The Shadowgrove Geographic Location in Cairne | World Anvil

The Shadowgrove

The Southernmost regions of the Arven Archipelago are dominated by a strange phenomenon wherein lies a small realm that never seems to move beyond twilight. Within these few small islands grow thick forests and twisting undergrowth that remain active and growing year round, through the dominion of the powers tha trule here have touched upon every living thing, almost as potently as the Void itself has leading to the entire ecosystem evolving into the existing dark stained groves and copses that choke the land and make passage nearly impossible by all those save the creatures that call this dominion their own, the twisted fey refugees of The Court of the Shadowgrove .


The small southern island chain is overpopulated with flora of all manner of shape and size, twisted variants of the deciduous and conifer trees that were once plentiful throughout the world, all now tinged in black and violet hues and thriving beneath a pocket of unending twilight. The undergrowth is a thick tangle of briars, shrubs, and creepers that are rife with barbs and venomous oil coatings that cause painful sores and irritations to the skin of those that pass through them. The tree canopy is overcrowded, and defies the commonly understood behavior of tree growth resulting in the branches fusing with one another and twisting together to create a nearly impenetrable mass of dark stained wood and darker colored leaves, further blocking out any light that might dare to pierce that veil.


Despite the darkness of the location, life here is abundant in its own way. Due to the nature of the beings that exist here, nature thrives within a pocket of heavily tainted space, a delicate but stable equilibrium maintained by the constant intervention of the various remaining nature spirits that hold their place among the Court. The flora and fauna that populate the region are not only protected from the dangers that exist within the shadows of the grove, but are its protectors as well, working in harmony to oppose any and all outside attempts to penetrate the borders of the domain or harm any aspect of the life that persists in the location.

Ecosystem Cycles

Within the borders of the Shadowgrove, the changing of the seasons creates a wildly drastic, and yet purposeful variance in every aspect of life, likely a carryover from their origin and the realms they originated from.     


  During the spring season, the grove comes alive within the darkness. Deep hued blooms of violet and black, blue and red spread across the domain as the mutable nature of the place becomes increasingly more and more chaotic as the season progresses. The locale experiences a slight population boom among the fauna and the members of the Court themselves are more active and present within the domain. During this season they seek sport among the mortal realms, sojourning outward into the mainland from time to time to antagonize the citizens and create mishaps and accidents as a form of amusement. Since the Ougham are so muted in their reactions, they are viewed mostly as boring for this purpose, so the Commonage generally takes the brunt of these wanderings, a time that has come to be known as "The Tide of Missed Fortunes".  


  Summer is a time of lackadaisical wonder within the grove. The Court withdraws from the outside wanderings and gathers for festivals and parties deep within the heart of the place, at locations that change and shift, sometimes while the celebrations are still ongoing. These spirited events roll across their domain with dance and song and music as the denizens give in to their wilder natures. These are some of the most dangerous times to wander those woods, as the inhabitants become more and more crazed. The lines between their multitude of vices and pleasures blur and merge into depravity and madness as the days roll on, and anyone not of their ilk caught in the path of these libatious affairs is doomed to be devoured by their appetites in every manner imaginable, and perhaps some that are beyond mortal comprehension as well.   


  As summer runs into autumn, the denizens of the Grove settle and a time of quiet rest settles of the location. The dark stained leaves become mottled violet and blue with brighter reds and oranges showing through as the fauna and flora begin to enter a dormant stage. The Court itself tends to focus upon the individual needs of their own kinds, and the aspects of nature that they hold their varied dominions over. The borders tighten and the rulers of the domain become far less inclined to entertain visitors, though this will not stop them from tormenting anyone who dares to try.   


  This deadly season finds the Grove locked in black snow and ice. While many of the citizens of the Grove choose this season to rest and sleep, there are several creatures that become more active, and certain members of the Grove that thrive and grow more powerful as the temperatures drop. The chaos of the region morphs into a terrifying moving tide of freezing drifts and lethal ice floes that will quickly overtake and engulf the unwary, preserving them until the following thaws of Cortus. It is said that there are many estranged love affairs between the lords of winter and the lords of spring, and that the frozen dead that get caught in their traps are gifts and tokens of affection for their lovers to uncover when the warmer season arrives.

