Elves are one of the three primary races on Abode.
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Biology
- 3 History
- 4 Tribes
- 5 References
All elves who are descended more than three generations from those who came to the world have shrunk from the tall, perhaps 6-foot stature of the original elves to a general range of height from about 3'6" to 4'3". Their general weight ranges from 50 to 75 pounds, though the latter weight is rarely reached except by particularly indolent Sun Folk. As the original elves were very light framed, one might conjecture that the actual weight of the modern elves has not been reduced as much as their height, for they are now relatively broader in the shoulder than their predecesssors.
All elves have four digits on their hands and feet rather than the human five, and have large ears with pointed tips. Their eyes are large and have eye sockets that are more elliptical in shape, rather than rounded (as in humans) which give the elves eyes a slanted appearance. Their heads are larger in proportion to their bodies than with humans.
Elfin skin tone can vary from pale, as among the Gliders, to dark, as found with the Sun Folk. Hair color has a similarly wide range, as does eye color, and appears to share no correlation with skin color -- the twins, Ember and Suntop, are born with bright red and bright blonde hair respectively, and their mother's dark skin tone.
The primary difference between elves and humans is elfin longevity. Wolfriders, with the second most dangerous lives, after Go-Backs, are unlikely to live more than a few hundred years. A Wolfrider that lives to be one thousand years or more is considered a legendarily elder elf. Sun Folk and other reclusive elves such as the Gliders live for many millennia as a matter of their less dangerous lifestyles. The warlike Go-Backs are often killed in their never-ending battle with trolls or my accident and mishap. They, like Wolfriders, could live many millennia, but both of those tribes rarely see such a thing occur. A Go-Back or Wolfrider elder, like Treestump (who is 500 years at the beginning of the series) is considered a "mere stripling" by someone like Savah, the eldest Sun Villager.
Pure-blooded elves are not seen to die of old age. They can die of wounds or disease, or even by simply choosing to spirit-walk from their bodies and not return, or refusing food and or water because they have stopped wanting to live any longer (Eldolil, an old Wolfrider did this, he was the last pure-blood in the tribe - see "Song for Eldolil". Yurek, Savah's mate became so enraptured of his rock shaping magic, he refused food, water, and a lovers touch and wasted away until the wind blew him from the heights above the village). Elves, pureblooded and otherwise, seem to mature at the same rate as humans (birth to puberty to fully grown for both species seems to be about 20 years old) but after this point, pure-blooded elves will maintain their adult appearance for a very long time. Very old pure-blooded elves do appear more frail, fragile and weathered than younger elves and even than they themselves did in their own prime. They do not wilt and wither and sag the way a human of great age does, they will still be considered handsome or beautiful, but their age is marked on their face (see; Savah, Lord Voll, Ekuar). This ageing can be hidden if wished for, as is shown in Winnowill who is nearly a contemporary of Voll, a first born of the High Ones, and she at over 8000 years old and older than Savah by a couple millennia still looks in her prime. But she is a healer/flesh shaper and can take any physical feature she wishes for her body and chooses to look young and beautiful. Wendy Pini has said pure-blooded elves will not die of old age, though many eventually lose their taste for life and move on from physical life at some point for their own reasons or because over great time, no matter how careful one is, misadventure will eventually kill someone off.
The oldest known living elf is the surviving High One, Timmain. Her age is unknown as she was old before her people even left their original, dying, home world to travel the stars. She is old enough to remember a time when the High Ones still took mates, a time so long in the past that other High Ones have forgotten than was ever done (as reproduction is unnecessary with their longevity and magical prowess and star-vessels to protect them). The remaining elders on Abode a.k.a. The World of Two Moons range from ten thousand or less (Gliders) to Treestump (age 600 or so when Go-Backs Skot and Krim consider him a living High One because he is so ancient by their own, short-lived standards). Savah, Door, Tyldak, Egg, Ekuar, Voll, are more indicative of a typically very-aged elf, ranging from 6k to 10k years old, some children of High Ones (Voll, Ekuar) and others a few generations removed (the rest). While elves do not die from old age, staying alive that long is still a rarity and elves of this age range are treated with great respect.
