Labyrinth of Dreams
The Clans and Tribes of Elves
For as long back as history is recorded the Elves have been split. Tension is ever-present in relations between what have become known as the Clans and the Tribes. The cultures of these two groups have been increasingly divergent as a result of their differing beliefs regarding the nature of Mer’zel, the Lost Eternal.
—The Clans of Elves:
More traditional of the two, the Clans hold a more orthodox view of the Eternals. While their ceremonies and customs have little in common with the other races of the land, the fundamental beliefs are similar. Despite these similarities, the Clans tend to distance themselves from the outsiders when possible, viewing them as fleeting and impulsive. Being tight knit in kinship it is rare for a Clansman to leave his kind, but there have been those few who have chosen the path of the adventurer. Although reclusive in nature, they are not entirely cut off from the outside world. A reputation for exquisite craftsmanship makes Clansman-forged equipment, especially ornate swords, a status symbol for outsiders of enough influence to obtain them. While outsiders may resent the Clans’ high-and-mighty views they are still revered in an almost mystic fashion for their wisdom and insight.
—>The Clans and Mer’zel
Mer’zel, the Deceiver is believed by the Clans to be the sixth eternal. Their legends tell of the younger brother of Time manipulating the other Eternals into fighting amongst one another. One popular telling glorifies Ao, Eternal of Light, for piercing Mer’zel shroud of manipulation and unifying the Eternals against him. What became of him is unknown. Some believe he was banished by Time, locked away for all eternity. Others propose that having acted in a way unbefitting of his status, his immortality was stripped by Life, after which he was made to live out his days in the world of mortals.
—The Tribes of Elves:
Though little distinction is made between the elves by outsiders, the Tribes have done what they can to separate themselves from the Clans. Although physically identical to the elves of the Clans, Tribesmen have abandoned many customs upheld by the Clans in an effort to distinguish themselves as the loyalists of Mer’zel. Unlike the Clans, who pass surnames from parent to child, the Tribes only give a child a first name. When the child reaches adulthood he will choose his own last name which will henceforth be how he is called. It is common custom for a Tribesman to choose a phrase from old elven to server as his surname. Telling an outsider the meaning of a tribesman’s name is never done, to do so would be to taboo. The tribes are very community oriented, the young do not identify very strongly with their parents, but are instead raised somewhat communally by the tribe.
—>The Tribes and Mer’zel
Mer’zel, the Protector is the most common title used by members of the tribes. Their legends tell of Mer’zel trying to warn the Eternals that a threat to them was going to manifest. His warnings were unheeded. It is said that Power was offended by Mer’zel predictions and quietly rallied the other Eternals against Mer’zel. He claimed that the prediction was a distraction meant to draw the Eternals’ attention away from Mer’zel so that he might betray them. Mer’zel, by virtue of his great foresight, knew that he wasn’t going to be able to save the Eternals by himself. Just before the other Eternals took action Mer’zel was able to deceive Life into drastically increasing the lifespan of the Elves so that they might act as his mortal incarnations and help avert the oncoming disaster. After his deception of Life it is unknown what became of Mer’zel. Common belief among the Tribes is that he went into hiding, biding his time until he might reemerge. A few think he may have perished at the hands of the Eternals, but such pessimistic views are not wide spread. Whatever Mer’zel fate, it is the principle belief among the Tribes that it is their duty to carry the burden of protection for the creations of Life, the Aeons, and the Eternals themselves.