Male and Female elves
Also Known As
Snow Elves, Ifyrkryn Elves
Type of Group
Role in Story
Neutral, mostly Good Side
Glass Reindeer by E.E. Buchanan
Evergreen Elves are a species from the novel-in-progress Glass Reindeer by E.E. Buchanan. They live in an isolated village somewhere in Nunavut territory, near the border of the arctic circle, but the exact coordinates are not known and are religiously guarded. While the book does not go into anywhere as much details as this article, as it is specifically the story of one pair of elves and their adventures in the human world, this article covers in detail the important points of what they are and their culture. The Evergreen flag is an aurora across two mountains with the moon rising behind them, on a gold background with a cyan stripe down the left side.
Created by ScottyBlue.
This page is not free to edit.
- 1 Physical and Mental Characteristics
- 2 Culture
- 2.1 History
- 2.2 Prominent Cultural Themes
- 2.3 Government
- 2.4 Justice System and Banishment
- 2.5 Educational System
- 2.6 Language and Naming
- 2.7 Important Ages
- 2.8 Gender Roles
- 2.9 Livestock and Pets
- 2.10 Celebrations, Ceremonies and Leisure Activities
- 2.11 Economy
- 2.12 Supply Gatherers
- 2.13 Drivers
- 2.14 ESOI
- 2.15 Some Notable Elves
Physical and Mental Characteristics
Evergreen Elves look, for the most part, human in their basic shape. However, they have large ears that taper to points. The upper part of the pinnae/outer ears also curve backwards. In some individuals this is slight, but in many it is so noticeable they almost seem to have "goblin" ears. Another immediately noticeable difference from humans is that apart from hair on the head the body is practically hairless - where there is any, such as the legs or arms, it is so thin, pale, and fine it is barely visible. This isn't that noticeable in females but is in males, who never wear beards or facial hair of any sort.
In general, elves are a smaller height and lighter build than most humans, though there are exceptions. Average height for males is 5'6'' (1.7 m) and for females 5'0'' (1.5 m). Average weight for males is 160 lb (73 kg) and females 95 lb (43 kg). It is rare any elf goes very far beyond this but there are occasional exceptions. The tallest known elf was a male named Jerry who was 6'4'' (1.95 m) and the heaviest known elf was a female named Ylizabet who was 340 lb (154 kg). The largest overall elf on record was a male named Aspen who was 6'2'' (1.89 m) and 286 lb (129 kg).
Their skin and hair can be any shade a human's can. However, due to their blood, which is distinctly dark purple instead of dark red, their skin has a pale, sometimes almost sickly undertone. In darker-skinned individuals this manifests as being a cooler, more "greyish" brown than a warmer brown shade. In very fair-skinned elves, sometimes the skin may actually have a visible bluish or greyish tint to it.
The vast majority are black-haired and fair-skinned. About 55% of elves have naturally black hair or dark brown hair, with other shades of brown making up the next 15% and shades of red making up a little more than 29%. Fewer than one percent are naturally golden-haired, fair, or blonde. Females tend to wear their hair very long but there are exceptions. Males wear their hair short to mid-ear, most of the time. It is sometimes to the shoulder but that isn't common. As to skin tone, about 75% are fair-skinned to light tan, 21% are tan to olive, and 4% are distinctly brown or darker.
Regardless of skin tone, the eyes are always a bright shade of blue or bluish green, far brighter than average human beings. Anything darker is a sign of ill health, as they become tinged with brown during illness. The more brown that has spread from the inside of the iris outwards, the sicker the elf is. Blind or mortally ill individuals have completely dark brown eyes.
Elves have within them a self-renewing energy force almost like electricity in its properties but much stronger. It is partially magic and partially biological; it works with their blood to keep them alive. If for any reason they lose these powers, they will fall ill and if it is not restored within half an hour or less they will invariably die. Different elves have stronger or weaker powers than others. There is no correlation to gender or body mass with this, but there is a strong one with physical strength- the physically stronger the elf is, the stronger powers they have, as a general rule.
Elves are able to see in the dark, or see infrared spectrum in daylight. When they use this power their eyes glow, and turn to solid, greenish-white or bluish-grey orbs. This power is not constant, they can turn it "on" and "off" at will. When they are using this power during the day there's little difference to their vision, save that objects that are alive, radioactive, or giving off heat have different color auras, or "heat signatures", around them. Elves have a hotter/whiter one than humans, because their internal temperatures are very high even when at rest. Typically this glow is in the shape of the object or person in question and is visible even if the object is hiding behind or under something. During the night, these glows remain, but also the whole world takes on a bright-as-daylight appearance, but all in a mild blue or teal hue. Stars and other small lights are drowned out by the glow of this internal light through the eyes. Blind elves, obviously, haven't got this power.
Elves can connect telepathically with some animals, dogs especially - they have a special connection with dogs anyway even without this. Dogs, Cats, Seals, and certain reptiles can talk back to them. Elves can send thoughts and sayings but not receive any back in the cases of any other mammal, and cannot communicate at all with fish, invertebrates, amphibians or birds. (Members of the crow family are the sole exception though the bird cannot talk back).
Elves also have a unique power in which they can look back in the past and see an event just as it happened, from an outside POV. However they can only manage this once or twice a year as it is very draining and the power must be built up and reserved for this, especially.
Because of their powers every elf has one special ability in some area of expertise that is many times better than that of your average human. These areas are usually memory/concentration skills, musical skills, and problem-solving skills, but occasionally you'll find elves very gifted in mechanics, mathematics, languages, or other special subjects. Only extremely rarely will an elf have this gift in the physical strength area.
Elves can withstand extreme temperatures, and make their internal temperature extremely hot or cold by use of several symbiotic microorganisms within their blood. When they do this beyond a certain extent, a bright light begins in their heart and travels in flickers, visible through the skin, along the veins. They appear most in the upper chest, arms, and face. They are greenish-white if the elf is hot and bluish-grey if the elf is cold. If an elf gets right to the edge of where they have reached maximum heat or cold, their whole body glows.
In extreme cases an elf can heat or freeze so much as to cause a violent, bomb-like flash of either flame or freezing cold vapor to burst outwards in the air around them - however this hurts the elf that does it, sometimes severely or mortally. It is also dangerous and possibly deadly to others around them. The amount of explosion varies elf to elf and is very draining on the powers.
Sometimes a glow or even explosion happens when the elf is startled or afraid, but most do not do that, and can control their heating powers by a very young age.
Elves have the ability to transfer a bit of their powers/life force to another elf that is sick and has lost some of theirs, but few know how to properly use this power as it's difficult and dangerous, even more so than flashing fire. It involves heating the body as hot as one can without flashing fire but then deliberately restraining the heat from spreading so a massive glow appears in the heart area only. Once these raw powers are on the surface the elf embraces the recipeint so their chests touch and the powers will go to the other elf.
If an elf uses the transfer power on a human they lose all their own life force, and the human is irrevocably transformed into an elf. If the elf that did this is not helped within 30 minutes or less by another elf transferring some powers to them, they will die. This holds true regardless the age, size, or physical condition of either elf or human.
Elves can also put some of their powers, in a manner similar to the Healing transfer, into very small mechanical objects to perpetually power them. No one's figured out a way to power large things that way yet, though, and it is a very complicated process as it is.
Though they have limited magic powers of their own, elves cannot be affected by magic that is not theirs. Transformational and healing spells are occasionally exceptions but they always wear off rather quickly as their own powers "flush out" the invader. However, most of the time a sort of orange or yellowish semi- transparent shield appears around them for about two seconds- whenever a spell is aimed at them, and the spell refracts off it. This power is completely involuntary.
Sometimes elves are born without the night vision, memory, or telepathic powers, but this is a rarity. There is never co-morbidity in this - if an elf is born lacking a power it will only be one, not two or more.
