The only major settlement of elves is in a forest the humans call Orphan’s Tree,
but the elves simply call it home. The namesake tree, straddling the great rift that splits Driscol in two, is holy ground to the elves, and the waters that spring from its boughs are sacred to them.
The tree’s name in the elves’ tongue is Lonaliel’Myr, a rough translation being Myr’s Fountain, or Myr’s Headwaters. According to legend, Myr, the elves’ god, grew the tree by song and magic, and split its trunk at the top with his spear to allow the waters to flow freely. Today, no elf can remember the age of the tree, but it is the center of their community, with a cathedral built into the boughs of the tree dedicated to their god. The rest of their dwellings are built either in the forest surrounding Orphan’s Tree, or along the cliffs of the rift itself, with a system of vine pulleys allowing travel up and down.
The elves of Driscol have a strange genetic quirk; a normal birth to an elf of Orphan’s
Tree results in twins. This fact has been central to the development of their culture, as well as how they view the other races. Firstly, an elf views their twin as a part of themself, and by their customs a pair of twins is considered one entity. If one twin dies, the other becomes an object of pity, similar to a cripple or someone who has lost a limb. Fortunately, deaths are rare, since the clerics of Myr are renowned for their healing rituals using the water flowing from Orphan’s Tree, so that only the most grievous injuries or illnesses claim a life.
The twins of Orphan’s Tree build lives together from birth. They learn from their parents
the importance of watching out for each other, and this is reinforced when they learn to hunt and fight, as their combat style utilizes the synergy between two people. Around the age of twenty or so, the twins undergo a rite of passage. They are presented to the temple individually, and presented with two items; a toy spear and a book. They are told about each item, and then the child chooses. This choice will determine their path and how they will contribute to society. Those that choose the spear become hunters or warriors, providing food or defense for their people. Those that choose the book become scholars, learning magic or lore that aids their people or becoming great sages and teachers. Even if two twins choose different paths, they still learn much together, and there are many defenders of Orphan’s Tree that combine both spell and spear in a deadly combination.
What happens to children that are born alone is how their settlement earned its name. If a
child has no twin at birth, the elves call this a great blessing. Whereas a set of twins is
considered one entity, a child born alone is considered to be equivalent to that, or as having all the strength and skill of two twins. While they are actually not superior to other elves, at least in a physiological sense, they are socially more important. A child born alone is never introduced to its family. The mother knows her child was special, and that’s about it. Instead, the child is taken by the church, and given in service to Myr. The clergy becomes their family, and their Father and Mother is Myr. They are given the same test as twins, but their choice is still secondary to their dedication to Myr, so that their path is always influenced by the divine.
The elves are not exclusively insular, and they tend to roam in their younger years.
While outsiders are not expressly forbidden, most interactions between elves and other races take place outside Orphan’s Tree. They find humans to be too flighty, and halflings simply confuse elves, much like they do to everyone else. The dwarves and gnomes, however, the elves appreciate because of their level of cooperation, a trait they find admirable.