(Part #48) : The Road to Khôltar, Part 1
Well, 'tis time to shake the dust of Delzimmer from our boots and head out of town. Go north, unless ye've a particular love for feeling the bite of dusk-elven whips -- or halfling fingers delving into thy purse several dozen times a minute. (I usually fill my purse with snapjaw-springs before venturing into Luiren, and ye can often trace my trail there by the sounds of hissing, cursing, and whimpering hin . . . but that's another tale, for another time.)
We leave Delzimmer on the Traders' Way: the broad, well-used caravan road that runs north and west from Delzimmer to the Great Rift, and thence to meet the Golden Road trade route and the cities of Lapaliiya.
Stone cairns (and natural crags and pinnacles) stand on the east side of this road at irregular intervals. Raised in times forgotten to keep carters on the correct route when duststorms rage, they've been plundered by builders seeking construction stone and tumbled by weather and are now little better than the fangs of an aged hunting cat that has many teeth missing.
A few are still useful as rendezvous points, and counting from Delzimmer north, these are:
- Harboot's Tooth: Readily recognizable for its goblet shape (a large, upturned bell of rock atop a more slender pillar), this was in the past a peryton roost and still serves birds as a nesting place. On the trail side of the bell, someone long ago scratched a symbol (meaning now lost) resembling a point-down equal-sided triangle with an eye or circle in its center. The Tooth is perhaps 100 feet high, and it affords a good vantage point in all directions save west (where the forest conceals all).
A small spring west of the Tooth, across the Way, feeds several pools. The largest have been fouled by wagon beasts, but those closest to the Forest of Amlar are safely drinkable.
Please be aware that "safely" is a relative term. All of the Way is watched by brigands and prowling monsters from time to time, and at any place or time travelers may suffer attacks.
The Tooth stands about a day and a half travel out of Delzimmer for wagons, a day for lone riders on swift mounts.
- The Knife: This sharp, slender needle of rock rises some 80 or 90 feet above the Way. A small, deep, and ancient well can be found just east of the Knife, but it should be avoided. Its waters are chancy at best, and render most drinkers very ill for days.
North of the Knife, the sweep of the Shaar ends in a small cliff dropping down to the Way. In the lee of this 30-foot drop, entire caravans sometimes shelter from storms -- but of course leave themselves vulnerable to boulders rolled down from above and attacks from brigands who pounce by night, letting themselves down on lines.
The Knife is about four days' wagon travel out of Delzimmer, and three for riders taking care of their mounts. It can be reached in the middle of the second night out for riders who punish their mounts.
- Daustable's Morrum: This arc of three tankard-shaped stones stands on the eastern edge of a small hollow that forms an ideal campsite on the Way. A spring rises in the depths of this hollow and flows across the Way (in a shallow, muddy ford that never grows treacherous due to flat bedrock a few inches beneath the surface of the mudwash). The rocks of the hollow are plentifully carpeted in edible lichens and barb grasses. (Humans can eat both, if boiled. One tastes something like the lemons of thy world and the similar orauth of Var, and the other more like thy endive, or the reddish bittermur grass of upland Halruaa.)
The Morrum is actually the name of the hollow. The three standing stones are called the Authraukh. Nimburr is the largest, central one; Raulvo, the northern one; and Ilthkrist the smallest, southern one. According to legend, these are the names of three human travelers who were turned to stone here by a stone giant wizard in the early days of Faerûn, but such legends are most often twisted indeed from their origins. All three are readily climbable, often serve as roosts to many birds, and are reputed to be the hiding places of innumerable treasures. Travelers are warned that thousands of folk have climbed them seeking such valuables, so anything easily found must surely have been carried away long ago. Raulvo has two small, bone-strewn interior caves (simple single-chamber affairs, one entered from its top, and the other from an opening on its east face) that can offer concealment and shelter to travelers. Nimburr, according to legend, has a magically concealed stone door leading to extensive underways and perhaps ultimately to the Underdark itself. There were tales, some three hundred years back, of much covert trade with the Realms Below arriving and departing from the Morrum, but absolutely nothing -- either of rumor or of hard evidence, since.
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