So, last week I explained something about the elves of Senkar, and in the process I told everyone about the Illisyr, or the dark elves, and how they were exiled into the Thorned Wood. I’m suddenly reminded of how another author I’ve known said ‘If I’m taking you to my cottage in the forest, it’ll be a nice trip, but if I’m taking you to my cottage in the woods, someone is going to die.’ The Thorned Wood definitely fits that, and I feel that I should explain it better.
Also, if you’ve read Into the Eternal Wood? The forest there was based on this one, but mellowed out to where it wasn’t outright lethal. That forest is downright benevolent. The Thorned Wood isn’t.
At the heart of the Thorned Wood is the world tree, and from it flows all magic through the world. Space and Time are warped around the world tree, and some say that the Woods are mere extensions of its roots in five spiraling expanses that extend across the world. The crater which the world tree rests in is merely two hundred miles across (which may sound familiar for a reason), but it’s actually ten times that size, and teleportation or magical flight do not function inside its expanse. The landscape within is a riot of vegetation and animal life, all of it modified and warped by immense concentrations of mana. The land directly around the world tree itself is ruled by dragons, but even they dare not claim the tree itself, for it destroyed the last dozen dragons to make an attempt.
The five branches of the Thorned Wood are much safer, but that doesn’t make them safe. If you can take ten steps in the wood without encountering a poisonous or otherwise deadly plant, you’re fortunate. Animals rapidly evolve into powerful, semi-magical forms from one generation to the next, and every attempt to clear the trees for paths has met with failure. The wood isn’t large, each branch sometimes only a few miles wide to as much as a hundred in other regions, but it’s magical at its core, persisting in growing even through caverns and under the very oceans, where the canopies of the trees repel the water and create a strange, deadly underwater road between continents.
The Illisyr live here, where obsidian tigers twice the size of their mundane kin can melt through shadows in a form of teleportation and have claws and fangs sharp enough to punch through steel. Where dragons roam to create their domains, and fire-eating vines will rip through stone walls to find a furnace to quench. They’ve survived and thrived… and the other species treat them with healthy respect or fear for good reason.