The Ascension of Coiawen, Or The Fall of Nyssa
“Howl wind, howl with all your might. Bring us fair weather, help to end this blight.”
-Ancient Sylvari Prayer
Winner of the 2011 Red Dragon Inn contest "Legends of Audalis"
Through the mists of time, at the base of the mountains in flawless woodlands, the Sylvari lead a life of eternal grace, but through the will of the gods, they shortened this existence. Some welcomed the gods’ decision, many were merely accepting, but there were others who were bitter and filled with spite. One who was thus was the magic wielder Nyssa. She believed that the gods had stripped the Sylvari race of their way of life, had robbed them of their precious existence.
Nyssa became obsessed with regaining the kiss of immortality. Her studies turned to darker forces, and after a time her clan exiled her from their folds. Determined to return to her former state, she used the expulsion to consort with fiends without repercussion. These demons gave her the means to be both beautiful and terrible. Her heart turned black and seeped with hatred while her body shone with a dark radiance none of our race had ever achieved. She had regained her immortality at a heavy price.
After a time Nyssa established her domain deep in the forests. Many came to behold her beauty and ask for her favor. But there was no room for love in her heart. There were several that she slew or cursed without remorse. Her days were plagued with hatred and grief for herself. Thick vines of ivy entwined her dwelling, and after a time she neither knew nor cared about the world outside of her own.
Many seasons passed when a plague, unnatural and unholy, came to being on this world. Crops withered and livestock died. Unnatural storms manifested across the plains, yielding no rain but setting the grasslands afire with its strikes of light. Disease spread rampant through villages. People of all races perished by the thousands.
Word of the horrifying epidemic had reached the ears of the dark Sylvari. Something stirred deep in her soul, and she ventured forth to witness these things. As she walked through the infected lands, she felt no touch of the sickness, for this was an epidemic of pure evil, and the nature of her soul made her impervious. Nyssa journeyed without penitence, knowing that the gods had forsaken these people, just as they had forsaken her. She longed to retreat back to her home, but could not; a yearning that she could not place cried out in her essence. Unbidden, she continued to travel at the behest of that voice.
Many weeks passed. The landscape began to look familiar, but it looked like a large scar had rent it open. Trees stood blackened and leafless. The grass was scorched and shriveled. No birds sang into the deadly quiet, and what wildlife was left was gaunt and filled with sickness. Her feet took her into the heart of a village, where bodies laid scattered on the ground. Most were doubled up with looks of pain, but all were cold to the touch.
A small rustling from the edge of clearing caused Nyssa to pause. Upon investigation, she saw a small Sylvari child shaking a lifeless form. The child looked up at Nyssa with a dirty, tear stained face, and her scream of agony rent the air. It was if the shriek of anguish had woken up the part of Nyssa’s soul that she had so desperately forsaken so many centuries ago. As she looked around the village, she realized that this had been her home. The horror of what was happening to this world swept through Nyssa like a firestorm. She had finally felt sorrow for another other then herself. Nyssa sat down with the child at her feet and wept. After a time, a sense of deep calm and purpose came over her.
Dark forces had caused this malevolence upon the land, and Nyssa’s vast knowledge would allow her to stop it. She stood in the clearing and performed the ritual to end the blight that encompassed the world. A great gale swept through all the lands. It uprooted trees, flattened buildings, and caused mountain tops to crumble. All seemed to converge on the Sylvari mage. As the plague was drained out of the land, it was soaked up by Nyssa. Her form twisted and writhed, and when the gale finally subsided, a bent and gnarled old woman stood where a beautiful Sylvari had once been. Nyssa’s form had taken on the features of the plague, but her heart had been purged of its hatred.
She took the child, Mailina, from the village and raised her as her own. They traveled the lands and helped heal those in need. Their journey was slow, for she constantly felt the agony of the plague that now wove its way through her body. Nyssa taught Mailina to use magic to restore the balance of life. Though Nyssa often heard those whom they helped utter mocking comments about her visage, she was not daunted. Her soul, which had been so full of torment, was finally at peace. Not long after the child had reached adulthood, Nyssa succumbed to her maladies.
The gods themselves, in response to the utterly selfless act that Nyssa had performed, raised her to their ranks. It was thus that Nyssa became Coiawen, daughter of Healing.
From the Sylvari Myth Romien Coiawen ar’ Lantad Nyssa, translated by Cleric Armand Boyn of our Lady Coiawen’s Abbey in Bright Brooke, Coria.
Thanks to Celeste for this contribution!