Reign of Winter
Elves have long drawn the covetous gazes of other races. Their generous lifespans, magical affinity, and inherent grace each contribute to the admiration or bitter envy of their neighbors. Of all their traits, however, none so entrance their human associates as their beauty. Since the two races first came into contact with each other, humans have held up elves as models of physical perfection, seeing in these fair folk idealized versions of themselves. For their part, many elves find humans attractive despite their comparatively barbaric ways, and are drawn to the passion and impetuosity with which members of the younger race play out their brief lives.
Sometimes this mutual infatuation leads to romantic relationships. Though usually short-lived, even by human standards, such trysts may lead to the birth of half-elves, a race descended from two cultures yet inheritor of neither. Half-elves can breed with one another, but even these “pureblood” half-elves tend to be viewed as bastards by humans and elves alike. Caught between destiny and derision, half-elves often view themselves as the middle children of the world.
Half-elves understand loneliness, and know that character is often less a product of race than of life experience. As such, they are often open to friendships and alliances with other races, and less likely than most to rely on first impressions when forming opinions of new acquaintances. While many races join together to produce mixed offspring of notable power, such as half-orcs, half-dragons, and half-fiends, half-elves seem to have a unique position in the eyes of their progenitors and the rest of the world. Those humans who admire elvenkind see half-elves as a living link or bridge between the two races. But this attitude often foists unfair expectations and elevated standards upon half-elves, and quickly turns to derision when they do not live up to the grand destinies that others set for them. Additionally, those half-elves raised by or in the company of elves often have the human half of their parentage dubbed a mere obstacle, something to be overcome with proper immersion and schooling in the elven ways, and even the most well-meaning elven mentors often push their half-elven charges to reject a full half of themselves in order to “better” themselves. The exception is those few half-elves born of humans and drow.
Not unlike most half-orcs, such unions are commonly born out of violence and savagery that leaves the child unwanted by its mother if not killed outright. Moreover, as the physical features of half-drow clearly mark their parentage, crafting a reputation founded on deeds and character instead of heritage is more challenging for them. Even the most empathetic of other half-elves balk at the sight of a half-drow. Among other races, half-elves form unique and often unexpected bonds.
Dwarves, despite their traditional mistrust of elves, see a half-elf’s human parentage as something hopeful, and treat them as half-humans rather than half-elves. Additionally, while dwarves are long-lived, the lifespan of the stout folk is closer to a half-elf’s own than that of either of her parents. As a result, half-elves and dwarves often form lasting bonds, be they ones of friendship, business, or even competitive rivalry.
Perhaps the most peculiar and dichotomous relations exist between half-elves and half-orcs. Those half-orcs and half-elves who were raised among their non-human kin normally see one another as hated and ancient foes. However, half-elves who have been marginalized by society feel a deep, almost instant kinship with half-orcs, knowing their burdens are often that much harder because of their appearance and somewhat brutish nature. Not all half-orcs are inclined or able to understand such empathy, but those who do often find themselves with a dedicated diplomat, liaison, and apologist. For their own part, half-orcs usually return the favor by acting as bodyguards or intimidators, and take on other roles uniquely suited to their brawny forms.
Half-elves tend to be itinerants, wandering the lands in search of a place they might finally call home. The desire to prove themselves to the community and establish a personal identity—or even a legacy—drives many half-elf adventurers to lives of bravery. Some half-elves claim that despite their longevity, they perceive the passage of time more like humans than elves, and are driven to amass wealth, power, or fame early on in life so they may spend the rest of their years enjoying it.