The Dökkálfar ("Dark Elves") and Ljósálfar ("Light Elves"), better known collectively as the Ancients by the Isu, are two contrasting types of elves in Norse mythology.
The light elves were believed to live in Álfheimr, as described in Snorri Sturluson's 13th century text, the Prose Edda. In contrast, the dark elves lived underground and, despite the name, were considered separate beings from the Svartálfar or "black elves" from Svartálfaheimr, though scholarly interpretation has suggested that both titles may have been alternate names for dwarves.
The elves were a mysterious race which existed ages before the Isu and were immensely more advanced than the Isu themselves. Their race faced extinction when Surtr and his Muspels invaded and massacred all of the elves of Álfheimr. According to Odin, the elves begged the Asgardians for aid, but since they had just finished their war with the Vanir, they were too weak to enter another conflict immediately. Surtr took advantage of this and invaded Álfheimr to steal their "immortal light", which allowed him to become deathless.
The elves were described by Odin to be a very ancient race who were said to be brighter than the sun, with their understanding over all things related to the soul unparalleled even by the smartest of the Isu. When Baldr was a child, Odin told him a story of how Surtr invaded Álfheimr and massacred all of the elves, rendering them extinct, adding that even Loki was moved by this and wept for what the Muspel warlord had done. All of their knowledge on souls was confiscated and remained known only to the tyrant of Múspellsheimr, leaving many of their secret inventions and artifacts like the Salakar sealed away in ancient vaults, while even the wisest of the Isu had little understanding on how these elven mechanisms, runes, and artifacts functioned.
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