The Art of War
The Elves have had a long, and often bloody history of war and violence. Their conflicts with the greedy dwarves, bloodthirsty orcs, and ever expanding tides of humanity have been the fodder for thousands of Elvin epics. Yet in these tales, no great armies of elves take to the field to slaughter their foes. Being so long of life, the Elves reproduce slowly, and the thought of sending blocks of elvien conscripts to their death is anathema to them. Instead, the elves use a two-pronged method of warfare.
Vlos Mzil Abbanen
Not so much an artform so much as it is a political form. Literally ‘the blood of many allies’ this is the practice of employing mercenaries and faster breeding races as troops. Many times, human armies have marched against the foes of the elves as a common enemy. This can be by open alliance, with secrets and items exchanged, or it can be by deceit, manipulating the foes of the Elves into battling each other. Dwarves are simply hired from the elves caches of precious jewels and hoarded magic items. Even less populous races such as the giants, ogres, and even the rare tribe of goblins or orcs have found themselves the allies of the elves…willing or otherwise.
The radical group Via Humanitae has an expression, ‘There is no more dangerous place than the side of the Elves’. This is a simple mix of anit-elven sentiment and a loose understanding of Vlos Mzil Abbanen, the Elven willingness to sacrifice their allies. Of course, the Elves will immortalize the fallen as footnotes in their thousand page epic poems.
Athiyk Lisse Killian
Athiyk is an ancient art, one that the elves have practiced since the begining. Literally the ‘Harmonious Spirit of the Sword’ this art is considered the core of elven fighting technique. Unlike their faster breeding, and shorter lived fellow races, the elves have lifetimes to hone their skills to supernatural levels.
The disarming strike, this is a basic attack that allows an elven swordmaster or speardancer to remove an opponent’s weapon. The Drewst is only used when the foe is required to be captured alive, or when facing a more dangerous than usual foe who cannot be dispatched with ease. Elven archers use a variation of this, the Takrome Drewst where they use an arrow to disable a foe by shooting them in the weaponhand.
The lunging strike, this is a penetrating attack delivered with the point of a sword, or with a spear. This attack was honed to defeat the non-armor defences of a foe, bypassing attempted blocks and parries with a lightning fast strike of the weapon. The Nizzre is often used in combination, following a block or parry with the weapon, flowing into the Lightning Strike.
The Khaliizi is one of the most devastating of Elven sword arts, a punishing attack that can sever limbs, remove heads and split shields with the force of the attack. Drawing upon the elemental strength of the trees and earth, the Elf anchors himself to the earth and strikes with all of his passion. This attack leaves the elf open for a counterattack, but only if his foe is still able to attack. Masters of the Khaliizi attack are the most brutal of elven warriors, willing to slip into the midsts of foes to hew them down like the farmer scything wheat. The spear variation of this attack doesnt sever limbs, but is often a killing strike that pierces the heart, or penetrates the brain through the throat.
A basic strike, the Zuddar is a probing, testing strike that an elven master uses to test the ability of his foe. some elves will use this attack to slowly cut their foe to ribbons, weakening them with dozens of small wounds. most swordmaster instructors are masters of the Zuddar, and are best able to fight larger more powerful foes rather than large numbers of weaker foes.
The Rath is a blocking attack, one used to literally attack a foes weapon. The Rath is used as an advanced form of blocking, often paired with the Nizzre counterstrike to deflect an attack and return it against their foe. Rath style masters often adopt positions as wardens or protectors of sacred places.
Masters of the cutting blade, Harventh style utilizes the slashing edge of the blade. Basic mastery of the Harventh style is mandatory for swordmasters, while masters of the Harventh style are able to give demonstrations of sword control and ‘sword dancing’ that leaves foes in awe of the elf’s skill. Those who wish to fight are literally slashied to pieces by consistent, strong, and difficult to predict edge on attacks.
The Nacta is more often practiced by Elven Speardancers than the swordmasters. This art is centered around the weapon as a piercer of defences. The style is straight foreward, and almost utilitarian in its quick thurst method of killing. Nacta masters will use the basics of the Zuddar style to feel out a foe before delivering a coup de grace with a variety of Nacta wounding or killing strikes.
