Arches at the Crossroads Geographic Location in Arc Sagas | World Anvil

Arches at the Crossroads

"If the letters upon the Arches reveal themselves, do not read the cursed words!"

"There's a passage down the Old Kingdom Road, onto a lost section of highway. Back in those days, you couldn't blink an eye without seeing hungry scavengers. Oh, and crows; lots of crows..., "Coroner LaCross recounted.

"You're chatty again, Coroner," Inspector Court scolded into his warm coffee.

"It's case-relevant, assuredly," His cat-like eyes, fixed on the Inspector. "You suspect Necromancy? Arches at the Crossroads is no laughing matter. I'll never go back..." Caven, lost in thought, paused.

The Inspector noticed his unusual countenance. "Apologies. Proceed."
— the Coroner's testimonial, case of the Crossroads Killer, case file #12a

In the land of Ur' Draconia, there is an unbidden hill where the realm of Moonmarch borders the Old Kingdom of Aru'Atha. The roads that used to connect the mainlaind to this seclusive region were once main trade routes.

A local legend proclaimed the Arches at the Crossroads to be cursed, closing the roads. Investigators of the legend have vanished in the past; those that return are forever changed by the Arch-Roads. The region is a favorite locale for Necromancers and similar Casters drawn to the hidden power of the Arches at the Crossroads.

  • Lamp by the Road
    A village located by the Old Kingdom Road. Settled next to the Torn River.
  • Haunted Highway
    Also known as Old Kingdom Road, beasts localize the ruins.
  • Crescent Hollow Marsh
    Lowland marsh located near the border of the Moonmarches; flooded roads.

Arches at the Crossroads is considered an Omphalos of Necromancy. Those that seek the Magic within this Source must be cautious of the energies locked within the ancient, haunted stones.

Geography


The Old Kingdom of Aru' Atha is the neighboring region, with many flat-top hills and steppes that lead into lowland valley marshlands. Old Kingdom Road was built large enough for Draconic Chariots, but now rocks and grassland reclaim this forlorn highway. Baomen and Highwaymen hide in the hills and valleys, which led to the Old Road's abandonment.

Many sections of the roads in this region belong to the Ad-Anasian Highway- a relic that once stretched the four corners of the Ad-Anasian: Supercontinent during the Draconic Ages. Many roads have since been connected to the old highway.

Old Kingdom Road

Kingdom Border Crossroads


Torn River Tributary

Bridge Over Torn River

New Roads connect the village, Lamp by the Road, to the mainroads once more, making it a hub of the region. It is connected to Old Kingdom Road paralleling the Torn River from the steppes of Aru' Atha. South from the Old Kingdom Road, across a bridge above the river, dark forests entangle the alleys as it nears one of the tributaries of the Torn River.

As the Flooded Road vanishes beneath the marshes, the border of the Moonmarches creates a natural barrier of cliff and foliage. Following the cliff walls leads back onto Old Kingdom Road by way of trailmarkers left by pilgrims. Travelers may use these milestones to navigate the treacherous roads.

Within the Gaslight Mangroves forests, the water-logged roads will inevitably lead to a dense mountain pass, wherein lies the location of the Arches- a broken overland bridge, once known as Summit Bridge Meet. This location was once an aerie for traveling Dragons, though it is unknown how it became associated with such malignant forces and vile rumors.

 

Ecosystem


Old Kingdom Road is littered with large wagon wheels and rummaged carts, left behind by the refugees who fled from the steppes of Aru' Atha. The upper region enjoys temperate weather and seasons while the lowlands are susceptible to cold and flooding, both from the Torn River and the Moonmarches. From the hills, a sea of forest canopy engulfs the lowland Old Kingdom Road all the way to the Torn River Bridge.

This forms the region of Crescent Hollow- a forested marshland that engulfs the Old Kingdom Road, known locally as Flooded Road. It is much lower by elevation to the neighboring region, Moonmarches.

Once past the Flooded Road, the forest obfuscates Draconic ruins and slabs of the land bridges which used to suspend high above. A natural rampart forms as the midland hills meet the base; at the peak is Summit Bridge Meet, otherwise known as Arches at the Crossroads.

Ecosystem Cycles

The many paths of Old Kingdom Road eventually lead to Lamp by the Road. It is known as a vale village, spread across a large expanse of the road. As tourism and trade dwindles in the colder months, the activities of wildlife increase as other creatures return to hibernation and dormancy. Giant Avians also become more active during the colder months as they migrate across the marshlands.
In wet seasons, Ooze creatures migrate from the lowland marshes of Crescent Hollow. Slimes and Glumi regularly migrate between Crescent Hollow and Moonmarch. Oozes return to a dormant state in the colder months, remaining that way until the warm weather returns.

