Fourth and final instalment of the brief introduction to sylphs. These instalments will eventually be merged and given their own page above.
ABNECUL APIRAC SARA
(SIMPLE INTRODUCTION TO SYLPHS)
(Sylphs on the Ilvenworld)
Sylphs arrived on the ilvenworld with humans. At first, life for sylphs continued as normal, until the initial civilisation collapsed and contact with the Ark was lost.
When humans descended into barbarity, most sylphs melted away into the extensive forests unpopulated steppes, and only returned to human overlords as civilisation began its long reconstruction.
The ilven taught sylphs how to be independent. Even today, large colonies of sylphs are near every ilvenhome and sylphs often serve ilven, if in a less direct sense than they served humans. Many more sylph colonies remain independent of human or ilven contact.
But most sylphs returned to human ownership, driven by instincts they cannot control. Humans are more likely than ilven to provide the security all sylphs crave.
The division between enslaved (or civilised), and free (or wild) sylphs continues to this day.
Wild sylphs are proud of their independence. Although customs vary from colony to colony, all are usually democratic and elect their leaders (for life, rather than for fixed terms). Infertiles (except gwerins) are not treated as equals.
Wild sylphs are happy to trade with humans and human laws usually respect wild sylphs' freedoms (even if these laws are often ignored, see Markan Throne, Chap. II). The wild ones often sell surplus infertile sylphs to humans and many trade male sylphs between each other. This latter trade is thanks to wild sylphs frowning upon the practice of males marrying litter-sisters (encouraged in some human societies) and litter-sisters being very reluctant to part. In some colonies, this debars the male from standing for election in his new home, but not in others.
Recently, a new sylph tribe elected a human to be its leader. Quite how this will make changes remains to be seen (see Markan Throne, Markan Empire).
Civilised sylphs again fill most menial tasks in human society. Over most of the world, a few families have become experts at selecting and breeding sylphs. Generations of sylphs have served generations of these families. The loyalty is mutual and, usually, respect goes both ways.
These families provide most of the sylphs in human society today. Domestic sylphs remain popular; bonds between owner and owned are close. Sylphs carry out much arable farming, animal husbandry, menial manufacturing tasks and (in a few places) scholarly work. Their flexibility is recognised and utilised.
Although pacific creatures, sylphs are not mere innocent victims who get caught up in war. Until recently, the generally accepted human rule was to never involve sylphs in wars. They rarely make good soldiers.
However, being non-warlike does not mean cowardly.
Calcan, and more recently the Markan Empire, use sylphs among their armies, and not only as officers' servants or camp attendants.
Many sylphs - of all three sexes - tend the wounded and are professionally trained in that task. Although exposed to the full horrors of war, they are not quite as involved as the next group.
Sylph scouts are regarded by many as an abomination. They were not forced into existence (sylph nurses were suggested by humans), but were volunteered by a very small group of sylphs.
The Sylph Scouting Corps grew exponentially in the first twenty years of its existence. Just five sylphs passed from the first intake. The training is long and arduous, as sylphs have to learn everything about tracking, communications, how to "read" an army, learn about every weapon in existence and how to discipline themselves in battle.
Within weeks of first running with an army, sylph scouts had proved themselves and are now an integral part of the Markan Empire's armies.
Scouts do not actually fight, but they do lead men to their deaths and this troubles the consciences of many - human and sylph.
While humans tried to rebuild their civilisation and the old technologies were lost, the Gifted showed a way by which ships could safely navigate.
The ilvenworld teems with life elementals and all hope that Siranva will turn them into ilven. Life elementals are in everything: souls of all living things are - or were before they became souls - life elementals. Inanimate objects also have a life elemental and it is believed that even the ilvenworld has its own elemental. Free - that is unattached - elementals can sense others. So a free life elemental can sense rocks and other dangers to ships.
However, elementals cannot communicate directly with the living except through a proxy. The best sort of proxy is a living creature, but its soul is already an elemental and there is room for no more.
But there is something different about sylphs.
Sylphs are a construct of two species. Despite this duality, sylphs only have one soul, but there is the potential for two. This is the gap elementals can use.
When a ship is built, the Gifted invite an elemental to adopt the ship as its own and form a bond with a sylph (humans use infertiles for this, but any sylph can potentially become a ship sylph). Elementals assume the name of the ship and sometimes take further ships of the name while waiting for Siranva.
This elemental can communicate with the ship's crew through the ship sylph.
Outsiders often refuse to believe this is possible, and many seafarers assume the sylph is the ship, but the two are discrete entities. Like sylph scouts, they have made themselves indispensable.
I Kinita o Necul
(The Gift and Sylphs)
When humans first arrived on the ilvenworld, Siranva picked ten out and granted them a gift, The Gift. This was also offered to sylphs, but turned down. Sylphs did not believe they should have such power.
However, it is now obvious that the Father gave something to the sylphs. They can detect the use of the Gift and sense its practitioners. Because the power that forms the Gift is the same as that forming sorcery, sylphs can also sense sorcerers. However, they cannot differentiate between practitioners of the Gift and sorcery. Not a thing the sylphs like, but now it has been identified, humans are already working out ways to use it to their advantage.
The sylphs are not complaining.
The treatment and status of sylphs varies from place to place. For wild sylphs - who no longer fully trust humans, if at all - official protection is often a thin veneer that is frequently abused. The authorities sometimes turn a blind eye to slavers, or refuse to prosecute them when caught. In some places, slavers are encouraged. Sylph breeders are always looking for fresh bloodlines and wild sylphs fetch high prices.
Civilised sylphs are also treated differently from area to area. Most have a low status, usually that of slave, but there are exceptions. Some lands outside the Markan Empire do not practise slavery, but that does not mean that sylphs are necessarily treated much differently.
Lands to the west (Eldova) and south (Imperial Republic) of the Markan Empire are very strict with sylphs, but discipline is quite lax in the eastern provinces (Calcan, Sandester, Trenvera).
In a few of the southern lands, sylphs can even possess their own slaves, though this is rare. However, sylphs permitted to speak before ruling councils, or even join ruling councils, are rather more common in the southern lands (south of the Imperial Republic!) than further north.
In the arctic lands (eg, Frodger, Kelthane), all must struggle equally for survival. Here too, sylphs enjoy a higher status than is usual elsewhere. Collars are rare in the north.
This covers much of the evolution and variety of the sylph domain. There are bound to be errors, omissions and oversights. As with all fiction, ideas lead to further ideas and sylphs are flexible enough to accommodate almost anything new I might come up with.
With luck, this pamphlet explains at least something of the sylphs and the influences on their behaviour.
Nicholas A. Rose
August 2011 (rev III)
Brave New World, Huxley
Genetics and Ethics, The Wellcome Trust
Bioethics, The Wellcome Trust
That pretty much concludes the introduction to sylphs. Another pamphlet, about the training and care of sylphs, will appear in due course...