What is the Ildarwood?
You've been asking, so we've got answers! This weekend's featured article dives into the history of Ildarwood forests.
For thousands of years, cultures all over the world have taken great pride in their ability to grow and sustain vast Ildarwood forests. Containing a mixture of native greenwood trees and shimmering Ildarwood trees, such forests have long served as the ideal location for children of age to complete their Trials.
Unlike all other regions of the world, where spectral energy flows in far lower concentrations, Ildarwood forests practically overflow with spectral energy of every type. Within, the barrier between the physical and spectral worlds is at its thinnest, making it easier for Ildarbound children to learn how to control their elemental gifts while inside.
Origins of the Ildarwood
According to legend, the world's very first Ildarwood trees rose from the earth in the exact spots where An'tumbe and her eight children were buried after they died. With crystalline bark and small glowing pearls along their branches and trunks, the trees were unlike anything the people of Ondala had ever seen before.
It did not take long for An'tumbe's descendants to realize the remarkable power of the first nine trees. Completely invulnerable to physical damage, the trees were the perfect fusion of spectral energy and physical matter - each one containing a different form of spectral energy, and all of them capable of holding onto the strongest memories of the people around them.
So amazed were An'tumbe's descendants with the abilities of these trees, in fact, that they began to extract the pearls from each tree's trunk - that way they could be planted like seeds in the surrounding jungles. Within only a few generations, entire forests of Ildarwood trees began to grow throughout the Ondalan continent, each forest comprised of native trees interspersed with the unique variety of Ildarwood born from the souls of the First.
It was not until hundreds of years after the creation of the first Ildarwood forests that seeds from each one began to find their way into neighboring forests, increasing the diversity of Ildarwood trees across the entire Ondalan region. From there, the seeds began to spread into other parts of the world, sold as precious commodities - sometimes just as valuable as the bloodline of An'tumbe, itself.
In this way, Ildarwood forests began to appear all over the world - each one uniquely cultivated by the native culture to ensure that their children would alway remain as safe as possible while within.
Some of the most dangerous lessons in history were learned thousands of years ago, when Ildarwood forests were so vast and untamed that people of any age could harness the power of the spectral world. What began as the innocent worship of regional spirits and gods quickly devolved into imperialistic faiths - each of which only grew stronger as more souls were converted over time.
Soon, massive armies with remarkable spectral abilities were sent into distant lands to force both loyalty and worship from as many souls as possible. But when entire civilizations fell at the hands of warring gods and their soldiers, surviving cultures committed themselves to ending the reign of such all-powerful deities and their followers from that point onward.
So it was that nations all over the world began the arduous task of containing nearly all Ildarwood trees to smaller, more manageable forests - that way they could ensure only those who truly needed to experience the power of the Ildarwood would be permitted within.
Thus, too, began the tradition of breaking a soul's connection to the Ildarwood once a person's Trials were complete. Only by adhering to this practice could the world's cultures protect themselves from the chaos that might result if some amongst their populace dared return to the Ildarwood to try and draw power from all of the energies flowing within.