Ded or, commonly, The Forests of Ded, or more poetically, the Forest of the Ghosts was a minor but long time 'demonic' country and state in Polforia. It was noted for being an indigenous state of Sylvan elfs that acquiesced quickly to the Dark Legion of Demons, seeing them being an ally against their Kanov, Human foes and a ward against Orcs as well. This faith was part of their undoing, and led them to becoming vassals of a major demon state, that of Dol-Nur and its so-called "Witch King of Dol-Nur" twice.
Prehistoric Ash FallEdit
The land of Ded was to the southeast of the great volcano of Dol-Nur. For untold millennia, the volcano had dumped ash onto the flat lands around it, hence beds of ash and tuft had been laid down, interspersed with layers of soil blown in or laid down by river flooding. The soil allowed for forests to rise, sometimes choked through the passage of time by volcanic eruptions, with new forests rising atop the decay of the old.
The River to the SouthEdit
The piles of sediments created a country with some slope, with northern Ded having hills as there was the rising of the great mountains and volcanoes to the north, and layered piles of old ash and tuft. The south being lowlands due to river actions washing sediments away, even as it added new. Hence, south Ded could be quite swampy.
Volcanism in HistoryEdit
Ded did not seem to suffer overmuch from volcanic ashfall in recorded history, though, despite multiple eruptions. Most recorded eruptions of the great volcano of Dol-Nur going south into the country of Brûm or southwest, perhaps due to a collapse changing the shape and action of the volcano, or else the fortune of wind and atmosphere patterns. Ded was known for its thick, old growth forests.
The Nur River, a great tributary to the Polf River, and the swamps around it, would provide a considerable barrier protecting the people of Ded. The river had a use for trading, but was much faster than the rivers of low and swampy Polforia was known for, given the origins in the northwest Dargoina Mountains, and the tall mountains of Dol-Nur to the north. It could be treacherous and difficult to cross and it would speed up and swell certain times of the year.
The demonic country of Dol-Nur would come to loom over Ded politically as it ever had in geology. The peoples of Brûm, particularly the Black dragons of Brûm and their Brûmer Orc armies and subject Humans would ever be a threat, due to their wish to harvest the forests to their north, and cultural animosity to elves.
An interesting phenomenon in northern Polforia is that a great many cultures of different races gravitated towards becoming matriarchies. This is partially explained by elven culture in general, which females are much more likely to receive respect or hold important positions, or influence of the strongly matriarchal Drow peoples, nearby, under the ground, and possibly a reaction to the patriarchal Kanovs who had come invade and dominate Polforia in the Age of Invasions. For whatever reason, due to multiple influences or coincidences, females would often be the leaders on many elven and human societies in north-central Aels, and some Orcs as well.
Female elven spell-casters would form a cabal of 'witches' within Ded.
Sylvan elfs would seem to be the original inhabitants, living in small numbers in the forest in an aboriginal manner.
Speculation: There might have originally been Wollumis elves as the original people and a base for later culture?
Sylvan elf refugees from lands assailed by Kanov tribes, during and after the Age of Invasions, and later, especially, from the depredation of dragons from Brûm, would greatly expand and mix the populations and cultures of the elves of Ded.
After they became subjects of the Dark Legion, particularly as they became known to the allies during the final years of the First War of the Power, the elves of Ded would become known as a Blood elf population.
As allies, and later, as subjects, of the Dark Legion, there would be come to be large numbers of demons living in Ded as well. Specifically, small populations of succubae (see: Succubus), Werewolfs, and Vampires came to live there as well, with magically adept females becoming part of the Witches' magicracy.
Speculation: Possibly using elven males to reduce their orc natures?
The witches and the elf populations had a large distaste for orcs, and accepted the so called 'pretty orcs' due to a certain desperation for soldiers, but did not much like them, despite the ozcuras not being very orc-like, and being a mix of elves and orcs.
Speculation: The witches might have carried out campaigns of 'racial cleansing' against non-elves in Ded? This might have eliminated goblinoids in Ded, and been a foundation for the animosity of Ozcuras and Loranor? This would have contributed to the grim reputation of the witches.
