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The History of the Sylvan Elves
The Legend of Haloiyand and Alandalor

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As the great DragonSpine Mountains filling the distant northern horizon began to recede, the sylvans turned their path to the north, angling up across a rich land of rolling hills interspersed with verdant forests. Bands of humans were occasionally glimpsed in the distance, however the sylvans were adept at concealing their movements and no contact was made with the nomadic humans, with one exception. While on a hunting excursion, a party of sylvans happened upon a group of human corpses, their demise obviously due to attack by orcs, since there were also orc carcasses there. The humans had apparently made a good stand before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Having clearly been dead for a number of days, the remains had been worried by scavengers. Hearing a small growl, the sylvans whirled, expecting another of the scavengers had returned to the feast.

Instead, they saw a small human child. It was filthy, its clothing torn, and scratches covered the child's arms and legs. The sylvans finally managed to capture it, whereupon, it was discovered that the child was a girl. Not a few of the sylvans were left with bruises as the girl fought for freedom before they managed to bind her. Once she was fed and wrapped in blankets to ward off the night's chill, the girl-child fell into an exhausted slumber and the hunting party carried her back to the main sylvan colony, unsure what else to do with her.

Haloiyand the Wise was older than anyone could remember including herself. The ancient sylvan was one of the wise women/soothsayers of the sylvan population as well as a respected member of the high council. She was tribal leader, midwife to mothers, reader of omens and signs, and matriarch of a large, sprawling family.

Haloiyand was one of the staunchest advocators of a 'no contact' policy when it came to other races. When her youngest daughter came back to camp with a young human, Haloiyand advised humanely killing the girl for her own sake and theirs. However, her daughter Regalan had never managed to have a daughter, however much she longed for one, and was much taken with the scruffy little human child.

When Regalan pleaded with Haloiyand to be allowed to foster the girl, Haloiyand finally agreed with certain caveats. The girl was to be watched for seven years, and should she prove to be lazy, or a danger to any of the sylvans, she would be sent away on her own, to survive or perish as fate dictated. Thus, the council ruling on the issue proclaimed the agreement. Within weeks, the child showed a marked ability to learn commands that were given her, and a quick intelligence that benefited her fostering family. Ideas of banishing her were mostly forgotten after the first year.

At the time the sylvans found her, the girl was about ten years of age. When she evidenced no inclination to speak after her ordeal, the sylvans decided to call her Alandalore, a name that meant 'the lost is found.' Although silent, she quickly adapted to a life spent traveling by day and setting up camp in the evenings. She seemed to pick up the sylvan language, because when the sylvans began to ask her to do things, she readily made attempts to do as asked. Haloiyand's family quickly came to care for her, and at the end of Alandalore's second winter with them, Regalan asked that she be formally adopted into the family, a sprawling conglomeration of loosely related sylvans that numbered around sixty people. The girl went through the ceremony, nodding where needed and melded effortlessly into the fabric of the familial group as if she had been born to them.

In early autumn, the sylvans found a lush vale sheltered within the foothills of the western DragonSpires and prepared to winter-over. The forest was thick there, with old-growth trees that towered up for hundreds of feet. Stones were dug from the soil and piled up to form hearths, while the soft hides of the dwelling walls were suspended from the larger trees found within the surrounding forest. Fallen trees were sought to provide firewood, as well as dried dung left by the teeming herds of deer and antelope inhabiting the area. Herbs, mushrooms and berries were gathered and fish and meat were dried. The sylvans prepared for winter.

It was a happy time of year, the sylvans enjoying the cool days and brilliant fall colors. Alandalore busied herself helping bring in food and firewood. While it was reckoned that she was 12 or 13 years of age by then, her odd silence made her seem older. She worked with the other children of the family with a steady concentration that gained approval from her elders and easy camaraderie among her peers. She was also a favorite among the very young children, as her patience and gentle demeanor were a sure refuge when one of them had some mishap or other.

