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Prologue

My grandfather used to tell me stories about the beginning of the world. He would sit with me on our garden ledge, halfway up the Mountain, and gaze out over the wild wood. He used his hands a lot when he told stories, his fingers painting horizons that I would never see.
He told me about Ilana and Finarion, and how their sins led to our coming to the Mountain. And when he spoke of these long-ago legends, he would weep, as if he had known them.
Then he would toss a small pebble down the side of the Mountain and walk slowly away.
My mother would always scold me for bothering him, would always tell me to leave him alone. But a few days later, he would always come for me, and we would walk back to our favorite ledge, and he would tell me another story about the beginning of the world.
So our cycle went until one day, my grandfather passed on to live with Adnihil in the Realm of Shadows. The family laid his body on his favorite ledge, with his feet facing the open air. Then we stacked pebbles over him until he was covered, no longer a Night Elf, but only a mound of Mountain rock.
And I treasured up his stories, and hid them in my heart.
The stories of the Night Elves are not grand epics, like those of the Wood Elves, nor are they songs of our own virtues, like those of the humans. We are a proud race, and few, for all that we are can be counted among the hundreds.
We were the first; we walked the paths of the world for many lifetimes before the gods ever dreamed up the Wood Elves, who were second. Thus the greatest gift, and yet the greatest curse bestowed on our race is memory. We remember all that has occurred on this earth, and recount it in our tales.
Our sins weigh heavily upon us, for our memories do not dim with age, as they do in other peoples.
But our people are changing; they are growing self-obsessed, more and more so with each passing generation. I see the children of my children run down the rocky paths of the Mountain, careless of its history and legends. They do not sit; they do not listen to the old tales.
“These are our times,” they say. “Let us write our own stories.”
But how can you write your future, my children, when you do not know your past?
So I will walk every day to my favorite garden ledge, slowly now, so slowly, on my old legs. And I pray that one day you will join me, o child, and hear the wisdom of my aged head. For the sins of Ilana and Finarion are not so far gone from us.
Do we not still live on the Mountain?



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