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The History of the Sylvan Elves
Early History (Approximately ca. -130,000 to ca. -60,000)

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In the earliest of days, a vast forest covered most of the lands between the DragonSpine Mountains and the eastern coast of the continent. Within the forests off the eastern seaboard dwelt the race of elves. They were, from the first, an ingenious people and quickly learned to fashion hide dwellings suspended from the trees. These were easily disassembled to accommodate a nomadic lifestyle, a lifestyle that was designed to conceal their colonies from the threat of the colossal drakes that sailed the wide skies above the canopy of trees.

As time passed, the primitive tent-dwellings evolved into semi-permanent constructions that featured some rock walls and hearths, but retained the hide ceilings and upper walls of their earlier design. The people learned first to adorn the hides of their dwellings with painted symbols, and then to make pottery to contain food and water. They domesticated a sturdy breed of antelope living in the forests, and were soon moving their limited belongings via travois. As the colonies grew in size, they divided into smaller groups for protection and traveled the forests, always careful to conceal any evidence of their movements. Their woodcraft skills increased, as well as their survival abilities, with every generation.

With the advent of the Ur-Daemon Wars, the elves parted into smaller bands and learned to move only in the darkness of night. Even so, many perished. The ur-daemons learned to conceal themselves within the forests and attack the drakes from below. Unsuspecting elves would wander into a concealed monster and be devoured before they realized their misfortune. Legends tell of invisible ur-daemons suddenly coalescing out of the shadows of the trees and swallowing whole elven families.

At the end of the darkness, as the ur-daemon menace was called, the elven population was greatly diminished. However, Arkati aid, chiefly from the goddesses Lumnis and Imaera, gave them a helping hand. In clearings rent in the great forest by the battles between drake and ur-daemon, the elves were shown how to grow crops that would feed them through the cold seasons. With the ancient menace of the drakes at an end, they embraced agriculture. Soon most colonies had abandoned a nomadic lifestyle, staying in one region to tend quickly expanding croplands. The elves soon moved from utilizing available clearings, to felling trees on their own in order to expand the cultivatable fields, and colonies grew as land-holdings grew. The graceful tent-dwellings of the past evolved first into timber structures, and then into those built of stone and brick.

Some elves held to the old ways, resisting the invitation to join their brethren in the burgeoning towns. These disparate groups gradually joined into one colony, disdaining all 'hard buildings' in favor of old-style hide dwellings, and retaining only those possessions that could be easily carried from place to place. The colony became more reclusive, retiring into the depths of the ancient wood where no direct sunlight could reach the forest floor. They remained closely allied to Imaera, and out of that association a religion emerged that had as a basic tenet the belief that they must resist the temptations of the civilized tribes. And in the towns, the word sylvisterai became a common term that referred to the reticent offshoot of elves, meaning 'one who embraces -- or marries -- the forest.' And so, the designation sylvan was born.

As the elven hamlets expanded and divided, seven houses emerged as centers of power and around these grew towns that quickly evolved into cities. Written history emerged, and a great library was raised to house it. It was not long before other elven cities followed the example set by Ta'Illistim. Trade was brisk between the cities; however, in the forest, the sylvans discouraged visits from outsiders by any means they could concoct short of outright churlishness. Trade with their elven cousins was both discouraged and limited. And since rarity in most cases breeds desire, the fine sylvan styled bows, jewelry, leather goods and other handicrafts gained great value among the seven cities.

Emissaries were routinely sent from each of the cities, bearing invitations to the sylvans to settle within the boundaries of their respective city, with promises of wealth and luxury. The sylvans received each contingent with cool courtesy. However, the answer was always the same. And as pressure to join a political family grew, so did the sylvans' uneasiness.






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