The sylvians are an old race of dryadic and nymph-like humanoid creatures that inhabit the feral regions of the world, tending to their sacred duty of nurturing and protecting nature. These creatures never boasted any form of militaristic or economic might, due to their secrecy and more tribal and independent tendencies, and have never been known to organize into any truly large form of community. They are elusive and shy by nature, and are infamous for their curious outlook, tenacity, illusive magic, and poor relations with humans.
The sylvian race is generally passive in nature, possessing little natural aggression, and boasts a staggering amount of resilience and longevity on the individual level. It is said that not a single sylvian has died of age, and that a sylvian only finds death in being killed. Whether or not this statement is true or not is up to debate, but whatever the matter, it’s indisputable that sylvians have been known to live for centuries, in perfect health, unmarked by the marrs of age.
A typical sylvian -or as intellectuals would call it: “Nemian”- is humanoid in appearance. Given the magical nature of a sylvian, each member of the species has a limited ability to change their appearance. Most often, they choose to take the full form of humans; whether it be to live among them or for simple pleasure, most sylvians are found looking remarkably “human”. This characteristic has been cause for much suspicion from other races, most predominant of which being the race that sylvians so often make a habit of mimicking.
All sylvians, nymphic as they are, possess a sacred duty to the flora of the natural world: to protect and to nurture them. With varying sects of sylvians playing different roles in this almost religious duty -named the “Pars Virilis”- each sylvian has a vastly different set of traits than those of another sect. While some are in charge of tending to the trees, others could be responsible for the changing blooms of the vernal months. What further defines each individual sylvian is what is known as their “Radix” (which, in much simpler terms, could be called their “favorite plant”). Their Radix, of which they are patron to, is the flora that they have the highest natural affinity for watching over and tending to. Caring for this specific element of nature, be it a type of rose or an oak, is what many sylvians view to be their entire purpose in life. As a human is born under a zodiac, sylvians are born with their Radix. In addition to this, their Radix will also reflect their abilities and even elements of their personality.
Although it would certainly appear otherwise, a sylvian, in many ways, is more akin to flora than fauna. Sylvians, like plants, are able to produce the majority of their own nutrients, of which they supplement with the occasional intake of food, as well as plenty of water. Not surprisingly, a sylvian will begin to die if kept from the sun for extended periods of time, and they will not fare well in excessively dry or treeless biomes.
Sylvians are extremely sensitive to pollution, as their skin, which they take the majority of their air and water in through, is especially absorbent. In addition to this, metals, such as lead, are especially toxic to them.
Abilities Sylvians are magical beings, having access to a wide array of abilities that, although rich in variety, are modest in power. Their greatest magical talent lies in their mastery of the illusory arts; magic that plays tricks on the mind, or confuses through spectacle. Added to this, a typical sylvian has access to a set of spells that, the properties of which, are heavily dependent on his or her Radix. Although their magic may be wielded in different ways, none if it is inherently deadly, nor does any form of Nemian magic come with the explicit intention of killing. Additionally, as sylvians are very proud of their individual magical talents, many abilities, despite how trivial, are often rich in sensory appeal. A flower-based sylvian, eager to flee a scene, may explode into a shower of beautiful petals dancing in the breeze, or alternatively, a tree-based sylvian, wanting to entertain travelers, might make soothing music of the wind through the leaves. Their magic is just as diverse as their species.
Interestingly enough, sylvians have a surprising amount of difficulty with magic when they are unable to see; and, additionally, despite how essential water is to them, a sylvian completely drenched in liquid may be rendered unable to use potentially life-saving escapist magics.
The race is predominantly female, with males having become increasingly rare over the years.
One of the most interesting features of the sylvians is their incredibly quick and versatile adaptability. Most striking of which is their unusual breeding habits. In dire times, female sylvians are able to pair with members of other biologically similar sentient beings, ensuring that the gene pool keeps a rich biodiversity. Due to sylvian genotypes often overriding most of those of a human partner, no real “hybrids” are an outcome of interspecies pairing, and those that are born of the pairing are considered sylvian. Within Nemian culture, those born of interspecies pairing are known as “Redbloods”, and those of “pure” descent are known as “Whitebloods”. Sometimes, conflict arises between the Reds and the Whites, often stemming from the common belief that Whitebloods are naturally superior. Despite this, the conflicts don’t usually turn violent, and, interestingly enough, the actual color of blood between the two parties is near-indistinguishable. Redbloods have a natural instinct to follow the ways of sylvian culture, but also carry instinct to cling to human civilization, nearly always in secret, becoming what is known by humans as an “imus”. On the part of the sylvian’s mate, all are gifted with the health and longevity that the species offers as reward for the affection of its members; a highly coveted, albeit very misunderstood prize.
