This dense forest, northeast
of New-Santhala, is home to the
Ahrhim elves as well as to numerous
druids and a variety of plants and
animals. One would be lucky to see these things however, for the forest itself
is also quite sable. Its canopy is extremely dense, causing perpetual darkness
throughout the forest. The Ahrhim have
adapted to it and have developed better eyesight than other
elves not living in such an extreme
surrounding. However, the marvels in the Almatrar Forest are like nowhere else,
despite the lack of light. A foreign traveller might be lucky enough to view
them at least partly, but only after his eyes are used to the dimness after
some hours or even days.
Description. This forest is perpetually wreathed in dimness, at the darkest places it could be compared to a full moon night. Once inside the forest, there is very little, if any, difference between night and day, especially on days which are cloudy and dull in the outside world as well. On bright sunny days, there seems to be more light in the Almatrar, all the colours brighten slightly and even eyes not used to this forest may get a glimpse of its beauty. Sometimes, very rarely though, on sunny, but very stormy days, a single sunbeam may penetrate the canopy, causing a firework of colours to explode.
The Ahrhim elves have adapted to this everlasting dimness by never keeping standard hours as well as having sensitive eyes. Humans require torches, or some other form of portable light, to see in the forest. Near druid encampments, the tree-lovers have caused a number of plants to glow, which causes their camps to be fairly bright, and often quite colourful and thus, druids are considerably easier to find in this forest than anywhere else.
There are some areas however, that show sun though very rarely. These are mostly near clearings which have been desecrated with the poisons excreted from the cheerk worms. One or two trees die and where they once stood, sun pours in, creating a plethora of lights and colours. Here, at the rim of the clearing the more sunlight dependent plants live, such as the false heart vine. Plant and animal life seem to flower here in a greater abundance than even in the outside world - but only till the soil has regained its old properties (often with the help of the druids) and the next trees grow and close the gap.
The wildlife here has adapted to the darkness, gaining better sight and a heightening of the other senses. The creatures here are far from timid, having little contact with anyone with the exception of the elves and druids, who do not mistreat them. Thus, visitors often find that animals will come very close to them, but only, if he doesn‘t use a torch of any kind. Of course chances are that a visitor will not see the creature, which may be the cause of the animal’s confidence. This is also quite unnerving to those who are unused to the forest, for it is possible to hear the creatures if they are near, although one cannot see them.
The floor of this forest is, to the elves who can see it, quite colourful. This is due to the large amount of woodsweed and the high content of copper in the rocks, as well as veins of ahrhite and ferros materials. This makes a large amount of the rocks in the red, blue, green, as well as combinations of these. The ground is also the place where one can find the grandest of Ahrhim buildings, often made of these rocks or painted wooden framework. Once in an Ahrhim settlement, one can look up and see bridges linking the trees together, as well as houses in the trees. The buildings of these settlements almost always incorporate the trunks and branches of the tree in their building, using said plants as walls, ceilings, and even floors.
Quite possibly the most extraordinary artwork out of living plants which can be found in this forest, or anywhere else for that matter, is the unique building created by the green druids: the Hall of Guardians. This tall assembly hall was created of intertwining trees and their roots by green druids and is used as their place of meetings. The entrance leads to a hall lined with wooden statues, shaped by the druid’s magic into as close a resemblance of the dead druid as possible. These statues depict each druid who has sacrificed his or her life for nature by turning into a krói'lón (waar dryad). After this magnificent hall one comes to the meeting place. This room has many rows of wooden chairs, as well as branches on the walls that can be used for seating. All sitting implements have been shaped and worked by the druid’s magic, making them quite comfortable, with soft grass even on the seats. All chairs look as if they have grown from the tree which makes up the Hall of Guardians, and thus do not look like chairs at all. The room is circular with an open spot in the middle for any druid who wishes to address the entire congregation.
Location. In the province of Sanguia, the Almatrar Forest is located two or three days rides northeast over the Rimmerins Ring coming from New-Santhala, and half a day south from the Paelelon Forest. It borders the southern edge of the Queator River.
People. The Almatrar is
home to the Ahrhim tribe of
elves, who are known for their exceptional
skills in the crafting and mining of ores, as well as their work with plants.
These elves have adapted to the forest by
gaining better eyesight and very pale skin due to the darkness. In fact, the
Ahrhim find it hard to leave their home
forest, for outside the light of the sun
is quite damaging to both their skin and their eyes. There are also a large
number of green druids residing here.
This is undoubtedly because of the Hall of Guardians is located within the
forest. Of course, the druids are
still fairly small in number, compared to the number of
elves, but there seems to be a greater
concentration of them here than anywhere else. Because of their love of the
forest, the green druids are granted
permission to stay within the forest by the
Climate. The Almatrar is rarely dry, being fairly close to the sea and the Heath of Cjur. Its sometimes extremely moist atmosphere is one of the things that help all the plants of the Almatrar survive. Rain in the forest itself is uncommon, and when water does fall from the sky, very little of it reaches the forest floor and is instead caught by the trees. The density of the forest creates something quite interesting: its own climate. The tightness of the trees and canopy help insulate the heat within the forest, so much so that it is almost never cold except for winter nights. This is quite a sight during snowy days, when the outside of the forest is frosted over or even covered in snow, while the inside is quite comfortably warm.
Flora. The most abundant tree in this forest is the coniferous Ahrhillicia, which is known to be found nearly exclusively in the Almatrar and is named for the elves of the forest. This tree grows in excess of thirty peds tall and is what creates the dense overhang that covers the forest in darkness.
