ARKA - THE FOREST GODDESS
Three thousand years ago, the Machines swarmed through singularity gates and laid waste to the forest sphere with flamethrowers and desiccant bombs. The great animal spirits were struck down, one by one, and their goddess along with them, dealing a mortal blow to the ancient realm. The self-sustaining properties of the planar core were irrevocably damaged, and without Arka to maintain the quintessant cloud, all life within the sphere has begun to slowly flicker out. Immense areas have already withered away and died, leaving behind bleached muskeg and lifeless swamp, and the most majestic of Arka's children - unicorns, dryads, hydras, just to name a few - have all but died away. Those animals that remain all possess a terrible, haunted look, with sunken eyes and starved bodies. They all feel the forest sphere dying around them.
As the planar core fades, so too does the elemental essence of earth magic. When it eventually flickers out, all life within the sphere will fade along with it, and Lith will become little more than a lifeless husk drifting through the silver void. At this point, it seems inevitable that earth magic will fade entirely, bringing Rym one step closer to its demise. Even the Arcanar have admitted that continued use of elemental earth magic may be linked to the diminishing energies of the dying plane.
The Mana Cloud
Lith's planar core is a nebulous cloud of radiant energy that scholars refer to as 'mana', or 'radiant life'. It is composed entirely of life energy liberated from dying organisms. This energy is drawn into the planar core upon release, where it incandesces, providing a rich mixture of light and quintessance, even as the physical form decays and nourishes the soil. In this way, body and soul are recycled, reforged, and nothing is lost. At least, that's the way it used to work.
When Arka died, the mana cloud became unstable, and irreplacable energy was lost. This began a slow, unstoppable chain reaction that will eventually drain the cloud completely, and fill all of Lith with eternal darkness. The improper and excessive use of earth-related magics only compound this problem, serving to drain the cloud at an accelerated level. The once-steady expansion and contraction has become stuttery and unpredicatble, causing random night and day, or states in between that have resulted in the death of large regions within the forest sphere. Some scholars speculate that the cloud is sentient, in essence a living being all its own, which imparts its essence upon the world that lines its 'shell'. This would fit a general pattern among the elemental realms.
Widely regarded as the most stable of elements, earth magic is quite common. It encompases both the manipulation of earth and stone, as well as the life that takes root within it. As such, it is highly useful (and often exploited) in both building and agriculture. Shamanic practicioners make use of earth magic to heal the land, or turn it against those who would do it harm. The most powerful of these druids can even cause earthquakes, or cause astounding growth-surges in the plant life around them by discharing their own excess life energy to 'fertilize' the spell. Earth magic is at its peak during the Spring, when new life begins to emerge from the dormant soil.
When enriched with quintessance, almost any ground surface can be transformed into an earth elemental. These are generally the largest, and certainly the slowest of all elemental beings - lumbering juggernauts composed of earth, stone, or even mud. Arka's children are the caretakers of the land, seemingly dispatched by the planet itself to repair damage caused by everything from falling stars to greedy strip-miners. They come into contact with mortals more frequently than other elementals, and are seen as nuissances by most civilized races seeking to expand into guarded territory. Arcanar will often rent them out as slaves or arena combatants, controlled by multiple spells that maintain the creature's obediance to mortals it would otherwise ignore or even attack. In combat, they are devastating oponents, using great, club-like arms to crush and pulverize anything that comes into reach. While slow, they are very focused and persistant, and generally able to smash anything that gets between them and their objective. Otherwise, they are surprisingly docile, or else largely uninterested in puny mortal beings whose lifespans pass in the mere blink of an eye. The largest of these elementals are often mistaken for small mountains while at rest.
These are regions of Lithian forest that have perished in the wake of the fading mana cloud, becoming lifeless and dry, or sickly and brown at best. As the plane dies, these patches grow and merge together, spelling eventual doom for Lith's inhabitants. Withered woodland is also very succeptable to fire, and a careless spark could set an entire region alight. Some of these dead forests contain the ghosts of their former inhabitants.