Do Sylvari Dream of Dragons?

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Earlier today I was thinking about what we know about Guild Wars 2’s new race, the sylvari, compared to the existing ones. Each race so far has had its own strengths, but also its own inner turmoils. For the humans it is the tension between the Ministry Guard, the Shining Blade and the Seraph. For the norn it is their dealing with the Sons of Sanvir and for the charr it is the Flame Legion Shamans stirring up trouble.

For the sylvari the tension is likely to come from their dealing with the Nightmare Court.

On my own blog I mentioned how it’s possible that the Pale Tree has some wider connection to the welfare of the planet, and how it might be imploring the sylvari to deal with the growing threat (no pun intended) which the Elder Dragons pose.

The sylvari have popped up in the 23 years preceding the events of Guild Wars 2. They emerge from the Pale Tree fully grown and are forever linked to it. Whilst they are growing inside the tree they experience dreams through which they learn the knowledge of their race. They also report that they experience nightmares – however, most sylvari attempt to ignore or at least not pursue any further knowledge of them. The sylvari that do embrace these nightmares are called the Nightmare Court.

Guild Wars 2 Sylvari - Concept Art

Just chillin’ wit my peeps.

Then I began to think about the timing of it all (and this is a theory I’ve mused on before). The growth of the Pale Tree and the birth of the sylvari coincide very closely with the emergence of the dragons (bearing in mind; in the growth of a tree, 250 years is not a long time at all). Perhaps the Tree – being of distinctly mystical origins – sensed the growing threat that the awakening of these dragons posed. The Pale Tree itself could have brought the sylvari in existence for the sole purpose of helping in the fight against the dragons; as a defense mechanism – like a leaf turning towards the sun, or a flower bud closing at night to conserve energy.

So the Pale Tree, being inexorably linked to the welfare of the planet, must feel the rending and tearing of the Dragonbrand, the whirling icy rage of Jormag in the Northern Shiverpeaks and the hateful abomination of nature as the land of Orr is risen from the depths. The dragons imprint their hate, lust, hunger and rage upon the earth and so have imprinted these feelings upon the Pale Tree. Perhaps the nightmares, so mysterious in origin, are the dragons malevolent minds creeping into the dreams of the sylvari? A manifestation of the pain which the world, and so the Tree, feels.  Perhaps, then, the Nightmare Court – in examining and embracing these nightmares – are being corrupted just like the Sons of Sanvir.

The dragons have been corrupting the earth (however little – pfft, Great Destroyer my arse!) since we were in EotN. Could this corruption be what the sylvari sense as they dream in the Pale Tree? As they delve deeper and deeper into the origins of these nightmares perhaps the Nightmare Court will uncover (as one most often does when you delve too greedily and too deep) a little more than they bargained for.

Choo’ reckon? Are the Nightmare Court embracing the Dragons, and if they are; are they doing it unwittingly or do you think that they know what they are getting into?

About the author:  Distilled (Will) has been playing Guild Wars for almost 6 years, he works as a clinical researcher in the UK but has aspirations of getting into social research. In his spare time he enjoys a good scotch, shopping for new suits and jazz flute. He writes regularly on Guild Wars and gaming over at VeryDistilled. You can also follow him on Twitter at @Distilledwill!

Further reading:

  • Greibach

    Very nice. That’s an interesting take on the Nightmare Court and it’s deeper meaning. It’s actually pretty plausible; perhaps the Druids in some way influenced the growth of the tree as well.  Maybe we’ll find out next week!

    • Anonymous

      I sure hope so! Very much looking forward to sylvari week!

  • Mordakai

    This might interest you:

    Originally Posted by Ree Soesbee

    doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that a newly born race, with no
    actual experience in the outside world, would know to embrace the
    tablet’s teachings without some sort of intervention by the maker of
    the tablet. How would they know how to read it? (…how did the first
    generation know HOW to read?)

    Many of the first memories within the Dream of Dreams, the first
    thoughts and conclusions, belong to the Pale Tree herself, and are
    expanded upon by her children as they are born and go out into the
    world. The Pale Tree is not a humanoid, but nevertheless, she has
    thoughts, feelings, and wisdom that she shares with unawakened sylvari
    as they Dream. She was there when Ventari and Ronan shared their hopes
    for the future, and watched as they fell to despair that their vision
    of a peaceful world would not be established within their lifetimes.
    She was there when Ventari lived out the last of his years alone,
    though she could not speak to comfort him. She was there when he carved
    his last words into the Tablet; after he died, she held the carved
    stone among her roots, Dreaming of its lessons and sharing them with
    her children who would one day awaken, and be sylvari.

    The memories are shared collectively within the dream? How, then, is each sylvari a unique individual?

    Yes, but not in a unified manner. The Dream is a deep well, into which
    memory and thought are poured as each sylvari learns and experiences
    the world. A newborn sylvari takes memories from that well in part, not
    in whole; like a bowl filled with water from that lake, they see only a
    small fraction of their race’s collective experience. The Pale Tree
    ensures that each sylvari who awakens has been given a basic
    understanding of the Tablet, the world, and the love she has for each
    of them.

    The Tree’s memories teach lessons, such as reading, the basic tasks of
    living, how to wield a weapon. Seeing and experiencing more personal
    memories from other sylvari does not make each sylvari less individual;
    they are free-willed, and can make up their own mind as to what they
    have seen. Each sylvari’s Dream is different; they do not see every
    memory that the Tree holds. Rather, they experience only a small
    portion of the whole. Each sylvari’s Dream contains both the Tree’s
    lessons, and a portion of memories and feelings drawn from the mélange
    of images and emotions of the combined sylvari experience.

