Saturday, October 19, 2013

[Shiloft at a Glance] Mythrin Forest

Things are not always what they seem, and that is most certainly the case for one of Shiloft's darker peculiarities. Mythrin Forest sits just a day's ride north of Vellonae, nestled against the Falstaff Mountains and stretches very nearly to the Backbone. From a distance, it appears as though the nearby mountain range is casting an unnaturally dark shadow over the land... though even up close, things don't change all that much, I suppose.

The forest pines are of an unnatural color, and taking not three steps into their realm invites a kind of uncomfortable weight upon your shoulders, a subtle feeling of dread, and an icy chill that seems to have no right to be there—and it is certainly there throughout all seasons.

On that, you can trust me. I was fairly bored one year.

Scattered about the forest are abandoned towns and homesteads that have been overtaken by the ravenous wood. Homes are still filled with various odds and ends; there are still pictures hanging on some of the walls, child's toys tipped over on the floors, barrels of dust that were once filled with grain and rice. In some of these towns, it appears as though their denizens simply dropped whatever it was they were doing and walked away. Even amidst all the decay, these places impart the feeling that they've been relatively untouched by man. Preserved, with all their treasures still safe out in the open.

Moving from west to east through the forest, travel is difficult. Hills and rocky gullies are a constant, and any path you might hope to make towards your destination will be positively choked off by the trees and rabid overgrowth. Making camp anywhere in Mythrin will be an inconvenience, as even ground is painfully sparse.

You will have back pain the following morning, and you will hobble along through the rest of your journey, cursing at the wildlife and occasionally taking out your aggression on the nearest tree.

On that, you can trust me.

Two days on foot will bring you to the ravaged banks of the River Wild, which neatly parts the forest in two from north to south. Crossing it is nearly impossible without some kind of construct, as the waters spilling out of the Backbone of the World are far more aggressive here than anywhere else on their run to Lake Terim.

There are a few places here and there where one might be able to navigate a fallen tree or an outcropping of rocks to get to the opposite bank but, overall, I do not recommend any of these options. I very much recommend that anyone looking to cross the River Wild should make the hike further north to the last standing bridge over the raging waters, the name of which I have yet to ascertain. Much of the bridge has eroded away since its construction, and I hesitate to think it'll still yet stand in another few decades, but it is there, and it will carry you safely across to the other side.

I must lament that I only discovered this bridge after thrice attempting to cross a fallen tree, and thrice being carried away by the currents into very sharp rocks. I simply must lament.

Further east, the forest will grow darker and darker until even at high noon, it will feel as though the sun had set hours ago. The trees take on a twisted form here. The overgrowth remains, but most of it is dead and fragile to the touch. Animals bay and howl, and even I am unsure what creatures exist that could possibly make those noises. They are terrible to hear. I often conjure them in my nightmares and they never fail to rip me from a previously peaceful slumber.

It's here that one is able to glean the evil magics that run through the roots of Mythrin Forest, and that in itself is a suitable explanation for why so many towns tried to establish themselves in this region, and why none remain. It is the only explanation we have.

But to say that nothing good exists would not be true... It would almost be true, but not quite.
There exists a city within this blighted area of the Realm, which few outside its own citizens have explored. The Commonwealth of Mythrin Flats is densely populated by creatures who were once members of the race of man, but have now become something else entirely.

They are immortals, but before you even begin to find elation in that notion, know that their existence is a troubled one. They are immortal only in the sense that they must feed on the meat and blood of living creatures. Raw meat cut from a freshly slain beast is their preferred mode of sustenance these days, but this wasn't always so.

The vampires, as they are called, descend from the cursed bloodline of Nalina Vamperi: the First, the Fallen One, the Betrayer, the Oathbreaker—and other various titles which shouldn't be printed verbatim. It is enough to say the vampires of the present have no fondness for the First. Their curse is such a potent one that the very image of Nalina causes a physical reaction within a vampire.

Any who are afflicted with the curse have it forced upon them through malicious means, and vampire mutates in such a way that he or she can imbibe the blood of a human at an alarming rate, a matter of minutes if some reports are to be believed. Being unable to reproduce, conversion is the only way to increase their numbers. A victim has to be almost completely drained of their blood before they are afflicted by the curse and converted.

Up until thirty years ago [T.Y. 193], conversions were at an all time high. In Kanter, the Order was already beginning to formulate plans to escalate offensive measures against the vampires. This was until a cursed one calling himself Baron Arhen Tanreus was able to rein in the out-of-control creatures, taking them all into the darkened deeps of Mythrin Forest. It's unclear whether this was done forcibly, if there was any resistance, or if the transition was peaceful, but since then, not one vampire has been seen outside of the forest.

Though, rumors certainly exist that the cursed ones have broken the borders, they are unsubstantiated and likely the onset of an emerging urban myth.

Since then, the vampires have lived without incident in a reclaimed city that was abandoned by the Order at the turn of Antamur's Cycle [T.Y. 1]. They've stayed out of Shiloft's way, and regained control of their bloodlust.

Who can tell how they were able to accomplish this? Not me, for I resolved to give the city a wide berth. This is one instance where I felt not the least bit comfortable with continuing on for the sake of this journal. One instance; maybe not the first. I am an on-again, off-again coward, it must be said.

Mythrin Flats must remain undiscovered country for now, but perhaps there will be a group of braver adventurers—less prone to falling into rivers, mind you—who would be willing to break those borders and discover just how the Baron was able to bring order to an orderless species.

Perhapses and maybes. But I have a good feeling about the matter.

On that, you can trust me...

~Falren the Wanderer

P.S. - You can trust me because I have a divining orb. If I came off as sounding mysterious, I apologize.