The trees within the Crescent Hollow, Flooded Road region are also known for a peculiar property. A reaction with the mangrove and the old road causes the marsh to turn red during the summer months. In addition, the air around them may distort, creating minor mirages or they may appear like they are on spectral fire. Will-o-Wisps use this phenomenon to hide within the marsh and claim unsuspecting victims, vanishing only during rainy seasons. At the end of the Flooded Road is a single Arch, built from ruins by travelers to indicate the path beyond the marsh. It is regularly tended throughout the seasons when the residents of Lamp by the Road come to harvest the mangrove.

While Crescent Hollow is a place of ill reputation, even locals won't stray or proceed pass the marsh. If one follows the forgotten road, they will approach the Arches at the Crossroads. This platform, connected by the remnants of overland bridges that were broken during the Continental Divide, are now platforms and rubble. Huge stone slabs of the bridges and road scatter the landscape as one proceeds towards the center. Thick forest canopy makes Aerial travel difficult save for the most adept specimens. Draconian ruins hide Undead that remain active all year long, making the center of the Crossroads the most dangerous of all.


 

"I used to be a Necromancer," the Coroner paused for Inspector Court's sour expression, their mutual disdain shared. "I understand, but it was necessary work." He set his cup of coffee on the bar.

"It was too late- both for me, for the Necromancers." Coroner LaCross turned and stepped to the window. Rain pattered against the pane.

Inspector Court spoke, "I don't need to know what happened. You saw what I saw."

Caven peered over his shoulder, "I had a much closer look, I'm afraid." He turned to face the Inspector, "I need to tell you everything about that night at the Arches."

Inspector Court felt like he was about to learn more about his new friend than this case should have allowed.

The foolishness of Necromancy, Inspector Court ruminated.
~the Coroner's testimonial, case of the "Crossroads Killer", case file #12b

Localized Resources

Flora & Fauna


The weather around the highlands is temperate all year long, with warm summers and cool winters. The highland's weather is relatively mild compared to the lowlands. Winds from the steppes follow the currents of the roads, through winding hills and meadows. Warm summer nights makes Lamp by the Road pleasant by comparison. While rain fills Crescent Hollow during the wet seasons, perpetual autumnal chill seeps from the hollows, making the area the coolest of the regions.

Of the highland roads, various wildflower specimens grow, having reclaimed the Old Kingdom Road. Meadows hide woodland animals, such as small rodents and rabbits, foxes, and snakes which tend to avoid the roads. Giant Crows patrol the ranges, casting their shadows over the land or perching atop the flat-top hills. Various Beasts and Insectoids prowl the roads between the steppes and the bridges over the rivers to the streams. As one approaches the forests and marshes, Wolves and Bears become more common as one crosses over the Torn River Bridge.

Various Ooze creatures from the Moonmarches also occur near Flooded Road. Giant Dragonfly appear more frequently and Giant Owls hunt the marshes at night. Will-o-Wisps are said to possess the special mangroves that has given Lamp by the Road its title.

The trees in Crescent Hollow are mangroves called "Wisplight Mangroves" that grow through the cracks of the road beneath them and are unique to the other marshlands. Willows, fox's glove, and murtwort are other types of fauna that grow within Crescent Hollow. Various flora has grown in the lowlands from the breezy meadow highlands, creating a lush landscape with diverse life.

While it is difficult to harvest, the Wisplight Mangrove is a special type of tree that once only grew in this region. Now, the process for breeding Wisplight Mangrove is well-known. The plant has spread to different parts of the World by Conservationists and Shamans. Lumisci Lamps also invests in the cultivation of these special trees for the production of special Magic Lanterns. It produces a special type of gas that ignites during the right atmospheric conditions, creating a spectral light. The bark and resin from these trees also have useful purposes, as they are highly resistant to fire.

Lamp by the Road is an industrious village that enjoys trade from travelling merchants and vendors from the central region of Ur' Draconia. The town is famous as one of the main exporters of Lumisci Lanterns, specializing in the production of Magical Lanterns. As a company, it is also responsible for the responsible spread of the Gaslight Mangrove. Atop the highland steppes near the village, terrace farms provide food for the community while in the lowlands near the Torn River, several water wheels provide clean water and energy. Lamp by the Roads is an important hub for the region, providing a safe place for travelers.

Localized Phenomena


Arches at the Crossroads is considered an Omphalos- a magical font or collection of specific Source energy. If one can harness the wild Loci energies of an Omphali, then strange powers are granted.

