Map of Elvendeep
|Ethnic Groups:||High Elves, Common Elves, Wild Elves, and Half-Elves|
|Government:||Oligarchy (Nominally republican)|
West of Arangoth lies the dense Soranion, a forest containing the nation of Elvendeep. This nation is a confederacy, which includes both city elves and wild elves as citizens; both are ruled over by the High Elves. Elvendeep is home to elven and half-elven peoples of many backgrounds that trickled together for unity and protection since times immemorial.
Elvendeep is one of, if not the most ancient nation in the known world. Its symbol is the swan in profile on a field of green. It became a Protectorate of Arangoth for military aid against the orc invaders from Zul Kiras, however, after the Arangothian Civil War it once again became a free nation. In Arangothek, the country is called Nimmarna, a name that literally means "land of the elves."
City and high elves are refined and subtle, known for their world-famous art and literature; diverse export economy; swordplay and spellcraft. Wild elves make top notch rangers and shamans.
Main Article: History of Elvendeep
The long-lived elves have a memory far longer than most of the other peoples of the world, but even their earliest origins are lost in mists of time. The earliest origins of the elves is the realm of myth and conjecture, debated endlessly by scholars both elven and non-elven. The religion of the elves is equally ancient, practiced long before any of Elvendeep's present neighbors ever existed.
Recently, the notoriously liberal government of Topaz Silverbow faced two insurrections leading to fierce, if brief civil wars. The first was averted by diplomacy, but the second ended only in bloody victory for the Silverbow faction.
It is believed that some of the reasons for this internecine conflict is Silverbow's settling of Dark Elves refugees in Nimmarna, as well as his decision to swear allegiance to King Arlok ul-Dorn of Arangoth and make Elvendeep a Crown Protectorate of Arangoth. This latter is thought to have resulted through fear of yet another Zul Kiran war and though practical in a strict sense, continues to be unpopular today. Silverbow resigned after the second war, the Dark Elves were exiled once more, and no single Governor has risen to such prominence in the following few years.
After the Arangothian Civil War in 487, Elvendeep regained its sovereignty and is no longer a protectorate.
The Soranion is widely held to be the oldest and grandest wood on the continent, and certainly holds one of the only expanses of redwoods near its center. It is in the central territory, those highlands strewn with the giant redwood trees, that the only true urban center resides: the capital Elfspire. It is a city integrated with the tall stands of timber, be it by series of treetop buildings, platforms, walkways, magic-shaped 'hollows' in the trees, or those buildings on the ground. It knows no straight roads or boulevards, for all its massive urbanity is built with the forest's natural rhythms in mind and magic is often used in place of mortar. Because of this, buildings can actually look treeish themselves, though they are built of brick.
Other significant centers in Elvendeep include the major fortresses of Thassalon and Dindrathil, as well as the fortified Pinewolf’s Ford, each protecting vital passes into the nation. Though supporting small populations of city and Wild Elves, these are military outposts more than towns of their own right. The river market of Highport near the confluence of Malchur’s parent rivers is also more of a fortified village than a true city. There are also small villages of Common Elves dotted along the Malchur in the Spiri province.
Located in the stream-crossed headlands of the River Malchur, Elfspire and the surrounding areas utilize multitudes of canals for transportation. Very few roads cut through the Soranion, as its people prefer not to spoil its beauty. One of the largest leads across the Grey Fang mountains to Hornath ul-Marfed in Arangoth, another leads north to Outer Arangoth, and a third west to Griffon's Aerie. The Malchur and its tributaries (natural and otherwise) provide the majority of inter-Soranion transportation and connect the central province with the ocean.
Government and Politics
Elvendeep is in theory a republic, but in practice it is in fact an oligarchy. Real power resides with the High Council, a group of a score or so representatives of the most prominent noble families. The High Council elects Governors to fifteen year terms and votes on all important policy matters. In addition to the High Council, there is the Low Council, a larger body composed of representatives of lesser High Elven families, Elven Prelates, and retired High Council members. It has no real power but debates furiously nonetheless, since it is considered an excellent forum to display one's skill at oratory. It is also frequently used by the High Council to test new ideas and policies through allied family members to gauge what sort of reception they receive.
Elvendeep was formerly a monarchy, but Queen Allamystrea and several other members of the royal family were slain in an orcish ambush during the first war with Zul Kiras in the year 142. Lacking a clear successor to the throne that would not spark further unrest in the midst of the war, the leading families with claims to the throne agreed to appoint a temporary Governor to see the elven nation until the end of the war. This arrangement has persisted for the past three and a half centuries because while the powerful noble families that make up the High Council may dislike sharing power with one another, they dislike the idea of ceding power to a new monarch even more. Many of the original aspirants to the throne still sit on the High Council and have served terms as Governor.
The elven economy relies chiefly on textiles, and from the deep woods flow felts, leathers, and even silks of the highest quality both by road and by the Malchur River to the sea and thence beyond.
Spices are also highly profitable, as the elvish gardeners are capable of making any manner of plant grow. For most nations, importing herbs and spice from Elvendeep is much more cost effective than from Bahija or the East.
The Elfspire is a producer of metal goods as well, and the delicate work of the elves in weapons, armor, jewelry, fine household goods and other luxuries in iron, steel, brass, silver, gold, and mithril make them a rival to the Ruthmarnan Dwarves. Dyes, pottery, fruits, and river fish (the latter two being the chief sustenance of the elves) are also exported.