As snow piled up around the trees and the dwellings of the sylvans, the people spent much time within their shelters, telling stories and teaching all manner of lore to the adolescent members of the households. While they had a written language, much of the sylvan lore and past history was passed on orally due to the constraints of weight while traveling. Haloiyand had taken a couple of young sylvans on as apprentices in the healing arts, which included the study of known herbs and investigation of new varieties they encountered on the trek.

As the wise, old woman taught, she began to notice that the girl, Alandalore, was using chores, weaving, or any number of other excuses to be in the vicinity of these instructional sessions. Still not quite willing to trust her -- a human -- fully, Haloiyand moved the classes outside, choosing to cover the intricacies of tree bark in the dead of winter rather than in the spring when it was a treat to be out of doors. Her apprentices muttered and complained of chilled hands and feet, but complied dutifully with their master's peculiarities. Within a couple of days, Alandalore could be seen in the proximity of the small group, gathering fallen branches for kindling, searching beneath snow banks for new green shoots to use for tea, and any number of other tasks that were usually dreaded at that time of year.

To the relief of her apprentices, Haloiyand moved her lectures back indoors, and soon Alandalore was nearby, helping her adopted aunt with meal preparation, weaving and working leather for robes and boots. In resignation tinged with a measure of curiosity, Haloiyand began to speak a little louder, insuring that the young human could hear what she was saying.

As early Charlatos arrived with its stirring of life within the trees and earth, the time came to test her two apprentices on what they had learned. This inquiry was an arduous examination that took the whole of the day and required precise answers as well as an in-depth understanding of the tenets beneath the answers. Haloiyand knew her apprentices had been dreading it, for should their performance indicate that they did not have a capacity for the lore, they would not be allowed to continue their instruction.

A brief ceremony attended by the two novices and their families was conducted before the questioning. As she intoned the rites dedicated to blessing the lore of healing, Haloiyand glimpsed Alandalore huddled in a corner of the dwelling, busy weaving some braid with her packet of wooden cards, too concealed in shadows to be noticed yet close enough to hear what was said. As the prayer ended, the students' families arose to depart for the testing itself was considered a mystery and not to be overheard. Haloiyand noticed with approval that Alandalore was gathering up her loom and wool as well. Just before the girl ducked beneath the curtain leading outside, Haloiyand called her name and directed Alandalore to take a place beside the apprentices. Seeing sudden dread in the girl's eyes, the old woman felt satisfaction, anticipating the girl's failure and a reason to deny her the opportunity for future eavesdropping.

As the first question was put to Alandalore, to the amazement of Haloiyand and her apprentices the child spoke for the first time during her years with the sylvans, answering the query in a sweet voice with almost perfect inflection.

The day passed, questions and answers flowing in an endless exchange between the ancient dame and the three who sat facing her. When night finally witnessed the end of the examination, Haloiyand was pleased that her two students had done fairly well. She excused them, telling them that they had passed and would be welcome to study again the coming winter. Then she turned and peered down at the small human child kneeling silently before her with head bowed in fatigue. Clearly, the testing had been much more arduous on her since she had not been prepared as had the other two. Nonetheless, the girl had passed the test. In fact, Haloiyand could not, in her long memory, recall a young sylvan who had done better. She told the girl that she would expect her to attend to classes the following winter. Alandalore replied, murmuring only, "Yes Grandmother," in a meek whisper. However, Haloiyand could plainly see the triumph in her eyes.

In the month of Olaesta, the sylvans broke camp and prepared to move north once again. The camp had been a tranquil and happy one, and for this, they called it Tralastigan. They wrote its name on a holy scroll beneath other places where they had spent a winter or more. For the sylvans believed that naming a place was a holy thing; it gave an anchoring spot within the chaos of the Otherworld to any souls who had passed from this life to the next, should the soul become confused and not find the way into the Realm of the Dead.

