OUT OF CHARACTER INFORMATION
Intent: Expand on Tephrike.
Image Credit: Here. Here.
Links: Dominion of Light, Disciples of the Vader, Into Darkness, After Darkness, Tephrike, Republican Guard, Mace Windu Thought, Force-Dead, Yuuzhan Vong, Mahtara, Inheritors of the Light Father.
Nexus Name: Forest of Serenity
Nexus Alignment: Light
Affiliation: Tephrike, Dominion of Light, Jedi Inquisition, Republican Guard.
Accessibility: Located on Tephrike, a heavily isolated, remote planet. It is quite well-known on Tephrike though. Being a light side nexus, it emanates great power in the Light, acting as a beacon. However, the Forest is remote and considered sacred ground by the Dominion, whose Jedi guard it. Intruders may be confused or deceived by mirages. The trees are intelligent and able to actively shift to cause intruders to get lost. Finally, there are the strong mental effects of the nexus to consider. The nexus is very difficult to scan, even with dedicated sensor ships.
Description: A beautiful, peaceful forest, unravaged by industry, and pollution. It is a haven of nature; a vast old-growth forest where trees reach high into the sky. The Forest of Serenity has a strong presence in the Force. It burns brightly like a beacon of Light. Those who do not come with ill intent will be welcomed into its embrace and be safe from the beasts that dwell inside it. The experience may be transformative. It is a beautiful, idyllic paradise where the land is always fertile. The lake is a clear blue and free of pollution. A bath in these waters is restorative and one always feels clear-minded after taking a swim. Free from all burdens. Some plants are rumoured to have healing properties.
But there is something off about the Forest. You cannot help avoid the impression that you are being watched by the trees. Perhaps your mind is playing tricks on you, but maybe you are really hearing whispers over the gentle brush of wind. But those apples on that big tree are so tasty and filling, and you feel so serene and at peace with yourself. There are no roads, even though an engineering crew has spent ages building one through the forest. Somehow, nature always find a way, and work crews that defy it either get lost or suddenly realise that they are despoiling a holy land.
The Forest of Serenity is a powerful nexus. It is enchanted with the power of the Light, but its effects are twisted and warped. The Dominion of Light, a totalitarian Jedi theocracy on Tephrike, considers it to be sacred ground and has forbidden the industrial exploitation of the forest. Instead they have built a sacred temple that serves the followers of blessed Ashla. A number of Neti have taken up residence in the Forest. The Windian Jedi Order has laid claim to the Forest, realising its educational potential. Many a Sith who has tried to intrude and corrupt the nexus has instead undergone a transformative experience, and repented. Or so the Jedi Inquisition claims, at any rate, but then the stalwart guardians of peace and justice would never lie.
Some particularly zealous Jedi Consulars are researching ways to expand the effects of the nexus. So far they have met without success, but the steadfast believers maintain that if only they could replicate it, they could bring peace to Tephrike. After all, no one could rise against the benevolent Light if they were immune to temptation. There is no emotion, there is peace. At present, this is a fringe view in the Dominion. The nation is engaged in a war for survival and cannot afford to divert resources to esoteric pursuits.
Much to the annoyance of the glorious Dominion, some Force-Dead Republican Guard partisans have taken up residence in the sacred Forest. These terrorists hide in underground tunnels deep beneath the earth. As is known, the Force-Dead are voids in the Force. Thus they stand outside the Light and are akin to demons. Their mere presence desecrates the holy Forest. If only they could be freed from their curse and be brought into the embrace of Ashla. Every effort must be made to root out these impure, terrorist elements. Some Light Sith heretics are also in hiding here.
Metal-eating fungi, comparable to those found on Haruun Kal, abound. This is a common thing for Tephrike's jungles, but for some reason they are particularly prevalent here. If left unprotected, vehicles, communications equipment and other forms of advanced technology are corroded and destroyed within days. This makes slugthrowers preferrable to blasters, since they are a lot more durable provided they are wiped and oiled. Other fungi rapidly decompose dead tissue. Groups of Wookiees live in and around the nexus. However, the psychic explosion that spawned the nexus has caused them to regress into tribes of primitives.
The nexus is a focal point of the power of the Light and the bane of those who have succumbed to darkness. Parts of the forest are filled with an eerie, bright light that never seems to dim. It invigorates those who serve the Light, while repelling the dark side. As a result, dark side Force-Users will experience difficulty in drawing upon their power. An Acolyte might have trouble trying to touch the Force in general, while a Master could have trouble doing something such as lifting a big rock. Broadly speaking, this produces an effect akin to Force suppression, but for those who do not serve the Light. Moreover, the longer one stays at the nexus, the more draining it becomes for someone not of the Light to draw upon the Force.
