His Elvish tongue was silken, and while my language was clearly foreign to him, he infused it with an almost musical quality. “There is a vine in the deepwood,” he said, “which my people call iriolis. It roughly translates to ‘the creeping fingers’. This vine grows everywhere: over the land, up the trees, under the water – even up the face of stone. The problem is that it grows too well. The fingers are greedy; they drain the soil, taint the water and leave no sunlight for others. This is why we rip it up from the roots, for to let iriolis live is to let the forest die.”

“I do not understand,” I replied. “I thought iriolis was the Elven word for Humans.”

“Indeed,” he said, drawing the silver scimitar from the scabbard at his waist.

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According to the bards, there was a time when the Elves were one race, long before the Celestial War that broke brother from sister and pitted family against family. It is said that in this time, Cybele, the Virgin Goddess, lured away certain of the Elven children, enticing them to wander freely in the woods, to dance and feast by moonlight with her cousins the Elken and the Fey. It is easy to lose track of time in Cybele’s wood, dancing and singing and feasting from one night to the next. Some of these children never returned to their families, unaware as the centuries passed and the Elven kingdoms were lost to war and time.

The Wood-Elves are rumored to be the descendants of these children. Mysterious and savage, they differ from their more civilized brethren; they have given up the elegant life of Elven society and prefer the isolated solitude of nature.

Wood-Elves are respectful of all the gods, but show a special affinity for the Maid, the Mother and the Crone.

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