Irongate Forest is one of the oldest wooded regions in the South. The forest is unusual due to the fact that it is almost unanimously shunned by Elven Races. Scholars believe it to be the ancestral home of the Gnomish Subrace known colloquially as Forest Gnomes, whose last known Clan is rumored to have vanished around 120AC.
Bounded by the Drakespur Mountains to the North, the Ironteeth to the South. The area is primarily forested and dominated by many changes in elevation, both gradual and sharp. The forested area thins significantly to the West as it approaches Lake Partha, as much of the old growth here was culled over the centuries to support the city’s significant lumber needs (see Beechbrook Mill). To the east, the forest abruptly gives way to the The Great Swamp.
The northern slopes of the ridges and basins provide a suitable habitat for deciduous forest dominated by Grey Oak, Spiny Pecan, and Hickory trees. Pines predominate on the south sides of the ridges. Once a rather common feature, most of the Ironwood trees have long since been prospected and hewn.
Woodsmen have long noticed that spaced strangely evenly throughout the woods (never more than a waterskin’s lasting) are stands of Apple Trees, usually in clumps of three or four, but sometimes in groups of up to seven. While the apples produced by these trees are refreshing and delicious, it was discovered by Gilnop Stillwater (while meticulously documenting all 3,007 cultivars of apples found in The South as part of his Lifework) that a single one added to the pulp in his brother’s Ginny Goat-powered cider press imparted rather miraculous and unusual qualities to the whole batch. The resulting product was quickly branded and marketed under the tradename GnopCrisp Amber, and although only small batches are still produced, it is in great demand by all rough-and-tumble types.
The deepest un-surveyed reaches of the forest are home to diverse amounts of fungi. Nettlecap Mushrooms as wide as a wagon wheel have been reportedly showed up in markets during Trade Week in Threshold. All manner of medicinal mosses, lichens and toadstools are rumored to grow beneath the thickest parts of the canopy.
Many migratory birds, some from as far north as Peradur, spend part of the year in the vicinity. Quagga, wapiti, mountain lion and wolf have become rarer in the region since the settlement of Partha and Threshold, but black bear are still sighted from time to time. Present day fauna include Tufted Squirrel, rabbit, opossum, fox, coyote, skunk, raccoon, gopher, weasel, mink, rat, frogs of all kinds, armadillo, and the occasional herd of Milk Deer.
The Iron Gate
The eponymous Irongate is a curious structure, located deep within the wood. It sits on a large escarpment overlooking Briderace Brook. The gate is seven feet high, and about four-and-a-half feet wide and is constructed of a finely wrought metal that resembles iron. Lodestones have been known to behave strangely in the mile surrounding the gate. The gate swings freely in Norteast and Southwest directions, and although fitted with a latch, it is rumored that it cannot be locked for long. A pile of rusted locking mechanisms (all strangely still in locked positions) at the foot of the gate seems to be a testament to this legend.
The by-product of a dramatic chase between Gilareal and Alorn Appledale (shapechanged into a Xorn), Alorn’s Run would probably be the quickest way to traverse the Irongate Forest if it weren’t for the myriad of Goblin Tribes that have recently begun enacting strict tolls and practicing banditry along the Pass (see Inhabitants).