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Half-Elves: From Outsiders to Heroes
The History of Half-Elves

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No one can say when the first half-elves appeared. It can safely be assumed that they have existed as long as humans and elves have lived in propinquity to each other, but only as an extremely rare occurrence. It would be pure speculation to state how they were treated, but their ancient past was most likely a grim one. Back in the times before true civilizations began, they would likely have been viewed as a freak of nature or a curse being visited on the mother. The real explanation for the birth would have likely been denied or kept as a dark secret.

As the elves grew to power and the Elven Empire developed into the sole great civilization in the world, humans were mostly nomads, slaves, beggars and outlaws. Their position in the world was mostly tenuous and that of the lowest classes. The incidence of half-elven births was so low during these times (and so unimportant to the elves) that no one ever took the trouble to write about them, thus little is known. What is known is that the status of humans reflected directly on any half-elven offspring that appeared, even if the mother was an elf.

During the height of the Elven Empire there were always the occasional half-breeds born out of rape, master/servant relationships, and even the extremely rare romantic liaison. The half-elven offspring were often put to death at birth to hide the disgraceful evidence of such couplings. Others survived to adulthood, usually nurtured out of sight and not mentioned in polite society. Farther away from the elven centers of power, the conditions were sometimes less harsh and half-elves were occasionally grudgingly accepted as part of the lower classes.

One interesting and stark exception was Rhythar Coriaeno of Ta'Loenthra, born in
-20062. He was the son of Rhyston Coriaeno, head of a minor Loenthran noble house, and Tharenna, a human servant of the household. Rhyston broke all tradition when he declared Tharenna as his concubine and treated her accordingly. Loenthran society was outraged that he would be so blatant in his regard for a human, and yet Tharenna's grace and talent as a bard was widely known and appreciated among other nobles of the time. Their son Rhythar, while never inheriting the Coriaeno title, eventually established the Vireo Conservatory in Ta'Loenthra, which was well regarded for several centuries.

The Undead Wars brought about an upswing in the half-elven population. Humans fought on both sides during the wars, the only race to do so. This created greater conflict and led to more violence and children born of violence. But it also created opportunities for cooperation between elves and humans that had not until that point commonly existed. This increased positive contact allowed for greater understanding between individuals of the two races and more children were born from trysts or out of love. While half-elves during these times were not readily accepted, their existence could no longer be as easily ignored. Fewer of the progeny of these unions were put to death and thus elves and humans had to adapt.

During the Age of Chaos, the elves struggled in the aftermath of the Undead Wars. Humans came out from under the elven thumb as the Empire unraveled and lost its dominion over the "lesser" races. An extremely small, but persistent, half-elven population continued to survive. The ancient enmity between the races remained, and in the elven cultural and political centers, half-elves were considered pariahs. They were a part of, yet not a part of, the cultures into which they were born. Half-elves served as constant reminders of the shame of racial mingling. In most cases they were relegated to the lower classes, even despite some having noble blood. Conditions were harsh in the Age of Chaos and competition for survival was often fierce. Half-elves, more than any others, took to the road for the life of a vagrant, wandering merchant, or a mercenary.

During this unsettled time, another half-elf of note came to prominence. The elves labored to recover in the years after the wars; even the great libraries in Ta'Illistim had fallen into a state of disrepair and neglect. Tirnelle Maefyrne, the daughter of a respected Illistim archivist and a human mage, was dismayed that so many of the ancient texts were being lost to time and decay. She began the study of preservation and transcription techniques, hoping to find a solution. After over a century of intensive research and experimentation, Tirnelle finally revealed the fruits of her labors. She introduced a new ink that, when combined with a special coating over the page, survived four to five times as long as previous methods. Tirnelle's technique for preservation of the written word is still in common use today.

While the elves were in a state of decline, humans began establishing their own cities and cultures on the western half of the continent where elven control had been at its weakest in the preceding centuries. This eventually gave rise to the Turamzzyrian Empire, where the occasional mingling of the races continued. It has been rumored that even Selantha Anodheles was of mixed blood, though nothing was ever proven one way or the other.

The history of the western continent is one of constant battles with lesser humanoids, territorial disputes, political intrigues, and migrations of refugees from one region to another. The humans of the Empire mostly despised elves for their millennia of mistreatment, but in some places refugees of many races banded together and lived in relative harmony. The Wildwood family settlement on an island in the Cairnfang River near modern Solhaven was one such place. In some of the more independent territories such as the Kingdom of Hendor, elves were a bit better regarded. In these types of locations, half-elves sometimes found a better life for themselves.