The peaceful, yet enigmatic nature of sylvians has gotten them into trouble on more than one occasion. Out of all races, interactions with humans have by far gone the worst.
Sylvians, for many centuries, were held by the common man to be fiendish creatures of the night; bogeymen of sorts. This was largely due to their unknown nature and suspicious tendencies, most strikingly of which was their mimicry of humans. Their tendency to masquerade as humans was, in long ages past, a source for much mythology. Some stories stated that the sylvians had an insatiable desire to feed upon the flesh of human children, and would disguise themselves as governesses or teachers in order to achieve that goal. And in other cases, it was widely believed that the sylvians, like sirens, would entice innocent young men from their homes in the dead of night in order to butcher them in the darkest depths of the forest. Although these legends were clearly false, given the average Sylvian’s inherent lack of predatory instinct, it didn’t halt the lasting stigma surrounding them that the tales, and others like them, had created over the centuries; which only served to feed their poor relations with humans even into the modern day.
Much like witch hunts, some people who were suspected of being imuses (“imus” being a derogatory term for human-mimicking Sylvians, meaning “inferior”), were round up and, in younger times, put to death by fire. It wasn’t until just over a century from the present that these waning occurrences finally ceased. However, they picked up once again with a far more deadly passion later on.
The blood of sylvians, the red and near-black coloration of which people formally used to identify innocence or guilt with in witchhunts, was eventually found to be an extremely profitable resource. Due to the sylvians highly regenerative nature and odd healing process, their blood was found to be an almost complete panacea for physical injury and minor illness, as well as having lasting health benefits when consumed, being a potent ingredient for alchemists, and having a great deal of worth to sorcerers whom wished to amplify their magical talents. Additionally, and even more importantly to the business world, their blood could easily be made into an oil to coat weapons and machinery with, greatly enhancing durability as well as providing outstanding efficiency. It didn’t take long for the harvesting and sale of sylvian blood, called “Ruber-Aurum”, to become an extremely lucrative and deadly industry across the Old World. The witchhunts of old returned with a new intensity, with people scouring the land for the dreaded imuses with all-new methods of routing them out. It was also discovered that when in contact with larger quantities of water, a Sylvian with the appearance of a human would begin to show tell-tale signs of its true nature, such as floral markings along the skin or shifting coloration of the eyes. This proved to be a far more effective method of catching imuses than the old ways, which had included laceration. Additionally, and more sinisterly, It was found that, when in direct contact with fire, a sylvian’s blood would begin to solidify and crystallize, forming thick, unhealing scabs on the wounds of injured sylvians.
Sylvians, or “Sprigs” (as their hunters, or “Venators”, often called them), were culled by the hundreds for the “Red Gold” by mercenaries and soldiers alike, whittling away at their numbers in merciless raids until they were only but a shadow of their former selves, untrustful of all humans. The sylvians’ only real form of defence, the Sentinels, were eventually unable to hold back against the constant stream of organized slavers and killers that continually assailed their numbers any longer, causing this small warrior-sect of the Nemians to fade into memory. In times of war, when their blood would be especially useful for the coating of weapons, sylvians were slain and captured in mass quantities, unable to defend against the superior numbers their assailants often possessed. Cauterisation was discovered to be a very efficient and brutal weapon against sylvians, as the old, and now outlawed book To Snap a Sprig outlines: “Sprigs are, in many ways, not unlike hydras. If you cut them, they will simply grow it back. Just as in the feats of Hercules, Fire is the key.”
Because of the strange healing process of the plant-like slylvians, large quantities of Ruber-Aurum were able to be collected at once from captive, often enslaved individuals. The way in which a sylvian heals his or her wounds is through excessive bleeding over the damaged area. Then, their magic-imbued blood, containing amazing regenerative properties, will quickly heal the wound through coating it. Despite the extremely efficient healing this provides for the sylvian, it causes them to bleed far more than an average human would, a feature that many hunters and businessmen took advantage of; through lacerating captives and harvesting the excessive blood flow, collectors could easily double their profits over standard raids. Although the organ structure and high concentration of Ruber-Aurum within a sylvian mitigates some of the harm in excessive fluid loss, this occurrence will often give them away as an imus. As the once-popular book A Modern Witchhunt once stated, “-And if she bears no markings, the easiest way to identify an imus is to cut off her leg.”
