Spinning off of my post about a new campaign setting I'm cobbling together, here's an extended look at the Elves of Taurion Effel/Tarfel.
The Ancients of The Elderwood
The Elderwood is a vast, ancient forest dominating the north-central area of the Civilized Countries. Within it are strange beings that combine Elvish and Plant-like features. The "Elder Elves" lack any ability to speak. The most Elvish among them have growths resembling moss or vine-like plants and have brown blood; they are standoffish but will not attack unless threatened. As one journeys farther into the Elderwood, the elves become more plantlike. The deepest specimens retrieved have bark-like skin and green blood with the consistency of slime or syrup. Elder Elves are curious in that they only seem to eat raw meat; a few specimens were taught to eat cooked meat but they only did so reluctantly. The civilized Elves of the Day, Night, and Gloom cultures are completely disinterested them, viewing the Elders as results of parallel evolution or degenerate breeding (or both according to some works by Elvish scholars). Aside from Human researchers, the only other group interested in them are the Serpentine, who capture them for experimentation or execute them outright.
Day Elves and Night ElvesAlthough the Serpentine describe the Elvish conquest in the same manner as an outbreak of rodents, with disorganized butchery and senseless violence, the Elves insist that their conquest was organized and commanded by a cosmic deity. After the overthrow of the Serpentine, the Elves prosper for thousands of years until the Great Schism. Wicked Elves lusting for power and wealth forsook their patron deity and turned to an opposing power, shattering their empire with civil war and apostasy.
Those are the facts that both sides agree on. Additional details are highly contentious. One group, the Day Elves, insist that their original deity was Ialtes (worshiped by Humans as "Yalt"), the lion-headed sun god. The apostates who caused the Great Schism turned from him to the worship of Sethon (known as "Thoom" to Humans), the snake-like deity of night, shadows, and lies. The other contingent calls themselves the Night Elves and claim that it was Sethon who was their patron in prehistoric times and that cult of Ialtes is the real apostasy. Despite their differences in history and religion, their dress, societies, rituals, and social mores remain strikingly similar. Nevertheless, they consider being called by the names of their hated brethren to be the greatest insult which combined with their lack of differentiation in regards to speech and clothing insofar as non-Elves can perceive them, have resulted in the deaths of many Humans and Dwarves who have misidentified them.
The Deep ElvesAfter the Great Schism, the largest Day Elf bloc was that ruled by Abal, son of a regional governor named Hased. Abal was the first king of what is now identified as the Hasedite Kingdom. Abal had eight successors over the next five centuries. The last of these was Tabel. During his reign a vast conspiracy among political and mercantile elites that had been brewing since the reign of his father, King Awen, began an open revolt. The elites manage to rally peasants to themselves with promises of more freedom, limited land redistribution, and the gift of a single non-Elf slave to every household.
In desperation, Tabel turned to the Deep Dwarves for aid. The Deep Dwarves had crushed an expansionist campaign by King Lutel two centuries earlier in the hinterlands of the Fang Mountains and following their victory entered into a non-aggresion pact with the Hasedite Kingdom. Tabel used Deep Dwarf mercenaries to supplement his troops and crushed the rebellious elites. Following this, the vanquished were paraded through the capital and both the regular Elvish army and the Dwarven mercenaries participated in the King's three-day victory feast. According to the legend, on the last day of the feast the high priest of Ialtes, an aged Elf named Baru, chided Tabel saying that he had enough rabble-rousing and that tomorrow at noonday the captives should be ritually executed for defying the sovereign chosen by the sun deity. Tabel is said to have laughed and casually informed the priest that the captives were leaving that night with the Dwarves; Tabel had nowhere near enough treasure to hire such a huge contingent of mercenaries so he agreed to turn over all captives as slaves to the Dwarves. The high priest Baru stood up and invoked the gravest curse possibly against the King, that his heirs should all die and he and all those related to him by blood be rendered infertile, for his offense of denying blood sacrifice to Ialtes and for selling his kin into the hands of lesser beings.. That very night, the Dwarves marched back to their lands in the Fang Mountains with their new slaves in tow. This episode is referred to as the "Sin of King Tabel" in Elvish histories. The Elvishy slaves eventually won emancipation and developed a new culture based on a synthesis of Dwarven
and Elvish attitudes. These former slaves are now called Gloom Elves. They no longer worship Ialtes but have instead adopted traditional Dwaven deities and ancestor worship. They also maintain a great deal of enmity toward both the Night Elves (their traditional enemies as Day Elf descendants) and the Day Elves (who are viewed as traitors and tyrants).