Forest of Spirits

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For another meaning of "Forest of Spirits", please see Forest of Spirits (adventure).

The Forest of Spirits is an immense pine woodland located just below the arctic circle on the continent of Tian Xia and is the primeval birthplace of the nature spirits known as the kami.[1][2]

Geography

The Forest of Spirits is located in a subarctic environment and so is almost always covered in snow. It lies east of the nation of Hongal and to the northwest of Minkai, separating this latter country from mainland Tian Xia. A distance of 1,200 miles separates Hongal from Minkai through the forest. The Forest of Spirits is dominated by massive pine trees which are so densely packed together that there is practically no undergrowth.[2] No cities lie within the forest but small communities of kitsune can be found deep within the Forest of Spirits. Towards the south the forest grows less dense and small human settlements can be found within the outskirts of the forest.[1]

The Spirit Road hugs the coastline, and therefore the outskirts of the Forest of Spirit, and is one of the busiest trade routes in all Tian Xia. This route is dotted with small settlements who have carefully negotiated pacts and treaties with the forest's kami to allow them to gather resources and hunt in specific small parts at the forest's edge. These settlements honour their kami neighbours by building, maintaining and making generous offerings at shrines the dot the entire length of the Spirit Road.[1]

History

The southernmost reaches of the Forest of Spirits were determined in 290 AR when a samurai by the name of Zaokoyu led an army to the northernmost limits of the Teikoku Shogunate. Unfortunately, he ventured too far and was slaughtered by an army of irate kami. The site of his death has served as the de facto southern border of the forest ever since.[3] The inhabitants of the Forest of Spirits tell a different story of the Kingdom of Zao. It is said that Zao was ruled Zaokoyu who grew too greedy, and whose lust for timber to build war machines was so great that it began to deplete the forest. In revenge the kami and darker beasts of the forest allied and annihilated both Zaokoyu and the Kingdom of Zao, leaving only their story as a warning to future generations.[1]

Inhabitants

Human settlements are rare even on the edges of the forest, but quickly peter out as one enters deeper into the Forest of Spirits. These settlements are mostly found hugging the Spirit Road as it traverses the coastline of the forest. Kitsune communities can be found deeper within the Forest of Spirits as they are better able to live in harmony with the kami.[1] Animals are plentiful as are incorporeal spirits, which give the forest its name, and the kami.[2] The kami's control of the Forest of Spirits is not total however, and within the depths of the forest there are some areas controlled by the restless dead, evil forest dragons and even the hated oni, formed from corrupted kami. In particular the House of Withered Blossoms is a known haven of many powerful oni.[1] The catlike porachas are also plentiful within the forest.[4] Because of his role as a patron of the oni, the god Fumeiyoshi's worship is surprisingly common within the Forest of Spirits.[5]