THE DRIFTING WOODS (SAR'ESTVOKAR, PHD'LN)

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - COAT OF ARMS - MYTHOLOGY
CLIMATE -
FLORA - FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE - HISTORY

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.

Description. The 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 black. Return to the top


Location. 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. Return to the top

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 Methrinin 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. Return to the top

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. Return to the top

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 Earth People.

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 Children.

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.
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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. Return to the top

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. Return to the top

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. Return to the top

Resources. The 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. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Recently, 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.


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HISTORY OF THE DRIFTING WOODS
(YEARS 9.500 B.S. UNTIL TODAY)
THE ERA OF CATACLYSM
(YEARS 9.500 B.S. UNTIL 8.500 B.S.)
9500 b.S.
to 9000 b.S.
Forming of the Drifting Woods
During the War of the Chosen, Menemron's fury destroys most of western Nybelmar. The Drifting Woods are formed in its wake.

THE AGE OF MYTHS
(YEARS 3.400 B.S. UNTIL 1.655 B.S.)
3000 b.S. Vikhari enter the Drifting Woods
The first Vikhari enter the woods. Over time, they learn how to survive without outside help.
  

2500 b.S. The Sealing Off of the Drifting Woods
The Vikhari seal the woods off from the outsiders and hide. During this period, the Nybelmer either enter the woods, choose to reveal their presence.
  

ca. 1800 b.S. Assault on the Drifting Woods
Enticed by a semi-religious myth that declares the Vikhari as profane beings, the tribes of the Kaerathi Plains assault the Drifting Woods. The Vikhari defend themselves bravely, but their lack of numbers is not outweighed by their knowledge of the woods. Slowly, they are whittled down as the Outsiders are able to occupy parts of the Woods. The tide is turned when the Nybelmer begin to interfere, and offer a pact to the Vikhari. Merfolk assassins and Vikhari hunter, both sides strenghtened by materials provided by the other tribe, quickly begin to sow panic amongst the invaders. Within a few years the original borders are restored.
  

1750 b.S. The Root Pact Peace
The Vikhari-Nybelmer pact is officialised, and the peace of the Root Pact begins. Limited trade is made possible between the tribes.
  

ca. 1660 b.S. Krean Exiles in the Drifting Woods
The Exiles of Krean arrive, and are allowed to take up residence within the woods. After a difficult start due to the general distrust against Outsiders the Vikhari display, the Krean influence on Vikhari society is enormous, and the overall level of civilisation increases greatly.

THE AGE OF AWAKENING
(YEARS 1.655 B.S. UNTIL 822 B.S.)
1649 b.S. The Year of Vikthi
The Year of Vikthi, during which the Moon is the main source of light in the sky, has devastating results on the woods. The Vikhari abandon their outposts and concentrate all their people in a temporary settlement around the Three, at that time the three largest Moss Mounds in the area. While the Vikhari are nonetheless decimated, under the now ice-covered surface the Merfolk lose at least half of their population. Only its exceptional geology prevents the Drifting Woods from freezing to death completely, and many a species that has been annihilated everywhere else during these difficult times manages to survive here.

THE AGE OF THE BLOOD
(YEARS 822 B.S. UNTIL 50 B.S.)
ca. 700 b.S. The Ter'ei'Vikh in the Drifting Woods
The Krean no longer exist as a separate group, instead the Ter'ei'Vikh have come into existence. The pure Vikhari and Krean bloodlines are gone forever.

THE AGE OF CHANGE
(YEARS 50 B.S. UNTIL 172 A.S.)
ca. 50 b.S. The Vikhari trade with the Nybelmer
Open trade begins with the Nybelmer after the Great Wave destroys much of both tribes's homes and possessions.
  

ca. 75 Construction of Mn'ti, the Drifting Woods Capital
The first parts of Mn'ti, the current human capital of the Drifting Woods, are constructed. It will continue to grow, and be renovated, continuously from this point on. The Nybelmer follow the Ter'ei'Vikh example and create a similar settlement beneath sinkholes in the lake of Mn'ti, possibly with the assistance of Ter'ei'Vikh magic.

THE ERA OF THE SOUTHERN WARS
(YEARS 825 A.S. UNTIL 1.062 A.S.)
ca. 1.000 Outsiders speak to the Vikhari
Emissaries from the Outsiders are allowed to speak with the Council. Although the Drifting Woods are still forbidden terrain to them, Outsider trespassers are no longer hunted down and killed, but forcefully removed from the woods. However, Ter'ei'Vikh humour dictates that they are usually released a few hundred strals for their homes.

THE AGE OF HAVOC
(YEARS 1.440 A.S. UNTIL 1.540 A.S.)
ca. 1.500 Vikhari trade with Outsiders
The Gates of M'aghin are built, and open trade with the Outsiders commences. The Ter'ei'Vikh flourish as they have rarely done before, and their population increases greatly.

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 Date of last edit 22nd Frozen Rivers 1666 a.S.

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