Elves that are descended from Timmain and a True Wolf (Timmorns line) have varying amounts of wolf blood in their veins and are therefor limited by the ravages of age...eventually. The Wolfrider family of Rainsong, Woodlock and Wing kept track of the passing years until they passed from old age, safe and sound in the reclusive Sun Village, and the Sun Folk kept track of the passing years after they died of old age until the rest of the Wolfrider tribe returned. It shows a Wolfrider lifespan, left to run its natural course, will last about 6000 years or so. At that point, they will grow old and die, like a human, but we don't see their deaths or appearance at that time, so no further conjecture can be made. Go-Backs are descended from Two-Spear and his part of the splintered Wolfrider tribe so they also have the wolf blood, but their lives are so violent that living to even 100 years is nearly unthinkable to them. They have lived (and died) so hard and fast in the time since Two-Spear left that they have forgotten their link to the Wolfriders and the difference in their blood, only Kahvi rediscovers it much later in her life.
The cost of elfin longevity is an incredibly low birth rate. They breed for quality, not quantity (except for Go-Backs). Most elves that live in tribes of sufficient size and diversity, or that encounter outside elves, or live lives dangerous enough to necessitate new blood regularly will have a child at some point in their life. The longer an elf lives, the more likely they are to have more than one child. It is not uncommon to have more than one child over an elf's life, though the children may be born hundreds of years apart and are more likely to be conceived between a Recognized pair than non-Recognized mates. Rainsong, whose father Rain was the Wolfrider tribes healer (he also sired Pike, outside Recognition), didn't inherit his healing powers per se, but she did inherit life giving ability from him and it showed in her extremely successful Recognition of Woodlock. They had 3 cubs (the Wolfrider term for a child), all born within a 10 year span and all born from Recognition (the last one being a healer who would conveniently have powers like her father, giving the tribe a new healer just as Leetah was being called away from her folk. Such outside influences can spur a Recognition many times). No other elf we hear of has been so fecund and she is called a "lifegiver" as her cubs help replenish the tribe after nearly half of it is killed by Madcoil. Other examples of multiple births, in various forms, are Timmorn, who was known for fathering many, many children both inside and outside of Recognition, Zarhan Fastfire who fathered many cubs as well, both with his Recognized mate, Rahnee the She-Wolf and other females he Recognized from time to time (though he only lifemated Rahnee). In more recent times you see Toorah birth Leetah with Sun Toucher after they had been best friends for hundreds of years. 150 years after Leetah's birth, Shen-Shen was conceived. Similarly, Strongbow and Moonshade have as many cubs, over time, as Rainsong and Woodlock, but born much further apart in time. At the beginning of the series, Crescent, their first, was born and was killed at the age of 16, several years before Dart was conceived (who is age 12 at the beginning of the series). Very recently, Moonshade and Strongbow Recognized again and had Chitter A.K.A Freetouch. Her older brother Dart has become a father, grandfather and great grandfather and still several hundred years have passed before she is born. Strongbow and Moonshade have had 3 cubs (so far) together, but spread out over many many hundreds of years. Clearbrook and One-Eye also had a daughter, born and died long before Scouter was conceived. You also have multiple births, though rare, in the form of twins. Cutter and Leetah have the first set of twins born in the known history of either tribe. When Suntop/Sunstream Recognizes Brill, he finds she is a twin also, of her sister Krill of the Sea Elves. Brill and Krill are the first known twins in their tribe as well, but it does show it is possible.
The majority of successful births occur through Recognition, a process in which two elves are mentally and physically coerced into breeding - the Go-Backs are the tribe known to produce most often without it, even mocking Recognition as something "(other elves) still bother with". Rayek (a Sun Folk born of Recognition) mocks Kahvi (the Go-Back saying this) that the poorer quality of the Go-Backs indicates their low rate of Recognition. Any tribe can birth outside Recognition, but the chances are fewer and the viability and health of the offspring are more limited. Nonetheless, many healthy and talented elves from various tribes were born outside Recognition. From the Wolfriders, Pike and his own children, Cheipar and Sust, as well as Tyleet, the daughter of Nightfall and Redlance, all were born outside Recognition (with Pike and Tyleet having their conception aided by a healer; Rain and Leetah, respectively). Skywise is implied to have been born outside Recognition as well, as Rain the Healer comments that predation has taken many of their tribe and they need new offspring, hence his experiment with trying to "force" Recognition - something he admits he can't truly do, it is more than he forces fertility and the results are somewhat random. Pike jokes he is proof his sire failed, and Rain comments to Shale (Skywise's father) that his (Rain's) help was barely needed to bring about Skywise's conception, hinting that Recognition might have been incipient with Shale and Eyes High, but nonetheless, Skywise was also conceived from a healer's aid. Conversely, while the Go-Backs brag about their ability to conceive without it (and with their violent life, they need to do so) they can also Recognize. It isn't common, as hinted at by Kahvi, but it can happen.
