The Fellreev Forest is one of the largest woodlands in all the Flanaess with the Vesve being larger and the Adri being of similar size. The Vesve is more important to Iuz, since the hated Ilighfolk and forces of Furyondy lie therein, waiting to be crushed, but the Fellreev also holds opposition to Iuz and his forces simply cannot hope to occupy this vast area of cover, refuge and security.
The Fellreev is a mixed forest of alder, birch, fir, oak, scrub oak, and some sablewood and pine. Carnivorous plants, especially hangman trees, are not uncommon in the depths of dense forest. The flora of the Fellreev do not provide much sustenance. There are few fruiting trees, wild tubers, or yarpick with their nutritious nuts here. The Fellreev’s animal life such as squirrels, rabbits, foxes, bears, small deer, a few timber wolves to the north, wild dogs, otters and water rats along the Artonsamay and Cold Run are likewise only fair hunting at best. The shores of Lake Aqal teem with wildlife, but the huge monsters there are too great a hazard for most hunters to risk hunting there. So, surviving in the Fellreev is not easy, especially for those who have fled into it for refuge and lack woodland foraging skills.
Why is the Fellreev important to Iuz? The forces therein are not numerous and they do not have the strength to mount battles against Iuz’s armies. They are, in truth, not much more than a nuisance. However, there are three particular reasons why the Fellreev is important. First, there are repeated rumors that one Hierarch of the Horned Society escaped there. The rumor is quite true, and Iuz knows it, but he is unable to scry the location of the escapee. Second, Lake Aqal is a mysterious, magical location, swarming with huge monsters, and anyone able to discover and use the magical forces responsible for the great size of the monsters might become powerful indeed. Third, there is the great necropolis of Nerull’s Bane. Any potential source of 20,000 undead troops is of obvious importance!
The Wood Elves of the Fellreev Forest
In all, there are probably some 6,000 wood elves in the forest, divided into two major groups of clans and families. In all cases, clans are family-dominated, with elves knowing their genealogy for generations back. Precise rules govern which families have primacy within the clan in different roles such who are the military leaders, sculptors, singers, musicians, and herbalists. Every family has at least one social role in which they are accepted as leaders. The wood elves do not have large settlements anywhere, having simple wood-hut hamlets or tree-house fellreev Torest complexes holding no more than 200 elves dotted around their lands.
To the northwest, in the land between Lake Aqal and the great wide crook of the Artonsamay, a third of these wood elves live together with no more than 200 voadkyn. These elves are almost all of chaotic good alignment and travel little outside their own lands. Their territory has not been infringed by anyone else during or since the wars, although they are vigilant against the half-hearted forays from The Breakers in the Land of Iuz.
More numerous and important are the elves living in the southern lands between the Artonsamay and Cold Run. They have formed an alliance of sorts with a large body of men escaped from the Bandit Lands. This unique alliance is detailed below. The eastern elves are more aggressive than their western counterparts, with whom they have very few contacts. Also, one clan has assumed pre-eminence among them, the Fanlareshen, because of their diplomatic skills and their role in a first, early battle against bandit invaders. Showing both strength and persuasive skill, they managed to make peace and now act as the primary spokesmen for dealing with Skannar Hendricks and his men. The Fanlareshen also have the highest-level wizards of the elven clans, which gives added status.
The Humanoids of the Fellreev
There are two orc tribes of note in the Fellreev. The uroz have always held tribal lands on the western margins of the forest and for some 20-30 miles inside it, and they have allied with Iuz for the most part. There are very few “free uroz” remaining now. More important there are the 2,500 or so members of the Dazark tribe.
The Dazark are certainly not numerous, nor do they have specific lands of their own. These nomadic, scavenging orcs roam almost all the lands north of the Artonsamay in bands of 50-200. They hate the uroz and will always attack them, but otherwise they avoid encounters unless they outnumber their opponents, in which case they will fight savagely. The Dazark are survivors. They are less aggressive than most orcs despite the many priests and shamans of Gruumsh among them.
The Dazark wear animal-skin armors (treat as padded leather) and their appearance is distinctive. They have dark brown-green skin and very long black hair greased with animal fat, tightly bound with leather thongs into a heavy single plait hanging down their backs.
The Dazark live in gullies, caves, copses, or whatever offers shelter for the night. The Dazark have one additional source of strength: a thousand losels whom they use as guards and sentinels around their temporary encampments. The orcs treat the losels moderately well and have learned a system of olfactory signalling from them such as scent marking and signing. This allows orcs to communicate basic notions like good hunting, enemies north, monsters west, and elves nearby without being locatable. That’s important to a tribe with many enemies.
