The Drifting Woods, or
"Sar'estvokar" as it is called by the human
inhabitants, is one of the strangest woods of Caelereth.
Located on the northwestern shores of Nybelmar, it
forms the easternmost reach of the Plains of Kaerath. Here, the boundaries
between land and sea have faded away, giving birth to a forest where the soil
is rarely as solid as one would expect. As all
Nybelmarian jungles, the Drifting Woods are literally teeming with life,
and many of these plants and animals are assumed to live nowhere else on the
Disk. The Woods are hard to travel for anyone but its rightful occupants,
namely the 'savage' Ter'ei'Vikh humans, and
the otherworldly Nybelmer.
Drifting Woods are a wondrous place, where land and
water collide and give life to one of the
strangest and possibly very dangerous environments. Fuelled by the Moss Mounds,
the warm air has made the area perfect for
exotic lifeforms, many of which are only found there.
Above water, the area is dominated by large
trees, covered in moss, fungi, and lesser plants and shrubs, which cover the
area in a pleasant shadow, no matter how bright the
sun shines. Canals and sinkholes alternate
here with quicksand, mud and the curious mixture of roots and
earth that passes for 'dry land' there. Open
ponds and lakes, whether connected with the canal system or not, are often
surrounded by a thick band of reeds and herbs, or riddled with the native helix
vines that twist and intermingle as their spires rise high into the canopy.
Below the surface, the world changes drastically, yet retains the otherworldly
feel of the woods above. Here darkness is prevalent, and roots and the like
have created a system of tunnels and passageways that connect the upper
waters to the cool, dark
waters below. As the Drifting Woods is
effectively floating on a layer of roots and decayed plant remains, there is on
most places a large empty area, filled with
water, between the seabed and the lowest portions of the "ground". This is
the realm of the Nybelmer, and they seem to thrive in this hostile environment.
Many kinds of plants and wildlife are able to produce their own light here, and
during dark nights, one can gaze into some of the largest sinkholes on the
surface, only to see a different kind of stars moving through a sky of pure
As mentioned, the Drifting Woods form the most
northern part of the Moredein Kaerath on Nybelmar,
and are surrounded by these fertile plains on two sides. The northern border of
the forest is the vast ocean, while on the east the ever-changing woods share
an unstable border with the sheltered sea between the mainland of
Nybelmar and the Essalui Thareliath.
People. The Drifting
Woods harbour, contrary to what most people would think, two different tribes.
On the one hand, we find the spindly-limbed, tree-dwelling tribe of the
Ter'ei'Vikh humans, while on the other, we
might encounter the mysterious and secretive Nybelmer, who make their home in
the deep waters that form the very base of
most of the area.
The former of these tribes, the Ter'ei'Vikh, is the one a person would most
likely come into contact with whoever should enter the Drifting Woods. They man
the great Gates of M'aghin that seal off the river surface where the Methèrinin
river enters their woods, and it is there that they offer their goods for trade
to whatever brave merchant will take one of the available flat-bottomed
transport barges to barter with them.
The merfolk does not bother with anyone but
the Ter'ei'Vikh, and are rarely seen at the Gates, although rumour has it they
are present in and under the woods in great numbers.
Coat of Arms/Sign.
Although an official standard or banner does not exist, the Ter'ei'Vikh use a
symbol to identify their own goods that would most likely have caused some
upheaval with the Krean people of the
south, would they have been aware of it. It is clearly visible on the only
official entrance into the woods, the Gates of M'aghin, where it is carved into
the gate itself. This symbol consists of a circle-like pattern that is
strikingly similar to the Eye of Aniss that is worn by the most ancient of the
Krean, and can be found in the hair of
every adult Ter'ei'Vikh, where it is called the Mark of Vikthi. This circle then
is embraced by the intertwined branches of a tree with bare branches, and five
short, evenly spread out roots at its base.
Mythology. On the
origins of the Drifting Woods there are many tales. Some claim it was a place of
great magic in ages past, others say it was
once part of the Garden of the Gods. The following is the story of how it came
to be as its inhabitants, the Ter'ei'Vikh, would tell it:
On the Birth of the Vikhari, the Children of the
Moon. In the beginning, there was Nothing. And from Nothing
came the world. The world was empty, and the Earth King and the Ocean
Mother wandered lonely about their realms. They walked towards the shore,
and wondered what there could be on the other side.