Alandalore began her training the following winter, and continued for many seasons thereafter. She was an adept pupil, and Haloiyand gradually lost her distrust. However, there was always something about the human that the old sylvan could not accept. If Alandalore noticed this, she said nothing about it.

During Alandalore's tenth year of study with the old wise woman, the sylvans experienced an unusually severe winter. Game was practically nonexistent and snowdrifts deeper than a sylvan's height ringed the colony. Hunting was dangerous, as were simple pursuits such as gathering firewood.

One morning, it was discovered that Haloiyand was missing. There had been snow the previous night and it was supposed that she had ventured out during darkness and become lost. Search parties were dispatched, but the threat of more snow hung heavily within the thick murk obscuring the sky. Dusk fell at an unusually early hour that afternoon, and so, observing the cloud cover cloaking the sky and fearing the loss of more people, the councilors postponed further search until the following dawn.

Lost in thought about a new herb she was studying, Haloiyand trudged through the snow and darkness on her way back to her dwelling. Pondering the complexities of the plant, she was intrigued and suspected it held properties that would prove to be very valuable to her people. The tingling sensation of chill in her hands and feet finally reminded her that she had been walking for quite some time. Looking around, she realized that she could not see even the faintest glimmer of light that would steer her back to the colony. She began to retrace her way, following her footsteps. However, as snow began to fall in a heavy onslaught, her path was quickly obscured.

Alandalore waited until all within the hyrrad (as the sylvan dwellings were called) were asleep. Then, she wrapped herself in multiple layers of the simple lengths of wool her kinsmen used as cloaks, and stuffed some dried meat and berries into a satchel. With this, Alandalore crept out into the heavy snow. Guided by her intuition, she stumbled through snowdrifts, searching for any sign that Haloiyand might have passed that way.

The following morning, it was discovered that Alandalore was also missing. Heavy snowfall obstructed any further search parties. As the colony waited throughout the day, sitting within their dwellings and watching the snow blow into deep banks, expectations of rescue sank. As dusk stole in beneath the heavy clouds, a meeting was called in the main council house. It was gloomily decided that rescue parties would go out in search of the bodies when the snow stopped.

Just as the assembly ended, a commotion at the back of the tent captured the interest of those crowded within the dwelling. The crowd parted to accommodate two snow-covered figures stumbling toward the fire at the center of the assembly. Alandalore walked slowly forward, her arm clutching Haloiyand, who leaned heavily on her. They wore ice-coated cloaks, and icicles hung from their hair. As the pair stumbled forward through the silent sylvans, an audible gasp was heard. Then, breaking out of the shock that gripped them all, one of the council cried for aid, and a flurry of activity exploded.

Haloiyand eventually recovered, and Alandalore, having fewer injuries from the cold, nursed her for many of the weeks it took for the older woman to heal. No details of the rescue were ever revealed by either woman, although they were often asked how the young human managed to find Haloiyand, lost as she was within the clutches of such a snowstorm. From that time on, the two were constant companions. When the sylvans resumed the journey north, they shared a hyrrad. Finding that Alandalore was an accomplished artist, the two began a comprehensive digest of herb and tree lore, decorated with Alandalore's beautiful illuminations.

Years passed and the two gifted scholars spent their lives in happy collaboration, passing their accumulated knowledge down to many generations of young sylvans. In time, the massive Digest of Herb and Forest Lore was completed and presented to the high council, firmly establishing the pair as a cultural treasure. After many years, Alandalore's physical appearance of age surpassed that of Haloiyand, and one cold winter, the older woman found herself nursing her dying human friend.

After Alandalore's death, it was observed that Haloiyand seemed to age quickly, although by sylvan norms she should have expected many remaining years of life. She passed to the Otherlife after two more winters, and her body was wrapped in herbs and linen and buried next to Alandalore. A legend is told, though, that the hearts of both women were lovingly carried with their people to Yuriqen, and placed in an honored resting place within the last city of the sylvans. Whether this story is factual, or was meant in a symbolic context, is unknown.

 

 

 



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