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Old 09-07-2018, 06:18 PM   #6
Brains over Brawn.
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This one's open to any ZA who wants it, though I would prefer to be the ZA for it.

The Arboreal Cradle
The Eternal Forest Zone

Before there was civilisation, there was nature. From the very void, Arceus was said to have created the world from a single seed and nurtured it with His thousand arms into the land we call home today. However, for all His power, it was not by His hand that life was created, and that nature flourished, for the world grown was barren and empty. Thus was it that Xerneas and Yveltal were created after Time, Space and Antimatter, to create the Cycle of Life and Death, and Zygarde to maintain the Order of the Cycle. With the Cycle started, the land slowly grew from nothing to something, rivers began to flow and the cracked sands toiled to dirt, which bore shoots of grass, then shrubbery. Within a few centuries, a vast forest grew forth, and expanded to cover much of the world's landmasses. Yet, all forests had to come from somewhere...that somewhere is a tract of land known as the Arboreal Cradle, the beginning of life on our world. From within, it is said that Creation continues and the Cycle remains constant, the literal beating heart and lungs of our world in action, and the Order of things maintained, so that when life can no longer remain, Death takes it with dignity to return it to the cycle.

For centuries, explorers and searched for this land, with no avail, and only at the advent of technology has Man at last discovered a world that They have not touched. Expeditions and exploration began with the intent of exploitation, yet the forces within have prevented such disaster from occurring and invaders have been repelled by the Guardians of the Arboreal Cradle, with the few who escaped alive relaying tales of incredible sights and riches, of civilisations who have lived and grown to become one with the Cradle. Following intense lobbying and debate among world leaders, it was agreed that the Cradle be classed as a Nature Preserve, one that no corporation or group shall attempt to exploit, and for only those with permits to travel to.

That was three hundred years ago, and today the status of the Cradle remains protected, though the laws pertaining to the land have been alleviated somewhat so as to allow anyone to travel there. With the doors effectively opened, trainers have flocked to the Cradle to discover a forest unlike any other they have ever encountered.

The Arboreal Cradle consists of five separate and distinct, yet closely intertwined and linked forest biomes, each connected to each other through a central border area, and the boundaries between each are so connected that one may pass into another biome without realising it.

Grandshroud Forest
The Temperate Forest

The largest of the wooded biomes of the Cradle, Grandshroud Forest encompasses much of the central forest belt and stretches to the far west, and comprises an area estimated by explorers to be at least the size of Sinnoh, if not larger. The forest itself consists of a variety of trees from the humble oak to the mighty redwood, and is by far the most popular forest for visitors and tourists due to this diversity. With permission from its caretakers and natives, a permanent settlement has been erected amongst the foliage to cater to the increase in traffic, albeit with some concern among the locals. Nevertheless, for those who wish for the great outdoors, there is no better forest than grandshroud Forest.

Grandshroud Forest is a temperate forest, and many pokemon who reside within it are suited to such a location, making it suitable for easier adventures, debatably. Throughout your travels in this area, you have the option to visit several sub-areas, which are listed below.

Sub Areas

Cedar City: Slowly developed over hundreds of years, Cedar City takes much of its form from Hoenn's Fortree City, but puts the latter to shame in magnitude and splendour. Constructed around and within a thicket of cedar trees, the settlement is considered to be the first port of call for weary explorers to put up their feet and relax. Walkways stretch for miles, some of which even venture out of the city to the surrounding woodland for those who enjoy long walks, and the buildings are eco-friendly by design and requirement. Trade with the natives of the forest are frequent, and the shrewd investor can find themselves with some interesting deals by day. At night, the natural light filtering through the leaves and spot of clearance allows for sights of the sky that are almost unparalleled.

Grandshroud Navel: While a great deal of Grandshroud Forest is under shade naturally, the navel really shows how the forest earned its name. Plantlife is not as common on the floor of the navel as the sheer coverage of leaves above renders the ground below under permanent shade, and indeed in certain areas of the forest the lack of light can require personal sources. Those who venture into the deeper areas of the navel may find pokemon and objects of interest, and perhaps even some treasures or items that previous explorers left behind or lost in their own ventures.

