|Common Nicknames||City Elf, Common Elf, Towerling,|
|Languages||Modern Elvish, Imperial Elvish, Ancient Elvish,|
|Naming Customs||See languages.|
|Maximum Age||200 years.|
Once founders of the largest known Empire on Aloria, the Altalar Elves are proud yet beleaguered people overcast by the shadow of their former glory. The Altalar are the largest Nelfin (Elven) subrace of the Elves, covering the majority of the civilized and city dwelling Elven populations. To Ailor, Altalar are everything they should endeavor not to be: arrogant, powerful magic users and slavers who suppressed Human expansion for centuries. Despite their society’s shortcomings in the eyes of the Ailor, Altalar are also seen as one of the most beautiful and culturally sophisticated beings on Aloria, having millennia old customs, art forms, and knowledge, spanning back even further into antiquity and beyond. Following the Cataclysm, the Altalar were extremely fragmented from centuries of social neglect and decadence, suffering the brunt of the Void Invasion and subsequent Human and Orc raids. In recent years, the Altalar have started to take a more prominent role in the world as some groups are hell-bent on restoring the Elven Empire, while others try their hardest to avoid making the mistakes of the past.
The Altalar are most easily characterized by three physical traits: their stature, build, and ears. Altalar are much taller than their very distant Human cousins, as their minimum height is six feet tall. Some Altalar manage to grow six and a half to seven feet tall, with height being a desired trait among higher Altalar social castes. Another easily identifiable characteristic of the Altalar is their build. For thousands of years, the Altalar were rulers; not workers. Throughout this time, the Altalar evolved to have more lean builds, and even the mightiest of these Elves lack the strength and constitution of the Ailor. For this reason, it is hard pressed to find an Altalar worthy of being called, “muscular,” though it is not inaccurate to describe some as athletic. Finally, Altalar are known throughout Aloria for their very angular features. They tend to have pointed jaws, pronounced cheekbones, and pointed noses. These impish features have gained the Altlar the coinage, “knife ears,” in no small part due to the shape of their ears. While the evolutionary origin and use for their pointed ears is vastly unknown, the Altalar take great pride in these unique traits, often exhibiting various jewels on them and characterizing them as their divine right to rule the other races due to them being seen in ancient civilizations as well, and lacking in most other races.
Besides the above traits, Altalar are very similar in nature to their Ailor counterparts. They tend to have more pale skin tones, though their Avanthar and Cielothar cousins possess more tanned bodies. They also sport eyes of icy blue, jungle emerald, or even earth brown. While it is not unknown for an Altalar to have brown hair, most higher castes of their society have blonde hair due to social interpretation of, “beauty”. Most if not all Altalar Elves avoid facial hair. Their growth of it is stunted, and when it does, they religiously shave it off, feeling that facial hair is something for the lesser races and a sign of barbarism.
More on Altalar Physical Characteristics.
One unique aspect of the Altalar is how they age. Altalar reach puberty later than humans, from the ages of fifteen to eighteen for women, and sixteen to nineteen for men. Altalar will then grow and develop like humans until the age of thirty, where development will cease. During this time, Altalar will not display signs of aging like Ailor until nearly twenty years before their average natural death age. This can be anywhere from one hundred and fifty to one hundred and eighty years old, or younger if the Altalar suffers from disease and sickness. Twenty years before their death, the Altalar will begin to show signs of advanced aging, initially with wrinkling, then the greying and eventual loss of their hair. This is usually a time of desperation of Altalar; they have remained youthful for so long that they have no clue what it is like to grow elderly, especially in such a rapid time in comparison to the rest of their life. Elderly Altalar make excessive use of ridiculous, tawdry looking cosmetics to try to retain their sense of aesthetic superiority, appearing to outsiders as humorous, and even clown-like. Nevertheless, the Altalar pride themselves in their own longevity, which they claim is a testament to their superiority.
