The Grimscathe mountains

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The Grimscathe mountains

Post  Berserker on Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:15 am

It is common knowledge that Adrila is encircled by mountains to the west and the east. The Dimberg mountains are known for their rugged beauty and potential dangers, as well as separating Adrila from Ivellea. They are, all things considered, relatively harmless, as long as one does not catch the attention of dragons and barbarians.  East of Adrila, however, is a mountain range few men dare enter. Here dwell ogres, living in their primitive fortresses high up in the mountains. Below, in the shadows where the sun never shines, spiders and bats lurk, waiting patiently for their next meal. Human barbarians somehow make a living here, perhaps out of a desire to defy the dangers already present, and in turn having become a danger themselves. And, on occasion, dragons emerge from their lairs, hungry from their long periods of sleep. Rumours exist of other humanoid creatures dwelling under the mountain ranges, as well; stunted creatures, short in stature and with fantastic night vision. No man has seen one of these, however.

So why do some people venture here?

The Knights of the Square Tower are notorious for entering these mountains; in their disregard for danger and common sense, they consider them their best training grounds. The giant spiders and bats are extremely dangerous, but that does not stop the Knights; only a dragon seems to give them pause. They are perhaps the most frequent visitors, even though they tend to suffer dire losses whenever they go up against dragons. 

Other human adventurers often join with the Knights, in hopes of plundering a dragon's lair while the Knights fight the dragon. Some say dragons keep vast treasures within their lairs, while others say dragon eggs, if cooked properly, can make fantastic dishes. There are dozens of rumours regarding dragons, and many are either brave, desperate or foolish enough to see if they are true. Naturally, the most common thing found in the mountains are bones.  Then there are the spiders' poison; so strong it can numb a man within a matter of seconds. Certain unscrupulous individuals seek this poison; useful both as anesthetics and as an assassin's tool, it fetches a high price.

Of course there are those who go here simply for adventure, but even most adventurers avoid the region, because of the difficulties in surviving without having a support convoy with you. This is why most who come here do so together with the Knights of the Square Tower; they are the only ones who enter the mountains as a cohesive force, and can be relied upon to protect the convoy even against dragons.

The mountains themselves are largely sharp peaks and narrow valleys; rivers flow through the valleys, and some places the ogres' paths leading up to their fortresses provide a way to ascend up the mountains, but in most cases, once you are in a valley, you can only turn back or follow it along. The valleys are cold and barren; the sun rarely if ever manages to get any rays down there, and the only plants one can find are various sorts of moss and mushrooms. 
Then there are the wild creatures; spiders, detecting approaching creatures before the creatures detects them, are often found waiting behind rocks for their prey to pass, then strike like lightning. Some spiders have a very cunning hunting method; they will strike a group of travellers, once, poisoning one of their members, before escaping. It will strike again, later, poisoning another, or perhaps two, and thus slowly whittling down the group until there are too few left to drive it back. Then it will strike once more. The remaining conscious group members will be defeated easily by the giant spider, and with all of them in one place, it will bind them all in its web, before dragging them back to its lair.
The bats tend to leave adventurers alone, but they will often strike adventurers who find themselves within caves and out of torches. They will swarm their target, biting, screeching and sucking blood until they've had their fill, at which point their targets are usually left unconscious from blood loss.

There are some travel routes that go through the Grimscathe mountains. One, the shortest, leads from Adrila's Oldgate province to Tyrica's Camlean, though this has fallen into disuse in recent times, as Camlean has been overrun. It is a great route if one seeks glorious vistae, but ogre presence is high in the mountain passes. While not as tall or as cold as the Dimberg range, the Grimscathe range is by far the deadlier; the Oldgate - Camlean pass is filled with narrow passages, impossible to traverse with horses.

Further south is an alternative, longer passage from Adrila to Camlean, following the Allin river to its spring. Although it used to involve wading through the river while underground, the Knights of the Square Tower have had passageways carved out along its sides, making it possible to bring horses and carts along as well. The cave is dark and damp, however; torches are absolutely necessary in order to see. This route offers several fantastic views, as well; the river's subterranean routes have a few waterfalls, as well as an underground lake. Thanks to the Knights of the Square Tower, the ogres have no presence in the tunnel, either, although the ogres regularly comes knocking at the fortress erected at the mouth of the tunnel. From this fortress, speed and stealth is the key; by moving swiftly along the passes of the area, one can reach Scathepass Fortress in three days' time on foot. During these three days, one has to be exceptionally cautious; the ogres stay in the higher reaches of the mountains, but the spiders are extremely deadly. Only bright light or great pain regularly keep them away, though the Knights of the Square Tower do hand out small amulets to wanderers intended to help them survive.

A third route through the mountains go from Tyrica's Shield in Camlean to The Dead City in the Grey Marshes. This route is considerably easier to traverse than the other two, something that alleviates having to go through the Grey Marshes in order to go there. That does not make it harmless, however; while the road is straighter and there are no major climbs along the route, as it ascends and then descends steadily, dragons tend to be more numerous in the eastern regions of Grimscathe, outside of the reach of the Knights of the Square Tower. Even a small dragon can cause havoc against unarmed travellers, so only heavily defended convoys travel here. Most dragons think twice about attacking warriors with bows and crossbows, when an ogre makes for considerably easier prey.

As a result, most who journey from Ivellea to Tyrica generally prefer going north and east, around the Federation. Adrilans generally don't go to Tyrica at all these days, as the journey through the Dimberg mountains, Ivellea and finally Crevethia is just not worth it. Those who absolutely have to go there (such as those seeking to become priests of the Guardians) rather journey through the Grey Marshes, then traverse the lands east of the Grimscathe mountains. It is a long and arduous journey no matter which way one travels, but it beats being eaten by ogres.

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