Elves in Ferelden are not immortal, but elven legends state that this was not always the case. Once, they say, they were immortal beings who lived in harmony with the natural world and followed the Elven Pantheon. The first "shem" (short for shemlen, a derogatory term meaning "quick children" that was used by the ancient elves to describe the humans) they encountered were the mages of the Tevinter Imperium. They traded with the Imperium and grew friendly with humans, but soon discovered that breeding with humans produced only human babies, due to the elves' genetic adaptability, while exposure to the ‘quick children’ caused the elves to quicken themselves. For the first time, elves began to age and die.
In fear, the elves withdrew from human contact, but the Imperium interpreted this as a sign of hostility and invaded Elvhenan, the elven homeland, and enslaved its people. The elven people lost their immortality and their gods forsook them.
At some point in the past, elves created a second elven homeland in the Dales, but the Chantry led an Exalted March against it for unknown reasons and conquered the region. Thus the Dalish elves were created.