Elking Wood is a large forest enclosing the westward end of Andal. It hosts ash, beech, oak, and fir trees, alongside many types of shrubs and ferns. Among the undergrowth and on trees grow many different types of fungi: edible, deadly, and everything in between. Fungi are very common and are normally found in diverse clumps. In terms of animals, the forest is populated primarily by wolves and elk, but also by various birds, giant spiders, and a few basilisks.

A thousand years ago, a large and powerful elven kingdom lay over a large portion of the forest, ruled over by King Oeged Naaftet Oecheisev. In a fit of madness and lust for power, Oeged transformed himself into a shadow dragon and unwittingly unleashed a terrible corruption into the forest. This magic made lycantrhopes far more powerful and granted basilisks the ability to petrify any living creature with only a gaze.

The ruins of the kingdom can still be found throughout the forest. Some them are still inhabited and others are little more than rubble. Hints of roads may be found as well, all but covered by dirt and plants.

Inhabitants of Elking Wood

Elking Wood is inhabited by four distinct peoples: elves, gnomes, druids, and lycanthropes.

Elves

The elves who live in the Elking Wood are the only surviving remnants of the ancient elven kingdom, once ruled by King Oeged. The kingdom collapsed long enough ago that elves alive now have only heard stories of the kingdom and its fall from their grandparents or great-grandparents.

The elves live in small groups spread out through the forest. After the kingdom’s fall, werewolves and basilisks slowly wore away the people’s strength until they were forced to retreat to more defensible hideouts. Now they struggle day to day as their numbers slowly dwindle.

Gnomes

Gnomes have lived in the Elking Wood since long before the elven kingdom arose, and will likely continue to dwell there long after the last elf on the continent is dead. The gnomes have adapted to life under the Eclipse and have learned to use magic derived from plants and fungi rather than darkness. This gives them the ability to protect themselves from hostile creatures and cultivate nourishing crops. In the time of the elven kingdom it also helped them stay mostly hidden from elven law.

Druids

The druids of the forest are people of many different races who have taken the power of the Eclipse into their hearts and allowed it to shape them. A druid harnessing this dark power is known as Druid of the Eclipse. Though this power grants them many abilities, such as shapechanging and powerful magic, it also twists their desires and drives them to greed and hatred. Though they generally live alone or in pairs, there is a sort of community between some of the druids. They may provide help to each other in times of need, or offer food and shelter to another druid far from home.

Lycanthropes

The lycanthropes are the most individualistic of all the cultures in Elking Wood. They almost exclusively live alone, rarely communicate with one another, and compete fiercely for territory and resources. However, there are some common traits that most lycanthropes share. For example, when a humanoid is infected with lycanthropy, they generally become more direct and lose some of their ability to plan ahead. This leads to decisions favoring immediate gain, such as fighting and killing trespassers rather than asking too many questions.

Notable Individuals

Elking Wood is also home to two noteworthy individuals: Osazii, an ancient and powerful gnomish druid; and Minu’ive, an outcast elf prince infected with lycanthropy.

Osazii

Osazii is a Druid of the Eclipse who has been harnessing both the power of natural growth and the power of the Eclipse for over 8000 years. In his early life he was a great leader of gnomes deep in the forest, where Eclipses are longer and more potent. When Osazii knew he was near death, he traveled alone into the deepest and darkest parts of the forest to seek a way to extend his life. At the Noon-night Horizon, he found the power of the Eclipse and accepted it. Thus Osazii’s already impressive magical abilities increased tenfold, granting him near immortality. Osazii returned to his people, but they rejected him for his choices and did not believe that he had truly outmatched the corruption of the Eclipse.

When his people denounced him, Osazii nearly killed them for the insult; however, he realized that doing so would make him exactly what they said he would become. Knowing there was nothing he could do to prevent it, Osazii accepted his exile and returned to the loneliness of the forest, never to return. For 8000 years he has lived in and traveled the forest, claiming dominion over its lands.

