Legacy of Fire
Pale Mountain Region
1. Lake Vorn – Rumored to be the home of the monster Vorndra, a creature that supposedly dwells in the lake’s depths and seizes and devours intruders who linger too long in its territory. Skeptics claim no waterborne creature of any great size could live in Lake Vorn, as there is not enough food in the lake to sustain it, nor any means for it to leave to hunt elsewhere, with descriptions of Vorndra ranging from draconic and serpentine to tentacled and beaked.
2. Northern Cascade – In the northern arm of the Brazen Peaks, melting snows feed in the broad Lak Vorn, which cascades down a series of falls known as the Viper’s Tongue – for the way it forks in two a little more than halfway down – to reach Lake Fors in the foothills. Known as a natural wonder, but of little interest to the inhabitants of the Brazen Peaks beyond that, since the land around the lakes is rocky and rugged, the peaks high, and the trails difficult even in good weather. The Falls make Lake Vorn impossible to navigate except by portage, so few bother to try and float vessels larger than small canoes on it.
3. Lake Fors – Small lake at base of the Northern Cascade.
4. Litha Vale – West of the Pale Mountatin, the Serpents’ Canyon winds its way through the Brazen Peaks. Travelers who wander from the main canyon trail find themselves emerging into a strangely silent realm of towering gray trees with translucent leaves and grass that crunches curiously underfoot. Upon closer examination, the tress, plants, and all living things of the valley are formed out of the same slate-like stone, and the thin, translucent stone leaves sometimes sound like the tinkling of faint bells in the rare breeze. A small sect of druids once tended it and the surrounding valleys, protecting their charge against outside exploitation. Rumor holds that a curse was brought down on the druids and the valley for some transgression, leaving the valley and everything in it, in it’s current state.
5. Serpent’s Canyon – This wide canyon runs from one side of the Brazen Peaks in the south to the other side in the north. It is deep and winding, with steep, rocky sides towering over the sandy floor. The wind howls and moans through the jagged fissures, particularly in the late spring and early fall, when the remnants of storms from the west break upon the Brazen Peaks. It can grow hot in the canyon at midday, when the sun shines down directly, and at night the temperatures plunge, but for much of the day it is cloaked in shadows and relatively cool. Once it formed a significant pass through the mountains, allowing travelers to avoid having to go eastward around Bronze Hook or to ford the Pale River, but with the decline in settlement and mining efforts in the region and the growth of gnoll activity the canyon has become decreasingly used by civilized travelers. Now the nomads of the region make the most frequent use of the pass, but even they tread swiftly, wary of attacks by beastmen or stranger creatures.
6. Nowruz Vale – nestled in a deep valley in the Brazen Peaks west of Serpent’s Canyon is a small area of lush greenery and wildlife, watered and sustained by mountain lakes. It is difficult to reach, the few passes being narrow and treacherous. Rumor has it that a group of druids resides in the vale but if this is true, they are reclusive.
7. Onyx Hall – Tucked away on the shore of Shadis Meer at the base of a spur of the Brazen Peaks is the old manor Onyx Hall, sheltered by overgrown poplar and hemlock and surrounded by brambles. The hall – of slate, dark granite, and marble – was once owned by a wealthy Solku family as a retreat house, situated far from the bustle and intrigue of city life. Much of the family’s wealth was accumulated through the slave trade, and legend has it that a woman in the highlands placed a curse upon the family after she, her husband, and their children were sold to separate owners in distant land, never to see each other again. So would all inhabitants of Onyx Hall “dwell in bondage until the stones themselves burn like a pyre.” Ever since that time, over 200 years ago, Onyx Hall has stood abandoned – but not uninhabited, they say. Those lured to the manor by tales of the fabulous heirlooms accumulated there have never returned, and treasure-seekers have become increasingly rare, as tales of the accursed hall have spread.
8. House of the Beast – Old mysterious ruins at the base of the Pale Mountain.
9. Pale Mountain – Among the tallest mountains of the Brazen Peaks, the severely sloped Pale Mountain rises to a height of over 13,500 feet. Holding a place of reverence and fear in the legends of those inhabiting the surrounding lands – particularly tribes of gnolls – the mountain’s composition of speckled granite gives it a distinctly lighter color than the surrounding peaks. Although the rock that comprises the peak can be found throughout the area, the unusual upthrust concentration found in Pale Mountain has long baffled miners. The folklore of the superstitious gnolls and nomads of the region explain the mystery in a variety of ways, some claiming that the mountain is comprised of the bones of a titanic monstrosity that once ravaged the area, while others believe that some terrible beast dwells beneath the peak, draining it of its life and color. In keeping with such ominous tales, the mountain holds a long history as a place of dark deeds, strange worship, and sacrifice, leading in part to the reluctance of civilization to encroach upon the lands that fall beneath the pallid mountain’s baleful shadow.