Fall's Grace: By far the most visually stunning part of the Grandshroud Forest, the majority of trees here are of the maple variety and the area itself seems to be in a perpetual autumn, giving every tree within this part of the forest a breathtaking spectrum of gold and brown. Within this area reside the native Vitri, humans who have lived alongside nature for as long as they can remember, and the Vitri are welcoming to those who treat the forest with respect. While their lifestyle may appear a little outdated to some, the tribes are well versed in the arts of nature and have been willing to offer their skills and trades in favour of tasks and other such tidbits, and several of the Vitri have even been known to offer tourists a passage to other biomes of the Cradle.

Celia's Grotto: For those who are of a more occult heart, or simply seek guidance on matters that no other philosopher can answer, the paths through the trees will inevitably take them to this small mossy cavern, alleged home to a being more mythical than many legendary pokemon: Celia, the Dryad. Those who have sought out this mysterious figure fail to memorise their encounters with her, and there are many within the woods who claim her to be folklore, and yet there is the odd traveller who has somehow had some immense trouble lifted from their shoulders, or whom have had life-changing experiences. Perhaps the dryad does exist, or perhaps not, but for those who stumble upon this grotto, their lives will certainly change for better or worse...

Guardian's Springs: Travellers and explorers don't find the springs: they are invited. A closely guarded secret of the Grandshroud Forest, the Guardian's Springs are said to be the home of the Guardian of the temperate forest, a verdant being whose physical form allows them the power of flight, and with the power to cleanse even the most corrupt of souls. Any attempts to enter without permission from a trusted individual will be met with fierce resistance, yet for those who have proven their worth, the Guardian may allow entry into their personal Nirvana, and provide the lucky guest with entertainment and rewards only a divine could offer.

Palearchean Wildwoods
The Coniferous Taiga

Situated towards the northern end of the Cradle, the Palearchean Wildwoods depict the most evident sign that the Cradle is unique due to its geographical location and general proximity to other biomes. Perpetually frigid, the hardy conifers of the Wildwoods stand in a temperate zone that should by all means thaw the soil the trees grow in, yet the earth remains as solid as steel to all but the hardest shovels and the bitter air sinks into skin like teeth on a Sharpedo. The local Sirunsan who call this land home claim that it is the ancestral heart of all taiga, and that rock from the core of the forest helped shape Mount Zephyria over a thousand miles away. With the nature of the taiga, the pokemon within are as hardy as can be, and the chill of the frosty earth affects living things in unusual ways.

The Palearchean Wildwoods are a coniferous forest in a tundra plain, and the wildlife within have endured and thrived in the challenging conditions. Throughout your journey in the wildwoods, there are several points of interest...

Sub Areas

Sirunsan Settlements: The Wildwoods are a great expanse and signs of human life aren't as frequent as other forests, yet the Sirunsan people call this land their home. Scattered across the taiga, the sight of log and stone cabins are welcome for many explorers, and the Sirunsan, while a little intimidating, are charitable tribes who know the sight of a shivering unprepared traveller and chuckle, preparing an urn of warm soup and some appropriate garb. They do however enjoy sport, and their hospitality usually curtails providing them with entertainment of some form, be it through combat or skill.

Dragon's Descent: Taiga are known for having ground that is almost impossible to break through without immense force and determination, yet there have been incidents where something of meteoric force has impacted. One such point is a large depression, marked by scorched earth and trees blown backwards, and the discovery of small fragments of unknown material have led to the belief that the crater was formed by the fall of a mighty dragon during a heated battle. The crater itself is seldom visited, but those who have ventured down have reported unusual sightings of otherworldly nature, and some of the most unusual behaviour in the world has been attributed to this paradox of a hole in the world...

Icebound Castle: The largest clearing in the Cradle belongs to the Wildwoods, where a vast frozen lake sits in a natural vale. The ice sheet itself is a couple of metres thick and has been the source of ice fishing by the Sirunsan, but many who venture here come to check out what has been dubbed the Icebound Castle, a massive rocky outcrop in the centre of the lake completely caked in spires of ice that give the impression of a castle. Entry is at the explorer's own risk, and few have entered the cavern entrance of the castle and escaped intact, making the place treacherous. During the night, among the aurorae, the wail of the wind carries an unusual echo of a voice emanating from the castle, though that may just be the wind...right?

