Advanced Fighting Fantasy
Forest of Thieves
Situated south of Blacksand the Thieves Forest is not a woodland ecology environment as it may once have been although there is a small copse of trees Goston Vale Woods remaining on one side of the valley. It is a sinister horizon to horizon moorland valley and hill area full of gallows, crucifix and hanging cages. “Rich pickings for the Crows” is an expression that suits it perfectly, indeed there is a huge flock of crows that lives here amidst the skeletons and decaying bodies of felons.
The place has rapidly sprung up in the past few years ever since convicts for the prison colony on the volcanic Isle of the Lizard King are no longer sent on such a risky journey, after mutiny on the prison ships with aid from pirates of the West Coast ensured the villainous prisoners survived to swell the ranks of pirates and highwaymen in the region. A safer, more cost effective alternative was decided upon.
Three main locations in the league-long valley are a mill-house known as the executioners office and an abandoned Inn called the Old Coachman used as an open-house by highwaymen hiding out under the very noses of those authorities they wish to avoid. There is also a small, deserted village consisting of a few farms clustered together in the center of the valley; reputed to be the home of the ghosts of the dead prisoners. This place has taken on the name Goston from ghost-town. Locals pronounce ‘gh’ as a back-of-the-throat sound, pronounced ‘h’ as much as ‘g’. Everybody avoids the valley road through the village.
“Paying the Dead” has a literal meaning here. The burying of coins and precious things beneath the final resting places of the criminals is said to ensure their protection in the afterlife, and/or to call upon their spirit for protection. It is a convenient way of hiding stolen treasure, mostly from other bandits, since the treasure being associated with the deceased, superstitiously brings with it some sort of curse. The name of the deceased and their location in the Thieves Forest cemetery is required as part of these rituals. It is a folk-lore in gestation. The intervention of voodoo priests and necromancers occurs through a small chapel building at the top of the hill.
A spring at the foot of the chapel feeds a narrow, shallow stream that runs through the valley. It is now said to take the spirit of the dead out of the valley and into the sea, although in reality is passes through a boggy marshland and eventually feeds into the Catfish River.
A rare herb called Thistle-tongue grows here.