Forest Arden is a thick, ancient woods riddled with trails which can move about at the command of Hiko, the Warden of Arden. Deep in the forest's heart is the Warden's Lodge, a small fortress which serves as her refuge and base. Many small rivers and streams flow into the forest, eventually running into the Barimen river, which runs through the northern edge of the forest. While the Barimen's course seems to be fixed, the Warden is believed to have the power to rearrange the flow of all of the lesser waters as well. The warden also controls the river locks which make the river navigable, and can open or close it to traffic accordingly.
Warden Hiko and her husband, the Green Knight, are served by the Forest Rangers, an elite force of several hundred highly trained archers. About two thirds of the force is Elven, the result of Gendo planting a community of Elves in the southern end of the forest. They ride specially bred horses, and have many packs of hounds and falcons capable of tracking any intruder. Most of the rangers have some skill at sorcery, and the former warden, Corrine, is known to have supplied them heavily with Trumps for communications purposes.
There is known to be a Pattern deep inside Arden, hidden away somewhere. Rumor has it that some sort of large greenhouse has been constructed around it, part of a larger construct which has enabled Arden to resist the changes wrought by the shift of elemental balances, possibly linked to the Lighthouse of Cabra and the Heat Diffusion Tower of Castle Amber.
Not to be confused with cockatiels if you want to live, cockatrices are flightless birds which resemble roosters. They can turn people to stone by touching them, although they most commonly use this to attack animals and eat them instead. Their power does not seem to affect still-living plants, only animals and some magical constructs.
All cockatrices appear male (like a mutated male chicken), but reproduce once a year, if they get enough food during the year before. Unlike with birds, baby cockatrices are born live, although unable to feed themselves at first.
About once a decade, the cockatrices reproduce like crazy, swarming and forcing the rangers to hunt and kill most of them.
The Elves of Arden have become somewhat odd in recent years due to Prince Ota's influence, and can perhaps be best described as 'Funk Elves'. Imagine a cross between Superfly and Galadriel, then run while you're still sane.
There is a substantial Elven settlement, Nimost, in the southern portion of the forest, home to perhaps eight hundred elves, with another two thousand or so scattered through the woods in small villages around Nimost. Nimost centers around a holy tree; the Elves believe it to be a seedling of something known as the 'Two Trees', whatever that is.
The Green Knight has his own page.
The Questing Beast may well be a transdimensional creature not native to this universe; however, he has yet to appear in this one outside of Arden so far as has been recorded. He is known to be capable of clever disguises and to possess great Pattern powers. He's also known to have a horde of horny bison he likes to turn loose on people to herd them and harrass them. It is believed that he acts to preserve the Patterns, and thought also that he punishes those guilty of incest.
About forty years ago, the Black Moon spat death down on the forest, and some regions are still somewhat on the creepy and haunted side. Travellers beware.
These regions have been dwindling over time as Arden heals the damage, but there are still several places which wise travellers will avoid. These sites include--
Most Amberites regard Spiny Norman as a myth made up by drunken Rangers. The Rangers know better. Spiny Norman made his first appearance during the First Day of Darkness, attacking retreating Dorians and eating them in droves before digging himself a burrow and sleeping for a hundred years.
Roughly once a century since then, Spiny Norman has emerged to go on a several week rampage through Arden in which he eats everything in sight and leaves a trail of devastation in his wake. Spiny Norman has been killed twice (in the 800s and in the 1000s, when King Gendo chopped him to bits with Justice) and somehow returned from the grave.
Spiny Norman, in the words of one ranger, "looks like a giant cross between a lobster, an ant-eater, a porcupine, and a badger." Covered with long porcupine spines, he has the digging skills of a badger, forelimbs which evoke the lobster, and an ant-eater like snout. He is generally considered to be the most ridiculous looking creature in all of shadow by those who have seen him.
Krusty, the Royal Fool, is known to run screaming at the mention of Spiny Norman for reasons unknown.
The White Stag is believed to be the Wood aspect of the Unicorn, although the Unicorn has been more often seen as simply a unicorn in Arden itself. The White Stag often appears to guide lost travellers and those on quests to their destination.
Warden Hiko, the Green Knight, and Morgan have all vanished for reasons unknown to the general populace. The Warden's Lodge has been blown off the face of the earth. These events were accompanied by an outbreak of undead, which were stopped by forces dispatched by King Tylor under the command of [Shinobu Major]? and Keiko.