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From Warseer, and I took it from Hummerluver from the Waystone:
4120 Elves colonise Elthin-Arvan, later known by man as the Old World
Across the lands later to be known as the Empire, Kislev & Brettonia, they built towers of marble and gold as their new homes.
First Elven contact with the Dwarfs is made, and trade and alliances between the two races prospered, culminating in the pledge of eternal friendship between the two races in -2840.
Subsequent generations of Elves born within the borders of Elthin-Arvan begin to view it as their true home, rather than Ulthuan.
-2723 The Sundering
Elves begin to travel back to Ulthuan to aid in the war, but many decide to stay in Elthin-Arvan, believing the troubles of the Phoenix King are not their own.
Elves native to Elthin-Arvan begin to move further inland.
First expeditions into the forest covering the foothills of the Grey Mountains, finding it to be a magical place teeming with life. After 3 particularly disastrous incursions, the Elves come to the realisation that the forest & it's inhabitants are a gestalt, magical and sentient entity that will defend itself against any outsiders it perceives as a threat.
The Elves name the forest Athel Loren and retreat to it's borders, planting magical waystones at it's boundaries. Some Elves go missing, supposedly lured to their doom by ethereal nymphs, but Athel Loren appears to tolerate the presence of the Elves provided they do not stray to far into it's depths.
-1997 The War of the Beard.
For 2 centuries, Elthin-Arvan bears the brunt of the hostilities as High Elf armies arrive to fight. The Phoenix King, Caledor II, demands that the colonists join the fight.
Many colonists, particularly those dwelling around Athel Loren refuse, fuelling the divide between them and Ulthuan as they see their homes ravaged in a conflict they did not start and want no part in.
The colonists fight vigorously to defend their forest homes from Dwarfen armies, raiding parties and logging teams.
-1589 to -1501 Birth of the Asrai.
Under the shadow of an impending Druchii invasion, the Phoenix King Caradryel decides to withdraw his armies and his protection from Elthin-Arvan, abandoning it to the Dwarfs and the emergent race of Man. The Elves begin to leave their towers & cities and return to Ulthuan.
Those living in Athel Loren saw this as the ultimate betrayal. They declared their independence from the rule of the Phoenix King & Ulthuan, and took the name of the Asrai, and become known to others as the Wood Elves.
That winter, unopposed by Ulthan's armies, the Dwarfs marched into Athel Loren, quickly overwhelming the dryads & tree spirits in their weakened state. Helpless, Athel Loren shifted, opening paths that led straight the settlements of the Asrai who slaughtered the Dwarfs until they retreated.
Athel Loren opens itself up to the Asrai seeing them now as a beneficial force, and they move into it's depths.
-1125. During a meeting of the various kindreds (see below) Ariel and Orion elope into the forest, as inter-kindred relationships are forbidden. When they are next seen, during a battle against Orc invaders, they have become aspects of Isha and Kurnous respectively.
The Asrai live by the maxim of giving back to Athel Loren as much as they take. When they need to make fires, they only take fallen branches and trees, and in spring they tend saplings, encouraging them to grow together to form great halls to live in. They hunt the beasts of the forest for food and clothing, but they use all of the animal in some way, and they give thanks to the forest in ceremonies of blood. And as Athel Loren protects them in the summer months, they in turn protect it during winter.
The Asrai live their lives as part of a group known as a kindred/kinband/kithband, following an ideology and way of life apart from the other kindreds. Minor conflict between kindreds is not unheard of. Some of the better known kindreds are (the book details others);
Kel-Isha. Mages, known as spellsingers or spellweavers. They literally talk to the trees. Taken from Quyl-Isha, meaning tears of Isha, sorry, mercy, endurance, and mourning for lost children..
Lakoys. Warriors. Most Asrai are part of a Lakoys kindred, and form the bulk of the Asrai's might. Taken from Lacoi, meaning might, glory & fear of death.
Caidath. Wardancers. Followers of the Elven god Loec, the god of laughter, trickery, dance and music. Taken from Cadaith, meaning grace, power and music of the stars.
Selathoi. Guardians of Athel Loren's most sacred places. Recruited from Lakoys kindreds. Taken from Sarathai, meaning unyielding defence.
