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by Marco Dalmonte

Hervé Musseau wrote:

What about the clans who left Evergrun to settle near Blackmoor (before the GRoF)? They didn't have access to the original Tree of Ordana, so how did they "survive"?

OK, this is easy in a way. The ancestors of the Shadow Elves voluntarily accepted to migrate and to settle near Blackmoor because, as we all know, they were fascinate with the technology and the goods produced by Blackmoor. They had been "tainted" by the human technology so to speak, and had no more faith in the Old Ways of Ordana. Once they set sail together with the merchants of Blackmoor they were lost to their kin and to Ordana, and they no longer needed her nor a relic to live on. They had embraced Blackmoor love for technology, progress and wealth and so had other values to follow: no need for an old silly unproductive faith.

However, the situation is different and much more complicated to explain when we come to examine the Geffronells (Denagoth elves) and the Aquarendi. Why did these two clans migrated northwards and decided not to be influenced by Blackmoor? They could have remained in Evergrun, where Ordana protected them.. Well, I have some explanations that right now come to my mind.

First hypothesis: the Aquarendi clanmembers were explorers at heart and loved much more the sea than the forested land (it can happen even in the best families ;)). This had made them a sort of "outcasts" in Evergrun, not really shunned by other elves but regarded as being a bit obsessed with trivial things (the sea, the other lands, to travel across the world..). They obviously didn't feel to belong to Evergrun any longer and so decided to migrate northwards. They wanted to sail the immense ocean and to brave the currents, to see new lands and meet new people. And so they sailed until they finally stopped near Blackmoor, in the lands south of Karameikos that are now under the Sea of Dread. Blackmoor tried to "corrupt" them and to force them to embrace its culture and values, but they refused: they had always been free at the heart and didn't want to become slaves of technology. But what could they do against the mighty Empire of Blackmoor? Where could they hide from its long tentacles? They tried to obtain the help of the Forest Mother, Ordana, but she had forsaken them. So they begged the immortals to help them, they begged the sea to swallow them and hide them from the fat merchants of Blackmoor.. and the sea answered to their calls. From Daniel's Timeline:

"BC 3100: The Aquarendi clan are finally sick of the continual pressure from the Blackmoor elves to embrace technology. The Aquarendi have tried to gain aid from Ordana but she is unhappy with all elves at the moment and how most they have turned from her path. The Aquarendi seek the guardianship of Manwara, an Immortal of the sea who is more open to their plight, and enter the warm waters to begin a new life. (PC3 modified)"

In this case we could say they didn't need the Tree of Ordana anymore because they had adopted a new mentality. They wanted to be free and the masters of their own life and so they refused all the chains imposed by their religion and their society. Self-respect and willpower were they new values around which the Aquarendi society was built. Unfortunately when the pressure of the Blackmoorian culture became too oppressive their sense of self-reliance and security began to falter and they began to question their past decisions. Had they really done well leaving Evergrun and their brethren? Was it really good to have abandoned the faith of Ordana? In the moment of their maximum crisis, their new values crumbled against the oppressive push of the Blackmoorian culture and society and they searched help like their ancestors had taught them to do: they prayed. When logic and reality crumbles, the power of religion and faith becomes stronger. However, Ordana had forsaken them because of their previous acts and was already trying to protect the elves of Evergrun (you will note that Ordana's anger towards the elves that betrayed her is surprisingly similar to that of God in the Old Testament, a vengeful deity it seems). So they sent their prayers to the only being they could still call friend: the sea. And the sea answered their call, welcoming them in his sheltering embrace: this way the aquatic elves were born, and they started again to praise the Immortals (Manwara who had saved them and Tallivai who led them through the ensuing hardships) like in the old ways.

But what about the Geffronells? My take on it is that they wanted to find a new land where they could prosper. Maybe Evergrun was becoming to crowded, or maybe their leader thought he could ascend to immortality if he created another paradise for the elves to counterbalance Blackmoor's expansionism. Whichever the case, they abandoned Evergrun and headed northwards, settling finally near Blackmoor but never giving to the lures of its culture like their brethren did. I believe they still clung to the Old Way once there, living in the forest and worshipping Ordana, so they continued to live like they did in Evergrun. Given the fact that they shun contact with Blackmoor (their position was probably not noticed by Blackmoorians -thanks to Ordana?), their society grew stronger than that of the Aquarendi, too much influenced by too many cultures, and their faith became radical. Still they lacked a relic, is it not so? In this case you are probably right when you say that the real "Faith in the Relic" began to spread only after the creation of the ToL, but you must acknowledge the existence of the Tree of Ordana. So what was the elves' attitude towards it? The reverence towards this One Tree (I'm clinging to Andrew's idea of "One tree of Ordana only" here) likely harboured the seeds of the later Faith in the Relic, but was probably not so "essential" to the unity of the elven society. After all, those were the days when Ordana frequently spoke to her children through the Forest Spirits, so there was a closer link between Immortals and elves, a different perception of the elves' place in the world. They were the gifted ones, those who had the power over the forces of nature and magic: this alone was the symbol of their unity as a race. The One Tree was only the concrete proof of these things: that they had been the chosen ones. So, even the Geffronell who lived thousands of miles away still believed in their bond with nature and Ordana even without seeing the One Tree every day. The problems came after the Great Rain of Fire..

