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Timbers of the Furnace

Written by Shiftrex

A stifling forest that sits on the east coast of the continent that is bordered on the west by the Great Plains, the north by the Goliath's Cradle, and the south by the Little Greenwood. These woods are uninhabited by any notable civilization but they are known for having strong, thick trees with a unique property. The wood used from these trees is especially dense, having the ability to burn hotter and longer than coal and this makes them perfect for use during the winter and for the forge. The trees here grow close together and they cover every inch of the mountain range, the Great Furnaces, these tall evergreens leave little room for trails of any kind because of how fast they grow. Despite being felled, cut, and used for thousands of years the forest is no smaller than it has ever been in the memories of the woodcutters. In fact, there are legends that suggest if the Dwarves of the Great Furnaces ever stopped cutting as much as they did that the forest would attempt to expand and reclaim the land for its own, choking out other plants and animals.  
There is no silence like that found in the Timbers. Darkness and silence beyond what is found even in the depths of the Underdark.
— Unknown Dwarf
  The climate in this area is cold, the air is thin and anything that can be found here must be able to deal with a frosty climate nearly year-round. Even the mosses and fungi that grow on the sides of the trees appear to have a natural resistance to the cold. Plantlife here is hardy and the few animals that can make their homes in these woods do so by being just as resilient to the cold, the only true summer months that this forest sees are the Morning and Noon of Summer.   Often on the outskirts of this area, you can hear the falling of an axe or the sawing of a blade. It is a friendly, warm sound that can be quickly replaced by a deafening silence. If there is no sound made by the woodcutter or the traveler then silence looms in from all around and makes it feel like the forest wishes for you to leave. It is an unfriendly and cold forest with dark shadows and cheerless skies. In some areas, the light of a noon sun is completely blocked out and you can find ice underfoot even in the summer months. Creatures move silently here, stalking about in the small space that the trees allow them to have but travelers must stick to known paths. Wandering from the old Dwarven roads is not advised, though it cannot be proven stories are told that the trees themselves will lead you astray and move about seeking to strand you and block you from safe paths. For those that walk on two legs, there is no welcome in these woods.  
Timbers of the Furnace
Resting atop the Great Furnaces, the Timbers of the Furnace are a forest of odd phenomena and sentience that makes few wish to venture within the depths of the trees.

Geography

The terrain is dominated by unusual evergreen trees, high in stature and covered in deep brown bark. They reach high up into the sky with dozens of interlocking branches even on the smallest of the trees and create a canopy that is not without similarity to the jungles on the Southern Continent. Though unlike the warm jungles of the south, this forest is nearly devoid of all warmth. Even though the sun is high and the months indicate that it should be summer a traveler can see their breath under the boughs of the great trees after a few moments of travel from the forest's edge. Only slender rays of light penetrate the high canopy of the forest and their presence dwindles the farther from the edge of the forest that a traveler chances to wander, these cease to be a source of comfort eventually as the forest grows dark. Under the brightest part of the day the Timbers are only dimly lit, they quickly fall into darkness long before the sun sets and necessitate the use of torchlight or magic to find one's way.  
The ground is rocky with sparse vegetation and mixed clay. Some hardy grasses and shrubs will grow in patches close to the bases of the trees but the beaten paths are uneven and rocky with few defining features to indicate that they are the safe way to be traveled. The forest is old, the air is still and animals move silently in the shadows as if they are afraid to make too much noise though what they fear does not appear to be the travelers. If an explorer is seasoned they may have enough sense to try and enter the forest through one of the many offshoots of the Old Dwarven Road, a mystical construction from a bygone age, it seems to be the only thing that remains constant in the forest. Paths, game trails, streams, campsites, and even entire caravans have gone missing in the time it takes to scout out a new path or forage for food. The trees are held to be the culprits of these movements, the Dwarves tell stories about them shifting and moving as they whisper amongst themselves.

