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 Arangoth, the Assi Territory, Thontaran and Aslar|
|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, the Hollow Log Inn|
|Inhabitants:||Elves, Humans, Phet'kree|
Behind the Name
"Elgar" is a word that means "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 descendents 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 aleroom 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 have a long-standing alliance with the Kingdom of Arangoth, however, and have regular dealings with a handful of trusted Arangothian merchants. They produce elven goods for export to 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 have found employment in Arangoth's Border Watch.
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.