The Pale Tree now dominates the Tarnished Coast, her towering top higher than many mountains. In the shelter of her lush foliage, the sylvari have made their homes. The Grove, created by the Pale Tree, is a multilevel, verdant, organic city. The roots and branches of the tree form broad terraces where other plants have grown and been spun into homes and buildings. Some of the sylvari have lived their entire lives beneath the tree, but most choose to wander, to adventure, and to let the Dream take them where it may.
The sylvari are divided into houses or cycles, and feel that an individual’s personality is determined by time of day when they awaken. The sylvari born in the Cycle of Dawn tend to be loquacious and diplomatic. Those of the Cycle of Day are often problem-solvers, meeting challenges head-on. The sylvari of the Cycle of Dusk tend to be intelligent and reflective. And those of the Cycle of Night are quiet, secretive, and keep their own counsel.
The firstborn are the closest thing the sylvari have to rulers, yet the respect they command comes solely from their wisdom and time spent in the world. Each cycle is advised by one of the firstborn who serves as a luminary, as a guide and tutor, to the newly awakened. Yet the ultimate ruler of the people is their parent, the Pale Tree herself. Her song is found in all sylvari, and those who seek understanding travel to the heart of the tree to commune with her and seek her wisdom.
A Shadow in the Dream
The sylvari are a young race, yet they face challenges from within and without. Not all other races have welcomed them, and their early experiences with the nearby asura have shown them that not all other peoples share their virtuous outlook. But their greatest dangers come from within, both in the form of those sylvari who have rejected the Dream and in the form of a warning in the Dream itself.
Each unborn sylvari hears the song of the Pale Tree and learns of the world, including what other sylvari have learned. Yet many dream of an enigmatic danger that threatens the awakened world. For most, it is but a fleeting glimpse. Only a rare few, the great heroes of their race, see the shadows of dragons and know it as a danger that threatens the world. As a result, of all the races, the sylvari see the challenge of the Elder Dragons most directly. The shores of their lands touch the Sea of Sorrows, and the undead minions of Zhaitan wash ashore and seek to despoil everything they find. While the other races may be corrupted by the Elder Dragons, turned into undead minions or crystalline creatures of the Brand, the sylvari are never turned. Those born of the Pale Tree simply die before the corruption takes hold. Many sylvari believe that this is because they were born to battle the dragons, blessed with a certain protection against their most horrible powers. Some non-sylvari scholars state instead that the sylvari’s strange biology foils the corruption of the dragons. A few clever souls state that sylvari just taste bad to dragons. No one knows for certain which is the truth.