There is no elven empire. Can you imagine such a thing? Such savage, tatterdemalion creatures, not sprinting or hiding, but building structures like dwarves do? Structures as tall as the elves are, so angular, needlespired and sun-reaching? What would such an empire look like, and who in the world could it subjugate?

Elves are sneakthieves and curs, fit to be kicked and run off, the only respect given given at night, when they excel at skulking about.

If you haven’t traveled—no, from the farmstead to canton market doesn’t count—you wouldn’t know, but like dogs, elves have found themselves fit (to call it such!) in every place a man could live; but, also like dogs, they survive on the edges, on what refuse is discarded from those who can make a living for themselves, and darting in when the eye is turned, making off with all that can be grabbed.

In the deserts they are the runners in the night, disappearing from a purple dusk and materializing fifty miles away in the dawn.

On the steppes they ride ponies knock-kneed as they, hunched over manes bow-backed and haggard.

In the mountains they hug the stones as if to stand straight would be to call down the lightning so richly deserved.

In the stone deeps below they never walk, sometimes crawl, but always sidle and slink. And wait.

On the sea, the inconstant sea, their junks and trimarans cast themselves wide to gather like ants around what shipment or cargo or jetsam cannot be defended. And, like ants, they always strip clean.

Elven empire. Such a strange thought. Come speak to me of goblin satrapies and golden hinds and blue-hued suns and men walking under the sea. Such fantasies are where elven empires belong.



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