The Forest of Contamar (in rough Tharian: "The forest that is captured through water") can be found at the tip of the Iol Peninsula, which is located at the Northeastern most point Northern Sarvonia. Its fitting then that the forest is known by the native elves as, Lón‘Exhonanhé ("Frozen Forest"). An even more fitting reason for such a name, however, is that the forest is in truth a forest of ice covered giant trees, which were anciently flourishing trees before they were frozen in their current state. The only explanations for this sudden freeze are clouded in myth, and this of course makes it quite difficult to discern the truth. These monstrous trees stand in crystal-like magnificence, and are one of the most awe-inspiring sites in all of Caelereth.
Picture description. View on the crystal-like magnificence of the Forest of Contamar. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.
Contamar is one of the most beautiful sights one is likely to see in one's
entire life, or so it is said by those rare travelers who have ventured so far
north. In the presence of sun, the bending
and refracting of light sends off colours so vibrant as to give off the
illusion of swimming in a sea of rainbows, and at night the forest gives off
the illusion that it roots itself in the stars as much as in the
earth. These extremes in beauty, however,
are also rare, as the almost constant cloud cover makes for an environment of
seemingly continuous twilight. In the common grey light that one would see most
often around this forest the trees appear as towers varying in colours from
dark purples and blues, to the cold white of snow.
Though the array of colours and reflections can be quite hard on the eyes, the forest is otherwise easy on the senses. Most often the refreshing smell that can only be found in the air of cold places fill the nostrils with reinvigorating energy. Only the occasional twinge of brimstone from the geyser activity blemishes this otherwise fresh air. Even the animal life seems to be in awe of this great forest, as the sounds of chirping, rustling, or bird song that usually fills a forest can't be heard in this place of reverence inspiring wood. Instead, one hears the sad tune of the crystal grass, and roaring waterfall-like sound of the wind rushing through the canopy. There is seldom wind in this area, and as such a calm but cold sensation sends chills up and down the spine of a traveler.
Fog often settles into the trees, and hinders one's ability to see the forest floor, but when the fog is dissipated, the forest comes to life. Though there is little undergrowth in the way of ferns or bushes, hrugchuck grass covers the entire forest floor, and the occasional clumps of crystal grass can be both heard and seen swaying in the wind during the short summer, when the floor is not covered in snow and ice.
The Forest of Contamar, unlike the Shaded Forest and other northern forests, is not thick, overgrown and ominous. Rather, it is a spacious area, with enough room between trees to allow one to see quite far into its depths. If it weren’t for the terrible cold, it would indeed be the perfect place for a picnic or some other outdoor adventure. It is no wonder then, that the Evathonrhim have picked this forest as their home.
The canopy too is quite spacious. Standing in the midst of these trees and looking up, one most often sees the grey of clouds broken up only by the countless maze of branches that makes up the top of each tree. In the rare times of sun, however, one would indeed be lucky to see anything aside from a sparkling array of colours. By the time the light of the sun finds its way through the many reflecting branches and needles it is a rainbow of colours, that varies in shades from very bright to barely perceptible light. Within this tangle of branches can be found countless numbers of nue'mon and other birds flying from tree to tree. If one really looks hard he or she might find the ice structures that are the homes of the elves, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the Evathonrhim themselves.
What appears to be an emerauld-green pond of approximately three square dashes is located just north of the forest’s center. This pond is in fact no pond at all, but rather a natural hot-spring by the name of Mí'rhén'ael'ón or quite literally "Emerauld-Tear". Around the circumference of the hot-spring there is an area of about two peds in which there is no plant life at all, and the ground is loose and thawed in comparison to the usually hard and frozen land of the Iol Peninsula. Animals and elves alike often bathe in this naturally warm water for both enjoyment and the seemingly reinvigorating affects. Many smaller and less beautiful pools of similar type can be found all throughout the forest.
Small fresh water springs, used for the sustenance of the elves and animals, can also be found in great numbers throughout the depths of the forest. These are only discernable, however, during the short bouts of weather warm enough for the water to thaw out. For the majority of the year the springs appear to be the same old snow covered land as the rest of the forest floor. At all other times the snow serves as the fresh water source for animals, and the elves draw from their deep heated wells.
Yet another amazing feature of this forest is the countless small geysers that can be found in and around its bounds. These geysers are no giants, but the spouts of water that come at interspersed times can still be quite awe-inspiring, and the fascinating character of nature is in full display when the hot water bursts from the earth in a place of such frozen beauty.
In the many ravines, cliffs and valleys all throughout the forest are hidden many other fascinating and extremely beautiful features. One such beauty is the cliff of obsidian that towers over a small field of crystal glass. The reflective nature of both, combined with the also reflective nature of the Phéran'Exhonanhé, makes for light bending of the likes seen nowhere else in the world. Animals are often found wandering aimlessly through this area, as they try to find their way out, but are confused time and again by the reflections off of the obsidian.