The outer regions of the Almatrar Forest are mainly comprised of willow trees, as well as some bog oak and ash. The tall adlemir trees can also be found inside the forest, as can the hard to climb ashwudes. It also possesses more oddly coloured trees, such as the grayish-blue baych tree and the black birch tree. Closer to the ground, the small poison-berried allia plant can be found. The false heart vine can also be found in abundance in the forest. The actual ground is covered in shade grass, or woodsweed, which can also grow up the trunks of the trees, making the trees green, as opposed to darker hues. This allows people to walk around the forest barefoot, as long as they are careful of rocks, for the grass is very soft.
Fauna. One thing people often notice about the Almatrar during the daytime is the amount of noise one can hear, should they pay attention. These noises actually come from the birds; put together they often make music that is quite beautiful. Some such sounds are the calming songs of the aerilel bird, or the warbling of the haloen. Sometimes one can hear the ‘cuu-loo’ of the aptly named cuuloo bird or the loud, ‘sirreri-sirreri-sirreri sti-sikot-sikot-sikot’ song of the injoh bird. Close to the Rimmerins Ring, one can hear the high-pitched screech of a torán eagle, while the hoot of a wood owl is oft heard at all times of the day, the absence of light in this forest suiting the nocturnal bird well.
Deer are often found in the Almatrar, as are numerous smaller creatures such as the tarep rabbit or the kuatu. The rabbit enjoys finding small clearings within the forest, while the kuatu often stays near baych trees, looking for baychnuts. Packs of ilaról, the Mithral wolves, although rare, are sometimes seen. Much more common are the solitary arshir, the red foxes. The nearly helpless rosesnake can be found feeding off the victims of the venomous allia plant. If one is lucky, one may occasionally spot an Aurorian elfcat, although like the ilaról, they are rare in the Almatrar. Silkworms are also bred and raised by the Ahrhim, who harvest their silk for trade.
There is a creature, a rather inconspicuous creature, that lives in this forest. This animal, above all others, is considered a bane by the Ahrhim. It is the cheerk worm. The reason the Ahrhim dislike it so much is because they are a community of people who work the soil, and the cheerk worm secretes a venom that makes patches of soil sterile and unable to produce plant life. While these patches are small and scattered throughout the forest, the elves who put such a high importance on the working of soil nevertheless find this creature quite a nuisance.
The animals of this forest have adapted to the perpetual night much like the Ahrhim have. Their eyesight is far better than similar animals found outside the forest, and the colour of the skin or fur is far paler than that of their outer forest cousins but these lighter shades have their own irresistible beauty. Also like the Ahrhim, the creatures of the Almatrar find it difficult to leave the forest, for the sun causes many problems to their eyes and skin.
Resources. The Almatrar is rich in metals, especially bronze, copper, and gold. The Ahrhim take advantage of this and mine these ores. These metals are the basis for trade of the Ahrhim tribe, for with them they fashion fine weapons and then trade these weapons - or the ores themselves - outside the forest for commodities they do not possess. Silk is also traded outside of the forest, made by silkworms which were bred by the Ahrhim.
Myth/Lore. Ignorant rumours and superstitious tales often seem to congregate in places of mystery, and this perpetually dark forest is no different. Stories about the forest have arisen from numerous small towns and villages that border the Almatrar: stories that tell of everything from the trees being alive, to the Ahrhim hiding from the face of Injèrá.
One story, so is said, arises from an actual historic event, as is alleged by many legends. Years ago, the Móh'rónn Saban Blackcloak entered the forest to blackmail the Avá'ránn Axiastras into marrying him. Even though it has been millennia since this occurred, some say that the eternal darkness was caused by the presence of the son of the reincarnation of The Shadow himself.
Also, there is a myth abounding through outlying hamlets and villages that the trees of the forest may arise, to take vengeance on anyone who may molest this forest. This tale also seems to have come from a historical event, although one much more recent. In the year 1655 a.S., the village of Stellastar began a large operation to gather wood from the forest, thinking to expand their humble village into a larger hamlet, and possibly even build palisades around their homes. They decided to log the forest, attempting to stay clear of the Ahrhim, in hopes that they may desecrate the elven forest without retribution. What the villagers did not take into account were the druids. As soon as logging began, the green druids of the forest rose up against the workers, causing vines to grow up and destroy and impair equipment and camps. The villagers were not daunted and the loggers continued their work. The druids sent a messenger to speak with the project coordinator, one Jarlo Jamerston. Jamerston and the messenger exchanged words, which led to an argument. At this point in time the accounts vary, some placing blame on Jamerston, while others place blame on the druid. Either way, the results are the same. The druidic messenger was killed, and his body was placed in the forest for the druids to find. The plant lovers realised that bloodshed was the only way to end this situation. The very next day, in the early morning, the village of Stellastar was reportedly attacked by a huge creature, which seemed to have been half-man, half-tree.
“It just came out of the forest. At first we didn’t know what to do, as
it seemed to be one of the trees itself. Then it got poor Pauly, squishing
him right on the spot. Was then that the rest of us attacked it with our
axes, although that didn’t seem to have
no effect, and just made us all closer to the damned thing. The monster
was killing us left and right, before a few of us had the sense to run
away. I don’t know what that thing was, but never again am I going to take
an axe to a tree, not when I seen what
the tree can do back…”
It is the opinion of this writer that the creature in question was in fact a krói'lón, the half-man, half-tree hybrid that a druid may become in times of great conflict. The krói'lón easily destroyed the entire village, as well as any of its inhabitants unwise enough to run away, before finally it died. The Hall of Guardians probably has an eleven-year-old statue of an anonymous druid who selflessly gave their life in defense of the forest that was their home.