Wandering Plains

The hardiest of elves survive on their wits, and these nomadic elves are no exception. They consider the holtbound southerners weak and soft, though they value their tanning ability as well as their winter hospitality, as the winters on the plains are the worst anywhere. Usually the wanderers split up into groups of 15 or 20, mainly family units, and hunt during the spring and summer. The wanderers' range is over 3000 miles wide, and though they rarely stop in one place more than a few nights in a row, they have taken the time to shape landmarks such as the hollow swimming/fishing hill in the mid-west, and the trapping grounds of the east. The wanderers often come in contact with the Silverglen elves, and are on good terms with them. They stay well clear of the Swamp elves.

Since their yearly journey begins and ends at the South holt, the description will follow this. North past the lowlands is a gradually more sparse forest of wide-bolls, willows and mosstops, which becomes interspersed with evergreens and huge pines. Most of the normal holt hunting is carried out here, this is the only overlap of the South and Plains hunting grounds. Much of the ground has been slowly eroded into rolling hills, rather than its southerly shattered and dramatic look.

The farther north travelers go, the more grasslands are dominant, until about three days past any trees one realizes that there are no trees! Small copses and groves dot the plains, any trees must grow at least an elfheight above the grasses to be able to grow at all, and so the parasol trees similar to earthly ones are the most successful ones on the plains. These are shapable but make very good places to sit on and look out. As mentioned above, the plains are about 3000 miles wide, however they are only about 1/3 that running north-south, and most variety is found in this direction. The slowly changing climate is apparent about halfway into the plains, where it is consistently chill in the evening but quite warm in the day.

Since the traveling is done mainly in an east-west fashion, the variety of lifeforms is more limited in the normal plains view. Herds always travel north-south, and to help distinguish between seasons, the elves check up on them. The herds are elk, deer, and the tapir-triceratop animal called Grazers, and the occasional Plains Mammoth.

Nearly in the middle of the plains sits the Central Hill, a natural formation which has been shaped over the years. The middle of it is hollow and very open, there is a tree on top, whose roots dangle into the walls (shaped by Symbolmaker) so they may continue growing without impeding the work in the hill. A river snakes through this area, as many cross the plains. Only when viewed from straight above are any of these waterways visible, even from a slight angle the tall grasses interrupt the view. There are many fish and frogs here, tall legged waterbirds seasonally, and of course this is a place where elves fish and play. The inside of the hill is covered with paintings, started by Symbolmaker but continued on by many others. Sitting on top of the hill is the best place for fishing with a hook and line, but inside the hill itself since the water pools and becomes calm it is possible to catch them with bare hands.

The hill is the tallest part of the plains, rising barely ten heights at the point where the tree sits. The view from the top of the tree is said to be the grandest on the Otherforest, if one can stomach all the tan grass. Of course, similar to Fisher's den, the grasses explode in fall with colors. Few if any elves are this far into the plains that late in the year, however, since directly after that seasonal shift it becomes too cold to live unprotected.

There is little else out on the plains, only some temporary shaped shelters which get used whenever someone runs across them, and that is very rarely. Homeshaper can find these unerringly and guides her tribemates to them if need be, but usually any area free of large predators like longtooth cats and bears will suit for a night's rest.

Gnats. Gnats live everywhere on the plains, in any season, in any weather except full rain. Birds have evolved to capture great mouthfuls of them, unfortunately this has not seemed to put even a slight dent in their population. Until an effective bug repellent is invented or shaped, the elves simply have to live with the bugs.

The night sounds here in the plains are full, everything from the constant tiny buzzing of the gnats, mosquitoes and flies, there are larger cricket noises, ground-owls hooting, falcon cries, and the bellowing of any herd animals nearby. Stamping the ground and sometimes breaking into a full stampede the elk herds are the most exciting and dangerous part of living on the plains. They can outrun any wolf, and outweigh them mainly. Small antelope and other hoofstock is easier to catch but harder to find in all the grass.

