- Many's the time a bubber in Sigil sings the praises of unsullied Arvandor, the High Forest, the land of the elves, a pure forest untouched by civilization. Don't believe it! The realm's been tamed, but what an elf considers tame, pleasant, ad proper ain't the same as what a city dweller'd expect.
A peery basher knows a calm realm is probably hiding something, but Arvandor hides only few secrets. This is a land where time doesn't flow linearly, and bashers going in don't always emerge when they think they do. Most often, they lose track of themselves and wander the land for weeks or months. A cutter's best going with a pack of others who can pull him out of the land's spell.
Arvandor is less pastoral than Olympus; its ancient trees have never known a woodcutter's axe. Cathedral-like groves of towering green are common, and the canopy sometimes splits into an upper layer of sun-loving trees and a lower canopy of shade-loving plants, vines, and scrub trees. Giant squirrels, bats, aarakocra, and a few elf tribes are said to live their entire lives without touching the ground, which those elves consider unlucky or unclean.
Just as the canopy is sometimes divided into more than one layer, the undergrowth in many areas is completely inpenetrable. The undergrowth combined with the rotting trunks of fallen trees make some sections almost impassible, and the ground level can be impossible to find among the foliage. Even the elves take detours around the thickest undergrowth, for it's often home te creatures that thrive in darkness - spiders, ettercap, shadows, and worse.
The darkness lingering among Arvandor's undergrowth is balanced by the beams of sunlight in its meadows. Wherever the giants of the ancient woods came crashing down, they open meadows that flower all year round. Bluish snowblossoms peak above the snows of winter in Arvandor, making their promise that spring is coming. Rippling brooks are common in these meadows, and the largest clearings are often the sites of gates. A place called the Ingmar Brook is the best-known gate to Alfheim, in Ysgard.
Sites and Cities
There's almost no towns in Arvandor, only favored glades, groves, and trees. The best known are described below. Grandfather Oak is almost as large as a town, though no Cager would mistake it for a true city - Grandfather Oak and similar inhabited tree-towns don't belch smoke, don't pack crowds, and don't smell like sewers. Any city dweller knows these over-grown tree-houses are more a part of the landscape than an urban center.
The Pale Tree is, as a basher might expect, a white tree among a grove of deepest green, with leaves of silver and roots of muddy gray. Many of the elves believe it has mystical, aphrodisiac, or curative powers, and its leaves are prived for wreaths, bouquets, and even garnishes. The Pale Tree is the center of Solonor's domain, a region thick with forests and quick-flowing streams.
Once an autumn grove of silver-stemmed trees, Lolth's Grove is now a silent place of dead trees, blackened stumps, and uprooted giants. The spring at its center, long ago the sight of merriment or at least reflection is now a fouled trickle of muddy sludge. All animals avoid it except for spiders, which grow to such a size that they must be hunted down from time to time. Banshees are also extremely common in the woods where Lolth's followers were once slaughtered by the hundreds. The portal to the gate town of Sylvania, Arvandor's link to the Outlands, stands near Lolth's Grove, making it dangerous for travelers.