Various rumors surround the forest due to the zu’aan of Ustaughlye inhabiting it. They speak of flesh eating zu’aan that live within. Of demons with the power to manipulate the forest at will. And of living plants, created by the sacrificing of young zu’aan children and the spilled blood of pregnant women, that can swallow a zu’aan completely whole. Even with these rumors, intrigue for the forest has never quelled. Many zu’aan still find themselves traveling to the forest, seeking out the truth of these rumors, only to find themselves meeting their end. For much of its history, which is said to actually predate civilization, Isom Blossom Forest was mainly home to plant life and animal life.
Scattered, nomadic zu’aan tribes would appear every few decades before moving on. Due to the aggressive plant life that seemed to actively hunt them, many didn’t feel it was worth it to continue staying there. There were some that tried their best to stick it out, but the years they spent there were filled with death, fear, and violence. Some of them actually spent their last years there, forfeiting their lives to the forest. Many zu'aan, who studied botany, ecology, zoology, and biology, often visited the forest to study it. After extensive study, many believed that this forest may have been the first source of life in the world. They believed that all aspects of life can be traced back to the forest.
As the world is a vast place, these are merely speculations that have no concrete evidence to back them up. It was a place of wonder and of fascination to be studied and to be enjoyed. The beautiful, bright colors along with the fragrant scents called to many. The absolute harmony between animals, plants, life, and death was a sight to behold for both those who understood its significance and those who did not. Many medicinal and recreational remedies had also been discovered. Flowers with petals that could be steeped into teas to help reduce fevers. Roots that could be eaten to combat nausea, and so on. Cures to diseases thought incurable, while not yet created, were deemed possible.
So, they took from the forest, but never enough to destroy it or change it irrevocably. Much of this research and experimentation came to an end during the Awakening Age as the kin’toni emerged and swept across the world. When the zu’aan came, trying to escape from the kin’toni hordes, and established Ustaughlye, it became a beautiful forest filled with blood and violence. Despite the violence these zu’aan brought, the forest seemed to relish in their settlement. And, somehow, the zu’aan had found a place that fit them. They were able to quickly adapt to the seemingly alive, carnivorous plant life, along with the large and sometimes aggressive population of animals.
A strange sort of balance seemed to appear between the forest and these zu’aan; a balance that aided the zu’aan in what they had become thanks to the kin’toni and nurtured their bloodthirst.
Isom Blossom Forest got its name from the variety of colorful and fragrant plant life. It is a temperate, bordering on boreal, dense forest full of various species of life supported by incredibly fertile soil and abundant rainfall that has a wide terrain of nearly 3000 square kilometers. Vegetation easily grows in all the levels of the forest, from the ground all the way up to the tips of the trees. There are countless varieties of plants, probably even some unknown species. Lush canopies fill the tops of trees nearly two hundred feet tall and have a width of nearly five feet. The terrain can be hard to navigate with how much plant life there is. It is nearly impossible to walk through it without stepping on some kind of flower or above ground root.
There are rising and falling hills covered in vegetation and steep slopes. In some areas, there are natural pitfalls, also covered and filled with vegetation, that stretch down several hundred feet and have diameters stretching to nearly one hundred feet. There are no set trails that make it easier to walk through as the movement of animals and the amount of rain that falls can easily change the surface of the forest floor. Its climate varies depending on the season. It can range from below zero during the winter, and above eighty in the summer. Rainfall is a common and often occurrence. Snowfall is also a pretty common occurrence. Due to the changing climates, certain plants are seasonal in their growth.
Some thrive more so in the winter, while others do so in the summer. The trees lose their leaves in the winter. There are a few plants that grow year round, capable of handling and adapting to the change in temperature. Along with the variety of plant life, there is also a large variety of animal life. From hundreds of different insects, to dozens of bird species, to several different mammals both big and small. All have their parts in the cycle of life and the general shaping of the forest. Many of the larger animals, thanks to zu’aan occupation, have actually migrated to different parts of the forest. There are a few fresh water rivers that run through the forest, stretching out beyond the forest.
They help carry and spread seeds that fall into the water, and are viable water sources for both zu’aan and the animals. Most of them are incredibly deep, reaching depths of nearly twenty feet, and have strong currents. The strength of their currents makes them dangerous to try and cross. One of the rivers, the Dena river, feeds a medium sized waterfall towards the southern part of the forest. This waterfall has a nearly twenty foot drop into a lake. There is another waterfall being fed by a big branching off stream of the Dena river that drops into one of the pitfalls.