It is worth noting that the Nexus does not distinguish grey Force-Users from Light Side ones. There is only the darkest abyss or the radiant light; there is no middle ground. The Forest has been known to summon mirages that fill darksiders and other heretics with visions of power, treasures and glory. But when they get close enough to touch, they are burnt by the Light. At the same time, the nexus strengthens Lightsiders, improving their focus and making it easier for them to replenish their energies.
Force Light and Plant Surge are easier to summon here. The concentration of Force energy is helpful for forging alchemised items and imbuing them with the Light. The Forest has a calming effect on sentient beings that enter it - a very calming one. It becomes difficult to feel strong emotions while inside the nexus. This effect increases the longer one stays. Anger, hatred, fear, passion, lust - they all become more difficult to experience. All forms of passion, including love, are suspect, for they lead to the dark side, so the Forest suppresses them. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no passion, there is serenity.
A Force-wielder who stays here will know peace and serenity. Unenlightened spirits would claim the nexus is trying to turn them into an unfeeling robot, but this is obviously untrue. It is only guiding them closer to the Light. To facilitate this, the Forest will try to reach out to form a telepathic link. Those who let go will find themselves more connected to the nexus. The trees themselves are intelligent, and constitute the hive of the nexus.
They are able to actively shift to cause intruders to get lost. The nexus is able to conjure Illusions or dreamstates that force people into stressful situations. This is supposed to rest their purity. The nexus responds aggressively to attempts to 'economically develop' - in other words, chop down and exploit - the forest. Trees shift to trap people and block roads, equipment breaks down, people are mentally manipulated.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Basilica of the Holy Light of Ashla's Disciples - The sacred temple of the followers of Ashla. Surrounded by the forest. It is considered sacred ground and a place of pilgrimage for Jedi...and education. Here the devout can be tested in their faith. Those who succumb to emotion see the error in their ways. The building is shaped like a step pyramid, with a flat top. It is comprised of a series of square terraces. Stairways up each of the four sides lead to the holy sanctum at the peak of the pyramid. It has been decorated with statues and sculptures of martyred Jedi.
It has served as a burial ground for generations of Jedi. Indeed, it is considered a mark of honour if a dead Jedi's remains are cremated here. This has increased the potency of the Light. The Inquisition maintains a special educational facility here. Officially it serves as a school for aspiring sentinels of the Light, teaching them how to let go of doubt and ego and become avatars of righteousness.
Omphalos of the Eternally Untempered Radiant Dawn - surrounded by trees that reach far into the air, there is a clearing where an extremely bright light shines. No matter the hour of the day, the eerie light never dims. It essentially acts like a powerful beacon of Light. Forcewielders are drawn to it, but it burns those it considers impure and tests them mentally. Often they are put through stressful or particularly harrowing and frightening mental situations.
The dazzling light may blind those the nexus rejects, The Dominion regards the area as a manifestation of the Light's purity. It is claimed that a Jedi paladin achieved a state of oneness with the Force here in order to smite a legion of evildoers. Force ghosts congregate at this location. This is the epicentre of the nexus, representing the most powerful concentration of Light Side energies in the forest. This also means that the telepathic influence of the nexus is at its strongest here.
Bastion of the Void-Shielded - An underground Republican Guard outpost. Located far beneath the surface. Intruders must pass through a veritable maze of tunnels, filled with a myriad traps and protected by partisans experienced in underground warfare. There are also dangerous fungi, snakes and the like. The outpost has barracks, kitchen, training and medical facilities and even a small bomb making factory. There is a small comms station, but it does not work well due to the nexus, so the partisans must rely on couriers and on Villips. Without exception, all base personnel are Force-Dead, so they cannot be mentally affected by the nexus. The Dominion of Light is looking for it.
Lake Eventide - The blue, clean lake always seems still and ripples never seem to get far. A visitor might see things in the water, but the context is always mired. Always in motion, the future is and those who become obsessed with averting a dark future they see in a vision may end up inadvertently bringing it about. Some say the water has restorative, healing properties.
Grove of the Untamed Spirit - a vast area utterly conquered by nature. There used to be a settlement here, but due to the nexus, the forest has a mind of its own and completely swallowed it. It is dominated by enormous, intelligent trees. Moreover, the nexus has had a very detrimental effect on tech. Commlinks and navigational instruments do not work, vehicle engines tend to suddenly break down and any time someone tries to build a road, the trees shift and it is devoured by nature. Metal-eating fungi are very prevalent. The descendants of the original settlers still live here. They have small communities in and around the nexus.
Most of them are Wookiees. Sadly, the psychic explosion has caused them to regress socially and technologically, making them rather wild and even feral. The Inquisition considers the way they revere the nexus deeply heterodox, as they equate it with nature spirits. But the nexus will not let the Jedi harm them. The emotional suppression emanated by the nexus is significantly less potent here, so normal emotional bonds are possible. However, the nexus still exerts a strong psychic influence on those who dwell here or pass through.