After many ages, they both arrived at the same place, a tall rock that
sprang forth into the sea, and that was named Tevuri, the Silent Finger.
There, they first laid eyes upon eachother, and learned they were not
alone. And they leaned forward, and extended their hands. And when they
touched, they knew eachother, as they were one. And from this union came
forth creation, for when they released each other, there was a third
Spirit with them.
And the third Spirit spoke to the Earth and the Ocean, and it said
"Behold, for I am your offspring, and I am Vikthi, the Moon." And Earth
and Ocean looked upon him, and they knew his words to be true. But there
was no love between them, and their son did not bring joy into their
hearts, for their differences were too great.
And Earth turned to leave, speaking, "Leave then, Vikthi, for you are not
of my own!" And he raised his hand, and from the Earth sprang forth the
And Ocean looked at her son and said "Leave, Vikthi, for we are not meant
to be united, nor do I desire this. For you are not of my own. But as your
birthright, I give you the power to command my waves, unless I want it
not." And she raised her hand, and from the Seas sprang forth the Ocean
And Vikthi turned to the heavens and raised himself, and he was a shining
light in the night for all the Children to see.
But his Father would deny him this, for he desired that his Children would
see no Power but his own, and his heart was filled with anger. And with
this anger, Earth struck Vikthi, and his light was extinguished as he fell
from the heavens. But the Ocean had witnessed his fall, and it was her
cool embrace that he met, instead of the hard hands of his father. And
from the waves he came forth, his light weakened, but shining. And he
struck his father, the Earth, and so great was his anger, that he tore a
wound in its flesh.
And then he raised his voice, and called his mother's waves into the
wound, and a scar would remain on the earth forever, as they stopped the
fiery flows that were already healing the wound.
And Vikthi spoke to his father, and he said "Let this be your memory, so
that you do not forget that I am Vikthi, and that I will not be slain."
And at these words, trees sprang up around him, and Vikthi took from among
the Earth Children those that wept when the Earth had stricken him, and
named them the Vikhari, the Children of the Moon, and to them he entrusted
the care of the Woods, so that Earth would never forget the price he had
payed for his actions.
Climate. The local
climate of the Drifting Woods is somewhat mysterious. It is generally much
warmer that any of the surrounding areas, and the deep woods are always damp,
with the air feeling slightly warm to the
touch. It is thought that this is the result of one of the most unique lifeforms
of the area, the so-called Moss Mounds.
These Mounds, which indeed resemble great heaps of moss, seem to feed from deep
rifts in the seabed below the floating upper layers of the woods. As a result,
they spew forth, from great vents on their "back", large amounts of steam, and
jets of hot water can be found just below the
water surface. This, combined with the dense
canopy that keeps the resulting warm fog trapped within the forest, causes the
Drifting Woods to have an internal heat supply that makes the climate comparable
to that of the Southern jungles of, for instance, the
Krean and their neighbours.
The damp, foggy atmosphere within the woods may sometimes be displaced by
storms, often coming from the sea that surrounds these woods on two sides. This
causes a sharp decline in the otherwise fairly high temperature of the woods,
and urges man and beast alike to hide in either their homes and burrows, or
underwater. During the "winter" months, although winter as it is known in most
of Santharia has no grip on these woods, these
storms become more frequent. It is not until the month of the
Molten Ice that calmth once
again is restored, and the sea is tranquil again for the next seven or eighth
months. An interresting fact is that, while the storm season is at its heaviest,
it depletes the woods from its hot air. The
activity of the Moss Mounds appears to increase, for reasons unknown, with new
temporary vents opening to pour even more steam into the woods.
Flora. The flora is the
true treasure of the Drifting Woods. With an exuberant collection of trees,
shrubbery, flowers, herbs, and much more, they rival the
Krean jungles in diversity.
