Although they aren’t officially one of the Five Peoples, Half Elves represent a sizable population in Elanterra, and their numbers seem to be growing rapidly. Legends indicate that the earliest Half-Elves were scions of romantic pairings between Elves and Humans, often chivalrous Human knights and fair Elven maidens, whom they rescue from some danger or other. In these tales, the pairing is always stressed as taboo, and the couple brings disaster upon themselves by eloping. The child is left an orphan, and either becomes a great hero or, more often, a terrible villain. What historical records survive are sketchy at best, but paint a similar picture. Elves, for all their self-proclaimed Immortality, fare poorly outside of their forests. They sicken, rot, or kill themselves, usually within a few decades of leaving the Ironwood. Sometimes they simply disappear, abandoning their human spouse and children. These trysts are becoming more and more rare as the years pass, but it is not uncommon for an Elven ‘Ambassador’ to leave a clutch of bastards in his wake after his assignment is completed. These unfortunate mothers and their children are often exiled when their crime comes to light. In some Human kingdoms the children are even drowned, a practice which draws no comment at all from the Elves.

Half-Elves are tall, thin beings whose appearance draws about equally from their heritage. Half Elves are especially long lived, aging at about a third the rate of a normal human once they reach puberty. Half-Elves can usually be found in the great cities, where they band together for mutual protection. They are considered monstrosities by their Elven kin, and far less than Human as well. Half Elves are effectively a slave caste in many Human kingdoms, ranking even lower than serfs. Since they are stronger than they appear and live long lives, they are often used in the most dangerous jobs, such as mining and sailing.

Even with their high mortality rates, Half Elves reproduce at a similar rate to humans, but remain fertile for most of their long lives. It is not uncommon for a Half Elf matron to be caring for five or even six generations of grandchildren. Humans try and tightly control Half Elf families, for fear that they will be overwhelmed by sheer numbers.

“Free” Half Elves in the great cities still find themselves to be the victims of prejudice, since they are the product of a taboo pairing. Higher education and skilled labor are usually denied them, and many turn to underground or criminal organizations for support. It is said that a Half Elf, given enough time, can get you anything, if you pay their price.

Compiler’s Note: The Half-Elves have suffered greatly over the centuries, bing the arrow fodder of every army, working the most uncomfortable and dangerous jobs, and suffering innumerable degradations. It is distasteful to say, but a Human who disdains a Half Elf for the ‘unnatural acts’ of her parents will often not think twice of taking one against her will as ‘spoils of war.’ The Half Elves wait, and maintain their population. And those outside the Human kingdoms wonder when the Half Elves’ anger will turn to violence.–G. B.

 

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