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The Sára Bask was a vast sunburned forest located in Sirayn, that stretched from the junction of the Sîresha and Sîrsis rivers to the coast of the Bay of Ormal.

The wood is situated on the hilly flanks of the Tûr Betark and depends solely on runoff from the mountains. Hardy species of trees well adapted to the intense sunlight of the region, such as cork, olive, and fig, as well as the date palm, flourish on the lower slopes of the foothills. Equally tough scrub bushes create irnpassible thickets between their trunks. Mangrove thrives in depressions along the Sîresha where flood waters are trapped and stagnate for several months, while magnolia and willow occupy the better drained riverbanks and streambanks within the Sára Bask. Coconut palms, marauha palms, and sakpalms grow in profusion along the coast of the Mard Isauba. Plametto marks the western fringe of the wood where the durable soils of Isra hold cultivated fields along the Sîrsis. Needle- and broad-leaved decidous trees fill the higher elevations of the Sára Bask, giving way to the Sîranean and Tasab spruces on the crests of the foothills.

Flora and fauna

Numerous streams and small rivers, fed by rainfall on the peaks of the Tûr Betark, water the foothills covered by the Sára Bask. Inured to intense sunlight moderated by little cloud cover and scant rainfall, but abundant ground water, the species that comprise the wood are a hardy and select group. Figs, olives, cork, date palms, and torbachenna trees (bearing fruit similar to an olive, but larger, with yellow coloring) thrive on the lower slopes. A large variety of scrub bushes create tangled thickets between their trunks. The eastern fringes of the forest, along the coast, are comprised of a variety of palms: coconut, marauba (bearing a fruit similar to a cross between a coconut and a pineapple), and sak (fiber from the cocoons of the sakworms that eat its leaves can be spun into a cloth with the comfort of silk and the durability of linen). The westem edge of the wood, along the Sîrsis and the fields of Isra, is dominated by the palmetto. Depressions in the land adjacent to the Sîresha, where flood waters sometimes remain for months, harbor concentrations of mangrove, while the drier stream banks possess groves of magnolia and willow. Broad- and needle-leaved deciduous trees such as the muna and the baranaud predominate at higher elevations. Frequent clearings on these steeper inclines shelter farain grass and ketatas stalks. The hilltops sport stands of the Siranean and Tasab spruces. Tauvezin moss thrives amidst their roots.

The fig, olive, cork, date plams and torhachenna trees possess obvious value to merchants and traders, but the plants thriving on the forest floor attract equal attention. Their pollens and spores are collected by skilled herbalists from Isra and Chennacatt for use as medicines, combat enhancers, and antidotes to poisons. The Yatali-gan, dwellers within the Sára Bask, harvest an even greater portion of the wood’s flora to concoct healing infusions and salves. For every beneficial herb, there are dozens of dangerous varieties. Without the knowledge of a naturalist, it is not advised to sample at random.

A large proportion of the spices commonly utilized in the cuisines of Sirayn are native to the forest. Gathering these condiments can be very hazardous. Wild animals and the Yatali-gan add to the dangers posed by poisonous spores and roagh terrain. Most successful spice traders cultivate hybrids adapted to slightly dryer soils in small plots near their homes in Isra. The favorites include musky sinabaud, sweet nantarb, zesty charbis, and subtle rosain.

  • Eddij - This beny is highly prized in Sirayn. If its juices are placed in the eyes of a deceased person within 30 days of their death, the individual will be restored to life. Very rare, it grows only along small streams in the deepest parts of the Sára Bask. Only the fabulously wealthy can afford this herb.
  • Copal - Copal is a brittle, aromatic, yellow-red resin collected from bîritrees in the Sára Bask. The resin is highly valued to woodworkers who use it to make high quality vamishes.
  • Kasia - Kasia causes slight euphoria when used in large quantities. The spice is made from the ground nut of the kasia tree and is used in many of the dishes throughout Sirayn. It is also a favored trade item.
  • Rud Tekma - Mages throughout Sirayn seek the fruit of the tekma. The fruit of this plant enhances a magician’s abilities when using spells. The effects last one hour, affecting movement and melee negatively, but magic positively. The fruit is relatively addictive.

The predominance of streams in the Sára Bask permits a larger animal population to thrive in the region. Numerous insects buzz from flower to flower when the fig, olive, and torbachenna trees are in bloom. Birds, reptiles, and rodents eat the insects and in tum are preyed upon by larger animals. Some of the wasps common to the lower slopes of the wood possess a venom so powerful that victims of their sting die of anaphylactic shock within minutes. Only the Yatali-gan have leamed how to create salves that consistently drive off these humming menaces. Some of the larger insects and grubs serve as delicacies in the feasts of the resourceful forest-dwellers.

Baboons, small deer, squirrels, cougars, and chipmunks, number among the larger species of the wood . Small birds of goldspeckled brown plumage occupy nests in the tree boughs or hide among the shadows of the thickets on the forest floor. Many are hunted by the Yatali-gan for food. The gacalac alone is sought for the metallic appearance of its gold, silver, and copper-toned plumage. A few are taken as pets. The buzz of insects, broken by infrequent birdcalls, dominates the Sára Bask at all times. It is rumored that when the foothills are quiet even the spirits of the wood tremble.

  • A-lori-ma-lau - The a-lori-ma-lau, also known as Large Cat, Hill Cat or Kirsis, is the most feared predator of the Sára Bask. The male and female of the species hunt in pairs and will stalk humans. Their coat is a golden brown. Yatali-gan believe that they are the claws of the spirits of the woods.
  • Gacalac - The gacalac is an exotic bird with very bright plumage. The plumage gleams like gold and silver and is used for decorations and adomment. Tamed gacalac are kept for show and for their beautiful voices.
  • Kastaba - The kastaba is a small poisonous bronze toad. Just holding the toad in one’s hands will cause extreme pain and precipitate a weakening of the individual ’s constitution. If he or she wipes his or her eyes with an infected digit, the individual may become blind. The secretions of the kasataba may be used to make a paste that will kill if placed on a sword edge or an arrow point. If the victim does not die from the poison, he or she will faII into a coma and be permanently blind upon awakening.
  • Ru-lani-lapu - The ru-lani-lapu, also known as Red Baboon, Tangat or Safataub, is a holy animal to the Yatali-gan of the Sára Bask. Moderately intelligent, they make very nice pets. Some thieves in Sirayn have trained these apes to pilfer small objects. The baboons normally weigh less than 20 pounds and eat fruits and vegetables.
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