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In physical stature the Elves stand slightly taller than humans, with a litheness and grace which comes naturally to their race, and are usually pleasing to the eye. Although they appear frail and weak in comparison with men, their slim frames possess surprising reserves of strength and endurance. The greatest advantages Elves have over other races is their affinity with the Aethyr, giving them the ability to distinguish and manipulate magic with relative ease, and their longevity.
Elves can live for hundreds of years, even millennia. Though their armies are small in number, they are some of the most seasoned forces in the world buttressed by centuries of bloodshed and training. However, the Elves are much lesser in number than they used to be, and every elf killed is seen as a great loss.
Many millennia before the time of Sigmar, in the Golden Age before the coming of the Realm of Chaos into the world, the Elves were a harmonious race, maintaining a perfect balance between all the aspects of their lives. However, this harmony was shattered during the long struggle against the forces of Chaos when Aenarion the Defender, the first of the Phoenix Kings, chose to draw the cursed Sword of Khaine from its resting place on the Blighted Isle. Although the sword gave Aenarion the power to drive the Chaos incursion out of Ulthuan, it also changed the nature of the Elves forever, destroying the unity of the race and leading to the civil war known as the Sundering which drove an irreparable rift between the Elven kin, separating them into the Druchii, or Dark Elves, and the Asur, or High Elves. Later, after the War of the Beard, the High Elves were driven out of the Old World by the Dwarfs and some refused to leave, becoming the Asrai or Wood Elves.
Commonly known as High Elves, the Asur inhabit the ancient Elven princedoms on the island of Ulthuan; the homeland of all elves. Since the time of the Sundering, Asur culture has shunned its darker nature, tending to emphasise traits such as nobility and purity. Highly sophistacted and diverse, their poetry and music can seem fairly simple and abstract at first, but it invariably contains dual meanings and hidden depths designed to clear the mind of emotion and focus the attention upon the essence of the piece, though they are mostly known for their crafts and magic. Asur craftsmanship is founded on the work of artisans who dedicate centuries of their life to mastery of their craft, as they strive to find the perfect balance between form and function. Being magical creatures at heart, their mages are the most potent in the world, having mastered Qyash or High Magic which combines all the winds into a seamless whole, as opposed to human magi that can only use one spectrum. The Asur are ruled by the twin thrones of the Phoenix King and the Everqueen in Avelorn . The first King was Aenarion, known as the Defender, and the current (and eleventh) one is Finubar the Seafarer. The Asur are famed sailors and once had colonies all over the world, maintained by their strong martial traditions and large armies drawn from all corners of Ulthuan. Out of all the Elven races, they are the most open having trade agreements and pacts with human nations like the Empire, as they are the ones who helped start the Colleges of Magic in Altdorf .
The Druchii, or Dark Elves, were driven from their homes in Ulthuan after the Wars of the Sundering and the shattering of the realms of Nagarythe (founding the Kingdom of Naggaroth in the New World) and the darker side of the Elven psyche has risen to become prominent in the Druchii, driving them to extreme acts of cruelty, hatred and selfishness. They worship Khaine (the Elven God of war) to the exclusion of the rest of the Elven gods, venerating him as the Lord of Murder with a heavy undercurrent of Chaos worship in secret circles. Much of their nation is run by slave labor, and the Druchii often send raiders to gather slaves and spoils all over the world, rivaling the navy of the High Elves The Druchii are ruled by Malekith, the Witch King and son of Aenarion, whose sole ambition is to exact bloody revenge upon those who betrayed him and prevented him from claiming what was rightfully his – the crown of the Phoenix King. In the many millennia since the Sundering Malekith has hatched several elaborate plans to conquer the Asur and gain control of Ulthuan, but he has not yet met with success. At his side is his mother Morathi, a powerful sorceress and Hag Queen. The Sorcerers of the Druchii are as adept at controlling magic as any Elf, but they draw their power from the Chaos tainted dark magic of Dhar.
Little is known about the Asrai, or Wood Elves, even amongst the other elven races, for they are an extremely secretive people and have chosen to remove themselves from the affairs of the world. The Asrai are the descendants of those elves who chose to remain in the Old World after the Asur were forced to retreat to Ulthuan after the War of the Beard, and have since become rather primitive having abandoned their cities for a hunter-gatherer way of life. They can be found living in scattered communities in the wooded areas of the Old World, but by far their largest settlement is within the magical forest of Athel Loren where they have formed a bond with the host of woodland spirits living within its leafy borders. Being sensitive to energies like all Elves, their mages, spellweavers, use the fey magics of the forest to their advantage, instead of the Winds of Magic. They are lead by the Woodland King and Queen Orion and Ariel; living avatars of the Elven Gods Kurnos and Isha whose powers wax and wane with the seasons and the forest. Asrai culture is considered barbaric by most other Elves, but some say that it resembles closely the culture of the Elves from the Golden Age. These Elves share occasional relations with Bretonnia, almost to the point of using them some say.
The Elves worship a wide variety of Deities of varying power and temperament. These beings are divided into into two main spheres of influence, with neither having dominance over the other. This is encapsulated belief of Yenlui, or balance; a philosophy that dictates that there must be a harmony between the light and dark natures of the Elven spirit.
The most widely acknowledged Elven gods are the Cadai or the gods of the Heavens, who represent the more positive characteristics of Elven culture and the natural world.These are ruled by Asuryan the greatest of the gods.
In Elven belief many of the unsavory aspects of their nature and the world at large are also represented by gods known as the Cytharai, gods of the Cytharai or gods of the underworld. Of these Khaine is the most well known, being the god of murder and war.