Half-Elves: From Outsiders
The History of Half-Elves
of Half-Elves NEXT >>
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,
-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
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.