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The Silent Forest (Edhellond)
Covering almost two and a half million square miles, Edhellond is the home of the Elves of the region.
The northern section of Edhellond is made up primarily of pine and fir trees, while the rest of the forest is a mixture of conifers and deciduous trees, such as mighty oaks and beech trees. The tree growth at the southern border of Edhellond with the Scorchlands is limited due to the lack of usable nutrients in the soil. The eastern border of the Silent Forest is relatively clear of tree growth, as these areas have been cultivated for crops.
Isolationist, militant, xenophobic, and suspicious, almost nothing is known about the Elves of Edhellond, known to non-Elves as the Silent Forest. Non-Elves are unwelcome and those that refuse to leave are found, eventually, outside the Forest, their bodies savaged and left as a warning to others.
Non-Elves do not know why the denizens of the Silent Forest have separated themselves from the rest of the world and those few Elves who are caught outside the forest will not answers questions about their history or their homeland even under threat of death. Only the most dire of circumstances will make an Elf divulge information.
The Elves believe that almost at the Prime Event of the universe, light was created and it spread throughout the heavens, bringing life to countless worlds. As the universe attempted to create balance, darkness was created as well. They believe that these two equal and opposing forces were found in Naraneus, who became the Dark Goddess of the Drow, and her twin sister Naneth, who would become the Mother Goddess of the Elves.
Many centuries ago, when the Silent Forest was still relatively young, the surface Elves and what would become known as the Drow lived together, but their increasing numbers were soon going to overwhelm what the forest could provide. Rather than the different factions descending into violence, their deities did in their stead.
According to the surface Elves, Naraneus began a campaign of war against her sister that was so continuous and all-consuming that when the now-divided groups came to blows, Naraneus ignored the pleas of the Drow to concentrate on her own battles. The Drow, in desperation, turned to other gods, but they didn’t answer the Drow either. The Elves showed no quarter as the Drow had begun the fight and the Drow were forced to flee. The Drow call this The Dismissal. The Elves call it The Banishing.
After nearly a thousand years, Naraneus broke off her war with Naneth and returned to the Drow, teaching them of the darkness that she represented. Naneth took time to reflect upon the activities of the past thousand years and began teaching her priests and priestesses that if the Elves could not trust their own kin, they couldn’t trust anyone outside their kin.
Trade relations with the Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes suddenly ceased. There was no response from envoys sent to the Elves. Even the Orcs had no relations with the Elves. The entire society retreated into Edhellond, turning solely to hunting and agriculture and forsaking any trade with any other races.
At first, diplomats from various races were simply rebuffed and told to leave the forest with very little information. As the other races sent bolder envoys to the Silent Forest, the envoys returned with even less information and more threats to stay out of Edhellond. Eventually, they stopped returning altogether.
Knowing that trusting the other races was all but impossible, but understanding that knowledge of the other races activities was important, Patriarch Celeion Taltaur sent some spies to infiltrate the Human and Orc communities and others to keep tabs on the other races. These spies are trained in the art of disguise and use every magical means available to them to remain hidden. These spies are replaced every few years, but they remain hidden within those communities and their information is invaluable.
Edhellond is a theocracy, ruled by a Matriarch or Patriarch. When the current ruler dies, every Cleric, Paladin, and Monk dedicated to Naneth goes into a weeklong meditation. Upon awaking, the member of the clergy that can perform a miracle determined to be from Naneth herself becomes the new Matriarch or Patriarch.
At the time the Matriarch or Patriarch assumes the throne, they select what is called the Warden. Upon death of the Matriarch or Patriarch, the Warden takes control of the throne until a miracle is produced.
The current leader, Haewel Birron, became the Matriarch when she brought rain to the fields of crops that border the eastern edge of the forest in a time of great drought. This was unusual because the rain came from inside the forest instead of from the sky. She is married to Arfindiel, an extremely gifted metalsmith who learned the trade from his ancestors, who learned from the Dwarves before the Banishing.