Winter's Wrath: The deepest copse of the Wildwoods is also the most dangerous. Here, the winds howl and scream, the snow freezes into icy spears that tear into flesh and cloth, and the wild pokemon are among the most brutal and merciless in the entire Cradle. Here and there the frozen remains of foolish adventurers lay, either huddled in a frozen tomb or in fragments scattered in small rings. The Sirunsa stay well clear of this land, except for the young men who venture into this bitter waste as a rite of passage. Those who wish to truly earn the respect of the Palearchean natives may accept the rite for themselves, but be warned: once you enter the copse, you are either leaving a hero, or never leaving.

Edelweiss, the Guardian's Peak: By no means the tallest point of the Cradle, Edelweiss is still a very tall mountain in the very centre of the wildwoods, and the upper echelons bear nothing but frozen stone. At the very peak a rift can be sighted in the rock, and folklore tells of the cold and stoic Guardian of the Palearchean, whose physical nature binds them to their mountain. There are no requirements for anyone visiting, for none are required: those who wish to meet the Guardian have to survive the trek up the mountain, then to survive within Edelweiss itself, and to date nobody outwith the Cradle has done so.

Lythan'Torr Glades
The Tropical Rainforest

Lythan'Torr. To most humans, it means little. To the Lythanki tribes, it represents blessings. The name in the native tongue means “Sacred Woods of Torr,” the name of Torr referring to the Guardian of the rainforest. Adding onto the mysterious nature of the Arboreal Cradle, a swathe of the forest hugs the Palearchean Wildwoods, a blend of tropical and taiga in inexplicable fashion, yet the tales of the Cradle being the source of all life on the world holds weight, and Lythan'Torr certainly holds that weight. With an ecosystem rivalling that of Alola, the jungles of the glades – it in itself more an honorific given the size of the forest – have one of the greatest varieties of pokemon residing within, as well as many different tribes of people, who collectively fall under the Lythanki umbrella and connected by one thread: Torr. Explorers should take heed of the beauty, for despite the majesty of the jungle, there are always dangers afoot.

The Lythan'Torr Glades are a tropical rainforest and hold the most biodiversity of any major area, providing much opportunity for adventure. Throughout your escapades in the glades, some locations may catch your attention more than others...

Sub Areas

Old King's Temple: The history of the Lythanki is deep and gnarled, much like the trees found within the ancient temple of the Old King, a great figurehead in the annals who was said to have united the warring tribes to fend off a great evil. Following his passing a massive complex was built, his riches interred within and sealed in the depths. Foolish treasure hunters have journeyed into the temple, and none have emerged, having succumbed to the traps within and the old king's loyal bodyguards, who even in death remain to guard their lord with every fibre of their being. The halls are filled with the rich history of the Lythanki, and there are researchers who seek their own bodyguards to safeguard their explorations.

Springstar's Glory: Many different tribes reside within the forest, each with their own ways and nature, and all respect each other and their ways. At certain times, the chieftains and shamans of different tribes meet in this constructed amphitheatre to conduct offerings and hold feasts, and trainers who wish to learn of the ways or simply wish to experience a day in the life of the Lythanki can seek the building for themselves. However, those who venture should do so with an air of caution, for there is no telling whether their intrusion will be welcomed, and hostilities can and have occurred. On the other hand, if the invitation seems too good to be true, then it may very well be, and an adventurer could end up as a guest of honour at a feast, or as the feast for a guest of honour...

Leniazom Banks: The Leniazom river is the longest within the Glades, and serves as a source of freshwater for many pokemon and Lythanki. The banks of the river stretch for miles on end, and hold a plethora of unique fauna, some of which can only be found within the mud of the Leniazom. Some can catch a boat trip up and down the length of the river either with fellow journeymen or with the Lythanki who can appreciate a helping hand with their trips, and much of the tribal settlements can be found not far from the banks of the river. The rapids are dangerous, however, and a trip down the river may very well result in a ride you'll never forget and may be lucky to escape.

Canopy Crossways: Much of the interests of the forest aren't within the grounds, but up on the treetops where the branches are thick and the vines sturdy. With agility and a head for heights, one can discover a literal community of pokemon and humans resident in the canopies, though communication may be an issue. The many trees connect with each other providing literal pathways across tracts of land, and the fruits of the forest grow in abundance in the sprawling expanses. With all due respect though, be careful where you put your footing, for not all branches were grown equally, and a break in the trees may very well lead you to an almost guaranteed fatal fall, and if the fall doesn't kill you, the fearsome predators who also call the canopy and floor home will.