There are elves that have a certain genetic mutation, and who call themselves "Wild Ones", (as "lacking control" is pejorative to them) who have absolutely no control over their powers and overheat whenever they get stressed or startled. These elves are also completely sterile, lack the capability to turn their night vision on and off once it gets dark, lack the capability to pick and choose any of their telepathic thoughts, and occasionally one will have emotional/behavioral issues that are extremely similar to mild Fragile X or mild Autism, but not the same thing. They are in danger of early death because a shock may cause a "flash fire" as they call it, which can kill them if it's bad enough to cost them all their powers. Very few Wild Ones live past 40 - even if they don't have a fatal flash fire, their body will literally just wear out from trying to control the powers after a while.
Health and Physiology
Basics, Lifespan, and Death
As far as basic organs and musculoskeletal systems go, elves are no different from humans in
the ways they can be injured and share many similarities in their internal workings and what can go wrong with them. However, they can get different diseases, and they age slightly quicker than humans as a general rule. Both genders reach complete physical and mental adulthood around 17-19 years of age, on average, with slight exceptions. Furthermore neither gender can reproduce after about 45 years of age. The oldest known elf was a female named Emerald who lived to be 98 years old, but the average natural lifespan is between 80-82 years.
When an elf dies, it fades away to ash, as if it burns from the inside. This is not visible externally until about the second day. Within four days the body is non-existent save a small amount of very fine dust. It is for this reason elves cannot have organ donors for diseases. It is also for this reason that elves always hold the funeral the day of or the day immediately after the decease.
Reproduction and Children
Elves reproduce the same way as humans. Gestation is 22-27 weeks, typically longer for single babies than for sets of twins. Because of the shorter-than-human gestation time, pregnant female elves start obviously showing within the first three or four weeks. They show the same way female humans do - frontal abdominal distension, instead of sideways like other mammals. However, while there is usually some chest distension, it is not often quite as pronounced as in humans. Most babies are born in the spring and early summer, though they can be born any time of year. Elves always have babies either singly or in sets of twins, both with almost equal frequency. It's twins in about one in every 3 or 4 births; however, the second twin is often born weaker and sometimes does not survive. Incidences of fraternal twins outnumber identical twins about 15:1 and incidences of opposite-gender fraternal twins outnumber same-gender fraternal twins about 50:1. Like elves themselves, the babies tend to be just a bit under human average in size. Newborn elves, while fully developed and viable at 22 weeks, tend to be very small. Most common birth weight for a single baby is 5 lbs 8 oz. For twins, 4 lbs 14 oz.
Birthing of a baby is done in hospital and home setting with equal frequency - the midwifes will work in either environment interchangeably so it is up to the mother. Typically the mother is sitting upright,sometimes bent slightly forward or back but not much, and positioned/propped up at the very edge of a seat or bed during the delivery. Fairly often, the mother will opt to stand or kneel at some point during the process (usually once the baby starts crowning). Only if the mother is very weak or sickly do they lie on their back. Because of the babies being small, the use of gravity to aid the birth tends to make the labor process quicker and sometimes less painful. Elves need different pain-reducing drugs than humans thanks to their different biology, but have few pain-reducing drugs that would be considered safe to give to a mother during delivery.
A newborn elf child, or elfling, resembles a newborn human baby, save the ears have a tiny point at the tip. A newborn elfling is as helpless as a newborn human infant, and has no powers save automatic adjustment to heat and cold, but this is not strong enough for them to survive in the arctic abandoned for very long. They gain infrared vision within their first few weeks of life, but not control over it until about age three. However they gain complete use of their powers about the same time their ear points grow in, about age four but sometimes as late as age five. In the case of "Wild Ones" symptoms usually show well before this time but if it wasn't clear then, it will be by now. Elflings usually take far more after their father than their mother in appearance, regardless of gender, but there are exceptions to this rule. Both genders mature at about the same rate, and hit puberty right about age 11 or 12, sometimes a little later. Elves typically cannot reproduce with humans, because of the transferring powers element. (There was only one exception to that, see famous elves category)
Diseases and FsSc
Elves can have the common cold, measles, and the flu but are immune to most other communicable diseases from humans. The only communicable disease totally unique to elves is FsSc, which stands for Frigussanguis Sicutchelys/ "Coldblooded like a turtle". (Sometimes called "Turtle Syndrome") It is caused by a bacterium that occurs naturally/harmlessly in the digestive systems of some animals in the family Rodentia. If an elf comes in contact with this bacterium, it enters via any opening it can find and reacts with their powers. It breeds within them with extremely augmented rapidity - it can double itself as many as 100 times in an hour. Eventually it will reach a point where it has reproduced so rapidly that the offspring are too weak to continue reproducing but by then usually the elf with it is severely weakened and dangerously ill. Wild Ones are immune to FsSc naturally - they lack the part of their powers that this affects.
If an elf is contaminated, their internal temperature drops dramatically and dangerously; extreme fatigue, dizziness, and shakiness occurs; and patches of skin become inflamed in an attempt to restore heat, as do many internal membranes, especially spinal/brain meninges. The delirium and severe headaches this causes are the most obvious symptoms early on, followed by whitened skin with dark/flushed blotches. The bacterium so infests the body that it escapes through body fluids like sweat and tears and is communicable by touch. It is so virulent that elves even remotely suspected of coming into contact with it are quarantined, bathed repeatedly and medicated by doctors in what equates to HAZMAT suits until the disease runs its natural course. Sometimes it does not do so before the elf dies from it. Rarely is the disease itself solely to blame - usually what causes death is complications arising from FsSc aggravating pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, or pneumonia.
Elves can get most of the common non-communicable diseases that humans can, such as acid-reflux, diabetes, pneumonia, and congestive heart failure. They are particularly prone to respiratory and heart conditions. Elves cannot get cancer or AIDS but they have other auto-immune diseases that are just as deadly and which they cannot fully cure. The most common of these is called Larhen's Disease (after the first elf that described it) which is a condition causing spontaneous organ failure - usually endocrine or digestive.
Elves can potentially have just about every emotional, psychological, or learning disability that humans can except Autism, William's Syndrome, Fragile X, and Down Syndrome, but incidences are extremely uncommon of any mental disability and are recorded only four or five times a year, if that much. Exponentially, dementia in the elderly is the one that occurs the most, followed (not very closely) by mild PTSD.
As far as physical disabilities the vast majority of elves gain those from injuries and not genetically. However, a small number are born blind, deaf, paralyzed, or with organ malfunctions. Blindness in one or both eyes is by far the most common genetic physical disability (one out of every 50 births) with improperly functioning heart being the second (one out of every 85) and partial paralysis third (one out of every 120). By contrast, their most unique genetic physical disability, the one that causes Wild Ones, occurs in only one out of about every 750 births, and it is rare that more than three or four living elves have it at a given time.
Elves have the same basic mental needs as humans and mode of expression, but they also have instincts foreign to humans. The best way to explain basic elf psychology is to say take the mind of a very intelligent and friendly dog and blend it with the ability to have free will and human intelligence. This is why most elves are friendly, curious, helpful, confused by some human behaviors, and tend only to lash out when pushed too far or when severe mental disturbance occurs (parallel to dogs would be abuse or rabies). This is also why elves have a special connection to dogs that goes beyond their normal telepathy.
While individual elves may display a violent outburst occasionally (males far more frequently than females), as a species elves are far less aggressive, paranoid, and dangerous than humans and are incapable of fighting an extended war or even a battle. It goes against all their instincts, as does killing people in general. Most elves also have an instinctive desire to learn about things they don't understand instead of the normal human response of fearing them, and most have an instinctive desire to help others not blessed with the safety and good things they have in Evergreen. Many will even risk their lives and safety doing so in secret.
The non-violent part of their psychology is often what has caused them difficulties with human invaders, but at home it's actually a good thing. Elves do not war or even battle or violent-protest. Because of how open and flexible the Government is, they have no real reason to rebel and their instincts go against killing anyway- even hunters have to override their instincts and usually feel pretty "down" when they have to kill something. In their old language the word for "kill" and "die" is the exact same. To kill someone is to kill yourself, to them.
