Sunday, August 17, 2014

[Lore] XXX: Gloamwood

     Gloamwood is the sister forest to Silverwood, and once was jus as sacred and shining a wonder of Telara as Silverwood still is. Unfortunately, it had fallen to darkness and evil over time, like a simmering surface beneath the crust waiting for the opportune moment to explode. That opportunity was the weakening of the Ward and the release of the death rifts at Thedeor and Port Scion. After that fateful day, death rifts sprang up all over the old country and the newly created Guardians were hard pressed to defend their own lands, let alone send out reinforcements for the other various regions of Telara. It wasn't until they were able to bring some semblance of order and victory to Silverwood and others that they turned their eyes to the farther reaches of the Mathosian continent. By then it was too late, Gloamwood had already succumbed to the evils of the rifts. The protectors of the wood, Laria and her sister Delilah-daughters of Athana, and from a long line of Druids-stood against the planar abominations for as long as they could until, tragically, Laria was killed by riftspawn. In fury and grief, Delilah struck out at any she thought were to blame for her beloved sister's death. This included the people of Gloamwood, who she felt did nothing to aid the sisters in their quest to protect the wood. She was a mage who dealt in dark magic herself and swore revenge upon the people of Gloamwood in retaliation for her sister's death, not knowing that she herself was falling further into the grasp of Regulos, master of the plane of death. At one point, Delilah fell so far into the clutches of death magic that it twisted her features into that of an old crone to reflect the evil of her spirit. And thus she became known as the Hag to the people of the wood, and her curses and hexes became well known afflictions. The people of Gloamwood Pines, fearing further retribution from the powerful sorceress, refused aid from the Guardians and the Sanctuary Guard sent from Sanctum to secure the forest. They believed that outside interference would only make their own situation worse, and they refused to co operate. As well, they hid the dark secret of one curse in particular, the curse of lycanthropy, which turned the innocent citizens of Gloamwood into mindless, ravening werewolves if triggered.
     Another such curse is the one that haunts the Solemn family and their estate. Their once proud line can be easily traced back to the founding fathers of Gloamwood Pines. Yet what is not clear is how their family became cursed with undeath. Whenever one of the Solemn family dies, their spirit does not pass into the Soulstream like all other souls in Telara, but instead becomes bound to the Solemn family estate. As time passes, they degenerate into mindless spirits that wander those hills for eternity. Yet others of the clan have returned as vengeful specters, exacting their hatred on any who trespass on family land.

      Furtho Dragomir warns any Ascended who venture into Gloamwood "Lately I've had my hands full trying to quell disturbances that outsiders such as you have brought to my fair town. So this is a fair warning: Tread carefully in these woods, for they have a way of dealing with troublesome folk."
     Gloamwood Pines was once the jewel of the wood, but now it serves as a lone refuge from the horrors that assault it each day. The small military presense in Gloamwood has been relegated to a spot far outside of town, as the townfolk refuse to allow Sanctum so much sway over their home. They believe it will incite the goblins into a full scale attack on the town.

     Sun dappled Silverwood can lure newly returned Ascended into a false confidence that while creatures of the rifts are fearsome, they can be stopped before they wreak havoc on Telara. But na├»ve heroes see the havoc first hand when their quests lead them deep into Gloamwood. For this is a deeper, darker forest, where corruption from the planes rises from deep underground to poison trees and communities at the root. Guardians traveling to Gloamwood find themselves surrounded by lank trees, white of root with pale green trunks and mostly bare of leaves. The Shade still lingers here and the sun rarely peeks into the misted sky which is jaundiced yellow by day and bruised red by night, an endless twilight that gives Gloamwood its name. The soil here is wet and black, and sometimes bears the footprints of sinister creatures that creep beneath the foliage. The proud and ancient forest that stood against the ravages of time with its loving protectors has at last fallen to the evils of the planes and their ilk.
     The Grove of the Ancients was once a beautiful section of the forest, old and forgiving. Now it is a place of great evil, filled with goblins that rend flesh from bone and treants that choke the very essence out of unsuspecting victims. The treants no longer come to the grove to die peacefully, they come to deal out vengeance for the wrongs they feel have been struck against their forest.
     Gnarlwood Post is the first small camp one will encounter when entering past the gates that lead into the dark wood. Waykeeper Rastin stands by the road in the darkness of the path, dealing out warnings to unwary travelers trying to prove themselves brave adventurers. The post is a small trader's camp constructed by what scraps of canvas and supplies they can scavenge.