    Those Firstborn that remain with the Tree often spend a great deal of
    their time helping newly awakened sylvari understand what they have
    Dreamed. This includes lessons to explain the Tablet’s writings as the
    sylvari interpret them; a better sense of sylvari history; and
    education about the world around them.

    I’d love to know about the “government system” of the Sylvari.

    In the beginning, the sylvari didn’t need a government. They had the
    Tree, and only the Firstborn, and it was a small enough collective that
    no ‘rulership’ was needed. As the sylvari began to expand as a race,
    the Tree has continued to be a quiet font of wisdom. Many of the
    Firstborn took over the roles of leadership, teachers, and organizers
    for their people. The Firstborn are the wisest and most knowledgable,
    and the other sylvari respect them greatly. Even among the Nightmare
    court’s twisted hierarchy, the Firstborn Faolain is given a great deal
    of respect and authority; enough to have claimed the title of Grand

    There will be a lot more on the government, history, and biology of the
    sylvari available in the future. Be patient, saplings. There is still
    so very much to learn…

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much for that quote. 
      “A newborn sylvari takes memories from that well in part, notin whole; like a bowl filled with water from that lake, they see only a
      small fraction of their race’s collective experience”
      That actually fits in perfectly with what Will is saying. The nightmare court could be the fraction of sylvari exposed to those darker memories of the Pale Tree, and as such, are corrupted …

      Great stuff, thanks again!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for that Archer, I’d read it before, but a while back and had forgotten about it otherwise I would have plagiarised *cough* I mean quoted it heavily in the article!

      Had a lot of fun writing this one, it was an idea which popped up into my brain out of the blue and the post itself took about 15 mins to write out.

  • Up to about ‘The Fringe of Norn’ and maybe an ‘Asuran Night’.  And if we’re lucky, you won’t need an ‘Eye and Claw’.
    Hurr hurr.

    Anyway, I think the Nightmare Court are partially corrupted and it makes sense that they would be, or rather, it would make more sense if they were wholly corrupted, seeing as how they’re looking to corrupt the Pale Tree for ‘their own purpose’ which could easily be ‘for the dragons’.

    I think, if the corruption of the nightmares had been small or partial, those who choose to embrace them and seek answers about them, would not be hell-bent on corrupting the Pale Tree.  Rather, I would see the Nightmare Court more on the offensive against the dragons through whatever means necessary, but that didn’t happen so, I’m not sure if they’re corrupted by the dragon’s rage and hate or just giant pricks.

    Like Logan. 

    • Anonymous

      Anyway, it kind of reminds me of Fandral (from Warcraft lore), who was corrupting Teldrassil for ages, warping the tree .. and keeping Malfurion in the nightmare. He himself was corrupted because he was batshit. He wasn’t doing it to the tree or Mal to be malicious but because he seriously thought it was the right way to go.

      Yay crazies. 

    • Anonymous

      My own personal take is that the Court do not know what they are looking at and that intrigue pulls them deeper into the nightmares. They are seeing the shadows dancing on the wall of the cave, but they can’t see what is casting them.

      • i know its only two sylvari, but based on what i read in edge of destiny, that the nightmare court seems to be ones that see themselves above morality. while the tablet tree and dream may tell them that killing just to kill is not a really good thing to do and encourages them to be ‘good’. those of the nightmare are more like well i want to see.

        So i am betting more on a lack of moral compass for the Court more so than dragon corruption. however that is not to rule out that the Court may seek to interact or even side with a dragon because it suits them.

        i have been thinking of it like criminal profilers. the best are said to be able to think like the killers and psychos, but they dont act on it. The regular sylvari may glimpse the Nightmare the same way a profiler would ‘think like a killer’, but the Court are those personality that goes ahead and acts on those thoughts and impulses

  • Dndhatcher

    Whats up with so many people doing Sylvari speculations the week before the official info comes out?  It seems to me that after we see the lore Anet adds next week would be the time to start extrapolating broader things about the Sylvari.

  • ArcherAvatar

    Intriguing speculation… enjoyed reading this.

    The analogy between the Sons of Svanir (not Sanvir btw) and the Nightmare Court is not one that I had given much thought to before reading this article but, as soon as I read that it “pinged” as dead on accurate to me.  It inspired further “conspiracy theory” style speculations for me… IF the Sons of Svanir are corrupted norn who are, or will eventually become, completely under the thrall of a dragon, AND the Nightmare Court is the equivalent of this for the sylvari race, THEN it would be reasonable to presume that the Flame Legion of the charr have also found their “new gods” in the form of a dragon, and THAT leads one to really wonder about what’s going on with the human faction led by Caudecus – how might they be connected to a dragon?  Finally, it also makes me wonder exactly what sort of internal faction within the asura would be corrupted / connected to a dragon… have we heard any hints of that yet?

    • draxynnic

      The asura enemy group is called the Inquest, but they seem to be more along the lines of a giant, evil corporation than the result of draconic corruption.

      With regards to the Nightmare Court… that’s one theory, and it would explain why Faolain sent Destiny’s Edge after Glint in the first place (if she was actually being directed by Kralkatorrik looking to kill Glint in advance, or a rival thinking that Glint was still loyal). On the other hand, though, it might be that the other theory (that the Nightmare Court is what the sylvari would be without Ventari’s influence) is correct and Faolain just had incomplete information.