Elves have a sort of instinctive and almost overpowering flee-and-hide response to some dangers, especially with weather. Young elves fear and hide from storms without being able to explain why and while older ones usually can fight it or suppress it, it is still a challenge to be able to go out in one for any reason. Elves have other bad-thing-related instincts as well (i.e., knowing when an animal is sick or dying before it's visibly apparent, knowing when a human is near, knowing when a storm cloud is approaching and its severity) but this is the strongest one. The great majority of elves are also hydrophobic and cannot swim, but there are exceptions to this rule as well.
Some elves - males more than females - are total loners, but most elves don't handle being lonely very well and are very romantic in the sense that they form very strong attachments to their sweethearts/spouses. The primary thing elves see in a marriage partner is a kindred spirit and someone to share life with them so they are not lonely or having to face things without support - they take the "male and female becoming one" thing very seriously. It is far more about the uniting of two souls in need and finding their missing complimentary half, than anything else - that is what they seem to naturally see as the important part. Therefore, while close but platonic male-female friendships are quite common, actual dating is almost always done with marriage or at the very least finding a kindred soul in mind and not just for fun, and if an elf does do it for fun and to simply "play the field" it can be taken as a grave insult to their sweetheart(s). It's interesting to note that in sets of identical twins, especially males, sometimes you'll find one twin is very romantic and the other completely a loner/aromantic.
Elves' ancestors, as far as can be traced, were of the nomadic tribes that eventually became the Kyrgyz people of Middle Asia. However, they were driven away from the rest of the Kyrgyz for some reason or another before Kyrgyzstan became an actual country, and wound up in what is now Western Russia/Eastern Scandinavia, where they continued the nomadic lifestyle. They were descended from humans in the same way that, when their life force magic is transferred to a human, that human becomes an elf. It's known that there was some sort of event that exposed their human ancestors to that magic/force and fundamentally changed their DNA to make them elves, and that of their beasts to allow them to have amazing speed and endurance and even flight in some cases. Most of the animals this happened to died out but certain kinds of reindeer/caribou and dogs/wolves with these traits still exist today. While it's known it happened about 350-150 BC, exactly what the event was and whatever it was that caused it has been forgotten - true to the nature of the powers, whatever caused it ceased to exist, after the powers were transferred. It is also known that there were at least two, possibly three, separate occurrences of this event. Many believe it has something to do with an astronomical event, such as a meteor or other object from space crashing on earth. It is uncertain if the transformation events happened after their arrival in northern Eurasia, or if these events happened in ancient Kyrgyz territory and were the cause of their being driven out, or both - historic accounts vary on this point.
As centuries went on, the various clans split apart, and spread over the Arctic and Subarctic regions of Russia and Scandinavia. Exactly why this happened is uncertain but it is likely due to being unwelcome anywhere else and often being attacked by frightened humans. As this sort of thing happened in more accurately recorded times later on, it is not unlikely it happened in earlier times as well.
There were two distinct "nations" that developed - one that took root in what is now Eastern Siberia and one that took root in what is now Norway. Their tribe name was Alaf or Alov (depending on dialect) and "elf" is a human corruption of this term that they adopted later. Both groups spoke the same language, which is known as Runik, but while the standards of grammar and structure were the same, there were several distinct dialects and accents. The Norse ones tended to be red-headed and more assertive, and the Siberian ones black-headed or brown-headed and more shy. There were a few "mixed" clans between the two tribes, in what is now European Russia.
For a long time, they had no human contact and stayed north, so until about 470 AD there is no written record of elves - openly visible as elves, and not disguised as humans - in human writings. Thanks to their natural curiosity, they became fascinated with the world south of them once they knew all there was to know about their own world, and could cover great distances by riding the extremely fast Flying Deer which had also been exposed to the powers centuries ago and which they bred with regular reindeer to make a new, horselike species of deer they could use to ride. A few sought to explore, reawakening other nomadic tribes and eventually larger cultures to their presence. When they did, the encounters were almost always deadly to the elves in question.It was then that they were considered everything from demons to gorgons to fairies to evil spirits to "little magic folk", and they were hunted either to be killed as evil or to be captured as magical - this usually wound up killing them, too. They learned many ways to try to disguise themselves, and it was infiltrating the human world in this way that they learned other languages and also the the teachings of Christianity, which they eagerly embraced. But they mostly lived in complete hiding because of repeated human persecution, and because of the fact they had no land they owned as theirs and therefore were essentially trespassing everywhere they went.
In about 1050 AD the Norse elves attempted to gather their whole village together into one unit, move south, and befriend/come into the open with the humans there. This was a complete failure and ended in disaster. For about a year they thrived but then people got greedy and believed the elves had some magic that they were hoarding that would be able to be looted. The Alov subsequently were attacked. The elves took the first attack without fighting back because they did not expect it, and many were killed. The second time, when all attempts to talk the enemy into leaving failed, some of the males used their glowing/'flashing fire' powers to try to scare them off, and while this did little to no good against the foe, it made humans so terrified of them as unholy beings that they were actively exterminated. A small handful escaped to Russia and joined their counterparts there - the sort of "between the two tribes" elves, who took them in.
The runaways were still hunted by Scandinavian humans and their allies, though, and as the years went by finding and killing an elf (they called them snow demons or something along that line) almost was considered a sport. After several years of having to hide from this, the "mixed tribe" elves eventually abandoned their own territory, as the lot of them moved as far from Scandinavia as possible to join their pure Siberian counterparts to avoid being hunted. By 1160 AD they all lived in the Siberian tribe range.
End of Old Lifestyle
When the Mongols invaded Siberia in 1206 AD, they stumbled upon a clan meeting of the elves and attacked them. While some tried in desperation to fight back, they couldn't do so beyond a flash fire or two, and as their territory was further invaded all the elves at that meeting, save about four hundred that were taken prisoner (mostly females and children) were killed. This meeting contained almost all the existing elves, so few were left still in hiding. Believing these magical prisoners to be divinely given or otherwise valuable, they guarded the secret of their having captured them, took them to a secret place in East Siberia, north of what is now Korea, and tortured/enslaved them there, trying to discover their secret and take their powers. After Genghis Khan's death in 1227 and the division of the empire among his successors, the secret "project" with the elves ground to a halt, and eventually it was decided just to exterminate them and dismiss the failed experiment. However, in a way that has become an epic in its own right, few elves who were not captured found allies, banded together, and managed to orchestrate an escape for their comerades. Many elves were slain at this time, as the escape was unfortunately discovered before fully completed. The survivors, with their scanty belongings and a small handful of flying deer and highly intelligent dogs, trekked thousands of miles through the arctic until they found a secret place that was practically inaccessible to humans. They settled here after their many years of journeying, and named the place Ifyrkryn ("Hope's Summit" or "Point of Hope" in their old language). Eventually, through corruption of the years, the name became Evergreen. Here they stayed, founding a village and setting up a system of secret barter with the human world, that would eventually become the way of life they follow today.
18th Century - Present
In 1730 AD Evergreen was nearly wiped off the face of the earth by a freak earthquake that probably registered a good 7.5 to 8 on the Richter scale, which further opened the gorges in the rough lands around where the village is and altered the landscape in other ways. Many of the ancient artifacts and all but a few papers of the already-dead old language were lost in this earthquake. Only nine buildings (six of which still stand) survived it. The rest of the buildings in Evergreen were quite literally leveled. There have not been any seismic occurrences since or even signs that anything like that might happen again, but just in case, elves make sure all buildings are built to a code that was taken from these nine buildings that stayed standing, and improved upon. As the earthquake opened two rifts in the mountains that make Evergreen now slightly more accessible, the elves used magic and other skills to create the portals that now block these.
Ever since then, Evergreen elves have not changed much in culture except to try to more closely match the way humans around them look in order to be able to interact with them. The flying deer rarely literally fly at this point, that trait being mostly bred out, but they still are the primary beasts of burden. The elves are no longer nomadic, having a full-blown town much like most human suburbs/small towns in the way it works. As described in more detail in the economy section, elves do have interactions with humans more frequently now, still living in Evergreen, trading with (or sometimes working for) humans outside for food and supplies, in disguise. Elves also have a few human allies in the know, now, thanks to the efforts of a young elf named Ben, whose father Will accidentally revealed himself as an elf to the father of a American lawyer. After the two father's deaths, the sons became fast friends, and worked together to make some human allies who could help keep elves safe whenever they had to come to the human world. Furthermore, elves spend extended periods of time in the human world more frequently than they used to, thanks to modern inventions using a mix of mechanics and magic that completely disguise them.