     If one can make it through the trials of this part of the forest and wishes to go deeper, they must first contend with the spiders of Silkweb Pass, where limbs can become tangled in sticky webbing faster than you could say "Ascended". Giant spiders skitter along the webbing, pouncing on travelers in venomous packs. Tales tell the story of the legendary broodmother, an old, hideously bloated spider matriarch who has been so twisted by the energies of the Shade that she has grown to twice the size of any spider in Gloamwood. A traveler might catch a glimpse of shine off her enormous carapace before a stinger as long as a sword spears through his back.

     Perhaps the most unfriendly of all the places in Gloamwood is its only town, Gloamwood Pines, slouched in the heart of the wood and full of several generations of Mathosian peoples who settled in the wood long ago. They are so terrified of what lies outside the edges of the town that they are immediately suspicious of any newcomers to the village and will gladly try to run any unwary adventurer out of town. Grisly murders have long plagued Gloamwood Pines, and though all evidence points to some huge and powerful beast in the gloom, no amount of culling of the local predators has stopped the killer. Villagers also spread horrified whispers of a Hag who lives in Deepwood Cottage. She was old when the toothless grandfathers were but boys, toiling over her curses or peering out at the woods with milky eyes visible through a slit in the curtains. Some say the Hag and Gloamwood are one and you might be tempted to believe it when you see the knotted shadows grasp at the trees. Granitewood Crossing holds only a few tattered remains as evidence that it was once home to a once vibrant and lively community.

     Civilized folk work hard to keep the goblins in check but the vicious little creatures have recently grown bold, spreading through the wood and attacking even armed patrols. The goblins are sometimes bigger and stronger then usual and mad with bloodlust, goaded by their Gedlo leaders into greater ferocity.

     Unmarked gray stones as high as men stand in the forest, arranged into impossible formation. They have lurked in their clearing for centuries, radiating a forgotten, sinister purpose. The goblins have infested these standing stones, lashing out at anyone who comes to close. The goblins built their city in the drainage system of Shadefallen Keep, expanding it with their own crude tunnels and gauging ever deeper into the ground. Adventurers bold and foolish enough to invade these Darkening Deeps might find the source of the goblins' newfound aggression, rescue villagers from Gloamwood Pines, or meet their end in a storm of fire and claw. A stately mill once funneled resources from Gloamwood to Mathosian markets in Port Scion long ago, until it too fell to the corruption of the Shade. Arisen from their graves or shambling from death rifts, the undead horrors overrun the mill and slaughtered its workers. Brave entrepreneurs talk about mounting an expedition to reclaim the precious mill but until then, only the rattle of bone and the creak of a disused millwheel can be heard from the old Mathosian Mill. Shadefallen Keep has changed hands repeatedly during the Shade War.

Some Quotes from the people of Gloamwood:
  1. Waykeeper Freden says "I am one of the watchers of the road in Gloamwood. The Waykeepers must make sure the horrors of the gloam stay in the shadows. It is my honor to defend the people of Gloamwood Pines, but I'm not about to go running off the path into the forest to save some inept foolish outsider who steps into a barghest den."
  2. Marshal Oakheart of the Sanctuary Guard says "I am Johan Oakheart, paladin of the Vigil, reborn to serve their will just as you were. I command the Sanctum's military force in this region, the 8th Sanctuary Guards. One does not need to be reborn by the gods to serve the glory of their will. The Sanctuary Guards are ordinary men and women who have chosen to defend the will of the gods with force of arms, placing their mortal lives on the line.
  3. Sergeant Faid says" Are you here to talk or help? Gloamwood is in need of order. We've established our main camp here in Silkwood Pass because the Burgher of Gloamwood Pines, Furtho Dragomir, doesn't want a military presense close to his town. You'll find the people of the wood superstitious lot, untrusting of outsiders. It's made it difficult to render them aid. Right now, the war with the goblins to the north is hindered by the lack of support from the Gloamwood Pines council. The sooner people realize we're here to help, the sooner we can win this fight."

References: Well some parts of this post were taken directly from Trion's lore page on Gloamwood that they used to have set up on their website. I have no idea where it is now. Much more of this information was gleaned from doing quests. I just wrote down notes as I went along to later re-write into an actual summary. Some questions I have about the lore though are: How long ago did Laria and Delilah live before Laria's death? Was it recent, during the Shade War 20 years ago, or did it happen long ago during the Bloodstorm War? It says that Gwyddon Duskenleaf is Laria's descendant. That implies that she is indeed ancient. It also hints at her having had a child. Interesting! I would also love to learn more about Shadefallen Keep and who built it.

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