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Trees of Life and the Vyalia, Shiye and Trueflower

by Marco Dalmonte

Fabrizio Paoli wrote:

>I remember that we said that Vyalia don't have one, as well as Meditor and
>DM said something about a Trueflower (?) clan in the Isle of Dawn. Marco?

OK, since I've been drawn into the discussion, I'll answer. ;)

This is the way I see it: Vyalia have a ToL as said in DotE (see County of Vyalia). This is the exact quote:

"When a Forester trainee is ready to become a Forester formally, [..] the Forester is taken to the Tree of Life of the sponsoring clan (this tree is hidden deep in the forest, far off the recognisable forest trails). There, in a special ceremony, he is formally adopted by the clan and visited by a ghostly presence called an Arm of Ilsundal, which fill him with the energies which will allow him to cast magic as the elves do." (DotE, Book 1, page 13)

So, given the fact that there are 6 clans of Vyalia in Thyatis (Blueleaves, Diamaraks, Hierydyls, Greenheights, Treeshields and Etherdyls), there must be then six ToL in Thyatis. There is also a clan of reclusive Vyalia living in the Karameikos side of the Forest of Dymrak: however, I haven't found any reference that says they own a ToL, so I don't think they have one (they probably worship Ordana like in the old ways through a different mysticism..). How can these 6 ToL be explained? Where do they come from? I personally can think of two plausible explanations, both quite simple actually.

First theory: The Alfheimers' gift. This is the hypothesis I currently support. When the Alfheimers came with Mealiden out of the Rainbow Path after escaping the Sylvan Realm, they landed in what would later become known as Thyatis. From Daniel Boese's Timeline:

"800 BC: Elves led by Mealiden Starwatcher leave the Sylvan Realm via the magical rainbow; they carry nine seedlings of the tree of life with them. They land in the forested regions of what would later be called Thyatis, but are driven out by the warlike humans there, and flee northward. The Callarii clan settles in Traladara territory; most of the rest settle in a windy steppes area."

OK, now, we don't know for sure how many years did they stay in those woods. We know that they were driven out the fertile plains by the surrounding humans, but I think they had the opportunity to settle in the woods for some time. I let you note that Mealiden was acclaimed king of Alfheim only a century after this date (BC 700, according to the canonical fonts). This is a very long time-span, so I believe that the elves actually stayed in the forest of Dymrak for no less than 5-10 years before being forced to flee westwards. And during this time they became friends with the elves already living there: the Vyalias. In exchange for their help and friendship, they then gave the Vyalia six daughters ToL from one of their Mother Trees (one for each clan), as a gesture of eternal bond and brotherhood. Then they were forced to move out when their population was too numerous and couldn't be supported by the gifts of the forest, or more probably because Mealiden wanted a land of his own to rule and dreamt of becoming a new symbol for the elves like Ilsundal had been. This way, the Vyalia of Thyatis have now their ToL and worship Ilsundal like their brethren of Alfheim.

Second theory: the Missing Clan. When Mealiden arrived in what would be later called Thyatis, the Vyalia clan was one of the clans that had followed him via the Rainbow Path. However, at that time many elves had lost their hopes to find a better land where to begin a new life, and after they were driven off by the humans and the Shiye abandoned the main group, they stumbled in the woods of Dymrak. The Vyalia liked the place, but Mealiden escorted the followers to move on to the promised land, where with the help of Ilsundal they would have founded a new kingdom. But the Vyalia refused, like the Shiye had done a short time before, and they settled in the forest of Dymrak, keeping with them one of the nine original seedlings. Then the Callarii did the same when they passed through Karameikos. As you see, the testimonies of the defections from Mealiden's migration are many and well known, so we can suppose the same happened with the Vyalia. At that time, the Vyalia was a single united clan. But as time passed, many of the younger generations wanted to found their own clans and parted from the original: and so the six clans that now inhabit Thyatis were formed, and each one had its own daughter ToL. But where is the Original ToL nowadays? Two options: the Vyalia of Karameikos have it (the other Vyalia clans were founded because the younger elves refused to live in isolation as the older members taught. This explains the difference between Thyatis' and Karameikos' Vyalias), being the main clan from which the others originated. Second option: one of the six clans has it, probably the Greenheights since they're the rulers.