This period of cruelty was relatively short lived, thankfully, as the common folk of some more civilized regions, whom had been significantly ignorant on the origin and collection of Ruber-Aurum, soon became distressed at the suffering and slaughter of the sylvians. Within the century, the collection of Ruber-Aurum soon became outlawed across many provinces, and more recently, in a select few regions, the murder of a sylvian is held to be a crime equal to that of murdering a fellow human. Despite this, imuses changed little from their old ways, as even Redbloods were still denied citizenship and equal protection under the law, even in the regions more tolerant of their kind. Racism still continues against sylvians, and it is not uncommon to see sylvian slaves. Although it’s widely considered to be derogatory by most sylvians, most people will refer to them in whole as “imuses”, whether it be meant as an insult or not, or alternatively, by an audacious few, they will call them the far more offensive “Sprig”.
In the present, sylvians are still sometimes killed for Ruber-Aurum, depending on how tight or thorough the control is of a region’s government. And although trade in Ruber-Aurum has been outlawed, furtive black market trade in the hard-to-obtain substance has caused profits to skyrocket from its collection. A man could live off the profits of a gallon for the entirety of a year, if he plays his cards right. Worse still, the specialized bands of Ruber-Aurum hunters, known as Venators, still make a habit of poaching and kidnapping sylvians wherever they can, be they free-roaming or otherwise. Additionally to this, some wizards have become especially covetous of Ruber-Aurum, as well as Nemian slaves, which they often come into possession of a large quantities of. Sylvian servants, although expensive, are especially valued as slaves given their apparent lack of needs, their resilience, and their longevity. It is held in common belief that all a sylvian needs to survive is water and sunshine, of which they can do fine on obtaining on their own, and that the presence of a sylvian in the household will add plenty extra long, healthy years to their master’s life. It is, however, debatable on whether or not these beliefs are true, or more importantly, ethical.
Venators often kidnap both free-faring Redbloods and Whitebloods, if not having killed them, to turn a profit by either harvesting their Ruber-Aurum themselves, or by selling the captives off as slaves. Given a sylvian's elusive and mischievous nature, Venators usually employ a strategy often referred to as "dousing". Dousing envolves coating a captive sylvian with either water or, more efficiently, types of thick oils. Then, often through use of thick cloth, the sylvian's sight is completely obscured. Finally, the captors will often engrave criss-cross shaped cuts along the captive's back and arms, all coming together to render the captive completely unable to feasibly use any mode of their usual escapist magics. Once enslaved, the fate of a sylvian is uncertain. In the most fortunate of cases, a sylvian will wind up as a gardener or perhaps a house servant. In the the most luckless of circumstances, however, a sylvian could become a wizard's test subject or a living blood bank. Their experiences aren't without hope, however, as sometimes their indentured lives are met with fair conditions or even pay. If a master is feeling particularly greedy, however, he or she may allow his or her subject to pay for their freedom in blood. Literally.
Marriage between a sylvian and a human is, despite recent reforms in the treatment of sylvians, strictly taboo in human culture. Many don’t understand the workings of it, and many more are left confused by the benefits to health and longevity their partner receives. As stated before, sylvians were kept often as slaves in an effort to obtain these gifts, which many believed are a result of close proximity or contact with sylvian individuals.
- Sylvians have a Birthmonth rather than a Birthday. Generally, this is celebrated as a festival of sorts, where everyone who shares the same Birthmonth congregates somewhere deep in nature to celebrate, usually happening for a week in the beginning of the month and a week at the end. There's often food, dancing, and magical competitions. Sylvians are allowed to bring one guest. Traditionally, Reds and Whites are not allowed to differentiate from each other during the celebration. - Sylvians celebrate the start of Spring as one of their most important holidays; however, they do not celebrate the start of Winter, as it is a time of fear for most sylvians. - Sylvians are strongest and healthiest during the apex months of their Radices. e.g. when their flower is in bloom or when their tree bears fruit. When their Radices are dying (such as in Winter), many sylvians become weaker and more edgy. - Venators most often hunt in Winter and rarely in Spring. Additionally, Venators are considered outlaws in many territories. - Sylvians, while immune to many poisons and diseases deadly to humans, are extremely sensitive to pollution and toxic chemicals. - Sylvians, when deprived of sunlight for too long, will experience symptoms similar to dementia and schizophrenia in humans. Most will either die, or alternatively, given their adaptability, turn to more predatory instinct. - Sylvians have a habit of letting colors affect their psychology. Most sylvians find the color yellow to be sedative, the color blue to be invigorating, and the color green to be soothing. - The affection of a sylvian (whether it be romantic or friendly) has been known to positively affect the health of those it's centered on. Many believe that simply close proximity will suffice, however. - Ruber Aurem is sometimes heated in furnaces, making mock-gems, which can be sold for a great deal of money. - While many sylvians are absolutely terrified of Venators, sylvian-hunting is a very dangerous business, and it's not unrare that even a successful raid is without its losses.