Known throughout the North as
the home of the Kaaer’dár’shín
half-orcs, the Themed'lon Forests are a
territory rich in flora and fauna and steeped in ancient myth. The two forests
are composed of two large regions of heavily wooded areas located in the
southeastern part of the Northern Sarvonian
peninsula of Caael'heroth. These woods are home to the
Kaaer’dár’shín tribe and
provide the half-orcs with a home, a hunting
ground, and a center of worship. The woods' name stems from the
Styrásh term "Themanhe'lón" lit.
"Fortified Wood"), as it was home in ancient times for the Folkmore elves. Over
time, the name was later shortened to "Themed'lon".
The forests are believed by the Kaaer’dár’shín to be a sacred area to the Beastlord and thus are fiercely protected by the tribe. There are many mysteries surrounding the Themed'lon Forests, according to the few researchers who have visited it, as the forests are so tranquil and lush and very much active with many varieties of plant and animal life. The forests' half-orc inhabitants, hold that the woods are also cared for by living tree spirits they call the "Pafalka" (lit. "Wood-like-man").
Description. There are two regions of forested areas that make up the Themed'lon - the northern and the southern. Both areas are similar in their flora and fauna but also hold more than a few special areas sacred to the Kaaer’dár’shín.
Orpaz (lit. "North
The half-orcs call the northern most forest quite simply the "Orpaz" (lit. "North Woods"). It is a dense circular shaped area that sits at a higher elevation than the southern section. If approaching from any direction, one would find that the trees are loosely clustered with tall, thick tulmine trees with their heavy lower branches hanging low over the ground. This Orpaz sits between where the Kharim river splits southeast and southwest. Smaller streams branch off of the forks into the forest keeping the flora within lush and well watered.
Within the woods, one can find grand deciduous trees that tower high above one’s head. Many of the trees have thick trunks, some of them well over a ped in diameter. The entire forest gives off a sweet, lively scent of pine and fresh water. The trees’ branches are dense, yet leave many patches where sunlight can easily peek through. This gives the forest floor an open, well lit appearance. The forest floor is mostly smooth, rich soil with very few cliffs, boulders or outcroppings to make travel difficult. Cool winds from the gulfs blow through the forest whistling in the trees and carrying the sounds far.
Narrow paths made by the Kaaer’dár’shín branch all throughout the forest, albeit one can see that the paths rarely diverge and mostly lead to the waterfall. The tribe believes in leaving the woods as whole as possible except when taking the trees for the tribe's use.
The northern forest contains a large spectacular waterfall on the western border of the woods. As the Kharim river forks off, both slow moving forks wind south with the western river branch flowing for three strals before reaching a large outcropping of seven clustered boulders and falling down approximately twenty peds into a large basin. From the basin flow several smaller branches deep within the forest. The Kaaer’dár’shín call this waterfall the "Orl'y'rimbak" (lit. "North Waterfall") or "Orly" for short. Around the basin are clustered many dense growths of bushes and vines with the larger trees forming a border as the brush gets bigger. The water is very clean and clear and Kaaer’dár’shín myth holds that the "Bynapyrl", or "Water Sister" spirit, blesses the water with certain healing properties.
The Burial Grounds
Set deep within the northern woods, located roughly a half day walk from the waterfall is a special area of woods cleared of trees and shrubs. Small mounds of earth are ordered in precise rows with each mound built close together. The mounds are roughly the size of a half-orc. This is the tribe’s burial grounds. It is here that when a member of the tribe dies their physical body is buried in the waiting arms of the Earth Brother. The Kaaer’dár’shín hold that while the physical body is protected by the earth, the deceased’s spiritual body has rejoined the Beastlord to partake in the everlasting Hunt in the afterlife. No one who is not a tribal member is allowed to step foot in the burial grounds as the tribe considers it sacred to the Earth Brother. The exact location of the burial grounds is known only to few within the tribe.
