Timeline: The elf-orc war at end of first era, About 1400 years before beginning of "Luvirini's Journey"
Story as told to Luvirini Dameira.
You should really not talk about what I am telling you now to anyone. You need to know because of events that are likely to happen, but should keep the information to yourself.
At that point the war with the orcs had been going on for almost a hundred years and after the initial setbacks and the long stalemate period we were pushing the orcs back and seemed to be on a march to victory.
Oh, I guess I should tell about the general run of the war as it is relevant.
In the beginning of the war the orcs had surprised us with their huge goblinoid armies. After all both the true orcs and we true elves were immortal in the sense that we never die of old age or get infirm due to age. We were also very slow breeding. At the height of our respective empires there were less than 100 000 of both true elves and true orcs. We both had tens of millions of slaves from the other races.
When they then trained an army of almost a million of their slaves and used about 30 000 of their own number to strengthen it, we only had about 60 000 people suitable for combat. Thus early on we had some great losses as they could also quickly replenish their army from their slaves, having been limited in their army size mostly by logistics and available weapons.
Thus even if they lost fifty of their slave soldiers to one of our blade masters, they could train a new soldier in less than a month as they had a continuous and by then a fairly well working military training going on and their slaves could easily breed fast enough to not be depleted. Whereas it took us at least a hundred years to properly train a blade master and we had maybe 100 births a year at the beginning of the war.
After the early big losses, we managed to build a strategy consisting of good scouting, local reaction forces of thirty to fifty elves that could shift where the scouts reported attacks and delay the enemy with illusions, quick counterattacks, sniping at the leaders, summoned demons and similar tactics while the main combat forces were portaled to the area. Preferably the portaling would be behind the enemy forces to hit them from back while they were still engaged by the delaying force.
Thus we only lost about a third of our lands until we got our own slave soldier programs producing troops that were good enough.
The next phase of the war lasted more than fifty years while our armies of mostly humans and dwarves fought their goblinoid armies. During this time we pushed them back slowly as the armies were quite equal, but when we committed elves to important points of battles we could quite often turn the tide of the battle. The orcs could never build enough such shock troops being less of a warrior culture than we were. The second reason why we fared better was the many humans with magic potential who we trained to support the armies.
We also tried our best to increase our own birth rate and by the time I was born there were almost a thousand of us born every year, but the total population was down to about 60 000
About the same time the orcs starting fielding much better troops, in the form of lesser orcs. These were the result of crossbreeding the true orcs with their goblinoid slaves. They were stronger and smarter than the goblinoids. Also quite many had magic potential, so soon the orcish armies could match the human magic support our armies had.
For the next thirty years the gains and losses alternated, but still we were pushing them back overall, but much slower.
Then finally they did the biggest blow to us.
You see, we always, until that point, regarded any wars as fun and games. They were situations and places where we could test and prove ourselves and just enjoy the combative spirit that is so much part of us.
From what I understand the orcs saw war as a necessary evil to gain the land they needed, not something to enjoy.
Suddenly new pregnancies just stopped.
The orcs had done something that caused the mother's extremely strong immune system to fight the sperm and the embryo as hostile.
There was a lot of frenzied studying done but no method was ever found to reverse it.
We as a people went berserk. There is no other way to describe the event.
Suddenly all the fun and games of the war was over, and it became a war of extermination of the true orcs too, as a retaliation.
The armies were mostly turned over to the humans and dwarves with the orders to not lose on the field and try to kill as many as possible of the true orcs.
We turned into assassins, with small groups of elves shifting or portaling near orc settlements, observing where the true orcs lived and then striking at them, killing all of them be they man, woman, child, adult, combatant or noncombatant.
This of course caused even more losses for us too.
My first combat assignment was to be a portal mage for one such group. I was nowhere fully trained by that time, so I alternated the training and the portaling, as they tried to get the last born of us to be most useful.
After few years of this someone came upon the idea that we could make lesser elves too, by breeding with humans.
After some study it was decided that we would try to create three separate races of lesser elves, one to be leaders and mages, second to be master craftsmen and mage smiths and third to be scouts and assassins.
We sought humans with the desirable traits and paired them with similar or our kind to cause this.
The end result are the races you now know as True elves for the mages and leaders, High elves for the craftsmen and Wood elves for the assassins and scouts.
We, the real true elves are less than three hundred now, that is why the most charismatic of the new elven races is commonly called true elves today, though they call themselves the fair elves.