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The History of the Sylvan Elves
The Trail of Ages (ca. -36,567 to -22,460)

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As the city of Ithnishmyn was dismantled, the remarkable fact of its minimal impact on the forest surrounding it was never more obvious. The sylvans set out on their journey, and where once had been a city unrivaled in beauty and scope, now only a few imprints on the ground remained, and one large circle where a towering Council House had stood.

When next a caravan of elven tourists arrived, they found nothing but the trees. Their guides assured them that this was indeed the famed city of Ithnishmyn, however they retained a belief that they had been swindled. As other groups arrived, found nothing and then departed in disappointment, a legend began to spread through the Nations, holding that greedy elves of another city had secured the exclusive rights to visit the city and all others were being led to an alternative location. Other stories gradually appeared, saying the sylvans had all died from a cataclysmic plaque, that a fel magic had swallowed them, and all sorts of other fanciful explanations. The fact that the sylvans had simply walked away from their lovely Ithnishmyn was too outlandish a concept for belief.

Meanwhile, divided into seven groups, the sylvans slipped away through the forests, finally congregating a few hundred miles west and somewhat south of Ithnishmyn. Many had incidents on the road that took family members, and aggressive beasts occasionally threatened the way. Two of the seven groups had to split into smaller bands to avoid elves seen in the distance.

Under the security of a dense offshoot of the forest that had sheltered Ithnishmyn, the sylvans regrouped. The rejoining took a good amount of time, reckoned to be at least a number of years. While they awaited those who had not yet come, they built shelters that echoed the tent-like designs of their past and passed the seasons recounting the adventures that had marked their various passages. Finally it was agreed that all who could arrive had done so, and the sylvans held a council, the first since the autumnal council that had made the decision to send them on their present road. It was agreed that the Sylvans would set out once again on the spring festival of Ivastaen, called Dra'Elstin, and travel until winter forced them to stop. Thereafter, they would construct dwellings and remain at that location until spring thaw allowed them to take up their journey again.

While the decision to proceed with this plan was deemed auspicious by a respected reader of signs, the plan eventually proved less than fortuitous. The sylvans spent a month breaking down their camp, it having turned into a semi-permanent town over the years, leaving as little evidence of their inhabitation as they had at Ithnishmyn. Traveling for two months, they arrived at the edge of a vast plain. Tall grasses stretched to the horizon with nary a tree to break its progression. Clearly, an expanse as devoid of trees as this was viewed as extremely suspect by the forest dwellers. However, the sheer size of the prairie, added to their impatience to move away from established elven lands before their progress was detected, prompted them to seriously consider the idea of crossing it.

Signs were cast at a number of points along the edge of the grasses. Most were less than promising. However, Eislemar was becoming impatient. He had grown querulous with the months of waiting for straggling groups to join the main body of the sylvan host. And now, he was met with yet another obstacle blocking the glorious journey to a new land. He was disdainful of this damnable grassland and urged the council to allow him to lead his people across it. His popularity and positive demeanor were persuasive to the councilors, wearied as they were by the years of travel. The council was swayed, and despite the debatable omens, the decision to journey across the grassy prairie was made.

At dawn on a bright day in the month of Phoenatos, the sylvan nation began the march across the grasslands. The density of the grasses was their first obstacle. Soon, they realized that their methods of navigation within the forest were not very effective here. Directional hints, such as moss growing on the boles of trees, were absent where only the sky above could point the way. The sylvans had marched for three weeks when it was discovered that a few outlying members of the company had disappeared. In coming days, others disappeared. Some vanished with a sudden scream that ended as quickly, and as inexplicably, as it began. Others were lost without a trace.

After three weeks within the grasses, despite all protective measures they undertook, more than 200 sylvans were missing. The sylvans took to referring to the prairie as the Golden Anvil, named thus because of the sun's burning heat overhead as well as the perilous nature of the place. Finally, a council was called, and it was decided to retrace their way back out of the grasses. Unfortunately, this journey took four additional weeks and cost almost 900 lives. During that time, a sighting was made of an immense wyrm that coursed through the grasses as effortlessly as a fish glides through water.

During the last week of the retreat, one of the wyrms happened upon the weary sylvans. Seeing the colossal beast bearing down upon his people, Eislemar took up a position to challenge the beast, standing directly in its path. His arms and staff raised, he concentrated on the effort to summon all magic known to the unified sylvan collective and direct it coursing through himself.

