Many times, investigators have arrived from whatever empire, kingdom, or republic happened to control the area. Rumors bring them hence, or disappearances, or simple curiosity. The simple farmers and villagers who live nearby always tell them the same thing: do not enter the Vale.

When pressed, they avow that the Vale contains a power that molds flesh and bone, root and bark, stone and earth as if each were so much clay on a potter’s wheel. Whether the power is some sort of spirit, a natural force, or something entirely different is of no concern to those near the Vale; they see the nature of that place as unknowable and capriciously so.

They evince a belief that the Vale reshapes anything that enters it into a form that best suits its deepest and innermost nature. A record compiled by the Imperial Guard mentions a farmer claiming that every tree of the Vale was once a lazy and dissolute creature, for instance. A later document prepared by a Directorate Investigator mentions a cooper that claimed people would occasionally stumble out of the vale with no memory or identity; beings that had begun as something else that the power behind the Vale had reshaped.

Without fail, the interviewees treat the Vale in a resigned matter: they are not disturbed by their fantastic tales, and give their warnings without judgement or passion. It was a part of their lives, and if a local refused to abide by the local wisdom, their inevitable disappearance–or purported reappearance in another wildly different form–was enough to ensure that few would follow.

It is also worth noting that, also without fail, the reports of the various investigative agencies are incomplete. For even as the investigators universally dismiss the reports as superstition, they are always compelled to see for themselves. The discovery of their effects in birds’ nests and bear dens is always held up as evidence that they were waylaid and murdered by brigands and left to rot in the vale.

They never return.

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