Friday, 12 August 2011

Agrestal's Awakening

The sylvari: noble, beautiful, plant-like. No other race in Tyria has come to be like the sylvari. The youngest of all the races of the world, less than twenty-five years since the first sylvari’s birth, they dwell amongst the sanctuary of the Grove. That is unless they are called to the Wyld Hunt.
  A large majority of the sylvari are barely twenty years of age and many of their population have branched out into the rest of Tyria. Their emergence came with mixed reception; the asura abusing the sylvari’s innocence and taking some as slavish workers. The lesson was learnt quickly, and since then the sylvari have been wary of the small creatures from underground.
  The plant-like sylvari arrive into the world fully grown after emerging from the Pale Tree, their mother. Before their birth they exist within the Dream of Dreams and seemingly float above the events of the world in a spiritual, spectator-like state. The things they see and learn from the Dream go with them upon their birth and the things they see and learn come from sylvari who exist within the world. As such, each generation gains more knowledge with their awakening.
  Honour, curiosity, empathy and the Dream make up the true essence of the sylvari and create both strengths and weaknesses for the young race. But do not underestimate these seemingly timid and naive creatures – it could very well mean the death of you, especially if they have turned to the Nightmare instead of the Dream.

“I remember my awakening from the Mother Tree. I recall the cries from my brethren calling out amongst the Grove. An attack was coming from the Sea.”
  Agrestal and Alastair were perched on the ledge of a boardwalk that overlooked Sanctum Harbour. The water sparkled brilliantly in the afternoon sun as it tinged the sky with a potent pink. Wisps of clouds hung along the horizon after a day of rain while a small fishing boat made its way past Molokk’s Spit nearby.
  Their talks with the Captain’s Council hadn’t gone as bad as they had thought they would, yet their plans were no closer to completion than before they had spoken with the Council. Alastair had been amazed at how the young sylvari had handled herself and controlled the direction of conversation while they had spoken with the Council. His initial perception of the plant-like woman had changed dramatically as the afternoon had passed and his scepticism had slowly but surely turned to awe.
  “They had never completely reached the Grove before that. Tutors and my Dream both confirmed that. But on that day, on my awakening, they broke through the Mother Tree’s defences.”
  She lowered her head slowly and stared down past her feet at the green-blue sea water that sloshed quietly beneath. Her leafy ears caught the afternoon sun and Alastair caught his breath as he saw the veins within pushing golden sap along the designated paths. Her eyebrows had been forged of five different leaves and her hair made of dozens of copper-brown fronds of plants turned to a rich red in the pink sunset. Everything about her was so natural and innocent, but Alastair could see that the rumoured innocence of the sylvari was absent from Agrestal.
  “What happened?” he asked before she could speak again.
  She could feel his wonder growing through her undeniable empathetic connection which she shared with most beings, especially her own kind. It was something she had seen as a curse, her own levels of empathy seemingly greater and more potent than many other sylvari she came across, but after several years she began to find its strength and usefulness. It was, after all, how she was able to manipulate Alastair into letting her go with him in the first place.
  “What happens when undead attack? They ravage, destroy and take.”
  She responded slowly but her voice rung with the pain she felt. It was a massacre.
  “I am sorry,” Alastair replied timidly, averting his staring gaze from Agrestal’s eyes. She had continued staring at the water below despite being aware of Alastair’s gaze, but she could not look back into his. The overwhelming empathetic waves of apology from him would have frustrated her, and frustration was not what she needed whilst sharing such a story.
  “I was with my house, the House of Day, when the first wave broke into the Grove. From the Dream I had seen only a few of the undead, yet their cries were undeniable even to a newly awakened such as myself. For however long I had existed within the Dream I had seen the Elder Dragon, and as soon as I heard the first of the horrific cries of the undead within the Grove, I knew where they had come from and why they were there: to steal and turn the sylvari into minions of Zhaitan.”
  Alastair suddenly noted how her demeanour changed as she finished what she was saying. Instead of looking down at the darkening water beneath her feet, she looked up to the horizon and the silhouette of the risen peninsula of Orr and glared. Her eyes thinned and her chin rose while a shiver passed along her plant-like physique; sprouted leaves and ferns hissing quietly as they rustled in time with the shiver.
  “But they failed,” she continued, a distinct note of pride added somewhere within her graceful voice. “Sylvari cannot be turned. We will never be turned. Many, including myself, believe we were created to fight the Elder Dragons. Because of this we are protected by some unknown power that will not allow us to be manipulated into one of Zhaitan’s minions.”
  She turned slowly to look at Alastair who gazed back in wonder; his usual facade of confidence and determination having been melted away by Agrestal’s revelation. He had never known.
  “Instead, we die. But we would rather die than become one of them, or one of the Shadow, because death is just as fascinating to us as life.”
  She smiled as her bark cheek bones lifted slightly and her leafy ears moves in sync. Alastair stared in wonder at what sat before him. From what he had learnt of the young sylvari, they were both around the age of twenty, yet it was painfully obvious to him just how wise Agrestal was, and just how naive he was. All of his pre-conceived notions of the sylvari melted away with the setting sun, and as the city of Lion’s Arch turned into a glittering mass of shadowed structures behind them, he knew he chosen the right companion for his undertaking.

This particular post has been created in celebration for sylvari week which has been going on all this week over the ArenaNet blog and the Guild Wars 2 sylvari page. Although I have made every attempt to ensure all aspects of the sylvari lore, personality and structure remain intact, I do apologise if I have confused elements here and there. Hope you enjoy!

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