By Claire Sampson, Endan Ambassador to Eldrich, 4764.
Elves were bred by the Illuminati to spread Terran flora and fauna across newly Terra-formed planets. The Illuminati are made of magical matter alone, and the surface of their planet is covered by the decomposed bodies of millions of generations of magical life. Until the Illuminati discovered Terra, they had hardly any experience with chemical matter. Terra introduced them to biological life, which was a wonder to them, and to ceramics and metals. There is no magical material as hard as stone, and certainly not diamond. And there is no magical material as tough as metal, and certainly not adamantine, the alloy of steel and mithril.
The Illuminati soon found themselves making liberal use of chemical materials, so much so that their demand for it would have overwhelmed the economies of ancient Terra. They did not want to disturb sapiens on Terra, and even if they had been willing to do so, it is not clear that even the entire sapien population of Terra could have produced enough metal and diamond to satisfy Illuminati demand. Therefore, they resolved to make new metal-rich planets habitable for biological life, and to populate these planets with humans that would mine metal on their behalf.
It would have been a simple matter to transplant a small number of homo sapiens from Terra and from this initial collection populate the new worlds. But the Illuminati feared homo sapiens for their intelligence and fecundity. Therefore, they used their mastery of biological genetics to alter homo sapiens and create two new races, elves and men (homo hortulanus and homo cuniculus respectively in Latin). Both were to be long-lived, intelligent, and infertile. Elves were to spread Terran life across the new worlds, and provide food for the dwarves, who would do the mining. The first elves and dwarves both lived on the planet Ur. This planet was the testing-ground for what the Illuminati called the 'Alteration Initiative'.
Six families of elves emerged, each numbering several thousand members. They shared the west coast of a large continent they called Yabliya. In the east it was bordered by mountains. In the south, the seashore was white and hot, in the north, tumultuous and sheer.
Several hundred Illuminati lived with the elves, watching them and teaching them, overseeing the growth of their culture, and providing for them in their infancy. As we have said, the elves were supposed to be infertile. The illuminati made each elf artificially. Nor did the elves have a strong maternal or paternal instinct, so they were not inclined to care for the infants that the Illuminati created. The elves' disinterest in children was also intended by the Illuminati as a second means of control of their population, should infertility, their first means, fail them.
For one thousand years, the elves lived in Yabliya as their numbers swelled. They loved the Illuminati, not least because the Illuminati were parents to each of them. Although the elves had weak maternal instincts, they still looked to parents when they were children.
The childhood of an elf lasts only ten or twelve years, instead of the fourteen to fifteen of a sapien. But elves can live for thousands of years. No member of the Untapishti family has yet died of old age, and many survive from the earliest days on Ur, four thousand years later.
At a time corresponding roughly to 1000 BC on Terra via the standard-time bridges (or 800 BE on Clarus via the same bridges), the Namrazi family had risen to predominance among the elves. The elf families were distinct in their appearance, temperaments, and intelligence. The Illuminati hoped to find at least one of the families suitable for the work for which the elves were intended. The Illuminati spoke openly with the elves about the labors that were in store for them, and some of the families looked forward to leaving Ur and seeing new worlds. The Namrazi were among these families, but unlike the others, the Namrazi wished to leave Ur not to serve the Illuminati, but to escape them.
In the histories of the elves, it is not clear that the disfavor of the Illuminati was brought upon the Namrazi by their ingratitude, or whether their ingratitude was borne out of an awareness of the Illuminati's misgivings towards them. The Namrazi were daring, quick-witted, and determined. Most died in accidents before they had lived more than a few centuries. Consequently, they were far less numerous than the other families, but their skill and strength of will nevertheless gave them dominance in the shared councils of the families, and in dealings with the Illuminati.
It was at the end of this first, peaceful millennium of their existence that the drama that was to engulf the elves began. A Namrazi woman by the name of Nintur became pregnant from a man called Muati of the Alali family. Nintur realized what was happening too her, and withdrew to live on her own. She bore a son, and named him Teliyatu, which means 'the exceedingly strong' in the old speech of the elves. He was to become the greatest of the elves, and to take the highest, if not the most honorable, place in their songs.
