The sylvari are an enigma. Humanoid in form, plantlike in nature, they are recent arrivals in Tyria and have roamed the world for only twenty-five years. They are all born of a single parentâ€”the mighty Pale Tree that dominates the Tarnished Coast. They are bound together with a common origin and a shared dream. No one knows why they have suddenly appeared in Tyria, least of all the sylvari themselves, and they seek to discover their purpose in the world. Of all the races, they have the greatest appreciation of the danger posed by the Elder Dragons; the sylvari battle the undead minions of Zhaitan on a regular basis.
This, then, is their story.
“There was a time that I cursed this world for taking away everything that I had. But living here, I have come to understand that these memories, even those that are painful, are seeds of our identity. They shape our growth.” â€”Ronan, Human, formerly of the Shining Blade.
The story of the sylvari begins with a human and a centaur. The human was Ronan, a warrior with the Shining Blade. Separated from his patrol, he discovered a cavern filled with strange seeds and guarded by powerful plant creatures. He took one of those seeds and brought it home to his family, only to discover that his entire village had been slaughtered by the White Mantle and their powerful would-be gods, the Mursaat. Grieving, he planted the seed on their graves and swore to never take up the sword again.
Ronan was joined by Ventari, an aged centaur who also tired of continual conflict. Together they formed a small community, a refuge for those seeking peace in a violent world. The tree that grew of the strange seed came up tall and proud, and beneath its boughs, man and centaur lived at peace. Ronan passed on in time, and aged Ventari passed as well. But before leaving this life, the centaur carved his lessons on a marble tablet and set it among the roots of the Pale Tree. Then he too passed on, the eldest and wisest of the centaurs.
The tree grew and spread her shade over the surrounding area, and in time, she bore fruit. At the heart of this fruit were the first sylvari. And while they were still cradled by the Pale Tree, she sang to them and told them what she knew of the world. The Pale Tree spun a dream that would be shared by all the sylvari: a dream of human lives and the centaur’s wisdom. When these initial sylvari emerged as the firstborn, they knew something of their world and yearned to learn more.
The sylvari appear human at first glance, but that comparison breaks down almost immediately. Their flesh is made of vines and leaves, their hair of foliage and petals, and their bones of stronger wood. Golden sap moves through their veins, and pollen shakes from their flesh. They are “born” (they would say “awakened”) as adults, with some knowledge of the world around them. Sylvari are instilled with an inherent sense of nobility, curiosity, and a need to explore.
And as each sylvari explores and learns of the world, that knowledge comes back to the Pale Tree, who sings it to a new generation.