Following in the footsteps of Gryff on TFW, we decided it's time for a thread picking over the question of what exactly those-in-our-system who generally go by the label "elf" are.
This is in the Fae section (for now at least) because we...don't so much see the boundary line between the two, and aren't sure which side we'll end up on.
Disclaimer: We may not give any logical reason for rejecting possibilities or data brought up by others. There are some things we're not necessarily willing to toss out in public about our people. We're also not going to post background data on who uncovered memories and the like, or when, unless specifically asked about that point. IIRC, one of us made that offer in the past regarding previously-posted information but there's too much and we haven't truly indexed it yet. More work than we're willing to do on a blanket request for more detail.
Data dump #1: Information from Varkadevi on the aes sidhe and information from Miniar on the alfar.
Varkadevi Wrote:This species was said to be tall, slenderish, and humanoid..and often had contact with the Celts/Gaels. It is also speculated that they are connected to, or in fact *Are* the Tuatha de Danann. Firstly, I would like to know if anyone here is familiar with them in some way.. Secondly, for those that *have* experience; if this description hits home at all.
Appearance: Humanoid in appearance, similar to northern Europeans. The adults average about 5'10 - 6'4 or so in height with lean physiques(warriors slightly more so) and do not seem to age past the appearance of humans in their 30's. Skin is pale-fair on average, eye colors include green, blue, amber(probably others). Hair includes red,platinum(white),black, golden browns/blondes and rusty browns(auburn?). Garb varies from simple dresses to ornate robes and armors, and they may give off a certain terrestrial/foresty vibe. They may appear very much like humans, or appear with an otherworldly 'glow' about them, with luminous eyes. Illusory magic and elemental manipulation seem to be a specialty, and the use/affinity with totems including wolves, serpents, dragons, carrion, and birds of prey seem to be common amongst certain individuals/groups.
Cai's rundown on the similarities:
- humanoid appearance similar to North Europeans
- averaging ~6ft in height
- mature appearance seems to stop aging around what would be the 30's (early 30's probably) for a human
- fair skinned
- hair and eye colors congruent with those we show, though some of these may be glamour only (the "platinum" hair you describe was a favorite glamour among some members of the House that a number of us belonged to)
- clothing congruent
- affinity with totems/animals (seems most if not all of us had at least one we could shapeshift into, too)
And my commentary on the information from Miniar, written earlier:
Miniar Wrote:Álfar are short-ish, human looking beings that live above ground (ljósálfar) and below ground (dökkálfar/svartálfar). They live for hundreds of years (sometimes even considered immortal), employ magic, have understanding far beyond the sight of mere human beings and they tend to see human beings as inferior, unintelligent, and have a habit of "playing" with human beings, using them as toys almost, fairly often resulting in the human being simply being driven completely insane.
We don't see ourselves as short. Sapphire, whose race lived among us, estimates her perceived height as 4'6", having compared it to the body we've got now. Comparing to her, we estimate our average height around 6', with males and females being around the same height.
Of course, most of us remember being rather insular. Rhun, who wasn't so much, doesn't remember actually meeting with other races. Cai remembers interacting with a race we didn't live with or alongside, but in animal form. And our memories of forest make the trees seem almost infinite in height. So our estimates are ultimately just a gut feeling. We could be wrong about being tall, or we could be wrong about being alfar.
We had a very low opinion of all other races - not to the point she describes, in any of our memories, but we'd hunt and eat at least some of them while we were in animal form if they trespassed. We have book-learning-type-knowledge of altering humans (or alternate-physical-world beings like humans) to become us, and similar knowledge that they could be turned back, which is a power ascribed to the alfar according to Gundarsson. And I could see us mentally ripping apart other races, perhaps for reasons the lore-recording humans might not understand and thus might chalk up to caprice. But being ignorant of humans could, again, be a damning point.
Miniar Wrote:According to the norse/teutonic mythology, ljós and dökkálfar never lived in the same realm, never shared the same space, and are not "same" species per say, but more like two sides of the same coin and there's no bad-blood between them. They are kinda like the world under the sun v.s. the world under the moon, not really all that different.