Howling carries for many more miles here than any other place on the planet, including the Red Wall canyon. In this manner elves communicate, since sending range is deceptive over this flat land. Howling is much easier, particularly when another group can see one another just barely. Only the best senders can communicate over the distances they usually do in a day, so plains elves are slightly less apt to send and more likely to be loud when in a group. This does not mean that they are lousy senders, in fact quite the opposite, they have the highest average ability of any holt!

On the west end of the plains of course is the Silverglen area, where the mountains cut a sharp edge on the horizon for many days worth of walking. Since the plains are so flat, this is very frustrating to those who must walk, those mountains are very inviting. At the very least, the forest begins about a day and a half away from the peaks.

One notable occurrence/area: near the south-west corner of the plains is a portal. It rests, as the Glen portal does, about ten heights in the air. It is unseen from any angle except directly facing it (that is to say facing north-east). This portal, like very few others, connects to an area in the north-east plains, somewhat near the Swamp. Possibly a temporary portal, it was used only once by Hook, Swan and the original Coastal elves.

Traveling clockwise around the plains, the forests become more pine oriented along the west end, and more round-top at the north. Directly south of the Greenriver holt is the smooth wash's end, obviously seasonal because of all the dried mud. Within the mud live frogs and toads, all manner of amphibians, and few fish. The fish-streams begin crossing about a quarter of the way south into the plains.

The north-east edge of the plains is usually coldest year-round, and freezes first when winter comes. There are larger hills and the peaks of snow-topped mountains can be seen from the flatlands. The forest is thick evergreen and interrupted with the most impressive forest on the planet, almost totally populated with fog-catchers! To an elf, remember, the fog-catcher could be a whole world... Most plains wanderers do not venture this far north.

The eastern border of the plains is Fang's land. A long and low wetland spreads nearly the whole way north and south, and beyond it can be seen the full-on swamplands and rain forests. Most spinebacks and wallow pigs live here, and though they are very good eating, it is seldom used hunting grounds simply because this is Fang's territory. You are sure to know it by the long pole-spears set here and there with skulls on them...

The land at the south-east area of the plains is warm and rainy most of the year. The best variety of plants for dyes, herb medicines, and poisons are found here, often within sight of one another. The land itself here is hilly and densely covered with plants. Most of the trees here are low growers, because the ground is so fertile they do not need to grow high. The southernmost wetlands runs off into this area, carrying all the silt and detritus to the marshes and streams. It is probably the most covered area -- plant wise. Rarely do feet actually touch the ground, it is covered in a maze of vines and roots, twisted grass, mosses and mushrooms.

Off farther south-east is the largest rain forest on the continent, but only about a handful of elves have ever seen it.

On the south portion again, the terrain is dotted with palms and ferns, and generally light vegetation. Traveling west to the South holt is quick from here.

During the winter, a startling change occurs on the whole of the plains. Snowstorms grip it and dump huge amounts of ice and snow onto the ground. The grasses are dead and collapsed by now, and the only warmth comes from the matted reeds as they decay. The ground is very cold and hard, and absolutely nothing bigger than an elf lives on the plains in winter. There is more activity on the Tundra than here! This is the reason that the wanderers bite their pride and shelter with the Southerners every winter, simply because it is impossible to live on the plains then. When they arrive in the late fall, it must be with or directly after the elk and deer have passed to the south-west. They and the hardier hunters of the South are responsible for bringing down enough meat to feed both combined populations for the winter. (See the South holt: because of the seasonal arrival to the South, many wanderers have a taste for the moss grown from the cavern entrance, and are often disappointed when they come unseasonally in the summer -- it isn't ready yet!)

Nearly anywhere on the eastern side of the Silverglen mountains can be reached by walking the plains. It is only a matter of time before other races like the Ice Traders discover the plains, what will happen then?


