Elving is the largest of the twin cities of the Zeiphyr, and indeed the largest elven city in Santharia. Elving is indeed the Tharian name for the city, the elven name is Elandim meaning "centre" or "middle", referring to the city's place it had in the ancient kingdom of Eyelia, now in Santharia and indeed as well in elven life in general. It stands, surrounded in a bubble of magic, serene, protected from the elements, the Great Shining City of the South. The city exist on two levels, one that is open to all visitors, an illusion of the city; but mutter the words by the great gates of Tarrkin on the Elving Road and you are admitted to a city beyond the wildest dreams of men. Elving is infact almost two cities in itself. To the east is the Old city. The best preserved buildings remain inside the city walls, while outside, the lonely ruins of Old Elving stand testement to old bloodshed.
Picture description. The City Hall of Elving, the impressive center of Quaelhoirhim cultural and city life. Image drawn by Seeker.
City of Elving stands atop the Limestone cliffs where the
Zeiphyrian Forests clear, for the saline
air created by the sea smashing against the cliffs is too harsh for trees, and
is replaced by costals grasslands. It is the Great White City, named after the
white cliffs it stands upon, visible for great distance at sea. Held in a great
bubble of magic, the sky remains clear above
the city, and rain falls at regular intervals as the
elven magi do what they are best at, working
with and manipulating nature.
The city itself exists on many levels. The true city is visible only to those who can speak the passwords to open the great gates of Tarkkin on the Northern Road, or to pass under the great crossed tree trunks that mark the other entrances. If one can do so then the site you are met with is beyond compare. The city, despite many human myths, is a place of calm, renweal and healing. It is where the Quaelhoirhim come to recover their cár'áll, and to find direction and purpose if they lack it, for indeed it is home to many who are wise. The elves say that no evil dwells within Elving, for no evil thing, it is said, could speak the words that inlicit your entrance into the true city without turning to dust the instant the syllables left their tounge. The true city is a maze of levels and gardens, homes and places of production. In Elving and the other main city, Saloh, buildings are grand and made of stone and clay and surrounded by huge city walls and very much like any human city, though cleaner and kinder to the land they are built on, making use of the natural cave system beneath the city.
If one approaches the city - as most do - from the North, upon the Elving Road, you meet the city walls. The way in is via the Great Gate of Tarkkin, a mythical elk and keeper of the Elverground. His graceful figure is emblazened on the doors made of blue stone nearly 0.3 peds thick. This blue rock is highly polished, and has a relective gleam. In the moonlight the increased contrast between dark and shadow makes the mythical elk ghostly outline appear almost three dimensional. There is a popular myth amongst both local humans and hobbits that the form in the gates has been known to move at night, but put this to the Quaelhoirhim, and they will laugh at you and tell you that humans that dwell in this particular locality, have rather over active imaginations and that it has probably to do with being out in the sun too long.
The Gates, like most of the rest of the city you will walk through was constructed at the ending of SW I's hostilities in 729 b.S., to replace much of the Old City and the original port of Elving, which were burnt, ruined or destroyed at the beggining of the war in 806 b.S. Small parts (mainly in the East of the city) were salvageable and the decision was taken to move the new city and its new port some distance East of the original site. Thus the New City walls enclose both the grand city that replace Elving, and the small parts of the Old City that could be saved. Some buildings of course were constructed immediately after the assault, but these were hastily constructed, and have not stood the test of the millenia.
If the Great Gates are shut, as they are often at night, one must attract the attention of the elves in the guard house, atop the city wall. There is a small pull chord with which to do so. The guards are highly trained archers, and have been known to pin people to nearby trees with a shower of rapid arrows - so don't irritate them! They will ask your name, place of birth and alligance, and if unconvinced you may be met by a couple of elven guards who will demand to see your papers.
