Rift: Travels Through Telara Part 5 - Shyla Starhearth

Join Guardian scribe, Padraic, and his trusty, yet slow-witted lackey Bran, as they travel the length and breadth of Telara documenting the people, places, history, and folklore of the world. Before it’s all gone.

The Story So Far: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Greetings, dear readers. And welcome back to the pages of my journal. This week, both Bran and myself have recovered from the shock of our travel through time, and are back on track to chronicling the stories of Telara. Today, you find Bran in an unusually happy mood, as we are going to be talking to Shyla Starhearth, a High Elf that Bran, I think it’s safe to say, has something of a crush on. In fact, even now he is staring blankly into space, gripping a handful of daisies he picked to present to Shyla.

Bless him and his simple little heart.

There is much to say about Shyla Starhearth. In my humble opinion, out of every one of the Ascended, she is truly the heart and conscience of the Guardians. It is Shyla who stops the likes of Cyril Kalmar from rushing off on ill-fated escapades to smite those who do not follow the way of the Vigil. It is Shyla who tempers the Guardians’ holy zeal with the voice of compassion and reason.

Yet it is something of a miracle that Shyla can display such qualities, considering her past.

Rift Lore

Shayla Starhearth

When Shyla was a young High Elf, she served as a priestess of Tavril. Tavril is the huntress, the goddess of nature. Her altars are the untouched forests and mountain glens of the world, the fierce, rampant growth that is nature left to its own devices. Considering the elves’ love of such things, it was perhaps inevitable that Tavril appointed them as guardi-ans of Telara. Tavril embodies the fierce protective instinct of a mother cub protecting her young. And these qualities run through the elven people.

Shyla took her responsibilities as a guardian of the untamed places very seriously. She devoted her life to inspiring and guiding her people, to keeping them on the path of true faith. She stayed in the very forests she protected, living a life of quite isolation and contemplation.

Then she met Prince Hylas.

The Prince was the absolute perfect elf. Swift of blade, courteous, brave. Protective of his people and the world. The calm and cool Shyla fell immediately in love with Hylas. She admired the burning passion that filled his veins. They were like the sun and the moon. One filled with fire, the other quieter, elegant and graceful. For centuries nothing could separate them. Songs celebrating their love are known the length and breadth of Telara. (I’ll be including some of the best in the Appendix, once the first volume is finished.)

But it is said that loving when times are easy is no great feat. Loving when times are difficult, however… Ah, that is the true test. A test Hylas and Shyla failed. When the Mathosian Civil War broke out, Prince Hylas and Shyla were divided on what to do. Shyla said they had no choice but to side with Prince Zareph. That for the good of Telara, they had to fight Aedraxis. Hylas, however, thought the Mathosian problems had nothing to do with the High Elves, that it was not their business to meddle in the affairs of men. Their duty was to the wilds of Telara, nothing else.

Shyla disagreed. Unable to stand by and do nothing, she led her followers to  fight by the side of Zeraph, leaving Prince Hylas behind.

The Prince refused to even say goodbye, something he must have come to regret. For Shyla died the day the Shade came through the Rift.

The Gods of the Vigil recognized the good in Shyla, and she was raised to be among the first of the Ascended. And along with Cyril Kalmar, Borrin Gamult, and another, unnamed dwarf, she helped stop Regulos from breaking through into Telara.

Once the battle was over, she returned to her homelands. She could barely contain herself, so eager was she to be reunited with the love of her life. But she returned to a changed Prince Hylas. His arms no longer sought her out. He looked upon her as some kind of abomination. Whereas other might have greeted a lover’s return as a miracle wrought by the Gods, Hylas was repulsed by her return. His eyes were filled with fear.

(A sidenote: It has also been said that Hylas’ reaction had nothing to do with Shyla’s return from the grave, and that the prince was actually jealous of her new status among the Ascended. That his ego could not take how powerful she had become. Who knows what the truth is, though.)

Rift Lore

Prince Hylas

Once more they clashed. Shyla wanted the Elves to join the Guardians,  but Hylas was totally against it. He blamed the Mathosians for the war, saying they almost destroyed Te-lara, and he would sooner die than follow them. Shyla urged him to reconsider, explaining all the good the Guardians were doing, how Cyril Kalmar was truly a great man with the best of intentions.

This did not please Hylas. He accused Shyla of infidelity. He even questioned whether it was truly the Vigil who raised her and the others from the dead. Perhaps they had been brought back by Regulos himself as part of a plan to destroy Telara.

Shyla did not respond to these allegations. She knew the truth, and she also knew that Hylas’ outbursts were nothing but the attacks of an insecure person. This greatly saddened her, but at the same time it made her see the truth. She was in a new stage of her life now, and there was no time for the youthful, romantic love she had once shared with Hylas.

But even then, Shyla hoped Hylas would mature, that they could once again resume their relationship from a higher perspective, but Hylas had no intention of doing such a thing. He took his entire royal clan, House Aelfwar, and closed himself up in their ancestral castle, locked away from the world of Telara.

No one has seen him since.

With her opposition gone, Shyla joined the High Elves to the newly-formed Guardians, and since that moment has been a bastion of strength and courage to the people of Telara.

Rift Lore

We find her sitting in a quiet glade in the forest. Butterflies flit around her head. Streamers of sunlight dapple the ground around her. The perfect image is only weakened by the look of sadness on Shyla’s face.

“My lady, “ I say. “What is wrong?”

She tries to smile at me, but I can see it is forced. “Good man, you know who I am?”

“I do,” I say. “In fact, I am a scribe, and I was seeking you out to write down your story.”

“Indeed? I do not think anyone would want to read such a sad story, do you?”

“On the contrary, the people will be inspired by your courage. And I was hoping… is there perhaps any chance of a happy ending to your tale? Has Prince Hylas come out of his castle?”

“He has not. And that is why you see me so sad. Word has reached us that he may have something to do with the spreading of Life Rifts throughout the land, that he is trying to claim all of Telara for himself. I fear I may have to stand against him sometime soon.”

I do not know what to say to this, but for once it is Bran who does the right thing. He steps forward and shyly hands the daisies to Shyla. She looks surprised. And pleased. Bran bows, then backs away, his face red with embarrassment.

Shyla smiles, and this time there is nothing forced about it.

The Story So Far: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

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