Osazii has been across every acre of the Elking Wood, and knows all the names by which it is called in other parts of the world. He has come to know every type of plant, animal, and fungi that lives in it, as well as every culture and race. He knows many ways of traveling in the forest and appears in surprising places at unexpected times. You can never find Osazii; if your business with him is important enough, he will see that you meet him.

Minu’ive

Minu’ive Naaftet is the eldest son of Oeged Naaftet Oecheisev and Shilii Naaftet Anthia. He fled into the forest with his younger brother Ca’ive Naaftet when their father transformed himself into a shadow dragon and destroyed their kingdom.

In his youth, Minu’ive trained in the arts of diplomacy and fabric-weaving. His father, the king, personally trained him night after night to have a sharp mind and a confident air. He also showed him how to craft fabrics of almost impossible colors and textures, a skill which Oeged had a particular aptitude for. Ca’ive, on the other hand, studied the arts of literature and of the sword. He read the works of past and present writers and was praised for his elegant and thought-provoking poetry. Trained by his mother Shilii in combat, he was a very capable swordsman and a well-respected duelist.

As Minu’ive and Ca’ive grew older, they became more independent from their parents and began to engage in other activities. Together, encouraged by their parents’ official position on the matter, they studied magic and learned how to draw on the power of the Eclipse. They had only been practicing for less than a decade, however, when Oeged began his spell to transform himself into a shadow dragon. The brothers were not in the council chamber at the time, and did not believe what they heard from those who were fleeing. They hurried to the palace but did not reach it before the doors were sealed. They went to look for their mother Shilii, but in the chaos they could not find her.

In the following hours, basilisks, werewolves, and giant spiders appeared in the city and in the palace. Basilisks came out of hiding or hibernation, drawn by the surge of dark power; elves who had been using Eclipse magic for long enough were forced into monstrous forms; and hunting spiders grew to ten times their original size, large enough to attack even small groups. The people fled the city, into the forest or across the plains. Minu’ive and Ca’ive fled with a group into the forest, but they were attacked and scattered. Alone, they could hear nothing but distant cries with no direction, and completely lost their bearings in the darkness. All they had were the clothes on their backs and the sword at Ca’ive’s side.

They wandered, trying to find their way back to their people, but all the forest seemed unfamiliar and hostile. Just as they were about to stop for the night in a small clearing, a large basilisk stepped out from the undergrowth in front of them. It caught them by surprise and Ca’ive was unable to avert his gaze in time. Yet even as he began to turn to stone, he lunged forward and stabbed the basilisk in the head, killing it. Minu’ive tried to save his brother, but with his minimal magical training he failed. Ca’ive froze in place and never moved again.

Minu’ive wept for his lost brother and spent the rest of the night in that clearing. Had he recalled more of magical his teachings, though, he might have fled; for a basilisk is known to release the magic in its body when it dies. Sleeping near one, on such a dark night, would surely have an effect on Minu’ive. And indeed, when he awoke, he had been transformed into a werewolf.

Knowing he could no longer be with his people, Minu’ive resigned himself to his fate and began a life isolated from the world. Near the clearing that still holds the stone form of Ca’ive, he found a tall oak tree and constructed a small platform in its branches. He has now lived there for nearly a thousand years; his long life can likely be attributed to his lycanthropy, giving him increased strength and stamina, and to his diet, consisting mostly of hand-cultivated (and slightly magical) fungi.

During his isolation, Minu’ive has forgotten many things. He no longer remembers his own name or those of his parents, though he knows Ca’ive’s name and that he was his brother. He still goes to maintain Ca’ive’s stone form and keep it clean of vines but does not remember exactly why. He does not remember the elven kingdom or any other details of his past. His ability to communicate has also greatly deteriorated; all the diplomacy he once knew is gone and he has a hard time focusing on conversation. He talks to plants, fungi, and himself often and struggles to understand what people want from him.