As you pass under the Gates you must utter the passwords you will be admitted to Elandim, the true Elven City. You pass along the Gate Road. On your left are streets that pass into residential areas, but while the streets are lined by the occasional white stone cottage, much of the land between the cobbled roads are gardens, both landscaped and wild. Butterflies flit between both cultivated and wild flowers. If you are wondering where on earth all the population live - look up. Like their Quallian cousins, the Quaelhoirhim like to live life in the trees! Every so often and enormous specimen of a tree will carry a small stair case around its huge trunk, and it will carry you into a world small walkways and houses on every level and yet still the elves are not crowded, for each has equal and plentiful space, both to live and to relax. Flowers cascade from branches, and fruit vines wind their way around elven doors. Such treetop homes are well shelteredd by the Zeiphyr's high canopy against the winds that blow down off the Elverground. Some homes are empty. Should you wish to aquire such an empty property, one should begin by talking to the neighbours. They will usually tell you how to get in touch with the former resident. If this is impossible, then the house will either be held by the closest relative, or by Housing Administration.
Housing Administration is housed in the grand white building to your left. It was originally part of the Old City, and its twin spires made up the western guard tower. It was the only building that escaped the 806 b.S. attack unscathed. This might have to do with its residents.
The twin towers are now home to all mages in Elving and the three great halls on the ground floor of the main body of the building are dedicated to teaching and studying of Xeuá. Other types of magic are learnt and practiced here, but strict guidelines exist about their use. The upper level is also home to magical arts and research, but is divided into smaller rooms, that individual experienced magi use to carry out their work. Many of these high wizards are vital to the maintainance of Elving's multilayered illusion. It seems odd then that if you hang a left as you pass through the main doorway of this great magical establishment is a small office, staffed by two, often rather stressed elves. Their job is to make sure that no property is untended for, and preferably that no elf is left with no place to live.
It may seem a rather un-elven concept, but it works very well for the Quaelhoirhim. Elving and Saloh have a virtually non-existent homeless community. While this is true of most elven cities, few are the size, nor house the population of these two. No human city of comparable size (Nyermersys or Strata perhaps, Vezash, or Voldar) can match this, and indeed if they knew would probably be rather envious of it! Indeed, social policy in Elving is very strict. While elves have a tendency to think in wider terms, as demonstrated by their language, in Elving it is vital. Any elf that gives cause for major grievance by another can be banished from the forest indefinetly. This occurance is rare however, as Housing Administration has the authority to host arbitration. If no comprimise can be reached, it may, in severe cases be brought before the Avá'ránn or her advisors. Their word is always final. The city is a place of peace and healing, and the elves will NOT tolerate trouble makers.
Pass futher down the Gate Road, and on your right is the Eastern Garden. Here, as in the Western Garden ornalmental and plants from far flung places are grown. The Eastern Garden is well known for its rose gardens, with types from all over Caelereth - many made as gifts to the Avá'ránn - for nothing pleases the Quaelhoirhim better than plants or goods that are new to them.
The Garden is divided in to by a road that at one end leads to a ruined look out tower, part of the old city that has been built into the war, partly because its loose bricks could be recycled to build the higher parts of the present city walls.
At the other end is the center of Elandim, its Central Square. A small market may often be found here, but three features dominate: The fountain, the State Building and the City Hall.
The Fountain. A large fountain in a lake stands at the northern end of the square. The sculpture is Caelereth, supported by both Avá, and Coór, and the Twelve are to be found at their feet and around the disc that they support. Water cascades from the disc of Caelereth into the pool, the edges of which are planted with herbs with healing and food usages, which residents are free to collect on a sort of bring and take basis. If one takes from the poolside, one must also plant something in return.
The State Building. Two grand buildings domintate the Southern part of the Square. The round building with a blue, gleaming domed roof, is the State Building. The space inside is divided into one large, semi-circular single room, with the other half divided into small chambers and offices at the back. The roof is painted with the night sky. This is the state building. The Avá'ránn and her staff spend much time here. All meetings or work of a state nature are performed here.
The City Hall. Next door is a similar domed tower, attached to a large oblong building that has a rectangular spire with a flying dragon, wings outstreched, gleaming silver, on its top. This is the center of Quaelhoirhim cultural and city life. This enormous buliding houses the library, the art gallery, and places for learning healing, lore, history, art and crafts, languages (Elving produces some of the greatest linguists, and many from all races apply to study here - being elven helps, as you can actually get into the real city, but humans and others are invited to interview, they may be met in the false city and if successful will be brought to the real city). The idea is that Elving should produce all the skills it needs to be a thriving city. Anyone is free to wander through its doors, and marvel at what is contained within. Here are housed the Quaelhoirhim tomes (the original version) complete and unabridged (except the part where somebody has written the plans for the Battle of the Fores over several pages of the manuscript).
