As I’ve said in many, many places, I adore elves. If I could be reincarnated as an elf, I’d be happy as a clam. That failing, I write about them, and I make no apologies about it. Thus, I’d be sorely remiss if I didn’t address them in Senkar and thus for Through the Fire.
The thing is, many of my elves are subtly or markedly different than elves in other settings. In Senkar, elves rarely reach past the age of 1,000, mostly because their souls absorb so much mana that eventually their bodies can’t contain them anymore. An elf in Senkar at 25 is as mature as a human of 20, but their society tends to move at a more deliberate, glacial pace, and often they’re not expected to have chosen a profession until the age of 50.
But most important to me are the five elven Great Clans. While they don’t play a large role in the stories I’m currently preparing to write, they have an outsized impact on how the setting developed and will develop in the future. Below is an excerpt of what I’ve written for my setting, and gives you a glimpse into how dramatically some of my elves can differ from what you may have seen elsewhere.
Elven Great Clans
There are five elven clans that were the first, and all elves are descended of these clans. It’s believed that the five deities of Nature’s Court created each of these clans of deities, and as such the patron of each clan is the deity in question. The original royal families of these clans are houses that bear the names of their clans, and all but one are known to still exist even now. Many elves are descended of multiple clans now, but each usually identifies with one of them, as it’s a point of pride for many elves.
Antar – Chosen of the Queen of Nature’s Court, Clan Antar is fragmented more than any other clan and almost lacks an identity in these days, for they’ve lost their rulers and direction. Much as the Queen balances the other faces of Nature’s Court, House Antar was meant to balance the elven clans and guide them. However, millennia ago the last of House Antar vanished from the world and instigated the War of Supremacy. The remnants of their clan are often mistaken for members of other clans, but some of them still attempt to follow the teachings of their ancestors and balance the clans.
Emris – Chosen of the Shifter of Nature’s Court, Clan Emris has spread even farther than Clan Sylvan, but they are free spirits who prefer to travel wherever the winds or waves will take them. Nomads and travelers for the most part, Clan Sylvan is most aligned with air and movement, and most outsiders see them as itinerant travelers who’ll visit, bringing song and dance before being gone the next day. Theirs is the loosest of the great clans, but despite that Clan Emris has always answered the call of their kindred when in need, though they chose not to take sides in the War of Supremacy.
Illisyr – Chosen of the Dowager of Nature’s Court, officially there is no longer a Clan Illisyr, for they were defeated when they attempted to take the position of House Antar in the War of Supremacy. Clan Kortak and Clan Sylvan united to defeat Clan Illisyr, and in the aftermath the defeated stood ready to accept the consequences, for the Dowager is the fire which purges weakness. When Clan Sylvan instead exiled them into the Thorned Wood in an indirect attempt to execute Clan Illisyr without the blood being on their hands, House Illisyr disowned the rest of the elven clans save for Clan Antar and chose to enter the Wood, determined to prove themselves stronger than their kindred.
In the millennia since then, the Illisyr have come to be known as dark elves, for they’ve mastered flesh-shaping magic that they used to give themselves dark skin to hide in the shadows of the Thorned Wood, and which they use to improve their species with each subsequent generation. The Illisyr consider most elves to be weak and unworthy of their time, and are considered dangerous beyond measure, as no other humanoid species has managed to survive in the Thorned Wood for more than a generation.
Kortak – Chosen of the Guardian of Nature’s Court, Clan Kortak is smaller than only Clan Antar, and they’re largely stern, rock-steady individuals. Their patron is a goddess of guardianship and earth, so the few great cities of the elves which are built of stone were shaped by Clan Kortak’s hands. Stewards of tradition and order, these elves are relatively unknown to the world at large, but they’re considered one of the most powerful of clans beside the Illisyr. While Clan Kortak does not move often, they are generally solid allies of Clan Sylvan and Clan Antar, and as reliable as their patron.
Sylvan – Chosen of the Princess of Nature’s Court, Clan Sylvan are one of the most widespread of elven clans, and when one thinks of the elves that take care of forests, who hunt and steward the wood or who use primal magic, it is often their clan which is thought of. Less territorial and insular than Clan Kortak and more organized than Clan Emris, it is Clan Sylvan who has shaped much of the world’s opinion of elves, and it was their alliance with Clan Kortak that defeated the Illisyr ages ago in the War of Supremacy.
I should note that aside from the Illisyr, most of the clans have married into one another enough that none of them are as distinctly different from one another as they once were, though there are exceptions. Also, you no doubt noticed that I’ve focused heavily on the Illisyr, as they fascinate me, but that’s not the point of this blog. Yes, they’ll play a role in Through the Fire, but not enormously.
One of the things I should add is that each of these great clans is made up of dozens or hundreds of minor clans, families, or houses. None of them are perfectly unified, but one ‘clan’ is of particular note, the Karakar. This group was originally composed of the Archivists serving the royal house of Clan Antar, but after the house vanished, the Karakar grew independent. They turned into an independent clan of their own focused on the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge, and the most distinctive aspect to them is that, due to a few genetic quirks of the early members, nearly half of the current clan is known for its fiery red hair.
I’d go on still more, but I think I’ve rambled enough about my elves for one day.