Exians may refer to it as 'the little
woods,' 'the place where you never get lost' and 'the garden,' but
the Flatlanders are proud of their Wandering Woods. The name began
in a folk tale: one day, a group of young trees in the Forest of
Ex were rude to their grandparents, and refused to apologise
when ordered to.
"We'll run away!" they threatened.
"Run away then," said their parents and grandparents. They
thought it would teach the young trees a lesson. But the young trees
got lost in the Flatlands and never came back, and that was the
start of the Wandering Woods.
In fact, as the lyrical
botanist Pieter Sprod pointed out, the story is impossible. The two forests do not share the same flora.
"The trees in the Wandering Woods are open-hearted, they are
wide, they console, they are fat and golden and in the autumn
they coat the cold earth with their largesse. They are the kindest
of trees. The trees of Ex are tall, they fill one with awe, but the trees of the Wandering Wood are broad, they fill one with happiness.
Under the trees in the heart of the Woods, the
moss is thick and delicately detailed: there are a thousand tiny
featherings and branches in one strand, so minute that they are
almost transparent, save for a gold-green blush along their thickest
Try to walk on this moss: you cannot. The moss is
too springy, it turns every step into a leap, a hop, and soon you
are not walking but bounding, thrust forward through the silent
honey-coloured air. You are thrilled and frightened. This is
solemn fun, but you have just realised that you do not
know where you are going."
Or, as Tran Hurl put it in Book Two of his Crossroads wide as the Skies:
"... a world apart from the other world, a world of stubborn generosity, unbreakable gold ... the oaks are holding out their crenellated branches low and wide ... Mushrooms blooming in a mattress of moss they lay their plump heads on the top of the green bed ... peek-a-boo fat spotted cushions you look too firm to eat ..."
Fleets of Land Pirates use the Wandering Woods as an occasional base of operations, but do not tend to prey on the Woods's inhabitants, preferring to attack merchants and other travellers.