing. They venture across the Dragon's Claws tracking prey either for sport or to avenge some transgression in their homeland. Well-armed and equipped these elven warriors are welcome allies in times of trouble and often come to the rescue of Vale's simple, often vulnerable folk. More than once, one of these adventurers has found his way into the hearts of the men of Vale and even settled down to start a family, giving Vale its few Elfkin (half-elves).

The Willow Lodge
The only truly permanent elven settlement in the Valley of Baryn is a trading post known as the Willow Lodge. Here, nestled under the bows of a copse of ancient Moon Willows, an elvish merchant lord by the name of Celethaen has held court for three-hundred years, offering shelter to elven travelers in the valley and a place to stockpile those things the elves wish to take from the valley. A powerful soul, Celethaen commands a skilled band of warriors, hunters and a talented collection of skilled craftsmen. He is no overlord, however, and the halls of the Willow Lodge are always open to man and elf alike.

The Shrine of Imin Thiel
Thousands of years ago, before the coming of man and dwarf alike, a majestic temple to the elven gods was found at the heart of the Valley of Baryn, then known as the Bower of Iluthiel. This temple, called Imin Thiel or "Temple of Heart" was a center of elvish spirituality and even after the elves left the valley drew them in numbers for annual pilgrimages. Following the devastation of the temple at the hands of an enemy whom the elves refuse to speak of, the ruin has become a monument to the elves folly and the loss they suffered for it. Manned by a dozen or so priests at any time, the ruins of the once great temple now stand as an open-air shrine where elves come to pay respects and where any of the valley's fair folk can seek mercy and aid.

Elf and Man
As has been mentioned, elves have for some time visited and mingled with the people of the valley. This mingling sometimes turns into a desire to remain in the valley. Whether to be closer to their heritage, friends, a trade or a newfound loved one, the result is always a boon to the local community. This co-mingling of bloodlines and cultures has produced a lasting element in the valley - Elfkin.

Elfkin is the name given to the product of unions between elf and man. Though they are rare, Elfkin combine the best of both species into an often greater being. Elfkin are agile and sturdy, fair and well-built. They are not as rough as men, but do not suffer the frailties of the elves.


Kid Goth said...

How well received are the Elfkin by the other folk of the villages?

Star Emu said...

Elfkin are respected and often given a special status among the villages. There is little, large-scale prejudice against the Elfkin, though they do sometimes find themselves the butt of individuals racist tendancies.