For thousands of years the High Elves of Cailhast have been a race set apart, distrustful of everyone, and seldom leaving the confines of the city walls. But it had not always been so. Once the High Elves had controlled vast territories in the north, their influence stretching from the Celeros Forest in the West to the borders of the Athelnon Forest in the east. Their towering cities were centers of magic, art, and philosophy when the other races of Gant were still wandering the countryside in small nomadic tribes. They believed it was their duty to civilize what they called the ’lesser’ races, and it was this that set them on the path of seclusion and xenophobia. What had once been considered a noble goal—to teach the tribal races to develop higher forms of culture and society—had slowly turned against the High Elves. As the tribes began to change their way of life, settling in villages, planting crops, and raising livestock, as well as learning to mine and process metals, they began to demand more and more from their benevolent teachers. The High Elves had miscalculated how fast the lesser races would learn. With a lifespan drastically shorter than the elves, their mortality drove to develop at a pace well beyond what the Elves had intended. As a High Elf, one could spent years learning to paint a single brush stroke, and as such they were utterly unable to comprehend how rapidly the lesser races developed.
They sought in vain to slow the process and eventually the wisest scholars among the High Elves foresaw that with time the lesser races would turn on them. Realizing their mistake, they began to cut off all ties with these races, retreating further within their own borders in an attempt to remove their influence from the rest of the continent. Without the High Elves presence, the societies they had help to build began to fracture, wars over resources erupted, and Gant plunged into chaos. The old tribal lines resurfaced and many of the cultural advancements were lost, except for those pertaining to warfare, as the lesser races became quite proficient in this area. Just as the scholars had predicted, the strongest among the lesser races soon set their sights on the wealth of the High Elves. Fearing their own strength, the High Elves tried to warn the lesser races to stay away, but the reckless and greedy warlords refused to listen and they attacked in full force. It was a massacre; the High Elven armies were superior in every way and they defended themselves with magic and weapons that their enemies could not hope to counter. The death toll among the lesser races was so high that it was said that rivers throughout Gant ran red with blood for three weeks.
Disgusted at the meaningless loss of life, the High Elves finally hoped that the lesser races would leave them in peace and go about rebuilding their societies. Apparently the leaders among the lesser races learned their lesson, and taught it to their children, and their children’s children, for the High Elves were left in isolation in their cities—for a time, at least. From behind their protective walls they cautiously watched at a distance as several powerful city-states began to take root throughout the land and relative peace reigned. However, all that would change with the arrival of the Demon Prince Cerebus.
No one can verify for certain, but it is said that it was the Elven massacre of the lesser races is what first drew Cerebus the Blood-Thirster to the continent of Gant. The High Elves surely must have believed this, for they were the first to wage war against Cerebus. A great champion arose among them, a Noble elf named Ilethin. He gathered the grand armies of the High Elves and attacked Cerebus and his demons. Early on they were very successful, winning many battles against the demons. Cerebus soon learned how easy it was to corrupt the lesser races, however, and he turned many of them against the High Elves. The Demon Prince spawned a loyal following, what would eventually become the Cult of Cerebus, and together they ravaged the High Elven nation. Ilethin and his armies fought bravely but were driven steadily back. Those among the lesser races that did not join the Cult still refused to aid the High Elves, believing that this was their punishment for the massacres they had committed. Without allies, they faltered and they were forced to retreat back toward their capital, the city now known as Cailhast, where they made their stand at the Caillani River. They fought fiercely, with the conviction that the very survival of their race depended on defending the bridge. The battle raged on for weeks but eventually ground to a halt, locked in stalemate. Eventually Cerebus must have grown weary of the lack of bloodshed, leaving the High Elves with their lone city remaining, and heading out to make war upon the rest of the continent.
The reign of Cerebus and the dark tale of King Helius of Drakkus is another tale unto itself, one that will not be told here. But in the aftermath of these events the High Elves never again sought contact with the other races. In a way they held them responsible, for they had forced their hand against them. They had only ever had the best intentions and had been repaid with the destruction of their nation. Their distrust and fear was founded on the simple fact that it was interaction with the lesser races that had been their downfall. So adamantly did they believe this to be true that it was written into Cailhast Law, with proclamations sent to all the major powers of the day; any race to approach the barred gates of the fortified bridge over the Caillani River, would be killed on sight. Years later the first diplomats sent with invitations to join the Republic of Gant barely escaped with their lives, spared only that they might carry back Cailhast’s reply: utter refusal of the offer. Since that time few High Elves have even ever left the city, and those that do are not welcome to return.
As a result, the xenophobic High Elves of Cailhast have not permitted any of the lesser races, nor their own wayward kind, to enter their city in hundreds of years.