The Fellreev is also home to around 1,000 gnolls and flinds, and perhaps 1,600 kobolds. These races are not of major importance and live in tiny groups scattered throughout the forest. Other than ores, the 600 eastern forest bugbears living east of the Gold Run are most worthy of note since some have taken service with Iuz in the garrison at Fort Skagund. As scouts and guides, they are very useful to Baron Kerzinen’s forces.
The Humans of the Fellreev
There are several distinct groups of humans who have an important niche in forest life. Perhaps the least important are the 2,000 woodsmen who have lived here for generations. These are mostly Flan men, with some Oeridian blood, who are foragers pure and simple. Their handful of tiny woodland hamlets are crude and rough, and virtually none of the woodsmen can even read or write. They get by where they can, avoiding any clashes with other forest folk.
Second, there are perhaps a thousand men from the old Rovers of the Barrens who have fled into the northern margins of the Fellreev to escape the marauding horrors of Gibbering Gate and the fiends stalking their homeland. These men are not well-adapted to forest survival and a hundred or so have already been lost to starvation and diseases such as scurvy and tuberculosis, the “rotting cough” as they refer to it. There is little strength to be found in these desperate men and their morale is appalling. Again, they are foragers, but far less successful than the indigenous woodsmen who have little pity for their Flan brothers. The Fellreev is not prosperous enough to permit such pity and the woodsmen have to survive too.
Third, there are actually two groups of “free bandits.” Some totalling 2,000 or less are men from the Bandit Lands who are unallied with the dominant Reyhu group. They live in small bands wherever they can find a niche, scattered throughout the southern forest, with but few in the eastern wood elf lands. They live as raiders, because they lack foraging and forest survival skills. They’ll raid anyone from forest orcs, elves, and other bandits to Iuz’s supply trains headed for the three camps on the southern Fellreev margins. These bandits are poorly equipped, though, with no ready supply of weapons to replace ones long grown blunt or broken, and their lot is increasingly desperate.
The other “free bandit” group of note are men escaped from the Horned Society lands into the western Fellreev. The western forest margins are difficult for Iuz’s troops to penetrate effectively because of the natural and undead barrier of Dahlvier’s County, the difficulties they encounter in Jhanser’s lands, and the mad chaos of the Estates of the Fiends. All these distractions to Iuz’s armies help these men to survive, and with around 2,000 of them in the southwestern forest spur and the western margins as far as Dahlvier’s County, they are not an insignificant force. They blend into the populations of Kindell, Ixworth and Jhanser’s Lands and can obtain supplies from there. These bandits are loyal to Nezmajen the Hierarch, in Darkpool.
Finally, the most important group by far are the 3,000 bandits who have allied with the wood elves.
A Unique Alliance
Skannar Hendricks, a powerful chieftain of the Reyhu group of bandits, is a lot smarter than most. Fleeing from Iuz, attacked by a band of 200 Dazark encountered on the first day in the forest, his men then took something of a drubbing from the eastern wood elves, though they managed to slay a powerful fighter/mage. He decided that he really needed some allies. The wood elves didn’t seem to want to simply murder the bandits wholesale, so Hendricks talked peace with them.
Incredibly, this alliance has worked. Hendricks’ men include fewer evil, and more neutrally aligned men than most bandit gangs. Likewise the elves have many neutrals. There was some room for understanding, since both hated Iuz and his ores. So, the wood elves have allowed Hendricks’ men to build a couple of strongholds in the Fellreev and after a joint battle against a large force from Fleichshriver in Patchwall, 584 CY, some kind of friendship has been cemented.
The two races have begun to develop a wary respect for each other and teach each other their skills. The elves have shown the bandits the skills of forest hunting and snaring, and how to mount forest ambushes. The bandits brought very good weaponry with them and have given the elves some, and they even managed to bring a hundred good horses which have been bred successfully at Fort Hendricks. Wood elves are now to be seen galloping along the Fellreev margins on raids against Iuz’s supply lines. Skilled rope use and the building of fortified forest villages have also shown the elves talents some of them have found worthy of learning. There’s a mutual admiration in combat skills too. The bandits respect the elves’ agility, speed, and their talent for ambush, while the elves respect the bandits’ brute strength and mastery of two-handed weapon use.
