Who among us does not have a complicated relationship with Elves? Who among us has not received conflicting messages about them? Are they tiny woodland sprites captured by Santa to toil 24/7 making plastic toys with corporate packaging stamped with “made in…” but we know where those destined-for-landfill toys are really from? Do we consider them as related to the Fae, or not? Are we dealing with Elves as Arthur Rackham might have drawn them? Or Elves as Tolkien wrote them? Or are we talking Western filmic Elves, haughty flaxen- or raven-haired beings dressed in Eastern robes lifted straight from The Untamed, those who have little to do with petty human doings?
Whelp, here are some more kind of Elves…
The Elves of the guild of ornamental hermits
Once upon a time (you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?), the Elves grew bored. Yes, even with all their almost immortal and miraculous powers, and with all the marvels of their Realm to enjoy, a majority of Elves found themselves yawning (“ho hum…”) during the wearisome hours of their days and nights (even during the sparkling noontime hour when all of creation was wont to rejoice and even during the deepest midnight when all of creation’s mysteries opened their eyes to blink at the infinite). Who, or what, could possibly save the Elves from this dismal, existential ennui?
Hoomans, that’s what. Yep, the most perplexing and nonsensical, not to mention deeply destructive, group of beings to ever splatter themselves on the asphalt of the cosmos. That’s right. Humans. The Elves began to watch human hi-jinx from afar, glued to their scrying mirrors, fascinated by the humans inevitable “moth to a flame” trajectories toward dooms both small and large, marvelling at that one good thing that might come of all the current chaos, only to melt away again at the next turning of Time’s Wheel. For the Elves, watching human beings was like having endless streaming channel of sit-coms and horrors, romances and the worst of reality TV.
Elven academia began to take note. Human Studies departments formed. Many Elves were dispatched to the Mortal Coil itself, to perform extensive field work into all aspects of human cultures (high and low) and behaviors (the good, the bad, and the unthinkable). (Of course they had to adjust their appearances and manage their considerable glamour in order to blend in.) Thus it was that Professor Almond (of the glistening gold silk pantaloons above), found himself (they/them pronouns also ok) first in 15th century England. And there he stayed through several centuries (with frequent sabbaticals and even a few rest cures taken back in the Realm). And thus is was that Nar and Nen, members of Almond’s department, also found themselves on the other side of the Coil, spending huge chunks of their careers in the areas that Almond’s English study subjects called “the East.”
From plagues to Pokémon, from wars to witchcraft, from clowning to cribbage, and even from nuclear fission to punk rock fashion, the Elven academics watched and cataloged it all. They wrote papers, they held the Elven equivalent of conferences, and some began to write human-themed epics and create human-themed works of art, never asking themselves if they were appropriating from other cultures. Nar and Nen went undercover into 21st century Asian entertainment industries, even undergoing the rigorous training and competitive psychologies necessary for placement in a “boy band,” never asking themselves if they were weilding magic privileges unobtainable by their fellow trainees. After all, they’d risen through the ranks of many an ancient imperial court much the same way–using magic and depending on their longevity.
Professor Almond, on the other hand, found himself emotionally invested in the fate of those humans he studied and befriended during the difficult years of English witch persecution. His concerns inspired him to create a mystery school start-up, designed to teach certain human beings a hybrid form of Elven and human magic, in the hopes that such skills and perspectives would help change this particular, terrible course of human history. Many of his friends and colleagues, including Nar and Nen, eagerly took on the task of mentoring several generations of twelve human families in magical arts. This mystery school start-up would eventually become known as The Guild of Ornamental Hermits.
All was going rather well until the Professor found himself deeply in love with one particular 21st century human and even engraved her name upon his heart (literally). And when he spilled the beans (a “spillover phrase” smelling vaguely like Pan’s flute and tasting like weasel footprints… The Elves are all synesthetes. Did I mention that?), his human beloved went and did what no human beloved should have done.
But all that is in the books, Gentle Readers and Aspiring Hermits. You will just have to read them.
Watch this new video about my Elves!