The Altalar are many things, but unintelligent they are not. Because the Altalar could rely on their massive population of slaves to do their physical labor and take care of basic needs such as food, the upper castes could focus on more intellectual and cultural pursuits. Not only have they developed a natural competency in learning magic, Altalar are known to be better at learning in general. Additionally, many Altalar have been known to be great negotiators and charismatic businessmen, especially in spite of their recent hardships. Altalar are vastly known for their superiority complexes. Mostly in due part to their faith, the Altalar believe they are above every other race and culture group, and have evolved to rule. They are very demanding of their subordinates and even friends, and take pleasure in spearheading successful projects. As a result, the Altalar are also known to shift the blame of any hardship to someone else. This is consistently seen in their millennia-long abusive treatment of the Tigran race. Finally, the Altalar are incredibly arrogant and prideful of their ability in magic. It is always said with a large degree of merit that perhaps the only thing the Altalar are proud of more than their magical abilities is the Empire that they never actually lived under, the Elven Empire having fallen apart during the events of the Cataclysm.
More on Altalar Mental Characteristics.
In the wake of the third Void Invasion, the people who would come to be known as the Altalar were mostly situated in various tribes throughout much of Hadar, Teled Methen, Hyarroc, and Daendroc. These tribes were mostly isolationists and did not care to unite under one body until around 3000 BC, when cities began to form in the populous south, in mostly Hyarroc, Hadar, and Teled Methen. Two of these, that would come to be known as Elven and Hyarroc, rapidly expanded through primitive warfare and undisciplined use of magic respectively to encompass large amounts of land, growing to be rivals. In a stunning twist of events, Elven ’s king, Gwangeled, married the only daughter of Hyarroc’s ruler. Both the kingdoms were united upon the, “mysterious,” death of Hyarroc’s king, and Gwangeled suddenly had a formidable army of both mages and tribal warriors alike. After stockpiling resources, Gwangeled led a charge west and north throughout the rest of the continent of Hyarroc, and then into Daendroc, conquering the disjointed and uncivilized Nelfin tribes. After several setbacks regarding administering his power, he successfully assimilated all of the individual tribes into Elven , and crowned himself Emperor around 2500 BC. Later, at about 2100 BC, Emperor Garnarel ordered the complete enslavement of the Tigran race to fuel the expansion and wealth of the Empire. His son, Garnasel, would colonize southern Ithania, and completely wipe out all traces of Tigran culture and civilization.
Throughout the next one thousand years, the Empire of Elven began making several steps towards global domination. In order to maintain control of his subjects, Emperor Cylaris deposed the old feudalism driven aristocracy that had existed since the founding of the Empire, and replaced it with a board of Viceroys, who were selected at the beginning of each Emperor’s rule. This competition, as well as the chaotic powergrab between the claimants of the title of Emperor, ensured only the most efficient and powerful rulers stayed in power, while the others simply died off. This ushered in the golden age of Altalar civilization. As Altalar society progressed, so did the technological advancements. Understanding of the Void and its various applications rose to its highest point ever, while the Empire flourished in its cultural renaissance of music, art, and literature. Meanwhile, Elven ships explored most of known Aloria, charting its different continents, islands, races, and nations. Very early Ailor civilizations were discovered and subsequently enslaved, being brought back to Daendroc only to grow into the Daendroque.
Before long, however, as all Empires do, the Elven Empire fell due to the lack of competent rulers and a corrupt administration. Nelfin that later turned into the Shendar filled Emperor Medui’s administration, and even his father’s before him. Governors and Viceroys alike who all watched for themselves, rather than their Empire. When the Void Invasion came, it came in full force. Perhaps Elven could have stopped it, or even could have found a means to halt the cycle altogether. This would not happen, however. In a chain of events leading to the costly defeat of the Void armies in the northernmost regions of Ithania, and the destruction of the Statue of Estel, the Fourth Void Invasion would be ended, and the post-Cataclysmic era would be ushered in, and with it, the greatest threat to Elvenkind: The Orc Menace.
