Runes etched into stone with the tip of a claw line a path that looks nothing more than a well-used game trail. Large hoofprints march in line with the soft outlines of leather boots, sometimes matched with the deep impression of a rubber sole. The dirt is worn almost down to the bedrock, while the greenery on the edges becomes further above the trail with each pass of a wagon or hunting party. As the decades passed, the stones that mark the trail have been moved farther from what had once been a simple footpath to make room for the large caravans that sometimes brave the treacherous ground that marks the trail of Qimbyr Pass.
There are few places in the Spine that are not marred by constant death. In the north, the place of safety is the valley of the metallic dragons. In the south, even the city of our great clan is not exempt from that truth. In the south, the only place of relative safety is found on the trails of Qimbyr Pass.
In the depths of Winter's Evening when the winds whisper through the cragged peaks of the Spine of Kallex
, the snow drifts, and covers the ancient carved stones. Those that live in the Spine and can face its way of death and life can point to the stones, even buried many feet deep below the icy powder. It is those that live in the valleys and nooks of the sharp and endless peaks that can traverse the winding curves of the mountain pass when summer has long past shined its light to melt the great oceans of snow. Only those that know the twists and drop-offs well dare walk amongst the snow-covered peaks, the snows forcing the constant howl of the summer winds to become more silent than the graves scattered throughout the razor-like summits.
This portion of the Spine of Kallex
falls within the Elven Forest
under the jurisdiction of the Elven Kingdom
, but those that watch over the hazardous trails and lead those that become lost are not guards or military men from Alfensil or deep within the forest. Those that hunt the Spine like packs of wolves and aid those that find need while traveling are on the fringe of The Outlands
, answering only to those whose family ties are strongest. Since the early days of the pass, some centuries before the Eldritch War made the Spine of Kallex
more dangerous to traverse than ever before, an ancient elf, far into his seemingly unending life, asked for the favor of the Metallic Dragons
, hoping to bring a line of safety to the winding valleys and trails of the high peaks. The Council of Metallic Dragons
, buried in their valley of the "Metallic Council"
, were known at this time for the generosity to another harsh environment in their gifting of the Gem of Stars and Hope
to the Knights of Yggdrasil
when they built their white city of Yllvalion
. The old elf did not hope to gain such a treasure as the gem, but wished for something that could help lead those that found themselves astray in the Spine, a small token to aid when he was no longer there to serve as a guide. And so, the dragons of the north granted his favor, in the way of small stones.
These Dragon Stones
were golden in color, something far different from anything that could be found in the southern reaches of the mountains in the Elven Forest
. In the sun of the summer, some would shine a color reminiscent of dragon scales, in colors of mithril, silver, gold. The runes upon them were a deep blue, darker than the midnight sky, darker still when the light of the Scales of Kallex
shone upon them. The rough letters of the draconic language were inlaid in adamantine, the specialty of one of the dragons. In the darkness of the night or in the light of the Scales, these runes wove through the dark colors of the metallic dragons, in great contrast to the lighter colors of the scaled stones. Much like the Gem of Stars and Hope
that rest on display in the white city of the north, these stones were not inherently magical, but the touch of possibly an ancient metallic dragon had gifted the stones special properties, ones that served their purpose no matter the shade or hue of the stones and their runes.
Centuries have passed since the stones were scattered along the winding route that the ancient elf traveled for decades. The soft outlines of his worn leather boots were replaced with the egg-shaped stones, glittering in the sunlight, no matter the weather. The path has widened considerably since the Eldritch War scarred the earth, turning lush jungles into deserts and people of all sorts into husks or bones. The aftermath of that conflict brought another caretaker to the pass, a clan of barbarians that had long since left the more structured and civilized ways of The Outlands
or the capital. The Llanowar Clan
and their various branches established their home city of Leverion
north of the pass, marking the meadow the safest place to begin crossing the Spine. While the city moves with the clan's leader, the branch families remain, leading those across the pass that wish to travel, using the stones to keep them from straying too far from the path.
The soft leather of worn hunting boots and the rugged rubber soles of others fall in line with hoofprints and pawprints and whatever sort of tracks find their way across the well-worn path. For centuries Qimbyr Pass has stood as a line of safe travel, even when its winding path and sheer cliffs quickly lead travelers astray. Those of the Spine see this as their duty, a way to change the harshness of the mountains when death is the normal way of life. The stones will always lead the way, graced as they are by the descendants of Kallex
The Spine of Kallex
is known across Vóreios
for its amazing geography, to include the highest peaks on the northern continent, beautiful canyons formed by the two rivers that cut across the range in the northern and southern portions, and seemingly endless valleys that stretch on between towering, snow-covered peaks. While these features are often larger than life, spanning miles of the range and are often in proportion to the huge mountains, it is the smaller features, twisting paths, mountain lakes, and expansive meadows that can be found across the entire range. Often those who live in the Spine are the only ones that know of these features, but the features that mark Qimbyr Pass are becoming more well-known as more trade routes and travelers cross the mountain path.
Qimbyr Pass is located in middle section of the Spine of Kallex
, north of the Feyline River
. This pass serves as a major trade route across the Spine in the southern parts of the Elven Forest
. At its highest point, the pass is only at an elevation of roughly 7200 feet, much lower than the surrounding peaks. The pass is roughly 100 miles in length, crossing the Spine of Kallex
about 20 miles north of the Feyline. On its eastern end, the pass is roughly 40 miles north of the Feyline as the Feyline bends south towards the Fairy King's Wood
Quick Facts: Geography
37 mi north of the Feyline
Eastern End: Leverion
Western End: Qimbyr
The eastern end of the pass can be found within a couple of miles of the large meadow that is known as the village of Leverion
. This village does not always rest in the meadow as the Llanowar Clan
are nomadic barbarians that travel the Spine over the course of the year. Even so, the meadow remains and is often occupied by branch families of the Llanowars that have chosen to lead travelers over the pass. The western end of the pass is marked by a small village named Qimbyr
that has a small inn and general store for those that have traveled. This village was formed as part of the pass to make the journey over the Spine and to a destination less harsh.
