In the Shadow of Griffin Mountain
Elves foster the Plant Mythos, a belief similar in concept to the Animal Mythos and the Human Mythos. It is broad, wide-ranging, and full of deep philosophies quite beyond the normal beliefs of humans. However, its general outlines are clear. Flamal is the progenitor of all plants. He is parentless, save for the “warm sky lying upon the fertile waters, so there formed between them living Flamal.” Flamal’s spouse is called Grower, and their child together was called Aldrya.
Aldrya bore wondrous fruit, which was planted far and wide. Each became a Great Tree and each was called Aldrya. Thus, despite local variations, all the descendants of Aldrya know they are one kin.
“Aldryami” embraces several mostly humanoid races, all claiming kinship with plants. The many types of Aldryami differ as much from each other as humans do from trolls and newtlings. “Aldryami”, in fact, refers to an entire range of creatures which can be compared to “animals” in its comprehensiveness.
All Aldryami share certain traits. Most significant is the size relationship. In general, the larger a plant, the larger its Aldryami counterpart. A human-sized elf requires normal-sized trees for support. The God Learners once estimated that it took a square mile of moderate forest to produce ten brown elves. All Aldryami tend their immobile plant kin, caring for them and cooperating with others of their type. Aldryami come in various types, dependent upon the type of forest in which they are found.
The God Learners used a color-based nomenclature to distinguish between elf types—this classification system is widespread among many humans but is not used by elves themselves. It is not a literal description of the appearance of the elf types, who appear generally plantlike in many hues—green or yellow leaves, colorful flower-like parts, and so on. The color associations are from God Learner sorcerous investigations that related these types to elemental associations. Thus, Brown and Green are both Earth Colors, Blue is the Water Color, and so on. Red Elves are the Fire of the south, while the Yellow Elves were found by the God Learners to be much closer to Yelmalio, God of Light, than any other type of elf.
Slight of frame, quick, and intelligent, the elves of Glorantha are a race coupled to trees. They are quite shy outside of their protective forests. Among their trees, elves are supreme, living in complete harmony with their environment. The elves view themselves as caretakers of the forest, and their activities are directed towards that end, ever ready to clear up an outbreak of giant aphids, an incursion of human loggers, or land-clearing farmers.
Mreli (Brown Elves)
Associated with deciduous trees, they are the most common type of elf in Genertela at the end of the Third Age. When elves work they always group together no matter what tree they are from, and so it is common to see elves from willow, birch, oak, and elm living together. Since elves are related to local species of trees not all brown elves are known to each other. The Genertelan and Pamaltelan forests are the most obvious example of this estrangement.
Vronkali (Green Elves)
Associated with coniferous trees, they are the sole elven inhabitants of the pine forest of Winterwood in northern Fronela. Green Elves are also found in all brown elf forests, which they protect while the Mreli hibernate through the winter. Tree elves do not recognize a segregation of types among themselves and so green elves are mixed with the brown. Observers usually note that elf groups have individuals who correspond to many types of trees among them.