Del'Torr, Sanctum of the Guardian: Lythanki custom is that each passing of the great rains, a young man and woman must venture to the highest plateau of the rainforest to Del'Torr, Citadel of Torr, and make a great offering to the Guardian of the Lythan'Torr Glades. What this great offering specifically involves is unknown, but by the time the two return to their home, it is usually with a baby in tow, giving rise to the outlander belief that part of the offering is carnal in nature. What is known however is the identity of the Guardian, a spirit of the land whose nature gives life to the land and fertility to the infertile. Finding Del'Torr is no easy feat, and being recognised by the Guardian even tougher, yet the prospect of trials has often invited thrillseekers hunting for a challenge to approach the Sanctum. Whether the applicants are successful or not is another matter entirely, for the Guardian is wily and powerful, sculpting their trials to specific individuals or couples.

The Heartless Hallows
The Fossilised Savannah

While much of the Cradle's land is covered in forests, not all forests were created equal, and the Cycle dictates that all Life will eventually give way to Death. Few could argue that the Heartless Hallows represent the finality of life, nor could few argue that the plains aren't tragically beautiful. By definition, a forest is a wooded expanse, yet the Hallows that wrap around and through the Cradle can only be loosely called one. Spires of petrified trees stand in endless watch, while the occasional shrub and savannah tree pokes out of dried and dusty ground, with the odd plateau and mesa jutting out of the earth. The forest itself bears a sort of dignified acceptance of the end of life, and within the badlands there are pockets of life here and there, but the tourist attractions are certainly the position of the hallows as the biggest petrified woodland in the world.

The Heartless Hallows are a savannah, and the hardy pokemon within are suited to the almost perpetually long days that drag on in the heat. Throughout your pilgrimage, some intriguing locales may warrant your interest.

Sub Areas

Mausoleum of Giants: Stories have been told of demons from the depths of hell who rose to conquer the world, and of the Guardians who thwarted their attempts and vanquished them. In their final battle, the Guardians slain five thousand demons, and their remains were left to rot under the watchful eye of Yveltal to ensure they dared not rise once more. Whether the tales are true or not, there lies a vast basin with the bones of creatures of immense size in what is effectively an archaeological site. Permits are required to excavate in the mausoleum, and those who have stayed a reasonable length of time there have reported unusual sounds and whispers urging them to do unfathomable and unthinkable acts, which has driven some to madness. The remains within have great financial value, but is it worth the effort and potential risk?

Dead Man's Rest: Unlike the other forested areas, the Hallows have no tribal settlements, and most natives of the Cradle travel nomadically through the savannah. That's not to say there's no permanent settlement however, for the Dead Man's Rest exists to offer a roof over your head. Run by a motley mix of Vitri, Sirunsa and Lythanki peoples, the town is in essence a large inn that caters for those who are travelling the wastes, and is a welcome sight for sore eyes and sorer limbs. Some of the prospectors from the nearby mines call the rest their own and have often been found seeking new blood to help extract the riches from the deep...with due respect to the land, of course.

Pit of the Devourer: A grim name for one of the deepest trenches on the face of the world, the Pit is a spectacle to behold. A ravine so cavernous there's no sight of the bottom, the scar in the Cradle itself offers some of the most incredible views imaginable, and abseiling points have been erected here and there for those who are daring enough to venture into said ravine. The pit earns its name for the way in that it appears to be a great maw, ready to devour all who lose their footing, and indeed the pit has a certain infamy as a spot for those who wish to end their lives willingly and in ridiculous manner. Some say the spirits of those who have fallen remain in the very bottom, unable to escape, but those are just stories made to dissuade the growing number of self-inflicted deaths, as many believe.

Titan's Butte: Among the fossilised trees lies an unusual spire of rock that stands by itself, yet usually appears to have been driven into the ground judging by the fractured earth around it. According to folklore, the butte was formed when a giant drove a mountaintop into the crust to provide them with a seat to rest upon during a break between shaping the continents. The rock itself requires either a strong set of wings or excellent mountaineering to scale, but provides excellent views of the Hallows, as well as another interesting utility. Every month or so, a number of powerful pokemon venture to the clifftop to do battle with each other in a test of strength, and for trainers seeking a challenge, nothing is more tantalising than battling some of the mightiest creatures in the Cradle. If exceptional, you may even catch the attention of the Guardian of the land.