Qimbyr Pass was not named for the ancient elf that had dedicated his life to establishing a safe passage across the Spine of Kallex
through the use of the stones from the metallic dragons. The pass and the subsequent village were named for a legendary barbarian that was famed for crossing the Spine alone, with nothing more than an axe and a small water pouch. This fabled occurrence happened long before the pass was established, but it is said that the path the barbarian took to cross the Spine was the same as the path outlined by the old elf.
The mountain peaks reach far above as you travel, but those looming peaks are not the dangerous part of traversing the pass. It is the twisting path that often finds itself on the edge of a sheer cliff that has sent plenty of caravans to their death.
This area of the Spine of Kallex
is most known for its constant switchbacks of game trails that form the majority of the safe passages for travel. The shorter peaks and deeper valleys cause the path of Qimbyr Pass to constant turn and twist, following a serpentine path through the various peaks. Often times, this path is on the edge of a sheer cliff, where the dropoff can range anywhere from 20 feet to over 60 feet downward. While not considered hairpin turns, the curves in the pass can sometimes be hard to maneuver with larger caravans and wagons, especially in the winter months when the path becomes icy and snow-packed. In these instances, it is often recommended that the caravan or wagon be disassembled if possible and the items attached to Aelinor Elk
or Giant Goats
for better transport.
The path has widened over the years, at first accommodating only a single traveler on foot, to now being able to have two horse or other creature drawn carts. Even so, there is a limit to the size of carts and wagons that can pass on some of the more treacherous curves. The villages on either side of the pass often assist travelers in the best way to transport their goods over the pass without running the risk of falling over the sheer cliffs. Animals that are abundant in this area are utilized heavily as they are prepared for the somewhat uneven ground and the quick turns.
About halfway between the eastern and western ends of the pass rests a small mountain lake, nestled between two of the higher peaks that can be seen on the journey. This is often a resting point for those who cross the Spine here as it provides fresh food and water for the travelers, as well as a reprieve from some of the harsher weather that can occur throughout the year. Compared to the nearby Lake Idryl
, the unnamed lake is merely a puddle, being only about 100 yards across with a depth of no more than 10 feet. The only access to this lake is by the Qimbyr Pass, as the lake is surrounded by high cliffs on almost all sides.
Meadows are rare throughout the pass itself, but places such as either end of the pass and near the lake in the middle are home to large lush meadows that attract all sorts of flora and fauna. These meadows are often marked by multiple dragon stones, denoting the location as a safe place to stop and rest. These meadows often have small charms and spells placed upon them to shelter them from the elements and keep them free of snow or rain. The charms do not protect the areas from the convergence of various wildlife, but most wildlife tend to stay away from the meadows as they are marked by dragon stones that vary slightly from those on the rest of the path.
The lush forest that blankets the Spine of Kallex
is home to many creatures and a variety of plant life. Many of these flora and fauna can be found throughout the Spine and the Elven Forest
, but some of these species can only be found in the higher elevations of the Spine. The flora and fauna listed here can be found throughout the Spine of Kallex
but are often seen while traveling across Qimbyr Pass.
are more native to the Elven Forest
but can still be found in the majority of the Spine of Kallex
. They tend to stay in areas close to the forest, not straying further south than the Feyline
. The furthest south these creatures can be found is in Qimbyr Pass, although the elk are mostly found there during the summer months when the air at higher elevations is warmer. The Aelinor Elk
do not roam higher in elevation than around 10,000 feet, the edge of the alpine zone in the Spine of Kallex
are also found in the areas near Qimbyr Pass, but these trees thin and are replaced by other, hardier trees as the elevation increases. These trees are most often found on the fringes of the Spine of Kallex
and close to the meadows that mark the eastern and western ends of the pass. As the pass increases in elevation about 500 feet, the thick forest of Aelinor Oaks
is replaced by stands of Dragon Pines
that continue upward in elevation past the treeline to the alpine zone of the mountains.
are a species of wolf that are native to the Elven Forest
and the Spine of Kallex
. Due to the other large predators that feed off the magical energy of the Aelinor Oaks
, the wolves are found mostly in the Spine of Kallex
where the high peaks and deep valleys provide protection from larger predators. These are another creature that does not roam south of the Feyline
, tending to roam only in areas controlled by the Elves
. Juniper Wolves
can be found at all elevations below the edge of the alpine zone and the snow zone, with is roughly 10,000 feet.
As the Aelinor Oaks
begin to become sparse as the elevation increases, stands of dark Dragon Pines
become more prominent. These trees have bark that is made up of tiny plates, similar to the layering of dragon scales. The greenery of these trees ranges in color, anywhere from a dark blue that is almost black to a bright white color. Often times, these trees can be multiple colors at once, representing the colors of the twelve species of Metallic Dragons
. These trees cover the Spine of Kallex
, ranging from the northern point of the Spine in the Kingdom of Giants
to a point south of the Feyline
where the climate becomes much warmer. These trees grow in elevations from where the Aelinor Oaks
end to a point that is higher than the end of the alpine zone, at roughly 14,000 feet.