Tol Tales of Fabulous Flora #2
The Wytchwood is an outbreak of evil in the Dymrak Forest. Within Wytchwood, trees are twisted and misshapen, fruits blistered and sour, roots and undergrowth thick and treacherous. But the Wytchwood is not a location that is easily defined, because the Wytchwood is a moving and fluid phenomenon, some say an infestation and hence its definition by some as an outbreak. One year it might infect a previously tall stand of oaks at the forest’s heart; another it will be a long, thin incision that poisons a fast flowing stream and the vegetation around it.
Evil inhabits the Wytchwood, which is often shrouded in uncanny darkness. Stunted and otherwise mutated parodies of fair forest fauna inhabit it, as do evil faerie folk and other things that are abhorrent to the forest and its dwellers. Danger lurks within and around its incarnation.
How does the Wytchwood move? It has been linked of course to the scheming Witches of Dymrak, perhaps as a malignant indication of the presence of one of them in an area. But other theories have been espoused. Do its cursed roots spread far and wide underground, like a giant fungus, erupting into the overworld either randomly or at the will of some evil force? Is it the manifestation of a ritual that is enacted by persons unknown at different times and places in the forest, following some nefarious agenda?
A well known tale of the Wytchwood tells of a bedraggled man who turned up half mad at a woodcutter’s cottage at the eastern extent of the forest. He spoke of entering a tangled mass of thorns amidst dark trees that yawned ominously overhead, and falling down a hole into a chamber below. There an old crone was stirring a thick, bubbling cauldron and chanting dark verse. Seemingly entranced, she never noticed the man, who was able to clamber out and flee terrified to the woodcutter’s cottage. After telling his tale, the exhausted stranger lapsed into a deep sleep from which he never recovered, dying of the accumulated poisons of dozens of thorny lacerations.