Elves are a species of inherently magical humanoids native to the continent of Galendor. They are strongly connected with the natural world, especially with forests, yet they have a sense about themselves that seems distinctly supernatural to the other sentient species. Unlike other mortal beings, Elves cease aging upon reaching adulthood; while they are not precisely immortal -- they can be killed or succumb to disease -- they are extremely long-lived, and an Elf that keeps itself safe from physical danger can theoretically live as long as it wishes. Elves can also choose their moment of death, willing their souls to pass on into the afterlife; no human knows what happens when this takes place, but the bodies of Elves who die in this fashion have never been found.
Elves have a somewhat unearthly appearance that many humans find reminiscent of the Sidhe (the high fairy folk, to whom they may or may not be related). They are tall and willowy -- both women and men typically range from 175 cm (5'9") to 198 cm (6'6"), with the mean being around 183 cm (6'0"). Mass typically ranges from 54 kg (119 lbs.) to 73 kg (160 lbs.). All elves have sharp, angular features and light bone structure; their faces are diamond-shaped, narrow at the eyeline and jawline but with high, dramatic cheekbones. Elven males and females tend to be more similar in their facial features than the human sexes are; males do not grow facial hair, and many (though not all) are considered feminine or androgynous in appearance. Body hair is sparse on both males and females, and tends to be soft and fine where it does occur. Both sexes carry a sense of "presence" about themselves that makes them seem powerful, mysterious and charismatic. Elves of both sexes are more likely to be described by humans as beautiful or regal than as handsome, pretty or cute.
Elven eyes are large by human standards, and usually almond-shaped, with an angled appearance that follows the lines of the eyebrows. (Many humans consider this to be the most inhuman feature of Elven appearance, but the severity of the eyes' slantedness varies among individuals.) The eyebrows are prominent and distinctive, beginning at the brow line near the bridge of the nose and then running up at an angle as they approach the sides of the face. The ears are large, about twice as tall as human ears from top to bottom, and end in graceful points. These ears are capable of some movement and expression, but they lay flat against the side of the head when at rest.
There are two distinct subraces of Elves that differ in appearance. The "sun elves" (Anoreledh) live mostly in the Forest of Aelfwood and the Sylvan Mountains; their skin tones range from cream to olive, with a tawny golden color being the most common. The irises of their eyes are usually very dark, almost black, though brilliant green or deep purple sometimes appear in families with Faerie blood in their lineage. Most sun elves have hair ranging from wood-brown to lustrous blue-black, though approximately 1/8 of the population has white, silver or platinum-blonde hair. Red hair and its variants (strawberry blonde, copper, auburn) do not occur naturally among sun elves.
The "moon elves" (Ithileledth) hail from the Forest of Darkness and the mountain valleys of the Great Barrier Range. Their skin tones range from cream-colored, at the darkest, to an almost translucent porcelain white, which most humans find disconcerting. Their eyes may be any light hue; common colors include pale pink, ice blue, pale yellow, and lilac. Truly red eyes are uncommon but striking to behold, and red-eyed individuals have a reputation for being lucky. Hair colors include white, silver, blonde, and pastel tints of blue, green and purple. As with sun elves, red hair does not occur naturally.
Moon elves in general are isolationist, and few venture far outside their ancestral homelands; about 90% of the elves seen in Metamor (and 98% of those seen in Quenardya) are sun elves.
The key virtues of Elven society are balance, serenity, and what might be called spiritual awareness -- a sense of connectedness to nature and the spiritual world. Their most common vices are pride, condescension, and what might be called social lassitude-- a reluctance to risk their own lives and comfort to take action against evils and injustices that do not threaten them directly.