The Oldest of the YoungestWritten by VereneArticle Type: Lore

The sylvari are the newest race to grace Tyria, and despite the fact that the game has been out for some time, there is still a large amount about them that we do not know. We certainly know much more about them than we did back when Guild Wars 2 was officially revealed in 2009, but there’s still large gaps in our knowledge of this race of living plants.

One of the things that we do know about the sylvari is that originally there were just twelve of them - the Firstborn. These twelve sylvari are the closest things to rulers that the sylvari have, though the respect for them largely comes from the fact that they are the oldest of the sylvari, and hence have the most knowledge of and experience of the world. Four of them are Luminaries of their Cycle, charged with guiding and tutoring newborn sylvari that have awoken.

Of these twelve Firstborn, we know about nine of them. Three of them are directly involved in the plot of Guild Wars 2, though how heavy their involvement is depends on if you are playing as a sylvari or not yourself. If you are playing as a sylvari, the first person that you meet is Caithe, a Firstborn of the Cycle of Night, who soon becomes your mentor and later you learn shares with you the Wyld Hunt of defeating Zhaitan. She is a mysterious person, keeping things close to herself, though it becomes clear very quickly as you progress through your early personal story that she is a dark individual, who has no qualms about killing when necessary, and has been hurt deeply in the past.

Caithe was, in fact, the first of the sylvari to leave the Grove and explore the world, to see what Tyria is outside of the Grove. During this time she became a member of Destiny's Edge (along with the other racial mentors you encounter in the game), who made it their task to hunt dragons. Despite Caithe's best efforts to convince the group to stay together, they broke apart after the disaster that was attempting to fight Kralkatorrik. She is the one that initiated their eventual reunion, and can be seen in the dungeon storylines trying to bring the splintered guild back together, though with limited success until the end.

The real hurt in Caithe's heart, though, came at the doing of a fellow Firstborn. Faolain, born of Dusk, had left the Grove to wander Tyria with Caithe. The two started out as simply traveling companions and friends, but at some point during their travels, became lovers. It is not yet known exactly what happened, but Faolain fell to Nightmare, joining the Nightmare Court and becoming their leader, the Grand Duchess. Caithe refused to follow her love into the Nightmare, and the two are now seperated. Faolain has been shown to not want to settle for this situation, however, and is determined to see Caithe fall as well.

She is not above using sheer manipulation to this end; in the Twilight Arbor dungeon's story, she refers to Caithe as her "dearheart" while simultaneously mocking Caithe for her own failings. By the end she has resorted to creating illusions of Caithe's former Destiny's Edge companions, making them taunt her for her failures. This is Faolain's final attempt at pulling her former love to Nightmare, however, as she is defeated after this.

The third sylvari Firstborn who is heavily involved in the personal story is Trahearne, and personal opinions on him aside, he is an important part of the storyline. He is the eldest of the Firstborn, and was born with a difficult Wyld Hunt - to see Orr restored to its former self. He is a necromancer and a noted scholar, who has been studying Orr for most of his life; he is one of two individuals, the other being Caithe, to have seen Zhaitan and lived. Because of his studies of Orr, he is considered something of an expert on Zhaitan and the risen, and is respected by the three Orders of Tyria.

He is given the task of leading a force made up of the three Orders into Orr by the Pale Tree, who gives him the sword Caladbolg, a powerful weapon made from the bark of the Pale Tree. When the Pact is formed, he is suggested to lead, by the player character - Trahearne is known and respected, but not a member of any of the three Orders. His knowledge of Orr, the elder dragon, and the risen become vital in planning ways to weaken Zhaitan before facing him head on, Before the player character goes on to fight Zhaitan, Trahearne is able to use Caladbolg to initiate the cleansing of Orr, fulfilling his Wyld Hunt.

Of the remaining six Firstborn, most of them will really only be encountered if you are playing as a sylvari yourself. Early on you will meet the Luminary, or leader, of your Cycle; each of the Luminaries personifies the traits commonly seen in sylvari born in a specific cycle. Aife is the Luminary of Dawn and as such is known as a skilled diplomat, and has traveled to each of the large cities on behalf of the sylvari. Niamh, a bold warrior, is the Luminary of Noon; she is also the leader of the Wardens, a group of sylvari who are the guards of the Grove. The Luminary of Dusk is Kahedins, who helps sylvari who have just awoken to understand what they have seen in their dreams. He is also a shaper, having designed the seed turrets that sylvari use, as well as working to make the Grove habitable.

One sylvari, however, was not so lucky. Riannoc was the first of the sylvari to die, an event that the other Firstborn would not forget, though it was quite some time before they knew what had happened. His task was one that seemed to be rather straightforward; to confront and slay the undead lich, Mazdak the Accursed. For this task he had been given the sword Caladbolg from the Pale Tree, and he brought along his human squire, Waine, when he went to face Mazdak. Unfortunately, they were overwhelmed by the risen; Waine stole Caladbolg and ran out of fear, leaving Riannoc to die.

The last of the Firstborn that we meet is Dagonet. He is a scholar, having studied the dreams of many of the sylvari; this includes all of the Firstborn. We know little more about him than simply that - during the game he can be found in Divinity's Reach, and you also meet him during the story mode of Caudecus's Manor, but speaking to him does not reveal much.

With all that we do know of the's easy to see that there is a great deal that we still do notknow about them. The most glaring exception is the identity of three of the Firstborn. Just who are these three missing sylvari? We have nothing - not even their names, let alone where they are. I do hope that we learn something about them - who are they? What are their Wyld Hunts? Where were they during the fight against Zhaitan?

One theory that I have is that their absences may be because they are serving as emissaries to the other human lands. I think it may be an unlikely one, due to Elona having been overrun by Palawa Joko and Cantha ruled by a xenophobic, isolationist emperor, but it is a possibility. It is possibly that they have died, but that is another that I find to be unlikely; I think that any Firstborn that had died would be noted, as Riannoc's was. The third is simply that their Wyld Hunts were such that kept them away from the Grove for long periods of time, which I believe to be the most likely, if only for the fact that it's the easiest way to explain their absences once (if?) they are finally introduced to us.

Even with the Firstborn that we do know of, though, there are a number of questions. Just what did Caithe and Faolain see on their travels? What was it that dragged Faolain into the Nightmare? How was it that Malomedies was the first sylvari to meet another race when Caithe and Faolain were the first to leave the Grove? How were the four Luminaries chosen out of the twelve?

I don't expect any, let alone all, of the gaps in knowledge to be filled in; I know I had been hoping that the Twilight Arbor story had gone deeper into Caithe and Faolain's relationship, and had been disappointed that it didn't. However, it never hurts to hope that we get to learn more about the youngest race to walk Tyria.