The Kaleidoscope Forest
Down in a deep valley between a hill and a mountain, in the middle of two well-populated villages, you'll find a large, dangerous and (suspiciously) perfectly round forest. In the middle of the forest, there is a lake filled with thousands of powerful, rare, beautiful crystals and gemstones, each with its own magical properties. As the sun shines down on the perfectly clear lake all the colours of the crystals and gems are reflected across the whole forest, embedding their magic into every nook and cranny of every tree, stone and puddle in the forest, making it an ever-changing greenwood full of wonders and horrors alike. At every hour as the sun turns the reflections change creating something entirely new and completely unpredictable. From hallucinations to physical changes in the forest or person to sometimes becoming
completely invisible to those within, virtually anything can happen,
anything you can imagine, any spell you can come up with, it all happens
here. Sometimes the trees become sentient, sometimes the prey animals
become rabid predators, sometimes a thick mist covers the whole forest
making it impossible to see and sometimes all these things happen at
once. The ancient magic weaves throughout the forest through the water, air and soil too, having strong effects on the weather, climate and time within the forest itself, seemingly immune to the natural weather and season changes around it and rarely ever experiencing nightfall.
Legend in the Northern village says that many many years ago a king's miners found the gems in the mountain and their mysterious abilities completely corrupted and destroyed the kingdom so the castle sorcerers used the last of their power to hide the stones away in a large lake on the other side of the mountain where they've remained since slowly becoming apart of the forest that was growing around them. In the Southern village, they tell the kids that a god hid his precious stones in a hole in the ground and over time the lake formed but if anyone touches the crystals the god who owns them strikes them dead. Of course, these are just stories and the truth behind why the stones are actually there is unknown. In fact, very little is known about the forest at all, most who enter it don't come back out and those who do rarely come back the same. One man from the Southern village was in the forest for 15 years,
believing he had been gone for a week he went home to his wife to find
that she had remarried and had several kids with another man, and he was
considered one of the lucky ones. Many-a-time explorers have come back with memory gone, their personalities completely different or their souls seeming sucked out of their bodies and because the magical source of these changes can't be identified, they are typically irreversible. Those who don't come back at all either die at the hands of the forest or completely vanish at the turning of the sun, never to be seen or heard again.
Very very few have made it close enough to the lake itself but those who have all describe it similarly. The water is crystal clear and completely unmoving. Beautiful glistening, glittering gemstones and crystal line the bottom of the lake and the edge of the bank, all varying in size. Some are small like pebbles and some are as tall as an adult man and they're all the most enticing, vibrant colours, the types of greens and blues that seem unnatural, purples and pinks that any royal would be jealous of, yellows and oranges that look like miniature suns themselves, reds that look like solid blood, opals and diamonds that put the stars to shame. And with the help of the sun (and sometimes the moon), they cast the most magnificent beams of rainbow throughout the whole forest. The air close to the lake is thick and suffocating, intoxicating even as if it's luring you closer. Some have described it to be eerily quiet, and others claim that the crystals sing like wind chimes. Everyone's retelling of the site is slightly different but typically in the same vein and there are some claims about the forest that are debated, like whether any animals actually live there or whether it can be night in the forest at all. However, there is one thing that everyone whos been to the lake unanimously agrees with on: Do Not Touch The Water. No one who has, has ever survived. Most who touch the water shrivel up and die within minutes, one man watched as his brother was drowned by a sudden whirlpool sucking him into the water, and those who enter the water vanish immediately. Some scholars hypothesise that the magic concentration in the water is simply too much for mortal bodies to handle and they simply turn to dust when touching it.
Despite all this, the stories and allure of magical gemstones with unfathomable magical properties still bring in many hopefuls to try their luck. Many believe the forest to be nothing more than a rumour but the two villages on either side of the forest know otherwise, too many curious men, women and children have been lost to the forest. So they have their own laws in place to prohibit residents and travellers alike from entering the forest and they've carvd easy paths for people to go around it but try as they might adventures, explorers or down-on-their-luck individuals rarely want to heed their warnings.
"Please good sirs," the tavern owner from the Northern village would plead "Just use the path we've made over the hill, be on your way and please avoid the forest"
"Please, you mustn't go into the forest" the librarian from the Southern village would warn "you will come back empty-handed, that is...if you come back at all."
But people still go, they don't listen and they still die, they still disappear, they still come back broken.
. _ . _ . _ . _ . _ .
okay so this is an idea i've been sitting on for like probably a year now?? and i've never really felt the need to write it out or share it until recently so....here it is!! i don't really have more about this world or like any ocs within it (can i say the forest is my oc???) so i guess ill just call this a 'setting concept' ? i managed to write just about 1k words about it which honestly i didn't expect but this was fun (also frustrating bc I couldn't stay focused half the time ToT) i should maybe do it more often :3
im not really looking for critiques since this is just for fun and im v sensitive and already insecure abt my writing style so plz be nice is u do comment anything. also tysm for reading if u do! :D