Prominent Cultural Themes
While elves borrow many elements of their culture from the humans around them there are three distinct themes that pervade their way of life, and which can easily be observed.
Lights - not so much the sun as artificial lights and reflective lights - are a big element of elfin culture. Colored light, especially light that shines in the darkness, represents happiness, peace and hope to them. This is because when they use their infrared vision when they have to look for danger, they can't see stars and auroras and sometimes not even the moon if it's a small crescent. The whole sky is blue-green. When they don't have to use their infrared vision, they must be in a safe place.
Ancient elves revered stars and auroras because of this, and almost worshiped them and to this day names based off astronomical events and titles are very common. During the months of darkness (winter) they make a point of getting as many colored lanterns/luminarias/strings of lights/candle-holders over every building and every home as possible. They call it the "Bring Back the Sun" festival. These lights are all put out when they go to bed, though, to simulate the sun rising and setting. In the summer months when the sun doesn't set at all they use heavy black curtains on the windows at night, sometimes with tiny holes in them to simulate a starry sky. At some holidays fireworks are used - however because of their large and sensitive ears they typically shoot off those in the "Roman Candle" type genre and not the ones that make loud explosions. In Worship Services, Art, and Music, the motifs of colored light and lights in the darkness also crop up.
Because of this fascination with colored light, elves like to paint things in bright colors and also like to wear bright-colored clothing. Furthermore, dying hair colorfully is big in the culture, especially among females for fashion reasons as well. Bright unnatural colors are more popular than natural colors, usually in streaks or undertones and sometimes coloring the whole head of hair.
Safety/Security is HUGE in elf culture thanks to many prior years of near-extermination by both humans and the elements. While they are not paranoid of outside danger, going about daily lives without fear in Evergreen's almost unrealistic safety, long experiences have caused them to always be prepared for the worst just in case.
While their natural curiosity and desire to help leads many to take risks in the outside world - risks they are more than welcome to take if they really want to, as the law doesn't stop them- it's an unwritten law that it's forbidden for elves to reveal their species or powers to a human because of what the human might do to them out of fear that they are a monster or alien. Even on supply buying missions - for most supplies and foods are imported from outside - elves disguise themselves as humans and rarely if ever does any individual elf go to the same place to buy supplies twice in the same year.
It is strictly illegal for any elf under any circumstances to bring anyone into Evergreen from outside without notifying the security office, or to tell any human, even the very small handful of allies in-the-know, the precise coordinate location of Evergreen. A magical shield lies over Evergreen to mask it from above but it's not impassable. The easiest passes through the mountains are made into magic portals only elves can cross, and sometimes these are closed to even elves during alerts. In the case of foundling orphan human babies being turned to elves by the transforming power to save their lives, and brought to the government-funded care of the orphan institute, there still has to be permission given, technically. However, that's usually not enforced. This last actually happens fairly frequently because when in the human world elves sometimes tend to try to buy supplies from poorer countries/provinces to help their economy, and often hang around really slummy /underdeveloped places where mothers might abandon babies for various reasons.
While private day-to-day life is not meddled with by the government beyond normal don't steal/cheat/attack/kill laws, there are seven rules that enforce public and personal security at home. 1.Elves who even THINK they might have FsSc or a relative/recent contact might have had it are required to be tested for it immediately, and to be quarantined if they test positive. 2. Hunters are the only elves allowed to use guns and none of them within city limits. 3. Stunners are only used by licensed personnel - mostly security officers and mechanics who have a license in order to test them. 4. Yearly drills for all alerts are mandatory - the security office holds them twice a year and while the week they hold them is scheduled for the public, which day in the week they'll do it on is not, to make it more realistic. 5. All large machinery and new inventions must be inspected by the Security Office frequently, for safety flaws. If one is found but not fixed the offender's in for a steep fine. 6. All buildings must follow a storm/earthquake/disaster building code which includes an emergency underground shelter for certain alerts. 7. Adoptions are a very careful process - every adoption request is run by the Council to make absolutely sure the adopting parent is fully capable of taking adequate care of the child. It is extremely difficult to adopt a child if you have any sort of criminal record, if you are poor, if you are a single parent, or if you and/or the child in question needs a lot of medical care (they'll get that for sure at the orphanage, also via law).
Elves have a series of color-coded alerts for emergencies, which are publicly broadcast via devices called ECBs or Emergency Call Boxes, which only Security Officers and Council Members can use. There is one on every street. These make all house radios and also a series of loudspeakers about town broadcast whatever is said into the box and elves follow the much-practiced safety drill for whichever alert it is. Blue Alert means a storm - elfin terminology "Howler" - is coming. White alert means a huge and potentially dangerous blizzard - "Bad Howler" - is coming. Yellow Alert means there's been an outbreak of FsSc. Orange Alert means malfunction in the half-magic-half-mechanical safety shield - the alert's in place until it's repaired. Red Alert means that humans are close to Evergreen. Black Alert means Evergreen has been invaded by an antagonistic human or humans. Grey Alert means there is an antagonistic elf wanted by the security office on the loose somewhere, or a rabid/vicious animal on the loose somewhere. Green Alert covers any other large emergency, such as a multi-building fire that has gotten out of control, an earthquake, etc.
Religion and Chastity
The primary and practically only religion of Evergreen elves, for the past 1300 years now, is orthodox Christianity. Their ancestors in their wanderings heard the teachings and embraced it wholeheartedly - for a people who were unsure if they even should exist, it was comforting to know that there is a God out there with everything in control, who sent His Son to die for everybody and who will eventually work things out for those who follow Him, in the end. Their particular "denomination" has evolved to somewhere between Anglican and Presbyterian but it still retains a large amount of that motif of "light in the darkness" being a symbol of the sacred - the church is deliberately dark with no internal lighting fixtures and it is lit only by candles and either external lanterns or the sun shining through stained-glass windows. Most elves follow Christianity and believe it, and those who do not usually just are self-described "not religious" or "not practicing."
Elves do not tolerate much in the way of deliberate deception, or broken promises. This is the case with relationships, especially marriage - wedding ceremonies are considered EXTREMELY sacred and marriage is binding until death, by law. Divorce is illegal except in very extenuating circumstances (See end of paragraph) and honestly the vast majority of elves have no valid reason to want to leave their spouse anyway because of their comparitively passive nature. The ceremonies vary from couple to couple - some prefer a private ceremony and others a public, and practically any location in Evergreen is up for grabs to have the wedding. However it traditionally has to be candlelit, moonlit or sunlit, and to be legal must be officiated by an ordained minister. The vows include many references to love and marriage being eternal and differences of opinion being respected and used to bring them closer together rather than to tear them apart. Because of this, elves are usually very careful who they marry and if they get in a BIG argument with their spouse over something they will live in separate areas of the house until they have cooled down enough to talk it out, or go to a clergyman for counselling. The sole exceptions to this rule are in the case of a spouse who has either been given a life sentence in prison or of one who has been maritally unfaithful/abusive, but again both these cases are so rare that it almost never comes up as a question. The council decides the question if it does.
Even without religion, elves are naturally inclined to modesty and culturally have embraced this because of the extremely harsh conditions they live in. You will rarely see a female or male with any skin beyond their arms, throat, and face exposed in public. Even if they swim - which few do - in the heated indoor pool they have for swimming lessons, they wears wetsuits, not swim trunks or bathing suits. Among males it is considered acceptable, if no females are present, to go shirtless when exercising/working out or sleeping. Among females the same goes for being in just a bra and shorts in those situations, when no male is around, but obviously all this is indoors with blinds down. The same goes with anything medical that involves removing clothes. Female doctors treat females and male doctors treat males except in emergency situations when a doctor must treat someone of the opposite gender for availability reasons. Nursing of babies is usually done in privacy. None of this enforced by any sort of law, written or unwritten - this is just what they feel most comfortable/natural doing, and the cold weather reinforces the inclination.