As one climbs the steps or main road to the platform, the pressure of spectral whispering within one's mind intensifies. Atop the raised structure, the "4 Arches" compose the primary arcs that bears the structure's name, 80 ft. high. Many interior arcs form "roosts", used by smaller Dragons. A dome had once formed above, creating a gazebo structure where Dragons met. The base area is large enough to fit 6-8 large Dragons comfortably. Inside, the walls are erroded by time. During certain celestial phases, words appear on the walls of the interior arches, as if written in blood. The words can't be erased and it requires intense concentration to read the text. The bloodied words, scribbled all over, coat even the floor around the Arches. If one is able to walk the perimeter of the Arches and interpret the message, one of the greatest wonders of Necromancy will be bestowed- for a price.


 

"They left me for dead, Jakl. Fear charged them like wild men through the reeds," the Coroner lamented. "Had I known what awaited us, I'd have forgotten the contract."

Coroner LaCross studied his cooling coffee cup before returning to it. Slowly, he lifted the cup but hesitated.

"It was raining then too. Even from the darkness of the night and the shadows of the great Arches, I could hear the wailing, breaking through the howling storm. I wanted to flee. Instead, I ascended..."
— the Coroner's testimonial, the case of the Crossroads Killer, case file #12c

"They had hoped that the words on the Arches would provide them with deeper understandings of Necromancy. They were wrong. All wrong. Those who had failed before to read the words were there as well," Coroner LaCross continued, "When I climbed to the top of the Arches, the Necromancers had lost their minds."

"Daggers spilling blood, Death magic, the risen Undead, oh, and the wailing..." The cup in LaCross' hand was trembling, despite the Coroner's firm grasp. His other hand was concentrated on his temples. "I didn't know if it were those fools or the Arches that were screaming." Inspector Court rose his eyebrow.

"I remember, I didn't want to look at the wall. I tried to turn, but those words were everywhere. Moving like hypnotic snakes across the wall, the words compelled me to follow them down into deeper meanings. There's still moments that I can't recall..." Coroner LaCross hesitated.

"At some point, the Arches' spell was broken. I did the one thing I had wanted to do the entire time: I fled. When I had finally came to my own senses, I had ran the expanse of Old Kingdom Road."
— the Coroner's testimonial, the case of the Crossroads Killer, case file #12d

"I'm not sure how I had made it back to Lamp by the Road. I asked the insular residents if any of the group had returned, but it had seemed I was the first," the Coroner sipped his coffee, then resumed, "It had been weeks, Inspector."

"You ran for weeks?" the Inspector repeated, raising a thick eyebrow, "What were you doing for weeks on those roads? How did you survive?"

Lost, Coroner LaCross shrugged, answered, "All I know is I was done. There was nothing left for me at Lamp by the Road."

As much as Inspector Court appreciated the Coroner's stories, time was of the essence. Every minute he wasted drinking coffee in the sitting room of Mortuary LaCross was another minute the murderous Necromancer was free.

As if Coroner LaCross read his mind, he interjected, "I know who the killer is."
— the Coroner's testimonial, case of the Crossroads Killer, case #12e

History: Arches at the Crossroads

There is a legend surrounding the Arches at the Crossroads. The story follows the course of a mystic who had came from across the mountains and the steppes, following the Old Kingdom Road until he came to the Arches- Summit Bridge Meet, at the time. Differences in the Legend suggests that the mystic was approached either by a Deity, the Loci of the Arches, or another form of Spirit that had been watching his course.

The mystic held a dark secret- he made many suffer through his own actions. The guilt and grief of it wracked him, evoking his elopement from the World. The Spirit attempted to make the man atone; the Arches were closed and the man was held within. It isn't known how long the man was atop the Arches, but it is known that by the time he was done, he left a record of his deeds before vanishing. Even before the collapse of the bridges, the Arches of the Crossroads have been known for their activity.

Those who travel the Old Kingdom Roads express caution at any intersection. In the middle of misty nights, when the Lanterns cast their dimmest glows and shadows gather, one comes across a dark cloaked man in the middle of the road, do not approach him. It is said to be the Spirit of the mystic who now steals traveler's soul once they pass him by the road. The souls collected become new misdeeds, words upon the wall, according to the locals who carry charms and lanterns when traveling at night.

" He placed his cup on the bar. "Ventura Heart, leader of the Heartbeat Cabal. Once respected amongst the Coroner's Society, until the cabal was discovered. He extorted its members, using them in his experiments with the Omphalos."

