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The History of the Sylvan Elves
The Sylvan High Council

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The origins of the sylvan high council passed out of general knowledge long ago, however some legends support the idea that it was Imaera who taught sylvans the ability to channel knowledge from one generation of councilors to the next. Since the ability does not extend throughout the general population, it is safe to assume that it was god-given rather than inherent. It is a fairly common belief that a sacred scroll still exists, bearing the names of every member of the high council from the first, down through all successive generations. Within that parchment rests a powerful magic, a force that is kindled through secret ceremonies to psychically link all whose names are on it.

During the days of Ithnishmyn and later, in Yuriqen, hierophantic talent was historically sought among sylvans of early age, from five to fifteen years being considered optimum. Youths who passed a demanding battery of tests were observed for a year before being given instruction that spanned approximately twenty years. Often, the rare individuals would lose their faculty at the onset of puberty, and would then be gently released from the demanding regimen of training. However, in the infrequent instance that a candidate's ability increased rather than diminished, and the individual's temperament and judgment were deemed suitable to the task, he then participated in a ritual of initiation. The ritual, called Arg'Hamim, bestowed upon the initiate the right to wear the robes of an acolyte, an ivory tunic with an indigo or green mantle. Green denoted the general assembly, while the indigo signaled individuals of esteemed rank. While it was considered a great honor to rise to the rank of acolyte, few ever ascended to the high council, since only the death of one of the reigning councilors created a 'chair' for a new member.

Although entry to the high council was so limited, the role of an acolyte was a full and honored one. While acolytes generally performed governing or ceremonial functions, they were free to choose professions of other sorts while waiting for the chance to ascend to the council. Many took up teaching positions, as their comprehensive training provided them with the best education available to sylvans. Many of the greatest sylvan philosophers and historians wore the 'indigo mantle'.

Upon the lamented occasion that a high council member passed out of life, the beating of a large drum, called Rantylan (or The Summoner) alerted the sylvan population of the occurrence. The surviving councilors gathered and spent a three-day period of attending the body. During this time, ceremonies were conducted that were reputed to include a rite that suspended the departed member's knowledge within a prepared amphora. What was done with the councilor's body after that was unknown.

A high council quorum occurred immediately after the three-day mourning, and the congregation of councilors did not disband until a new council member was elected. A three-fourths majority was necessary to be elected. Once the new councilor was chosen, the high council called a general meeting open to any sylvan who chose to be present. There, the identity of the new councilor was announced, followed by a brief ceremony of welcome that included a presentation of the departed councilor's mantle to the new recruit.

The following day, a closed ceremony was conducted, suspected to include the immersion of the waiting 'soul' into its new host, bringing with it knowledge and wisdom gleaned from the years of past lives. At dusk, the Mystery was accomplished and a public ceremony followed it. Stripped of all clothing and possessions, the new councilor was escorted through the throng of sylvans gathered to witness the event, attended by two high-ranking indigo-mantled acolytes he had chosen to stand with him. Fragrant flowers and herbs were showered over the trio as they processed, carpeting the ground beneath the candidate's bare feet. Arriving at a semicircle composed of the reigning high council members, the new councilor repeated a ritualistic pledge to serve the sylvan people and was robed in the dark green tunic of the high council. Finally, a heavy mithril chain was placed around his neck, signifying his link to the sylvan people of the past, present and future.




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