The Flight of the Ancients
The Elves of Eliondé claim to be descended from a civilization which once lay beyond the Red Wind Wastes and was contemporary with the Gnossian Empire. These ancient Elves lived in glittering cities built and maintained by mighty wizards, and the land round about them, called Eilolal was green and lush and fruitful, providing all their needs.
The ancient Elves, known as the Eilolylaer were a pacifistic society. They saw magic as a tool of prosperity and knowledge rather than war; they had little use for bows and knew nothing of swords.
The Coming of the Orcs
The Prosperity of the Eilolylaer was abruptly ended by a huge Orcish invasion from the East. For the first time, the disparate Orc tribes of the far East were united under the tyrant Gruumsh. Gruumsh was the bastard son of an Orcish chief. He rose to power by slaying his own father through use of demonic magics learned from his witch-mother, and taking his place, enthralled his people with those same magics and with the force of his overbearing personality. The combined forces of the united Orcish clans, with the foul sorcery of Gruumsh in the vanguard, smashed the feeble Elven defenses and overran their cities, slaughtering them by tens of thousands.
In the ruined Elven cities, Gruumsh consolidated his conquest. But rather than rebuilding the Elven walls and towers and pillaging their books of magic for knowledge to increase the skill and prosperity of the Orcish nations, he greedily consumed any magical object he could find, enacting foul rituals to harness the strength of these artifacts and add them to his own, so that he began to swell in power and in stature, a giant demi-god of terrible strength and unholy aspect. He told his legions to destroy any trace of the once-great Elven civilization, crushing it to dust; for, he said, the trappings of civilization are a sign of weakness, a weakness which the Orcs must not emulate, a weakness for which all civilized races must be punished. The shamans of Gruumsh still espouse these beliefs to this day, and the Orcs as a whole tend to share their prejudice.
As the Elven cities were wiped out and their magic was consumed, the lush forests and vineyards round about began to wither and die; eventually nothing was left but blowing dust and scrub land, and Men call that land the Red wind Wastes.
The Elves fled in droves from the onslaught; many of them scattered into the wilderness, and to this day many Elves remain houseless wanderers, singing the sorrows of lost paradise. But a large group, numbering many thousands, fell under the leadership of Corellon, a charismatic young Elf. He was one of the few survivors of the meagre Elven army, and he vowed to lead the Elves westward, away from their enemies, to a more secure holding where they could regroup and try to build their civilization anew.
Though the Eilolylaer were peaceful people, they had skilled smiths, and the all-too-fresh memory of the slaughter inflicted on them by the Orcs fanned the flame of bitterness and vengeance in their hearts. It is told by smiths and lore-masters of many races that it was the Elves who made the first straight-blades in the Westerlands – razor-pointed broadswords and slender rapiers, blades designed for the nimble, dance-like fighting-style of Elven warriors; and designed also for quick, cold, and merciless killing-strokes. Elven culture began to revolve around both archery and sword-play, as Corellon and his lieutenants frantically tried to train the formerly peaceful people for war; while all the while they fled, houseless nomads in the unforgiving wilderness.
Now after wandering for some months, the Elves of Corellon reached the eastern slopes of the Cloud Peaks. They climbed into the mountain forests, and there they found ample water and food. They had learned harsh lessons in wilderness survival during their months of flight from the Orcs, and had begun to remember their ancient nature as a people of the wild – with no roof but the sky and no walls but the shadows between trees; they had forgotten such things long ago when they became people of walls and towers and cities of stone.
Many of the Elves wanted to make the Cloud Peaks their new home. The mountain-vales provided a measure of security; there was ample game to feed them and water to refresh them; and they had not seen or heard of any pursuing Orcs for some time. Corellon agreed, though in his mind remained a strange foreboding; still, he thought the chance to rest and lick their wounds would do the Elves good. So they settled in the mountains; but they would not rest for long.
Next: The Battle of Elgorith…