As you will note, the first hypothesis doesn't contradict canon stuff, while the second bends the rules, so to speak, supposing the Vyalia left Mealiden when no published supplement about Mystara has ever mentioned it (while on the contrary all the defections of other clans in the history of elves have always been reported). But if you accept the first hypothesis, then two problems still remain:
1) where the heck are the missing ToL?
2) Where do the Vyalia come from?

As for the first question, I must admit I don't really know, even though I will mention later the possible fate of another ToL.

Regarding the second, it's not that difficult to answer. Remember that Vyalia closely resemble the Verdier and Meditor elves of Minrothad (both are bright eyed and pale of complexion). My hypothesis then is that the Vyalia belonged to the Verdier clan. When the Verdier decided to sail off to find their lost brethren (the Meditor) around BC 1720, the Vyalia simply chose to remain where they were, in the forest of Dymrak, thus splitting the clan in two and founding the new clan of Vyalia. Then in the following decades the isolationists decided to live hidden inside the Karameikan part of Dymrak, while the other Vyalia scattered in the Thyatian part of the forest forming the six new clans as previously told. I think this holds, what about you?

But let's now come to the end of this letter and talk about the Shiye and the mysterious Trueflower clan of the Thothian Plateau. Quoting from Daniel Boese's Timeline again:

"BC 800: One of the elf-clans, the Shiye, listens to the guidance of the elf-immortal Eiryndul and makes a dangerous crossing to the continent of Alphatia, where they set up their own kingdom in the deep central forests of that continent."

OK, imagine the scene: the Shiye are on Thyatian mainland and they split from Mealiden's group. However, they manage to keep their ToL (or maybe they steal it, knowing their nature..). The new spiritual leader tells them he has had an omen from their new patron: that he will guide them across the sea to a forested land to the east, where they will finally live in happiness and freedom. So they build barges and ships (or maybe the Meditor elves help them crossing the Sea of Dawn) and they come across a vast land very soon: the Isle of Dawn. They're very happy and praise the new Immortal for the land he's granted them, but the leader insists: they must cross this land for the promised forest is on the other side (they made landfall on the western shore, probably on the Shadow Coast). So they climb atop the plateau and they find a lush primeval forest sparsely inhabited and full of animals and friendly creatures. But for the second time the leader tells them this is not the promised land: this is only an island, and they must sail again eastwards towards a great continent that will be their new house. Many of them move... but some of them stay (this has always been a constant in the elven migrations): the Trueflowers. And they also manage to take into custody the ToL of the clan, since the leader openly says that they will no longer need it where they are going: the New Guide will give them a better relic! This way, the Shiye leader prompts all that are not loyal to him or to Eiryndul to leave the main group and to remain behind, where they won't hamper the clan anymore.

So this is the story of the Trueflower clan of the Thothian Plateau, a clan of elves detailed in M5: Talons of Night. The references to this clan of elves can be found on page 26 (where the map shows its location and officially names it "Trueflower clan") and on page 30, where the attitude of the clanmaster towards strangers is briefly told. For those who want to know, I've invented the whole story of the clan from the first word to the last basing myself of what we know of the elven migrations. And for those who also want to know more about the Trueflowers, I must tell you that M5 doesn't detail them: they're only mentioned as being a clan of elves that the PCs can befriend to help the phanatons of the IoD to defeat the evil araneas.

As the last sidenote about the Trueflowers, module M5 says that they "couldn't care less about the strife between Alphatia and Thyatis, two nations they've never heard of." (M5, p.30). This obviously means that they haven't had any contact with nations or cultures outside the plateau for a very long time. They do know there are other races out there, but they don't know about Thyatis and Alphatia. So, if you also consider this piece of information, you'll see that my theory is not so unlikely (indeed in the ninth century BC, when I hypothesised they settled in the IoD, Thyatis had not yet been founded and Alphatia was not widely known -especially to elves that had lived on the other side of the continent- being arrived on Mystara only two hundred years before).

I don't know if this is acceptable for you, but in this case one of the missing ToL is in the IoD, so two more are missing (provided you don't think the Vyalia have one too). As for the Shiye in the Foresthomes, this theory would explain why they cannot materially have ToL, but instead their relic should be a relic of Eiryndul (if any). Unless you think they braved the sea once more to come to the Trueflowers only to ask for a small daughter tree of a long forgotten and forsaken elven deity..