No one knows when or how the dark elves came to be enslaved in mass in the Summerlands. Elven scholars simply take it for granted that their dark skinned cousins have always served their fairer masters as bondage was the proper state of affairs for such inferior beings.
If one were to ask the dark elves, they were once a free people protected by the spirits of forest until they committed a taboo and were banished from their homeland. Their chains are merely the price they must pay until their crime against the spirits is forgiven, but no one who matters asks the dark elves. The lore they pass by word of mouth from generation to generation is ignored as childish superstition, the products of feeble minds. Who could expect anything better from the result of the taboo cross breeding between the Elvenfolk and the Ironbloods, their term for outsiders?
More muscular and taller than their more delicately boned masters, the dark elves are well suited for hard, undignified physical labor such as mining, building fortresses among other public works and unclean tasks such as night soil collectors. The lords of some estates that own many slaves dared to give them tasks fit for free men such as field hands and household servants, thus depriving peasants of an honest living. This is a bitter point of contention among some noble families. Not out of concern for those lower on the social pyramid, but out of fear that, if enough dark elves gather together, there will be uprising.
The dark elves have a weapon that makes them feared even beneath all that scorn. Venom sacks reside under the fingernails and they can secrete a toxic substance at will that kills after a small amount makes contact with the skin. As there is no known antidote, the fingertips of the slave children are cut off before the poison glands can fully develop, but the fear of their hands linger. Some prominent families have vowed never to partake of dark elf labor for this very reason, but the large slave holding estates scoff at the idea that such stupid creatures could conceive a plot to overthrow their betters. The dark elves can neither read or write and most of them speak a pidgin dialect that only vaguely resembles the Elvish language.
The dark elves’ masters keep them in line with the whip and constant fear that they may be culled. The laws governing slaves are harsh and unyielding. They have no rights, their owners are free to do with them as they wish, and, as the slave population may not exceed ten percent of the total population, they may be slaughtered at any time for any reason. Disobedience equals death. Sickness or injury is a death sentence as well. The masters’ have long dreamed that by breeding their slaves like animals, they can produce a totally servile being that is completely docile and physically hardy. No matter how beaten down or terrorized the dark elves are, as long as the dark elves show any spark of will there is always room for more torture.
Perhaps the masters sense that the harsher their rule becomes, the more the fires of rebellion smolder. For what do the condemned have to lose?
The first book in the Tales of Remnas series, Flower Among the Ashes, can be purchased at the Amazon Kindle store. The ebook is 50% off from Cyber Monday, November 29 until December 2, 2016.
Prior posts in the Mythology of Remnas Series