However, it is the intelligence and charisma of Hendricks and the Clanmaster of Fanlareshen which have cemented this alliance, together with Hendricks’ very public proclamations of what penalties will befall any of his men harming any of the elves. Swift execution was meted out to one group who slew and looted the bodies of a wood elf outpost, with their goods and a dozen horses being given to the elves in recompense. The elves now know that Hendricks is a man of his word, and his own men have a very healthy respect for their smart and powerful leader.
Finally, this alliance has some magical strength at its disposal. Elven mages and fighter-mages are not generally of high level, but there are many of them, and Hendricks brought two high-level specialists with him, both of whom provide devastating magical strength in battle. The alliance of elven scouts, spies and ambushers with human battle and strike forces has proven very effective. To date, they have held their lands and even begun to inflict annoying losses to Iuz’s forces in terms of both supplies and casualties.
The Fellreev Druids
There are no more than 20 druids in this forest. All are Flan purebloods, serving the ancient Flan Power Obadhai. The druids are utterly feral, wearing little more than rags in most cases, and wholly avoid encounters, even with elves. The druids are completely other-worldly, absorbed in nature with no interest in the doings of orcs, humans, or elves, but they have a treasury of oral folklore and history which is immense. The druids know every magical site in the forest, but are not willing to speak of them.
Locations and Settlements in the Fellreev Forest:
The Marauders of Iuz
Iuz’s operations within the forest tend to be poorly organized and rather haphazard. Local rulers don’t co-ordinate their actions properly, preferring to try to outdo each other and thus gain Iuz’s favor. These forces come from many lands and may have already been noted in earlier chapters. This section collates information about them and provides more detail.
West: To the west, the camp of The Breakers in the Land of Iuz dispatches Kazgund and some Jebli ore forces on raids into the north-western forest. Schaluennforn, the mage commanding the camp, also sends in search parties to document the monstrous life of Lake Aqal and report back to him. Raiding and search parties tend to be undermanned and suffer significant casualties at the hands of the western wood elves and the monsters of the lake. Also, human slave labor is used for foresting The Fellreev forest in the north-western fringe and wood is shipped back to the camp for building and fuel.
Along the central western fringe of the Fellreev, raiding parties of uroz enter the forest, hunting on a fairly non-systematic basis. The uroz may come from as far as Molag, but more often they are from Trystenn or Zalgend. Their mission is to search and destroy. No few of them fall prey to undead from Dahlvier’s County, however, and Nezmajen of Darkpool has a few score ore zombies in his legion.
Around the south-west fringe, hunting fiends from the Estates of the Fiends in the Horned Lands ride nightmares to hunt whatever sentient life they can locate. They actually dress in hunting apparel in a travesty of normal hunting parties, favoring red jackets and green-brown riding breeches. These ghastly nocturnal expeditions have denuded most of the forest south of the Ritensa of woodsmen and bandits.
South: The camps north of Fleichshriver dispatch uroz and Jebli ores, together with hobgoblins, into the Fellreev south of the Artonsamay. These lands are largely controlled by Iuz’s humanoids and contain a fair scattering of small, semi-permanent, crude encampments. Increasingly, these forces are trying to press across the river, where they meet stiff resistance from the wood elves and Reyhu bandits. The land north of the river, especially to the west and within 20 miles of it, has an escalating number of skirmish battles. The elves and bandits acquit themselves well, so far. As of yet, priests and mages of Iuz have not been sent to this skirmish zone in sufficient strength to have a decisive effect, remaining instead at Fleichshriver to help with magical research there. Sending undead to attack has not been successful, since the elves detect and deal with them very swiftly.
East: Rookroost and Groucester provide most of the troops for raiding the forest east of the Cold Run. A variety of orc tribes are used for raiding together with hobgoblin support, but priests of Iuz and human warriors are also used to control and discipline them for more ordered incursions. Kerzinen of Rookroost often adds fiends, most notably bar-igura, to these forces and they have thus been successful for the most part. Fort Skagund’s forces dominate the eastern Fellreev, but close to the Cold Run itself, they have to deal not only with the elves and Reyhu bandits, but also with a fair number of free bandits. Kerzinen usually tries to recruit the free bandits into his armies, but has had little success. Fort Skagund raiders favor a mix of small units who mostly skirmish rather than battle and whose primary role is spying and mapping, and large warbands with combat mages and priests carrying numerous scrolls and other minor magical items, allowing maximum force to be used in deep, hard, punishing strikes.