On the continent of Xi, the Black Oak Grove is located in the Pallas Forest, a huge forest that separates that nation of La’Certa from the Dying Wastes.
A clearing in the heart of the forest. At its centre, the massive, ancient oak tree, dripping with black-green sap. The clearing is lit by a metres high intensive bonfire.
It’s a night with minimal moonlight and the flames cause shadows to flicker everywhere. A few figures are roughly silhouetted around the blaze.
The Coven leadership meets here once a year to resolve disputes amongst their members.
Although most of the action in the tactical miniatures game takes place in urban environments, the terrain rules do support heavily wooded areas. A variation on the "Suls' Court" scenario could well be set in the Black Oak Grove.
Key dates in the history of The Black Oak Grove
Late 2nd era – The Dying Waste is created, possibly as a result of warring between Dragons, or possibly due to the aethermancy enacted by the Siblings to obliterate the Khepri race. This deadly landscape seems to be slowly growing, expanding further and further north.
Early 3rd era – A pair of Siblings disguised themselves as animal spirits to help guide the development of humans living in the northwestern part of the Pallas Forest. The humans there believed that animal spirits were guardians of the forest and their people, guiding them to live in productive harmony with the world around them. The Siblings believed this more subtle approach might allow them to nudge the humans in the right direction without things moving too fast. The Siblings lived amongst this community through about ten generations or so. The humans had learnt to heal far beyond many of their kind and developed a deep connection with the woods and it’s animals. The humans had started to grasp the basic concepts of aethermancy, which would eventually lead to disaster…
Mid 3rd era – A council of wise women ruled the woodland settlements in the North West of the Pallas Forest. For decades the woodland settlements had paid homage and tributes of fruit and animal flesh to the Dragons who dwelt within in a lair in the Southernmost Typhon Mountains. The dragon Jytomachia eventually usurped the current leadership of this lair and decided he wanted bloody human sacrifices to his glorious leadership. The woodland people refused, and Jytomachia’s response was brutal. This eventually lead to the wise women using their uniquely human understand of aethermancy to create the first true pact and curse the entire species, an act that would change Dragons forever. The Siblings revealed themselves to the women at this point, and in the end, they worked together to try and undo the curse.
Late 3rd era – The Siblings finally achieved the true ascendancy through mastery of aethermancy, something they had been chasing for hundreds of millennia. They had failed to achieve the accord they had sought to make with the “mortal” races prior to their ascendancy. However, they knew they wanted to stop the advance of the Dying Wastes. They imposed their will and the Dying Wastes ceased their advancement. The wastes stopped just south of the Black Oak Grove.
400 P.D. – Human settlements in the Pallas forest extend south of the Black Oak Grove and start to reach the Dying Wastes. Nothing can live in the wastes for long. Smaller creatures die within hours, even humans and horses are killed within days if they remain within the border of this dreadful landscape. As hunters and lumberjacks in the southern part of the forest are sickened or even killed as they explore, it starts to become a major concern, spreading terror and misery through the forest.
452 P.D. - The Coven formally establishes itself in the form of the modern organisation known today. They hold the 1st Crone Council of Gaia at the Black Oak Grove. It was at this time that they enacted a true pact to try and reverse the advance of the dying wastes. Thanks to the pact enacted by the Coven it finally started to retreat, and the Pallas forest could finally start the long road to recovery.
600 P.D. - The Coven first master the art of growing the naturally crystallised from the sap of the great Black Oak. Each an 8 foot tall, dark, almost black green gemstone held in place by a thick growth of gnarled tree trunks and heavy vines. These prove to be a great tool in aiding the Coven in combat.
1417 P.D. - Mother Annis is promoted to Crone Annis, one of the youngest to achieve the rank, aged 47 years. She attends her first Crone Council. It is the 965th such council at the Black Oak Grove. It is challenging to get her voice heard, given the controversial nature of achieving such a rank so young.
1425 P.D. - Assassins, masters unknown, succeed in killing 4 of the 5 eldest Coven Crones. The witches were making their way to the 973rd Crone Council of Gaia. The eldest, Crone Seem, survives the assassination attempt. The Coven initiates plans at the Council to prioritise finding out who was responsible and to bring them to justice.
1427 P.D. - All the assassins sent after the Crones have been found and brought to Coven justice. However their masters remain unknown, magic had been used to eliminate the knowledge of how they had gotten the contracts from the minds of the assassins. A magic so well crafted even the Coven could not break past it. Still, they re-work the centuries-old practice of creating Black Oak Crystals, so the artefacts specifically target assassins, as a measure to protect the Coven in the future.
1431 P.D. - Crone Seem passes on, and so at age 61, Crone Annis of the Schwarzwald becomes the eldest member of the Coven’s Crone Council.
1449 P.D. - The 997th Crone Council of Gaia is held at the Black Oak Grove, and Bone Mother Eri is denied her request to the council (see the short story “Mistakes” in the core book).
1450 P.D. - The 998th Crone Council of Gaia is held, and Crone Ceridwen brings troubling news from beyond the Endless Sea (see the short story “Mistakes” in the core book).