Lands of Warlderia

The Screaming Wood (Gor’Arnach) & Folly Wood

The wood was once part of the great forests that covered Warlderia in ancient times before the coming of the Elves and Orcs. Deep within lay a holy site of the old lore and the wood was one of great power and faith. When the Higher Races came to the lands the wood was taken by the Elves who were keen to explore its hidden mysteries but before they could do so properly war broke out with the neighbouring goblinoids

Until recently the best description of the wood came from the “Omnibus of the Mystifying Constituents of Warlderia” by the sage Máel Adelard,

“Years ago during the Higher Races wars a bitter conflict occurred between the Elves and Goblins over this forest. It lasted for a decade with the Elves often driving the goblins out of the woods into their tunnels in the bordering lands, but unable to finally defeat them.

 The Goblins always came back stronger coming out of new tunnels at night and seizing another foothold in the woods. No month went by without some skirmishes or a battle. Then suddenly in the tenth year the Goblins stopped coming forth. The Elves were suspicious, but after four months started relaxing their guard having a couple of watchers during the day and a larger force at night.

Unknown to them a Goblin Shaman had summoned and bound a being from another plane to aid them. This being united the tribes as never before, organised their forces and prepared a detailed plan of attack. After two months preparation the Goblins issued forth at midday during a storm quickly overwhelming the guards with the help of their ally. Caught unawares and unprepared the Elves were quickly overwhelmed being driven to either flee the wood or fall back to the defensive walls around their settlement.

Only through divinations and magic is the rest of the story known. As the Elves prepared to defend their home fighting assaults on their walls the final part of the enemies plan became apparent. Suddenly several holes appeared in the ground within the settlement and goblins poured for the on the rear of the defenders, during the four months the Goblins had been tunnelling through the wood and under the Elves defences. Facing the Goblin attacks on the walls and enemies within the defender fell swiftly. One of the last Elves to die was Aelion Ondosumé the Mage who with his last act cast a powerful curse on the enemy at the end shouting, “You will all die in this wood!”

The Goblins found that any who passed the boundaries of the wood immediately died. They tried to break the enchantment and failed. They consulted their ally who advised them that the boundaries would grow to cover saplings from the trees within the wood that grew outside the current boundaries. So they could expand their range, but it could not break the enchantment without being freed from the shaman’s bindings. Not trusting it they resisted to start with, but finally in desperation were persuaded to release it.

Roaring in triumph it immediately seized the shaman’s focus so that he would not be able to bind it again and proceed to enslave all the Goblins. Few have approached or entered the wood since and none are sure what is happening there. The tales tell of a demon haunted wood with live goblins encased in trees perpetually screaming in pain while their comrade stalk the woods with fearful expression using various contraptions to up route saplings and transplant them outside the boundaries to expand the domain. Many have seen unnatural creatures skirting the outskirts of the wood and there are rumours of the ally creating foul offspring with the goblins. What everyone agrees is that the wood is slowly growing and when you are near it you can hear the sounds of screams both day and night.

The Screaming Woods are also known in Elven as Gor’Arnach, the flowering terror.”

Since the time of the venerable Máel Adelard little changed until very recently. A group of adventurers including Lord Doulgas of Stonehaven, the famed wizard Arralun the Great, Sir Wulfram and the elf Daemegil Ainamir entered the wood. The band, often called the Gilded Blades, included the elf bard Galsitan and the soon to be Margrave of Harmonias Quellin. They penetrated in to the heart of the wood and found the tomb of the great Elf mage Aelion Ondosumé. Few are sure what happened but it is known that they entered the tomb and the party fell in to discord with Daemegil departing by himself. This is itself would be a footnote save for the repercussions; the centuries old curse was dispelled and the creatures of the forest set free.

The pent up hatred and the energies of centuries of confinement caused the goblinoids to explode upon the outside world. The humanoids surged forth and assaulted the fortress of Helgoforth, the temple to Heironeous at Glory Field and entered the Duchy of Everwatch where theBattle of Heroes’ Folly routed them. Undoubtedly fierce in their assaults the goblinoids were haphazard and disorganized and suffered for it. Though they inflicted pain and suffering on many they failed to conquer and ultimately were repulsed with those that could fleeing deep within the forest or, more commonly, in to the then humanoid dominated lands of Fallen Harmonias to the south.

In another turn of events the Druids of the Old Faith entered the forest and re-took their holy site. At the summer solstice they summoned their strength from all across Warlderia and cast great magics purifying much of the wood from the old taint of the Goblins and Elves. Details are indeed vague and the secretive druids are reluctant to clarify but the local ruler of Everwatch, Duchess Katalin, took part and won the loyalty of the druids and their followers. The Duchess subsequently lay claim to all of the woodland and renamed it Folly Wood. This was acknowledged by the court of the Divine Emperor, her loyal druids and the local neighboring rulers however most of the wood is still very wild and lacking in any control.

The woods are now a mixture of lingering goblinoid hold outs, fey ruins and the more common druidic influenced areas. Much is unexplored and the whereabouts of the demon of the woods is unknown, that is if he even still exists. At the heart of the wood is the Phoenix Tower next to the tomb of Aelion Ondosumé. It has been granted to the cleric Hakesh of Dalt and needs thoroughly exploring and clearing out before it can be settled. Hakesh is involved in other schemes in Harmonias and has not cleared the tower yet but is keen to do so.

Illustration: From The Battle for Wesnoth (http://www.wesnoth.org/) used under General Public License

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