The streets immediately South of the square are affectionately called The Turaom, or The Pipes, due to their narrowness and contain buisnesses - craftsmen, linguists, smiths, carpenters, builders, gardeners, tailors, grocers - anything you can think of. Santharian currency is taken, and welcomed, for most traders require money to operate; but the traditional Quaelhoirhim tradition is what still persists. If you need a service, you offer yours in return to them or their extended families, and an agreed task is settled on. This requires some amount of bartering. If you cannot offer them help at the present time, the goods are taken in respect that you will pay for them with your time or effort some time later. The whole thing can get very confusing, but the elves have used it for thousands of years and they have little intention of changing their habits now!
Follow the Pipes east and you end up on the Market Place, surrounded by further shops. This market is awash with other races, because it exists also in the illusion created by visitors. In one corner is the small stone house of the Market Supervisor. In the southeast corner, the lighthouse rises up, a watchpoint of unfriendly ships, and a guiding light for friends. The flame is lit by an elderly elven mage, who refuses to come down. Few have ever seen him. It is said he went up there as a young boy nearly 600 years ago, to replace the previous mage owner, to prevent the need for a wood furnace as is common in other light houses. Worries are now mounting about finding a replacement for this lonely job when he dies.
Moving west from the market and the light house there is another residential area, much the same as that in the north, leading eventually to the Harbour gates and the costal road that runs out of the city.
Illusion and Double Reality of Elving
If one is to pass into the city without uttering the secret words, one enters a very different environment. This is well documented in the few human accounts of those who have seen the elves' beloved home:
"To any other the entrance way to Elving, the Capitol of the Zeiphyrian forest elves, were two crossed trees in the shape of an X, surrounded by more trees, underbrush and leaf strewn ground during the spring, summer and fall months and snow covered during the winter months. But if you said certain Styrásh words as you went beneath the crossed trees you would take one step from reality and your next step would be as if you were in a dream, at least that is what it seemed like to Salina."
-- Capher: "The Wizard in the White Tower" - Chapter 7
The elves often use Elving to describe this environ, reserving Elandim for
their own city. The city is very much like other small
human fishing towns up
and down Santharia. Grey stone buildings line cobbled streets, quite drab and
unimpressive. there are three roads that enter Elving, and from each one passes
down a long cobbled street, surrounded by a long parade of statues, of people
and events past (the elven mages who work tirelessly to maintain this illusion
of the city are very proud of this touch) into a main market square, where
goods can be bought and traded. A stall can be rented for the morning if one
arrives before dawn and talks to the market's caretaker, who is currently a
rather grumpy, elderly Ahrhim
elf by the name of Golthaim. Surrounding this
square are shops of a more permanent nature. In fact they are the petrusion of
the shops in the real Elving into this artificial dimension. When one passes
through the door of a smithy for example, you pass momentarily into the
Elving world. Around the shops on the square there are roads leading to small
residential areas, but none of the houses that you meet on these roads are
real, merely illusions. Each of these streets inevitably lead you back to the
A second illusion is seen from sea. From this direction the city appears as a huge fortress castle atop the cliffs, very different from its true appearance. It is surrounded by double city walls, which only the most determined mind would contemplate assailing. As one draws closer, one can even see little archers patroling both walls.
However, from the sea what you can see is Elving's harbour area. This is real enough. The elves only bother to protect the port in times of great danger: Then it simply disappears from view!
The harbour itself is a maze of small wooden jetties stretching quite some considerable distance along the sand and pebble beach at the foot of the cliffs.Hundreds of ships may be tethered to these jetties at a time. As well as small Quaelhoirhim fishing vessels, identifyable by their distinctive shape: long thin boats, often shaped or painted to look like the great creatures of the deep, and often called Dragon Boats, one may see merchant boats from all over Sarvonia, stopping here on their way to New-Santhala, or south to Strata, or simply docking to trade with the elves. As a result, a small market of its own exists within the docks, as people trade from their boats, and the elves bring wares down to the port to trade with the boats captains.