Contradicts our memories. Val remembered the War long before any of us questioned our self-identification as leanan sidhe. We thought it was a war between Seelie and Unseelie, and looked askance at people who told us that that war is still going. Miniar's post later blames the idea of war between the two as an import from D&D, but as we had this in our self-concept when our self-concept had nothing to do with elves of any kind and we'd had minimal exposure to D&D lore, I don't think it's relevant to us directly and am not quoting it. It could throw up a false positive for us in the American-pop-Pagan-culture image of the alfar, but that's all.
Our two peoples were of the same blood, the branch into which I was born was exiled away, and as confirmed without prior knowledge by Rachel of Rhiannon, both races had some subterranean dwelling. And we're inclined to identify the "swartalfar" as dwarves, duergar...totally different race. That might be a failure of nomenclature, but the rest is definitely incompatible.
Miniar Wrote:Inspite the "name" ljósálfur which means "light elf" the ljósálfar are not all blond, not all blue eyed, and not at all any nicer than the dökkálfar. Same applies to the other side, inspite being called dark or black elves (dökk or svartálfar) the dökkálfar are not dark skinned, black haired and black eyed. The names only refer to one group living in the light (above ground) the other in the dark (under the ground).
Blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin are the dominant, and in fact, universal native traits of my race, if we are right. Anything else is a sign of outbreeding, which had become very common by the timeframe that we remember best, or of glamour being used. And with glamour in the equation, well...that also might explain the height enigma, if it made any sense for us to universally try to appear shorter. (I can't think of a reason, though.) As for coloration, especially dark hair and eyes might be done as war glamour (though I thought the Drow had violet eyes?) but dark skin...no, not common.
If anything, if we are right, we would attribute the names to the common images held of the two races. As I said, the "light" half didn't always live above ground, but they tried like hell to keep their image pretty. The "dark" half were just forthcoming about what they were really like. Quite like the Seelie and Unseelie in Laurell K. Hamilton's books, but known to Val before we ever read those books.
Miniar Wrote:Any kindness showed by an álfur is given either when the human (for once) is in a position to bargain; For instance, if the human being is sitting in a crossroads on the one day out of the year when álfar are able to move house on this plane, making it impossible for the álfar to pass (ofcourse you may not eat anything they offer, take anything they offer, nor speak or you invite them into the crossroads and they break your mind...). Or the kindness is showed in a similar sense as a cat might show kindness to a mouse it caught (dropping it cause it's no fun to play with anymore).
This surprised me, because it contradicts some of the essential talking points for dealing with alfar that Gundarsson listed...and while his stuff on magic is pretty woo, I would expect someone who's made it through the reference list to write a damn book on alfar and wights and the like would get that right if the translations are half adequate. And despite what we've heard about bad translations, I have a hard time believing there was such a 180 degree turnaround (not that he portrayed them as universally nice, mind). But that's an issue to take up by digesting the same reference list, which admittedly we have not.
Bafflement aside, this strikes me as wrong about my race, regardless of its trueness with respect to alfar. Well, maybe the cat part - we'll fuck with something and then let it go for a few moments, a few seasons, a few years, just to reel it in again for one reason or another. But we do temper our rule of fear with an appreciation for the usefulness of certain assets and I strongly believe that that principle would extend even to races that are native to this plane of reality. Humans, humanoids, what the hell ever, even if we don't think much of them.
Key word is, "think." It's more that we don't care one way or another about outsiders until they're spreading their outsider cooties all over our territory, our belongings, our things. Crowd us, in native form, in with humans and we'll get nasty. Tell us there are humans living just the next reality over, and we'll wonder why the hell you're wasting our time with the information unless or until the changes in that reality start to impact ours.
Which could be another reason we might be uniformly cruel to humans, under the right circumstances, but that is circumstantial. I'd want a bit more than that before I go agreeing that we could be classified as having that behavior.
Next time, likely a list of basic characteristics we believe are related to this race and examination of how much they might be human instead. In the meantime (and in general), feedback is very welcome.