Ophio is a tower of rock and living trees raised by the elf Ilastrea. It lies in the north-central portion of the Trionesse region near Wilska and Vara, not far from the sea.
The Ophio Tower
The tower sits a top a 800 foot high hill and consists of an irregular spire of rock, about 200' wide at the base narrowing quickly to less than 100 feet for most of its 250 foot extent. Ilastrea raised the rock from the bedrock of the land leaving the rock looking stretched and flowed. Irregular passages and chambers lace the rock with frequent balconeys and occasional exposed portions of stair-ways. There is no internal magic for traversing the tower, muscle power suffices. External and internal basins and cisterns catch the copious rainfall (see below).
Trees and other plants protrude from the rock face. These trees appear hundreds of years old although their actual age is much less. As the rock spire reachs its climax, the density of plant growth increases until the upper quarter is completely cloaked in plants, moss and other greenery. From the tip of the spire, four towering redwoods reach another 300 feet (for a total height of 500 feet for the spire). A small, open air platform lies between the trunks of these trees and a spiral stair works its way up the slenderest of these trees to additional platforms hundreds of feet higher up the trees.
Nearly all dwellings are within the rock spire with the tree platforms reserved for ceremonies and more wild fey visitors who do not wish to live within stonework. All passages and chambers have an organic, living look to them with no regular or straight surfaces.
In the 5660s Ilastrea quarreled with the then king of the Trionesse Elves, King Coyle over accomodation with the humans, Ilastrea favoring a more confrontational approach. She chose self-exile and wandered in lands far from Trionesse, spending much time with distant elves and in particular the Talindria elves north of Celebrent (see Tolan Shore) where she learned much of her animal and plant lore.
Returning to Trionesse she allied herself with the more aggressive members of the Trionesse elvish nobility and made herself de facto ruler of the Ophio region by the 5680s. By 5691 she had begun to raise Ophio tower and over the next ten years completed both the rock mass and the living plants upon it. It has changed little in the last two hundred years.
Ilastrea knows the art of growth and awakening. She can bring speech and intelligence to plants and simple creatures. She can cause plants to rapidly reach a mature age (such as she did for the trees on Ophio Tower) or greatly enlarge common creatures to give them gigantic stature.
Ilastrea maints distant but friendly relations with Queen Ciarda whom she acknowledges as overlord, considering herself part of Trionesse but from whom she takes little direction. She will send contingents, sometimes including herself, to aid in defending the borders of Trionesse but since she advocates harsh policies against non-elves, her assistance is problemmatic and only sought for the most dire of emergencies. Nonetheless, Ciarda values Ilastrea's help and perhaps even more so, the threat of her help as it keeps the humans in check.
Visitors are generally not welcome in Ophio unless they are elvish, eladrin or other fey-born. Intruders are warned far from Ophio and those who persist are killed, if possible, or otherwise deterred. Ilastrea herself will appear to defend her domains and she is a very powerful druid. More often, her fey guardians with their enlarged animals are sufficient to protect the borders. Channelers who have successful attuned to any of the Ophio spirits (see next) are also welcome in the tower.
Ilastrea and a human named Aedric built the tower with Aedric dying in the process and becoming the spirit of the tower. He takes the name Ophio now, the masculine form of the name Ophia that Ilastrea used before settling here.
Sirna and Esrond are two wood spirits associated with the tower itself. Sirna claims the trees and plants growing on the surface of the rock spire, below the crown of the spire. Esrond lives among trees growing from the crown. Sirna is a carefree, light-hearted spirit who came to Ophio in the last hundred years, allegedly the soul of one of Ilastrea's lovers. Esrond is either a spirit who moved to Ophio (very unusual but not unheard of) or possibly the child of an earlier spirit named Esrond who lived in the northern Trionesse woods from long before the Cataclysm.
Torran is an aggressive wolf spirit who arose about the time Ilastrea raised her tower, said to be either the spirit of a while mountain wolf or one of Ilastrea's elven paramours. He dwells north of the tower but roams all of the unblighted forest around Ophio and serves as one of the towers most daunting guardians- he does not directly attack but is able to summon ferocious packs of wolves to any place in woods.
Bethes is an ancient spirit of the Bethes spring that feeds into the Ophior stream. Once located in the heart of lush forest, the region around the spring has not faired well since the inundantions of the Cataclysm. Consequently, Bethes appears old and irritable although old stories portray her as once lively and beautiful. She does not take channelers frequently. Those she takes must swear to restore the lands around her spring to their former glory. Ilastrea and Bethes are on strained terms although Ilastrea does honor channelers to Bethes and makes some attempt to restore Bethes' lands.
The Imperial road runs through the Ophio forest and Ilastrea at times allows passage by travellers. When she allows passage, travellers must either have a special pass from or allow themselves to be escorted by one of her patrols. The pass is not for sale and is only given to trusted allies of Ophio. Escort requires a toll that covers cost of the escort and provides income for Ophio. Ilastrea only keeps the road open for the first two weeks of spring, summer and winter. When closed travellers must take a poor trail around the north edge of the forest (not shown on the Ophio map). Bandits from Wilska lurk on the road at that time.
The road escort is generally not excessively strong. If attacked, they generally fade into the woods and summon allies to get revenge on the attackers. Escorts run once a day, east and west, with a camp at either end where travellers must wait for escort. This is the main way to travel from the Rimark to Jaggerland.
Trionesse does not allow passage of non-elves through their forest so travellers must go north through Ophio (or even farther north around it) or far south. Some feel that part of the reason Ilastreas was even allowed to maintain Ophio as a semi-independent entity is that it put the policing of the Imperial Road through the forest in someone else's capable hands.