I’m surprised it took this long to get to Loratha, the homeland of the elves (and all the people the elves kicked out and/or subjugated over the centuries). It’s a magical, vibrant, cut-throat place full of wonder, wizardry, and systemic violence. Just the kind of place it’s fun to have adventures in.
Let’s check it out!
While often referred to in the singular, “the Loratha Forest” is in fact four contiguous forests: frosty boreal across the northern taiga, alpine through its mountainous core, and two temperate broadleaf forests along its eastern and western quarters. The last two are distinct biomes: the eastern typified by its cool and moist climate thanks to the neighboring Mergather Gulf and the western typified by the warm and dry climate of the higher continental interior.
Loratha has been the seat of power for a series of elven states since time immemorial, many of them claiming an unbroken continuity of inherited stewardship for all of recorded history. This vision of stewardship venerates various species as the spirits of the forest—prominently bears, treewalkers, pumas, owls, and nymphs—by protecting and extending their habitats. Protected groves dedicated to individual spirits can be found throughout Loratha.
This principle of stewardship over the forests served as the foundation for centuries of elven conquest and colonialism as the elves enforced their vision across all of Loratha, uniting the ‘sylvan peoples’ under elven rule.
Those peoples who submitted to elven stewardship were protected and provided for by their elven overlords—as long as the needs of their communities never conflicted with the needs of the forest and its spirits. The halflings of the Canton is one such community, tucked away in the heart of the eastern broadleaf forests, insulated for centuries by protected tracts of unsettled woodland and its groves.
Those peoples who would not comply were ruthlessly culled or displaced from the forest, leading to many longstanding enmities. Many towns, fortresses, and refuges of uncooperative sylvans were destroyed and turned into groves. Even those who initially resisted but eventually submitted remember the cruelties enacted to pacify their peoples. The haughty, villainous elf remains a mainstay of satyr theater.
Even among the elven elite of Loratha, the interplay of politics and religion has left a long and bloody path through history. The elven crowns—there are somewhere between four to nine, depending on how one counts—vie for supremacy and vassals, and to secure their own lines of inheritance to consolidate power. The groves and their tenders extend blessings, support, and condemnations to those of noble title, ostensibly to maintain elven traditions but also quite clearly to gather and defend their own loci of power and privilege. A few figures in elven history have managed to claim and hold an imperial title, but never without the support of the grovetenders. Many historians consider emperors mere puppets of the religious elite.
It was only when the Lorathan elves attempted to extend their stewardship over the forests draped over the Kharzan mountains that their advance was stopped by raw military strength. The dwarves under those mountains had just completed their own territorial genocide and were well-equipped to halt the elven advance. The dwarves then attempted to build on their victory and push into elven lands to claim the mountains there. This set the stage for centuries of wars which never saw territory change hands for long. Loratha and Kharzan eventually settled into a cold war and rivalry that was only interrupted by the invasion of the Dread Tyrant.
The forests of Loratha provided the fiercest resistence to the conquest of the Dread Tyrant and provoked his greatest atrocities. The elven capital of Caer Llwyntal, a sprawling tree-city at the border between the alpine and both broadleaf forests, was razed and burned; its ruins sit at the center of a swath of destruction known as the Cindergrove. More assaults and burnings followed, and even once the elves capitulated, fire remained the Tyrant’s prefered means of punishment and control. Now in the wake of his fall, the elves of Loratha turn toward revitalizing their homeland and reestablishing their stewardship of the forest. How they will go about that—and how their neighbors will respond—remains to be seen.
There’s only TWO articles referenced in this one that we haven’t yet checked out. Next week shall we skip over to the neighboring Mergather Gulf, or shall we dig in a little bit into the lives of the elves?
Tell me which tickles your fancy!