Recognition is an overwhelming, undeniable mating urge that occurs when two compatible elves meet eyes (or not; Toorah and Sun Toucher Recognized but he was blind at the time. It simply fell upon them and they "knew" it had happened, they had a new knowledge of one another, a new kinship to be explained later). We are told that Recognition "guarantees the offspring will be amongst the strongest and most gifted of (their) race". It helps prevent in-or-linebreeding, it keeps diversity in the breeding stock, it maintains or creates new skill lines (usually magical, like healing or rock shaping or gliding) or just ensures the offspring is healthy and talented (Scouter with his exceptional eyesight, Skywise with his curiosity, Dewshine with her amazing agility, Strongbow with his ease at Sending and his incredible archery, and all very healthy).
It is common among the Wolfriders as an ideal way to choose a mate. It is believed (by current time) that Recognition knows who is best suited to you. This is not always correct, as we see with Dewshine and Tyldak (and in many tales in the Wolfriders past). Dewshine and Tyldak are appalled at Recognizing the other, but are undeniably drawn to each other. As it is said, Recognition cares only for the offspring, not for the parents. If Recognition is denied, the elves in question will sicken and die. This encourages unwilling partners to hurry and breed and be over with it, even if they don't wish to be mated for life. It is very common in the history of the Wolfriders (and noted in other tribes as well) for Recognition to happen outside a bonded pair. Those that take a lifemate without Recognition hope they will eventually Recognize their chosen mate and often that can come to pass. However, Recognition only cares for the offspring so many a pair have been interrupted or altered by Recognition. A perfect example of this is Prey Pacer and his lifemate, Softfoot. They had a cub outside Recognition, he was healthy and skilled and it was happenstance. Prey Pacer also Recognized Wreath and they had Skyfire from that bonding. Though Prey Pacer and Wreath Recognized, neither liked the other and Prey Pacer loved his lifemate. He mated with Wreath until she conceived and they parted ways, disgusted it had to happen, Softfoot saddened it was not her.
A more harmonious example is Scouter, Dewshine, Tyldak and Tyleet. Scouter and Dewshine were young lovemates when she Recognized Tyldak. She tried to deny it, but was sickened (as was Tyldak) from the denial and grew weak and could have died if she continued to deny it. Scouter didn't wish to see her with Tyldak, but finally told her that he will love and raise her cub as his own as it is part of her. She mates with Tyldak, Recognition is fulfilled and they part ways. Once Recognition creates a pregnancy, the overwhelming mating urge passes and the elves may part with no penalty. Dewshine and Scouter raise her cub, Windkin, as their own and they become lifemates at this time. Many hundreds of years later, long after Tyleet has been born and is their friend, Scouter Recognizes Tyleet. However, unlike Dewshine and Tyldak, Scouter and Tyleet are tribesmates and friends and they like what they see in one another's souls. Scouter doesn't wish to hurt his beloved, Dewshine (who is simply overjoyed he will get to experience Recognition himself and be a father) and Tyleet, now knowing Scouter inside out as a Recognized partner will, says she cannot be happy if he is unhappy and he cannot be happy if Dewshine is unhappy so they form a three-way lifemating. These are not unheard of. Pike, Skot and Krim are lifemates. For a time, Dart, his Recognized and her existing lifemate all bond and raise Bowki together until he is a teen and Dart goes back to wrapstuff (so much time passes apart with Dart and his pair bond and they were drawn primarily for the cub that millenia later, when he awakens, he admits he barely remembers them and they are as friendly strangers to each other. (Again, Recognition doesn't care for the parents, only the offspring). Scouter, Dewshine and Tyleet also become lifemates to each other, and raise Tyleet and Scouters son, Pool, together. Because of Recogition, they know who conceived Pool. With Pike, Skot and Krim, their cubs Sust and Cheipar were born outside of Recognition, there is no way of knowing if Pike or Skot is the father (or, if in fact, both could be, as Wendy hinted at with that very wording).. As the primary form of successful reproduction for the species, many elves will Recognize during their lifetime. The older an elf gets, the more likely they are to Recognize, and an elf who has not Recognized for the entirety of their adult life is more likely to Recognize a member of a new tribe upon meeting. 
