The Shadow Elves are one of the oldest races within the world of Ryyah. Like the high Elves, Fire Elves and Ice Elves, they descended from one of the four great factions that participated in the Elder Wars, but their emergence came sooner and under harsher circumstances. 

The Shadows Elves consist of two bloodlines - the first and most powerful political and ruling faction is the Subterranean Shadow Elves, and the second is the Surface Shadow Elves who live on the floor of the canyons that crisscross the landscape of the Accursed Valley. The Accursed Valley is a blast crater with a radius of a thousand leagues. Scholars do not know what caused the explosion that created the crater, but many speculate that there may be some connection to the legends of the source stone.

 A thick, luminous green fog hovers above the surface of the Valley, covering the plateaus and openings. Nothing can survive on the top level. The deepest of the canyons are up to 2500 m., and can be as wide as twenty leagues in some areas. In at the center of the valley, there is a deep pit that has a radius of two hundred leagues and a depth of 3600 m. It is a nightmarish landscape at the bottom of that pit, with wildly mutated animals of various types. 

The poisonous, glowing green fog that engulfs the entire Valley is fatally toxic to most life forms but, over the years, the Shadow Elven races have developed immunity to the poison, as well as to most other poisons within the world of Ryyah.

The Subterranean Shadow Elves

The Subterranean Shadow Elves have adapted to living in the subterranean cave network beneath the surface of the Accursed Valley floor. They are considered the most powerful magic users of all Elves and they consider themselves superior to the Surface Shadow Elves, or to any other race of Elves. They are the aristocratic class within the Shadow Elven Empire and run a system of government led by a Shadow Mage overlord known as the Shadow King. Every Subterranean Shadow Elf is raised, from birth, to become a magic user. They are taken from their mothers at the age of three years and sent to the ‘proving ground’ for eight years. During these crucial years, they are put through a series of tests designed to reveal weaknesses of any kind. To fail these tests results in instant death, as the tests are designed to weed out the weak. If they have survived to the age of ten years, the next phase of their life begins. They now undergo ‘Rune Crystal Insertion’, a process by which a three inch long shard of Rune Crystal is embedded through the forehead, directly into the brain of the child. Only one out of every three children survives this process, but those who do then have the ability to channel more powerful spells, using less focus, energy and effort than most other magic users. They are the smaller of the two groups of Shadow Elves, making up only about three percent of the population within the Empire, but they are a formidable ruling class. The Shadow King controls the entire Shadow Elven Empire and rules with an iron fist. They are atheists by nature, having no beliefs other than gaining more power, for it is written in the Dark Proverbs: I tell you this, power is the elixir of the Gods, for what other symbol in this world is uniquely suited and perfectly matched to the Gods? The more power one has, the more godlike one becomes. 

Subterranean Shadow Elven racial features

The Subterranean Shadow Elves usually have black colored hair, jet black skin and unnerving black orbs for eyes with red colored irises.

The Surface Shadow Elves 

The Surface Shadow Elves are the most populated faction within the Shadow Elven Empire. Scholars speculate that the magical nature of their descendents led to a highly adaptable race that could overcome whatever environment they found themselves in. This is what is commonly used to explain the radical appearance and abilities of the Shadow Elven people. The Surface Shadow Elves were forced to survive under the harsh and toxic conditions of the Accursed Valley, and were changed in unnatural ways. All Shadow Elves can see in the infrared spectrum, which is why Shadow Elven eyes are red. Like their Subterranean relatives, life as a Surface Shadow Elf is very harsh. When Surface Shadow Elves are born, the doctor or midwife places a magical Rune Stone atop the newborn’s chest. The Rune Stone admits a shocking energy that goes up in degrees, testing the infant’s endurance level to determine if he will be strong enough to survive the training process of a Shadow Elven warrior. If the test is successful, the child will be taken away from his mother at age 5 and put through a brutal period of training and testing that will last until they reach maturity, usually about eighty years. If, at any time, the subject does not meet with the standards of what is expected, they will be killed. Only one in four survives this process. The survivors go on to become warriors within the Shadow Elven kingdom and the top ten percent are allow to undertake special training that pushes them to their limits of endurance. If they are successful and complete the training, they become what is known as Shadow Assassins and are trained in the use of cloaking magic that gives them near invisibility on the battlefield. They are also given the honor of becoming one of the Shadow Lord’s ‘bonded servants’. This is considered a great honor amongst Surface Shadow Elves because they are not allowed to learn source magic of any kind until they are proven worthy of the training. No Surface Shadow Elf is allowed to hold any major role of authority within the Shadow Elven Empire. They typically serve as the workers and the soldiers in the army as the Subterranean Shadow Elves believe such things are beneath them.

Surface Shadow Elven racial features

The Surface Shadow Elves look much like their subterranean counterparts but with a few differences. They have jet black skin but their hair coloring is bone white. Also, their eyes are usually different degrees of the color red.
The Shadow Elves are a warrior people. They emerged from the Accursed Valley sometime within the Twilight Age and have dominated the entire western continent of Ryyah ever since.
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