Taller and more slender than most men, high elves have pointed ears and pale, delicate features framed by long golden or ebony hair. They live for many centuries, and to stare into elven eyes is to gaze into deep wells of arcane lore. They bear themselves with noble dignity, wearing silk robes, or, in times of war, shining scale-mail and tall helms, decorated with gold and jewels.
High elves dedicate their long lives to perfecting a chosen art. Some pursue the skills of war, some become exceptional craftsmen, and others seek out ancient lore, reaching an understanding of magic far beyond human comprehension. They value learning, and consider themselves the most civilised of all races. Subtle in speech and manner, they can convey intricate depths of meaning with the slightest gesture.
Their homeland is Ulthuan, ruled by the Phoenix King Finubar and the beautiful Everqueen. It is a verdant, magical isle of white-towered cities, lying across the Great Ocean far to the west of the Old World. The venerated elf deities protect Ulthuan: Asuryan the creator, Vaul the craftsman, Isha, lady of fertility, and violent Khaine. High elf citizens proudly join the ranks of Ulthuan’s armies from an early age, taking their responsibilities and duties seriously. The High Elves are not a numerous race, and their island is beset by a cruel enemy – their treacherous kin, the dark elves.
Ulthuan’s civilisation dates back thousands of years, when men were savage brutes. The earliest histories speak of a time when the fabric of reality collapsed and Chaos overwhelmed the world. The Phoenix King Aenarion damned himself by wielding the cursed Sword of Khaine to battle the daemons that invaded his realm. Mages summoned a vortex to drain away the untamed magic of Chaos and weaken the daemonic legions, but condemned themselves to maintain the ritual for eternity. Victory was won at great cost, for among the thousands of dead was Aenarion himself.
Bel Shanaar succeeded as king. During his reign, elves founded colonies throughout the Known World, and helped the dwarfs drive Chaos from the Old World. However, Malekith, corrupt son of Aenarion, poisoned Bel Shanaar and claimed the throne. Brother fought against brother in a time known as the Sundering, and millions died. Malekith turned to black sorcery to secure victory, and became known as the Witch King. He and his followers, the dark elves, were defeated and fled to the New World where they founded the kingdom of Naggaroth.
The vengeful Malekith tricked the dwarfs of the Old World into believing that Ulthuan had attacked them. The ensuing War of the Beard, as it was called by the elves, resulted in four centuries of bloody conflict and the death of King Caledor II. His successor, Caradryel the Peacemaker, unable to maintain a war against both dwarfs and dark elves, oversaw the exodus of the Old World colonists back to Ulthuan. High elves have never forgotten this humiliation.
Over the ensuing millennia, the high elves, embroiled in conflict with Naggaroth, did not concern themselves with the Old World until Finubar the Seafarer contacted the realms of Bretonnia and the Empire, five centuries ago. Three hundred years later, when Finubar was king, the dark elves invaded Ulthuan again, accompanied by fleets of frenzied Chaos warriors. The heroes Teclis and Tyrion defeated this horde at the Battle of Finuval Plain, and Teclis left for the Empire, sole bastion against Chaos in the Old World. The elf mage steered Magnus the Pious towards victory, and helped found the Colleges of Magic in Altdorf, so that humans would not be defenceless against Chaos sorcery.
Now the high elf race faces twilight. Their number grows fewer with each decade of war, but while a Phoenix King sits on the throne, they will never relinquish their civilisation.
High Elves in the Reikland
Each year, ships from Ulthuan bring exotic goods down the River Reik to Altdorf. With them come political envoys from the Phoenix King to cement his alliance with the Emperor. Elven mages visit Altdorf to oversee the progress of the Colleges of Magic, and elven scholars and adventurers arrive to explore the ruins of long-abandoned elven colonies deep in the forests, searching for lost artefacts. Although a rare sight in the rest of the Empire, high elves are not uncommon in the Reikland, although they still provoke awe with their grace and beauty.