A Cleric of Naneth who could have become the Matriarch or Patriarch advises the ruler. The current advisor is Erilanwen, a militaristic Cleric of
Maethor Naneth (see Religion, below).
Every Matriarch or Patriarch keeps a Wizard or Sorcerer on his or her staff as well. This spellcaster is usually chosen by the advisor, but may be chosen by the ruler. The current spellcaster is Tacaeon.
There are no cities in Edhellond, though there are the remnants of some outposts that lay in ruins. The Elves learned early on that building structures, such as guard posts or even villages simply gives other races a place to establish a stronghold within the Silent Forest. There are hundreds of campgrounds that are used by the patrols within the Forest, but they contain no buildings and usually only a firepit and a place to pitch a tent if needed.
There is no capital, per se, of Edhellond. The closest approximation to a capital is Tal (pronounced tahl), which is a shrine to Naneth that is in the middle of Edhellond. Elven legend states that Naneth appeared to Sabarwen Haeelwa, the first Matriarch of the Elves, and told Sabarwen to begin settling an area around a extremely large maple tree. This area is surrounded by a group of treants who have sworn loyalty to the position of the Matriarch or Patriarch.
Specific patrols watch the borders between Edhellond and the Klavek Kingdom to the north, the Scorched Lands to the south, and the uncharted territories to the west. General patrols move throughout Edhellond on a regular basis.
Patrols through Edhellond consist of roughly a dozen warriors and contains at least one individual proficient in a few languages or that has the ability to cast the tongues spell. These patrols also keep a sharp eye out for any type of shape changing magic for something they can use to help their spies stay hidden.
Spellcasters in these patrols refrain from large, flashy spells, such as lightning bolt, and prefer to use spells like detect thoughts, cause fear, and most use mind-controlling magic to get invaders to leave and not return. They also use spells that alter memories to get invaders to forget anything they have seen, as well as certain psychoactive fungi that are grown near the sea where Edhellond borders the Scorched Lands.
Each patrol group has two members who carry horns, which are blown in the event of combat. This sound attracts Elves within hearing range. Two separate members of the party carry scrolls of sending, one of which is used at the same time the horns are blown. This scroll is used to contact the Matriarch and inform her of what is occurring, along with approximate position and the number of enemies.
When the Matriarch receives a sending, she alerts the Teu Circa, the Silver Sickles. If the number of enemies is large or battle turns quickly against the defenders, the Sickles will ride into battle upon permanently hasted dire boars. Each member of the Sickles wears a ring of sending to allow constant communication between the group and the Matriarch.
The Teu Circa (The Silver Sickles)
The Teu Circa are the personal bodyguards for the Matriarch and the internal police force for Edhellond. This group is made up of eleven members, one of each class. The leader of the Sickles, Tanna in this case, is always a Paladin of Naneth.
Each member of the Teu Circa owns a dire boar that that member raises from the birth of the boar to be a steed and companion. These boars are permanently hasted and have no fear of carrying their rider into battle. Under no circumstances will a boar of the Sickles carry any other rider.
Both boars and Sickles serve the Elven ruler until death.
Elves are monotheistic, worshipping a dual goddess, Naneth. Naneth has two faces that Elves will pray to, depending on their class or their situation. Naneth represents the warming, protective, maternal side of light as Asaya Naneth, the Leaf Mother, while also representing the harsh, destructive side of light as Maethor Naneth, the Warrior Mother.
Death in Edhellond is a somber event. As the Elves consider each other to be family, regardless of lineage, a death is almost always mourned forest wide. A death in Edhellond is treated with respect, but more so if the deceased was a member of the Teu Circa or an important member of Elven society. The most respect is reserved for the Matriarch or Patriarch.
The funereal rite of the Elves is called "returning to Mother." It involves wrapping the deceased in leaves, having the body blessed by the Matriarch or Patriarch, and buried beneath the roots of a tree. This allows the body's decomposition to assist the tree in growing, as the chemicals of the body are taken up by the tree.
When warfare was more common, the rite of blessing and burial was performed by the closest cleric or paladin of Naneth. As the clerics and paladins did not carry enough leaves to wrap bodies in, they pinned a single leaf to the garments of the deceased and buried them below he nearest tree when time permitted.