Continued plotting, meddling, and raiding by various elven factions (or rumors of such) eventually led to the Chaston Edict in the year 4310. The Edict prohibited all people of elven descent from owning land or businesses. In the eyes of the Empire, half-elves were seen as elves. The Edict initiated a massive migration of elves and half-elves to the east into the Wyrdeep forest and north to places like Hendor. The elven archmage Inar'ru led over two thousand elves and half-elves on a score of ships sailing west, never to be heard from again. The half-elven population in the heart of the Turamzzyrian Empire dwindled to almost nothing during this time.

In the years following the implementation of the Chaston Edict, Shaundara Mestheles -- a half-elf from Nydds -- became infamous as the instigator of a rebellion. Shaundara resented the automatic classification of all half-elves as elves and believed that half-elves had a right to take their place within human society based on their human lineage. She gathered an alliance of like-minded individuals, comprised primarily of half-elves and their human supporters, and began a campaign of political actions designed to draw attention to their issues.

The group, known as the Silver Eagles, often made speeches and plastered posters in city centers in an attempt to garner support from the populace and those in power. The organization maintained a camp east of Waterford, but they also had chapters in many of the larger cities, including Tamzyrr itself. The Eagles did not limit themselves to political slogans, however. They also involved themselves in assaults on merchant caravans and some rumors have it they conspired with several of the pirate ships plying the trade routes. Shaundara was witnessed leading many of the raids herself and her ferocity in battle caused many to question if politics were indeed her true aim.

Purportedly, the raids were intended to put pressure on the Empire, forcing capitulation to the legal inclusion of half-elves in all facets of human culture. The plan backfired and the Silver Eagle rebels were declared outlaws and hunted down. In 4326, the Imperial military finally managed to trap the main Eagle contingent in their encampment. Those not killed in the fighting were captured and publicly executed, including Shaundara Mestheles. The short-lived rebellion was effectively stamped out.

In 4694 Emperor Perrinor completed the Rysus Codex, a complete body of laws under which the Empire was to be governed. The Codex did not mention slaves as people being governed, since slaves are property. The Codex also did not mention elves, Hathlyn (half-elves) or Ordlyn (all other non-human races). This gave rise to disputes over whether this meant they should be deemed the equivalent of slaves or whether they should be considered people like humans under Imperial law. Perrinor did not clarify this before his death and, since the Codex did not countermand Chaston's Edict, it was mostly left up to local interpretation. This meant non-humans, including half-elves, tended to migrate to the less restrictive territories within the Empire.

In the 4900's economic growth and development began to break down some of the racial barriers and age-old animosities. By the end of the century, there had been a marked reduction in tensions between humans and non-humans, particularly in the cities most distant from Tamzyrr. Eased racial tensions led to another upswing in the half-elven population as individual humans and elves found themselves less embattled and more likely to find common ground.

In the heart of the Empire, half-elves were still extremely rare and less likely to find acceptance of any sort. In the more moderate outlying areas, while still dealing with the status of social outcasts, half-elves often managed to find ways to make a good life for themselves. This was especially true in places like coastal fishing villages and small farming communities where hard work was often valued more than purity of bloodlines.

Recent Imperial history is still being played out and the future of those with mixed blood is as uncertain as ever. In the north, Baron Hochstib of Jantalar began a crackdown on non-humans and an extended campaign to extend his holdings into other territories. Ironically enough, the Baron himself is a half-elf who came to his title through inheritance, an extremely rare instance in both the human and elven cultures. Hochstib used the Chaston Edict to criminalize and thus enslave many of the Ordlyn workers in Jantalar. Half-elves are in a precarious position, most of them being treated poorly, yet some few are treated as humans because of the Baron's own heritage.

The Empress Mynal'lyanna has revived the Chaston Edict and aggressive human racial pride has become much more prevalent in the military, nobility, and cities closest to Tamzyrr, making things more difficult for those with elven blood. The previous two centuries of easing tensions seem to be unraveling as the Empress appears to be preparing for far-reaching territorial conquests. Many half-elves living within the Empire find that their situation has become increasingly unstable.

Meanwhile, on the eastern half of the continent, the Elven City-States have in recent times allowed their borders to be more open, permitting accelerated trade and political contact with the other races. This easing of separatist tendencies within the elven homelands has created a mixed atmosphere in regards to the other races and half-elves. In some areas, a guarded openness and grudging acceptance has been exhibited. Yet in other regions and social/political circles, intense reactionary tendencies have appeared, often directed at half-elves.




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