Mist Harbor Library Lectures - 2022-03-06 - Imaera and Sylvan Magic (log)

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This log is from the Mist Harbor Library Lectures on March 6, 2022 from the viewpoint of Loremaster Rohese.

[Library, Meeting Hall]
A trio of wide stairs lead down from a wide archway into this brightly lit room.  A small podium stands atop a small dais opposite the archway, and several cushioned benches have been arranged throughout the space, each offering an excellent line of sight.  A number of elliptical windows line the walls of the hall, and a rich crimson-patterned carpet covers the entirety of the floor underfoot.  You also see a small table with some stuff on it.

Meril walks to stand behind a small podium.
Meril says, "Fair afternoon, I hope, to everyone gathered here and elsewhere in the lands."
Meril says, "I am Meril, and I am not here to sing for you today. But perhaps I can take a little time to talk about sylvan magic."
Meril nods slightly.
Meril begins, "There is an old prayer that I remember..."
Meril recites:

    "Gentle Imaera, mother of mercy,
     Shelter us from the fires of heaven,
     Shield us from the shadows of the forest,
     And we shall stand with thee ever
     Between the darkness and the light."

Meril says, "The first memory of the elven people was of finding a place of refuge by following the gentle forest creatures."
Meril says, "We learned to move quietly from place to place under cover of trees, hidden from the tyrants of the burning skies and avoiding the terrors that lurked in the shadows."
Meril says, "In time, the world would be delivered from those terrors, and we could come out unafraid into the light."
Meril looks up, as though searching for something.
Meril says, "When the rest of the elves swore allegiance to the Seven Houses and raised their cities, the sylvans remained a migrant people, moving ever within the deep forests."
Meril says, "But as more like-minded families joined the moving settlements, the populace began to grow, and a council was held with speakers from each family to decide whether we should build a more lasting home."
Meril asks, "Long was the debate, and for a time the opinions could not be reconciled. No one wished to take on the ways of the cities, but if such a settlement were to be built, how could things be otherwise?"
Meril ponders.
Meril says, "And to find an answer that would satisfy all the people, the council beseeched Mother Imaera for her guiding hand once more."
Meril says, "It is said that she revealed her guidance to a few among the people, granting them the wisdom and foresight to make their decision for all sylvankind, and placing upon them a special responsibility as caretakers of the people and the land."
Meril explains, "These were the first sylvan hierophants."
Meril says, "They understood then that a sylvan settlement, no matter how comfortable or beautiful, is not meant to last forever. It is only a place of rest upon a long journey, and when we leave it behind, it should return to how we found it, with nary a trace that we had ever been there."
Speaking to Akenna, Yardie mouths, "What's a hierophant?"
Meril's expression is thoughtful, but her furrowed brow indicates she's working something out for herself.
Speaking to Yardie, Meril says, "Ah, I shall explain that in time, but let me continue with the story for the time."
Akenna whispers something to Yardie.
Akenna flashes a quick grin at Meril.
Yardie nods understandingly.
Meril continues, "For the Seven Houses, the needs of ever-expanding cities gave rise to many farms and pastures, where a bountiful harvest and healthy livestock will suffice for cityfolk to not go hungry."
Meril says, "But such practices are a slow poisoning of the land, and only by the grace of the goddess are they able to flourish for a time."
Meril shakes her head.
Meril says, "It is often said that sylvans are hunters and gatherers, never farmers. The full picture, though, is rather more subtle."
Meril says, "Life is... different, more vibrant, wherever the sylvankind live."
Meril says, "Fruits are more plentiful and more agreeable to the taste. There is more seasonal variety in edible leaves, roots, and mushrooms."
Meril says, "And the animals that might be hunted always return in the same numbers each passing year, so long as we are careful."
Meril says, "A stranger to a sylvan forest might never notice any of these things, not without living there for much of one's life."
Meril says, "And when we depart and the land returns to the wild, so too will these blessings diminish over the years."
Meril says, "It is, in that way, a particularly sylvan kind of magic. Subtle rather than ostentatious, a pattern woven into the land itself, and withdrawn at the last so that the world returns to the way it was before we were there."