The current Matriarch of the Elves of the Silent Forest is Haewel Birron. As per Elven custom, when the previous rule, Patriarch Umiel Firwen, passed away, Haewel joined the other clerics, paladins, and monks in trying to bring forth a miracle to see whom the new leader would be. Haewel managed to conjure rain to bring water to the crops that border the eastern edge of the Silent Forest, but this rain came from inside the forest instead of the sky, marking her as the new ruler of Edhellond. What makes her more unusual is that she is just past middle age, making her the youngest Matriarch in recorded Elven history.
She is a potent healer, but tempers her healing abilities with common sense; if you are hurt during battle, she is the first to offer aid. However, if your injuries are your own doing from lack of forethought, she will have one of her clerics heal the most grievous wound, but leave the rest to heal on its own.
Matriarch Haewel is the daughter of a female Cleric of Maethor Naneth and a jeweler.
Tanna, Leader of the Tau Circa
Tanna was born in the southern portion of Edhellond to two clerics of Maethor Naneth. As she grew, she took to the teachings of her parents, but instead of simply worshipping Naneth, Tanna wanted to show others the glory of the Warrior Mother.
To do this, she trained as hard as she could, pushing herself past limits she wasn't aware she had, both physically and spiritually.
When Tanna was at her physical peak, she became the apprentice to Eenthi, the (then) leader of the Tau Circa. He taught her to trust her mind as well as her heart, teaching her the dirty tricks that other races use and how to counter them. He tempered her spirit with reality. He formed her into the woman she is today; tough, no-nonsense, and practical, but still filled with the wonder of Naneth.
She has an unwavering loyalty to Matriarch Birron, but places the safety of the Elven lands above even that of the Matriarch and will not hesitate to question decisions made at the throne.
Erilanwen, Advisor to the Matriarch
Erilanwen is the current advisor to Matriarch Birron and a Cleric of Maethor Naneth.
Born in Tal, Erilanwen was orphaned at age twenty-five when his parents we killed during a wild bear attack. Before this happened, both of his parents taught him the ways of Asaya Naneth. After the attack, his attitude changed and he found himself gravitation toward Maethor Naneth.
As he aged, he became a cleric of Maethor Naneth, but found that he retained some of his parents' teachings regarding Asaya Naneth. While he does still feel anger for his parents being killed, he has tried to find a balance between the two aspects of Naneth within himself. Although he is prone to anger-filled outbursts, he is also capable of great caring and empathy. He tries to lend these qualities in his advisement of the Matriarch.
Two things that Elves excel in are magic and art and foremost in Edhellond among goldsmiths is Arfindiel.
Arfindiel learned goldsmithing from his parents who in turn, learned it from time spent with the Dwarves before the Banishing and the closing of the Edhellian borders.
Born with a minor talent for magic, Arfindiel surpassed his parents in his talent for manipulating precious metals.
When he approached Haewel Birron, he brought to her what he considers his greatest work: a holy symbol of Naneth. The leaf is made of copper colored green, with the edges and veins of the leaf made of platinum. The arrow is made from pieces of one of Haewel's own arrows, the arrowhead made from pure gold and fletching made of silver. She carries it to this day as her own holy symbol.
Arfindiel stays out of the politics that his wife is engaged with. He prefers to stay out of the limelight and create new artistic pieces.
Tacaeon is young, barely into adulthood. His age and enthusiasm belies his sorcerous abilities.
His magic appeared to Tacaeon very early, as he was passing into his thirties. Instead of settling down with a tutor, of which there were many, Tacaeon's parents encouraged him to practice his own. He took to magic as the proverbial duck to water.
Tacaeon has a small workshop near Tal that he calls his "hutch." Inside, he is almost constantly experimenting, a sign indicating such is hung on the door of the hutch.
Haewel chose him as her advisor due to his age. As everyone around her has the experience of many years, most of them have lost Tacaeon's fresh, unadulterated view of the world.