Again keeping with this theme, elves are usually much more able than humans to repress their more intimate drives. It is very rare for a female elf to become pregnant out of wedlock and it is considered a very sad occurrence when it does happen.
By contrast, most elves are rather passionate kissers,because embracing and kissing is not seen as ugly. Therefore prolonged kissing is their usual expression of strong romantic love, but true to the modesty instinct it's usually done in private. However, it is not viewed as terribly unpleasant or gross if done in public, though it's still considered not as desirable as in private.
Originally the elves had three leaders who shared power but for a good six hundred years now the elves have been ruled by a governing council with fifteen members - One Head of Council, and seven pairs of departmental representatives. The council serves as the sentencing judge in trials as well, though the jury is selected from the public. The basic jobs have not changed but the official department names have. In modern terms the departments represented are
- 1. Security and Safety
- 2. Food, Supplies, and Livestock
- (Number 1 and number 2 are combined to be "External Relations Management" since they handle affairs with the human world)
- 3. Education
- 4. Business and Property
- 5. Public Communication and Media
- 6. Health
- 7. Legal Affairs and Judiciary
Each departmental pair has a High-Ranker (who does all the sorting and paperwork) and a Low-ranker (who gathers all the information) and typically one or more secretaries to help them out. They each have their own area of special focus as mentioned above where they make decisions, keep records, make suggestions, and so on, but when it comes to making laws or settling civil matters brought to them where the meaning of a law in a situation is unclear or if it's an unusual situation that there hasn't been a law set for before now, all of them participate and make all decisions by majority vote. The Head of Council is always the tie-breaker - they do not vote until last in every matter. The Council is open and approachable by anyone when it is in session, and when it is not in session, the members - especially Low-rankers - are always available to be called on to bring a question before the Council by calling a meeting. Sometimes they speak in the absence of the person with the question. Any Council member is allowed free reign to make an executive decision in an emergency when there is no time to ask the others, but if this is done a report must be made afterwards and a law made to handle what should be done should this situation arise again.
Members serve until they die or resign unless for some reason they commit a crime and are arrested and deposed. Council members are elected or chosen, the positions are not inherited. Low-ranker members are nominated by the public - anyone can be nominated - but voted on by the Council themselves. High-rankers nominate their own successors from among the seven Low-rankers present, usually, but sometimes they open it to public nomination as well if they don't think any Low-ranker's good for the job or if no Low-ranker is willing to take it on. In the case of a death or an arrest for crime being the reason for the opening of the High-ranker position, then it's public nomination automatically. In either case the vote still lies with the other Council members.
The new Head of Council is always chosen by the other fourteen members by secret ballot, from the fourteen themselves. Each voter puts the names of three potential candidates (which can include the voter themselves), not just one. If the elf in first place declines, they go down the list of who got the second most votes to the third most and so on until someone agrees. Ties are settled by a second vote with only the two candidates in question allowed to be voted for. If the old Head of Council is still living they may have to play tiebreaker but if they are not and a second tie occurs then the public is allowed to vote on it.
Justice System and Banishment
There are rarely lawsuits in Evergreen because most conflicts can be settled by placing them before the council. However, in the case of a suit or criminal charge, trials are held before the Council but are much like many human justice systems - lawyers represent the defendants and the prosecution. While a jury of twelve elves - always six male and six female - decides the verdict, the Council decides on the sentence. Usually only the Head of Council and the two Legal Affairs officers handle smaller trials (domestic disturbance, disturbance of the peace, negligence, etc.) and lawsuits, but in the case of a serious criminal charge (blackmail, theft, embezzlement, deliberately breaking safety rules, assault, etc.) the whole Council must be present to decide the senten
ce. The Council also has the right to overrule or change a jury's decision but only can exercise it if the jury is hung or if there is obvious cheating somewhere.
If any elf commits murder or even attempted murder (both are EXTREMELY rare) they are either imprisoned for life or, if they are so mentally disturbed and violent they are deemed an escape risk and/or mortal danger to the Officers on guard duty, they are banished from Evergreen entirely and left to try to fend for themselves in the human world. In the whole nearly 800-year history of the city only seventeen elves were banished and only one of them was known to have survived the ordeal. The elf, "Bear", was banished for grievously injuring his brother. He made his way back to Evergreen after 15 years, was very repentant and asked for pardon, which the Council agreed to grant him. There have been no banished elves since, because the horrifically bad state Bear was in when he returned rather put the Council off assigning that particular punishment even in extreme circumstances. However, it is still part of the legal system and technically can be invoked if an elf were ever to commit a crime bad enough, again.
Elves do not have an organized educational system for ages 4-13, and higher education is optional as most teens apprentice and eventually follow a trade one of their parents were in, just because it is the easiest thing to do. Education is for the most part free save the costs of the books, which can be rented very cheaply or even borrowed.
Children are expected to be home-schooled by either their parents, hired tutors, or tutors who hold classes for several students at once in their own houses (these earn a government salary and the classes are free to the students). However an elf must pass certain tests to be allowed to teach, even parents. There are no grades, just eight levels of difficulty when it comes to the textbooks. This is where they learn math, reading, writing, language arts, law, Bible, history, science, art, and music. The tutor uses the textbook how they see fit during lesson time, sometimes reading it aloud, sometimes letting the students read, sometimes ditching the book altogether in favor of activities that teach the content. The books themselves have assessments in them and as long as the teacher judges each student has done well enough on each assessment they can pass to the next level of book. This system works pretty well because students get individualized education most of the time that caters to their needs.
The tutors have free rein as to method and most of the time their lesson content follows at least the basic skeleton of guidelines in the books - guidelines decided by the tutors, homeschooling parents, and Educational members of the Council together in a yearly meeting in which they all discuss and vote on whether a new set of books is needed or not. The government only intervenes in it the rest of the year if numerous parents complain of a tutor who is doing a very poor job - they may take their license away. Otherwise the educational members of the Council are primarily concerned with the Training Academy.
The Training Academy is the elf equivalent of a secondary educational institution. It's also the home of the pool and the basketball gymnasium, and can have either boarding or commuting students (dorms are the top two floors). There is no maximum age to enter but the minimum is 13. Students take at minimum three years of courses designed to teach them not only Evergreen law and history more in depth but also specific courses aimed at a trade. Some students enter an evaluation program where they take a mix of the available courses to discover where their strengths and weaknesses are, plus an extra half-year of job-specific training once they light on one. Any student that wants to own their own store or to be a Supply Gatherer, Crawler Driver(more on that later), Security Officer, Mechanic, Safety Inspector, Doctor, Minister, Counselor or any other non-service or non-factory job has to get certified here. For service, secretarial, handyman, and store-employee type jobs usually on-the-job training and maybe a short apprenticeship's all that's needed. However for the rest of these Training Academy certification AND at least a year of on the job training are needed.
Language and Naming
Before Evergreen was founded, the elves spoke a language called Alafrunek, or "Elvish Runik". There were several dialects of this language in place, which mostly were in the pronunciation of hard consonants and the letter "H", which is often not aspirated so much as made to sound like a Germanic "CH". Vowels were all very strictly pronounced the same regardless of dialect and spelling - there was a list of vowel and vowel combinations and their pronunciations, which was not physically written down until the late 1500s. The language had all the short vowel sounds and most of the dipthongs, but only contained the long sounds for "E" (represented by Y), "A" (represented by "AA") and "U". Furthermore the language is distinct in that the alphabet was designed to be written by one or two fingers, and not any writing or carving utensil. Thus, the shapes are somewhat rounded triangular shapes and dots as a general rule. Furthermore, the language is distinct from most others in that doubling a consonant dramatically changed the sound of the consonant - normally only vowels are so affected, in other languages. For instance, in Runik, L sounds as an English L but LL sounds like L-heh, adding an extra syllable. The same goes for double N and double M though those are not particularly common. Another prime example: T, in Runik, sounds like "TH" but TT makes the normal, hard "T" sound. The alphabet consisted of between 21 and 25 letters - the oldest dialects did not use the letters P, X, J, Q, or W and the newest dialects allowed for very infrequent uses of these characters - barring Q, because the "Qu-" sound is always represented by either KUA or CUA.
