Long ago, the High Elves and Dark Elves were one people: the Elves of Aravia – the oldest and most powerful kingdom in Teleria. But after centuries of proud resistance against the forces of darkness during the Age of Hellfire, a spirit called the Dreamwalker unmade it all. It spoke with countless Elves in their sleep, promising them power, knowledge, beauty and truth. It gave them magic and wisdom, but all of it was tainted. The Dreamwalker’s gifts turned to poison, in time, and when the Arbiter came to Aravia, she saw it was the work of Siroth.
The then-King of Aravia called the first-ever Conclave of the Elves, but his attempts to quell the followers of the Dreamwalker only alienated them. War followed, with the sides split between the King’s loyalists – the High Elves – and those who followed the Dreamwalker – the Dark Elves.
Decades of brutal violence only ended with a second intervention by the Arbiter, this time with an army at her back. She forced a Second Conclave of the Elves, but it failed to unite the Elven people, only separating the two sides: the High Elves of Aravia, and the Dark Elves in the neighbouring forest of Durham.
It was an act that was meant to end the War of the Elves. Instead, it merely changed its flavour.
Conflict sputtered between Aravia and Durham for more than a hundred years. Sometimes the fighting was in the shadows, sometimes it was in the field, but the violence and hatred never stopped. Still, it never came close to full-scale war – until the King of Aravia was killed on a punitive expedition into Durham. Had the Aravian throne been succeeded by a warmonger, the violence would have been terrible…, but instead, the next monarch was his daughter, Eva.
Queen Eva had dreamed often of a world without war between the High Elves and Dark Elves. Her answer to their constant fighting was twofold: the construction of a great wall, and a new Conclave. Both would cause the war to change again.
The wall was intended to end the cycle of violence. It would not be guarded by High Elves but by Ogryn and Skinwalker auxiliaries – second-class citizens in the eyes of the High Elves, and thus their deaths defending Aravia would not provoke so much anger in its people. Meanwhile, the Conclave would allow dialogue between the High and Dark Elves for the first time in centuries.
That wall became known by its designer, Felwin, and its construction had the desired outcome – but Queen Eva’s grand Conclave did not. Most of the dialogue was little more than shouting and accusations, and there was little cooperation. More Conclaves were held – dozens, as the years rolled by – but unity remained out of reach; indeed, more than once Queen Eva had to contend with assassins from the Dark Elves and even her own people. However, the skill of her guards and her own courage won out over her enemies, and, over many decades, the Elves of both realms came to regard Conclaves as preferable to battle. It was a victory, if incomplete.
As time dragged on, however, and the Queen grew older, she feared that time would st eal her victory away. If achieving true peace should take longer than the span of her life, a more militant successor could quickly under all her work. Queen Eva’s quest took on a more desperate tenor, and ultimately she reached out to the Dreamwalker.
Queen Eva discovered that the secretive spirit was more than happy to teach her what he knew. But of course, as in the days of old, the Dreamwalker’s lessons held a poisonous edge. He turned Queen Eva’s desperation, measure by measure, into paranoia. Peace remained her mission, but the Dreamwalker whispered of conspiracy, and the Quene, growing desperate, believed him. In her mind, her enemies quickly multiplied – first within the Elven courts, then among the realms of her neighbours. Peace with Durham would no longer be enough. All of Anhelt would need to be tamed.
It was at this point in history that King Tabya of Kaerok shattered centuries of peace and attacked his erstwhile allies in the Free Cities. It was precisely the provocation the Dreamwalker had warned of. At Queen Eva’s furious command, Aravia struck at Kaerok with all of its might, alliances be damned. If Queen Eva could not persuade the powers of Anhelt to accept peace with diplomacy, she would bring peace at the edge of a sword.