Nature is not the only artist of beauty in this great forest, however; as the elves too have left their mark on its landscape. Aside from the myth of one of their own causing the great freeze of the mighty trees, they have also built within its depths an ice palace of such architectural beauty as to leave a passerby in complete wonder. In name this palace is Ýph’ránnayr ("Blue Palace"). The elves have long since found the tree-tops, and surrounding villages to be much more desirable residences, and thus the structure is left abandoned. This takes nothing away from the awe that is this palace, however, as it will be an architectural wonder for as long as it stands. Built to encompass and embrace the trees rather than replace them, the trees in and around this palace stand as cornerstones and supports for its walls of ice. As already stated the elves wished to do no damage to these trees, and as such the wonder of the palace is not in its height, but it is rather in its great span. The palace encompasses at least a square stral, and integrates hundreds and hundreds of trees. There was threat of an attack from neighboring Ice Tribe humans, and as can be ascertained by observing the relatively short walls and thin flat roof, this structure is no defensive fortress, and this fact likely explains the elves' decision to abandon such an amazing home. The tree-tops are obviously much easier to defend against any possible invaders.
In short, the majesty and sheer beauty of this forest, rivals anything in the lands of Caelereth.
Location. As aforementioned the Forest of Contamar lies in the northwestern tip of the Iol Peninsula. The Iol Peninsula is in Northern Sarvonia, and it is in the northernmost part at that. The forest of Contamar stretches from the north coast of the Ice Sea to just north of the Blain Woods and stretches east to west from coast to coast of the Ice Sea.
People. The only people
recorded to have lived in or around the Forest of Contamar, are the Evathonrhim
. Almost as mysterious as the forest itself the Evathonrhim are an enigma yet to
be understood. Much like the majority of all their cousin elf tribes, these
Evathonrhim display a deep respect and reverence towards the land and its
creatures. Though they live in the tree-tops of the forest, as well as the
cities of ice surrounding the forest, and in their opinion only the fabled
Ýph’ránnayr ("Blue Palace") stands as a possible blemish to the land at their
fault. This blemish is in truth no blemish at all, but rather, a very beautiful
addition, however; the Evathonrhim feel that long time fixture not of natures
making is a blemish. If myth be true, than the trees are also frozen as a result
of their actions, but many of the tribe choose to believe that they had nothing
to do with the freezing of the trees. The fact that the ice around the trees is
one of magical properties, as it can not be melted by natural means, stands as
potent evidence against the elves. However; there is a chance that the Gods
themselves froze the trees, and as such the elves are able to play the part of
The housing structures in the tree-tops could be considered by some to be marred features of the forest, but the elves rationalize that building ice upon trees of ice can bring no harm. These aside, the Evathonrhim have worked hard to limit the amount of changes wrought upon the land by their own doings. It would appear that the Evathonrhim like so many others are blind to their own mistakes, and are only capable of seeing the mistakes made by other peoples.
Very few other people have even visited, let alone lived in this land, and as such there is nothing about this forest that has been affected by anyone but the Evathonrhim, and perhaps the Gods.
Climate. If by looking at the location one assumed that the Forest of Contamar would be a cold place, he or she would be absolutely correct. From the months of Fallen Leaf to Rising Sun, rain snow and cold winds dominate the entire area, as due to a low elevation and large underground hotsprings, the temperature stays just above or below freezing during all but the two coldest of these ten months. These two facts combined with almost continual cloud cover, make for cold weather that when considerer up against the possible cold that could be, is a comparatively moderate climate.
Only during the two months of Burning Heavens and Sleeping Dreameress, in which the sun penetrates the clouds effectively, does the snow melt away and do the small waterways thaw. Even this short summer, however, does not get overly warm. Temperatures are only slightly above freezing, and if not for the continual glow of the sun the snow and ice of the ground would surely not even melt away.
There are also two months out of the year that are extremely cold and harsh, even for this land. These are Frozen Rivers and Turning Star. During these two months there is no sun light breaking through the clouds whatsoever. It takes no massive amounts of brain power to realize that no sun creates a very cold two months indeed. During these two months even the Evathonrhim and other animals suited for cold climates, stay huddled in their various forms of homes, and they only brave the weather for things that absolutely need to be done.
Flora. It has already been made clear that undergrowth such as ferns and bushes do not fill the floor of the Forest of Contamar. Vast amounts of hrugchuck grass covers the forest floor instead, and like hrugchuck in other areas it is often covered in snow. Crystal grass can also be found in patches throughout the entire area. Hrugchuck, with its many special properties, beautiful flowers and extreme nutritious value, is used by animal and elf alike in many different ways. It of course offers yet another source of beauty to the already marvelous forest. Crystal grass, though not as useful and nutritious as its counterpart here, also adds a facet of undeniable beauty to the land.