For a time, most of the Runik language was lost as elves began to interact with English and French settlers in Canada in the 1700s. Now, the primary language is English. A few elves can speak French now, as well as some basic words of Inuit languages. Some also speak Russian though it's usually a very old and outdated dialect that's taught, and some supply gatherers learn other Asian and European languages but do not speak it at home. There have also recently been attempts made to relearn/reteach the old language from what records of it still exist. This has met with mixed results due to large quantities of it having been lost and also due to there not being words for many modern objects in the old language. Despite this fact, there are still traditional names that have their roots in the old language, though the meaning has been lost in a few cases. For example, the highly revered name Raudy (Pronounced originally "RAH-oo-dee" and sometimes anglicized Roadie or Rhodie) means "peace-lover" or "Peacekeeper" in the old language - it was a title reserved for clan leaders in the nomadic days. Another example of an elvish term that has found its way into English use is the fact that storms are called "Howlers", because the elvish term for wind is Aull, pronounced "OWL-heh".
Elves do not have surnames or family names, and there is an unwritten but strictly observed rule in Evergreen that no two living elves can have the same name, though elves can be named after deceased people. Because of the creativity this forces, their names run the gamut from regular-sounding English names to animal/object names to descriptive/naming/interesting-sounding words borrowed from other languages, to astronomical-astrological words and names, to quite literally made-up words that just sound good. In the public records, whenever a name is repeated from generation to generation, a roman numeral is assigned to it. The official name of the fourth elf over the years to bear the name "Cepheus" would be "Cepheus IV", though the owner would never use the number except when signing legal documents. Elves are allowed to legally change their name once if they want but only once, to save confusion for the security office.
The two most important ages for elves are 13 and 16. At age 13 an elf is allowed to get a very basic sort of job, to legally operate/race a dogsled, to race a flying deer, leave Evergreen unattended and to go to the Training Academy. However they cannot get a job beyond certain safety limitations and it's rare that any elf under 17 gets any sort of serious-paying job anyway. They are also answerable to their parents/guardians - if they do not give consent for the child to participate in any of the above activities or to take the Training Academy test, the child must comply with their wishes. At 16 an elf is a legal adult, though, and does not need to seek parental consent, though morally if they are still living at home, there is a sense of obligation to respect their wishes. At 16 an elf can get any job they want (provided they have proper certification) and also can buy a house, get married, be intimate/have a child (this is actually illegal at any younger age, you can get fined/arrested) adopt a child, go on special missions to the human world, operate/race a dogsled or race a flying deer without consent forms needed, place a special supply order, get nominated for the Council (this is rare), and purchase alcohol (as it costs too much to get it to Evergreen most of the time and supplies are limited, this is also rare.)
Elves usually begin dating very early, even as early as 13 years old if they find someone that they think they share that strong connection with. They also marry comparatively young. Average age for marriage is between 19 and 23 years of age. An elf over 30 usually will have a much harder time finding a spouse because they're mostly already taken. Elves under the age of 16 are answerable to their parents, however when it comes to dating and may be forbidden from kissing or even hugging their sweetheart until the parents are sure they are both mature enough.
When it comes to traditional gender roles, elves follow some but disregard others. They do believe the husband is the head of the household but the nurturing and raising of the children is the responsibility of both parents.
Because the psychology of both genders is so similar, save that males tend to be more protective and more likely to eventually try to do something aggressive in a desperate situation than most females are, there is no gender bias when it comes to occupations or leadership. Females are both allowed to and encouraged to do any of the jobs males do and vice versa. However males still far outnumber females in jobs that require physical strength, for obvious reasons. Furthermore, primarily females are nannies/child nurses because of the modesty issue when it comes to males feeling awkward taking care of female young that are not their own children. Males are usually caregivers for older boys though.
The Head of Council, for some reason, tends to be male only slightly more often than female but not where it's a huge difference. Even back in the ancient nomadic days fleeing humans, before Evergreen was founded, you'd find an equal amount of Female and Male clan leaders. However, the ministers of the church are always male - females can be lower ranking church officials but there is a scripture in Paul's Letters to the churches that they take seriously that says a woman should not be over a man, in the church setting.
Livestock and Pets
As far as livestock, only poultry (ducks and geese and sometimes turkeys. Grouse and partridge are usually hunted, not raised), regular reindeer, and occasionally mountain sheep are kept. However, these farms are all extremely small and most of these things are hunted instead of bred anyway.There is one giant farm and all the flying deer in existence live there but they are not bred for food. They are bred for pulling sleds and/or taking riders to otherwise inaccessible places and the trained Keepers who work at the farm are the only ones allowed to look after their complete upkeep. However civilian elves may pay to sponsor a deer and it's their job to pay for that deer's upkeep expenses and to hands-on train them for work or sport, and to be their jockey in a race.
As far as pets, elves keep mostly dogs - primarily half-wolf/malamute/husky/spitz breeds or mongrels - but occasionally Maine Coone-type cats as well. However dogs, while considered almost members of the family due to elves' strange connection with them above all animals which even they cannot explain, are also used to do many jobs. This is mostly pulling sleds but also serving disabled people, herding wild deer, helping hunters track things, finding things/people that are lost, rescuing people, nannying young, performing as athletes, guarding people from bears or other wild animals, and even sentry duty at the only prison in Evergreen sometimes (it is a small glacial cave system high in the mountains with six 4-cell levels and a kitchen and shower area, and it's rarely if ever full). This is different from "working" dogs in the human world in the fact that elves ask the dog telepathically if they want to learn do whatever job it is, and if they say no they don't make them.
Celebrations, Ceremonies and Leisure Activities
Elves tend to borrow their favorite parts of human culture and modify them to fit Evergreen when it comes to holidays and recreational activities, as before they came to the safety of Evergreen their nomadic lifestyle left no time for much fun and they didn't really have sports or holidays.
Elves celebrate New Years, Easter, and Christmas, but they also have a festival when the months of darkness start in mid-november, with several sporting events and contests of skill, and lantern-lightings to kick it off. This is called the "Bring Back the Sun" Festival and the one they light fireworks for. They have another, smaller festival called the "Lantern Dimming" to take down the lights - usually this one is accompanied by the Academic testing and small competitions of intelligence and wit - when the sun comes back in late February/early March. They also have a Day of Silence on December 29th, every year, to honor the lives lost in the great escape in 1229 - no one is allowed to speak unless it's an absolute emergency and most elves also stay home and meditate. All businesses are closed on holidays.
They mostly have winter-related recreational activities such as sledding, sled races, reindeer-riding races (both regular and flying deer), skating, skiing, snow-surfing (Sort of a primitive version of snowboarding) and other things they taught themselves to do out of necessity without much human culture being involved. They also have other sports such such as mechanic-device-building competitions, contests of agility, wit, and/or strength, and mountain-climbing races. They also have their own form of dog-racing which is VERY popular but which uses huskies, half-wolves, and/or malamutes instead of greyhounds. When it comes to organized/team sports the only ones they know are ice hockey, basketball (played exclusively indoors) and baseball (played in an outdoor covered arena and - uncommonly - sometimes out in the open). They use a different kind of baseball though because a normal one wouldn't survive the cold - theirs is much softer, almost like a beanbag in material and feel, and bats are metal and not wood.
Much the same goes for the arts - apart from glass-blowing, something they have elevated to master art form, they don't have any unique art-related activities that predate Evergreen thanks again to the nomadic issue. They enjoy music and dance - they have regular dancing/ice-dancing competitions and parties, and they have private musicians and at least one public band that plays for them. They have wide tastes in style but they tend to prefer Romantic-period classical music, especially by Russian composers, because it is similar to their traditional music - they also far prefer instrumental music to vocal when it comes to private listening. However they do like hymns and religious songs and also love songs and will sing them. They do compose their own songs frequently but usually in the classical style. Plucked string instruments such as guitar and harp are the ones that are the primary element of their traditional music.