Plant life is in abundance in the Isom Blossom Forest. Various blooming flowers stretch further than the eye can see, filling up the forest on all sides. The soil is extremely fertile and various pollinators inhabit the forest. Crimson blooms are one of the most well known flowers to the zu’aan. Its petals are crimson red and cluster together in a spike inflorescence. Only found here, these red flowers are an important part of the zu’aan of Ustaughlye city’s culture. Towards the back of the city is a hand dug pit where they grow in bundles. It is believed that the blood spilled by hundreds of zu’aan, seeped into the ground and caused these flowers to bloom as they did.
To the zu’aan here, they represent both their goddess, Konaris, and a source of strength. Blood, specifically zu’aan blood, is nourishment to them. As long as blood is constantly spilled in the pit, they stay in bloom year round. They don’t grow anywhere else but this pit. Crimson blooms are inedible due to the blood they consume to grow. Blood poisoning is a common effect of consuming this flower. Kinoi flowers grow only in the winter around the base of galax trees. The bowl shaped, pale blue flowers have white, thick, blunt tipped leaves. The blue blends into a dark purple towards the center of the flower. They grow in large groups, close to the ground, barely stretching up six inches.
They are concentrated around large amounts of frost. It has no medicinal benefits, but the entire plant, save for its roots, is edible. Galax trees are large, and easily accumulate frost in the winter, which is why kinoi flowers grow around their base. Their gray, ridged bark stands out against the light and dark browns of the other trees. Small, spiky, pale green leaves grow on its thin branches at its top. Galax trees stretch up nearly sixteen feet, making them one of the shortest trees in the forest. They mainly grow around the northern part of the forest. Dorna incana is a carnivorous plant that grows year round along the edges of rivers and other bodies of water. This is a flowerless plant with giant, green and white, heart shaped leaves that bunch together.
They produce a thick, sticky wax that they use to trap and immobilize their prey. Strong, hidden vines wait for prey to come near before quickly wrapping around it. These vines drag the prey to the leaves where the wax will run off and cover it. It allows the thin needles on the vines to penetrate the skin and slowly drain the prey of its blood. Their diet mostly consists of small rodent sized animals and fish that might wash up on the edge of the river. They have been known to go after larger prey, but it’s rare that they catch anything bigger than an odian, a medium sized breed of mouse native to Isom. Dorna Incana are poisonous and can’t be consumed.
With insects, birds, small and large mammals, and even fish, animal life is in abundance in Isom. This forest biome supports a wide range of animals thanks to its fertile soil and rainfall which allows many sources of food to grow. Odian are a breed of forest animals only native to Isom Blossom Forest. They are the smallest mammals in the forest, stretching only to about five inches long, nearly nine with their tail, and weighing only half a pound. Their soft fur is a pale gray and their eyes are entirely black. They have burrows at the bases of large and wide trees, using the roots to help with stabilization. With a diet consisting of nuts, fruit, and insects, these animals are close to the bottom of the food chain.
They are often prey of much larger animals and even plants like the dorna incana. Odian are one of few small rodents active during the day, but they remain in their burrows during the winter. Iridescent nicrian is a large breed of bird. Their purple and dark aqua green, iridescent feathers make them stick out from other birds. The nicrian is the largest bird in Isom with a wingspan of almost eleven feet. On top of being the largest bird, it is also the fastest, easily reaching speeds of thirty miles per hour. Their black beaks are nearly four inches long and are said to be able to break fingers with a single clamp. They build their nest into chumerial trees, a species of tree that stretches up nearly fifty feet.
With their beaks, they burrow into the somewhat soft bark, creating a large hole inside. Their diet consists of berries, nuts, small animals, and sometimes large mammals. The iridescent nicrian are solitary and extremely territorial. They’ve been known to attack each other if they’ve locked onto the same prey. While they are large and considered to be around the top of the food chain, they have a small population. In the winter, they migrate south. Vainae are a species of insect and are the most contributing pollinators in Isom. They are just one of hundreds of species that inhabit the forest. Their fur is green with vertical black stripes instead of horizontal ones.
It is believed that their fur evolved to green to help them camouflage themselves. Their wings span almost an inch across and their stingers are a fourth of an inch long. Being stung by a vainae bee is extremely painful. The pain can last all day long and can spread far beyond the bite. If the stinger isn’t taken out, infection will set it. Fever and muscle spasms follow. Some zu’aan have even lost the use of their limbs for several days due to being stung. Vainae have two queens that lay thousands of eggs at a time. Due to them having two queens, their population is double that of all other bees. They build their hives within natural hollows in trees, having no particular tree that they gravitate towards or prefer.
They take nectar from a larger variety of flowers than the other pollinators, and they spread pollen further as well. Thanks to their large population, they are able to cover a larger range. It is no stretch to say that vainae are one of, if not the most, important creature in Isom Blossom Forest.