Eislemar's power was great. He cast back the wyrm with pulsing waves of magic. However, as he saw the creature stunned by his assault, he grew proud. He judged that he could turn it away, and at the same time tame it to do his bidding by working with its frightening intellect.

As Eislemar's people ran, Eislemar studied the immense beast he opposed. A final group streaked by him, calling pleas to him to join them before the creature recovered from its stun. He nodded reassurance as they fled past. Shaking off its confusion, the wyrm slowly glided toward him. He watched its great, baleful black eye look back at him, as if judging his mettle. As the monster rose up before him, towering more than thirty feet overhead, Eislemar realized he might have made a fatal mistake. It crashed down, cleaving the earth as its bulk disappeared into the gash as easily as if it was sliding down through muddy water. The impact knocked Eislemar off his feet, and he felt the ground tremble as the wyrm's bulk was consumed. He glimpsed its barbed tail disappear from sight. Abruptly quiet descended, leaving only the whisper of the waving grasses to mark the beast's passage into the earth. Eislemar breathed a sigh of relief and began to get to his feet.

The wyrm resurfaced directly beneath him, its open maw engulfing Eislemar. Stragglers still running for safety witnessed him disappear into the gullet of the colossal wrym as it rose up into the sky, arced and then disappeared again beneath the ground.

While the sylvans retreated out of the grasses in unorganized ribbons, they occasionally heard screams as stragglers fell victim to the Golden Anvil's horror.

The traumatized sylvans spent an additional six weeks on the edge of the grassy plain, hoping that more of their people would escape from the prairie. When finally it seemed likely that no one else would escape, another council was called.

Since some of the councilors had been lost in the disaster on the prairie, a quorum was determined and the remaining council members began a discussion of their viable options. The atmosphere was heavy with grief, for all participants had lost relatives and friends and leaders. A decision was reached to pull back from the deadly plain and find a way around it.

The sylvans resumed their journey, traveling west along the tree line bordering the grasslands. Weeks passed, though they never again glimpsed any of the plain's behemoths. The trees offered both shelter and reassurance, and gradually the sylvans fell into an easy travel rhythm. The routine of arising at dawn, walking until late afternoon, and then setting up camp became second nature, and the memory of the horrors they had faced on the grasslands began to recede. Abundant game and berries supplied them with food, and with their expert knowledge of the woodlands, they had little trouble finding springs and streams. Finally, the forest turned from west to south, and the sylvans traveled deeper within the bordering forest, often losing sight of the heinous grasslands.

The beginning of winter had arrived, and they decided to build a more substantial camp to wait out the weather. On the distant western horizon, the peaks of the DragonSpine Mountains could be glimpsed shimmering in the crisp sunlight. They called that first winter's camp Moarnishim, and there, the missing -- those lost on the terrible march into the grass -- were counted and a stele was raised with their names incised upon it.

As cold and snow settled over the woods, the sylvans noted that the tall grasses of the prairie sea merely turned a straw gold color, and lost none of its robust vitality or height.

When the winter's ice had thawed, the sylvans took up their journey once again, traveling south until they noted that the forest had begun a gentle curve to the east, signaling that they had rounded the western edge of the Golden Anvil. A ceremony was held to celebrate that fact and afterward, the sylvans reached an easy decision to continue south, soon drawing out of sight of the dreaded grasses.

They chose a route that took them mostly south and somewhat east, and as they traveled, the sylvans continued the practice of traveling during the warm months then making camp to pass the winter. The names of these campsites became the stuff of legends, tales filled with significant events, such as marriages, the birth of children and the death of elderly sylvans who had known Ithnishmyn. The names were added to a holy scroll, Moarnishim the First, Elderium the Cold, Rashanlican the Fair, Danaaron the Blessed (denoting an unprecedented number of births), Haralican the Rocky, Tennebros the Hungry, Fallaroon of the Shadows, Tremaramie of the Caves, Hallabran of the Glade, and on and on. Each had its stories and each had its children, sylvans born while the people spent a period of rest before taking the long road back up again.

As the people journeyed south, they passed through lands of great beauty. However, remembering the disastrous outcome of venturing out of the forests, they avoided any meadows or clearings and clung to the trees, a practice that added substantial lengths of time to their travels. Finally, they arrived at an impressive old-growth forest with mountains to the east and abundant rivers. Tired of the years of constant migration, the sylvans decided that they had finally found a worthy home. They called it Nevishrim, a term meaning Pearl at Mountain's Foot.




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