The Elves are a race of humanoids which claim (perhaps rightly) to pre-date all others. Instantly recognizable for their fine features, pointed ears, and graceful movements, the Elves were once among the most powerful races on the global stage - but with the rise of humanity, the Elves have faded into the background, integrating into other societies. Whilst there are still large Elf-centric communities and countries world-wide, the bulk of them are much smaller in size, having adapted as a whole. Gifted with an innate skill at magic and incredible longevity, the Elves are one of the most mysterious races encountered on the continent.
There are three known subspecies of Elves: They are the High Elves, Grey Elves, and Dark Elves.
The High Elves are the most urbane and common of the Elves - whereas the few remaining Grey Elves tend to be isolationist and insular (as of this writing, there is extremely few of them left), the High Elves have adapted beautifully to the rise of the other nations of the world. The largest groups of High Elves on Fontraile are those in Paramis' Silver Forest, Westerly's Tereilan Jungle, and the kingdom of Vadriga in the Vadriga Islands to the South of Fontraile. The Grey Elves once maintained some of the largest and most beautiful cities in the world, but most are now ruins - fortresses that fell in battles ages ago. No uniquely Grey Elven cities exist anymore, though the city of Laconia in Daramir is based in what was a Grey Elven city. The Dark Elves are native to the underground - depending on whose reports you listen to, they either dwell in small groups or maintain massive cities, the equal of any on the surface, deep underground. Only a few Dark Elven cities are confirmed to be around, most notably the ones in the Vanharn Rift in Vadriga, which is fairly open to outsiders and conducts constant trade with the Vadrigans on the surface.
All Elves are easily identifiable by their prominent, pointed ears and fine features, but the similarity largely ends there - the various subspecies of elves have extremely distinctive appearances that immediately set them apart from one another.
Superficially, the High Elves appear very similar to humans, though they are generally taller and slimmer, with sharp, angular features and pointed ears. High Elves have eyes with distinctive, almond-shaped pupils, with shades of green being by far the most common coloration. Hair coloration tends to approach human norms, but the errant more unearthly coloration of blues or purples is not unheard of. Serund Lauvrennia is a High elf.
The Grey Elves are typically taller, with notably more dramatic colorations of skin and eye color. As their name implies, their hair often gravitates towards shades of gray and silver, though black, brown, and more outlandish shades are far from unheard of. They tend to be exceptionally fair, and their skin does not tan.
Dark Elves are similar in many ways to the rest of the Elven races - tall, lithe, humanoids with tapered ears and sharp eyes. However, generations of physical conflict combined with living inside an almost-lightless environment has lead to a number of distinct variations. The skin of a Dark Elf is typically extremely dark - an effect of the lack of sunlight within the underground - though very rarely, pale or even ashen shades are seen. Very rarely, they have skin-tones approximating a surface Elf's, but this is rare. The Dark Elves are the shortest, being, as a rule, slightly shorter than your average human (but only by a few inches). Their skin tones and hair colors deviate by far the most of any elven subspecies, with skin colorations of dark brown, black, or even a purplish blue or ashen gray being the most common. Hair coloration is often quite bright; blonde, white, and gray are the most common colors, though black is far from unheard of.
All Elves have a number of unique traits common to all subspecies of Elf: They are extremely long-lived by human standards, and most will live more than a thousand years unless they die from accident or disease. Elves in general also have much faster metabolic rates than humans, and their cardiac and neurological systems are more refined. These traits manifest in their heightened kinesthesia and reflexes compared to most humans. To Elves, humans seem to move in slow motion with a certain degree of awkwardness, while to humans the Elves can move with distracting grace and fluidity, and can be blindingly fast in combat. All Elves generally have a high level of proficiency with magic. Their unusually adaptive neurological system means that Elves are much more resistant to telepathic psychic abilities and mind-influencing spells than perhaps any other race, with the possible exception of Sergals.
High Elves have a noteworthy trait that is seen by many as a mixed blessing; they possess an eidetic memory - meaning that a High Elf never forgets a poignant fact. This, of course, is a double-edged sword - a High Elf can perfectly recall bad memories and tragedies that have occured in her life with equal skill. High Elves are typically quite agile and skilled with magic as well; though not all High Elves can use magic, many can, and this is one of several reasons they are prized as soldiers - though it's a fact tempered by how long High Elves take to reach maturity.
Grey Elves are noteworthy for their inherent magical abilities, and more so for their affinity for magic in general - they have an innate "magic sense" that allows them to easily discern magical auras - it is said that a trained Grey Elven seer can instantly determine someone's abilities simply by analyzing their magical aura. Less physically-adept than the other Elven subraces, Grey Elves make up for this shortcoming with their formidable magical capability - and exceedingly keen minds.
