High Elven Families: Apician Filisan Therigan Botolan Concercian
Dark Elven Families: Notsark Karsel Porsun Junisit Thergor
Formation of the Families: Prior to the formation of Elsinor and Delsinar, the elves lived together in the unified Elven Empire. This massive monarchy took up much of the space that both countries now occupy. In such an enormous country, ten men and women met at a point of land known as the Decagon, where they vowed to build something of the empire. These ten individuals, five women, five men, five dark elves, five high elves, became the patrons of the High Families. Some were sharp businessmen, some were skilled craftsmen, still others were powerful political leaders. Each one built up a massive estate, buying up wide swaths of land, hiring servants, and establishing themselves as centers of commerce. By their pact, when one of them succeeded, they reported their success to the others. The politicians would make sure that laws fell favorably for their friends, the craftsmen would ensure that the best prices went to the other patrons. Quickly, these ten patrons became the most powerful men and women in the Empire. As they began to age, they passed along their knowledge and wisdom, allowing their descendants to take up both their names and their livelihood.
Establishment of the current order: Eventually, the Elven Empire split into Elsinor and Delsinar. When the split was first proposed, the politicians of the Families spotted an opportunity. They quickly ensured that the government was bogged down with the minute details of the split. Would dark elven families be forced to leave Elsinor and vice versa? Would business that currently operated across the proposed border have to start paying extra taxes? The Families were able to keep the system so busy that when the split finally happened, a startling fact was realized: With the governments now at half-strength, many of the menial details of governing were falling through the cracks. Within weeks, both Elsinor and Delsinar were looking at total collapse and anarchy. To prevent this, in both Elsinor and Delsinar, the High Families stepped in, taking up the tasks that the government couldn't handle.
In Elsinor: - The Apician Family took up the task of defending the border from the orcs and giants threatening them. - The Therigan Family took over the construction of walls and buildings, ensuring a solid physical infrastructure. - The Filisan Family took over agriculture and shipping, ensuring that fair trade was still practiced. - The Botolan Family assumed the role of the court, ensuring that minor disputes didn't explode into minor wars. - The Concercian Family constructed arenas for entertainment, wrote dramas, and conducted orchestras and plays, keeping the minds of the people from turning to darkness.
In Delsinar: - The Notsark Family took up the role of the priesthood, determining which new gods and goddesses were worth serving and appointing priests and priestesses to each of them. - The Karsel Family took up the task of defending the border from the Scorched Lands to the south. - The Porsun Family formed the Analysis Board, deciding which threats were worth going attacking, and how to combat those threats. - The Junisit Family created a massive educational system, to ensure that young dark elves were brought up in the proper way. - The Thergor Family built a great navy, and began exploring ways of crossing the ocean and establishing seafaring trade routes with Elsinor and the countries around the Scorched lands.
The Current Order: As time passed, the governments of both elven countries began to pull themselves together. Gradually, so as not to overwhelm anything, the High Families pulled back from their more active role. The infrastructure that they had created and given so freely served to bolster the fledgling countries as they tested out their new roles. Both countries were deeply in debt to the High Families, and still are to this day. Since that time, the High Families have remained active in both elven governments. Very rarely do they directly introduce new laws, but they quite often will sway laws and policies to favor themselves. As the High Families still control the vast majority of commerce throughout both countries, the kings and queens of the elves are usually willing to grant their requests, in the interest of maintaining the peace. On the handful of occasions that the Families were denied, massive trade routes were disrupted and entire cities were brought to the brink of starvation. Blame quickly piled onto the kings, leading to a general acceptance of the order of things. Monarchs have debated bringing an end to the Families for good, but the walls that protect the Family Estates are some of the strongest in Calsin, while entire hidden cities house the enormous armies that the Families control.
In both Elsinor and Delsinor, the High Families hold a powerful, though quiet, hand in the government. This hand isn't likely to go away anytime soon, and will probably only grow stronger as time wears on...