At the east end of the docks are the great military boats of the elves. There are three curently in Elving, though they have stood idle now for many hundreds of years and the Quaelhoirhim have begun to use them as accomodations for fishermen and guests. The vast decks are also a great place to entertain, and bards from all over the Zeiphyrian Forests and beyond regularly give perfomances on the decks to any who will watch them. Payment for their performance is by handing around a small wooden bowl at the end of the performance. Contribution is voluntary, though it is thought rude to be entertained and in many cases educated and not leave some gesture of your appriciation. Bards are invited to perform on the boat deck by the Bard's Guild, who are housed in the third boat. The guild is responsible for membership in the Zeiphyr, Quallian, Auturian, and Sharadon forests.
Overlooking the docks there is a similar cave network to that of the Noarian Caves, some 50 strals SW of Elving, created by natural erosion. These caves have been used by the Quaelhoirhim for as long as any can remember, and have been converted into energy efficient homes and lookouts. Such military installations provided great advantages in SW I and II. Access to the cave network is via staircases in the real city in the Eastern and Western Gardens.
Passage from the docks to the city is by a steep staircase carved into the cliffs. Many do not bother, as everything one needs for a comfortable stay is in the Harbour region. If you do, you pass through a small cave near the top, where again you must utter the passwords if you are to pass into the real city. Either way, at the top you are confronted with two paths, one which passes back to the city and one that passes east along the cliff tops, an utterly idyllic walk in any weather. This path leads to the Shrine of Baveras.
Shrine of Baveras
Perhaps "shrine" is a too strong word, for Baveras is from this high spot overlooking a point where the waves crash most violently against the rocks below. There is little else here to mark the spot, though the face of the Goddess has been carved into the cliffs below, but they have been withered by the waves and the passing of time.
Ruins of the Old City
Continue on this road and you pass out of the city once more and are soon confronted with a reminder that the city has not always been as quiet and serene as it stands now. You are confronted by the great ruins of the Old City, the scene remains unchanged, as though the Burning of Elving that happened in the First Sarvonian war happened just yesterday! The corpses are long gone - removed by the elves, or disintergrated and the dust blown to the wind, but walk into the ruined houses and you see meals on tables, unwashed laundary waiting in clay baskets to be washed. This place is a mornful one. Even walking around these ruins in bright sunlight, one can hear the screams on the air - time has simply stopped in this place, and the Quaelhoirhim have done nothing to move it on. What could be salvaged was relocated to the remains of the Old City that now stand within the new one. There is no reason for the elves to come here anymore. Those who were lost have already come again, reincarnated into new forms. So the ruins just stand, and collapse a little bit more every year as the sea air eats at them.
Tree Cathedral of
In the far eastern corner of the ruins life remains. For here the Tree Cathedral of Nethor was built - it seemed appropriate tribute that out of the rubble the God of Concern, Morning and Sorrow, but ultimately of Healing and Renewal, should go about his work. The trees grow out of the rubble and form and intertwine to form a fine temple. Low shrubs are immaculately pruned to form seats and in the hollow trunk of a massive oak, that has probably always stood here, surviving war, fire and floods a door, framed in climbing roses and in'ilá, is a small alter to the God of Healing. The Cathedral is maintained by Nethor's elven clerics, who dwell in some of the more structurally sound ruined buildings of the Old City. Nethor is also God of the Performing arts, and so many of those who visit the site bring their instruments, and at sundown will dance and sing until the rise of the eastern cross in the sky, late at night.
Location. Elving is situated in the Santharian province of Sanguia, at the very end of the valley that seperates the eastern Forest from its larger twin to the west. Much of the Old City lies in the Western forest, but the vally made a useful route for the elves northward across the Elverground, so the city has spread east to stand at the valley's head. Along this valley runs the Elving road, and the city is met by two others, one from the East, from Saloh and Manthria and one from the West, from the Thaehelvil river, Vezash the Quallian and beyond.
|Map description. Location of the Quaelhoirhim's Zeiphyrian Forest and the city of Elving at the coast to the Aetryam Sea in the Santharian province of Sanguia bordering Manthria and the Auturian Woods. Map drawn by Artimidor.|
People. Elving is the
Capitól - if such things
can be said to exist in the
world - of the
It has been their home, their idyll and their solace for so long, life without
the city seems unimaginable. This is why they go to such lengths to protect it
while still allowing the tribe the luxury of being open to the outside world.
