Much like their elfin cousins, Sylvan Elves consider themselves to be the only True Elves. They are said to be the only elves that have kept their affinity for nature as the central foundation of their culture, choosing to spend their time in harmony with their surroundings. The balance of nature and self becoming so central to the very foundation of whom they are that it is not unusual to see them become Rangers or Druids, though the occasional darker Shaman is not completely unheard of within their ranks.
Sylvan elves are often called the ‘forest elves’, tending to be somewhat reclusive, or even shy, preferring the comfort of their familiar trees and earth to the crowded existence of town. However, one must not completely discount the sylvan race for their slight nature, for they are often found to be fearsome adversaries when crossed, especially in defense of the forest that they find so sacred
All elves tend to share certain key characteristics, including the lithe build, long tapered ears, and a certain affinity for the mystical side of things. However, the Sylvan tend to be much slighter than their more sophisticated cousins, tending to reach between 4’5 and 5’7 though taller elves are not unheard of. Their skin color can vary from a smooth peaches and cream to a swarthy olive tone. Their eye color can be as varied as any other, though they tend towards the more earthy tones of brown and green, and their hair color can be as varied as any other race.
After having experienced the horror that can come from pride and lust for power, the Sylvan Elves formed a rather egalitarian society. There is no distinction of birth, only of skill, and the people of a village have ways to intercede if the leadership goes against their wishes. There are two groups of high importance in the Sylvan society: the Druids, and The Protectors
The Druidic Order of every Sylvan village is regarded with great respect. While the history is kept by Bards, the Druids are the keepers of all other lore, especially the mystic secrets of nature. They are the closest thing there is to Sylvan priests. They tend to the forest and perform many ceremonies. Some people are surprised to learn how many ceremonies govern the lives of such a simple people as the Sylvan Elves. Unlike other races however, they still know the true meaning of their ceremonies, and do not use them to shroud themselves in mystery.
All young Sylvan’s that show some magical aptitudes are brought to the Druids. If their magic shows a close bond with nature, they will be accepted into the order and trained in its ways. If not, the Elf will not be held in shame, and usually will go on to become a mage.
The Protectors are the only militant side of the sylvan’s, tasked with not only protecting their settlements; they patrol the area around them. In times of War the Protectors attack with guerilla warfare to misdirect invaders from the homes of the Sylvan’s. Mages, Warriors, Mist Raiders and Warrior-Mages tend to make up their ranks but it's not unheard of for Rangers to be among the Protectors ranks. The Protectors call their leader the High Marshall who also tends to the local peace in a village The Protectors are the first line of Defense against Raiders or Invaders, their lives are often fraught with far more danger than most sylvan’s, but they also are the ones who give the Sylvan’s the very peace they enjoy.
As their name tells, the Sylvan Elves love and cherish the woods, even more then their ancestors did. The Sylvan Elves share a bond with the nature spirits of Seamaide because of their closeness with the forests and all that grows therein. They live in close harmony with nature, and anyone mindlessly destroying any part of nature, especially trees, will incur the wrath of this usually peaceful race, and find that despite their friendly nature, they are deadly fighters. Especially the skilled and stealthy Sylvan rangers are not foes to be crossed.
Eyesight All Elves essentially came from the same origin, before the great rift and Wars created the three subtypes. It is from this single connection that all elves tend to share some of the same advantages and disadvantages. The first that all elves are gifted with incredibly sharp eyesight that can easily pierce near darkness. They may not be able to see as far as the bird-winged races, but they are given a type of infra-vision that can allow them to maneuver in the dark or in the dead of night, and to see more clearly objects that are farther away.
Forest Empathy As masters of the forest, sylvan elves have developed a sort of link to the natural world, an empathy that allows them to sense the shifting moods and dangers of their wooded homes. This allows them a vague sense of the animals and plants around them, leading them to the best forest paths, guiding them as they track their quarry, or even avoiding a danger that has arisen nearby. Few can keep pace with a sylvan in their home woods, and their ability to seemingly vanish among the trees only adds to their mystery.
Blessed as they are with the ability to see far and within the darkness, all elves carry the commonality of slender pointed ears. These lobes have been known to be the not-so hidden g-spot of the race, with the slightest of pressure, both extreme pleasure and extreme pain given to these delicate extremities. Just the right pinch, pull or jab and an elf might be brought to their knees in bliss or in agony, proving to be highly embarrassing to the unlucky elf on an occasion.
The Sylvan kind had long ago abjured the 'artificial' world of eclectic civilization, viewing these mixed societies of stone and mud huts as a separation from nature, rather then what their kind had strived for since before the great rift. Though sylvan elves are often considered weaker than other elves, lesser than their High cousins, in truth, they are masters of their world, and often claim areas of land with great prejudice - not limited to just the woods, but places where sylvan’s have called home, such as caverns, lakes and even mountains. These lands they defend with a grim determination, even when they move out of their natural environment, Sylvan’s tend to carry that same territorial instinct towards whatever they claim as their own space, whether it be house, land, shop or even just a room at the Tavern.
