Let me be very clear, your sheltered life has left you to believe 'the faerie world' is a place of indescribable wonders. Let me assure you, you're both quite correct... and exactly wrong.Arcanists and scholars have long been attempting to determine the exact nature of Erisdaire and the realms which are associated with it, to moderate success. While there are forces preventing travel outside of a few possibilities, there is a realm which remains well-known to elves and a few other peoples. A realm where life has been allowed to grow and develop unchecked by civilization, and even those who choose to dwell there cannot claim mastery over its wild potentials. It is known by many names, but the most common current term is "the Faeweald". Travel there is possible only through specific, and powerful, magic once kept secret to the elves. Even now, most points of entry are watched by them and visitors are often quickly escorted to fortified outposts with little time spent to explain why. It is not because the elves have something to hide, but because the creatures of the Faeweald are more accustomed to seeing people as meals than something to fear.
In the recent decades, Rhyliss and Myrisic arcanists have set up their own settlements with the aid of adventurers. The flora and fauna of this realm provide a great many things which have no ready analogue in Erisdaire, offering potential applications which have only been hinted at. But exploitation of the Faeweald is hindered by a number of factors, and the least of which is how the flora and fauna react poorly to attempts to "tame" them. Far greater a problem is how the very land changes, rendering cartography an impossible task.
If you find someone trying to sell you a map of the Faeweald, please do not buy it. There are no maps to a world which cannot be charted. And keep an eye on your pockets - they are trying to scam you.While an orderly expedition to map the Faeweald is out of the question, there are several things which are important to note about the realm. First of all, the realm is an exaggeration of the wilderness in a fashion which does not leave it to be a massive tangled forest. There are hills, mountains, marshes, even lakes and oceans. Furthermore, a number of expeditions have brought back confirmation the lands change enough to foil traditional mapping, but there are times when different expeditions happened across curiously similar landscapes. It is thus believed there are a number of "regions" within the Faeweald which exist and do not change, but rather their locational relationship to other regions changes. So far, scholars are still working on a way to be certain of it.
Civilization clings to a few pockets in this realm, all of which are clustered around locations which serve as 'points of entry'. Arcanists have long determined there a finite amount of locations where one can pass through from Erisdaire, and many of the expeditions have been about charting them out. As Elves have been existing inside the Faeweald for far longer times than humans or others, they are responsible for many of the pockets of civilized life. These cities are rumored to be actually from Erisdaire, transplanted into the Faeweald by powerful magic. Whether this is true or not is for the historians to debate, but only through extreme efforts have the elven cities resisted being torn down. Imperial expeditions have carved a few other locations out through sheer stubborn willpower, and to date only one stronghold remains standing: Virta Keep.
A few of the other locations of interest which have been written about in various accounts follows:
- Glimmervell. A great many of the creatures of faerie dwell in this place, commonly known as pixies. They have forged a territory which persists out of pure belief in the way things "should be" according to them. Their shared vision keeps the chaotic energies of the Faeweald in check, but the various elements making up the region change locations often. It is thought this could be due to a dissonance in their shared vision, causing some locations to be 'misplaced'. Visitors are rare, and are subject to a number of pranks - usually ending in the targets being expelled from the Faeweald back onto Erisdaire.
- The Blossoms. Travelers might come across a field of bright red flowers under a calm sky, with hints of hills overlooking most of the field. There are few animals which disturb the plants, and a few expeditions have marked it down as a "safe harbor" amidst the wilderness. Then there is the account of the "Bootstrappers", an expedition which was sanctioned by Greygard. They had been fleeing a pack of animals, leaving behind most of their camping gear, and found themselves at 'The Blossoms'. Desperate for a rest and consulting a guide pieced together by other expeditions, the Bootstrappers chose to use this opportunity. However, during the night it was discovered why there were no animals to disturb their rest - the plants themselves had a pollen which would invoke a slumber so deep it was impossible to wake from without intervention. Only two of the Bootstrappers escaped to reach Virta Keep, and were laughed out of many taverns trying to explain how "they lost eight people to flowers".
- Ascadia. Infamous among the elves, the land of Ascadia is perhaps what most have come to associate with the Faeweald. It is a dark, tangled forest of old-growth trees and violent fauna, home to creatures which are more than a match for even seasoned adventurers. The main draw is in a particular type of hardwood which has been called "darkwood", and is used by the elves for a number of applications. Travelers finding themselves in Ascadia are known to do what they can to skirt the edges, even through areas which seem more hazardous.
Travelers are advised to be prepared for anything to be a hazard to their well-being, and not to stay for extended periods. Do not disturb the plants, and do not attempt to bring any wildlife back with you.Most people who visit the Faeweald are expeditions being backed for a specific purpose, either to collect knowledge of the yet-unknown regions, or to seek any exploitable resources in regions which are more well-known. The Imperium is quite happy to allow chartered adventuring groups to travel into the Faeweald, provided they are able to pay for the privilege. This does lead to a number of such groups vanishing into the wild chaos, never to be heard from again, yet the more cynical members of the Imperium considers it better than groups causing problems elsewhere. The elves have a far more stringent set of guidelines for those wishing to travel inside the Faeweald, and it begins with requiring an experienced guide. Since these are in short supply, this means a reputation for being "picky" about the matter. This reputation has meant the elves chose several of their noble families to be given rights to guard entry points, so long as they were not "reckless" about who they let through. Most notable of these is House Holimion, controlling four known permanent portals on Erisdaire, and are the ones adhering to the traditional rule of guides. Other houses have their own particular rules to allow entry, which change depending on various details only they are privy to.