Meril says, "I have read the stories that the Illistimi tell of trying to find Ithnishmyn, the site of the first sylvan city, after we moved on. There was only a circle in the grove where the high council was held, and many began to doubt that the city ever existed like the travelers had told."
Meril says, "Mayhaps... instead of looking for signs of dwellings, they should have noticed the colorful fruits in the trees."
Meril rubs her chin thoughtfully.
Speaking to Yardie, Meril says, "Now, you asked of the hierophants earlier. They are those who are given a special blessing of ancestral knowledge and wisdom."
Meril says, "The source of that knowledge of one of Imaera's mysteries, but it is known that they have the talent of recalling the memories of all who came before them."
Meril says, "So it is that the wisdom of a hierophant, too, is to be passed on when they depart the world -- not through graven images or preserved on inked scrolls, but by returning their knowledge to the source, where the goddess may bestow it anew."
Meril says, "In each generation since the founding of Ithnishmyn, a number of young sylvan people find that they bear the talent to channel ancestral knowledge."
Meril says, "It is not a talent that runs through familial ties, for it is not the will of the goddess that we elevate one family over another. For many the talent fades with age, leaving only a few to carry on the mantle."
Meril closes her eyes for a moment.
Meril says, "I myself can touch the ancestral source only a little, only in fleeting images."
Leaf green light shimmers momentarily around Meril, shattering into falling fragments that dissipate in the wind as she murmurs a soft, lilting chant.
Meril says, "When I open myself to channel spiritual magic, I can sense the fragments of memory all around me like falling water -- but if I try to focus on any one of them, it will all break into a thousand pieces."
Meril says, "In the great arbor-cities like Ithnishmyn and Yuriqen there were, and are, schools to refine those talents to prepare for the day when they are called on to receive the blessing and serve on the high council."
Meril says, "In smaller settlements, there might only be one hierophant to guide us."
Meril says, "But we are never without a guide."
Meril takes a deep breath.
Meril says, "It is rumored that the first hierophants were given a glimpse of Imaera's design, of a great task that has been entrusted to our people."
Meril says, "It is not a task that can be accomplished by standing guard over a single spot of land, even one of surpassing beauty."
Meril says, "That is the belief that led to the forming of the children of the hawk -- the Lassaran D'ahranal -- who would depart from the Great Warding of the Silver Veil and travel into the wider world, to gather a scattered people and reforge the bonds between us."
Meril says, "Many even here will know of the Great Warding as an impenetrable magic woven into the forests around Yuriqen, last of the sylvan cities of this age."
Meril says, "It was cast at a time of great need, to save not only the city, but the world without, from a vile corruption that had seeped into the land."
Meril says, "There are many stories told by the Lassaran of the final warding, but even from a great distance, to those of us who had never seen the sky-trees with our own eyes, it was known that the magic had been worked and at great cost."
Meril says, "I cannot tell you all the detailed workings of the warding, but the memory of the casting, how it was to be part of it, could be felt by any with even a faint connection to the source."
Meril looks lost in thought.
Meril says, "It starts as... a great emptiness, a void where one's being is a single falling leaf, adrift in nothing."
Meril says, "And then, in a rush of all the senses, the entirety of the world arrives at once."
Meril says, "And you struggle at first not to be lost in it, but you remember that you must force your will to accept it all, to surrender to the storm before you can ride it."
Meril says, "In those few moments before you are blown apart, you know that there are others around you, other leaves in a cascading pattern in the storm, and together in what little time you have, you allow that pattern to fall upon the world."
Meril says, "At the heart of sylvan magic is a simple idea -- that we are a part of a greater world, one that we accept with all its harmony."
Meril says, "Our workings are of things it is always capable of, with a little guidance."
Meril concludes, "And one day, perhaps, the Great Warding will be withdrawn and the people will be on the road once more, seeking another place of rest along the trail of ages."
Meril says, "Well, that is a little of what I know and can share. Thank you for taking the time to listen."
Meril gazes about with serene contemplation, then gracefully crosses her hands across her leather and executes a gentle bow.


