Species and Races of Mythnium: Elves, Part One

The elves of fantasy are all based on a rich and varying degree of imaginative speculation. Some are based on folklore tied to religions and cults. Some are simply an extension of world building following that ever invasive “what if” that plagues every fantasy author. Without a doubt, many fantasy fans would consider a fantasy book with no elves to be lacking something primally adherent to the genre.

Like most other fantasy fans, I have long been intrigued by fantasy races, no matter what lies behind their inspiration. I think one of the most interesting facets of fantasy books, comics, and movies is the fact that all fantasy races have very subjective visualizations. I can’t tell you how many fantasy books I’ve read where I envision a particular character of a particular fantasy race, just to see artwork done later that goes completely in contrast with how I envisioned that character. My imagination versus the imaginative translation of the artist is never right or wrong when weighed against one another, but it is very interesting to note how perceptions affect imagination and visualization.

But... that is actually another subject.

Back to elves.

Elves of lore range from mythical to supernatural beings and range in size from tiny, diminutive beings to slightly smaller humanoids of rather ethereal beauty.

There are elves, like those we associate with during the Christmas season. Santa’s helpers. Not just small, but really small. Helpful. Worker bees. Attuned to nature. Desiring goodwill.

There are elves of Germanic lore. Larger, but not quite human size. Fragile, yet wily. Beautiful, but swift and dangerous.

Then there are the modern takes on elves that range from those we are familiar with from the Lord of the Rings book and movies (and any movies and books that stick to the LOTR framework for fantasy species.)

There are the elves of Dungeons and Dragons (Forgotten Realms) who at first glance follow a basic LOTR template, but over the years have taken on many attributes given through the interactive behavior of the game and complementary books (often written by authors who are also avid D&D players).

So, when you think of an elf, do you think along the lines of tiny creatures who help Santa in his workshop? Or maybe the even smaller ones we know from the cobbler and elves stories? Or do you envision them more like what you have seen in LOTR - beautiful, graceful, mysterious? Or are you more into the more diverse, rough, realistic-yet-exotic prone depictions of elves from D&D?

I appreciate all of them. Because of that, I decided I wanted to incorporate aspects of them all into the elves of Mythnium. So I created elven races within the elven species.

To learn more about the difference between species and race, click here.

Not simply ethnicities. The elven races of Mythnium are all genetically related, and yet physically different based on the world history, the effects of magic, and the environments they chose to call their homes.

The first of the elven races are the Forest Elves.

If you have read Short Stories from Mythnium, then you have met several Forest Elves, who are also reintroduced in Echoes of Dragons. Valero, Colna, and Grazina are all Forest Elves. These elves are the most physically similar to the humans. The men and women tend to have the same physical height as the humans. Beyond that, the physical similarities differ more intensely. Physical features such as the ears, which are pointy but human sized, set them apart. Their eye color, ranging from green to blue and brown, is super intense compared to human eye color. Their skin color ranges from pale flesh color to a more ruddy, tanned complexion dependent on the type of life they live within the elven community - the rangers and guards are darker, while the historians and artisans are more pale.

Beyond the visual aesthetics of the Forest Elves, they are also lighter than humans. They are naturally more agile, swift, and are often sought out for their keen vision and/or equally keen hearing. Not prone to colds or illnesses that plague the humans, the elves enjoy a much longer lifespan. Forest Elves, specifically, have an average lifespan of 700 years of age, though ancient Forest Elves have been known to be nearly 900 years of age. Like all elves, they have an affinity with nature, but the Forest Elves, following the Great Cataclysm, tend to live only within the massive expanse of the Deep Forest.

Next, the Drow - the Dark Elves.

The Drow of Mythnium are a race I am still developing. If you have read Short Stories from Mythnium, then you are familiar with Virconia. She became one of my favorite characters, and in Echoes of Dragons, I was delighted to bring her back and make her part of the story. Drow, like Virconia, are all smaller than their Forest Elf cousins, but not by much. They also have even slighter builds, though their frames are incredibly muscular. All Drow have ebony skin. Their skin, so black it can appear to be almost purple or blue under the right light, instantly identifies them, and feeds a great deal into the general hesitation and apprehension the other species and races have when around them. The other instant identifier of the Drow are their blood-red eyes. What would be the white of our human eyes, in Drow, is blood red. Their irises are even deeper shades of red. The red on red eyes add to the stigma regarding their race.

While their physical features make them fierce-some, the Drow are not entirely innocent of the suspicion and distrust thrown their way. Living entirely under the surface of Mythnium, a life of darkness, constant hardship, and never-ending shadows, the Drow are instinctively brutal and prone to wickedness. Prior to the Great Cataclysm, their brutality and wickedness helped them remain apart from their surface-dwelling cousins, and they were mostly content to remain so. However, after the Great Cataclysm, in the wake of massive loss of life, the king of the Drow sought over the centuries to change both the Drow way of interacting with surface dwellers and the way the Drow were perceived. Like their Forest Elf cousins, Drow live long lives between 700 to 800 years.

There are also the Willow Elves and the White Elves to share more about, but I am going to save that for the next post.

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