Laith-Kourn. Loners, able to take on aspects of the beasts of the forest. Known as Shifters, Wild Kin and Alters. Taken from Lathain, meaning storm, wrath and gently falling rain that brings eternal sleep, and Kurnous.
Arahain. Scouts. Taken from Arhain, meaning shadows, night, stealth and secrets.
Ariel & Orion dwell in the Oak of Ages, deep within Athel Loren. In respect to Athel Loren's cycles, each winter Orion steps into a ritually prepared fire in the Glade of Kings. Ariel takes his ashes back into the Oak of Ages and remains there through winter. Each spring, the Wild Riders of Kurnous (Orion's personal guard) come to take an Elf selected to be Orion's vessel. He is ritually prepared and left with the Oak of Ages, and at the Spring Equinox, Ariel awakens and Orion lives once more, and begins the great hunt anew.
The Wood Elves' most hated enemy is Cyanathair, known to others as Morghul the Master of Skulls. He is the ultimate antithesis to all they stand for and brings the beastmen to Athel Loren, and they have slain him many times, only to see him rise again years later.
In the year 976, the Asrai prophetess Naieth scried into the future, and saw that the fates of the Asrai and the fledgeling Brettoni people were entwined. Handily, the Lady of the Lake appeared to Gilles le Breton very shortly after this...
The Fey Enchantress is appointed to oversee Brettonnia. She is responsible for weeding out those who display magical ability, but not the power to control it.
The shaky truce between the Brettonians and the Asrai continues for many years, until formalised in 1005 by Gilles' son, Louis the Rash. Brettonnia recognises Athel Loren as the sovereign realm of the Asrai, and Ariel and Orion agree to a lasting friendship with Bretonnia.
In 1336, Duke Melmon of Quenelles disappeared on the night of the Spring Equinox. Since that time, the Great Hunt of Orion has rampaged across the lands of Quenelles. In 1673 the hunt slays the resident Duke and his entire family save for his young daughter, who is taken into the woods. In 2285 peasants are driven mad by the hunt's passing and several villages are destroyed. In 2336, a delirious man claiming to be Duke Melmon emerges from Athel Loren, only to age, wither and die before the day is out. Quenelles has not seen the hunt since.
South-east Athel Loren is a place even the Asrai fear to go. They have imprisoned many 'evil' forest spirits there, and agents of these entities still roam free in the forest, doing what they can to sabotage relations between the Asrai and the Brettoni, but most worringly between the Asrai and Athel Loren itself.
Athel Loren tolerates the Elves as they are a help. For now.
As such, the Wood Elves protect the forest above all other interests - if Athel Loren decides it doesn't want/need them anymore, they're in trouble...
Many of the Older Tree spirits, including Drycha, barely manage to stay civil to the Asrai, and would prefer it if they weren't there at all. One particularly malevolent treeman ancient, Coeddil, tried to prevent Orion's rebirth on one occasion by slaughtering his bodyguard so they couldn't collect his sacrifice. Ariel only just managed to fend him and his dryads off, and he was imprisoned in the Southeast forest. Drycha appears to be in league with him at the moment, and for some reason she really doesn't like Parravon - keeps attacking villages there.. Certainly Brettonnian peasants who live near Athel Loren live in near constant fear of the Asrai, and see them more as boogeymen rather than protectors. Too much aggression from the Asrai or the Brettonnians would result in a war.
For the Brettonnians and the Asrai, it's more a fluffed-up truce. The Brets agree not to interfere with the forest, the Asrai agree not to slaughter them, although they have allied from time to time. As for the Fay Enchantress, it suggests that after Gilles' son formalised the truce, an Asrai stayed behind in Brettonia, so this could be her, but it doesn't specifically say.
Prior to SoC, the prophetess Naieth foresaw the doom of Loren, and the Asrai mobilised against the beastmen with the intent of total eradication from the Old World, and this is what they spent the SoC doing...
Kindreds are groups/tribes.
Wardancer Kindreds are purely Wardancers (also known as Feastmasters, due to a number of ceremonial duties they perform).
The 'Mage' kindreds are essentially the uber-hippies, and the only Asrai who practice magic to any extent, and they learn their craft from the forest itself...There are loads of other kindreds, like windriders, the riders of kurnous, and so on.