Teliyatu grew swiftly. When he was finally discovered by the Illuminati, he was ten years old, and already fully grown in body, if not in mind. The Illuminati took him forcibly from his mother. The leaders of the Alteration Initiative were in a quandary. If their opponents in the Illuminati government found out that some of the elves were fertile, these opponents might order the entire population destroyed to protect the Illuminati from an eventual galactic conflict with an alien species of their own making. It was a harsh thing to take the boy from his mother, but the Illuminati did what they believed they had to do to save the rest of the elves.
Nintur attempted to raise the Namrazi to action, but the other families for once united against the Namrazi and forbade any action against the Illuminati. Nintur was furious. When the head of the Untapishti, a man named Ninpanigingarra, ordered her to leave the council for her insubordination towards their mentors, she drew a knife and stabbed him in the chest. Then she fled. Ninpanigingarra did not die. But his was the first elf blood spilled in anger.
The Illuminati kept Teliyatu for a year, and then returned him to the Namrazi. During that year, the elves asked many questions of the Illuminati that they had not asked before. The answers they variously received, or heard second-hand, and the conclusions each family chose to draw from what they learned, divided the elves forever. The Namrazi concluded that the Illuminati merely feigned love for the elves, and that some dark secret lay behind their creation.
As soon as Teliyatu was free, he sought out his mother. He found her living on a small island off the south coast of Yabliya all alone. She ate breadfruit, guava, papaya, coconuts, and fish. She taught Teliyatu sailing, fishing, and all the other crafts she had learned in her life alone. The seas were bountiful. Teliyatu prospered, as did his mother.
Nintur was wanted for trial by the elves. Ninpanigingarra had recovered, but he pressed his case against Nintur with the council of families, and with the Illuminati. So Nintur and Teliyatu laid low. Not even Muati, Teliyatu's father, could find them.
Nintur eventually became pregnant from her son. She died in child birth. Not knowing what to do with the baby, and grieving desperately, Teliyatu went back to the city of the elves, Eanna, on the River Arahtu. The Illuminati took the baby in and raised her. Teliyatu named her Massat.
Twenty years later, Massat was full grown and the image of her mother. She and Teliyatu soon had their first child, Kalkal, a son, whom the Illuminati allowed Massat to raise. She cared for him well. Kalkal was not smart, but he was tall and strong, and loved his father. Teliyatu developed the first sorcery in secret, with his son by his side, and his son learned it too. By that time, Kalkal was 100 year old.
During this century, Massat bore Teliyatu his beautiful daughters Ishtar and Enheduanna. Among the Alali, thirty children were born, and twenty among the remaining families through mating with Alali. The Illuminati were gravely concerned for their experiment, and they were forced to consider seriously the extermination of all the fertile members of the elf race.
Teliyatu eventually got to hear about these considerations of examination from one of the Illuminati. He spread the word, and the Alali and Namrazi prepared to defend themselves while reporting to the other families. Most of the others, however, refused to believe the story.
When a team of eight Illuminati came to Ur to investigate the fertility, Teliyatu took them hostage. The Alali and Namrazi prepared to flee to a large island off the coast, and there to defend themselves. The remaining families, encouraged by the Illuminati, stood in their path on the shore of Yabliya. They were led by Ninpanigingarra. Teliyatu hated Ninpanigingarra for the death of his mother, because she was far from help when she gave birth to Massat, hiding from the law. He slew Ninpanigingarra with his sword. There was bitter fighting on the beach, but the Teliyatu could not be withstood. They boarded their ships and sailed with their hostage Illuminati to Munhiatu Island, where they founded Esikil on the harbor.
The Illuminati, embarrassed by this affair, sympathized with the fleeing elves, and promised immunity to the Teliyati (followers of Teliyatu), provided they stay on their island and release their hostages. Teliyatu agreed. The hostages went free.
The Teliyati numbered five hundred of the Namrazi (two hundred stayed behind on the mainland), eight hundred of the Alali (three hundred stayed behind), and a couple of hundred more from the remaining four families.