Tulpaz (lit. "South
The "Tulpaz" (lit. "South Woods"), so called by the Kaaer’dár’shín, is longer and narrower than the northern part and is not as densely cluttered with deciduous trees. These woods have seen more use for logging by the Kaaer’dár’shín as their colony of Torik sits along the northeastern border of this area.
Upon first view, these woods are similar to its northern counterpart: very lush, heavy with abundant growth, and well watered due to the river tributaries that branch throughout. The woods run in a long section, northwest to southeast with small tree clusters along the southern half. The western branch of the Kharim river feeds this forest and has created another waterfall within although it is smaller than the northern waterfall.
As the western river branches south, its small tributaries touch the northern point and flow swiftly along the rocky bed. Once the river reaches the forest borders, it flows for about fifty peds where it falls through a dense cluster of tulmine trees down fifteen peds into a wider stream before branching out further. The Kaaer’dár’shín call this waterfall the "Tul'y'rim'bak" (lit. "South Waterfall") or "Tully" for short. Like its northern counterpart, this forest is alive with sweet smells of flowers and pine and the fresh smell of the streams running through it.
Underneath the waterfall, dug deep within the cliff face, is a large collection of caves that holds one of the Kaaer’dár’shín worshipping areas. The caves were carved from the rock by the waterfall and basin and form a large room with three adjoining rooms off of it. The cave walls are smooth and slick with a thin layer of moss with the floor damp with water. The main room is used by the tribal shamuts when seeking guidance from the water spirits while the adjacent rooms are typically unused.
Along various points of the stream can be found special fishing cairns where some small and medium sized boulders are clustered. These provide some good elevation and sitting areas for the half-orcs to fish from. A fisherman can set up a place to sit atop a rock or outcropping and drop a fishing line in the clear, cool stream. Usually, fishing at these places where the most fish tend to dwell brings a good catch for the fisherman and provides a good source of food for the tribe.
The Grove of the Earth
Hidden deep within the center of the southern woods is an area where some very special trees grow. Known only to a few of the tribe’s shamuts, the Grove of the Earth Brother is said to be home to several "Pafalka", or “Wood-like-men”. The shamuts make yearly pilgrimages to the grove to meditate and to seek guidance from the Beastlord. By being close to the Earth Brother and his Pafalka children, the shamut can receive special guiding visions that aid in the direction of the tribe.
While no one outside of the tribe can probably ever know what kind of Pafalka live within the grove, the researcher Azhira Styralias believes that the Pafalka are possibly drasil, or memory trees, that the shamut mentally communes with. The Pafalka shares its memories with the shamut and the shamut believes them to be visions from the Earth Brother. No outsider has ever witnessed this remarkable occasion as the shamuts refuse to speak of it to outsiders.
The Injerín elf ranger Saryas Kelweather noted in his journals the surprising absence of dead or dying flora within the Themed'lon. Kelweather was one of few outsiders allowed within the Kaaer’dár’shín homeland and is considered by the tribe to be a friend. He described the forest as follows:
"My Kaaer’dár’shín guides took me within the forest range where I was immediately overwhelmed by the savour of sweet nature. The tree bark, the stones, the mosses and grasses all seemed to move and watch me. It was as if my very senses were opened fully and the sensations of the forest came alive. Never did I fear for my safety, for the sun's rays shone brightly all around through the tree canopy above. It was as if the forest floor moved to grasp the sunlight wherever it was. I am accustomed to forests having lived and studied them for my entire life, however, the Themed'lon is unique in that there is very little dead or dying flora anywhere. Everywhere I looked was alive and green and lush. No dead stumps of trees, no brown and withered bushes and certainly no dead animals. The Themed'lon takes care of itself well."
