Life Rifts: wild growth
Exploring Telara, you may find a lush oasis in the heart of a wasteland, where alien plants grow thick as corded sinew and heavy with fruit, and new species of beast prowl, displaying fur and plumage in unreal colors.
Turn away from such places, for if you wander in alone you may become intoxicated with scent and sight and lose all sense. By the time you realize the foliage has blocked out the sun, you will be bitten by legions of ravenous insects, and finally come to the center of the growth.
There hangs the Life Rift, vines and roots spilling out, tearing the rift wider like fingers pulling at frayed cloth. One of the vines will notice you and dart for your guts like a viper as its end sharpens to a venomous spear…
The Plane of Life: nothing in moderation
There is no ground in the Plane of Life, and there is no sky. Both are overgrown with plants as exotic as they are deadly. Roots clash like enemy armies, shoving and scrambling, while vines bulge together, sprouting thorns to stab each other. Mere survival in this plane means no coexistence or compromise, only constant competition.
This is a place of beauty, but no peace, where eternity is one long, bloody chain. Childlike in loveliness and cruelty, a faerie torments wildlife with illusions and traps, until plucked from the air by a leaping raptor and chomped to bloody gobs. Plants pulsate and grow in around the reptile, forcing it to flee until a forest troll snatches it up by the tail and breaks its back on a tree trunk. As the troll feasts, the tree— actually a treant’s leg— uproots and crushes him flat. The treant moves for the first time in centuries, seeking a new spot to root until it succumbs to the poison of sun-bright flowers.
Enemies: red in tooth and claw
These and more are the denizens of the Plane of Life, obsessive in their will to survive by supplanting other species, like the amphibious boglings who eat and kill all interlopers, usually in that order.
Many of Telara’s most savage beasts are invaders from this plane. Dire wolves hunt the local game to extinction, and razorbeast boars trample like jagged boulders over any natural predator. The Plane of Life can warp wildlife into abominations like the shamblers: swollen toadlike heads pulled along by spindly arms, with no body but a mass of soggy leaves.
The Lifetouched have adapted countless tricks in their war for survival. Ecstatic satyrs might raid a village, calling barbed roots from the ground to bind their victims in place to be poisoned, while the goat-men heal their own wounds by regrowing flesh as a tree regrows leaves.
The folly of man
Amid teeming jungle, only this ruined wall remains of an Eth city. Something has carved this into the wall in jagged glyphs:
This stone reminds all prey that the predator will find you, though you huddle together. Great Greenscale trod upon this city, and hungry plants rose from his footsteps, choking out the desert. Screaming his name, the city rats ran in vain from his burning eyes and breath of fragrant poison. He tumbled the towers, and he broke the streets, and he roared the triumph of nature amid the toppling pillars. Greenscale gives this jungle to Telara, to devour and be devoured as it deserves.
Dragon of Life: Greenscale the Primeval
Greenscale the Primeval is the relentless enemy of civilization, hating any structure that coddles the weak or hobbles the strong. His ideal is constant, shifting struggle, where species of every sort live and die at each others’ throats, till only the most vicious survive—or something stronger comes along.
For centuries, Greenscale has raged against his sterile, lifeless prison, as his faerie servitors leech off his power to fuel their wicked games. If freed, he may crush them for their impudence or reward their ruthless drive. Greenscale yearns to level Sanctum, Meridian, every bastion of order and progress until Telara is covered in writhing, biting wilderness.
Cult of Life: House Aelfwar
For eons, the High Elves of House Aelfwar safeguarded Telara’s wild places. Then the Ascended returned from death as protectors of all Telara, and Aelfwar fell in status from Tavril’s chosen to mere mortals. When the goblins emerged from Gloamwood to burn the Elves’ wood to the ground, Prince Hylas of Aelfwar resented the Guardians’ failure to act.
The Prince led his house to worship Greenscale. Now they loathe the orderly civilization that betrayed them, and work to foster the wild at its wildest, spreading the Primeval One’s philosophy of endless competition. No less glorious for his bitterness, Hylas is a leader of ambition, charisma, and intense focus. He may quickly outstrip even Fae Lord Twyl as civilization’s most implacable enemy, though once he was harmony’s devoted friend.