The area known as The Knife is an old mountainous area located south across the ocean from the blessed lands. The Sakura Vale is primarily populated by root elves although much of the area is wild.
The environment is old mountains (similar to the Appalachians). Creeks feed off of these mountains and become rivers that all lead out to sea. When two rivers converge generally resulting river is renamed. If there is an elvish settlement then it will be where rivers join one another and will have the name of the resulting river.
There are no "roads" within the knife. There are at best footpaths though most travel is done by river or magic. This leads to towns where most people know everyone. The same trading families go up and down the same rivers bringing news from the borderlands as well as goods and services.
Root elf houses are made in the spaces below a tree's roots. Houses are not uniform as they are built into cracks within the mountain rocks. Few windows exist and as a result the homes of root elves are notoriously difficult to find. Frequently what appears to be a grove of trees in a rocky valley will house dozens of elves.
Root Elves take their name from the mythology of their region. One tale that is told to children is that the mountains in the knife are caused by the roots of The World Tree being close to the ground and pushing up the dirt creating the area. The Root elves consider their role to nourish and protect the hidden roots of their home.
The Root elves in general are not directly hostile to strangers they are generally wary around people they haven't interacted with before. Trust is built slowly unless someone who is "known" vouches for a stranger. Someone's word on another individual is to be taken with what is known about that person. Any shenanigans reflect poorly on the person who made the recommendation although aside from capital crimes the admonition is "use better judgement next time".
It is this "who is known and who isn't" dance that leads to much of the social complexity of the Root elves as a whole. Outsiders frequently see the dirty elves who live under trees instead of within them and make assumptions on their appearance alone. Outsiders who ignore some "grubby elf" over may be slighting a 400 year old powerful sorcerer. This is not to say that Root elves are dirty all of the time. They do like to be clean but will adopt a covering of grunge and in their oldest clothes when they know they will meet with outsiders as they like to use the biases of more "civilized" peoples against them.
Planar Breaches Edit
The Knife is a home to some very wild spaces and as a land is believed to be "close to the tree". Being so close to the base of the world tree brings with it a propensity for planes bleeding over into the physical world. Most of these breaches are small in size and are all monitored by the elves. When a breach gets too aggressive the elves will send word and cull the breach if it poses a great risk to the prime material plane. This last happened with a long established Elemental Fire breach XXX years ago. Currently the elvish leadership is considering doing the same with one of the Elemental Water breaches that lies close to XXXXXXX.