Far to the north west is a deep forest. A girl with leaf-green hair, perhaps 10 years old, roams there. She cares little for the world of humans. Her days are filled by picking flowers, climbing tress, and running through the woods as fast as she can. She’s been there as long as anyone can remember, and longer, all without growing a day older. This unique fay is said to be the forest’s heart made manifest. But, truth be told, no one knows which came first: the forest, or the girl.
Civilization has long since grown around this forest. A number of villages, and even a large city, are within a day’s travel of it. But no serious attempt has ever been made to harvest its wood, or settle in its shade. For the trees of this forest can move as surely as a man can walk. Which isn’t to say that anyone has ever seen them move. The trees somehow know when there are eyes upon them—even the magical eyes of a diviner. But a traveler entering the forest is best advised that the path behind her will never be the same one she traveled.
The girl has some part in this, that much is certain. The paths of the wood shape themselves to her whimsy. Those few who have returned from the Wood of Lost Paths tell stories of meeting her. She introduces herself as Asria, and leads the lucky traveler down a path they had not seen; wide and straight, leading directly to the forest’s edge. The moment they set eyes upon the grassy planes that surround the forest, the girl disappears again into the trees. Most are wise enough to avoid the forest entirely. For every tale of a traveler who was led out, there are twenty of men and women who never returned. But a legend sometimes draws foolish adventurers to the Wood of Lost Paths: the tale of the Kingsblade.
It is said that a great king once lost a battle near the forest’s edge. Upon seeing the suffering of his soldiers, caused by his own rivalry with another lord, the king drew his sword and cast it into the forest, declaring that he would force his people to do battle no more. Three celestials saw this powerful act, and were moved by it. They were sisters, representing the virtues of wisdom, love, and courage. They carried the blade to the center of the forest, and saturated it with their powers. They transformed it into a weapon which could stand against any evil. It is said that the blade is still there, its hilt held aloft in a single hand shared between three statues of these celestial creatures. They wait only for one worthy enough to wield it.
Recently, a band of a few dozens Drow discovered the forest. They’d offended the spider queen, and fled to the surface world to escape her wrath. After a lifetime of living in the depths of the underdark, however, they found the light of the surface world unbearable. They sought refuge in the Wood of Lost Paths, finding the shade to be an acceptable substitute for the darkness of their home. It was only after they entered the forest that they realized it was not a simple task to leave it again.
The impossible to navigate landscape nearly drove the Drow to madness. Several of them were separated from the group and lost, presumed to be dead. It was only good fortune that saved them when they encountered the girl, Asria. She offered to show them the way out, and when the drow discovered that she could navigate the forest, they immediately began scheming. Rather than follow Asria’s path, they captured and bound her. Despite her great powers and apparent immortality, Asria was as weak and naive as a child.
One of the drow wizards fashioned a headband for her, one she could never remove herself. To it, he bound four stones. Each stone allowed the wielder to instinctively navigate the forest’s shifting landscape as though they were Asria herself. By exerting their will, the drow could even force Asria to create paths and clearings for them.
Since then, the drow have been raiding the nearby settlements for food, supplies, and treasure. A number of attempts have been made to pursue them, but none dare follow them past the treeline.