|Resources||Wood, Predator Fungus|
East of Elomaoli, the verdant hills grow progressively more wild, becoming tangled highlands on which grow a towering redwood forest that has stood since time immemorial. Dead trees on the periphery suggest it endured even the Cataclysm, and on its discovery Tzaltec explorers christened it the Progenitor Forest. Beneath those towering boughs, an abundance of life flourishes.
Eventually, though, the forest ends. The ground becomes rocky and jagged, and the hills rise sharply to join the southern expanse of the Earth Spine. It is in these mountains that the largest mountain in the range sits, and in defiance of its local name Tzaltec maps mark it as Mount Nezetkhamun.
The native people of Axiquahitl were never properly identified before their integration into the empire. Living in the boughs of the larger redwoods, they concealed their faces behind pained wood masks and considered the trees themselves to be holy. They therefore reacted poorly with the initial team of Tzalteca surveyors took cuttings from a living tree. The surveyor camp was attacked, and despite the natives' lack of iron weapons they inflicted several casualties and forced the expedition to flee to the safety of Elomaoli. However, this only strengthened the Tzaltec commitment to integrating the region.
A second survey team was sent, this one accompanied by a detachment of Tzaltec regulars equipped with Tzaltec fire. As soon as they entered the forest, they sought out the nearest native village and brokenly informed them through a translator that they had called down the wrath of heaven. Then, with only a few fist-sized jars, they set the village ablaze.
While the natives were well acquainted with the occasional forest fire, the speed and ferocity of the Tzaltec weapon took them completely by surprise. As the survey team watched from a safe distance, the natives fought desperately to save their homes and their sacred tree, and were eventually reduced to tearfully chopping off burning limbs. Eventually the fire died out, but not before half the village was dead and their home was gutted. The survivors were allowed to flee to other villages, carrying a message from the Tzaltec: submit, or suffer the same fate. Faced with a power they did not understand, a council of village elders came together and surrendered to the leader of the expedition.
Reorganization of the region followed swiftly. While the largest settlements were allowed to remain untouched, smaller settlements were evacuated from their homes and consolidated into Tzaltec communities, forced to begin logging select sections of the forest to feed far-off Tzalteclan's lust for timber.
The vast forest that spans much of Axiquahitl proves an almost inexhaustible supply of wood, the only obstacle being the locals' continued reverence of the trees. In addition, the Progenitor Forest is the home of a unique form of fungus. Semi-sentient, this Predator Fungus serves as a natural scavenger on the forest floor, spreading and devouring dead organic material of any kind. The natives have long used this fungus in their medicines, much as another culture might use maggots to clean away dead skin.
However, due to its forest culture, Axiquahitl is devoid of smithing, making iron, for all its uses, a virtual unknown.