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The Great Dream Forest , also called the Forest of Dán or the Milderwood, is the forest that is all forests in the Far Dreaming.

Overview

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There is only one Forest in the Far Dreaming. Ancient, majestic, and often filled with danger, the Great Forest spans areas larger than any continent of the waking world. Every imaginable type of tree, both "real" and otherwise, exists here. The Great Forest even runs beneath the Slumbering Oceans and into other lands far beyond the sight of most Kithain.

The Great Forest can't be properly mapped, though certain landmarks within its nearly infinite expanse have earned names that are granted by the type of woods growing in a given area. Below are some of the hundreds of parts that make it up.

The Milderwood

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The Dreaming is not bound by one truth, but is instead built on the back of contradiction and paradox. Everything can be true and false within the depths of the Dream, depending on who you talk to and where you are. Solid, static truth deadens the Dream; its body is Cold Iron.

It is because of this aspect of the Dreaming that the Milderwood is the stuff of paradox given form. As the Forest of Lies, the Milderwood is a spawning ground for all that is illusory, falsely seductive, ephemeral, and maliciously untrue... in short, of everything that lies in the painful gap between the true nature of things and the masks they wear. Whenever a child tells the truth, the faerie sages say, some pernicious part of the Milderwood dies. The tangled roots of the old oaks grow straight and sickly, the brambles thin out, and even the infamous looping paths of the wood become safe, clear, and monotonously boring.

And yet, the Milderwood is also "the first of the great True Forests of the Dreaming." It is the heart of all dreams of trees and shadows, cool paths, and secret waterways. Impenetrable and confusing as the Milder is, the Great Forest is still one of the last refuges for all those little spirits and splinters of fairy folklore that were locked out of Arcadia. In the shadow of the leaves and trees, these fragments of the old stories pool and grow together, forming strange hybrid myths and creatures. Meanwhile, within the Wood, the Silver Path is almost invisible, a slender goat-trail of riddles and complicated woodcraft.

The White Fomorian Court

In the morning of the world, when human civilization was still a circle of torchlight surrounded by a vast and unexplored wilderness, the Milderwood was that wilderness. In those days, it was the stronghold of the White Fomorians, youngest and smallest of the three fomorian courts. There, in the depths of the Dream Forest, the white Monsters built their great and ghostly city, carving it out of ivory, aspen, and alabaster. This city was so terrible as to have no name.

The White Fomorians themselves were proud and grotesquely beautiful creatures who ruled an empire of delirium and phantasmagoria. Born, perhaps, in fever- or drug-induced nightmares, they were exquisitely cruel to the various races they enslaved (many of which would later be exterminated or become associated with the Thallain). Throughout the primeval Dreaming, all chimera who were smaller or less cunning than the White feared being captured and remade by the fomorians.

It is said that the War of the Trees between the sidhe and the fomorians began when the White enslaved members of the first tribe of sidhe. With the sealing of Arcadia, nothing can be certain, but the dim memories of certain Earthbound sidhe and the fragmentary accounts in the Black Compendium seem to verify this. The masters of the nameless white city committed crimes that were terrible to the Arcadians, and in three epic battles the White Fomorians and their shimmering city were destroyed.

The White Fomorians claimed that the sidhe fought unfairly, both by employing strange new weapons and allies and through attacking by surprise. In any case, the ivory gates of the nameless city were broken and the roots and runners of the eternal forest reclaimed the streets and towers. Within the green shadows, the Arcadian magicians bound the surviving White, entangling them forever (or so it was hoped) in the roots of the oldest oaks.

Nothing last forever where magic is concerned.

After the sidhe defeated and imprisoned the White Fomorians in the War of the Trees, the Arcadians then turned to defend themselves against reprisals from the other fomorians. In order to prevent meddling with the entangled foe, the Milderwood was allowed to grow densely over the ruined nameless city, while the Silver Path itself became the obscure trace it is today. Silence fell upon the forest.

Unfortunately, rather than keeping nightmarish elements away from the imprisoned fomorians, this isolation only encouraged grotesque and malicious chimera to take refuge in the Milderwood, far from the punishing eyes of the sidhe and other comparatively upright folk. While the White slept on in the darkness of their oaks, the forest above them became a haven for Great Witches, solitary monsters, savage beasts and hybrids, and other bizarre creatures. The wood itself grew strange and unsettling, as the alien magic of the nameless white city leached into the roots of the trees and fed fever-dreams into the very earth and air. The source of the falsehood and illusion of the Forest of Lies is this poison.

The Milderwood festered.

The Bones of the City

Growing numbers of the White Court have slipped their bonds and now walk the Dreaming as they did in the ancient days. While most of them have escaped to the far depths of the Dreaming or to Earth (where they appear to be unaffected by Banality), some have remained in the Milderwood, apparently to return the Great Dream forest to its original state. Already, the old traps and delirium-snares of the fomorians are spreading throughout the Dreaming, while the Forest of Lies becomes, bit by bit, transformed to reflect better the Dream the fomorians remember. As this process continues, the guards and wards placed on those fomorians still imprisioned weaken even further, increasing the risk that they will break down entirely. Without the aid (or notice) of Arcadia, such an occurrence would likely cause the return of the oldest of Old Winters to the Dreaming, dooming the Earthbound to a nightmarish world.

Aspects of the Fomorian Dream are already appearing throughout the Milderwood, although they are almost always destroyed as soon as possible by the Knights of the Rose (and, to their credit, the Masked Court). Trees should not have bones, and they do increasingly in the Milderwood. Strange, noisy vehicles should not roar through the forest and breathe poisonous clouds into the air, and yet they do. Cities should not rebuild themselves, growing walls and stairs again, one alabaster panel at a time. Within the nested paradoxes of the Forest of Lies, it is difficult to tell what is impossible and what is part of the natural order of dreams, and so the Fomorian Dream grows.

References

  1. CTD. Dreams and Nightmares, pp. 46, 71-74.
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