Myths, Legends and Stories

Elves, like other races, venerate the names and deeds of their heroes. Frequently, some of the heroes from other races have been fabricated—mostly to illustrate some religious point or another. Not so with the elves. Although their heroes also serve to make a point of some sort, all of them existed in some form or another. Heroes such as Fistilanthus Woodhelvin and his half-elf brother Gilanthus (both of whom faced the dread pit fiend Marlikora at the cost of their own lives and saved the elf lands) live on in the glorious tales of storytellers. Elven legend tells that they will someday return when the elves most need them and that they will aid certain blessed elves or half-elves in times of gravest need. Their bravery and courage thus inspires those in mortal peril. Other heroes, like Feradar Jaralmus, serve as examples of elven life. Although in his life he neither slew terrible beasts nor singlehandedly fought off menaces from the planes beyond, his love and compassion saved the elves from fractioning still further, teaching them the value of life and tolerance. Many other heroes once lived (and, indeed, still live) in the halls of the sages, inspiring and teaching those who hear the tales. Elven lore is not solely concerned with tales of goodness; there are also tales of dark, twisted evil. Fionna Casilltenirra, the first elf vampire, still haunts the dreams of romantic young elves seeking delight in the arms of humans. And the story of Besathan Ridire, the elf who made a pact with the Spider Queen Lolth and suffered eternal torment at her hands, is told every now and then to show children the questionable value of dealing with evil. All elven legends make a point of some sort, whether they deal with an inspirational story of heroics and valor or with more humble values such as compassion and simple charity. In both life and deeds, elves strive to teach and to learn. They see their lives as quests for understanding, and they do their best to complete their personal quests; elven legends often help point the way to fulfilling those dreams. Sometimes there is more to an elven myth than meets the human eye. The moral gem hidden within a tale may be far too subtle for humans to understand completely. This chapter presents but a few of the tales the elves have collected over their millenia of existence.

The Legend of Fionna Casilltenirranna

When the Elves all lived in the forests and had not yet spread to the seas or the mountains, there was a beautiful Elf named Fionna Casilltenirra. Barely past 100 years old, she met a Human who intrigued her completely. Shy and retiring at first, she grew more open and let herself be seen when he traveled in the woods.

Their elders swore to them that such a match would never work, but Fionna and Killian had eyes only for each other. They wed in secret. Five years of bliss passed before Fionna saw that Killian was aging far more rapidly than she. The lovers searched for some way to avoid the cruel hand fate would one day deal them, but they could find no answer. In abject despair, Fionna went to a Human Vampire of whom she had heard. She begged Vasily for his help, asking that Killian be made a Vampire so the two could share life for the length of her days instead of Killian's.

The Vampire was overwhelmed by Fionna's beauty and agreed to her plans, with one stipulation: that she, too, consent to become a Vampire. In her love for Killian, Fionna never thought of the danger to her very spirit—she agreed to Vasily's dastardly request. The Vampire took Fionna in his arms and told her he would bestow upon Killian the "gift" of eternal life. He drained her, then laid her on the floor of his catacomb. He looked at Fionna and marveled at her beauty; desire coursed in him, as did treachery, and he vowed that none but he should possess her. When Vasily found Killian, he snapped the Human's neck instead of making him anew in Vampire form.

When Fionna discovered Vasily's treachery, she flew at him in rage. Confident that she was his thrall, Vasily was amused rather than alarmed. That proved a fatal error on his part, for his head was ripped from his shoulders by the grieving Elven Vampiress.

Bereft of her love and her life, Fionna wandered the world searching for someone new to take the place of her beloved, but only hatred and fear met her advances. Anger and malice found their way into her heart, and she gave herself wholly to evil.

Jarsali and the Treant

Following a similar, though ultimately contradictory, view to the tale of Fionna Casilltenirra, the story of Jarsali and the Treant glorifies love of any sort—provided that love is true and good. While some elves refuse to acknowledge the truth of this story, claiming it is truly myth and has no basis in fact, others believe it holds the germ of truth. They cling to it as a justification for the paths they have taken themselves.