Between the destruction of Evergrun and the creation of the first ToL, the elves had no relics. According to your theory, they should have lost their sense of unity and confidence, thinking they were fated to slowly die out. So how could they have taken the initiative to migrate to the Sylvan Realm? They should have waited for their destruction with their land.. Unless this faith in the Relic came only later, with Ilsundal.

Yes, this is a delicate point. As I've said before, the "faith in the relic" attitude consolidates only after Ilsundal's ascension to the Immortals. Why?

Well, you must consider this: after the GRoF the world as the elves knew it changed. They lost their Eden (were forced to flee from it), lost the sign of their exalted status among the other living beings (the One Tree of Ordana) and probably lost a great deal of faith in their powers. Yet they still lived and they had a lush forest to inhabit, so this testified Ordana had not abandoned them, though maybe she was a little upset because of the brethren who had turned their back on her and embraced the Blackmoorian devious culture. They went on living for about two centuries before a new tension finally erupted. New followers of the Blackmoorian way had rediscovered technology and didn't want to abandon its ways. Worse yet: they were trying to seduce others to embrace those foul arts. The elves did know what had happened before and knew that their land was slowly changing, becoming more and more inhospitable. They needed something to unite them once more, now more than ever. And Ilsundal came. He served as focus for the beliefs and hopes of the elves in a troubled time: in a way I dare say he was a living relic from the very beginning, guiding his people like no other elf had done before, with a clear idea in his mind. He wanted to find again the Lost Land: he knew it had been destroyed, but he also believed that the elves could rebuild it in another place. He knew there were still elves in the north who migrated there before the Blackmoor catastrophe (the Geffronells) and who followed the Old Way: he wanted to find them to build the new age with them. He was a charismatic leader and he was able to inspire the elves to leave a doomed Grunland (maybe advised by Ordana) in order to search for a better tomorrow. And at the end he succeeded.

But he also knew that once he was gone the elves would probably have had to face new problems and schisms, and he wanted to prevent this. So he gave them their new symbol of unity: the Tree of Life, or better the Relic! In an age of lost symbols, he gave them a new and concrete one that resembled the One Tree: this way the circle closed and all the elves returned in communion with the forest and the old ways once more.

So yes Hervé, Ilsundal was surely the one who began the cult of the relic, but the cult had older origins IMHO, and this explains why it held so much to the elves.

When the 9 seedlings of the original ToL were created, you state that the Shiye don't get one. Why? I know I'm against having them have one now (present), but at the time they were followers of Ilsundal, they were probably a large clan (since their numbers are so high today), they were living in the SR, so, they should have had one. Unless they had already left Mealiden before he started the migration. Maybe the Shiye got a ToL, had a Treekeeper, but since converting to following Eiryndul, they have abandoned faith in his Relic too but for a handful of Treekeepers that are still watching over the mother tree (I don't think Ilsundal would have allowed a ToL to die altogether). You've left the Vyalias out of your scheme.

As for these two questions, I hope my previous post detailing the Vyalia, the Shiye and the Trueflowers have shed some light about the matter. IMHO the Vyalia have ToL and the Shiye got their one, but discarded it along the way the way I described (a too cumbersome burden from the religious point of view).. :)

What about the HW elves? Maybe Atzanteotl gave a Relic to the SA, and what about the Icevale? As for the Blacklore and Gentle Folk, they're both a very fatalistic, depressed people who do not expect much of life and wait for their death : that fits exactly with what you said about the clans without a Relic, so I'd say they have none and that's why they are the way they are.

As you noted, Gentle Folk are the perfect result of a clan with no relics and the need to believe in something.. As for the Blacklore, they are "tainted" by the Blackmoor technology and can no longer be classified as "religious elves". Technology is their religion and they have their techno relics all around them.. Yet they are not truly alive, maybe because they feel they are leading only a parody of their former existence, when they were one with nature..

As you all can see, it's the myth and the dream of the lost Eden (Evergrun) that returns constantly during the elves' history.