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Hoofwood

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Hoofwood is a sprawling boreal forest of coniferous trees located in eastern Iobaria's Dvezda Marches, along the western edges of the Deeprun Crevasse.[1] Named for the dozen or so clans of Rashalka centaurs who find shelter within the forest, no other sentient creatures are known to dwell beneath the Hoofwood's trees, making the region an island of stability within the chaos of Iobaria.[2]

Geography

The forest of Hoofwood is made up entirely of pines and other trees able to survive the harsh winters of the Dvezda Marches. These trees grow close enough together that their branches weave together to block out the sunlight and shroud the forest floor in constant shadows. This, compounded with the dry climate and rocky, acidic soil, leaves the undergrowth within the forest scarce.[1]

Locations

Hoofpaths

The Hoofpaths are a series of paths travelled by the nomadic centaur clans of the Hoofwood; each clan has its own unique Hoofpath designed so the territories hunted by the clans rarely overlap to any great degree.[1]

The Hut's Clearing

Whenever Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut lands in Iobaria, it somehow always appears in one certain clearing deep in the Hoofwood.[3]

Korak Kaag's Camp

The centaurs of clan Voaldyn frequently make camp at this location as they travel their traditional Hoofpaths through the Hoofwood. It has been inhabited by the Voaldyn chief Korak Kaag as he attempts to defend the northern reaches of Hoofwood from northern raiders.[3]

Vurnirn

An ancient cyclopean city, Vurnirn, is a sacred location for the centaur clans of Hoofwood, a place for them to gather, trade, and exchange information.[3]

Inhabitants

The sole civilized people of the Dvezda Marches, the Rashalka centaurs call the Hoofwood home. The four most populous clans are Kraask, Phelor, Tsurvom, and Voaldyn; and all four have representation at their unofficial, semi-permanent capital of Vurnirn.[1]

With farming essentially impossible within the Hoofwood, the centaurs rely on hunting and foraging for most of their food. The centaurs use every part of their prey, and at gatherings typically trade the bones, teeth, and cured skins of the creatures they've hunted. The white-headed pheasant resides at the bottom of the Hoofwood's food chain and is hunted by hoarpanthers and polar kamadans, which are in turn hunted by the centaurs.[1]

Realizing long ago that remaining sedentary would lead them to ruin, the Rashalka adopted a nomadic lifestyle, following their food sources along a route unique to each clan, called a Hoofpath. While natural disasters and hunting opportunities may cause the centaur to leave their clan's Hoofpath, they tend to stick to their historic routes as closely as possible, stopping frequently at favoured camping sites and sacred locales. The centaurs use their travelling time to pass on oral traditions and histories, building a strong sense of community by following the same paths of their forefathers.[1]

The centaurs celebrate numerous small holidays, depending on celestial events such as the phases of the moon, solstices and equinoxes, and the positions of the constellations. The Rashalka tend to worship aspects of the Green Faith, along with more shamanistic and totemic rites.[1]

While largely peaceful, the centaurs of Hoofwood are always prepared to defend against raids by northern clans of Tsolniva centaurs from the Ice Steppes. As such, the forest is littered with myriad pit and spring traps, making the Hoofwood a dangerous target to invade.[2]

References