It is said that although humankind is older, elvenkind is wiser, for they remember what mankind forgets. The oldest records of the world are Elven, as are the oldest living mortals. In the early dawn of the races, the first progenitors of the Elves sought to transcend the rough, weary existence of early human civilization. They began to honor gods of beauty, nature, and wisdom, who led them to a fountain of shaping-magic. There, they tossed aside their old forms and were reborn as a new creation.
That they could ponder and grow wise, they extended their lives. That they could hear and remember, they lengthened their ears. That they could see and understand, they widened their eyes. That they could live and act and create during night as well as daylight, they abandoned the shackles of sleep, needing only a period of meditation to recuperate. They made their skin, hair, and eye colors vibrant and beautiful, some like colorful birds, others like shining, golden grain, others like soft desert shadows.
The early elves loved the sciences as well as magic and theology, and many of the most important technological discoveries, such as the 3-4-5 rule for finding the square (invaluable to architecture and mathematics), were elvish in origin. Throughout history, dark ages of civilization seem to correspond to the degree of elven influence in world affairs. During centuries of peace and plenty, elves had an active hand. During centuries of turmoil and regression, the elves were withdrawn to their own kind.
The elves are the only race more varied than humankind. They have been divided amongst themselves for so long that the various kinships of elves could almost be considered separate races, if only the elves themselves saw it that way. Elves make no distinction among the elven kinships of any kind, and consider every elf equally elven. However, they are seriously divided along lines of belief and philosophy, which happens to coincide with appearance and ability.
The most notable kinships of elves are the Forest Elves, or Green Elves, who are the oldest lineage; the Sun Elves or Gold Elves, who build with white rock upon the plains; the Avariel, or winged elves, who build graceful arches atop windy crags; the Sand Elves, or Desert Elves, who have the darkest skin and are the most hardy; and the shadow elves, or grey elves, who have no home, but are wanderers and night-stalkers.