The Dark Elves have adapted - through generations of physical conflict and prolonged dwelling in darkness - to their current state. In addition to their unusual skin/hair colorations, a Dark Elf's strength and reflexes are, as a rule, superior to that of a High or Grey Elf. Though they maintain strong magical skills, they are not quite as magically-capable as the High or Grey Elves as a general rule; far more Dark Elves lack magic than are able to use it, though several are able to use several minor spells innately, even with no formal magic training. Their senses are sharper than those of other Elves, and they can see perfectly - if only out to a short range - in perfect darkness.
Elves have the ability to interbreed with other Elven races - and with Humans, as well. Elven crossbreeds typically strongly resemble one parent in terms of abilities and appearance. Human-Elf crossbreeds are known as Half-Elves, and look like nothing so much as a cross between a human and an elf - being shorter and heavier than their elven parents, but slighter than their human parents, with eye, hair, and skin colorations approaching Elven norms. Princess Liliath Anagazzner of De Midian was a Half-Elf in life, and Lareth Wygard is a High Elven/Dark Elven crossbreed. Pregnancy for an elf takes about 2 years, with half-elves taking a bit shorter (18 months). All Elves are extremely long-lived; High Elves have been documented as living a thousand years or more, and taking about a century to reach adulthood. Grey Elves take a bit longer - about 150 years - but are believed to be effectively immortal - there are no existing documented cases of a Grey Elf ever succumbing to old age. Dark Elves mature the fastest and live the shortest - reaching adulthood in about 30 years and living about 700. They also posses higher fertility rates and shorter gestation periods, of about a year.
Elves are unusual in that they claim to pre-date most of the other races of the world - but their histories vary dramatically.
Roughly a thousand years ago, it is said, the Grey Elves had mighty civilizations that stretched across entire spans of Velgarde and Fontraile. One of the largest Grey Elven kingdoms consisted of a number of powerful city-states spreading out across what is now Augustgrad - these cities were home to vast populations and were ruled by a dominant elite who could command mighty armies. Elven culture was at its peak: mighty temples were lined up in precision with the night sky, stonecarvings were made to celebrate the accomplishments of great leaders and long-distance trade was flourishing. Yet a hundred years later, the cities were in ruins, abandoned, and left for the desert to reclaim. Whilst what, exactly, led to the downfall of the Grey Elves is a matter of debate, scholars intone that the most likely causes were manifold - Grey Elven records indicate that they warred frequently and viciously amongst themselves, and paired with the sudden rise of the Rakshasa, it is more likely than not that the Grey Elves succumbed to infighting that allowed their enemies to take advantage of their weaknesses to exploit a resentful underclass, leading to the Grey Elves' downfall. There are relatively few Grey Elves left - only a few thousand - and most, like the High Elves, have blended into human societies - though many have purportedly wound up working for Destiny's Call. The magnificent cities they once created - now in ruins - are predominantly held by the Naga now, who moved into them around the time of the rise of the Rakshasa.
The first to make peaceful overtures to the younger races, the High Elves emerged from the rainforests of Westerly, from which they slowly spread outwards, and can now be found all across both Fontraile and the world - adapting, for the most part, to the societies they've adopted. Only a few exclusively High Elven cities remain, with the bulk having become too inclusive to be considered exclusively Elven anymore. The remaining High Elven lands are allied with the realms of Humans, chiefly Paramisian Empire and Westerly. A more uneasy relationship exists with the people of De Midian. A past conflict, known as the Daybreak War - when the Shadow itself spread out, bringing all manner of feral undead to the region - ended their initially peaceful attitudes towards one another, and led to several High Elven settlements becoming xenophobic.
The Dark Elves are something of a mystery. Though they are relatively rare on the surface world, Dark Elves are, perhaps, the most successful of the Elven races as far as civilizations go, having created massive cities and fortresses deep underground. What led to their abandonment of the surface is a matter of some debate - existing records show that the cause was a war that the Dark Elves fought - and lost - in time immemorial, leading to their banishment to the underground cities and strongholds they now occupy. Whilst a large number of Dark Elven towns and cities maintain peaceful relationships with the surface - the Vanharn Rift in Vadriga being the most obvious - much of the Dark Elves currently exist as raiders and marauders, and are known for enslaving and murdering surface-dwellers - a reputation that the rest of the Dark Elves as a whole fight constantly against. Several Dark Elven outposts have allied with Destiny's Call, as much out of a desire to see the surface-dwelling races suffer as anything else.