Grex Natala Forest
Δάσος Υρεχ Ναταλα
Situated in the foothills of the Odric Mountains, the Grex Natala Forest is a large, heavily forested realm that serves as the homeland of the Grecci peoples. The Grex Natala is densely forested, and difficult to penetrate over land, rather, the local gnomish peoples have tunneled out major pathways between the thick trees or even underground, hidden from those who aren't familiar with the terrain, but extremely efficient for those who do. The Grex Natala is home of the Grecci peoples, who formerly possessed a large nation of their own, but since have been absorbed by the Aeillans and Cyrenica whose treatment of the Grecci people varies.
The Grex Natala is situated between the Kyroi Hills, and the Odric Mountains, with some of the more developed elements, being located in Apepsos or in Spathos. Most of the Grex Natala is in situated in the lowlands, however, especially in the north, the terrain is more hilly or even outright mountainous as the Natala moves into the Odrics proper. The Grex Natala is has comparatively fertile soil, and thanks to the deep inset roots, water is well retained. It is however this root structure that makes large scale agriculture difficult in most of the region. As a result, gathering food from the abundant trees has become the chief source of food for many of the areas residents, with hunting being the second.
The Grex Natala is a relatively singular ecosystem, that of a forest, usually wild, often thick, though of varying altitude. The land is relatively lush despite the somewhat limited precipitation that makes it down into the Grex Lowlands, with a dense woodlands only being broken up by the bodies of water that crisscross the land, carrying runoff from the Odric's glaciers into the Ilos. There are two distinctive biomes in the Grex Natala, altitudinous boreal, and broadleaf forests, with a transitional zone in the hills of the Odrics. The area is lightly settled, with only a few major communities, and most of the population living in small gatherer communities.
The Grex Natala has four full seasons, each lasting approximately 3 months long. The spring, known locally as the Flower Season is one of celebration as the comparatively cold winters come to an end. The summer, known locally as the Season of Sun, is at the peak of the gathering, where most of the local flora produce most of their fruits, which are harvested by the populace. The third season, known as the Season of Falling Leaves is a tense one, where hunting becomes common and gathering continues at a rapid pace as the populace attempts to secure food stores. The last, coldest season known as the Season of Frost is one where the local populace hunkers down and tries to weather the winter.
Fauna & Flora
The Grex Natala is home to a large number of species found primarily within this region, mostly a fair number of broadleaf and coniferous trees, berry bushes, and other plants, though there are a few unique species of ruminant. The Grex Natala's ancient forests are however home to plenty of trees that can be harvested for Darkwood, something that makes it a major hub for trade despite its remote location away from most major trade routes in Aeilla. Though long thought a rumor, Aeillan scholars confirmed the existence of the Golden Hind, a species of ruminant entirely unique to the area, and very rare, with powers of healing, and nearly immortal themselves, Golden Hind are extremely sought after for the menageries of the wealthiest and most powerful autocrats in the known world. The Grex Natale is also one of the southernmost locations where one can encounter Dire Bears and Dire Wolves in addition to their normal counterparts.
The Grex Natale is a major source of organic and mineral resources. A number of very resilient and valuable woods grow in the forest, which are routinely harvested for their use in construction, and especially for shipbuilding. Being located at the base of the Odrics also means that a fair number of ferrous metals, and even limited quantities of mithril can be mined in the upper areas of the Grex Natale. Lastly some granite quarries exist as well.
The history of the Grex Natale is a long one, as the Grecci people have long settled the lands of the Grex Natale. The first written records indicate the Grecci settling the region roughly 2,000 years ago, though at that time, the Grex Natale was much larger than its current extent. This early Natale was quite fertile, and lush producing resulting in a vast and easy harvest that could support major cities such as Cusyra. Indeed, the few ancient Druids who were alive at that time came to view that time as the Golden Age of the Grex Natala, and of Grecci society. The first major upheaval came near the end of the Yulan-Tai Empire, when the first Yuan-Ti came to the lands, despoiling the southern reaches of the Grex Natala, and it is believed poisoning the land. The arrival of the snakemen would also spell the end of Cusyra as they laid waste to the city and slaughtered much of the population before enslaving the rest. The resulting blight saw the forest retreat away, a condition exacerbated by the War of Frozen Scales, and the climatic change caused by the magic unleashed to turn the Yuan-Ti away from the lands of the north. After the fall of the Yulan-Tai, the Grex Natala would diminish further as the burgeoning human population began to deforest the region for their own use. Though less immediately destructive then the active despoiling attempts of the Yulan-Tai, the effect was more pernicious with much of the forest on and south of the Kyroi Hills cleared and replaced with agricultural lands, or with human cities, in many ways displacing the Grecci gnomish residents.