The Elven Empire most certainly could have lasted beyond the Cataclysm, and even past the Elven Civil War, if it were not for the Orc Invasions. In the middle of a power struggle between the three heirs of the last Elven Emperor, Medui, the Orcs arrived from the newly toxified Guldar. With them came death and destruction to the Nelfin. Ploughing through them like a scythe through wheat, the Orcs fought their foe straight to their source: The City of Elven . Planting a huge bomb dubbed, “The Big Boom,” the Orcs effectively ended the Elven Empire by sinking its capital into the Snake Bend Sea. Since then, the Altalar have been a slowly dying race, either facing destruction at the hands of the Orcs, or integration by human cultures such as the Ithanians, Daendroques, or Regalians.
Elves have recently experienced a resurgence, despite having been at the receiving end of excessive aggression from the Orcs and Ailor expansion, as well as the Avanthar hordes and Shendar attempts at corrupting their society. The remaining Altalar States have declared a new Second Elven Empire, a loose confederation of Kingdoms and Principalities united against common enemies but with much tension within. Only time shall tell what comes of the resurgent attempts of the Elves to re-establish themselves as the dominant race on Aloria.
More on Altalar History.
Like the Ailor, the Altalar have a predisposition towards a wide gap between the upper and lower classes, for reasons derived from the large impact the Nelfin race has had on the development of the Ailor throughout history. Where Ailor believe in charity and donate alms to the poor, the Altalar believe solely in the fact that destitution is self derived, and make no effort to help the impoverished. This only pushes the gap between the darker slums of the city, where many poorer Elves live in the tunnels beneath the grand citadels that the wealthy merchant and scholar classes reside. These are the citadels which house the great centers of learning for the Altalar race.
Altalar colleges, libraries, and universities are the most renowned in the world for being extensive and grand. The Altalar promote self cultivation at all costs, which aligns with the treatment of the poor by the wealthy, which the lower class readily and easily accepts. For these reasons, many Ailor families send their young children to the libraries of Hyarroc to study, knowing that the institutions there will reap more for the students than any Ailor academy. These centers of learning are tended and kept by priests of the Faith of Estel, who double as lore masters and teachers, educating the masses in anything from mathematics, applications of magic, history, and more. In fact, most universities and colleges require a prospecting student to study a form of magic in order to graduate. A unique aspect of Elven society that graduation is not actually compulsory, or even encouraged. Many Altalar live their entire lives in academies, their desire for self cultivation neverending. Some outside cultures view this as dedication to scholarly pursuits, however many Regalian scholars theorize this is a form of escapism among Elves, who live in constant denial of their fates of damnation amidst assimilation. In this way, the Altalar throw away their opportunities of revival and resurgence in favor of locking themselves away in their own fantasy worlds.
More on Altalar Society.
The various Altalar states are ruled by a complex system of aristocracy that equals that of the Regalian Empire, but with a much different thematic undertone. The nobility of the Elven states do not derive their power from a divine Emperor, rather they derive their power from tracing blood lineage back to the first Emperors of the Elven Empire. Since the Elven Empire has lasted for such a long period of time however, the amount of branches and off-shoot families that claim heritage from the first emperors, numbers in the hundreds. Families rise and fall almost as fast as the seasons as popular opinion often turns against the rulers and they are ousted by some form of political debate. A family can lose its entire fortune and power purely because they lost a single intellectual discourse over a hot topic issue. These debates for power are often called “Iëllothon” in Elven, meaning “to discourse for peace”. At any moment when a sizeable part of the local population feels the policies of those in power are headed in the wrong direction, they will en-masse cease to work or support their visions and instead exist in a pseudo-striking suspense, waiting for enough people to join them until local governance becomes so paralyzed that the rulers have to concede to a debate. The debate will often have the ruling family face off against a competing family who wishes to replace them, with the winner taking local power and the loser paying for their perceived crimes or wrongdoings. This implies democracy in Elven society, but rather, it is a cultural system of governance that is highly susceptible to corruption and foul play, as notable members of intellectual families are often poisoned or outright murdered before the debate even begins. As the nature of Elven aristocracy is so fluid, Elven rulers don’t actually govern any land. As opposed to Human civilization, Elven civilization demands contribution to the state by means of financial taxation, a flat financial donation is demanded every year for the wellbeing of the Elven Empire. The nobles don’t own any land either, their word simply weighs heavier and the Elven Gënn’draïmo, the police force, obeys only their word as recognized Noble Princes. As such, Elven states can often better be described as Principalities than actual royal realms.