On the outskirts of the forest, and around the small bodies of fresh water can also be found the wonderful fruit bush called Asén’evathón ("Sweet Ice"), by the native Evathonrhim. This amazing bush bears fruit year round, and is an irreplaceable food source. As these bushes grow in large clusters there can be found in one cluster enough berries to feed a large heard of tar'andus deer. On the outskirts of the forest the occasional cluster of willow trees can also be found.
Fauna. Many animals can be seen throughout the forest feeding on it grasses and bushes. Tar'andus deer, cloaked elk, hargive deer, and though they seldom go deep into the forest as a result of their size thunderfoot munch on the nutritious hrugchuck and asén’evathón, and can also be seen swimming in the hot springs (the thunderfoot is of course far too big to swim in these little hot springs).
The nue'mon is the most common bird of this great forest, as they have a very special place in their little hearts for the asén’evathón berries. In fact if you see a creature of flight other than the nue'mon or the eagle, chances are that the poor bird is lost. The eagles and nue'mon are very territorial of this forest, and do not welcome other birds very kindly.
As there is no lake, river, or traditional water source other than the small springs no fish have yet been found within the confines of the Forest of Contamar.
Of the rodent variety, only the hrugchuck and field mice can be seen roaming around munching on their food. These rodents serve as a valuable food source for the number of eagles that live here during the summer.
A small few of the eanian wargs can be found here as well but they much prefer the open icelands to the south. Other predatory animals that can be found in their also small numbers include caracal, snow wolves, and the winter fox. The elves work to keep the predator numbers down within the forest, so that the deer and other animals will find the place favorable. The more deer there are in the forest, the more of a reliable food source they become for the elves.
Resources. The trees themselves of course serve as the foundations for the homes of many of the Evathonrhim, but otherwise the trees stand as big beautiful and useless giants.
The hrugchuck grass on the other hand is useful in many ways. Besides the fact that it is very nutritious for the animals in the area, it also serves many medicinal purposes for the elves. These include purposefully induced fevers to detoxify a sick person, and warming a person that is near freezing to death.
The cliff of obsidian within the forest could fetch a price for the elves, but as monetary gain is not one of their focuses they instead work to preserve the beautiful wonders that make up their lovely forest.
Yet other resources of value only to the inhabiting Evathonrhim are the abundant sources of food that are the wildlife of the forest, and the berries of the asén’evathón. The mineral abundant hot springs could also be included in this list.
Myth/Lore. There is an old tale told by the elders of the Evathonrhim, which describes the coming of the great freeze, and the ever after frozen trees of the Forest of Contamar. It is said that there was a young elf possessed of a special gift with the magics of water. His talent grew with years and soon none could match his mastery over the element's magic. In an attempt to freeze the waters of the Ice Sea, and thus expand the territory of the elves he angered the Rèthán'fá'óh ("Return to Light") Gods with his arrogance. Kái'avá the High One of the Gods reversed his spell, and rather than freezing the sea his spell froze the great forest that was once the life source of his tribe. Out of shame for his failure he took his own life, and over the course of time his name was forgotten. But, the forest of ice stands evermore to remind his brethren not to tamper with the earth given them, and to be thankful for what they already have.
There is another tale of a young elf by the name of Ísh’avá, which translates quite literally into "false one". It is said that this youth was so in love with himself as to be unable to see wrong in any of his doings. He could often be heard praising everything that was his. His looks, his talents, his money; in his eyes everything he had was better than anything else anybody else had. A southern traveler came into the forest and heard him going on with such a boast. Ísh’avá was saying how he was capable of finding anything in the world no matter how well hidden it was. This southerner was searching for great wealth and had heard of a cliff of obsidian so beautiful it could fetch higher prices even than diamonds within the Forest of Contamar. The Forest of Contamar was a vast place full of wonders, and one could easily get lost in its giant trees.
The southerner took Ísh’avá at his word and offered him great pay to guide him to this treasury. Quite sure that Ísh’avá would fail the grand council allowed this to happen. After many days of traveling in circles they did indeed finally stumble upon the cliff of obsidian. The reflection of Ísh’avá’s face was so clear he could do nothing but stare in awe. Ísh’avá so loved himself that the refection of his image hypnotized him into a trance so deep that he never found his way out. Ísh’avá stared at his own beloved self until death itself embraced him. The southerner was so lost that he merely cried and pleaded with his own Gods to help him find his way out. Eventually the elves found him, and as a trade for his agreement to never again set foot in their lands they showed him his way home. The cliff of obsidian stands to this day unblemished by the hands of mortals, and the elven children of every new generation learn the lesson of humility thanks to the vanity of one the called Ísh’avá.
There are many more stories of this land that include the creation of the geysers, the blessings of the hot springs, and the love of Kái'avá in the warmth of the hrugchuck grass. These are too many to record here, but if one is really interested he or she could travel north, find the Evathonrhim, and hear the stories for themselves. This is a lot easier said than done, however, as the elves avoid all outside contact. If indeed you do wish such a journey, may the Gods be with you.