Quick Facts

Location: On the southern edge of the Goliath's Cradle, eastern edge of the Great Plains, northern edge of the Little Greenwood
Mountain Range: Great Furnaces
Size: Covers the entirety of the Great Furnaces
Ecology: Often very cold in terms of temperature, can only be inhabited by trees with dense needles and deep roots
  Though these dark woods are the fuel for the great furnaces of the Dwarves you will struggle to find a stump or a felled tree regardless of how long you look. The forest is ancient and grows uncannily fast, overtaking open areas and plunging them under the knit bows of the canopy. The Dwarves have cut the trees for a thousand years and it is as full as it ever was in story or in song, if anything the forest has grown in size over the years and has crept down the mountains slowly towards the plains as if it yearns to spread over the continent in earnest. Because of this, you will find no settlements and no permanent structures within the Timbers save for the dwarven road that is said to have been strewn with anvil dust from the first forges made by the Dwarven lords that remember the hand of Crommel as they were shaped from stone.  
Those that enter the Timbers for any length of time are no greater than fools. Nothing lasts there, no structures save for the road of old. Even the stalwart stone of the Dwarves crumbles under the test of time in the dark forest.
— Unknown Resident of the Great Furnaces
  In the winter these woods become inhospitable for anything that is not adapted for life in the arctic and the dark. Temperatures drop and leave a layer of ice on wood, stone, and earth alike. Snow is usually kept up on the top of the canopy, gathering in immense drifts atop the tree branches before they finally crack and snap under the strain or otherwise let the snow pass. It is said that even the dwarven road is not safe to travel during the winter, not only because of the terrible temperatures and total darkness but also because isolated avalanches from the treetops can occur without warning. Many a traveler has met their end buried under tons of snow, crushed to death in the most merciful of circumstances, or trapped and forced to freeze slowly in the worst of situations. The Timbers are treacherous at any time of year but they are a fool's errand to anyone that wishes to see the light of day again during the winter months, it matters not if you are an Elf or a Druid the woods have no care for the lives of travelers.

Localized Phenomena

The trees in the Timbers seem to display a certain amount of sentience despite not having the same magical properties or essence found in other forests or jungles. The amount of natural magic in the trees themselves would pale in comparison to that of the Fairy King's Wood for example but the amount of sentience or will that the trees have in the Timbers is uncanny and defies explanation of the wisest. There are stories of the trees speaking to each other in discernable languages that hiss, crack and mix in with the passing winds of frost. It is not uncommon for paths to shift and change, or for entire campsites to disappear along with the hapless traveler within.   There is a strong belief that the forest hates things that walk upon two legs, without regard for even the Elven folk or those of Fey Ancestry and there is little in the way of lore or song to account for this. Travelers that venture off the road never return, even experienced Dwarven woodsmen that use the enchanted road have frequent causalities that simply vanish without any sound of battle though it is unknown if they are killed silently or if the sounds of battle are simply swallowed by the trees that disapprove of strangers. The safest practice for woodcutters is to approach the edge of the forest in a large group and fell the trees one at a time, dragging them away during the light of day. It is ill-advised to enter the forest at night or even to cut wood at its edge, there have been reports of entire trees disappearing during the night after being cut down with large ruts in the ground where something has drug the tree away. The worst stories are never told but found later, entire encampments of a hundred strong or more have been found smashed to pieces in the night with a ferocity that would indicate nothing smaller than a Stone Giant's rage falling upon the camp.   This does not stop the Dwarves from finding more careful and protected ways to harvest the wood. The fires made from these trees burn hotter and longer than any coal, bordering on the temperatures of flare steel furnaces when proper techniques are used but with more variation for several types of craftsmanship.

Fauna & Flora

Only one type of tree exists in the Timbers of the Furnace. They are usually called Smelting Wood or Dwarven Wood by those that pass through the land because only the dwarves are brave enough to cut the trees down. Their proper name in magical research is: Deeproot Pine.   The name comes from the fact that their roots are longer, stronger, and seem to have the ability to respond to stimulus. The root system of a Deeproot Pine can extend a hundred yards, often reaching straight down rather than out but these seem to migrate and shift over time when they have been transplanted to other areas.   Other defining characteristics of the trees involve unnaturally tall stature, well over a hundred feet tall in common cases. They often are plentiful in terms of branches and needles, growth is restricted to 30 feet overhead in full-grown varieties that interlock with the branches of other trees and robbing them of sunlight in most cases. The Deeproot Pine can thrive in areas of extreme cold with notably little sunshine, they are sustained by their long root systems that seek out subterranean water sources with incredible accuracy.
Alternative Name(s)
Trespasser's Woods
Type
Forest
Location under
Owner/Ruler
Ruling/Owning Rank

Points of Interest

Dead Sea of the Timbers

A silent desolate valley rests deep in the Timbers, the quietness of the place far more disconcerting than elsewhere. Nothing lives here and few things grow here, making it one of the most uninhabitable places of the forest.  
Dead Sea of the Timbers
Geographic Location | Jan 16, 2021

The Timbers of the Furnace was a desolate place, but one section of the forest was known for its lack of life. The forest is home to little life, its inhospitable soils running away most vegetation and animal life, but even those that stray into the Timbe

 

Prospect Valley

Here in a hidden valley of the Timbers, Dwarves work late until the light wanes, mining the precious ore that is so easily found here. Called Prospect Valley because of its possibilities, this small village of shanties is home to some of the most courageous miners of the Dwarven Kingdom.  
Prospect Valley
Settlement | Jan 11, 2021

Deep within the forest, voices do not sound. Silence rings throughout the Timbers of the Furnace, blanketing everything, creating the atmosphere that gave this place the name of the lonely forest.



Comments

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16 Jan, 2021 22:48

Really great article. I can feel the oppressive nature of the silent trees all around me as I read. Definitely a place I would hesitate before visiting.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
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