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Ochalean Gazetteer

by James Mishler

Well, due to other concerns, the Ochalea Gazetteer, as well as all other Mystara stuff, is going to show up very slowly... but here is a taste of Ochalea...

(And yes, the Ochalean is almost pure, butchered Japanese... I never learned any Chinese, unfortunately)

The Bear Wood (Mori-no-Kuma): The Bear Wood is found in Daisun Province among the vales of the meandering foothills of the western slopes of the Lung Shan. It is given wide berth by travellers due to the tales of the giant man-eating bears that are said to reside within the depths of the small forest. Owlbears are not uncommon in the hills hear these woods, and cave bears are all too common. An ancient Dairu temple of the Bear Goddess is said to lie at the heart of the forest, though no living person claims to have ever seen it.

The Blue Woods (Aomori): The Blue Woods are found in Shun Province to the west of the Dragon Spine Mountains, just north of the Wilted Woods. The Blue Woods are so called because of the unusual trees that are only found in this forest. These trees, which are called Aoki (simply Blue Tree), are renown for their medicinal and alchemical value. Unfortunately for any treasure-seekers the trees are the homes of the Kami-no-Aoki, the Blue Tree Spirits. These beings, needless to say, are not fond of people who try to cut away any portion of their tree! They are also powerful enough to stop a large group of would-be lumberjacks, as they are potent in their magical and martial abilities. They are willing to deal, however, with anyone that treats them and their forest with respect. There are many legends of this Prince or that peasant who required the bark or leaves or branch of the Aoki to save his bride, friend or Daimyo from a poison of disease. The Kami-no-Aoki can be bribed... but the cost can be high. They are said to prefer rare or obscure poetry, rare and unusual waters or minerals or impossible to acquire items (the breath of a cat or the whisper of a zephyr, for example). The Blue Woods are otherwise unremarkable in nature, though they are the haven of large and giant varieties of otherwise normal creatures, such as owls, shrews and weasels.

Celestial Reserve (Uchumori): This small forest is found on the small peninsula that forms the northern arm of Beitung Bay. It is forbidden to all but the Takaten (High King), his court and their servants and guests. It is watched over by the Celestial Guard and is rumoured to be the home of no less than a dozen Foo-Lions. The forest itself is said to be a veritable paradise on earth, where at least one of every goodly tree, one of every mellifluous flower and every pleasant grass may be found. Pools of gold, silver and jade are said to abound, each filled with fish that speak and debate philosophy. Untold wealth is said to be grace forgotten nooks and crannies of the Hundred and One Celestial Palaces.

Chung Forest (Shinrin-no-Chung): This forest is the home of several clans of Dairu. These Dairu have assimilated many Ochalean ways, and are thusly regarded by the Ochaleans with less contempt than their hill-dwelling cousins. The three main clans, the Suturuga, Bitola and Berono each attempt to outdo each other in currying favour with the current Governor of Chung Province. The meagre wealth of the clans goes to merchants for the "latest fashions from Beitung", "patented alchemical nostrums" and other such foolishness (none of which ever truly impresses the Governor). The three clans all hate each other with a passion, and go to no ends to attempt to embarrass each other in public, or slay each other in the night. It is rumoured that one or perhaps all three of the clans are associated with the dreaded ninja... those who whisper such rumours too loudly often disappear in the dark of the night. The forest otherwise is fairly tame and unremarkable. Much of the clans' wealth comes from logging concerns; they are wise, however, in that they plant two trees for every one they cut down. They also honour the native Spirit Folk, and give Spirit Trees wide berth.

Forest of the Ancients (Shinrin-no-Nepaihito): This forest is home to several monasteries of the more esoteric and philosophical orders, and is also the home of numerous cloisters of hermits. Many believe that these woods, lying in the shadow of the Immortals Spire, grant wisdom and vitality to the aged. Whether there are beneficent energies in the woods or not is a matter of speculation, but it is known that the herbs and trees of the forest are useful in petty potions that help cure rheumatism, arthritis and bad vision. The Spirits of the forest protect the rarer flowers and herbs that can be used in real potions, such as those that could be ingredients in a Potion of Longevity or Elixir of Youth. The forest is quite peaceful, and is home to numerous Hsiao and other faerie folk. The hermits and monks are quite capable of defending themselves, and most unsavoury folk leave them alone. After all, you never know if that funny old man is just a loony hermit or the Grand Master of Flowers...

Forest of Bandits (Shinrin-no-Dorobo): This small forest (a mere 400 square miles) is found in Daisun Province, and as the name suggests is the home to several bands of desperate men. The local Governor is always trying to extirpate the bandits, but never has any great success. Some say that the Governor gets a cut of the bandit's loot, others say that the forest and the bandits are under the protection of one of the more unsavoury Immortals. Whatever the truth, travellers through the region always try to steer clear of the forest.

Forest of Fear (Shinrin-no-Osore): This forest, found in Daisun Province south and east of the Forest of Bandits, is widely believed to be haunted by Spirits of Entropy. Undead hordes have issued forth from the forest on ill-starred nights and all manner of foul beasts have been found lurking within. A large clan of Oni are believed to lair within the forest, gathering negative energies from the unspeakable Entropic magics that radiate from the darker reaches of the Spirit World.