We were once in Lothern, capital city of Ulthuan and home of the High Elves. Proud people, they are. We were protecting a caravan on its way to Ulthuan, the land where the Asur reside – an island as beautiful as its residents, created just for them by the Old Ones if the legends are to be believed. The High Elves, or the Asur, as they insist on being called, do not only want to keep themselves separate from other races but also from each other, because Ulthuan is still divided into ten different kingdoms, despite only having one King – the Phoenix King. The kingdom we went to, Eataine, is the first one amongst them and the place where their King resides in the huge city of Lothern, its residents numbering in the thousands. As many merchants nowadays do, we entered Lothern through the Emerald Gate, a mighty fortress spanning above the Straits of Lothern, tall enough to let the largest galleon through. The gate was guarded by the Glittering Tower guarding the way into the largest harbour our eyes had ever seen. One of the Elven guides took us around the city and showed us all its wonders. We walked down long, busy, cobbled streets in the light of magically-lit lamps. Wherever we looked there were great works of craft beautiful facades, flowing fountains, imposing statues sculpted in a way so skilful that one could almost mistake them for living beings. We were led, however, into a quarter that looked much less imposing. It was full of Men and Dwarfs and the only thing that could be heard was the haggling of merchants. The Asur seldom socialise with us Men, but their merchants are not like this perhaps because it would make bad business. Here we were shown our dwelling for the night. Our elven guide explained to us that we cannot leave the Foreigners’ Quarter without special permission. He said there is much to see in Lothern and beyond that we will not have the privilege to, like the Watch Hill where duellists face each other in the Circle of Blades, or the Winter Gardens, which in the due seasons are filled with fantastical magical creations of incomprehensible beauty. Unlike the less civilised peoples, the Elves of Lothern do not employ slaves to crew their ships, or even common sailors, but rather the Sea Guard, a formation elite both on the sea and on land. The Lothern Sea Guard stands ten thousand Elves strong. They are master navigators, and every one of them is capable of both steering and defending the ship with an unmatched proficiency. Their thorough training and proud traditions mean that their discipline is equal to none while all elven armies are well-disciplined, the Sea Guard would always fight to the very last man and never break rank, They advance in an unbreakable shield wall upon which any charge breaks like a wave upon a rock. They can be used to secure the beachhead of any shore, often serving as the vanguard of the Elven host, capable of employing any tactic necessary to keep the enemy away until the rest of the army arrives. This is thanks to the fact they are skilled both with the use of spear and bow. In neither are they surpassed by the spearmen nor archers of most other armies, as the Sea Guard is expected to perform in archery as well as any archer, and in a spear wall as well as any spearman. The famous Eagle Claw Bolt Throwers also play an important part in the armies of the High Elves. The Lothern Sea Guard are also well trained in the use of this deadly war machine. Thanks to their tactical flexibility, not only do the Sea Guard serve as ship crew or sea infantry; they also guard the walls of Lothern with the spear, bow, and shield and are expert at employing the powerful Eagle Claw Bolt Throwers, long elven lives being well-suited to learning the many crafts of warfare. Lothern, however, is reluctant to employ its formidable military prowess without a very strong motive. The Asur only go into combat if they have to only if it is guaranteed to further the cause of order and delay the dominance of Chaos. They would rather commit themselves to what they treasure more than bloodshed: grace, beauty, knowledge, conveyed through art and philosophy. They are conservatives who treasure tradition, prosperity, and order, and every elven death cuts short one of their long lifespans cuts short what could be centuries of appreciation of the wise and the wonderful, a life of virtue and subtlety.