Jarsali Oaklimbs was a sylvan elf of the truest grain—even to the point of shunning others of her race, preferring instead the company of the woodlands well over that of her fellows. How her heart came to be full of suspicion and bitterness at her mortal comrades, no one knew; they only knew that Jarsali was a strange girl, even for an elf.

Nothing assuaged the sorrow in her soul save the nearness of the primordial trees. Her wanderings from camp took her deeper and deeper into the virgin forest, to places where even few elves had ever set foot. In the heart of the wood, she found a living tree holding court with his minions. Her shock was great.

Remember, this was a time before the elves had spread across the world, and they knew little of all its races. Few had ever heard of a treant, much less seen one. Although her tribe had, Jarsali had never heeded the lessons of her compatriots, for she had no desire to learn from their experiences.

Entranced by the sight of the treant, she crept closer to investigate. Suddenly, great bark-covered limbs from a nearby "tree" lifted her from the ground and held her captive. The animated oak brought her before its liege.

Jarsali stood prisoner before the treant lord, and something in her heart cracked and was set free. The elf maiden fell instantly in love with the enduring beauty of the craggy wood before her. The treant eyed Jarsali's flushed cheeks and bright eyes. Suthurithidan, the son of Garanahil the First Treant, saw hidden behind the elf's truculent air a spirit of fire that could not be quenched. It was the treant's first true look at an elf, and he was entranced. With a silent flicker of his twiggy finger, he commanded the tree to release the elf maid. The two stared at each other, sunlight filtering through the dappled leaves; then Suthurithidan turned and melted into the forest.

Jarsali returned to her camp. Her companions were amazed at her newly softened manner, so changed was it from her usual self. They wondered what could have happened on her latest excursion into the woods, but none said anything, feeling only gratitude and not caring the cause. When Jarsali crept away a week later, unable to forget the treant Suthurithidan, some few smiled, thinking perhaps she had found a lover with a nearby tribe. One elf, however, did not smile—he frowned. Azalarer had thought to wed Jarsali himself, for he lusted after the elf maid. The words of his people were an irritant to his pride.

Jarsali found again the treant lord, and this time neither could deny the truth of how well their souls matched the other. The initial exhilaration inspired by their first meeting provided the impetus for the rest of their relationship, and the feelings between two such dissimilar beings deepened. In time, they found that they were truly in love, each unwilling to continue life without the other beside them.

But Azalarer grew suspicious of Jarsali's continued change. He and his cohorts followed her into the depths of the forest. Intent only upon meeting her love, Jarsali's ordinarily sharp hearing did not warn her of this pursuit. Azalarer and the others found her then, and they beheld a sight none had ever thought to witness in all their years: An elf maid embraced by a living tree!

Azalarer's heart grew black. He taunted Jarsali cruelly and incited the prejudices of his comrades. In righteous wrath, they tore Jarsali from the arms of the surprised tree lord and spirited her back to camp. There Azalarer fanned the flames of xenophobia. The elves had never heard of such a strange coupling; they were outraged that Jarsali's chosen was not even humanoid, much less elven. They locked her behind a stout wood stockade and angrily began debating what to do with her.

Jarsali called upon all the elven gods of the forest and of love, and she called upon the gods of Suthurithidan, too. She prayed for both release from the stockade and from her elven form, that she might not have to endure the cruelties the elves inflicted upon her in the name of racial purity. The gods heard her pleas: They gave her the answer to one by granting the other.

Inside the stockade, Jarsali's body stiffened. Her hair grew long and turned green, and her limbs became limbs of wood and not flesh. Her feet sought the cracks in the ground, and she extended her new roots into the soil beneath. Shouldering aside the flimsy blockade, she forced her way into the sylvan camp. The elves scattered before her. Some prostrated themselves in abject terror, fearing for their lives.

Azalarer, along with those who had been deliberating Jarsali's fate, came forth from the council chambers. The elf's heart turned ever more black and cracked with rage; he grabbed a firebrand but the council restrained him. With utmost respect, they bowed to Jarsali and bade her good speed and clean water, for her transformation showed them that her love was real—that nothing they could say or do would change this simple fact.