Localized Phenomena

While the location remains largely a mystery to the outside, contained within are wonders beyond imagining. Steeped with Fae magic mingled with the taint of the Void, the glamour and mystery once personified by their predecessors has become something sinister and wicked. Every aspect of life in this domain exists as a reflection of the Court and its twisted matron. The landscape will shift and warp around anyone not welcome, creating nightmares and confusing twists and turns where once a straight path laid. The denizens of this place revel in the suffering of others and will not hesitate to impart their delights of madness and malice upon the brow of any unlucky enough to enter their dominion. To this end, the state of the Shadowgrove is one of constant flux. Nothing remains as a permanent fixture within the borders, though aside from the creatures that live there, no one will ever see anything move. The mundane is never simple, and every tree, bush, and blade of grass is alive and eager to play its part in the painful disruption of life and sanity. To this end, the very nature of a thing may completely shift in a moment's notice, like a waking nightmare. A tree may be an immovable barrier on a path one moment, and a terrifying hulking monstrosity the next, while the grasses that cover the underbrush, dake and stained as they are may alter from a lush carpet beneath the feet of a traveler, only to become a waving tide of intangible movement, eager to swallow them up never to be seen again. There is no limit or end to this constant altering of the surroundings, and no way to tell what is real and what is illusion, however within those shaded borders the difference does not seem to matter, as real or not, these uncanny occurrences will eventually lead to either mind shattering madness, or a painful end.


The weather within the grove follows the seasonal shifts of the rest of the world, maintaining four distinct seasons, however unlike the rest of the archipelago, these seasons keep a unique balance, defying what the effects of the location should be upon the shifting climate. Along the wooded borders of the location, no real change is visible aside from what would be expected, proof that the Fae within have somehow altered the reality of the location to suit their desires. Despite the mutable characteristics of the location, the one constant seems to be the way the seasons affect the climate of the domain within the boundaries of the land claimed by the Court. Mild and temperate springs and summers followed by cool autumns and snowy winters. The exact reasons these constants remain stand without any scientific explanation, but the nature of the place is one that defies explanation to begin with.

Fauna & Flora

The forests of the Shadowgrove are filled with all manner of hardwoods and a wide variety of smaller plants as well, while the fauna continues to flourish. Due to the constantly shifting nature of the reality that exists within the Grove, however, the true nature of most of these life forms is always changing as well, either through the mutations of the Void or the glamour of the Fae. Nothing remains a static form for long aside from the members of the Court. Within the Court and the attending members of the factions represented are the fae themselves, broken into their own representative groups that bicker and play political games to no end within the Grove, much to the amusement of their queen.


Prior to the Blight, a young half Fae woman, Caoimhe Iníon Mab , took up refuge in the unpopulated southern regions of the Arven Archipelago where she hid and plotted against the world of mortals seeking favor from the Fae. She was trapped here when the Blight stuck, and the ensuing waves of tainted energy that washed over the land and her as well further pushed the delicate and fractured mind of the woman over the edge and into a spiral of madness. Over time, whether by call or by chance, the remaining Fae refugees that were left behind as the way in and out of the realms of Cairne closed,made their way there as well. Caoimhe was all too eager to accept them into her domain and, over time, proclaimed herself queen. As the natural magics of the Fae began to work upon the land, they mingled with the Void tainted energies. Fae magic, being a reflective sort of power that works in symbiotic harmony with the land, found the new foundations of the changed world could work as a catalyst, increasing the power of both at the price of the light both figurative and real. The Shadowgrow grew from this union, and the creatures that dwell there returned to the ways of their people through new eyes. Granted immeasurable influence and power by her time there, Caoimhe began to influence more than just the Court, but the world at large in small ways, able to send forth agents of chaos to seed more and more of her power into the realms of mortals while ruling over her domain hidden safely within the grove.
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