"Thank you, LaCross. One thing though," Inspector Court set his cup down as he stood from the chair, "How did the Society learn about Ventura?" The Coroner responded with a sly smile.

"I'm leaving for Lamp by the Road in the morning,' the Inspector rolled his coat over his shoulders, his arms through the sleeves. "Anything else?"
— the Coroner's testimonial, case of the "Crossroads Killer", case file #12f

Local Legends: Denizen of the Crossroads

While the Denizen of the Crossroads is a local myth, there haven't been any reported incidents in hundreds of years. Encounters with Highwaymen and bandits diminished as the tales of the Denizen continued to spread through the region regardless. The Old Kingdom Road, while still the subject of much fear and doubt, are much safer to travel in recent years. Bold merchants returned to their practice of traveling the roads by day, pilgrims use the highlands to visit wayward shrines, and the monks of the mountains come down through the Old Kingdom Road for holidays. Yet those who walk the roads at night still clutch tightly their protective charms and talismans, in case the old roads leads them to the Denizen of the Crossroads.

"Inspector Court waved as he departed. Caven LaCross returned to the sitting room and collected the coffee cups.

You almost told him, didn't you?

"And if I had?" the Coroner turned, his eyes darting at shadows, betraying his confidence.

Would have made for great entertainment.

Caven dropped one of the coffee cups as familar pain rushed through his eyes. In his labcoat pocket, he retrieved the curatives for his tremors. He sat with his back against the bar, relaxing as the hormone coursed through his system.

Meet me at the Crossroads. A shadow-light vanished from Caven's blurred vision.

Blood in his veins flowed in a torrent of adrenaline. "Very well," he grit between his teeth, holding one eye closed, "It's about that time."
— the Mortuary LaCross, case of the Crossroads Killer, epilogue

Author Bio
Hello! My name is "Myth Cross"- avid enthusiast of Art, Music, Games, & Stories; also, an aspiring Author, Game Developer, & World- Builder with over 15 years dedicated to the crafts!

My mission is to push the boundaries of interactive Story-Telling! Whether exploring Hidden Realms or seeking Epic Adventures, you'll find me there! My hopes are to invite readers into a World of unforgettable experience!

"Arc Sagas" is my 1st Step towards those Goals!

I'm also the Founder of "Story-Teller's Circle"- a Discord server specialized and dedicated to a vibrant & inspiring community of self-driven WA Writers & World-Builders!! We support each other's goals and celebrate the milestones of our fellow Authors, encourage others to share their work, to seek publishing and promotional opportunities, and otherwise provide a safe, friendly environment for developing ideas & embracing your own talents! We don't boast in the Circle- we Celebrate!

"Story-Teller's Circle" is dedicated to fostering the next Generation of Fantasy Writers, right here on World Anvil! Discover new worlds, unlock hidden truths, and explore the heights of your own boundless imagination- with friends!

We are looking for new members! If you have any questions or are interested in joining, consider subscribing to the Invitational Discord Server provided below! There, I can answer any questions!

Best of Good Luck, World-Builders! Let's meet again! : D

MYTH X


Summit Bridge Meet
Type
Roads, Steppe

Old Kingdom Road

Geography


  • Continent:
    Ur' Draconia

  • Region:
    Aru' Atha

  • Climate:
    Average

  • Sub-Region:
    Old Kingdom Road

  • Major Cities:
    Lamp by the Road
  • Minor Cities:
    Old Kingdom Aru' Atha

Resources


  • Flora:
    Wisplight Mangroves
  • Fauna:
    Rabbits

  • Natural Resources:
    Wisplight Mangroves

Mentioned Articles


Locations


Ad-Anasia: Supercontinent
Geographic Location | Jun 15, 2024

Ad-Anasian Highway
Building / Landmark | Jun 15, 2024


Comments

Author's Notes

UPDATE: 05/19/24

Hello! I'm still working on the Arches at the Crossroads! This Article represents a fuller story and the challenge to bring those elements together cohesively. It's an excellent Article that needs a little more love- I'll be working on ALL of the Quote sections, as well as new Image Assets that should bring it together. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it for the time being! Once I'm done, I'll use it to create a nice new Template for Geographical Articles! Just need to strike the right balance LOL!

Coroner LaCross and Inspector Court are currently gathering clues for a murderer who claims victims in manners similar to the Legends of the Crossroads Denizen. Any chance I can explore the dynamic between these two characters is awesome! I enjoy their personalities and perspectives-elven immortals in a mortal world!

I was happy to write about the good Inspector again recently- in Vandals of Time! ^^ Have fun and be well!

MYTH X



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