South Holt

This holt is situated at the southern border of the plains, about half a year's travel from the first holt. The ground is both swampy and cliff-ridden. The sodden ground sank after a large earthquake centuries ago ruptured the high ceiling of the still-existent underground lake. The high ground is very fertile, and they grow a lot of crops there. Every leaf-fall they harvest both the fruits and grains as well as welcome the wanderers in for the winter, as they bring down scoop-horn and elk. They are the most advanced of the elf tribes, using carts and kilns along with their innate magic.

The entire western border of both the Plains and South areas is a mountainous pine forest. The hunting here is excellent year round, carrying a large variety of prey. More east of the peaks the forest thins out into sparse but hardy pines and large fog-catchers. Following the edge of this forest from Silverglen will take the traveler directly to the first landmark on the way to the South: Fisher's den. This is a small cave that opens facing south-east, and is barely noticeable from the ground. There is a small streamlet erupting from the cave, it was natural before Fisher began shaping it, and there is little in the way of shaping now. Next to the stream is Fisher's Arch, which is actually two arches now joined over the stream. He has shaped a small stone representing every person in both the South and the plains Wanderers, originally each arch was suited to only one, but with Recognitions and lovematings the stones needed to be placed closer together. Small crystal chimes are hung from spots on the arch. Inside, there is a small chilled pool, and beyond the back of the cave the giant underground water table is held in place by another larger cavern. Little exploration has taken place here, but it is suspected that there are connections from the cave to the Catacombs in the west. From the air, the place can be seen only because of the stream breaking up the steady grass plain.

The long grasses of the plains thrive here, providing the ground cover beneath the high Fog-catchers, there is little in the way of bushy undergrowth. The grasses are uniformly tan in color, year round, the fall explosion of colors comes after the rainy season in late summer, and only then can the grasses be told apart: their fuzzy tops sway in the breezes and loose pollen in every color imaginable!

About a full day's walk south-east brings the traveler to the South holt. The grass becomes more short and thick, and more pines than any other kind of tree can be seen. From the vantage point where Treetop usually sits herself, nearly any place can be seen. The due-south high ground is covered with fruit trees and berry bushes and grape vines. All the high ground seen from the first view surrounds the holt proper, which is mainly situated in the cliffs and on the low swampy land. The walk around all the high ground takes more than a day, but only a couple of minutes from Treetop's nest to the Fruit Groves.

There is a pathway leading from nearly all high cliffs into the lowlands, some are steeper than others. Near Treetop's nest is an opening in her tree that leads directly into the main cliff face. This path is not taken by any animals, because it is a series of rungs and stairs, very steep. Through the stone ceiling the shaped steps curve and then end abruptly, and there is a pile of soft furs beneath it since most people like to drop down the two heights to the floor. (This was learned the hard way, of course...) This main den is connected to the forge and metalworking areas. Open windows and entrances are everywhere, and this is the best ventilated area in the whole cliff. A fire hearth is shaped into the west wall, and only the bravest fire or stone shapers will go behind this, to get metals from the stones. This is the farthest west shaped cliff in the holt. Work tables and stone ledges are everywhere, as are all the works in progress. Standing in the middle of the room and looking east gives a great view of the main tree on the lowlands, and beyond it the high cliffs where insane climbers can be seen.

Walking south in the room about six strides is Rainweaver's den. It is a recessed area with a large loom on the inside wall, and a large open window behind the seated weaver's back. Several elves usually are at work here, and it is somewhat cramped. All her supplies are hidden behind the loom (and therefore beneath the floor of the forge room) and are on sliding trays.

Directly west of Rainweaver's loom is the main lowland entrance to this cliff face. Four wide steps lead from the floor to the ground, and a shaped arch rests over the last step, interrupting the large open space above the stairs. In case of any need, large tarps and cloths are stretched over this arch and connected to both ground and ceiling, but most of the time this is decorated with freshly made cloth or furs, or simple banners and shiny things. The grassy area past the entrance is very flat and low, and traveled most extensively by the artisans and craftsmen in the holt.

