Crimson Forest
rating: +38+x

SURVIVAL DIFFICULTY:

Class habitable

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The Crimson Forest is Safe, if not chilly.


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Settlers here call the views majestic and humbling.


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Geography here folds in on itself in strange ways.


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The enigmatic Lanterns obliterate hostile Entities.

The Crimson Forest is a secret level found within Sub-Layer 9.1.

Description:

The Crimson Forest is a beguiling thicket blanketed in a chilly fog. It is serene and idyllic under the ever watchful eye of the Lanterns which ward off harmful Entities. Much of the soil and flora is tinted shades of crimson and red, giving the Level its moniker. Although there is a higher than average amount of ultisols and ferric oxides in the soil, the cause of the stark colorization in the flora is of yet still unknown.

The Forest is expansive: its borders unexplored and its geography largely unmapped. The areas known contain wide valleys, dense woods, large rolling mountains, and snaking streams cutting through it all ending in boggy wetlands. Where this Level becomes strange is its geographic folding.

The tectonic plates of the Forest do not lay flat — but instead crumple and fold into one another like crinkled paper. In some regions, looking into the sky reveals more of the Forest above you; accessible if you simply keep walking forward long enough to find where the fold is. In these places the concept of “down” is subjective, as reaching a high enough altitude will reverse gravity and have you fall upwards onto the fold above you. These properties are strange but stable — settlers have become accustomed to the phenomena.

The hanging fog never dissipates, keeping the Level near a chilly 8 °C at all times. Bring a jacket. Whether the fog is created by the Mangled which roam Level 9.1, or by the Lanterns themselves is unknown. Much of the running water in the Forest is potable, yet acrid. Boiling is still recommended. Colonists have taken to letting their water settle in large containers and removing the silt at the bottom to combat the natural taste.

The Crimson Forest is home to a rich ecosystem of fauna ranging from insects to large mammals and everything in between. Many of these creatures may resemble animals found in the Frontrooms, but nothing living here was previously known to mankind. Eight eyed deer, rust colored moose, squirrels with prehensile tails, colonies of mice which group together in the dozens, and even haunting, silent owls with four wings have been documented among hundreds of other animals. Although strange, these creatures do not seem unnatural or anomalous. Despite the lack of dangerous Entities, be aware of the natural predators which call the Crimson Forest their home. Hulking creatures resembling bears, lithe wild cats and packs of six legged canines are known to live here in harmony with the ecosystem. The Lanterns leave them be, just as they don't seem to mind the presence of humans within the Forest.

There is no Wi-Fi in the Crimson Forest. In order to send information in or out, settlers are required to pass through Level 9.1 and return to a zone of internet connectivity. In order to maintain a link to the M.E.G. settlers attempt monthly cycles to upload / download data and news. On occasion these cycles are interrupted by hazards and postponed. The longest period of radio silence from the Crimson Forest was seven months and sixteen days of standard time. Since travel through Level 9 and Level 9.1 is highly hazardous most settlers who reach the Forest stay there as permanent residents.

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Settlers here travel along natural and manmade trails.

Colonies And Outposts:

Rosewood & Independent Cabins

The latest transmission from the Crimson Forest has marked Rosewood's population to 83 permanent residents, including a newborn: “Kiev”. Congratulations!

Rosewood is a community of cabins grouped along the banks of Bigrock Lake. The settlers here are the primary M.E.G. outpost of the Forest and offer sanctuary to anyone travelling in or out. For the most part this colony has settled here for regular day-to-day living, yet they are benefactors to the M.E.G. at large in a number of ways. Seed cultivation, soil sampling, mineral panning, Level research as well as the manufacturing of preserved foods and natural medicines are some cardinal directives for this colony branch. Shipments of goods from the Crimson Forest are highly celebrated in receiving colonies — their traditional pickled eggs are treated as an especially precious delicacy.

However, not every citizen of the Forest lives in Rosewood. Many members have travelled deeper into the thicket in order to stake out their own quiet life in a cabin of their own. Some of these dwellers live solo or in small groups on the fringes of Rosewood within hiking distance of the village. Many of these individuals live a more reclusive life, and exact populations of fringe dwellers are unknown. There are approximately 40 individuals living near enough to Rosewood to not be considered “Lost”.

Cabins of the Lost

Some M.E.G. members who travel to the Crimson Forest disappear deep into the woods to get lost entirely — hoping to forget the troublesome nature of the other Levels altogether. Under the watchful care of the Lanterns, this level has grown a reputation of being a utopia: a wild land with promises of a peaceful life. Since the Levels discovery, it is expected no fewer than two hundred individuals once aligned with the M.E.G. have disappeared into the beguiling world of the Crimson Forest, never to return.

Exploration teams who venture deeper into the Forest have reported sightings of humans with crimson tinted skin and pale milky eyes. These strange sightings — not backed by photographic or reliable information — have been deduced to rumor only. Settlers of Rosewood however believe those who wander into the woods become changed by the Forest: that the lost souls seeking a life among the trees become “Clay Men”… empty husks of their former selves who wander the woods silently until they, too, become one with the woods.

Entrances And Exits:

The only known entrance and exit from the Crimson Forest is through the dangerous expanse of Level 9.1, the Crimson Field. Locating the barrier between the Levels can be hit-or-miss, but generally if you travel away from the Gloom you will reach patches of fog that glow on the horizon. This glow is the iridescence of the Lanterns of the Forest, and is a sign that you are nearing the safety of their watchful presence. Citizens of Rosewood have marked a well-used trail for Wi-Fi Teams through a small section of the Crimson Field with large posts flagged with cloth. If you happen across one of these markings, consider yourself both lucky and on the right track.

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