"We're off the edge of the map here." - MartenThe Eld is a large forest in the eastern part of the Four Corners of Civilization. Vintas, Modeg, and the Aturan Empire all control portions of the Eld. Though not a common destination in itself, the Eld's central location means that many must pass through it. Combined with its isolation, this makes the Eld a nearly perfect environment for bandits.
The mercenary Marten describes it as untamed, contrasting it to 'domesticated' forests in and around civilization. In the forest Marten discovers and shows Kvothe The An's Blade. This is a fern which is killed by human touch, more specifically by sweat or even breath. It turns bright red before desiccating and dying. Marten says that the presence of the tree indicates that there are no settlements anywhere nearby.
Role In Narrative
Kvothe and a group of mercenaries are sent into the Eld to hunt bandits who have been preying on tax collectors. Kvothe believes that the Maer sent him to the Eld to get rid of him either permanently or while he finishes courting Meluan Lackless himself.
The stretch of forest that they must search is vast so Kvothe decides they will only search a thin strip of forest parallel to the road, looking for trials the bandits must have made rather than for the camp itself. The search takes several weeks and the group slowly grow quite sick of each other's company. Nightly stories deteriorate into petty bickering. A constant rain sets in, and Marten - who is the group's best tracker - catches cold.
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