It is no secret that the
the traders and the politicians
of the elven
world. Their importance as they
see it is their general knowledge of affairs of many races, and as the tribe
that links their more reserved
neighbours (especially the ridculously shy
Ylfferhim, who very rarely leave the
confines of the Quallian)
and represents elven
rights to the rest of the world. Certainly such claims
are rather overrated, for the Avá'ránn
now works directly with the Santharian King.
However, the openness of the
tribe is non-negotiable. It is
part of who they are! They are by nature hospitable and gregarious
types who welcome strangers, albeit to an illusion of their city.
As a result Elving itself receives goods that other elven ports only dream of. Wares from all over Santharia nd up here and may be sent on to surrounding towns and villages - perhaps to the capital itself. In Elving fish is the main foundation of diet, one can see this at the harbour, where catches are bought and sold. Though Elving also receives many foodstuffs from other settlements and tribes. On the Elverground meat and vegetables are consumed and the excess is sent to Elving, arriving just after harvest time to be stored in the vast cave chambers until needed.
The Quaelhoirhim are known for their craftsmanship, beautiful emammeled jewellry, wonderful and highly decorated armour and swords. Glass is also a speciality to be found here. Many windows are adorned with coloured glass. Sand from the shore is collected and mixed with minerals brought in by merchants from further afield and heated in the great furnaces in the south of the city. Elving glass wear is found on the tables of many stately homes in Santharia. The Quaelhoirhim also produce strong functional wares such as storage vessels, cooking pots, etc.
The city has a very high concentration of mages - for there is much need for them here, both to maintain Elving's illusion and to keep Elving at the heart of Quaelhoirhim affairs. The city also provides much opportunity for magic and magical research. While the mages guild building hardly competes with Ximax as a center of magical excellence, in Sanguia, it is the best place to study for miles around, and Elving does attract some of the greatest achievers in Xeuá Magic - for many were born locally - either in the Zeiphyr or the Quallian. For many the draw home is strong.
Many halflings from the Shire of Elenveran have free run of the true city. The Quaelhoirhim are extremely fond of their diminuitive neighbours! However the approach to the city is known to be perilous - for the Zeiphyr is populated by drakes, wolves and many other animals who would eat a party of halflings for a midday snack. As such, the elves will happily escort them in and out of the forest. Several halfling amilies dwell in the true city and are well resected by their elven neighbours.
Coat of Arms/Sign. Here is the originating place of the Quaelhoirhim tribe's coat of arms - the place that suffered most in the First Sarvonian War, and the place that has both best dealt with that hurt, the tribe's exceptional love for humans - and will longest remember it. The tribe's coat of arms, a gleaming sword engraved with the eye of Avá on a red field flanked by two frost dragon, is sometimes used by the city - the sword is replaced with the dome tower in the city's heart. Elving's Coat of Arms is therefore often used for political correctness, but is only generally used when the Quaelhoirhim must attend a meeting in New-Santhala or any other human settlement. It is felt that their normal coat of arms would be imflamatory. Thus the city coat of arms is found in that illusion of Elving where humans are most often found!
Climate. The Zeiphyrian Forests are very warm for most of the year. Winter is brief and mild, providing an almost continuous growing season. Thus, trees reach enormous heights. Rainfall occurs all year round, usually in the afternoon, but can be more prolonged in the winter months. The sky is usually clear, but overcast skies can linger for days at a time during autumn and winter. In Elving especially a southerly breeze can be often felt, keeping the city cooler than the rest of the Zeiphyr.
Flora. Inside the city, fauna continues as it does without. Elandim is home to the peace pine and two species of tree related to the cloewen tree: The in'ilá (Styrásh: "climber", lit. "scaling the unmoving") is like its wild Quallian relative a sparse shrub, though this sub-species has a climbing habit, often found wound around the trunks of other trees and through branches. In Elving they are often carefully grown around doors and windows. The bejón’efér is a small tree, with a bushy, bright green crown with huge red and orange flowers, that resembles a tiny fire. It thrives in the clearing that Elving has been built on. Roses are a favourite, and are found in all colours and imaginable shapes.
Toward the coast, natural limestone pavements dominate, delicate in nature and housing some extremely rare species, including the so-called purple sell that will only grow in the crevices of the limestone blocks. The saline enviroment created by the sea spray means that as one approaches the harbour, sea grasses replace the lush forest vegetation of the northern city.