Criss-crossing the lowlands are streams and small rivers, much of the land is wet but not sopping. The seasonal rise in waterlevel is minimal, because of the still-lower land due south. Most of the streams terminate at fissures in the south cliffs, and inside them is a large lake which filters into the south valley. The water here is warm, mainly because of its shallow streambeds and long travel beneath the plains sunlight. (Only Fisher's stream is cool.)

On several of the treeless lands in the swamp there are colonies of rabbits, somehow managing to survive in the dank ground. Many of these colonies are tended by Catcher now, controlling their population by trapping yearly, and of course they use the pelts in many forms. Only the far western lowlands are treeless, possibly because of the composition of the ground?

The other little islets each have one to three mosstops or willows, nearly all in the center of the land, and most have been shaped into homes. The largest and closest to the west cliff is home to Clearmist and many of the musicians of the holt. Between each large fanlike root of the tree nearly a dozen elves may sit easily, and while this tree is not nearly the size of the Great Tree in the First holt, it serves exactly the same purpose. The mosstop trees however can be used in several stages, because of their wide-boll trunk they can be hollowed out and used as true dens, and their flat spread high branches can be made into excellent tree-houses. Their large root system is able to naturally stabilize any large construction. Most of the musical instruments are stored in the higher branches, to avoid water rot. Between the high branches, strips of colored leather and cloth are strung, playthings for birds and flying elves!

On one side of this tree is a meeting grove, beneath where the chief and her attendants might stand or sit comfortably on the entrance to the tree. Small benches have been shaped into the fan roots and the ground stays level all the way to the nearest stream which runs beneath Rainweaver's den, beside the cliff. On the opposite side of the tree from the meeting grove is Merrywine's Cauldron. A large metal pot on small struts over a little firepit, this is always in use, as he is constantly making one wine or another. He has other pots elsewhere, but this one serves as the holt's winebarrel. When he opens it (usually only twice a year) it is free range for anyone who has a cup and a ladle! When he is gone (to earth? following Ian Anderson?) his wolf friend guards the cauldron, only allowing close associates to keep the fire going beneath it.

The tree directly east of the main one is Glaze's glassblowing shop, where only the most delicate and careful people (or bond-animals) are allowed. He has a small kiln actually inside the tree, and all his works line the walls and hang from the ceiling.

The north islet has a shaped stone crest, with a tree beside it. Inside the crest is the South's oven, which Baker tends daily. The scent of her bread can be detected in the early morning hours all over the holt.

Due south across the main river of the holt is the largest part of the cliff fissure, a place that has been shaped many seasons, and is now home to the fishers and water-trappers of the holt. The opening is naturally wide from the water and erosion but will not become any wider unless the elves make it so. Near the bottom are many hooks for baskets to be placed, catching any stray fish that might be better off cooked for dinner. About 1-1/2 heights up from the water line is a slab of stone that separates the shaped dens from the natural cavern leading to the inside lake. Walking on this is slippery and rather dangerous, since mist from the river is always rising to it. Moss grows beneath it, and is harvested as a food-supplement (tasty but only a yearly addition, it takes a very long time to grow).

Inside the den-side of the cavern it is dark and cool at all times, and there are many entrances here and there leading to sleep dens and small chambers. Some of the openings lead to the cavern below, as can be distinguished by its scent and noise, if there is the open sound and scent of water, this is it. There is one other opening to the high ground, several minutes due south, past the fruit groves.