Evergreen's visual entertainment is usually borrowed from the human world (only the clean, primarily non-violent songs films and so on) but they only have one theater with two screens and few have a home television/video, as elves prefer the radio to films. Dramas/plays are fairly commonly held by students at the Academy, but when it comes to these, as well as books and literature, they are more likely to write their own than borrow them.
As to painting, water-based or mineral-based paints are about the only ones that can be cheaply-enough made to use in Evergreen. Paintings are usually very bright and colorful, especially in aurora-type colors, and either realistic or impressionistic in subject matter. Pure abstract isn't common - usually at least vaguely it will resemble something.
Traditional Elfin Wedding and Funeral
In a traditional Elfin wedding, the unbreakable bond between the husband and wife and the pair becoming as one is stressed. The traditional vows, sometimes altered, read, "I, (Name), swear to you, (name) that I will take your hand and give you my heart, will love you and share my life with you, will stand by you come what may, be light for you when things are dark, be hope for you when things are grim, and give myself to you from now henceforth, as we become one before God and this gathering." Furthermore, the ring is given with the words, "As this ring surrounds your finger, so my love embraces you. As this ring is an unending circle, so my love for you will go on for always." A unity candle is often lit, and sometimes the pair will also have a silken rope tied round their wrists while the vows are being said, for symbolic reasons. A pastor or assistant pastor is the only person legally allowed to perform a marriage but there is no traditional location. Weddings can be held quite literally anywhere and often are held all over Evergreen, not just the church.
Because the ground is too hard to dig in unless absolutely necessary, dead bodies are wrapped in canvas and buried at sea in a punctured, tiny boat that eventually sinks. Traditionally the funeral follows this procedure - the minister reads the eulogy, the procession walks to the big stone elves use as a mass gravestone and waits in silence while the deceased's name is carved in it, and then the boat is set on the edge of the sea ice. The Lord's Prayer is said, and then friends and family place small trinkets in the boat, or just kneel and say a last goodbye. Friends go first and Family goes last, and when the family goes to the boat no one is allowed to look - heads are bowed and/or backs are turned to give full privacy for as long as it's needed. Then the boat is pushed off into the sea. The place at the edge of the ice that they send the boats off from is often gathered at by family and friends on the anniversary of the death, and letters folded into paper boats are set sail from it. The majority of elves don't really believe the dead get the letters and read them, it's more symbolic than anything. The paper boats are usually made of colored paper and not white paper. Yellow and green are the most common colors.
Elves usually hunt and fish a good deal of their own food but most supplies are bought from outside. While there are rich and poor elves depending on their job, work ethic and so on, economical problems for the community as a whole never arise from lack of money but from lack of access to supplies or supply shipments being lost. There is a massive series of silver mines in the gorges between the border mountains on the north side, and elves sell this silver for currency in many countries so they can send supply gatherers for food. The mines show no sign of running out any time in the forseeable future, and have sustained them for centuries. In the past, elves could only get jobs in Evergreen, buying supplies in the human world by occasionally selling some of their silver. However, as of about 40 years ago to present, elves have perfected a "masking device" which means they can enter the human world undetected and can (provided one of the very few human allies in the know okays it) get jobs and sell other goods there. Most frequently, elves will set up roadside stalls or stalls at craft fairs in the human world with their glassware, which they market as "homecrafted" and "unique". However, they work in other areas as well, and there is no way to tell they are magically "masked" elves unless you know one or two specific signs to look for in temperament or are familiar with that specific shade of blue green of their eyes.
Elves pay for goods inside their own community with unmarked roundish lumps of silver that serve as coins, called "Snatches", of which there were only a specific amount made and which they recycle so there's no need to make any more. Paper money isn't used. There are only three denominations of snatches and their names tell their worth - ten-snatch, snatch, and tenth-snatch. Prices are written with only one decimal point and the symbol, which is just a bold and italic lowercase letter s, goes after it. For instance, 14.6s reads fourteen-point-six snatch. Usually one Snatch is worth about $3.75 USD.
Supplies are brought to Evergreen in a definite organized manner which has not changed much in over two centuries, save that Crawlers came into use in the mid-1800s. Gatherers are sent out, sometimes alone but usually in pairs or threes, into the human world with a large flying deer sled. This sled is cloaked with a smaller version of the same device that masks Evergreen from above. They have a list, which includes the staples and also special orders by private individuals, companies or sometimes even by the Council. Special orders are a priority thing - if they can't all be obtained the Council's are the first followed by companies and then private individuals because the Council's will always be medical, building materials, or something else at that level of urgency. They buy large amounts of whatever supplies are needed, take them to a secret rendezvous in the arctic near their home and make a large stockpile in an isolated place usually no more than 2 hours away from where they are, unless a special order requires a longer trip. This way Gatherers make several trips and a big stockpile - usually three trips a mission - saving time and getting more supplies more efficiently that way. Otherwise the deer would tire out from the repetitive long trips and it'd be impossible to get enough supplies to keep up with the demand.
Once several Gatherers have made a big stockpile, Crawler Drivers - usually just called Drivers for short - approach these massive stockpiles in their large mechanical devices (again cloaked) which resemble a combination of a tank and a semi-truck. Before these were invented, massive sleds pulled by fourteen to sixteen flying deer were used but they still weren't big enough when the city grew. The Drivers fill the Crawler's cargo bay with the stockpile and take it back to where they know Evergreen's portal is. This can be anything from a couple hours to three or four days, over the wastelands of the arctic and sub-arctic regions near Evergreen.
Besides supply gathering, Crawlers are also used in Evergreen to move things from factories to stores that are too big for sleds, and (not very often) for mass transportation. The Drivers that operate them are held to an EXTREMELY high safety standard and undergo more rigorous training than any other elves, that not only involves the operation of the device but also rescue techniques for wrecks and more emergency drills than they usually can count, because they are often in danger of their lives. While safe to operate inside town, sometimes Crawlers, while the only thing big enough to do the job, crash in the wild lands outside of Evergreen.
The most common type of wreck is when a crawler breaks the sea ice. In Driver code - much like CB radio code - this is called a Sinker. Partial sinkers where only the front has gone down are far more common than complete sinkers where the ice breaks all around and the whole thing goes down. Usually in a partial sinker the Driver can climb out, even if they can't swim, and other Drivers in their convoy will pull them out of the water via lasso. Often the supplies can be moved to another Crawler and saved. In a complete sinker sometimes the Driver doesn't get out in time and if they aren't drowned they are still likely to be severely injured and the shipment is lost. Sometimes partial sinkers turn into complete sinkers if the ice continues to slowly break after the first rupture. If the Crawler hits a hidden crack in a glacier and wrecks, runs into or is run into by another crawler, or runs into something like a large rock or wall, that's called a Striker. If the crash causes it to either overturn or the engine to be damaged in any way this is disastrous because it's very likely to explode because of the potent fuel they have to use (Lit-up Striker). Even if it doesn't, being flung or slammed around in the wreck can still kill or severely injure the driver.
For the above reasons, Drivers are and indeed have to be the toughest, bravest, most assertive and most disciplined elves in Evergreen, and are among the most respected. (And for strength reasons usually all male but there are exceptions to that). Usually this job attracts the rough-around-the-edges folk, the loners, the misfits, and the young heroes who want to really make a difference some way.
There's a legendary camaraderie among them, almost a familial atmosphere under their tough and often quarrelsome demeanor. Combined with the Security Officers they are almost the closest thing to military that Evergreen has. They are respected by many, and while they do not get high pay unless they're a manager at headquarters, typically any Driver who gets hurt in the line of duty is given hero's treatment for the rest of their life and, if they cannot get another job, a fair-sized pension.
Evergreen Security Officers and Inspectors (ESOI) are respected on the same level as Drivers and also considered to be a fairly tough lot - however there are usually equal numbers of male and female members and often the females slightly outnumber the males.
Of the two types of Security Elves - Officers and Inspectors - Inspectors are the far smaller group. Inspectors are usually civilians and cannot make arrests, only make reports. Usually they do not carry stunners either, it is just their job to check buildings and machinery to make sure they're up to code.
