Balance, Respect, Civilisation
The Wooded Ways is also called the Ancient Heart and stands as the largest of the Duchies of the Royal Basin. It holds the greatest and the oldest of the Forests which hold sway in a land that is also littered with the greatest edifices of the past and current day. Its South is bordered by two mythical lands – The closed borders of Azilir, legendary home to the Hierophant of the Tao and The Mordell Wastes, the resting place of Davik Mordell, darkest of Priests to Malice. The Eastern border meets the Grayvant Ocean with the Western Border nestled against the peripheries of The Ferns. To the North the Wooded Ways finds the Golden Lands and the Bitter Vale as it neighbours. The lands are controlled by the Natheron family, who serve the Gillieabad and the Tao in the name of the people of the Royal Basin.
This Duchy has been the home of everything that makes the Royal Basin what it is and the people that dwell here are a part of that history. They are fighters and poets who revel in the old ways of the Gilllieabad and prosper from the gifts that they have given us in the civilisation that we enjoy. The first capital, Maryat, was built here and from it the unification of the three Kingdoms that were ruled from The Wooded Ways occurred. That civilisation was toppled and the capital fell but through the endeavour of the people new power rose; Malierunne, the Royal Basins greatest Port City flourished on the Southern coast. In the North the Fae built the first of the Transcendent Forts in the form of Fort Winter that is now the home of the Winter family.
These previous edifices have faced disaster and collapse but the people have fought on returning the old to the Gillieabad and the Tao. As they decline, however, new power springs from the earth in the form of Five Spires, the mighty Altar Fortress of The Wooded Ways, a place dedicated to the remembrance of the fallen through ritual and rite. Karrid Ren, the great temple to the Eleven that grew into the world in a handful of months, a temple so large that it is considered a City. Here the Priests of the Eleven come together to discuss and debate the changing face of the Divine and understand the power of The Focus. The people of The Wooded Ways are dedicated to the land and that which temporarily resides upon it, the balance between that which has been given to the Spirits and that which has been allowed in return.
A long time ago the Wooded Ways was one great woodland and it is known that, as the workings of civilisation made its way here so the Forests gave way, of their own accord, the land that was to be used. One day they will reclaim it, when our civilisation is ended and the races of Daer Akmir are no more and they stand watching as we work – The great Ganthan Woods, the Scarrow Forest, Bakers Woods, The Hartnell Forest, Storm Woods, The Barrow Wood and the Lonely Volician Woods that teemed with Fae in days gone by. Through these woods and out from Maryat, feeding the titanic estuary that Malierunne leans over, is the mighty Aplar River observing all, feeding all and giving its strength to the sea. Through these woods, along this river and in the Cities of the Ways the people love, live, celebrate, work and give thanks for the continuing harmony.
Through the influence of the Natheron family it is the Tao that has the strongest influence here, nobility may be respected and Sourcery, Divinity and the path of the Haruspex have their place but it is known that they exist through the strength of the Gillieabad. The land is littered with sacred sites and blessed pools, Altars and Groves stand proudly in secluded places and town squares alike. From an early age all are taught to respect the traditions that are handed down by the many Melkarr and to give a place to them in their homes should they knock upon their door. Vormearn wander the lost and sacred places and travel to the villages to enforce the laws of the Tao. Basanic law is second to the people here but it is remembered and respected, the similarities between the two are enough that this is accepted but the punishment meted out by Basin or Tao are two very different beasts and that influence is heavily felt.
The people of the Wooded Ways understand the relationship between what is civilisation and the Wyld and that the Tao teaches them to respect the Balance. To that extent they seem barbaric in their social aspects often in garb and in action as they keep to the traditions that keep rituals as old as time in operation. Festivals are common throughout the streets of the major cities as they are in the deep forests, the folk of the land dressed in the style of days long gone dance and sing and raise their voices. They know the ways of trade and commerce but are happy hunting through the paths of the wilderness to provide food for their tables. Ritualists are common with many following the path of the Tao to fruition, those that do not wear the charms and fetishes associated with spirits with most having a small altar in their homes. Fighters and thinkers the people of the Wooded Ways are happy, optimistic souls that have a clear understanding of the way of the land and they are at one with that.
Key Concepts of the Wooded Ways
The Law of the Tao Rules – This is a Tao Based society and as such the laws of the Gillieabad as laid down by the Elestrom have seniority.
Everything Ends and Everything Begins Again – Grief and sorrow have their place when something ends but celebration of life that was and that will come is more important.
Traditions are lessons that must never end – Long ago rites and rituals were laid down that must be remembered and cared for, if their lessons are forgotten the land will suffer.
Respect is the greatest virtue – Respect the people, respect the land, respect all things that live upon it.