Beneath the cave dens, the cavern does not widen immediately, but there is a waterfall along the whole north side of the vast cave. Below this level, the ceiling remains pretty constantly level, only dipping in the very center and at the sides. Many years of dripping and build up have made this place eerie and sensational, and actually well lit because of all the luminescent crystals -- and the fish! Since this cavern is a freshwater lake, the only difference between it and an outdoor lake is the lack of sunlight. Most large fish, if not caught in elfin baskets, pass all the way through this lake and exit heading south to the coast. Many fish, however, have remained here and evolved into brilliantly luminescent lures and trappers. Probably close to 100 different kinds of fish live here. If measured by the area that the fish actually live in, this lake is about the size of Silverglen's Mirror lake!

No other animals hunt here, except for elves and their bonds. This has made the fish totally careless of the forms that appear above them, they are brave. Some of the larger, older fish, found mainly at the bottom of the lake, are caught and used for their chemical light, even by Rainweaver in her sewn creations! (Most of the younger ones are too small and their biolumes die quickly.) Little plant life actually lives in the lake, because of the lack of light, but much detritus is washed into it, and is caught like a filter before the water exits the cavern. The lake is the last large one before the coast, and much of the water after it is bereft of life -- the closer to the coast it gets the more populated the water is, by both fish and plants, simply because the silt is filtered out at this point.

West of the entrance to the cavern is the start of the large walkway leading up to the fruit groves. It switches back only once, and is very wide. There are places where torches sit constantly, and more that are added with the Harvest festival. Occasionally the open side of the ramp is bare, but mainly they grow a railing that frames it and that can be decorated. (Has the traveler noticed that the 'decoration' aspect of this holt is very strong?)

The Fruit groves are lined up in a more earthly manner than any other place in elfin existence, not completely unnatural, the elves intersperse the trees with berry bushes and creeping vines, but always keep the ground clear of unwanted bushy growth and most grasses. During Harvest most of the elves gather for a three day celebration to take as much fruit down as possible, using woven baskets and nets. All activity ceases at about noon for a nap and storytelling session, then again at night. Most of the fruit is used to make baked goods, some for fresh serving, and the ones deemed too ripe are handed over to none other than Merrywine.

Some of the fruits grown here are natural, like oranges and apples, but some have been made by magic, and breed true, these have sweeter insides and edible rinds, and look a lot like a prickly pear without the pricklies.

East of the Grove the land slowly curves downward, and after nearly half a day travel south-east the one underwater river begins its exit. It winds around the hills to the south and finally terminates on the highlands in a large waterfall. On the lower grounds here the hunting is best in winter time, when the herds have passed and are as far south as they will come. Huge numbers of waterfowl arrive for the wintering as well, many passing to the east for the lakes.

Bordering the holt proper on the east side is Loft's peak, the highest part of the evergreen lands. Several other peaks can be seen, and this range, though small, dots the entire south area of the plains. Loft's peak is sharp and dangerous, and fairly sparsely forested.

The entire north area of the holt is sunken lowlands, until about half a day's travel. There, the land again becomes shattered and rises, in fits and starts, to the Plains.


The Wanderers of the plains make their journey from South to wherever they will be in summer every year without fail. This is not saying that it is an easy thing. The remnants of the great southern mountain range borders their territory, they figure any time you are not seeing plains, you are no longer in the plains.

Traveling to the Coastal Cliffs holt is very easy, takes only a few hands of days, over extremely light terrain.

The Southern holt :

Clearmist is the leader of the very large group which is always increasing in number. She is level headed and sensible, and a very good singer, which to the southern elves, is as good as anything. She lives in a cliff-hollow, easily accessed by anyone, which is by design.

This holt has more elves than any other, and therefore has more than one tanner. In fact, several tanners practice their arts, but they have a master weaver who cannot be equalled. Rainweaver is a flighty woman, but she stores a great amount of talent within her hands. She uses silks and plants, only occasionally furs. She has mastered a silvery thread, and places it in almost everything she makes. It lends a shimmery color, and adds effect. Silkfur is the main tanner, making soft works rather like silk. How she does this is her own secret. Twine is another weaver, but she designs protective clothing for the Wanderers, which they appreciate more than Rainweaver's for they are usually not in a possition to enjoy soft things.