The Elves have long used unarmed martial arts in their competitions and in warfare. This comes from the most basic premise that no weapons other than hands and feet are required, and even unarmed, an elven warrior can be deadly.
Orbb Rah Laur
The basic skills of Orbb Rah Laur include a variety of submission holds, joint locks, joint breaks, as well as deflecting kicks and hand strikes. The heart of Orbb Rah Laur is emulation of the spider, who defeats the foe with a constricting and entangling web. Those who grapple with Orbb masters often end up literally in contorted knots.
Maelthra Rah Laur
Some consider Mealthra to be the most punishing of the elven martial arts, as it is centered around a variety of crippling punches and kicks. Facing a Maelthra master can quickly end in broken limbs, shattered joints, and death from a broken neck. To further emulate the rage filled Dragon, some Maelthra masters will learn fire magics and spells that allow them to inspire fear, or to fly.
Szeous Rah Laur
Also known as the Secret Art, a master of Szeous must first master Orbb and Maelthra as well as at least two of the Zotreth weapon styles. The Szeous masters are able to flow from one style to another with speed and grace that belies their incredible ability to deal out death and suffering. A Szeous master can also deliver supernatural strikes, such as blows that cause paralyzation, violent illness, and even death with the correct pressure points. A master can also deliver unarmed attacks as ranged attacks, striking at the air, but the foe feeling the full force of the hit, even a dozen feet away.
The Elves have had a long time to come up with other styles that have few if any contemporaries in the martial arsenals of the humans and other races. These are as unique as the masters who know and use them.
Luth masters are known for their thrown weapons, the most common being leaves from trees that have been hardened to steel strength for a few moments. some in more cold climes have adapted this art to throw similarly hardened pine needles like steel needles. Many of the Elven rangers and forestals are versed in the basics of this art, allowing them to turn leaves and needles into throwing weapons. Masters can turn a handful of oak leaves into shredding storm of death, and a pine branch into a weapon capable of blinding and maiming dozens of soldiers. A common weapon of the Luth master is the Roesor, a seed pod or bird egg that has been filled with smoking powder, poison dust, blinding dust, or a variety of other alchemical mixtures.
Draa Tyn Velve
This is one of the most physically demanding of the sword arts, as it uses the two bladed sword, a weapon that mounts two sword blades one a long handle. Using it requires both a good deal of physical strength as well as manual dexterity. Proper mastery of the Draa Tyn Velve is a blend of the Harventh slashing techniques, Rath blocking and weapon strike techniques and Nizzre counterattack techniques, yet does not fully embrace any of those styles completely.
This is the storied art of elven archery, the martial skill of shooting arrows blind, trick shooting, as well as the ability to perform astounding called shots like the Takrome Drewst. Nautkyn is the basis of all other archery specialties and styles.
THe art of the storm of arrows, Mzil masters specialize in very fast shooting, launching a veritable storm of feathered shafts when they attack. A master can fire over a dozen arrows in the time a human archer can fire three. Other specialties include shooting more than one arrow at a time, and firing multiple arrows that all hit at the same time.
The so called Arcane Archers, these bowmasters are able to lauch spells imbued into their arrows. Wlalth masters can decimate entire legions of soldiers with a barrage of ensorceled arrows, though even among the elves such masters are few and far between.
While it would be easy to lump the Velkyn Menvis in with the other minor arts, it would be wrong. Velkyn Menvis, or the Hidden Path, is the Elven art of Stealth and survival. This skill is taught almost from birth, the moving silently, and passing unseen. Elven nobles move with an innate grace that springs from this art, elven assassins slide from shadow to shadow, and rangers can move from dry branch to dry branch by using this skill. This art is seen in its highest form when combined with Szeous Rah Laur and Luth Vinult.
The Elves have been fighting for a long time, and their arts reflect a patient people capable of adaptation and facing foes who are consistantly numerically superior. While the term master has been bandied about many times in this sub, elven swordmasters, bowmasters, and speardancers are rare, as it takes decades to lifetimes to master the forms and positions and moves that compose a single style. The average elven warrior type will have comprehension of several styles, and basic mastery of one. There might be one master for every 2000 or 5000 regular elven warriors.
Much of this was heavily influenced by the real world martial art of Ninpo. Translations of the elven forms came from the House Maerdyn Drow translator.