The Elgar Forest is easily the most horrifying area in all of Arangoth. The mere mention of the Elgar is enough to send a shudder through any travelers who have heard tell of its infamy. Teeming with perilous flora and fauna, few sane men dare to enter into it willingly, let alone pass through it, if and when it can be avoided by traveling another route. Unless, of course, they have business there with the handful of mysterious, and often deadly, inhabitants that call it home.
|The Elgar Forest|
The darkness in the heart of the Elgar
|Location:||South Central Veth, bordering Transdariania, Ruthmarna, Leptatarna, the Assi Territory, Lonrath, Aslar and Antara-Ethcabar|
|Geographical Features:||Dense deciduous and coniferous trees, the Darian River's source, the Black Lagoon and the Nie River|
|Dangers:||Werecreatures, undead, carnivorous flora and fauna, the persistent sensation of corruption and evil|
|Notable Settlements:||Mazewood, Mhernettla|
|Inhabitants:||Elves, Humans, Phet'kree|
The Elgar Forest is a vast, untamed forest that borders several Arangoth duchies, Aslar, Lonrath, Antara-Ethcabar and the territory of the Assi. After the Arangothian Civil War it became one of the seven grand duchies that Arangoth is now comprised. This, however, was only a temporary matter, and The Elgar has retaken multiple attempts at settlement, resulting in its dissolution as a duchy as a whole. Currently, the only two swathes of The Elgar that are considered under the control of some semblance of government are the province of Mhernettla and Mistgrove.
Behind the Name
"Elgar" is a word that means "wretched" or "miserable" in Arangothian, and it is a very fitting epithet for such a dark and foreboding place. The wood teems with monsters and undead, and malevolence seems to pervade the very air. In many parts of the forest, little sunlight pierces the canopy of the trees even at noon. Most people prudently avoid the forest at all costs, but there are always adventurers and lunatics willing to brave its dangers in pursuit of wealth or power. Just enough come back alive to encourage others to try.
Most Noted Geographical Features
The Black Lagoon, located in the deepest recesses of the forest, is the source of the eastern branch of the Darian River, which flows through Drache. It is also the source of the forest's corruption. While the forest may look foreboding even on its relatively safe fringes, the plants, animals, and even the very land become more warped and sinister the closer one ventures to the Lagoon. Ancient, decayed ruins are strewn about the shores of the Lagoon, the remnants of a forgotten era and people. There are numerous conflicting legends about the origins of the ruins, but all agree that there is a gate to some foul realm located within a defiled temple. The gate admits not only strange beasts and foul monsters not found anywhere else in the world, but an essence of some twisted magic that has tainted the forest like a slow, steady drip of black dye into a pool of water. The few adventurers who have returned from the Black Lagoon sane enough to tell their tale report illusions and bizarre occurrences that erode one's grasp of reality in the ruins. This makes it even harder to fend off the undead that infest the area. The mysterious hermit-wizard Gadpisi resided--or perhaps still resides--in a hut on the shore of the lake.
Unusually high numbers of werecreatures make their home within the Elgar Forest, further increasing the danger to travelers who venture within the Forest's borders. These creatures are rumored to be the descendants of people who've tried to settle in the forest, claimed by the forest and warped into monsters. A fellow traveler or an apparent damsel in distress may only leading the unwary into a trap. Were-crocodiles prowl both the Darian and the Nie Rivers, demanding tolls in return for not capsizing boats and eating their passengers. Several packs of werewolves make their home in various regions of the forest, exerting control over packs of ordinary wolves to help carve out territories for themselves. In the southern regions of the forest, one might encounter a village of silvery tree-huts, the home of a tribe of were-spiders. Interestingly, they are among the most well-known of the Forest's denizens because they usually allow trespassers in their domain to bargain for safe passage rather than just summarily killing and eating them.
The dangers to travelers within the Elgar Forest aren't limited to undead and werecreatures, however. A large swamp located in a bend in the Darian is full of trolls and carnivorous plants, and is rumored to contain a dragon's lair. The Phet'kree are a race of strange cat-like beasts that came to the forest through the gate at the Black Lagoon. They are a menace to anyone and anything in their vicinity, and are known to torture and kill for pleasure. Thankfully, the Phet'kree are their own natural predators due to an intense hatred among different family bands. If two bands of Phet'kree contest the same territory, they will hunt one another to extinction before turning to other prey.