10. Silver Tarn – This mountain lake is named for both its still, reflective waters and for the old silver mines in the surrounding area, leaving several abandoned tunnels cut into the mountains around the tarn. The original excavations look dwarven, and were likely the work of miners from the Hammerfalls. The mine tunnels might reach into the depths of the Darklands, which would make sense given tales of stunted, shadowy figures spotted around the outskirts of the lake.
11. Marudshar – No one goes to the canyon of Marudshar. Tales of a sizable, pride of ravening, unnatural lions with black, soulless eyes, keeps most people away. Those that brave the trip are never heard from again.
12. Chalk Cliffs – A deep box canyon near the headwaters of the Hammerfalls, the chalk Cliffs are actually primarily limestone, cut by ancient water flows and centuries of wind. The pale stone hosts only hardy scrub plants able to cling and dig into small cracks and crevasses seeking collected rainwater.
13. White Canyon – Snaking through the heart of the Bronze Peaks, this deep canyon was cut by ancient mountain streams that have since changed their courses or dried up altogether, leaving a deep channel surrounded by high, windswept cliffs. Only small scrub and spiky grass grow in the clefts of the rocks, the base of the canyon covered with rocky, glittering sand. The shadows are deep in the canyon, which suits its various inhabitants quite well. Gnoll tribes have controlled White Canyon for some time, largely keeping to their domain and the surrounding areas just south of the mountains. Even now travelers and nomads of the highlands alike know that going to White Canyon means almost certain capture and enslavement. Only those unscrupulous sorts who would treat with the gnolls dare venture into the canyon, and even many of those shady merchants never return.
14. Hammerfalls – Fed by melting snow high in the Brazen Peaks, cascade down from the mountains, roaring over tall cliffs and foaming through tiers of rapids down toward the Pale River, where the swirling white waters calm somewhat before flowing past Kelmarane and the open plains. The distant roaring of the falls is audible day and night in the nearby passes and canyons, and the rapids are all but impossible to navigate by boat, except for extremely small and nimble craft; even then, frequent portages are necessary to avoid the falls and jagged rocks able to rend hulls and flesh with equal ease. The largest of the falls is known as the Anvil, near the river’s headwaters deep in the mountains, cascading over a plunge more than 150 feet to a broad pool below.
15. Jackal’s Maw – Although the Brazen Peaks are filled with deep canyons and crevasses, the Jackal’s Maw makes them all seem like little more than furrows. It is a deep chasm with sheer sides, said to be virtually bottomless.
16. Iemos – A small plain of tall, soft grasses amid the dusty hills of the Brazen Peaks, Iemos is the name of both the grassland and the 40-foot-tall date tree that stands at the plain’s heart. It is said that this is where the hero Jonnaphar Ahallt fell after slaying the blue wyrm Daghow, and that the tree sprang from the dragonslayer’s corpse.
17. Giant’s Steps – The two small freshwater lakes to either side of the old trade route became known as the “Giant’s Steps” for their resemblance to a pair of footprints in muddy ground, filled with water. Various local legends claim they were actually made by a giant or titan in ages past, and their water is especially potent because of it. All anyone knows now is the Steps are some of the first relief Osirion caravans head south encounter upon entering the highlands.
18. Kelmarane – Small town along trade route with Osirion. Until recently, the home of the Kulldis Gnoll tribe.
19. Bronze Hook – This trading town nestled in the foothills of the Brazen Peaks was once along a caravan route from Ipeq to Solku in the south, and earned a healthy living ferrying goods and passengers across the Pale River, chrarging tolls for the use of the Hook Ford Bridge. As the trade route has fallen into disuse, so too have Bronze Hook’s fortune slid.
20. Hook Ford – Although the Pale River’s flow past the foothills of the Brazen Peaks is nowhere near as vigorous as the cascades and rapids upstream, it remains cold and deep, with few places to ford or cross it. Hook Ford, near the town of Bronze Hook, is the only shallow point across the river for miles, situated in an area where the river slows as it winds out across the plains westward.
21. Thricehills – The young farming and trading town of Thricehill nestles in a shallow valley between its three namesake hills on the edge of the Katapeshi plain where the flow of the Pale River waters the grasslands to the east and south.