Speaking wistfully to Meril, you say, "Thank you, Meril, that was ..."
You place a hand over your heart.
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
Speaking warmly to Meril, Kothos says, "Stirring."
Kothos nods once.
Speaking softly to Meril, you ask, "Would you be willing to take questions?"
Meril says, "Of course. I shall answer as I can."

Speaking to Meril, Dendum says, "This one has a question with much courtesy."
Speaking to Meril, Dendum says, "If the sylvans move on from place and return it to the wilds will they ever move on from the Wyrdeep and stop making it a deadly place of spells, shades, and sylvan blades? This is asked with much of the courtesy."
Meril says, "Ah, the Wyrdeep is sometimes not counted among the sylvan settlements, for the fae have much influence there. But if they think of themselves as sylvan, then one day they will join us."
Speaking to Meril, Akenna says, "They are not so."
Meril says, "But the essence of that place will not change whether elves are there are no."
Akenna says, "While we respect Sylvans and some settle there, the Elves of the Wyrdeep are different."
Akenna shifts her weight.
Akenna says, "Though we have a wonderful relationship with them."
Yukito nods slowly at Akenna.
Starletdawn nods at Akenna.
Meril says, "And I think to respect a forest, one must understand that it can be quite deadly."
Starletdawn agrees with Meril.
Akenna nods in agreement at Meril.
Starletdawn says, "As the most beautiful things are."
Speaking to Meril, Yardie mutters, "Dreamvines...pixies...tree spirits....treekin."
Speaking to Meril, Kothos says, "Everything must develop armor or nimbleness, if not both."
Mellny nods eagerly at Yardie.
Meril says, "Well, I hope that is something of an answer. It is not sylvan custom to wield blades against visitors, in any case."
You softly muse, "Forests must protect themselves to remain beautiful or lose that which makes it beautiful in the first place."

Speaking to Meril, Kothos says, "Thank you, first of all, and I am sorry I missed the beginning, I hope someone took notes."
Kothos glances expectantly at you.
Speaking softly to Kothos, you mouth, "I did."
Speaking warmly to Meril, Kothos says, "In your answer to Dendum, I heard you say- if they think of themselves as sylvan..."
Meril nods slightly.
Speaking to Meril, Kothos asks, "Does that mean that being sylvan is as much about your heart and soul, as it is birth?"
Speaking to Meril, Kothos adds, "How you live?"
Speaking to Yukito, Kothos says, "I may be radically misinterpeting the text."
Meril says, "Ah, in our traditions at least, one is sylvan or not only for one's beliefs, not by blood. There are some tales of those of human birth joining our settlements. Rarely, but still there have been."
Meril says, "But it is truly very rare for someone not born into it to share much of our views."
Kothos smiles at Meril.
Speaking to Meril, Kothos says, "It sounds both alien and also welcoming, at the same time, a contrast compared to what we always hear about your reclusive kin."
Speaking to Meril, Kothos says, "I appreciate the detail."
Meril says, "I should say also that in the same accounting, no one is 'half-sylvan'."
Starletdawn says, "All sylvans are sylvan."
Speaking to Starletdawn, Kothos asks, "And others of mixed heritage?"
Kothos smiles at Starletdawn.
Meril says, "If it is not a matter of birth, after all, then one can choose to be sylvan or no."
Starletdawn says, "I wouldn't know a great deal about that. But anyone who has sylvan blood is sylvan to me. But I do agree with Meril's view on it."
Starletdawn nods at Kothos.
Kothos says, "Not to put you or Meril on the spot, of course.  I find the ideas interesting, and all the cultures seem to vary a great deal on their feelings and biases."
Starletdawn says, "Honestly, now this may be taboo to some, but I consider the origins of all elves to be sylvan."
Starletdawn says, "We were all children of the forest at one stage."
Starletdawn says, "But that's just my opinion."
Meril nods slightly.
Meril says, "We are all Imaera's children, and though different, she will never abandon us."
Meril thoughtfully adds, "It may even be that the origins of elves and humans are one and the same, but that is reaching into some ancient myths."
Kothos offers, "Swamps are forests."
Kayse looks thoughtfully at Meril.
Kothos grins.
Starletdawn grins at Kothos.
Starletdawn adopts an agreeable expression.
Yukito grins.
Kothos says, "Very wet ones."