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. Prior to that, the elves inhabited ten roughly-defined Kingdoms, with each kingdom composed of several royal Families. As war began to break out across the area and it became obvious that the elves would no longer be protected in individual estates, the unified Elven Empire was formed to help protect elvenkind from other, far deadlier races. During this process, most of the several dozen royal families were dissolved. Ten, however, refused to give in to this new order. While they were forbidden from owning the massive swaths of land, castles, and servants that they once had, they continued to meet in secret, keeping their Family ties and bonds together. Eventually, the reclusive holdouts came to recognize one another, and formed a pact to support the others should the opportunities arise. As the centuries passed, Family members began to work their way into the government of Elsinor, placing themselves in key roles as politicians, overseers, and more.
Re-establishment of the High Families: 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.
Remaining in the background: 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. In order to maintain their position, the High Families remained active in both elven governments. Very rarely did they directly introduce new laws, but they quite often swayed laws and policies to favor themselves. As the High Families still controlled the vast majority of commerce throughout both countries, the kings and queens of the elves were 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 of the time debated bringing an end to the Families for good, but the walls that protect the Family Estates were some of the strongest in Calsin, while entire hidden cities housed the enormous armies that the Families controlled. It was never quite deemed prudent to exert a heavy hand against them, though the same remained true in reverse.
The Elven Confederation (spoilers for TEQ): All this changed with the Angel Incursion, when invaders from another realm tore across Calsin. Desperate to defeat the angels, the King of Elsinor (under pressure from his son, Prince Paulin) requested assistance in overtaking an angel stronghold near Apician land. Lord Apician readily agreed... For a price. In exchange, she wanted the land surrounding Nettingo, effectively giving herself control over the Elven government. The King agreed, partly out of desperation and partly because Nettingo had just been blown up by the angels and wasn't particularly habitable at that moment. This move resulted in multiple power grabs by the Families in both Elsinor and Delsinar as all ten fought to avoid being left behind the others. These land grabs, combined with the invasion of Sintison into western Elsinor, caused Elsinor to collapse almost completely. For the first time in millennia, the Families had true temporal power again... But were now facing the unstoppable sword of Sintison's might. Knowing that they would fall if they remained individual, all ten High Families quickly signed a charter that formed the Elven Confederation. The charter didn't really provide any oversight at all for the Families, but it did give them a united front to present to Sintison. This show of force caused Sintison to halt at their borders, allowing the Elven Confederation to stand. For the remainder of the war against Sintison, they remained mostly neutral, though they were eventually persuaded to intercede on behalf of the multiple nations suffering under Stintison's thumb. This brought an end to Sintison's growth, and paved the way for overseas conquest.
Spreading across the world The war with Sintison had only been over for a few short months before an official declaration of the discovery of Fairn was released to the continent. The few remaining holdouts against Sintison quickly began building their own navies to send over to the new continent in an attempt to prevent Sintison from gaining too much more power. The Elven Confederation, reasoning that there were likely other continents besides simply Fairn, built their own navy and sent them in the opposite direction. After discovering the continents of Drachen and Torgisar and leaving them behind, they landed on the shores of Corinth. A land already populated by two new species of elves and connected to the rich lands of Thadusar, the Elven Confederation officially extended invitations to the most powerful Star and Sand elves, forming four new High Families in the span of only a few years. From this point, the Confederation's wealth grew massively, and they were soon allowed to join the Merchant Charter as they functioned nearly identically to most corporations at the time.