The Alfar call it Alfheim, their home. The other races simply call it the Deep Wood. It’s an immense forest covering much of the interior of the continent. All of the Alfar of Erde originate from this place and even those families who have been distant from the Wood for generations will feel a slight pull. Even mixed race descendants will feel an affinity with the place as soon as they step beneath the sheltering boughs.
The Deep Wood was once home to an Alfar empire as vast as the forest itself. They built their cities with moon-white stone and golden wood, shaping trees and stone with magic more than tools. Wherever possible, the trees were left in place and encouraged to grow into the forms necessary for their function. The empire grew slowly, the cities expanding only with decades of work by the builders, but this suited the temperament of the long-lived Alfar.
Eventually the Alfar suffered from hubris. They stopped listening to their forest. They built without thought for the land, or the creatures that shared the forest with them. They began forcing the trees into ever-stranger shapes, and forcing their growth as well, instead of patiently waiting for them to grow in their own time. When the Cataclysm shook the world, seven tribes of Svartalfar – black-skinned cousins of the Alfar – invaded Alfheim. The forest remained silent. The Svartalfar slaughtered their pale-skinned cousins, and took their children as slaves. They raided the cities for anything useful, and destroyed millennia of precious artworks. As long as the Svartalfar did not burn or cut the trees, the forest remained silent. The Alfar shamans and druids appealed for help and the forest refused. In a single turn of the seasons, the empire they had grown over the course of thousands of years was utterly destroyed.
Remnants of the empire still exist: tall, graceful spires held together by flowering vines; colonnades and archways that still draw visitors down leaf-strewn paths; massive stones tumbled from walls, still bearing the runes that once kept the Alfar safe. Intrepid adventurers often enter the Deep Wood looking for artifacts, relics, and other treasures. Some return with priceless objects and the most fantastic tales. Most are never heard from again.
There are Alfar still living in the Wood, and Svartalfar too. They are still enemies but as long as their quarreling doesn’t injure the forest the Deep Wood tolerates them. The forest cares for itself now, with fae guardians: dryads, nixies, kelpies, and others. It is a beautiful and dangerous place, well worth the expedition – if you can survive.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.