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Postfest V: The People of the Testing
Posted on Tue, July 12, 2005 by Dongul
CruelSummerLord writes ""Wait for the One True King. Only he can unite us now." - An unnamed gray elf, when asked by his granddaughter what could be done to mend the schisms that tore the elven race apart, and had ruined the possibility of elves being a united people living in harmony.

The People of the Testing
By: CruelSummerLord
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

To the One True King, Should he Ever Appear,

My name is Yolande, Fey Majesty and Perfect Flower of Celene. If by chance you should read this letter, then you are no doubt aware of the role for which our gods have chosen you. To hopefully unite the elven race, bringing us into the golden age that was not a paradise lost, but a paradise never found. In this task, you will have to reckon with the People of the Testing, those of our people who seek to force the unity of our people…

To know of the People, you must know of our race’s history. Popular human myth claims that we olvenfolk are all wise, all mighty, all-powerful, and all good. That once we lived in a golden age where we had unfettered power over all the Oerth and its secrets, and that we were the be-all and end-all of the world, before our decline.

Allow me to dispel these ludicrous and utterly false myths.

In truth, we elves have never been united, and our fabled strength is more myth than fact. Never were we united; after we sprang from the blood of Corellon after he banished the One-Eyed Swine to Hell, our gods immediately quarreled over whether we should interact with the humans and other races that were not wholly aligned with evil.

Sehanine Moonbow viewed all non-elven creatures as beneath our notice. She urged us to come with her into a land of stars and dreams, where none would ever harm us and we would live with no cares. Oh, what a foolish, regrettable, wretched mistake! Many of our people spat in Sehanine’s face and left her forever, traveling to the four winds.

Humans rarely see that our own gods can suffer from stupidity and shortsightedness. But we knew it all too well. Sehanine did so, and after being slapped in the face by her own people, she bitterly wept and withdrew. The elves scattered around the world, never to be united, never to enjoy a time in the light.

Some elves, however, still believed in Sehanine’s dream. They believed in uniting the elven races, by force if necessary, and taking us to the world that Sehanine planned for us. They were among the first to travel through the Moonarch, wherein Sehanine pleaded for these elves to ‘bring her children home’. They had passed the tests she had set for them under the Moonarch, and they were the first of her “People”.

The People of the Testing began their task at the dawn of time, and have continued ever since. They have sought long-lost works of lore, forgotten magic, anything they think can help their cause. That cause is to bring the olven races back into one whole, before leading us into the starlit realm wherefore Sehanine wished to take us so long ago. They work towards this goal, regardless of the cost to other races.

They do not actively hate humans, hobniz, or most other races, although they have the same loathing for dwarves most olve share. But the People will do whatever they feel is necessary to fulfill Sehanine’s dream, regardless of the cost to other races. They will turn against humans, as they did when they banished the good people of Lendore Isle from their homes during what humans call the Greyhawk Wars. They will even do ill to their own people if necessary. They caused the death of my own beloved Prince Consort, and thus caught Celene in the Hateful Wars.

I am an elven queen. My duty is to my people, my country and my gods. But where does that leave me, one who has the lives of thousands depending on her decisions, when I see the actions done by the People against humans, or even my own people? I have many of the same goals as the People: I would assist them if I could, but their methods mean that I have no love for them. I receive them in my court at Enstad, but only because of the influence they have over my people. Many olves wish me to use my influence to reach out to our people and to other races, fighting the evil of the Flanaess. Others sympathize with the People, and care little for what happens to humans or other races.

Where does this leave me? On one side are my yearnings for home, for what has never been, and yet might be. My heart aches at the battles our people have lost, the chances missed, and the conflicts that tear our race apart. So much do I desire to heal these wounds, to reach the paradise I know our people can reach, and to use my power and talents to do this.

But in doing so, do I violate my principles? Our race treasures freedom; can I honestly attempt to force people to follow my views? How will my actions affect those I have no kinship with, such as humanity? What means do I take to reach my ends? If I violate my principles, am I a hypocrite? Do I fail? But if I do nothing, or if I fail, does that mean I have betrayed myself, my heritage, my gods?

I would be surprised if the People of the Testing have not asked themselves these questions many times before. What went through their minds, I wonder, when they saw the chaos and violence of the Hateful Wars, which their actions were partly responsible for? Did they harbor any sorrow at the tears of the Lendorian humans, as the humans were forced to leave the only home they ever knew? Do they know if what they are doing is right, or wrong?

Our people have never been united. We are not invincible. Indeed, in some respects we have fallen farther than humanity, for all our achievements and good deeds. But there are still emotions we feel, that allow us to go on: hope and love.

It is the hope of achieving Sehanine’s dream that drives the People onwards, in a goal that may take another thousand years to achieve, if they ever achieve it at all. It is love for their people and their heritage that keeps them struggling against seemingly impossible odds. Questions of conscience no doubt plague many of them, of responsibility and how to go about fulfilling it. How many of them live under intense pressure? Have they done all they can? Have they made mistakes? Are they doing enough?

These emotions are, I think, nothing new for the elven people. I have certainly felt all these emotions, and I know that you, if you ever read this letter, will know it more than anyone. Perhaps, as I have long suspected, I am the One True Queen, given my gifts and an accompanying responsibility. If so, then I can only wonder at what the future holds, what I can do for it and my people, and where fate will lead me in the future. No doubt the People of the Testing have thought many of these things themselves. The gods only know what conclusions they have reached.

"
 
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Re: The People of the Testing (Score: 1)
by mortellan on Sat, July 16, 2005
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Stirring dialogue from Yolande. This article conveys to me the feelings of the olve more than any sourcebook could. Wonderful perspective to write from, CSL.



Re: The People of the Testing (Score: 1)
by CruelSummerLord on Sat, July 16, 2005
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Thanks a lot, Mortellan. This article, I hope, conveys several of the things I want to do with Greyhawk, most notably putting fresh and unique spins on well-worn ideas-instead of the elves being in decline from their glory years, they never had a golden age to begin with, and are hoping, always hoping to find it. People are always complaining about how the elves are so great...well, truth is, they aren't. And they never had any time in which they were the most powerful race in the world. That doesn't meant that a golden age for the elves won't happen...just that it hasn't yet.

I'm also trying to think of new ways to submit articles for Postfests and the like, rather than just rehashing the time-worn format of third-person omnipotent commentary. Letters, legal charters, records of archaeological digs, diaries, translations of runes found in ancient ruins, dialogue arguments the likes of which might be found in Plato...these add color to the article and make it that much more interesting, I think.


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Re: The People of the Testing (Score: 1)
by mortellan on Sun, July 17, 2005
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I totally agree with you on exploring new ways of presenting articles. As I've been writing more I know I too have been looking for that new angle as well, and most of it derives from a desire to write editionless articles. Keep up the good work, you are an inspiration to me.


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Re: The People of the Testing (Score: 1)
by Argon on Mon, July 18, 2005
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Beautifully written article but the only draw back is that the this letter focuses alot on Yolande and gives me no additional information on the People of the Testing themselves.



Re: The People of the Testing (Score: 1)
by Scoti_Garbidis on Mon, July 18, 2005
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I also thought this article was very well written but it left me wondering who "The People of the Testing" are? How many? Where are they located? I loved the article for the flavor given to Yolande's attitude and spirit but felt much more could have been said about the Order itself.


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