The elves of Yabliya remained bitter after the battle, and plotted their revenge. They defied the Illuminati one century later by attacking Esikil. They were repelled by the Teliyati, but Kalkal was killed in the conflict.
Soon after, Massat gave birth to Atrahasis and died. Teliyatu, grief-stricken twice over, set out to the mainland and conquered it. He drove out the Illuminati with his sorcery, which was formidable and shocking to them. But he himself was slain unceremoniously by lust and poison. A woman of the Sulpai family, known for their beauty, whose lover Teliyatu had killed in the First Battle, seduced him and poisoned him in his tent.
With Teliyatu dead, the Teliyati withdrew to their Island. Atrahasis studied Teliyatu's journals and notes on sorcery, and learned it himself. Eventually he took it farther than his father, and taught many other Namrazi the art.
Enheduanna Namrazi had eight children with Pabilsag Namrazi, a noble and courageous elf. Ishtar Namrazi and Muati Namrazi (her grandfather) had a son Papsukal, who was deformed but kind-natured. The elves were discovering, at this time, the disadvantages of in-breeding. Atrahasis took Papsukal as his charge.
Only the Namrazi can learn sorcery. Only elves with Alali blood are fertile.
The Teliyatu led by Ishtar, Teliyatu's eldest surviving child. They lived in peace. Their numbers increased. After three centuries, there were two thousand of them. The women were fertile with Alali males, but they were not keen to risk death in child birth. The Namrazi blood became more diluted, while the Alali blood became more prominent. The Namrazi, apart from being less fertile, were still prone to premature death by misfortune.
The Teliyati were a source of embarrassment for the Illuminati. They did not know what to do with these powerful and rebellious elves. A solution arrived in the form of the recently liberated Terran gods' request for help in the form of sapiens to populate the Celesti sector. The Illuminati offered the Teliyatu freedom on another world, and the Teliyatu accepted.
The Illuminati wore apparatus that allowed them to hear and speak. They already had the power of sight with their own eyes. They themselves communicated with magical ticks, or dweomic pulses. The range of these ticks is a little less than sapien speech, but at close range, an Illuminati can destroy a space bridge with a loud tick, in the same way as does a bridge suppressor.
The Illuminati therefore had no audial language of their own. They taught the elves Sumerian and Akkadian, which they learned from the sapiens of contemporary Terra. The gods the Illuminati and made and sent to live among the sapiens of Terra of course new these languages well. The elves added to Sumerian, and complicated the language in ways that favored poetry and eloquent expression. Elf Sumerian is difficult to learn, but beautiful to hear.
The elves that came to Olympia soon learned Greek and Latin, the languages of their patrons the gods. But their songs and poems remained Sumerian, and they spoke that language among themselves. The language is so complicated, however, that few sapiens have the time to master it, and elf children have difficulty learning it. Consequently, elf parents on Olympia started teaching Latin to their children first, and Sumerian second. After three generation, elves on the free worlds have largely abandoned Sumerian. Their names still come from that language, but they speak Latin.
Illuminati taught the Elves Akkadian with a phonetic alphabet. Elves expanded the language over centuries, making it more complex and poetic, but it became difficult to learn.
When the Teliyati went to Olympia, Greek was the language of the gods, and the Teliyati had to learn it, but they did not want to speak the language of their masters among themselves. They persisted with their Akkadian, which they called the 'old speech', or Labirawatu. But elf children had difficulty with it. they spoke pidgin-Labirawatu, and later in the service of the gods, preferred Greek.
Many elves stuck with Labirawatu between themselves, and Greek with the gods. Others abandoned Labirawatu altogether. A third group, those of the second generation who had no tie with Ur, but wanted to keep their culture free of the gods, adopted Latin.
This third group is now in the majority, so much so that most Olympian business is now conducted in Latin, and Latin is the Language of Names on Olympia. All the gods speak it gladly, so it is no longer the language of elves and Roman descendants only, but the standard language of the Open Worlds.
Recently, there has been a revival of Labirawatu, and old names, so that elves on Olympia often speak their old language among themselves, and write their poetry and songs in it. They sing the old songs too.