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The History of the Sylvan Elves
The First Sylvan City (ca. -45,400)

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Sylvan artistry grew from primitive origins dictated by the necessity of constant travel into a rich, inherently stylized art form. They made bows and crossbows of exceeding beauty and balance, as well as silver and mithril tipped arrows, bolts and knives. They fashioned pottery that was as light as it was strong, and decorated with their elegant, elongated figures and symbols. Their hide tent-homes were decorated with all manner of designs, and their textile goods were as durable as they were soft and light.

Introduction of Mithril and Silver

It is known that the early sylvans were expert in some disciplines of metal work, primarily the skills of making arrow tips, knives and jewelry. The origins of the metal they used have been a mystery, since it is certain that the sylvans did not mine the ore themselves.

In ca. 4955, a respected Ta'Illistim archeologist named Relian Degaloth, working under a generous grant bequeathed by the great Aies Library of Ta'Illistim, set out for a cave rumored to lie within dense forests east of Old Ta'Faendryl. Degaloth searched with no avail for a number of years. Finally, he stumbled upon a small colony of sylvans living in the thickly forested territory. He was intrigued to find that they still built dwellings and followed practices believed to be common in the days of the fabled city of Ithnishmyn. Following all known protocol of sylvan courtesy that he could remember, Degaloth managed to convince the reticent villagers to allow him and his research group to dwell with them for a time.

During that time, the elf discovered that these sylvans knew of an extensive cave at the bottom of a deep ravine some leagues to the east. After months of gentle yet persistent persuasion, he convinced them to take him there. After a harrowing descent into a chasm, he was shown the cave's mouth. The caverns proved to be a complex series of tunnels and chambers that honeycombed the heart of the cliffs that covered it. Deep in that catacomb, he made a discovery that would define his life's work.

In a cavern so large it could have easily held the whole of the Ta'Illistim library, Degaloth found a stone structure, its walls resembling a barricade of massive tree trunks. At first, Degaloth thought them to be made of the petrified boles of actual trees. However, closer examination revealed them to be carved, with perfect detail down to the intricacies of the bark on each tree. Beneath the sheltering roof of these leviathans were hundreds of large amphorae, most in pristine condition. They were decorated with an amazing panorama of imagery, depicting daily life of the early sylvans. As significant as this was, the contents of the containers proved to be the crowning glory. At first Degaloth thought that the jars held only fine, white sand. However, when he began to empty them, he found the sand was merely protective filler that had preserved hundreds of scrolls and illuminated hides through the ages. These relics, covered with pictographs and early elven characters, gave a definitive window into the belief systems and mindset of the first sylvans.

Degaloth managed to transfer most of the amphorae -- and their contents -- back to the Aies Library. He spent the remainder of his life studying the treasure and deciphering the secrets it offered. After translating a portion of the scrolls and hides, Degaloth determined that the cache was put into the caves in approximately -36,567. At that time, the sylvans were preparing to abandon the city called Ithnishmyn and set out on a precarious migration. The scrolls were an amazing accumulation of sylvan history. According to an account Degaloth found therein, prior to depositing the collection within their containers, the sylvans had committed the whole of it to memory, a rich oral history preserved for their descendants should they never return to claim the treasure they left behind within the cavern.

One of the amphorae was decorated with imagery depicting a small, heavily built people interacting with stylized figures identifiable as sylvans by their elongated statures and particular body postures. When he began to translate the scrolls held within the jar, he was amazed to discover it related a meeting between another race and the early sylvans. The 'short hearty mountain people' (as the translation described them) brought the 'gleaming metals' in trade for archery equipment, hides and pottery. The text went on to describe frequent rendezvous at the distant western edge of the forest, where the boundary of the great wood met the tumbled rock plain.

Although, during the years of his life's work, some of Delagoth's peers proclaimed the scrolls were obviously a forgery, Delagoth maintained to his death that his magnificent discovery at the Ma'Henrith Caverns was authentic.

As the sylvans gradually accumulated possessions, the idea of a permanent home began to be mentioned and then openly supported. The high council was called to weigh the pros and cons of such a concept and make a ruling on it. There was considerable concern that settling in one place would pervert their intrinsic beliefs and turn them into facsimiles of their cousins in the elven cities, replete with all the dependencies and 'vices' (according to sylvan ideas) the sylvans eschewed. After ten days of deliberations, the council decided in favor of a permanent city. This had not been an easy consensus. However, it was agreed that the sylvans could give up the wearying seasonal migration and still maintain the beliefs they held dear.

They chose a location that was remote and well protected by a dense, old growth forest. And the tents they built there grew into elegant multi-level constructions that both rested on the ground and hung suspended among the tree boughs. The architecture of these dwellings -- colonies of homes that resembled a fleet of ships with sails billowing in the forest canopy -- became one of the sylvans' most distinctive and timeless accomplishments.

The first colony was christened Ithnishmyn. A fabled city of beautiful dwellings and tall trees, cradled in its embrace the population grew rapidly, often increased by wandering bands of sylvans who had not previously known of the prime colony. These small aggregations, most numbering only a few related family groups, were enticed to stay in Ithnishmyn by the art being created there and by the allure of a burgeoning variety of collectives that studied all manner of forest and plant lore. Although the colony was, within a few hundred years, easily the size of a small city, its impact on the surrounding forest remained negligible. This belief in the sanctity of the forest was joined to their strong separatist stance regarding their relations with the elven "open-air cities," and these two tenets formed the cornerstones of both the sylvan political system and religious theory.

In Ithnishmyn, the distinctive guild system the sylvans would embrace for the remainder of their history was born. With settlement, the people were freed to quickly surpass their former achievements in all areas of endeavor. The arts and sciences leaped ahead, as the sylvans made discoveries relating to pigments, sculptural techniques and all forms of textile arts. Their archery acumen, already superior during their nomadic years, reached new heights of excellence. And among all areas of study, those who surpassed standard levels of accomplishment were recognized. A formal system of ceremony was born, aimed at honoring achievement and status, and those individuals exemplifying qualities that defined the top of their professions were given the title of master.

These masters began to form schools of study and to take apprentices. They began to formulate ideals and ethics that governed their respective fields of expertise. As these loose schools of study grew and were defined and refined throughout the passing years, families acclaimed for their mastery of various disciplines gained both power and renown. They formed academies, headed up by one master, or a group of masters led by a premier individual, called archmaster. These groups, imbued over time with complex systems of philosophies, guidelines and ceremonies, were not limited to the arts, but also included all manner of disciplines, such as the specialty of civic service and leadership.

Eventually, a council was called, inviting all extant masters residing in Ithnishmyn. They agreed to form a governing body, called the D'ahranal, which would hear all matters of controversy or need among the many Academies. This elected group would also serve as an advisory cabinet to the high council, ruling on matters dealing with commerce or conflicting ideology among the disciplines. And to facilitate the election of 'cavalots', as the leaders of the assemblage were called, the D'ahranal congress was divided into three groups, Kytawa, Fresiawn and Tyesteron. Each of these was designated as a D'ahranal, encompassing many disciplines within a generalized umbrella.




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