Sylvesta: The Garden CityEdit
Sylvesta is a great Green Elven City that lies inland some was from the Jadess Coast. Describing Sylvesta is a tricky thing. It is neither fully a city, nor fully a forest, nor fully a kingdom. This is typical of the Green Elves, which are very environmentally attached to their sylvan habbitat. Perhaps it is best to begin describing Sylvesta as a great, mysterious, and magical wood. It is large covering hundreds of square miles of virigin, primoridial forest. It is forest that is still teeming with wild game and unsettled spirits of place and nature. This magical wood is also a magical sanctuary for all things which rely on nature-based magic. Therefore, this woodland has come to run thick with Green Elves, which are perhaps the most environmentally-dependant strain of elves in Aetherea. It is a kingdom of Green Elves in a very loose and tribal sense. Bands of Green Elves rove Sylvesta living in tight-nit tribes which are loosely tied together through supratribal kinship networks, which constitute the Green Elf Nation of Sylvestra. They are tied together by similar culture, language, and religion. The Sylvestan religion is druidic based on veneration of holy places and natural powers. A tight-knit priesthood of druids moves is shared across tribes and moves between tribes. They are neutral in all tribal conflicts and preside over all important festivals, rites, and ceremonies that bring the tribes of the Green Elf Nation together. The Green Elfs elect a head-chieftain known as their "king." He is elected for life and is empowered to defend the the realm and unite the clans to fight enemies of Sylvesta. Green Elven society is extremely fluid and being semi-nomadic, their conception of a "city" is quite different than other strains of Elf. They consider the wood of Sylvesta to be a giant garden that has been planted, tended, and cultivated by their ancestors. There is definitely evidence of conscious environmental engineering, Must of the oldest parts of the forest do seem to have been planted and cultivated by Sylvestan Druids long, long ago. The Green Elves have hallowed places that they have build up into "shrines of nature"--similar to the outdoor arcadiums in Haven, but on a much grander scale. They also have tribal strongholds (what the Rosen would describe a hold or oppidiums). These are usually built in deep stands of ancient sentinel trees. Sylvesta also contains "places of meeting" which are like public parks on a grander scale, and seemlessly integrated into the local ecology. This is where tribal councils are held, druidic rites conducted, and public events held. So the Kingdom of Sylvesta is like a wild wood, a sprawling, but carefully cultivated garden, and a patchy network of thosands of Sylvestan communities all in one. It is infuriating to it's enemies from more settled societies: How dod you conquer a vast woodland? It is hallowed by it's allies: Is there a grander Elven city closer to nature? It is intriguing to outsiders: How can so many countless thousands which fill its conquering armies simiply melt away into the shadows after victory is gained?
The Kingdom of Sylvesta is ruled over by a king who is elected from among the mightiest warriors of Sylvesta. He serves until his death--which is often, since the Green Elves are such a belicose people, often at war, with their king in the front ranks). His tribe is automatically elevated to the ruling party within the city, filling the primary governorships, commands, and priesthooods. Regime changes can be violent and bloody affairs, since the Sylvestan's army has historically proven far more able to conquor its enemies than subdue and govern them. Sylvesta has been rent by several devestating civil wars over the last several centuries, especially after kings who were great conquerors have died. But Sylvesta always seems to emerge stronger than ever. After healing its wounds, it usually turns outward to conquer again for a time. This is from the simple fact that it's enemies, who are from sedintary societies cannont figure out how to conquer it, let alone govern it. The main administrative arm of the king is the druidic priesthood which stands at the center of Sylvestan religion. These druids, though illerate are renounded for their vast memory, committing to memory many thousands of lines of wisdom orally trasmitted within druidic circles. Perhaps more imporantly, with the druid's support comes access to all of the natural spirits that they so effectively appease. The Sylvestans are feared for their magic, which is very alien to their enemies and for their magical allies they often bring with their armies. The most famous example were the Efreeti Guard that Beleg the Bow brought with him to the walls of Lume during the last round of dynastic fighting between the three elven powers of the Jadess Coast (Lume, Sylvesta, Haven).
The military is much more "barbaric" in its formation than the other armies of the Jadess Coast. But it makes up for this through a very carefully organized command structure which relies on clan structure. The Sylvestan King, simply put, can field the largest army on the Jadess Coast. He is also able to summon animals, and furious natural spirits populate his already vast ranks. The current king, Beleg IV, also known as Beleg the Bow is famous up and down the Jadess Coast for his personal body guard fiery Efreeti.
It is impossible to estimate the sentient population of Sylvesta. However, it during the last round of Elven Dynastic Wars, Beleg the Bow invaded the Lumerian Greenwood and March with an army of 1,250,000 Sylvan Elves. This Lumerian Imperial estimate did not even factor in the plethora Sylvan species which marched under his banner.
The current king of Sylvestra, Beleg IV, known by his admirers as Beleg Strongbow and his enemies as Beleg the Bastard is a colorful character as far as elves go. A forester and hunter to the core, he goes about dressed in light leather-plate armor and earthtoned outer-garments. He carries an ordinary elven longbow slung over his shoulder as his primary weapon. He is barely literate and only speaks Sylvestan and Gray Elven. He keeps a three-headed hellhound in tow as his faithful hunting companion. He also has a personal bodyguard of twenty fiery Efreeti. No one is quite sure how he has come by such sinister company.
He is known as Beleg the Bastard, which is an honor is Sylvesta, but not among other Elven cultures where pedigree is everything. In Sylvesta, the children of those killed in battle become wards of the tribe and are raised in a position of honor. It is like a living version of the veneration around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These orphans are known as "bastards" outside of Sylvestan culture. His parents are unknown but he was raised by his tribe and fostered by the most powerful Sylvestan chieftain of the Strongbow Tribe.
The current royal house of Sylvesta carries the golden broad-leaf of a sentinel tree on a forest green background.
Sights to SeeEdit
- Tribal Strongholds: These are oppidiums that are fortified and serve both as the center of political, military, and economic activity for powerful tribes and ruling chieftains.
- Shrines of Nature: These are vast open cathedrals that have the feeling of public parks. They are carefully cultivated by a local tribe and its druids. Within often reside powerful natural presences, such as Maiar, which bestow their blessing upon the place.
- Druidic Enclaves: These are hidden communities of druids that function as both secret societies and druidic colleges.
- Holy Places: These are local places that are hallowed for the presence of a natural spirit, such as nymph, satyr, or genus.
- Places of Meeting: These are large outdoor natural stadiums that serve as gathering points for tribal coucils, mustering points for the Sylvestan army, festival or trading grounds on special holidays.
- Holds: These are hidden safehouses that are for general use among members of a tribe, since the Green elves area a semi-sedintary people. They always contaiin supplies, equipment, and food.
- Society Halls: These are the guild halls of the hundreds of secret societies among the Sylvestans. These societies stretch across all tribes and fulfill different functions in society. For instance, the Dearthers, insure the proprer burial of the dead after battle. The Holders ensure that all holds are well upkept and that the hospitality of the local tribe is not tarnished by a cold hearth.