The dense foliage makes scanners hard to use, supply crates end up coated in moss and fast growing creepers can latch onto anything solid, being able to ground even vehicles and parked ships. A few of the Inheritors of the Light Father, a light side cult of renegade Sith, have found refuge here. The Force spirit of the Jedi responsible for the psychic explosion that created the nexus protects them. Some of the feral natives have come to trust the Inheritors, appreciating their healing powers, but the Light Sith must keep a low profile.
Tephrike was colonised a few centuries prior to the twilight of the Old Republic. It did not have sentient life native to it prior to colonisation. However, its wealth in minerals, bountiful flora and fauna soon attracted colonists. Wookiee tribes settled in and around the wild lands that would become the Forest of Serenity. When the Gulag Virus ravaged the galaxy, Tephrike spiralled into chaos. As disease, famine and strife spread, the Jedi assumed a protective stance. However, they eventually seized power for themselves, toppling Tephrike's federal government. Ostensibly it was to protect civilisation and uphold law and order, but they were soon corrupted by their power. As the old adage goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, regardless of intent. Or perhaps it just reveals.
Regardless, the newly-formed Dominion of Light faced enemies on multiple fronts. Chief among them were the revolutionary Republican Guard and a Sith cult called the Disciples of the Vader. Few of Tephrike's people could remain neutral, as the conflict soon engulfed most of the planet. On this world, the Dark Age never truly ended. A Jedi academy had been built in the Forest of Serenity. It went way back, and was the place where the ashes of many Jedi are kept. However, during the war with the human supremacist Disciples of the Vader, it was attacked by a powerful force including several mutated beasts. The Dominion defenders and the native militia were cut off from reinforcements and could not expect any support.
To defeat them a Cerean Jedi called Mas-lai-kalna and many others sacrificed themselves to unleash a massive purifying wave of Light which destroys the Sith legion, forever made the forest hallowed. Mas-lai-kalna was a personal friend of the future Jedi Battlemaster Mahtara, who would lead the counterstrike against the Sith at Palmyra. The survivors of the settlers living in and nearby were possessed by the wild explosion of psychic energy from the forest and became overcome by a primitive naturalism. A lot of modern technology no longer worked in the forest. Indeed, the nexus seemed hostile to it. But it also protected the forest and its inhabitants from harm. Centuries passed and the forest was rediscovered by the Dominion. Master Mahtara had long agonised over what had happened to her former comrade.
Ironically, Mas-lai-kalna was still there as a Force ghost, despairing at the way the Jedi had fallen. Indeed, the Dominion had spiralled so far into evil that Mahtara and the other Jedi could not even hear the Cerean anymore. Instead, they proclaimed the forest to be a sacred site, naming it the Forest of Serenity. It became a place of pilgrimage, and the Inquisition set up a facility in the ancient temple. However, the Dominion was not the only group that had taken an interest in the forest.
The Republican Guard conducted recon and sabotage missions. The partisans fought for the emancipation of Non-Force-Users from the tyranny of the Force, and hated what the nexus had done to the regressed survivors of the explosion. The Dominion clamped down hard when they took notice of the rebels trying to recruit and educate those tribes that dwelt at the edge of the nexus and were thus less enthralled by it. The rebels were at a disadvantage because the nexus could communicate with its defenders, they lacked Force-Users of their own and technology was difficult to use in the forest.
The rebel forces realised that Non-Force-Users would succumb to the nexus' powers, but that their Force-Dead commandos would remain untouched by it. Moreover, Yuuzhan Vong biotechnology could not be rendered nonfunctional by sorcery. In an act of calculated blasphemy, enterprising partisans began to dig, digging deep underground outposts. However, their presence would remain small-scale, though they were joined by fugitive partisans who had been cut off from their units during the failed Netherworld offensive.
After the Netherworld War, a group of Light Sith refugees came to the forest seeking sanctuary from Vaderite retaliation. These were among the shattered remains of a group of rebellious Vaderites who, after discovering the true story of Vader's redemption, had turned on their dark side masters and aligned themselves with freed masters. However, their leader had ended up embroiled in a destructive war with the Dominion and then been toppled by reactionary Vaderites.
The Dominion initially them as useful, but then the Inquisition concluded they were spies and tried to execute them. But ironically this was a dark side act, which turned the nexus against the Jedi pursuing the 'heretics'. So the Light Sith were able to escape, guided by the spirit of Mas-lai-kalna. The irony was not lost on the Cerean. A few of them managed to survive among the feral tribes that dwelt in the Grove. They continue to try to do good in small ways and uphold the cause of the true Light, but must keep a low profile because the temple remains an important Dominion stronghold.