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Thoughts about the Svartalfarby Ripvanwormer
Perhaps the Svartalfar represent a branch of the shadow elves. During their time of wandering, before the discovery of the Refuge of Stone, a group of elves discovered a portal to another plane and settled there, forming a culture separate from those who would become followers of Rafiel. Or perhaps it was after the discovery of the Refuge of Stone when a group of dissidents rejected Rafiel's scriptures, his cruelty, his impossible demands. We should abandon our infants, who represent the hope of our future? We should abandon our elders, the repository of our wisdom? Never! Rather we should embrace and protect our deformed and disabled, celebrate and honor our differences. As a result, the Svartalfar often seem twisted and malformed by the standards of their shadow elf kin, and they use soul crystals in ways the shadow elves would find blasphemous.
The Plane of Alfheim might have been settled much earlier, by elves of Evergrun who rejected the influence of Blackmoor, or they could be much more closely related to the Svartalfar, being elves who rejected Atziann's meddling with the Blackmoor Device and managed to escape Mystara just prior to the Lesser Rain of Fire.
I understand the appeal of adopting a more fantastic explanation, rather than a mundane one. That's certainly a compelling alternative, to emphasize the notion that the dark elves are legendary in every sense. They're more dark spirits than mortals, capricious fey creatures, true inhabitants of the planes. Making them a subterranean sidhe race might be the best option. They could be humanoid descendants of the Burrowers, the maggots who formed in the flesh of the primordial giant Urt after he was slain by the gods.
There was in times of old, where Urt dwelt,
nor sand nor sea, nor cooling waves
earth existed not, nor heaven above,
But a yawning gap, without grass or green
Urt, star-eater, first-born
And Aušumbla, sole companion
Aušumbla the inexorable
Whose tongue wears down all things in time.
Aušumbla lapped at hoar-frost, and the ice receded
Buri awoke, Buri the eldest of the Aesir
Buri begat Bor, and Bor begat the three:
Odin, the deep-thinker, knower of runes
Villi the sorcerer, firestarter, lightning thief
Ve the doom-seer, herald of night
Odin, Villi, and Ve slew Urt and hollowed out his skull
In Urt's corpse maggots formed, the far-burrowers, the devourers of earth, the eaters of their father's flesh
The Aesir made war upon the burrowers, locking them away, but the worm-children cloaked themselves in two-legged guise; they are the elves, the dark-elves, the dwarves and gnomes.
They burrow through the earth still, insatiable, driven by greed for gold and gems and soul-crystals.Lost Woodrake wrote:
This is the first time I hear this theory. I find it quite amazing (and startling honestly). Does this mean the Hollow World was actually created by the burrowers eating away Urt's corpse?
That's a possibility, though I was blaming the Immortals. I was going for "here's a myth the folk of the Northern Reaches tell" rather than "this is what happened historically."