Officers are the ones that enforce laws, give fines, and make arrests when necessary but their primary job is Evergreen's safety in general (Which is why they are not often called police though sometimes the term "cop" is used derogatorily). Nine-tenths of the time their job involves a cycle of shifts involving guard duty at the prison, guarding dangerous areas like the mines from accidental trespassers that could get hurt, responding to reported violations, looking for lost people (especially in storms), sentry duty of Evergreen to check for invading wild animals or humans, and generally being available to lend a helping hand whenever needed for any reason.
Officers carry two weapons - a stunner which instantly but harmlessly sends the victim to sleep for between 90 seconds to 3 minutes - and a metal, telescoping baton. One or both are usually concealed on their person, even off-duty. The stunner is typically used only against attacking humans if the Officer is in the human world for any reason but is also used against wild animals and - rarely - aggressive elves. The baton is used almost exclusively against wild animals, or if the elf is physically attacked by someone and without their stunner for some reason. They are trained strenuously in ways to use martial arts tricks with or without the baton - usually without - to escape an attack and subdue the attacker, with as little physical harm to both parties as possible being the primary concern.
A specially-trained detail of Officers and Drivers serves as Evergreen's Fire brigade and both groups in entirety make up the disaster first-response team, which is what Officers primarily are known for. Despite the fact their departments work together, though, it's interesting to note that Drivers make up the vast majority of elves arrested by Officers for assault and violence violations.
Some Notable Elves
Official/Numbered names are used where appropriate, here. See section on Languages and Naming, above.
- Raudy Kaiya - the first head of Council. He was a clan chieftain before the move, hence his having the "Raudy" title the ancient elf clan leaders had. Prior to that helped organize the escape from the Mongols. Died in the early 1300s of old age.
- Raudy Nuan - a former Clan Chieftain. She was foremost among those instrumental in organizing the escape from the Mongols in the mid 1200s, but perished during the ensuing attack. She was Kaiya's grandmother, and they jointly ruled their tribe before her death left him the sole ruler.
- Raudy Bikhanrau-Onyshttaub and Raudy Hyuzfyl - The other two members of the First Council. Bikhanrau-Onyshttaub was the ruler of the largest elf clan left after the Mongol attack. Hyuzfyl's entire tribe was captured and most were killed, including her family. After the rescue, the two formed the first Council with Kaiya. They married and have a long line of descendants to this day that would trace back to them.
- Aianya - the only elf ever known to carry and birth a human's baby. The baby was born an elf, though, and not a human or any sort of hybrid. Aianya also perished during the escape from the Mongols in the mid 1200s, helping Nuan to get the survivors out.
- Sydr (Later chose to anglicize her name to Cedar) - the aforementioned baby and the only elf granted the ability of immortality. Was raised by Raudy Kaiya.
- Ttaubin - Nickname given to the first elf known to brave swimming, sometime in the early 1400s. He jumped into the water in order to save two children that fell through the ice. He lost two fingers and several toes in the exercise - even elves can get frostbite if they're in the water too long. Whatever his real name was has been lost. Ttaubin means "One who faced drowning" in the old language.
- Tryna II (Sometimes anglicized Threena because that's how it's pronounced) - First elf ever banished from Evergreen. She poisoned a hated older relative for inheritance and went totally over the edge after being found out and arrested. This was in the late 1400s.
- Fenella V - Descendant of the First Council. A brilliant female artist and architect who lived in the late 1600s - early 1700s. Her artistic building designs were extremely ahead of her time, and also proved to be ingeniously crafted for sturdiness as well when the great earthquake of 1730 knocked every building down except the nine she had designed. Most famous work was the Icicle Castle, which was meant to be a multipurpose public building but was converted into the Training Academy when the old one fell in the earthquake.
- Rody III - A very wealthy teacher in the 1700s. He happened to come into possession of an ancient set of books from the time when the elves were learning to translate Runik to Old English, and he saved these in a time capsule in a secret compartment in his house so the language would not be forgotten. Died in the 1730 earthquake before he could tell anyone about this but his house was one of the buildings that stood and the capsule was eventually found about 200 years later.
- Ylizabet IV (Pronounced Elizabeth. This is the Runik spelling) Not the same Ylizabet who has the record for heaviest elf mentioned earlier in the article, this was her predecessor in that name. Inspired by a sight of a railroad in the human world, drew the design for the first steam-powered Crawler in 1842 but it was a good twenty years before a team of mechanics found a way to bring the idea to life as a motorized sled. The design was improved on constantly over the years until it got close to her original design sometime in the 1890s. The newest design came in 1923.
- Cygnus VII - the youngest elected and longest-reigning Head of Council in Evergreen's recorded history. Reigned from 1923 - his death in 1959. Note that this says "Recorded" because no one knows how old Raudy Kaiya was when he became in charge, so he may have been younger than Cygnus.
- Hemlock XVIII - A supply runner, who currently holds the record for the best and fastest Flying Deer racer in Evergreen history. He won about every contest there is during his lifetime, and not always with the same deer either. Died in 1936 transforming a dying human baby, because apart from racing skills wasn't very bright, and thought he could do the highly dangerous spell without help.
- Will X and Ursa XI - A supply runner killed in the line of duty, and a secretary for the Council. Currently have the record for most children by a single married couple and not a blended family - they had nine elflings altogether before Will's death. Lived in the mid 1900s.
- Aspen VIII (went by "Bear") - Only banished elf ever to be pardoned and allowed back in. Also the largest known elf when height and weight were both taken into account. He broke his younger brother's jaw and nearly killed him in a fight over a girl when they were both teens, but totally repented of his jealously and evil wishes while in the human world and spent the time he was there living in guilt and trying desperately to find a way to send Patch an "I'm Sorry" message, before he eventually found an elf who could take it about 15 years later. Lived in the mid-late 1900s.
- Patch III - the aforementioned brother. Both he and Aspen VIII were descendants of Fenella V and by extension, the first council. He was the most ingenious inventor and mechanic ever known in Evergreen. His list of inventions and discoveries is so long many have difficulty accurately compiling it, but he is most famous for inventing robotic prosthetics that were well ahead of his time. He also is famous because he forgave his brother completely despite the beating that permanently damaged his face and nearly killed him, and did not press charges - it was their father who did that. Patch also was the one who campaigned the fiercest for letting Bear back in. Lived in the mid-late 1900s..
- Copper XIV - One of the few Wild Ones to survive longer than 40 years. Died in 1961 at the age of 53. He also was famous for helping Aspen VIII to start Evergreen's first official Mental Therapy program for elves with PTSD (which Aspen himself suffered from), and currently holds the record for most charitable organizations started by a single elf during their lifetime.
- Freddie IX - First transformed human that was able to remember what happened to him and describe the process from his side to medical personnel. He was 9, and not an infant, when he was transformed into an elf. His elder brother also was transformed - he was dying and an elf broke a rule to save him, but in doing so necessitated turning Freddie as well because he couldn't be left behind. However, as the elder brother was unconscious, he could not remember it - only Freddie could. Freddie's insight later proved valuable in discovering how elves' magic powers could more efficiently be used to power machines. As an adult gained new fame when he worked with Patch III to invent a new kind of Crawler that was amphibious, to lessen the likelihood of Sinkers happening. Lived in the late 1900s.
- Sunshine VI - Daughter of Patch III. The most famous female inventor in Evergreen's history despite the fact she was by profession an athlete, only tinkering in her spare time. She perfected a design of her father's which he never completed - the masking device elves use to hide their identity in the human world now. Initially elves just disguised themselves, using cloaking devices to vanish. Lived in the late 1900s.
- Emerald XX - Longest-living elf in Evergreen's history. She was 98 when she died, in 1971. Also the longest-reinging High-Ranker in Council History. Worth noting she turned down nominations to be Head of Council a record five times during her reign.
- Ben XIV - Eldest son of Will and Ursa. The first elf who made a human ally and worked with him to get things to the present state of being, where disguised elves who can't find work in Evergreen can search for jobs in the human world as long as they disguise themselves as human. Also the first non-banished elf to get a job in the human world. Lived in the late 1900s.