Location. The Themed'lon is located in the south eastern section of Caael'heroth in Northern Sarvonian. The Themed'lon and the Wood Forest to its south guard the entrance path up into the peninsula. The woods lie along a wide bridge of land between where the Kharim river splits and flows into the two gulfs to the east and west. To the north are the Heaths of Eph'denn, the Colony of Eph'denn, and to the west is the Kaaer’dár’shín fishing village of Anif. Surrounding the forest is flat tundra of brush grass and small trees.
People. The forests'
main inhabitants are the people of the Kaaer’dár’shín
tribe. They were once a single large group of former
Kuglimz exiles and criminals who were
forced to march out of the main Kuglimz
lands before the Third Sarvonian War. These exiles were threatened into never
returning to their homeland or face death so they set out to find their own
colony to settle. They ventured northeast, to Caael'heroth, where they first
encountered a lush, dense forested region that was positioned between two rivers
running southwest and southeast. By using the forests' natural resources and the
rivers and gulfs for fishing, the former
Kuglimz realized that they had found their new home.
The Kaaer’dár’shín live primarily along the eastern side of the southern forest and the southern side of the northern forest. Their main colony, Torik (lit. "Home") lies between the two areas of forest. The Kaaer’dár’shín use the woods for functional purposes - wood for homes and bromers; food, as there exists a large variety of boar and wolverines within, and as a spiritual center of nature where the tribe believes that the Great Spirit resides within the forest, watching and protecting.
The tribe knows the forest well, having lived and explored the area extensively over the years. Although most of the tribe's homes are along the forest borders, there are some living within the forest itself. Many areas within the woods have been opened up and spread out allowing many bromers to be erected under the canopy of trees. Hunters and loggers who have lived and worked within the forest for most of their lives are well skilled in tracking and forging new trails within the forest. Each day before a hunter embarks on a hunt for woolly boar or to fish in the streams and basins, the shamuts must perform a short ritual or blessing and protection, not for the hunters, but for the forest.
A long held and deeply respected belief holds that the forest is home to the Pafalka and that they must be appeased before anything within is killed or taken. Legends tell of an age old mystical connection between the half-orc shamuts and the forest; a sort of understanding between them. The exact nature of this connection is unknown, but failure to heed the words of the shamut will result in the death of the hunter, but not by the tribe’s hands, but by the Pafalka themselves.
Climate. The climate in and around the forest is breezy and cold during the winter months but mild and warm during the spring and summer. Frequent rains in the spring are swept in from the gulfs and often in winter the forest is blanketed in snow.
Spring and summer are the best times to find the forest in all of its glory. The flora is alive and green making hiking throughout a pleasant and uplifting experience. Fall finds the forest a bit colder, with the trees' leaves turning many bright colours as the entire forest becomes littered with them. A near constant dropping of leaves makes the forest difficult to see through as usually one can see far inside the depths if at the right angle. Winter is quite cold with the forest under heavy snowfall and waterfalls and streams slowed with ice forming upon the surface.
Flora. Deciduous trees, such as the tulmine, grow in abundance within the Themed'lon and make up the majority of the tree life. These trees function as the main source of wood making material for the Kaaer’dár’shín so logging is heavy in the eastern and northern areas nearest to the colony. Arvins cedar trees are the second most abundant tree type within the Themed'lon growing in dense groups mostly in the northern areas closer to where the Kharim river splits. The Arvins cedar is also found growing high around both of the forest's waterfalls.
Other flora includes the blackmoss, known to grow along the forest borders. The blackmoss ink is used as body paint when mixed with a thin layer of sap. The tribe makes use of the mutnut and redberry bushes as food. Although they are primarily meat eaters, the tribe harvests the mutnut and berries year-round.
Surrounding the forest in the hilly plains is alth'ho grass. This grass provides excellent grazing for the tribe's Landesh ponies and woolly boar. The grass grows all the way up to the forest borders and beyond south to the Imlith Mountain range and north to the heaths.
The people of the Kaaer’dár’shín make use of the wolf willow that grows in several smaller clusters in the area of land between the north and south sections of the Themed'lon. The willows also take advantage of the small tributaries from the Kharim. The willow's branches provide a stable type of rope used in the making of the bromers.