More on Altalar Politics.
The Altalar race reached its zenith nearly one thousand years ago, where they encountered a cultural renaissance that would forever leave its mark on Nelfin, and later Ailor, society. One of the most iconic symbols of Elvenkind, the arch, found its roots here, though it was initially derived from ancient Seraph architecture. These curves found themselves in Elven arches, art, calligraphy, and even music, as the tonal music began incorporating techniques such as chromaticism and harmonic pitch bending. Altalar use plants, vines, bushes, and gardens in their landscaping and decoration, a practice adopted by many Ailor cultures after the fall of the Elven Empire. The use of nature does not stop there; the Altalar have since moved away from many carnivorous practices, and some more prudent communities eat meals entirely of vegetation, bread, and cheeses. This implies a symbiotic or peaceful relation with nature, however a more modern understanding is that Elves definitely see themselves as the lords of nature, and plants as their servants to be bent to their will, in stark contrast to the Cielothar who see themselves as subservient to the forests.
The Nelfin originally spoke what is now known as Ancient Elvish, a derivation of the civilization’s language that lived prior to them. During the golden age of the Elven Empire, however, Nelfin used Middle Elvish, a very poetic and elaborate version of what is now called Modern Elvish. Altalar society has slowly started using this new dialect, which is spoken primarily by the Cielothar and the Avanthar, however this has been slow due to their attempts to retain the customs of their Empire. Nonetheless, sometimes Altalar will be raised to interpret and write in Middle Elvish, Modern Elvish, or both at the same time. It must be noted that Ancient Elvish is by all means a dead language, and very little is even known of it. Only well-educated Regalian scholars have been able to piece together bits of Ancient Elvish to form a very rudimentary alphabet, and even then, the structure and grammar of the language is hardly understood.
More on Altalar Culture.
Very little is known about how the Elven faith came to be, however much is speculated on the discovery of Estel. As the Nelfin began discovering Estel and the existence of the Attribate, they began to worship -- and later fear -- these godlike beings. Therefore, even though the Faith of Estel began as a disjoint and unorganized list of loosely united beliefs, the Elven Empire was able to unify the faith, basing the administration of religion out of Cae’letal. This administration is composed of eight Avatars, who represent the voices of the 8 Virtues. They are dedicated to the cause of each Virtue, and act to voice the better interests of their respective deities at the Council of Cae’letal, which acts as the ultimate, infallible authority of the faith.
The modern worship of Estel teaches that she is far beyond the understanding and grasp of any Alorian; messages, prophecies, and visions from Estel do not exist and are considered heretical. Instead, it is taught that Estel communicates through the Virtues (Originally, all 16 Attribate were recognized, but the Vices became scapegoats after the faith-shattering event known as the Cataclysm) in order to encourage Alorians to do her bidding. The Attribate are thought to punish or reward the Nelfin in life as they fail or succeed in their crusade to fulfill Estel’s wishes. The fear and respect of the Attribate is often a confusing aspect of the faith towards outsiders to the Elven religion. The Nelfin endeavor to please the Attribate by acting according to their eight attributes. Through this, the Nelfin are rewarded by longevity, health, prosperity, and happiness.
Eventually, successful Nelfin die and pass into what is referred to as The Beyond. Alorian understanding of The Beyond is very hazy in that nobody knows what it actually is, however scholars speculate that it is meant to represent an Elven afterlife in the Exist. It is thought that The Beyond is a place of infinite knowledge and wisdom. There is no polar representation of the opposite of The Beyond, however. There is simply success and not. The unfortunate part of The Beyond is that the sacred texts of the Faith of Estel clearly state that so long as Elvenkind does not rule Aloria, no Elf can pass into the afterlife. This has justified several guerilla conflicts and martyrdom in the hopes that the Altalar sacrifice to the Attribate will be noted. Many Unionist Reverends owe it to this strong point of hopelessness in the Faith of Estel for their vast amounts of conversions.