The Price of Peace
Some view the simple but harmonious life of the Sylvan Elves as utopian... perhaps not perfect, but the closest one can find in this world. But there is another side to the coin. The rules are on the whole simple and fair (hinging mainly on the respect for life and others' egality) but whoever does not follow them is often punished quite harshly, yet seldom with death, and after such other punishments, all sin is considered purged and the Sylvan is accepted back in the society with "no hard feelings". Mercy is highly valued by most Sylvans, as they believe it can prevent those who commit a crime from turning wholly to evil, and instead learn to love and be loved again. It must be noted here that the heaviness of certain punishments varies greatly from tribe to tribe, influenced by local history and dangers.
The Sylvan egalitarianism can at times be a burden for young Elves who feel they are being restricted, and are unable to fully unfold their potential. If this manifests itself in some form of rebellion, even if no malice is behind it, that Elf will often be banished. Therefore, if newly adult Sylvans are feeling repressed or held back by society, their parents will usually advise them to take up the life of an adventurer and venture out on their own, so that they may go of their free will and with the love and respect of their tribe.
The Gathering and Reseeding
As noted before, simply cutting down a tree is considered a crime as bad as murder by the Sylvan Elves. Yet, some ask, whence then do they get the wood they need to build? This is done through the Gathering, a ceremony that takes place every year in the beginning of spring. In this very solemn and sorrowful ceremony, Sylvan Elves proceed to a large group of designated trees . They will then carefully uproot the trees, while the Druids will sing prayers to the Forest Father that the spirits of the trees might be freed and seep into the ground, there to wait until new trees grow, which they can then inhabit. Very often the Sylvan’s will be joined by Nymphs, especially Dryads, who will ask Gaea to help the passing of the tree's spirits, and to forgive the Sylvan’s for what they have to do. The logs will then be prepared and stored, but the roots and branches will be treated with a special substance made by the Druids, and saved for funeral pyres.
The following day, the far more joyous ceremony of Reseeding will take place. Nymphs, Creatures of the Wyldesand Sylvan’s will plant a seed for every tree that was uprooted. The Nymphs will then pray to Gaea, and the Druids to the eternal Forest Father, begging them both to bless the seeds.They also sprinkle the earth with the Water of Growth, an elixir which only the Druids know how to make. It is not unheard of for couplings to take place during the ceremony, very much like May day in human settlements .Whether it is due to that elixir, or to all parts of the ceremony, no one knows for sure, but the newly seeded trees will grow far more speedily than normal, and within one year attain the strength and height of the trees that were uprooted in the Gathering.
In some instances, healthy trees are felled long before their time, brought low by a powerful storm or some other unfortunate event. When the Sylvan happen upon these poor, dying things, they may call upon the kin of their village and the Druids to participate in a ritual known as "The Reclaiming". Much like the rituals involved in The Gathering, The Reclaiming is a solemn, mournful ceremony. The spirit of the tree to be reclaimed is soothed through ritual magic, guided once more into the earth, and the felled tree blessed by the Spirits. From there, it is taken and receives the same treatment as a tree taken in the Gathering, the log stored for eventual use by the village.
Of great importance for the Sylvan culture are the bards and the music they make. The Bards keep the tribe's history, but do so mostly in the form of memorized songs and epics. Many Sylvans are literate, but though bards and druids keep secret records, they prefer to pass on their history through song, as they believe music to be more powerful and alive than the written word, which is intended mainly as a record in case of emergencies.
All of the Sylvan Elves' ceremonies are usually accompanied by song and dance, both of which they excel at. The dances can be quite sensuous, and Sylvan Elves who leave the forest and make their living as erotic dancers are quite sought after. Sylvans also play many musical instruments, especially flutes and harps.
Like all Elves, Sylvan’s do not die from old age. But eternity is a long time, and at some point they will grow weary of this world. The age at which it happens varies greatly; some have had so much pain in their life that they despaired with only a few hundred years, while others are whispered to have seen the Starwell, and still be alive in this day. Whenever Sylvan Elves feels the weariness fall on them, they will finish all their affairs and delegate their duties to their children or friends, making sure their passing away will not harm the village. After bidding farewell to their loved ones, they will then lie down and fall into a deep sleep from which they will not wake. Whenever a Sylvan Elf dies, whether of this weariness or in battle, his or her family and friends will place the body onto a large stone in the Forest . It will be covered with roots and branches , then burned, while Druids chant prayers for the passing of the soul. The ashes will then be scattered completing the cycle of life.