Particularly noteworthy is the fact this is the only place in
Nybelmar where the
pillar tree grows in large numbers,
and performs a vital role in the environment, protecting the structure of the
woods from being torn apart by the tides. Other common trees and plants include
the medicinal gunthreed, the tangleroot tree, the northern
keelo, and the helix vine, but also
smaller plants such as bubbleleaf and the beautiful shimmering orchid.
An interresting fact is that the Drifting Woods do not only provide a living
environment for these plants and trees, but that it is actually rooted in the
remains of their ancestors, held together by their roots, and thrives only
because of their leaves and fruits. Without the abundance of plantlife, these
woods would be quickly reduced to a few islands of floating matter, desperately
clinging to the remains of the pillar
trees, and slowly being torn apart by the sea.
It is perhaps because of this, that the Ter'ei'Vikh do not allow the Outsiders
to enter freely, as they fear that the uncontrolled cutting and harvesting of
their woods would be their undoing.
Fauna. As with the
flora, the Drifting Woods are teeming with life, which varies from the tiny
insects that are ever present throughout the woods, to the strange Moss
Children, and the dangerous Challachoy. The water
supports many kinds of fish, mollusks, and other such creatures, while the
forest is filled with insects, tree-dwelling animals of all shapes and sizes,
and many different kinds of birds.
Many species can be found in the Drifting Woods that can not be found anywhere
else in the world, such as the tunneling driftspider, that builds its web on a
self-made island, or the swimming monkey, and a great number of creatures that
are thought rare in other parts of Nybelmar are
common occupants of this secluded area.
Drifting Woods is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Blessed with
wood of all sorts, from the common
marsh-oak to the beautiful
waterfruit and the rare pillar tree,
wood is available in large amounts for many purposes. Also, a multitude of
fruits, herbs, and spices are there to be harvested, and combined with an
nigh-endless amount of fish, and many useful or edible creatures, so that food
is never a problem. In fact, it can be produced or gathered in such amounts,
that most of the trading done with the Outsiders or
Nybelmar involves the sale of various foods not available to them.
Mineral resources however, are frighteningly scarce. With ore and coal deposits
non-existent, and virtually no source of stone, the modern-day Drifting Woods is
always prepared to exchange exotic spices for items like steel knives and tin
plates. Although the merfolk have access to
the rocks and pebbles found on the seabed, quality materials are rare and as a
result there is no industry of this kind available in the area.
To compensate for the lack of mineral resources, the Ter'ei'Vikh craftsmen have
honed their woodcrafting skills to blissful heights, creating exquisitely
decorated wooden art, as well as high-quality everyday objects. It needs little
explaining that these items are in high demand among Outsider merchants, and and
are, next to raw wood and exotic food, the most important product exported by
the Drifting Woods.
a small band of researchers and explorers have been given permission to enter
the Drifting Woods, and go where few people have dared venture over the last two
score centuries. These brave men and women have been able to deliver valuable
information to the Compendium
in New-Santhala, which commissioned the mission. The following is the first page
of one of the researcher's personal diary. Unfortunately, the rest of the report
was lost during transport back to Santharia:
Sarvei of Bralkar, research log. 17 Breaking Ice, 1660.
Today we have entered the Drifting Woods. We arrived at the border of the
forest just before sunrise, and soon got aboard of the trader's ship,
which carried us into the dark tunnel of leaves that covers the river's
entrance. I was surprised to find that only a few hundred peds away, the
air seemed to change, and a warm, damp smell surrounded us.
Before any of us realised it, there were torches and voices all around us,
and the merchant men were busy tying the ship to the large pier, already
brimming with activity. As soon as everyone got their possessions on the
shore, I looked up for the first time, and my breath just stuck in my
throat. Before us, perhaps only a hundred peds or so away, were the two
most foreboding gates i could have imagined. Crafted from what seemed to
be living trees, and towering at least twenty peds up into the air, none
of us could help staring at them. I knew about the famous River Gates of
M'aghin off course, we have spent almost a month gathering all the
information we could from the local farmers, even the negotiator told us
about them, but i never imagined them to be this massive.
I was just asked to join the villagers for a communal meal, so I will have
to finish this tomorrow. Looking back on today, I can only assume we will
have a lot to write about very soon.