The Åelf (ÁĒLF or Á-ílf, singular and plural) are a religious and cultural community within the Elven race. In some ways they are similar to the Hasidic Jews or the Amish: they have a distinctive set of traditions, beliefs and practices that sets them apart from other Elves. Even the language of the Åelf is radically different from that of other Elves, and few outside the community are able to speak it or have even seen it written down. Åelfin names can often be recognized by the presence of a shortened, nasal "A" sound, which is absent from both Modern Elvish and Classical Elvish and is designated in Common by the symbol "Å".
Little is known about the beliefs and practices of the Åelf, who seldom interact with those outside their enclave of Ava-shavåis. A few tidbits that are available:
- They have focused their society around Qan-af-åreal, an Elven seer of immense talent and the oldest living humanoid in the world.1
- The Åelf take astrology very seriously, and have probably refined the art further than any other people in history. The ability to read the future in the stars is highly prized among the Åelfin people, though it is uncertain whether their reverence for Qan-af is the result of this interest or the cause of it.
- The Åelf seem to be more in tune with the spiritual world than the physical. Whereas most Elves are deeply in tune with the rhythms of the natural world and commune with animals and plants on a near-continuous basis, the Åelf live a step apart from physical creation, almost as if the Earth itself were pointedly ignoring their presence. Åelf are often mistaken for spirits by those humans who encounter them for the first time.
- Perhaps because of their disconnectedness from the physical world, Åelf communities exist in a sort of quasi-timeless state. Humans who were privileged enough to be granted access to Ava-shavåis have found it very difficult to keep track of time there, and many community activities (such as feasts) seem to be nearly endless.2
- While the Åelf are subjects of the Elven High King, they seem to have little involvement in the politics or society of Quenardya at large. Their first loyalty is to Qan-af, not to any mortal sovereign.
- The Åelf are known to have built two other cities. Carethedor in the Vysehrad mountains, and Yerebey to the west of the Aelfwood. Yerebey was destroyed by invading human armies, and has become a source of bitter hatred by many Åelf for humans. Carethedor was abandoned over a thousand years ago, but it is not apparent why.