The elves of Yuale Nura would not allow me to travel onwards alone. “Your way must take you through the Valley of Ish’Nar, filled with wonders great and also dreadful, and where the heart can be drawn to seek the Key of Hope,” they told me. “And while that is a great and noble quest, perhaps it is one for your return, when our kinsmen of Caras Calar will bring you back to us, and we well all seek the key together…”
And so, with heavy heart, I departed the tree tops of Evensong Woods; but I did not travel alone, for a small company of elves travelled with me, longing to hear the sound of water against rock and see their brethren on the high walkways of Caras Calar.
At first our journey took us deeper into the great forest, the path winding between great trunks which gradually thinned as the road began to climb. As the days passed, so the deeps of the woodland fell ever further behind us, and my companions began to sing less. High peaks rose before us, their tops held by sunlight when all below was deep in the day’s end twilight. Eventually, we came to a great gorge, as if riven into the high peaks by a great axe: the Valley of Ish’Nar, guarded by the tall, silent figures carved into the living rock, great swords held at rest before them.
Here our mood became sombre as we travelled through the valley, passing among those who had come in search of the Key of Hope – and what I had been told was true; my heart yearned to join them. But I knew my quest lay in another direction for now. And so we followed the stone road, passing ancient ruins and lonely buildings of which my companions would say little, until we reached a great falls, and before it, a stone-built bridge, with one arch collapsed into the waters below.
“That is the way we must pass. Beyond the bridge lay the stairs and the road to Caras Calar. But beware! the water is swift and cold; tread with care as we have no wish to fish you from the waters a dozen leagues from here!”
So we crossed the bridge and threw down ropes which we used to descend to the waters below, crossing with care yet with haste; yet another day was drawing to a close and my companions were eager to show me the wonders of Titan’s Hollow as the sun set. Beyond the waters of the falls, after a steep climb, we rejoined the path and climbed broad stairs which soon became a carven path, cut into the rocks of the valley. And so it was, as the sun descended before us, another valley opened before us, this one deep and wide, surrounded by tall cliffs and filled with clear waters and over which, suspended like a hundred gleaming lanterns, lay the cliff city of Calas Calar.
Those who have not visited the city can scarce understand the magnificence of its beauty or the wonders of its design; crystal-walled houses, framed in gold, glass-like walkways and crystal stairways, all suspended on great golden chains cast across the clear waters of the valley from the high cliffs, and everywhere flowers and plants the likes of which the world has not otherwise seen!
Swiftly, we descended the path to join the broad stairs leading up to the great city and, spied from above, we were quickly joined by the fair folk of those high houses, eager to greet their cousins and brethren from the deep woods. I was welcomed as well, and many a wish for may stay to be long and refreshing were given; and looking up at the great houses and passing the tall flowers, inhaling their rich and delightful scent, I knew that my journey would again face a pause.
Region designs: Valley of Ish’Nar by Rynn Verwood and Titan’s Hollow by: Elicio Ember
Titan’s Hollow sponsored by: Cerridwen’s Cauldron; featuring: FATEwear; Dragon Magick Wares; L’Uomo; Spyralle; Mermaid Treasure & Boutique; FANTAVATAR & MOONSTRUCK; and with themed stores: Dreamscaped Designs; Sterling Artistry; Trap; [Gauze]; [ni.Ju]; Arx Loricatus; AZE Jewelry; Bliensen + MaiTai; Southpaw; yo bailo.