The Dork Circus
Great Wildwood Forest
The Great Wildwood Forest is the southern natural boundary for the Kingdom of Northrend. Only two main roads lead through it, the King’s Road and Merrick’s Cross. Caravans must hire guards to travel with them in order to insure their ware’s safety, for the forest is home to all sorts of creature that could threaten the kingdom, including wild vampires and dangerous owlbears. The Wildwood contains many interesting locations, such as Draigdurroch’s Tower, the Silver Tower, and the Unicorn Fountain.
Even from a distance, the forest radiates malevolence. The dense trees crowd together, creating a tightly woven canopy that allows no better than a murky gloom even under the noonday sun. At night, tittering laughter echoes through the woods and the glow of blue or yellow lantern light drifts between the trees.
The forest’s sinister reputation deters intrusions by commoners and encourages it among bandits and criminals. Vampires and worse lurk at the forest’s edge, and mercenaries and the militia categorically refuse to enter the woods. Too many expeditions have disappeared within its reaches, and in many cases criminals and humanoids that seek shelter in it are never heard of again.
While few willingly enter the forest, it does have its lures for adventurers. According to the stories, the forest was once the domain of an eladrin lord name Kayereth. In the ancient days, Kayereth’s realm was a verdant land where the fey danced under sun and moon in an endless revel. Fruit and berries grew throughout the forest, feeding all without need for work.
Sadly, a realm as verdant and wondrous as Kayereth’s could not survive unnoticed. A vampire lord named Belos saw that, with the correct series of rituals, he could drain the life from the entire forest and make himself as mighty as a god. He and his army of vampires, skeletons, and wraiths descended upon the forest.
The fey fought the undead, but Belos’s power was so great that he first blotted out the sun and then laid a curse upon the land. Each fallen fey sprang back up as an undead beast. Soon, Kayereth and his followers were on the verge of defeat.
With his options exhausted, Kayereth invoked a terrible spell. He called forth the spirits of the living dead, drawing out their hunger and wrath. While many of the undead collapsed into rotting shells, Kayereth’s spell did little to stem the tide of Belos’s invading army. The necromancer’s laughter echoed across the forest.
But Belos soon learned the true nature of the spell. Kayereth did not seek to destroy the army. Instead, he merely sought hateful, ravenous spirits to cast within the trees of his beautiful forest. In an instant, the trees transformed to gnarled and twisted shapes. The canopy of the forest wove a sky blacker than midnight. The ground churned with roots that reached forth to grab the living dead, dragging them into the earth and entombing them forever.
None can say what happened next. The roll of history makes no further mention of Kayereth or Belos. The Wildwood Forest remains, though, a timeless memorial of their great battle.
(story stolen from Mike Mearls’ Skill Challenges collumn)