In my retelling of the Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, one thing I really wanted to do was sort of make the history of the world Shani and Pania come from a little more inclusive. I did that in part by doing some research, and looking into a few of the different myths and mythologies of elves and pixies and all manner of magical beings in other cultures. I had to set some ground rules for myself, however. First ground rule for this world would be that the entire populace was entirely elves. That would be the dominant species, to use more scientific terms. There would be other creatures as well, such as pixies, dragons, pseudo dragons, goblins, trolls and ogres, but elves would be the “hero” race of this Green Earth, as I called it.
Elves are often equated to the British Isles and into Scandinavia. From there, it has spread into other countries (as Britain went about colonizing). But what of folklore from different regions.
Many different cultures have their myths about dragons. There are Norse dragons, British and French dragons, Chinese dragons, and so on. What about other magical creatures? Often, elves have been equated to spirit folk, so I began there.
In the Middle East, many cultures believed in Djin, what was in Islamic belief, the third intelligent being created by God. There is some references to djin before Islamic influences, and much of it’s description was very similar to elves. Spirit folk, some were tricksters, many were helpful, and a lot of other facets that were very similar to elves in folklore. Native American beliefs also had their own spirit folk. Many of whom had the ability to change shape into an animal. Not every one of the Nations had this belief, but it is something that shows up in many different ones. There are spirit folk in Chinese and Japanese folklore as well.
So, if one takes elves as spirit folk, and knowing that not only were there similar stories from culture to culture, but there were also similar structural designs (pyramid, for example, there are pyramids in Egypt, Cambodia, and in South and Central America). It’s not that much of a stretch to see that many cultures would have some overlap in their different stories. Even the Romans and Greeks had names for what could be called elves, as the term fae folk or faeries comes from the Latin fata, which can be translated into The Fates.
With the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe and Northern Africa being so close together, it’s not hard to think that stories like Beowulf and Gilgamesh would have traveled around a lot. And so to would have folklore like elves. After all, the people of those different regions had been involved in trade and commerce for over 1500 years before The United States and Canada became nations. Coupled with individuals who like in Baghdad wanted to build a cultural, educational and philosophical capital for the world, you’d get books coming in from all over. At one time, Baghdad had the world’s most impressive library, and it was said authors were paid the weight in gold for the books they would present. Many of those stories coming from Europe and Northern Africa. Those stories could have included the tales of elves. So it’s not hard to see that different cultures knew about elves centuries before J.R.R. Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings or even before Gary Gygax created Dungeons and Dragons.
Effectively, what I’ve tried to create is a world which pulls together stories which have similarities from different cultures. This is the world that Shani and Pania come from. Going a step further, the elves would have a hereditary memory, they would know the main elven language which would be spoken by everyone in their world, plus their own regional dialect. As an example, Pania might know the primary elven language, Irish Gaelic, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, and English. Shani would know the primary elven language, Lakota (which is the area Shani’s people would have come from, being that region of the United States and Canada before colonization), Cree, Ojibway, and English. The character of Avalona Xanthe would know the primary elven, Finnish, Norwegian, German, Arabic, and English. Ava would know Arabic thanks to her adopted sister, Frigg Elva, who would also know the same languages as Ava, but would also be familiar with the primary language that would be used in Northern Africa.
So I’ve also rewritten Shani in a way. I used to describe her as pale, almost white. But I’ve changed that, as her description will be more akin to tanned or light reddish brown. While Pania will remain blonde and green eyed, there was a moment when I thought of changing her entire look as well. However, that can be left for other characters as I rework this narrative.