True Elves

The True Elves are not "True" in the sense of being the correct and proper form of elves, however much a few desperate partisans of the kind might claim. They acquired their name due to the strange and unnatural way in which they are formed, and their inescapable connection to the truth of lives that never existed. Immanent often nickname them "changelings" or "ghost elves" due to their uncanny nature.

Fundamentally, True Elves are the echo of elven lives that never existed in this world. It is an article of common belief among the Creeds that individual lives and actions are inescapably "true"- that no magic and no deceit can rub out the essential truth of a life or a choice- yet the very act of choosing also irrevocably forecloses certain other possibilities. The constant, unrelenting cascade of choices made by the Immanent creates an overwhelming tide of never-taken possibility that can no longer be restrained. With the weakening of the spiritual boundaries created by the destruction of the blue Tide-crystals in Ektau, these possibilities have overwhelmed the living to raise shadows that once existed only as untaken possibilities.

A True is born when an elf's unchosen choices become too many or too important for their present reality to withstand. Adult elves have suffered this change in the wake of the crystal-shattering, but new instances of a True only seem to appear in the case of a new birth. A newborn elf's continuity with the world is very fragile, and there is a real chance that they may slip over entirely into becoming a True. In the limited number of births experienced since the shattering, this fortunately appears to be a rare occurrence, with perhaps no more than four or five births in a hundred so afflicted. Most adult elves touched by the sundering have become Immanent with approximately one in twenty falling prey to their pasts. It seems that True have no greater chance of fathering or giving birth to another True than do any other elves, with the vast majority of their progeny being Immanent.

A True is generally not aware of their change for some time. At the moment of collapse, the elf acquires a memory of his past that extends beyond prior Drifts, a seeming seamless recollection from early childhood or a prior Drift to the present day. The past is always something plausible and related to their true antecedents, but is invariably wrong in some significant details, or even in major facts. It may take some time before the True realizes that something is wrong- that they find some evidence that they have Drifted before, or that they are too old to have plausibly lived so long without Drifting. Sages hypothesize that this false past is actually an accretion of possibilities left unrealized, a life that was lived 'at an angle' to the True's actual past. It is not unknown for a newly-changed True to alter drastically in character or habits due to memories of a past that never existed.

Only a handful of cases of Drift have been experienced among the True since the shattering. These Drifts invariably occurred among True who panicked and stopped trancing after realizing the falsity of the memories they relived, with progressive forgetfulness eroding their identities to the point at which they Drifted. Unlike their forbears, they did not simply forget their pasts- they physically transformed as they Drifted, rising as newborn True with completely different false memories and entirely different bodies. It is hypothesized that True who continue to trance will experience this same completely destruction and reformation once they finally slip in their meditations. Their bodies show absolutely no signs of physical aging- as they reform with each Drift, it may be that they will never bodily die. The few attempts made to contact a Drifted True's spirit have been complete failures. It is believed that their identities are utterly destroyed when they Drift.

Where Immanent draw upon the force of the world around them and their fundamental links with reality, the True have no such connection. They are only tenuously linked with the world in which they live, and this results in certain drastic differences from other elves. They lack the intuitive understanding of their surroundings or the connection with material existence that their Immanent brethren possess, instead possessing a deep affinity for that which is impossible, false, and unchosen. This inchoate power is commonly known as "the Lie" among their kind, and they view it with feelings that range from dread to devotion. The True know that their pasts are false and that they never happened. By embracing that falsehood, they can force it upon the world around them and make it true by their own acts. By the same token, True are almost uncontrollable by mystical or unnatural compulsions, as they rapidly throw off or subvert alien influences on their thoughts.

The simplest use of the Lie is instinctively part of every True. By briefly rejecting the world, they can vanish and reappear at another location within eight or nine paces of their origin. Doing this more than once every few minutes is lethal, as they dissolve within the Lie, but for occasional use it can prove very convenient for the True. More elaborate use of the Lie requires special practice and devotion, gradually learning how to impose certain falsehoods on the world and force them into true existence.

Many True believe that the Lie exists for all creatures, and not simply elves. The walls of the world once kept it away from mortals, but with the shattering of the barriers it is now pouring in on creation. The elves were first to experience it due to their fragile balance between identity and flesh, yet there is no reason why other races could not tap into it as well. These theorists believe that there is nothing to prevent human initiates from invoking the Lie for their own purposes if they succeed in giving themselves to it. Many of them believe that there is nothing intrinsically "good" or "evil" about the Lie, aside from its fundamental falsity, and that very falsity can be overcome by enacting it upon the world. The more delirious among these believe that they can become fully "real" if only they can force their past upon the world.

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