One important bush that grows in certain areas of the western edge of the Themed'lon is the juk'lan. The leaves, when mixed with waterberries, provide a means of controlling the symptoms of ghun'tlor disease by helping keep the fatigue at bay. The mixture, known as juk'lan tea, helps control the fatigue and hallucinations associated with the orcen disease.
Fauna. The Themed'lon is alive with many types of animals. The Kaaer’dár’shín have come to rely on the forest as an ample hunting area where they can hunt woolly boar and catch fish from the rivers and basins. The woolly boar has found a home within the forest borders often grazing on the alth'ho grass and waterberry bushes.
The wolverine makes a home here and is hunted by the Kaaer’dár’shín for its thick and rich pelts. Wolverine dens are found all over the western and southern sides of both regions, where the wolverines themselves can be found hunting and feeding on the mice and leveret rabbits.
The Kaaer’dár’shín revere other certain animals within the forest and consider them unique in that they believe certain powerful guardian spirits dwell within them. The wood owl, for example, is believed to be a spirit of watchfulness, all seeing with their large eyes. The nue'mon bird makes several roosts along the northern edge of the forest preferring the slightly colder winds that blow in from the gulf. Only recently has the mathmoor ground bird been seen around the northern waterfall. The mathmoor arrive in late spring to mate and disappear north again before winter.
Other small birds and furred beasts inhabit the forest, from deer to the prickly pig. Hargive deer roam the plains around the forest sometimes coming within the borders to drink from the cool flowing creeks. A pair of toran eagles have made the forest their home and can be seen frequently flying high above the tallest tulmine trees searching for scuttling prey upon the ground.
Fish include the Northern lysh and the mithralfish. Both fish serve as food for the Kaaer’dár’shín and for the other predators of the region. The southern waterfall and basin are the lysh's spawning area and every year a large amount of the fish can be found there.
Resources. The forest contains many resources, all of which have been taken advantage of by the local Kaaer’dár’shín, for food and building materials. The tulmine trees, mutnut and redberry bushes are all essential to the tribe's well being. The fresh water that runs all through the forests is used by the fauna as well as the fish therein.
The forest contains few mineral resources. Ore and coal deposits are non-existent and sources of large stone can be found in only a few areas around the waterfalls while settling underneath the water is a thick bed of gravel and smaller stones. Some of the more illustrious stones are often used as clothing decorations by the Kaaer’dár’shín women.
Myth/Lore. The Kaaer’dár’shín are a nature-centric people and know that their forest home is not only alive, but it watches and protects itself. To an outsider, these stories of walking trees and bushes that watch every move made within sound like stories told to children. However, the half-orcs know from long experience that the Themed'lon really is home to many plants whose desire is to protect their home. Stories abound within the tribe that several of the tallest, oldest tulmine trees are capable of literally walking about the forest looking for and healing sick plants and animals. On more than one occasion has a wounded warrior emerged from a hunt to proclaim that he was near death only to be healed by a magical bush or be taken into a secret grove by trees to recover. Many researchers believe that these guardians are in fact the mystical pendrowe. The Kaaer’dár’shín call these beings the "Pafalka" (lit. "Wood-like-man") and recognize them for what they are - living guardians of the forest to be respected, revered and even feared.
In recognizing the forest's need to regrow as the tribe makes use of it, the shamuts are believed to have entered a sacred pact beginning with the shamut Kulk'bek in 1200 a.S. According to the stories passed down over the generations, Kulk'bek discovered a group of pendrowe and claimed to have communicated with it. It is said that he promised the tree guardians that his people would re-plant every year to replenish the trees cut down for the people's use. Ever since, the Kaaer’dár’shín regularly replant and tend to groves of new trees. Every Kaaer’dár’shín child born is taught to respect the forest and its ways.