Summer's Hasp, the Guardian's Tower: For all the lack of civilisation in the Hallows, there is at least some sign of human existence at the foot of a tall spire, a massive petrified tree hollowed out over time. These people are the Keepers, and their role is to allow entry only to those who have proven their worth in the eye of the Guardian of the Hallows. Those who have been granted entry will find themselves with a monumental task when they discover what the Guardian is, and what the Guardian seeks of the traveller. Finding your way to Summer's Hasp is not difficult, but the trials to enter offered by the Keepers are arduous and tough, much like the forest itself. Earning the respect of the Guardian however could prove to be extremely rewarding.

The Ancient Feywood

Within specific spots of the Cradle lie mysterious rings of ethereal plants, whose roots are stronger than anything imaginable. Those who stand within the ring will find themselves seeing the world through different eyes, and will soon discover the Cradle's true heartland of Zalfarthas. Here the trees grow to sizes impossible by natural standards, and the wonders of life truly shine. While one may enter the Feywood as they wish, leaving is another matter entirely, and there have been people who enter and never leave, though that may be down to the whimsical and gay nature of the forest. The tribes of the Cradle call the forest the spiritual side of the Cradle, and the laws of nature apply not: fire cannot burn within the confines of the woods, and the trees seem to exude vitality akin to humans. Indeed, there have been sightings of vaguely human creatures which resemble no pokemon seen before, and the pokemon themselves are more than capable of understanding the human tongue, but whatever the circumstances it can be agreed on by all who visit Zalfarthas: you're going to have a magical time.

Zalfarthas may not be the easiest place to get to, though entrances have been found in any of the forests, yet the pokemon within are unlike any found in the four biomes of the Arboreal cradle. Should you stumble upon passage to the Feywood, you may find...

Sub Areas

Cosmic Clearing: Some of the trees within the feywood have their own gravitational pull, allowing people to walk upon their trunks. Those who climb said trees will soon learn that they're no longer on the ground, but walking through the skies and gazing up at the Feywood itself. These people have entered the Cosmic Clearing, an area where up is down and the rules seem inverted. Wandering through the stars, adventurers may visit certain parts of the Feywood that otherwise seem inaccessible, or alternatively they may choose to simply lay back and count the stars, waiting for adventure to take them instead. And more often than not, adventure does.

Rainbow Grove: Taking a wander through the Feywood will result in one discovering a special part of the forest where the trees take on a spectrum of colours that boggle the mind. The grove that they are in is populated with mysterious plantlife and pokemon, much like a dream one has, and it is said that if you take a rest and slumber within the grove, you will be taken to your deepest dreams, where you can experience your greatest dreams in person. The fey spirits are mischievous though, and there's every possibility you'll be thrust into your darkest nightmare at a moment's notice, and forced to confront your ultimate fears.

The Hidden Village: You do not search for the hidden village, for you will never find it. If you find one of the natives of the Feywood and befriend them, you may be taken to what has been called a natural nirvana, where the waters taste of your favourite beverage and the fruits your favourite food. This is just rumours of course, for nobody has ever seen the village for themselves, and the natives are so elusive that you'd have better luck finding a Celebi in the middle of an urban metropolis. Then again, miracles have happened.

Magical Mansion: The wonder of the Feywood is that you'll never know what awaits you, and a majestic mansion in the middle of the woods is certainly not one of them. Seemingly void of life, the mansion itself seems to be sentient, inviting explorers to discover its secrets, and capable of changing form at will. Wandering through the mansion can easily lead you to becoming lost, and there have been tales of entrances vanishing, trapping those within forever. How long forever is remains unknown, as time doesn't seem to flow within the building, but what is known is that there are artifacts of otherworldly power within that cannot be found anywhere else in our world, whether those are enough to entice you remains to be seen.

Grotto of Apotheosis, Soul of the Cradle: Tightly locked away, only those who have earned the respect of all Guardians may venture into this natural cave, where it is said rests the Gods of the Cradle, maintaining the Cycle and ensuring that the Order of Life and Death is not interrupted. Entry is enforced, and forced entry is said to result in a fate worse than death itself, and to date no human from our world has personally witnessed the Soul of the Cradle. The grotto itself bears the title of an ascension to godhood, and it is said that anyone who does enter without suffering a terrible fate will receive a gift from the Gods Themselves. The outskirts of the grotto are home to pokemon of such incredible strength that calling them legendary would not be an offense.
Stale Water.

Unruly Premonition.
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