Stealwind and Lava are the weapon makers of this holt and for the wanderers. Lava and her wandering counterpart Forge are often found together to work metals the old fashioned way, while Stealwind shapes blades with magic.

Glaze is the only glass-blower elf, and he does his work the old fashioned way, by heating up sand. He has no power to shape glass anyway, so he has to do it for real. His works include lenses, and he has entrusted one of his finest spy-glasses to Viper of the wanderers, who has put it to good use.

Glaze's lifemate Stinger is a self-shaper who has adopted the armored skin and silvery color of a scorpion, and can change into one at a moment's notice. Anyone with the self-shaping power that comes within about 20 feet of her will start to change themselves, and it is only through great force of will that they can remain normal.

The southerners have a great love of partying, and this is embodied in Merrywine , the wine maker. He wears a bright spectrum of colors, a hold over from his Dead-head earthly days. Merrywine is one of a few elves who went back to earth, to track down Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Don't ask. Just don't ask.

Several children went south into the tropics and have only recently come back: Springblossom, Sundance, Amaranth and Pinecone . Pinecone was the only one to come back sooner, and he is quite messed up in the head because of Stonequest's assault. Sundance and Rattlebones share the same soul-name and are more than content with one another.

One example of what happens when a human does not change completely to elf is Half-Elf, who also calls herself Baker . She is nearly twice the girth of any other elf, but is only about a couple feet taller. She has magic powers, but doesn't use them much because they tire her out considerably. She runs the oven in the south holt, baking breads from the grains harvested nearby on the cliffs.

The Southern Wanderers :

Led through the tall grasses and flat lands by Bluerain , a tough woman with a commanding aura about her. She is not afraid to fight her own kind, because she is good enough at those ins and outs that she does not lose. She will not kill her own kind. Ever.

An odd elfin man to meet is Trickster , though you'll probably wish you hadn't, if you don't have a good sense of humor. His mental ability to cause illusions is very strong. He has several tatoos covering his body, and he uses these images to start off any illusions.

The several makers of the mid-plains landmark Fishing Hill consisted of many rock and tree shapers, though Acorn, Fisher and Forge are responsible for the main work. Everyone who travels near the main river running west-east through the plains should stop to take a cool dip in the shaped pool, rest beneath the large shade tree atop the Hill, and perhaps lend their own touch of magic to the walls inside, where Symbolmaker and others have already begun their paintings. Homeshaper is a woman who can unerringly guide people to the same location over and over, and her creations are scattered about the plains.

Gemstone has opened up most exposed stone surfaces, revealing many beautiful ores, in search of her namesake, which she makes into very wonderful jewlery to trade to anyone who has something she wants.

An example quite the opposite of Baker is Wildhowl , who completely changed from his human form and has no recollection of his days on earth whatsoever. He is Bluerain's mate, and protects their way of life as much as she does.

Bane is an elf who is as unpleasant to be with as a pair of spine-backs in a fight. Even the Swamp elves stay clear of him, he has a bad temper and is as adept at inflicting pain as he is at tracking down his prey, which is infallible. He is used to being rejected by others, but when his abilities are needed he responds.

The only elf to have been known to die is Veil , a lovely small thing who had been mated with Fang of the Swamp elves. She inadvertantly got in Fang's way, in the middle of a challenge of his, and he went into a rage. She ran from him but later in the evening, as a celebration at the southern holt was being held, he tore her frail body apart. Her spirit now floats free to haunt him, and often her sad wailings can be heard flowing through the forest where the deed was done.

Inhabitants of the Wanderers ((FEMALE)) ((MALE)) /c = child (note Hillanders are elsewhere)

Hammer/ c

Inhabitants of the Southern Holt ((FEMALE)) ((MALE)) /c = child (note Hillanders are elsewhere)

Vine's Bloom