Prides of the cat people were found in the forested country. They did not seem to have been part of the elven society in any way, and may have lived there at the sufferance and opposition of the Witches? They might have been the original adversaries of the elves living in the forest? The Loranor becoming secondary peoples due to the large numbers of elven refugees who came into the country through the generations?
It's likely that loranor became important mercenaries defending the witches and elven communities in periods Ded was attacked, particularly by Brûm?
The witches, in their desperate war with Brûm, would also hire their 'other' racial enemies, the Kanovs, as mercenaries. There in no evidence that the Kanovs ever became a permanent fixture in Ded, and may have served only until the Ozcura contingents were ready? Otherwise, Kanovs were hired as needed to provide a 'heavy infantry' role.
Early history is unknown. It is entirely possible that over many tens of thousands of years, whole prehistoric populations of diverse peoples, particularly elves and Beast People might have lived in Ded and had been erased in succession by volcanic eruptions of Dol-Nur.
Early history is also virtually complete blank. It's not impossible that people came to live in the Forest of Ded relatively recently following some apocalyptic eruption killing the previous forest?
As Wollumis have a reputation for inhabiting primordial forests, it might be that they had some early historical era peoples living there? But this is only speculation. If a massive volcanic eruption had erased a Forest of Ded during early historic times, and newly recovered forest was re-inhabited only in the post Apparition of Humanity period, or just a few centuries Before the apparition of humanity, it would be rather unlikely for Wollumis to have anything to do with Ded, but this is all just conjecture.
Age of InvasionsEdit
The coming of successive waves of tribes of diverse races of Orcs, Kanovs and Humans would sweep over the world. This would begin the process of pushing elven refugees into the Forest of Ded as a hope for a haven in a difficult to enter, dense and confusing wilderness.
Rise of the WitchesEdit
In the Forests of Ded, by the 6th Century a.a.H., a primitive magicracy dominated by women would come to rule the peoples of the forest. Whether due to maintaining control over newly arriving refugees, or opposition to Kanov and Orc oppressors from outside and their raids on Ded, (or both) the magic wielding matriarchy would become culturally aloof, austere, were deliberately primitive and savage in their demeanor and brand of mysticism, and would rule by decree and terror. Overtime, the forests were reputed to be too deadly and difficult to penetrate, given stiff resistance of elven archers and their harsh guerrilla tactics, and the 'Witches' ruling the elves were considered frighteningly terrible spell-casters. Even hidden in their woods, the Witches became regarded as the most fearsome peoples of Polforia. Albeit, the dragons contested such notions and the coming of the demons would overturn them.
The rulers of Ded becoming known as the Witches of the forests of Ded.
The Black dragons of Brûm and the Brûmer Orcs would carry out pogroms against elves in Brûm and central Polforia circa 1650 a.a.H.? The Forests of Ded again serving as hope for refuge by desperate elves. This would continue to swell the elven population, although the population within the wooded country would remain sparsely settled wilderness overall.
Dark Legion and Kanovhook WarsEdit
Campaign of the Forests of the GhostsEdit
In the midst of the Kanovhook wars, the Dark Legion of Demons had the achieved some major successes, and were attempting to consolidate past victories by crushing the once powerful Kordor Kanovs, and to absorb the long ignored Sylvan elves of Ded at last. The Kordor, long time traditional enemies of the Sylvan elves of Ded, would form an alliance with the Witches of the Forests of Ded. The kanovs and elves would fight the power of the Dark Legion when they entered deep into the forests in 1762 a.a.H. in the Campaign of the Forest of the Ghosts. This ended in a draw, and the Dark Legion would have suffered a setback and would withdraw.
As a result of a failure to conquer the elves of the forest and Kordor, envoys of the Dark Legion treated with the witches, and, contrary to their fearsome and uncooperative reputation, would find them willing converts to their cause. So, despite their small land and smaller numbers, the Witches and their people became allies of the Dark Legion rather than subjects as the Dark Legion had attempted earlier. The Witches most likely saw the Dark Legion as both a shield and weapon against their enemies, namely tribes of aggressive Kanovs, and Brûm.
They themselves would try and expand beyond their forests and even across their southern river to enter Brûm. At the time, the Dark Legion and the expanding empire of Brûm seemed to be on a collision course, and the witches thought they could be on the winning side. However, the Dark Legion and the Dragongod of Brûm, Barûm reached a peaceful accommodation, and the nation of Brûm also entered the Dark Legion in 1748 a.a.H., to the detriment of Ded.
