It is said that perhaps we know as little about the densest forests on Earth as we do as the bottom of the oceans. The seas, with their gradual abyssal wonder, contain many vast secrets, but that within the light is mostly subject to human scrutiny. While the condition is not nearly as drastic as in the great depths under the waves, the forest floor too contains much to be discovered.
It is a land where upwards of ninety-five percent of light from the Sun does not make it to the ground. It gets caught in the branches and leaves, left high in the canopy, the domain of birds. This would lead us to believe that the sort of life on the ground here would be sparse, stunted by the lack of mana.
We know this to be not so.
If it were true, how would the forests have become so grand in the first place? Survived for all these generations of new trees?
There are plants in the forest floor that grow only by the strength of moonlight. The Sun’s rays, were they to hit their leaves directly, would be far too strong and damage the plants beyond repair. The canopy above protects their delicate geometries from the harsh sunlight. This allows the plants — which exhibit subtle traits of fungi, defying easy classification — to take in the sweet moonlight which provides all they need.
The dampened, reflected sunlight from the Moon trickles down through the trees to reach the specimens below. In the gentle climate provided in the shade, they have all they need to grow.
All attempts to grow, cultivate, and reproduce these plants in lab conditions have failed, except one. A specialty greenhouse was constructed, with one-way mirrors at the top. A small chamber collects the Sun’s rays, bounces it internally, before releasing a filtered amount to the plants.
The horticulturalists at work here must be eased into such an environment, and supplement their research with tanning to compensate for the deficiency. Those who forwent such protections, as was common before finer methods were developed, experienced what could only be comprehended as madness, their “conditions” later becoming known as lunacy.
Of course, the canopy provides more than just these simple protections for the flora and fauna on the floor. Such evolutionary explanations are still being augured from the dense woods.
In a particular forest, high on a plateau surrounded by taller peaks, the rain is so acidic to eat through any life misfortunate enough to come in contact with it. Over millennia, the trees is such an area developed leaves to siphon this potent water towards the trunk, where it is absorbed through porous bark on the path of gravity.
Several species of monkeys have adapted to this climate, as well as thickly feathered birds. The birds all exhibit oily, dark feathers, very unlike that of other physiologically similar tropical raptors. It’s thought that such a coating is similar to that of aquatic birds, affording them additional protection from the permeating rain.
These birds are born with a third eye, directly on top of their skulls, to monitor for impending storm clouds at all times. As their other senses develop and grow, these eyes become used less and less, eventually shutting upon maturity, never to be opened again. Only a few specimens have been observed past adulthood with a remaining third eye, and others with no visible eyes at all. It’s thought that these animals have a sense unbeknownst to man, so honed to make sight primitive.
The rain in this forest, while highly acidic as mentioned prior, is rich in nutrients and elements not found in other parts of the world. As such, many expeditions have been sent to this area, in an attempt to capture the rain for study.
Very little amount of this rain makes it all the way to the forest floor, as the trees absorb nutrients as it travels the length of their trunk. As such, the trees here are the highest known on Earth, eclipsing other such species as the redwoods in America.
Even given the small quantities that make their way to the floor, a local legend speaks of a pool of the rain collected at the base of the largest tree in the forest. One such native was alleged to have found it’s resting place, and upon bathing in the pool, lost use of an eye like the birds above.
However, given his sacrifice, the man was said to gain incredible powers of foresight and learning, often associated with magic. Of course, no such records of this man exist, and he was said to disappear shortly after. Similar legends exist across different cultures around the globe, leading many to dismiss this as a work of myth.
We know this to be not so.