The vast, wooded hinterland of Innistrad is called Kessig, a province in a state of perpetual autumn. The deep woods are king here, although small human communities have carved out farming villages, and groups of hunters and trappers venture into the forest to make a living. Even new arrivals to Kessig know not to venture out at night. Even if the wilderness weren't haunted, it wouldn't be safe, werewolves prowl the province, sometimes alone and sometimes in packs.
Howl-haunted woods of aspen, birch, and maple border the edges of Kessig province. The woods are almost supernaturally dense, filled with dark, sinuous trunks and a constant, hanging mist. The trees have broad leaves in muted reds, golds, and greens, and the forest floor is papered in damp leaves.
The Ulvenwald tends to isolate Kessig from the other provinces, as travelers through the woods are subject to attacks by werewolves, hauntings by all manner of primordial spirits, and mysterious disappearances in the mist. At night, the autumnal colors of Ulvenwald turn stark and steely under the silver glow of the moon. The only spots of color that appear are the luminous eyes of animals and the geistfires of shimmering apparitions.
The Breakneck RideEdit
There are a few main paths that lead into Kessig from the other provinces. Each crossway is fraught with peril, leading travelers through the Ulvenwald and over treacherous slopes, so those who make the journey do so at as brisk a pace as possible. Kessigers sometimes collectively refer to these paths as the "Breakneck Ride."
A ruin of wood and brick now stands where Kessig's county seat stood. Only a year ago it was a thriving small town of manor houses called Avabruck, and you can still find wooden signs among the splintered wood and broken gates that say "Avabruck" in cheery paint. But a new name has caught on, a vulgar name, a commoners' name: Hollowhenge.
One year ago, after the protective power of Avacynian magic began to wane, the wards around Avabruck's central cathedral, the Temple of Saint Raban, failed. It took only two nights for the werewolves to discover this breach in protection. The howlpack known as Mondronen ripped through the town, slaughtering any in their path, charging straight for the Temple.
There they took up siege, tearing down the cathedral and feasting on those who attempted to attack them. City magistrates gave the order to evacuate, but communications became chaotic, and many residents opted to ensconce themselves in their homes.
Seven days into the Mondronen occupation, the werewolf savages enacted some unknown type of blood ritual. A mystical, concussive force leveled the city from the center out, flattening most of the structures in town and killing hundreds. Only the outermost ring of Avabruck's buildings remained, forming a circular "henge" around the devastation within. Rescue attempts met with further werewolf attacks.
As time went on, the city was abandoned, even by the howlpack. Now only wild, terrified ghosts and the occasional werewolf scavenger scuffle among the ruins. It's said that all who were killed in the cathedral-shattering blast still linger inside the walls of Hollowhenge, trying in vain to reconstruct their homes or recover their lost loved ones. Some spirits are deeply angry and ferocious wights, dangerous to all who seek within.
Despite the danger, travelers often pass near to Hollowhenge, as the former county seat lies at the crossroads of two major Kessig thoroughfares.
Lambholt is a farming village at the center of miles of sheep, goat, and cattle pasture. The pastures near the town were once mingled with woods, dense arms of forest that once joined the Ulvenwald, but the Kessigers here chopped down all but a few trees to clear room for their farms. It's thought that wild essences resent the destruction of their forests, for werewolves continually terrorize the livestock and humans of Lambholt.
The villagers of Lambholt celebrate a harvest festival at the rise of the red moon, working late into the night by the light of bonfires, and cooking great feasts of fresh meat and vegetables. Lately, as the power of Lambholt's protective shrines has waned and werewolf attacks have become more frequent, the tenor of the harvest festival has changed.
Now the highlight of the festival is a great hunter's contest, in which warriors and priestly champions go on hunts through the surrounding Ulvenwald, trying to slay the most powerful supernatural creature. Many never return.
Far from the towns, off the wagon-beaten paths, through vaults of primeval forest, a fissure known as Devils' Breach has opened in the earth. Smoke and heat waft from the chasm, obscuring its depths, and eerie voices mutter and cackle. Trappers claim to have seen literal devils near there, but so far, the influence of demonic forces has not been strongly felt in Kessig.
After the destruction of the Helvault the Devil’s Breach opened up wider and deeper, revealing tunnels and pathways into realms infernal and twisted. Imps, devils, and demons clamoring to get to the surface can now rush out into Innistrad to ply their homicidal trade to all and sundry.
All these changes are no doubt caused by the release of Griselbrand from the Helvault. The Devil's Breach is now a massive tear in the surface spewing out brimstone and fire. The surrounding forest, once green and lush, has charred and blackened, while imps and devils dance all day and night to the flickering fire spewing from the chasm.
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