When undergoing Recognition, two elves learn each other's essence, thoroughly, and if they have one, learn the soul name as well, and feel a truly all-consuming urge to mate. Recognized elves have an emphatic bond thrust upon them, each knowing the other completely, even sensing the emotions of the other, and the loss of a Recognized lifemate can often cause suicidal frenzies and near-catatonia (see: Clearbrook and One-Eye) The emphatic bond is more temporary (the duration of Recognition's call) though the knowledge of the other remains in a pair that have no desire to bond permanently. Such a pair will not suffer upon the death of their one-time Recognized, as Dewshine and Tyldak or Door and Dodia do not lament the loss of the other. The hysterical sense of loss is related to the sharing of ones essence/soul more than anything and a long period of being bonded in such a way. Elves that give each other their soul names or share their soul's essence (for those without soul names) voluntarily (Redlance and Nightfall, or even the platonic friends Cutter and Skywise) still feel the emphatic bond and will be particularly hard hit by the loss of the other IF, again, they were close.  Many elves, post-Recognition and if not already pair bonded, choose to embrace this complete sharing of the self and form a lifemating with their Recognized, even if they do not love, or even like them (at first). Leetah feels this way about Cutter. She finds him to be hardly more than a wild, filthy animal when they first meet and has no desire to mate with him. Since it is common for Sun Folk to pair-bond with their Recognized, as with Wolfriders, both tribes are confused by her refusal of "Recognition's wisdom" but she learns more about Cutter and his tribe and while she still "does not like (him) much, (she) cannot deny the bond is true". She trusts those around her that Recognition knows best and this is a way to celebrate the union of two tribes and takes him as her lifemate. After the birth of their twins, she remembers that the bond of Recognition slowly gave way to "...an even stronger bond....love". Dewshine even says love is "much more pleasant" than Recognition, so you still find plenty of elves that will not take their partner to lifemate if there is no affection. However, it is easier to find things to like about someone when you know them inside out. 
If this urge is rejected for various reasons (such as the two elves' low opinion of each other), the elves experience lack of focus, inability to eat or sleep, general illness and even pain, even followed by death. Cutter remarks that denying Recognition feels like "sitting in a thornberry bush, gulping overripe Dreamberries (a hallucinogen) while having a sand flea up your nose". When Dewshine Recognizes later on, she agrees that it is an accurate summation of how strongly you are compelled to complete the call. The completion of Recognition is not inevitable, but is only 'mostly' unavoidable: if one of the Recognized partners dies before completion, then the survivor will be released from the mating urge and recover from the induced sickness. However, the urge is so potent, many elves have been known to Recognize in the heat of battle (Joyleaf and Bearclaw, Ember and Teir) or on the brink of death (Dreamsinger and Skyfire) and the urge will compel them to stay alive, even keeping them alive when they might have otherwise succumbed to the pain of their wounds, at least until they fulfil Recognition's demands (Dreamsinger and Skyfire). 
Recogition is an involuntary sharing of inner selves to produce offspring. Elves can voluntarily share their innermost selves because they love each other and want a deeper bond (and to try and force Recognition, as Redlance and Nightfall did) and platonic friends can share soul names/innermost selves simply because they are close (or by accident). Soul names do not exist in every tribe. They are specific to the very telepathic Wolfriders who have a desire to keep their innermost selves hidden and the soul name aids them in doing so. It is like a key that unlocks that deepest knowledge of someone, a way they can keep others out when they wish. Recognition blasts away those mental barriers and let another soul into yours. Giving a soul name or sharing an innermost essence with someone of choice is a show of trust and camaraderie on the deepest level. Skywise and Cutter are best friends, they get into much trouble together and after one particularly dangerous night of hi-jinks and Cutters (he is younger, a teen at the time, to Skywise youthful adult, enough of a difference Cutter tries to tag along a lot) desire to insinuate himself into Skywise's business that they are ferociously sending to each other and finally share so much that they stumble upon each others soul name. It isn't Recognition, it isn't love or passion or lust, it is simply getting too close, but as friends they welcome it as they would welcome a new brother. Skywise has no family and views Cutter as "brother in all but blood" and Cutter views Skywise as the same. This closeness is not always welcome, and Strongbow and Bearclaw once had a similar relationship, arguing more often than not, but very close. Strongbow is a powerful sender, speaking almost exlusively with his skilled telepathy. He and Bearclaw got into a heated sending exchange and both reveal private thoughts on various matters, revealing more of themselves than either is usually comfortable doing, but because they trust and respect each other. After this exchange of vulnerability, Bearclaw proclaims they should "get out of (here) before I accidentally give you my soul name and embarrass us both". Leetah also comments that Cutter's sending "batters (her) with the strength of a sandstorm" and when Nightfall and Redlance share their soul names, we see them voluntarily joining their souls together into one, new whole through their telepathic Sending. This indicates that whether someone is telepathic, or at least capable of it, genetically (by species, etc) seems to be a key indicator of whether they can Recognize. It also shows that platonic friends can share soul information purposefully or accidentally if they let their telepathic guard down and a soul name can help prevent such a thing by being an extra layer of protection.