With only the faintest bow, Jarsali turned to the forest and was reunited with her true love. The elves watched her go with a newfound respect; to this day, the sylvan elves and the treants share the custody of the woods.

Moral: True love transcends race—and sometimes even species.

Halimath's Pride

The story of Halimath Arnuanna is a cautionary tale relating the dangers of pride and arrogance, even in those who have again and again proven their superiority of skill.

Halimath was a smith who had transcended all boundaries of metalworking in his craft. A true master with the hammer and tongs, each piece of precious metal commanded his complete attention, each blow of the hammer comprised his entire world. His creations were truly marvelous and inspired such awe in others. With each passing year, his skill grew ever greater. Elves traveled the world over to see his works of art.

Centuries passed, and the grey elf decided that his life's work should culminate in the creation of one truly magnificent artifact—preferably a sword—to be wielded in the cause of good. He had no doubts about his skill, and he had the costly metals and gems with which to make and ornament this sword. But the grey elves had banned the making of any more weapons of power. They wanted no reminder of the Elfwar or the Fractioning, and they forbade Halimath to make such a sword. The elf would neither listen nor obey; breaking the laws of his land was but a small price to pay for the glory of the magic he would wrought.

Thus commenced Halimath's destruction.

The rituals the elf sought to enchant the blade were dark and arcane, their powers hardly more than he could contain. Halimath continued without regard, believing that the creation of the Sword of Justice would atone for any evils he committed while creating it. The first spell he cast almost cost him his life, so strong were the magicks within it. This spell ensured life to the wielder of the blade for as long as the Sword was held. A second spell enchanted the weapon so that it could only be used on the side of goodness, and the third ensured the Sword would strike down the foes of the wielder with but a single blow.

Rumors of Halimath's transgressions reached the ears of the grey elf elders. The wisest and most just of them, Andriana, confronted Halimath and demanded the truth. To her folly, she held up the Sword to emphasize her point. The master smith flew into an insane rage at his creation being so touched. His massive fist struck the frail elf woman, and she crumpled to the floor. Blood splattered across the blade in Andriana's hands and stained the carpet beneath her still-breathing form. Halimath stared down at the woman in horror, his senses returning to him in the cold light of what he had done. He knew the other elders would never allow him to finish the Sword of Justice, and that thought alone consumed him. He grabbed the Sword and fled.

Shortly after, the grey elf elders discovered Halimath's misdeeds. Though Andriana lived, the elders swore the blood oath against Halimath. They hounded the elf day and night, until they finally cornered him; though bruised in body and spirit, he was still unrepentant.

Halimath let out a great cry and raised the Sword of Justice in defiance against the elves who harried him. He leaped to attack, but the blade crumbled to dust in his hands. When the arrows pierced his body, Halimath fell dead.

Moral: Obsession destroys everything.

Haranavei Koehlanna

Although many human cultures have adapted this familiar story for their own use, the elves claim original credit for it.

An elf village was destroyed by an orc raiding party—the only survivor an elf woman, great with child. She fled into the burning forest and forded a swollen stream. On the other side, she found refuge in a tiny human village. There, she gave birth to her child, for labor was brought on by her traumas. With her dying breath she named her infant daughter Haranavei Koehlanna, and she bade a woodcutter care for her child. The elf woman perished that night.

Under the care of the villager, who was now the mayor, Haranavei grew into a child of amazing beauty. The human women of the household took exception to this beauty, and they did their best to ensure that such loveliness would never show. The mother and her daughters made Haranavei clean the middens, the sties, and the fireplaces every day. The poor elf child worked from before dawn to after dusk. The people whom she called "family" sought always to humiliate her for her pointed ears and thin features, and to belittle her beauty. Their taunts hurt an innocent heart.

And so matters went for many years, until one day a prince rode through the now prosperous village. He was an elf prince, this much is true, and he stopped at the human village to water and feed his stallion. The mayor's daughters were smitten with his charm and elegance; in him they praised the very features they taunted in Haranavei.

