Elves are tall, long-legged desert rovers whose tribes wander the face of Athas. Traders and herders, elves rarely stay in one place for long. They are also charlatans, entertainers, thieves, and raiders. Each of the great city-states hosts a branch of the Elven Market – a never-ending bazaar where the elves (and others who deal in goods of dubious origin) sell their wares. Many elven goods are cheap baubles of little worth or were stolen from their rightful owners. Still, elves have a knack for being in the right place at the right time to peddle their wares, and even the most officious templar appreciates the selection of goods in the elven market.
Elves run swiftly and with great endurance. Tribes can manage forty miles a day or more, day in and day out. Elves consider it shameful to ride an animal such as a crodlu or a kank, and one does so only if ill or gravely wounded. Normally, such mounts are used as beasts of burden to carry the tribes’ goods and tents. If a sorcerer-king sends his soldiers to punish an elven tribe for a brazen act of theft of lawlessness, he might find that not even kank-mounted cavalry can catch a tribe that has a mind to be somewhere else.
Most Athasians consider elves lazy and deceitful. It’s true that many elves dislike hard work and prefer to live in the moment, avoiding unpleasant tasks and drudgery. They have little regard for anyone who isn’t a member of their tribe. Elves happily take advantage of, steal from, lie to, or misdirect outsiders, not out of malice so much as a desire to separate the gullible from their items of value. When it’s important to maintain a valuable trading relationship, elves honor their word and barter in good faith. But the moment they perceive an opportunity that is too good to pass up, they abandon their previous deals.
Although elves are fickle business partners, they can be true and loyal friends to those who win their trust. But few outsiders gain the friendship of an elven tribe.