Go-Backs are the only elves who mock Recognition. When they undergo Recognition, they feel it as a simple heightening of desire that can addressed or disregarded at will. This is because their violent lives mean they must try to breed as often as possible and waiting for an ideal, Recognized pairing would mean they would be killed off in a generation or two. It also means they might hardy, but rarely magically talented offspring (and generally less attractive than other tribes) and very few lifemate-pairings spoken of.. 
Lastly, Recognition and or offspring are not a prerequisite for a love/pair bonding. While it isn't common, same-sex pairbonding have happened. Shushen, one of the Jackwolf riders from the Sun Village, and Dart were lovemates. We are not told if Dart gave his soul name to Shushen but his extremely distraught state upon his (Shushen's) heart being pierced by an arrow in the war for the little palace indicates more of a loss than that of a typical lovemate. Later on, Dart Recognizes Serrin and they raise their child, Bowki, with her existing lifemate for a time, then part ways, never to rejoin. When Dart awakens much later to rejoin the Wolfriders and see his parents again (and dote on his new little sister, Chitter), he forms a friendship with Kimo, the son of Newstar, and their closeness is implied to be a true, passionate love when they are in the Forevergreen and someone asks how he (Dart) would feel if something happened to Kimo. Furthermore, he recently admitted to being life-mates with the healer Mender, Newstar's sister and once Ember's lovemate. Cutter and Skywise are friends only and call each other "brothers in all but blood", but with Dart, Mender, Shushen and probably Kimo, it is a lovemating, as with Dewshine and Scouter (but they will never Recognize each other). Elves are fairly pansexual and don't discriminate any loving bond between non-related, consenting adults.
The Fall of the Palace
The Splitting of the Tribes
The Original Quest
Siege of the Blue Mountain
Kings of the Broken Wheel
The Shards War
The Sun Folk
While many populations of elves have been discovered, others may still exist in the world of Abode.
The Plains Elves are known to exist: Teir is one example of them, although no other ones have been spotted. Little is known about them, but one possible explanation has been proposed for them:
Like the Wolfriders, these elves could be hunters and gatherers, or herders. Their society, centered around family groups, would gather during autumn to trade information, celebrate an equilvalent of the equinox, and see if anyone Recognizes or decides to form other lovemate or lifemate relationships. Then they would stave off the trials of the cold in some form of shelter during the long winter months. Total decentralization would be part of their means to survive human enemies. 
There exists the potential for desert elves other than the Sun Folk. These elves would likely journey from water-hole to water-hole and bind Zwoots, or a similar animal, for their mounts and food. Perhaps some elves would have developed a water-dowsing ability to find water with. It would be a hard, pitiless existence, but possible to the eminently adaptable elves. 
- Elfquest: The Official Roleplaying Game, p. 11
- Elfquest: The Official Roleplaying Game, p. 11
- Elfquest: Official Roleplaying Game, pg. 12
- Elfquest: Official Roleplaying Game, pg. 11
- The Big Elfquest Gatherum, pg. 96
- Elfquest: The Official Roleplaying Game, pg. 11
- Elfquest: The Official Roleplaying Game, pg. 14
- Elfquest: The Official Roleplaying Game, p. 14
- Elfquest: The Official Roleplaying Game, p. 14