Historically, the Estrovian Forest was used for timber and hunting. However, during the First Mendevian Crusade a group of druids, angry at the influx of foreigners, transformed a trespassing Andoren huntsman called Herne Vilhaur into a stag-horned avenger known as a herne by calling down the 'curse of the winterthorn'. The creature killed its creators, and then began indiscriminately killing all it found within the forest—sometimes creating more of his kind in the process. These creatures are known as hernes as a result. The herne creature that was once Herne Vilhaur is said to be buried in a barrow at the foot of a tree now known as Herne's Oak, an area his descendants view as sacred.
In addition to the vicious and territorial hernes, the forest is also home to winter wolves and snowy owls, along with a pack of apparently ghostly owlbears who roam it on snowy nights. The bodies of any slain owlbears disappear with the dawn. Werebear-kin are also known to inhabit the forest and are respected for their abilities as rangers and woodland guides, and taiga giants settled in the forest after being displaced by the opening of the Worldwound.
Locations of interest
The Chapel of the Argent Shield is a temple that was once dedicated to Aroden that lies on the road between Kenabres and Egede on a remote edge of the Estrovian Forest. Originally, it was a small shrine purposed to protect against the cult of Deskari but is now enlarged, fortified, and rededicated as a temple of Iomedae.
The Severed Spiral is a circle of standing stones deep within the forest, consisting of forty-three menhirs around seven dolmens. The stones on one half of the circle are made of black, rough-hewn basalt, while those on the opposite side are of white, smooth dolomite. The circle is the only permanent holy site of the Children of Balance, an organization of religious ettins who worship the gods that most closely embody the duality and dichotomy of an ettin's life—especially Pharasma, Nethys, and Gozreh.
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