Main Article: Military of Elvendeep
The centralization inherent in a sole urban center is useful in war, and though its people abhor violence and much prefer the arts and philosophy, they have been drawn into many long conflicts with other nations: Leturia, Griffon's Aerie, Dark Elves, and most notably with the orcs of Zul Kiras. In war, the elves cast a mind to defense above all else. They have developed an innovative strategy of abandoning all the outer reaches of the forest, 80% or so of their nation, to the enemy and defending only the small areas around Elfspire itself with quick-moving halberdier infantry. The ceded ground, however, is littered with traps of both magical and mechanical nature, and peopled with thousands of Sorani guerillas. This is augmented by stag, giant eagle, and giant dragonfly cavalry. The elves use of magic and intelligent strategy have saved them numerous times from the superior power of the United Clans.
Main Article: Religion of Elvendeep
There are three hierarchies of Gods in Elven mythology. First, are the Celestial Divinities, whom the elves believe are all-powerful gods that rule the heavens and are nearly inexplicable in mortal terms, though they resemble gods like Menxned or Alou. Second are the Chief Spirits (e.g. Swan/Nimrilyn, Bear/Naenaloss), who are charged by the Celestial Divinities with tending to the world, and had a hand in shaping the world and creating the mortal races. The elves believe that aside from themselves and the dragons, few remember or honor these gods as is their due. Third are the Worldly Spirits who serve the Chief Spirits. The elves believe that other races have forgotten the Celestial Court and the Chief Spirits, and worship instead their servants. They count the deities of most other cultures among this rank of the divine hierarchy.
Society and Peoples
Main Article: Peoples of Elvendeep
The people of Nimmarna, the country's Arangothian name, may generally be divided into three parts: the Wild Elves of the woods, the Common Elves of the city and surrounding central areas, and the ruling High Elves. Because Elvendeep is a confederacy of many different elven peoples, founded millenia ago, there are many different ethnic elves and these three groups are more markers of class or geography than anything. Indeed, the Deepish believe that the Soranion is where elfkind originated and all the various other elves of the world, their fierce cousins in Mazewood near Elgar, those of the Red Forest in Myst, even those of far-off lands are colonies of ancient Deepish migrants.
The dark-haired and ruddy complexioned Wild Elves, or 'Sorani' are made up of nomadic, tribal societies who inhabit the majority of Elvendeep's territory. They are bound, however, to follow the central government just like the variously featured urban 'Spiri,' a term referring to both Common and High Elves. The Elfspire-centred government consists of a Low Council, High Council and Governor chosen by the wealthy and powerful High Elves for limited terms of office. No elf but these Lords and Ladies, and none that do not reside in Elfspire may hold office or cast their vote. Common Elves devote themselves to occupations other than government, and work chiefly in textiles and orchardry.
The elven economy relies chiefly on textiles, and from the deep woods flow felts, leathers, and even silks of the highest quality both by road and by the River Malchur to the sea and thence beyond. Spices are also highly profitable, as the elvish gardeners are capable of making any manner of plant grow. For most nations, importing herbs and spice from Elvendeep is much more cost effective than from Bahija or the East. Elfspire is a producer of metal goods as well, and the delicate work of the elves in weapons, armor, jewelry, fine household goods and other luxuries in iron, steel, brass, silver, gold, and mithril make them a rival to the Ruthmarnian Dwarves. Dyes, pottery, fruits, and riverfish (the latter two being the chief sustenance of the elves) are also exported.
Main Article: Knightly Orders of Elvendeep
It is often said that the Deepish collect titles as others do old coins. Through various origins, a great number of Knightly Orders have risen up among these fair folk, each promising a Knighthood, a pension, great honor, and occasionally a utilitarian function in protecting the nation. Though both Elflords and Commoners will hold a Knighthood or two, a growing middle class has begun to use the prestige gained by multiple decorations to climb the social ladder.
It should be here noted that unless an elf has completed his tour of duty in an Order (usually twenty years), he is technically a ‘Bachelor’ of that Order and not a Knight, but that distinction is not often attended to and bachelors are known as Knights regardless.
Main Article: Deepish Language
Noted Deepish author Antequeroth Elmstepper describes the language of Elvendeep thusly: “Unlike for instance, Arangothek, which originates from a mixture of Goxal and Igmerind and the modern form of which is only a few centuries old, the Elvendeepish dialect alone has been perfected and elaborated over millennia. Our alphabet has over six hundred characters, with four score modifiers, each applicable to nearly every character." It is not surprising then, that many elf-children take a human lifetime to learn the script properly.
Though skilled linguists, the Deepish often find other languages tight and constricting, as well as rather simple. In Elvish, it is considered much easier to convey a thought by writing (including emphasis, pacing, tone, etc), as the language is so incredibly intricate and detailed that a hue or emotion may be described in one Elvish character – though the translation would be forced to put it into a paragraph, or even a page in a human language. A thick Elven tome, then, is often a translator’s nightmare of fourteen volumes.
On the other hand, some writers prefer to write in a "stripped down" style, bare and simple, and providing for more ambiguous meanings – the idea being to let the reader puzzle out his or her own interpretation.