Attempts at Civilization
In years past, the Order of the Beady Eye helped to carve an Arangothian province called "Elgaria" out of part of the forest and kept the monsters at bay. After the fall of the Old Kingdom, the area was abandoned, and the forest has grown over the remains of Elgaria with unnatural speed in the past fifty years. One of the few remaining traces of the Arangothian colonies is an inn called the Hollow Log, the lone intact building amid the remains of a ruined village along the banks of the Darian. The ale room of the inn serves as a meeting place where unscrupulous merchants can meet with denizens of the forest to obtain poisons, rare spell components, exotic animals, inhuman mercenaries, and other such goods that find a ready market near at hand in Drache's infamous underworld.
Perhaps the only uncorrupted and hospitable part of the forest is the elven community of Mazewood, which has managed to not only survive, but prosper against all odds. Mazewood takes its name from the labyrinth of trees and brambles that their nature priests have created around the settlement, making it easy to spot anyone attempting to enter from watchpoints in the treetop town, and equally easy to trap and kill them if necessary. Due to the hostile nature of the forest around them, the elves of Mazewood tend to be insular, conservative, and wary of outsiders. They had a long-standing alliance with the former Kingdom of Arangoth in the past, however, and have regular dealings with a handful of trusted Arangothian merchants. They produce elven goods for export to the duchies of Arangoth, which provides a handsome income, and the resources to produce arms and armor to keep monsters at bay. Mazewood produces rangers of remarkable ability out of necessity, and some of them found employment in Arangoth's now defunct Border Watch. In the summer of Year 489, Mazewood was over run by demonic entities, forcing the elves to abandon the settlement and seek refuge in Transdariania, which then threatened their own eastern border. In response to this, a military campaign was set in motion to not only destroy the enemies amassing at their border, but to clear out all hostile entities in the outskirts of the western Elgar and retake and help rebuild Mazewood. The western swathe of the Elgar was summarily designated as the Province of Mistgrove, which serves under Transdariania as a protectorate-state.
Legend also tells of a thirteenth Assi tribe that made its home within the Elgar years ago, though most believe this to be mere speculation. Those who have chanced to venture into the forest and make it out alive again after encountering one of these tribeswomen have an entirely different view on the matter.
Mhernettla is a former Korthai port town on the lands of the late Harlst Mhern-Lathvek, a Transdarianian noble adopted into the Korthai. The rapid re-growth of the Elgar Forest during the Interregnum period means the peninsula Mhernettla is located upon is virtually cut off from the rest of Arangoth by land. Due to the Arangothian Civil War, and other calamities, natural and unnatural, in the region, it's difficult to pin down the moment when The Dark, a fearsome force of evil, took root within and overtook the settlement, corrupting its inhabitants into monsters of darkness and undeath. In the Year 488, Mhernettla was liberated from the forces of The Dark, and attempts are being made by its inhabitants and the lands in its immediate surroundings to create stable settlements on the farthest edges of the Elgar's reach.
The Creeping Shadow
In the Year 489, all communication with the government of the duchy of Elgaria fell silent, isolating Mazewood and Mhernettla from their influence. The inner settlements of the nobility have proven unreachable due to a phenomena called "The Creeping Shadow", and no word of anyone successfully getting into and out of affected areas has arisen. Very little is actually known about The Creeping Shadow at this time, what little information makes it difficult to discern its origin, nature or intentions, or if it even has any. Rolling pockets of dense mist, whose visibility within is reduced to practically non-existent by both mundane and magical senses alike, appears to produce visual hallucinations and an intense sense of paranoia. Several attempts to travel through affected areas have resulted in many people going missing within the mists, and those that have managed to escape have given reports that they've witnessed the silhouettes and shadows of "things" moving around at the edges of visibility within the mist, which has resulted in the phenomena's namesake as "The Creeping Shadow". Attempts to reach locations within affected areas and beyond by aerial means have all resulted in similar results. Whispers and rumours abound that some believe the mist may be related to The Dark in some manner, while others insist the true culprit is the Black Lagoon itself due to all the tales surrounding it.