Many different sub sects and offshoots of the Faith of Estel have risen up over the years. Isldar have deviated entirely from the original faith, choosing a form of worshipping eight dragons of the sky who represent desirable traits in Isldar. The Drowdar worship Estel as a spider-queen, living in utter fear of Shaleen, while denouncing any other deities and prohibiting any sort of worship. Finally, the Kleinfolk optimistically worship the Good Lady of the Forest, believed by scholars to be another form of Estel, who grants a wide variety of blessings and boons.
More on Faith of Estel
During the days of the Elven Empire, the Nelfin used the Mesel, a form of copper currency magically molded to display an image of the Ivory Tower, encircled by a round-leafed wreath. However widespread as it was, the Mesel lost its relevance as soon as the Empire fell. Even as the old world clashed with the new in trying to retain their heritage and prized copper coin, the Mesel could not properly compete altogether. Even though its value was defaced, Altalar society retains its use of the Mesel domestically, the old coins being a tool of trade even among Cielothar and sometimes even Avanthar communities. In terms of foreign trade, however, Altalar merchants were forced to adapt to the Regal in order to keep up with business rivals in order to become apart of Alorian trade. Because of this uneasy mix between Mesel and Regal, most Altalar societies are fairly poor when compared to the Regalian Empire or Sariyd Empire.
With the western continents of Daendroc, Hyarroc, and Teled Methen depraved of all precious metals, the Altalar have recently turned to the few resources they have in order to generate income. For years, Altalar have slowly sold off old, prized secrets of the Void to Regalian scholars, teaching them of magic and history alike. This had a very small consumer base, being limited to the wealthy, and soon, the Altalar ran out of knowledge to share. Eventually, they turned to lumber to generate income. Selling off plots of useless jungle helped bring in much needed wealth to the old Nelfin world, and it was only the beginning. Some Altalar turned to the docile Cielothar farmers near their lands, taking possession of their land and forcing the Wind Elves to work for little pay. This business in particular has led to many Altalar families striking rich, and even enabling them to move to Regalia to live comfortably among their eager customers.
More on Altalar Economy and Technology
Combat and Warfare
The Altalar are very tall and weak in terms of physical strength. Their bodies are simply not as hardy as those of the Ailor, and certainly not those of the Orc. In order to maintain strength during the time of the Elven Empire, the Nelfin relied solely on magic. They used magic to grow their crops, used magic to tame their animals, used magic to heat their homes, and finally, used magic to enslave other races. First, the Altalar waged war on the Tigran, eradicating their technologically advanced civilization and enslaving their entire race. Then, the Altalar threw Ailor plucked from the coasts of Regalia into their work camps, enforcing their rule using magic. As magic led to their rise, it also led to their fall. Mages could learn many forms of magic at an accelerated pace prior to the Cataclysm, leading to omnipotent wizards of war. Following the events of the Cataclysm, however, mages slowly lost their power, limiting their ability and selection of forms to choose from. Without their grand magical abilities, the Elves were unable to fend off the Orc Invasion, and their military strength pales in comparison to their Regalian overlords in the present day. In modern days however, Elven armies are mostly comprised of mages who use both individual forms as well as complementary forms with one another to amplify their magic as a whole.
More on Altalar Combat and Warfare
- The Altalar are often referred to as, “Knife Ears,” due to the pointed nature of their ears.
- Wall carvings from the Ancient Elven Empire suggest that the Nelfin once had significantly longer ears, that have grown smaller over the years.
- Based out of Hyarroc, a resurgent Elven Empire has been declared. It is not thought to have a large chance of succeeding in maintaining itself, however, due to the looming threat of Regalian interference in the matter.