Fauna. For a city, Elving is alive with life, and not just urban crestures who thrive in most cities - like rats. In fact within city walls the ecosystem is much like that of the Zeiphyr that surrounds it, with bird and insect life quite happily sharing their habitat with the elves. There are however, not drakes, nor black harts to be found within the city walls, and if one is found, the elves are rather skilled at removing the animal - often using their hunting hounds to herd the creature out. As a result life within the city is a little safer than life outside.
Resources. Elving is one of the richest areas in the living forests! As with the rest of the forest wood is a great reasource. The east of the forest is known for yielding rocks containing iron ore (the soil here is often red, or in marshier areas, blue, depending on the ferric state of the iron) and provides Elving with raw material to make beautifully crafted objects and functional objects. Sand from the coastline at the southern edge of the forest can be used for glass, enammel and building. The limestone cliffs are also useful for some basic chemical reactions, and rudimentary small explosives can be made by mixing with acid in a small container. Lime can also be used in the treatment of various insect stings and bites, as well as a good building material - much of Elving is made of limestone, the buildings and the roads. Some amount of gold can be found in the western edges of the forest, which also finds its way to Elving, to be smelted or to be sold on.
Elving, however, does not simply have resources from its natural area - it receives resources from all over Santharia. The first recorded trade was with the Sophronians early in history, when time was barely recorded. This trade stopped during SW I and II, but has remained constant ever since - so trade routes run up through Saloh as far as Elsreth these days.
Elving's resources, as a result, are primarily its people - friendly, dexterous - not afraid to take ideas from other races. unafraid of change. This gives them a variety of labour base that no other elven city can match, and most human cities admire. They also have a history and culture that sets Elandim apart from many other settlements. The Old City and the library in the central square house many antiquities, and was for a time the resting and hiding place of Maengolth's blood. The Quaelhoirhim Tomes, are the most famous modern example of Elving's collection, an ancient script, written about 400 b.S., though possibly compiled over hundreds of years (one page is thought by the elves to be over 8000 years old) it is part description and census of the world of Caelereth at that time, part detailed history, part literature and poetry and part lore and myth though its descriptions of events prior to and during the First Santharian War are considered to be some of the most accurate existing descriptions.
Myth/Lore. There are many stories about Elving - but many of them are human ones. Apart from the moving figure of Tarkkin on the Great Gates, many human claim the city to be cursed or haunted by the ghosts of slain soildiers. This creepy feeling is probably caused by the slight problems of spatial arrangement caused by entering the illusion. Had they seen Elandim, no such story would have ever arisen.
A similar story exists among human sailors. Unaware that the figure in the cliff's rock was Baveras, a story has over the years emerged, that a young elven woman used to sit on the rocks above the bay of Elving and sing to the Sea Goddess. So beautiful was her voice that sailors used to ignore their duties and crash onto the rocks that petrude from the cliffs. Baveras was distraught, unable and unwilling to punish someone who sung to her so sweetly, Urtengor stepped in, or so it is said, and turned the girl to rock, her face in the cliff. So upset were the elves when she did not return to Elving that night that they built the light house to scour the sea and land for her.
There may well be a grain of truth in the story of a singing elf, that may refer to the breaching of the city walls during a storm in 900 b.S.; however, such a date, and accuracy is hard to estimate, as elven records show that the first Ránn was not in place until about 804 b.S. and the new city walls which contain the lighthouse not built till long after that. However, A very similar story is told by sailors of all races, and indeed those who live on the Elverground tell of Benvia, a young elven maid, daughter of the Avá'ránn of the Quaelhoirhim, who had the sweetest singing voice of all the children of the world. Her voice kept Grothar entertained, and aided Baveras in concentrating on her work. One day a human soldier stole her far away, beyond the Elverground and kept her there. Grothar grew weary, and the wind rose; Baveras forgot her duties to that part of the coast, and the waves crashed and roared up the cliffs and flattened the city walls, and the city was flooded. Though Benvia grew to care for her capture, she wished nothing more than to return home. One day while she sat by a river crying, the Gods took pity upon her and turned her into a dolphune, and she swam home, guided by the light that the lighthouse threw out.
Some have taken this as evidence that the old city too had a lighthouse, which has been totaly destroyed at some point int the past.
Information provided by Wren