Legends tell that ancient elves were immortal in the sense that they neither aged nor died from natural causes. Yet their elders eventually became weary of life and memories. Instead of dying they would voluntarily enter a slumber-like state known as uthenera. While their bodies would remain in the mortal realm, their spirits would cross the Veil and wander the shifting paths of the Beyond, accompanied by two children of Mythal: Falon'Din and his twin brother Dirthamen. This state did not necessarily equal death, as some would return, even after centuries, and share the secrets of dreams with the People. Yet many would never wake up: their bodies would deteriorate and they would in fact die.
The Dalish claim that in the time of Elvhenan uthenera was viewed as an act of reverence. An elder would retire to a chamber that was one part bed and one part tomb and, to great ceremony from all the extended family, would succumb to slumber. The family would continue to visit the chamber to pay respect to the one who made such a sacrifice.
According to Felassan, some elves in uthenera were able to reach "perfection" and draw sustenence from the Fade rather than dying in their sleep. Elves in uthenera were tended by servants to prevent discomfort from waking them, and who bathed them in scented oils to provide them the spark of wisdom on their journey.
An elf who had perfected themselves no longer required the potion of water, honey and herbs used to keep mages alive during uthenera (this was determined by brushing the potion on the lips at the full moon and determining at the new moon if it had been imbibed or not). Such elves were moved into beds of pure white, signifying their achievement.In the days of Arlathan, Dreamers were also sometimes approached by earnest supplicants. These individuals would enter the Dreamers' burial/bed chamber and walk a labyrinth truly visible only to elves; if in earnest, they would find the answers they sought in their dreams.
After the arrival of humans
When the Tevinter Imperium waged war on the elves, many believed themselves bound by duty to defend those in uthenera. Thus elven elders came to sleep to Sundermount in the Vimmark Mountains. Arcane warriors made their last stand there and perished in a great battle with humans.
- There are two known poems dedicated to uthenera: one is recited by Leliana and another one - by Paivel.
- Merrill also recites a part of the first poem at Mythal's altar during the Long Way Home quest, which results in "resurrection" of Flemeth.
- The journal of a dreamer Keeper Marethari may give to Hawke is called the Tome of the Slumbering Elders, hinting that elves practicing uthenera were ancient dreamers.
- Elvhen are not the only ones capable of centuries-long sleep. Old Gods slumber eternally in their underground prisons, their priest slumbered in his own one, and dragons rest for ages in the Hall of Sleepers below the Silent Grove.
- Uthenera can also translate to "long sleep" or "endless dream."
- Some Elvhen elders may still roam the Fade and preserve ancient knowledge even though their bodies are long dead.