War with BrûmEdit
There would be a long running conflict between Ded and Brûm. For all their power and fearsome mysticism, and the deadliness of their archers and rangers, The Witches of Ded and their small elven armies were no match for the Dragons and organized armies of Brûmer Orcs. Ded would receive help from the demon state of Dol-Nur as Ded was seen both as a buffer state and source of valued sorcerers in the form of the witches. Ded would hire both mercenaries of their old enemies, the Kanovs, and also accept Ozcura Orcs into their service as essentially a slave warrior race, 'using orcs to fight orcs'. However, this was barely sufficient, the barriers of the river, southern swamps, and dense forest were as valuable as any mystical or martial force in Ded in preventing a successful invasion by Brûm.
Vassals of Dol-NurEdit
This war between two Dark Legion nations was ultimately detrimental to the Dark Legion as a whole, and a drain to two valued nations, and threatened the existence of the Witches of the forests of Ded. As the most fearsome ready source of deadly Blood elf magic users the Dark Legion could call upon, this could not be allowed. As they were clearly the losers in the contest with Brûm and already owed Dol-Nur much, they lost their independence and were annexed into Dol-Nur as a vassal state, ending their desperate war with the dragons. The Bazrrod ruler of Dol-Nur becoming known as the Witch King of Dol-Nur, quite probably to the chagrin of the witches themselves.
The Witches had come to accept many demon recruits in their war, and many more would join after they lost their independence. Indeed, Dol-Nur in particular, and the Dark Legion in general would seek to turn the 'Forests of Ded' into a 'Witch Academy' so as to produce a legion of sorceresses for the 'magic-corps' of the Dark Legion. The culture of the witches would change markedly in trying to accommodate this desire, but training would remain slow, and graduation painful and arduous in becoming a full fledged Witch of Ded. Some critics in the Dark Legion would say unnecessarily so, as the witches were deliberately mysterious and tradition bound, their obtuse training more about pain and fear than productive in producing magic users in either numbers or sheer power.
Nonetheless, the witches remained renowned for being deadly fearsome and cold magical killers and capable of unspeakable curses, despite their apparent shortcomings. But there never seemed to be enough of them, their numbers of 'true, fully fledged witches' never really rising beyond several hundred even at their height.
First War of the PowerEdit
The witches would provide discreet, but important, support to the Helzar tribes of Amazons resulting in the Fall of Priva. This would be an opening move, and the witches would be sent far and wide in Aels for the War of the Power. And then were called heavily upon again in the Battle of Polforia facing off against the master wizards of the High elves of the Empire of Whide Axis. They were diminished by attrition through most of the war, and found themselves outmatched by their High elf counterparts in the furious battles in the south of Aels, and later, in Polforia itself. These were losses that they never truly recovered from, but with the Fall of the Dark Legion, the survivors of the Witches and armies of Ded would retreat back into their forests where they were not followed by the victorious allies.
Absent the Dark Legion, Ded effectively regained its independence in 2223 a.a.H. with the Fall of Dol-Nur itself, where most of the Demon Princes had taken refuge and had been held under siege for three years.
'Return of the Witch King'Edit
The now multiracial peoples of Ded remained isolationists for much of the next two centuries. The long crippled old enemy of Brûm had recovered enough to actively war against nearby human and Grey elf colonies known as the Polforian states, and ultimately, the nation of Brûm helped greatly in destroying four of these colonies. Having completed this task, Brûm, by circa 2400 a.a.H., set its figurative eyes to the north, and returned to menace the peoples of Ded again. Although Brûm was much diminished of its former, pre-Great War self; its dragons now few and enslaved to weird mystics known as the 'Necromancers', they'd clearly proven themselves a dangerous and capable military state in reclaiming territory and warring against the colonies. Ded was not truly recovered either, and this second series of border wars also did not go well for Ded.
But by this time, the Demon Lord, the Witch King had managed to re-found Dol-Nur and was rebuilding his former nation, and was fighting and defeating the new demon petty states to build a new Polforian empire of the Dark Legion. He would annex Ded once again.