The Elves used to rule all of Aard ages ago, when the land was covered by massive forests. As the climate changed and the forest shrunk, so too did the influence of the Elves. Today, the elves living in the northwestern area of the world are composed of one of two groups, commonly referred to as Wood Elves or Grey Elves, respectively.
The Wood Elves live to the east of the capital of Illyria and south of the Far Ranges, and west of the Shacathi Princedoms. They are content to live in their forest for the most part, although they do engage in trade with the surrounding areas. The Wood Elves are ruled by one chosen from among their number, who is believed to be the wisest and most magically powerful among them, who rules until it is agreed that another is more deserving.
Wood Elves live in small family based communities scattered throughout the Elfwood. They support themselves through foraging and hunting. Most Wood Elves worship Naralune, a nature Goddess.
Domains: Animal, Plant, Protection
Naralune often appears as a female Wood Elf surrounded by animals. She emphasizes living respectfully with nature, and protecting it from those who would harm or destroy it. Her favored weapon is the longbow.
Not many non-Elves go into the Elfwood proper. Without a patron or escort of some sort, non-Elves discovered by a patrol will be given one chance to immediately exit the Elfwood under guard. If they refuse, the patrol will attack to subdue if possible, kill if not. The Elfwood itself is also reported to be confusing and disorienting to be in. Travelers, even those experienced woodsmen and the like, report being unable to navigate properly through the woods, seeming to find themselves walking in circles. The woods have thick tree cover overhead, yet the whole forest seems to be diffused with a slight
golden glow throughout. Everything appears hazy, and fast movement can cause one’s vision to swim and even fast disorienation, nausea, or passing out. Travelers also report finding themselves unable to concentrate on one task or line of thought, of flitting from one to the other, or even just unable to put together any kind of coherent thought. These effects are reported to start out relatively weak and increase over time. Whether they increase in strength due to how long one stays in the Elfwood, or whether it is due to them going deeper into the Elfwood, however, is uncertain, and the Elves aren’t saying.
The Elfwood is rumored to be home to many magical portals leading to other planes of existence, where inherently magical creatures often come through and live with the Elves. The Elfwood is inherently considered to be a magical place, and is believed to be inhabited by all manner of magical creatures and fey due to this. Travelers reported some encounters with fantastic creatures, although the details of these accounts vary widely.
Major features of the Elfwood include:
The River Daer: Beginning in the foothills of the Far Ranges to the north of the Elfwood, this river is not the largest in the world, but it is the largest in the Elfwood and runs north to south almost directly through the center of the Elfwood, exiting out into the Turbulent Ocean.
Sarsong: The seat of power of the Wood Elves, it is more of a monastery and place to meditate than it is a place to govern. Non-elves are not often invited here.
Goldleaf: Most non-elves will only visit Goldleaf, located along the banks of the Daer River when it exits into the Turbulent Ocean. It is named so for the species of tree which grows there, which has bark that looks like silver and leaves that look like gold, both appearing highly polished and shining. Goldleaf has an Elven population of 1000, and a non Elven population of 5000. The non-human population is mostly humans, with significant minorities of dwarves, halflings, and Shacathi.
The elven population of Goldleaf is primarily the city guard, what passes for Elven beauracracy, and those who work as merchants or traders. Elven craftsmanship is admired the world over for its being extremely light, yet sturdy, Elven so materials of all sorts are always in high demand. Goldleaf has a massive wall running around the whole city, even going over the Daer River, and appears to be made of one continuous piece of the hardest rock. The Wood Elves patrol this wall often, and also control access into and out of the city into the Elfwood proper. Elves are allowed free access into and out of the city, non-elves must have a patron of some sort to leave the city. Those who stay within the walls of Goldleaf are not bothered by the Elfwood’s disorienting effects.
The borders of the Elfwood are also patrolled by the Wood Elves, in small bands who ride giant stags as mounts, allowing them to cover large amounts of ground quickly, without having to use lots of people. The Illyrian Empire and the Wood Elves usually get along, so the western border of the Elfwood is not as heavily patrolled.
The eastern border is different. The Wood Elves have a long and bloody history with the Shacathi, and have constructed a series of fortresses along the eastern border, with many more guards and many more patrols being sent out here than to the west.