Sea of Trees is a vast forest that lies around and about the base of The Great Mountain. The Great Mountain itself is the tallest peak in the region, a volcanic mountain (dormant for centuries) that reigns over the vast plain and much smaller mountains around around it.
The trees are deep and green. Mostly pines, through other kinds find a place here. The hills, near mountains, and ravines found in this forest are rocky and ice-covered annually. It has been claimed by local residents and visitors that the woods are host to numerous things of magic and spirit.
The forest floor consists primarily of volcanic rock and is difficult to penetrate with hand tools such as picks or shovels. There is only one road through the forest. It begins at The Court of the Crown and runs through the forest to The Shrine of Terisen. This two and a half day pilgrimage is - a hards days travel from the capital city if one does not have an entire court and military escort - is a religious obligation for The Crown.
There are places of great beauty in the Sea of Trees. Most notably are the Ice Cave and Wind Cave. They have trails and that lead to them (as do the others). Names are appropriate and descriptive. The Ice Cave is snow and ice filled all year long. The Wind Cave is known for the haunting whistling that comes from the constant flow of air out of the cave.
After the first kilometer or so into Sea of Trees towards Great Mountain or away from the Royal Road, the forest is in a much more pristine state, with little to no litter or obvious signs of human contact. The people who live on the edges of the forest do not go far into the forest. On some occasions human remains can be found in the distant reaches of the forest, but these are usually more than a few years old and consist of scattered bones and incomplete skeletons suggesting the presence of scavenging animals.
People are often lost in The Sea of Trees. Ghosts, imps, and dark spirits are said to waylay travelers. Some spirits do it for fun, others do it to lead them to their death. (Though there are a number of local folktales where the spirits lead people to parts of the forest for them to confront their darkest fear or greatest challange - all in the hope of teaching the person to "live on" and not join them in the shadowed ghost forest on the dead side of the Sea of Treees.) A popular story states that no compass will work in the Sea of Trees. This is true. There are magnetic iron deposits in the forest. If one is near such a place (or one of the lodestone mines) they will causes compasses to hopelessly malfunction causing travelers to get lost. Others say that the ghost of the place play with travelers. The dense trees, rough terrain, and lack of real roads, does make traveling throught The Sea quite daunting. It is easy to get turned around.
Many a traveler has told tales of being confronted by things beyond. Ghosts have been reported by many travelers here, including the High Prince Christen. Others claim the ghosts were more than mere ghosts. They claim occult creatures havs touched the living realm. More than things of myth, but actual monsters live in the forest. Some claim the remains of travelers ripped open in odd and terrifying ways are proof of these monsters. Others simply say they are over exagerations of animals that have feasted on the remains of dead lost travelers.
Those that live in the towns and villages just outside the Sea of Trees respect the forest. It is tradition here, dating back to the earliest times to be wary of the forest and to respects the Trees of Terisen. The locals seldom venture far into it, as it is quite rocky and dangerous. The bears and wolves here are not (very) afraid of men. There are easier ways to make a living than to cut wood, gather mushrooms, and so on in the forest.
The Sea of Trees is also known as the Forest of Tears. This comes mostly from the ancient and classic bardic tale of The Black Forest which ends with the lovers of the story committing suicide in the forest. The tale, being a classic, is widely told. It has been retold in hundreds of variations, turned into plays, written into a novel, and several songs.
Ribbons of the Tree is a popular fair song. If one listens it tells a poetic tale of how lovers are intertwined by fate and how they mark their love by leaving ribbons in trees. It is a lively tune. It is quite romantic and many a young girl has been enchanted by it.
Most do not hear the entire song, or listen carefully to all the poetic words. In fact, many bards do not sing all the refrains. Those that do hear the message that has echoed from The Story of The Black Forest: Love is strong, Love is eternal, and Death is preferable to life without your love.
Since there is a large population in a short traveling distance of The Sea of Trees, many a lover lost (lost the game of love, unable to marry the one they love, or are rejected) will make their way to the Sea of Trees to end their lives there "In the comforting presence of the powerful Great Mountain". In fact those who have lost the games of Honor have been known to "lose themselves" in the forest, rather than live on in disgrace.
Some say the ghosts assist those who come here, others tell tales of ghosts saving them from their fate. The truth is hard to tell given the number of tales about the Sea of Trees.
The high rate of suicide has led the local monastery to place stella with carved messages in the forest, urging those who have gone there specifically with the purpose of suicide in mind to seek out the monastery or anyone to help and not kill themselves.
The forest is home to other tales as well. People find "abandoned" here. Purses, horses, signet rings of rank, wagons, barrels of beer, have all been in various tales related to the forest. These tales give rise to the popular rumor that Sea of Tress is a treasure trove for scavengers.
The dense forest with its rugged inaccessibility, the chance of treasure or a brush with the occult, has also attracted the adventuring of thrill seekers. Many of these folks marked their traveled routes by leaving colored ribbons behind - a play on the ribbons of the lovers of the Dark Forest.
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