The elf amused himself at the human girls' expense—until he saw the thin figure of Haranavei trudge by, bearing her heavy burden of firewood. The prince grabbed the elf maid by the arms and stared long and hard into her eyes. Then, slowly, he smiled, for his search was over. Drawmij Koehlanna had found his sister. The two wept with joy when the truth was revealed, though Drawmij was saddened at the news of his mother. He disclosed that he had been away at the time of the orc attack; he had returned to discover his home in flames. But there was no sign of his mother, whom he knew to be pregnant, and so Drawmij went in search of her and her child.

More truth was revealed at the house of the mayor's, for the elf prince saw that the humans had made a slave of his sister. He retaliated by slaying the mayor's wife and daughters, only just sparing the man's life at the request of Haranavei.

Moral: Suffer not the vanity of others.


The elven love of creation has extended itself into their stories, as has their unique perspective on the nature of time. Perhaps this story helps to explain why elves are so willing to devote years to a single project—and why they can take years away from a venture before returning to it with a fresh, new perspective.

Malissin Ariessus was a high elf architect and artist of exceeding vision, though he had no exceptional skill. His dream was to one day create the perfect tree town, where all elves could live in harmony and peace in a setting of unimaginable splendor—and improbable engineering.

Malissin did, indeed, create his city within the trees. Caelestis exceeded even Malissin's dreams, and the city excited all who saw it. Even the gods were filled with wonder at the magnificent tree town. Alas, Malissin forgot to weave the final enchantment on his city.

For many years it stood tall and proud, a monument to one elf's dream. Malissin passed on to Arvanaith, happy and secure that his tree city was all that he had hoped it would be. A great storm brewed the night of Malissin's death—a storm so great it tore asunder even the mightiest oak trees. Malissin's city was destroyed for lack of the binding spells that would have made his structures permanent—an oversight in an otherwise flawless creation.

Though the architectural principles Malissin employed are long since lost, his dream lives on in all of us. The desire to design perfection that is beloved by the gods burns in the breast of all who create, and the urge for such immortality is often irresistible.

Moral: Love of creation is the element of perfection. Patience and love of creation are the permanence of perfection.

The Death of Elves

After the Godswar, Corellon Larethian walked the world of mortal Elves, hoping to gain knowledge and experience of our lives so that he could give us the aid that a true god should. During his journeys, he came across an Elf woman of such beauty and generosity of soul that he was stricken with love. Elana returned that love. Two years later, a child was born: Eliara Larethian. Corellon's daughter was the most perfect Elf ever born. Men and Elves alike hoped to win her favor.

Eliara could not oblige them all with her love—nor could she choose who was worthy of her. For a time she spurned them all and devoted her life to the bow; as the daughter of Corellon, her skill was uncanny. The Men and Elves fought between them to see who could carry her golden quiver, and war threatened to break out between the races. Corellon and Elana turned to their daughter, and she agreed that such squabbling must stop. And so Eliara held a contest to judge her suitors' skills. A hunt there would be to see who could match her ability with the bow; the winner should have her as his bride.

During the hunt, a great red dragon was drawn to the noise and bustle of the hunting party. Seeing the Men and Elves, it opened its maw and poured forth a great gout of fire—slaying half the party outright. Eliara drew her bow and let loose an arrow. The shaft entered the beast's eye, killing it instantly. The dragon's body crashed to earth, uprooting trees as it did. The massive limb of a falling oak caught Eliara in the chest and she was crushed beneath its deadly weight.

A great funeral was held in Eliara's honor, with all her suitors in attendance. One of these, an Elf master singer named Clain Windsong, threw back his head and let forth a melodic cry of sheer, wordless anguish. As if on a cue, the other Elves took up the cry, their voices mingling and harmonizing in an outpouring of overwhelming grief. The Humans in the party, overcome by the terrible beauty of the music, died of heartbreak.

The tradition of the elven mourning song continues to this day, and it is song of such anguish as to break a listener's heart.

Creation of the Elves
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