Welcome to the Town in the Cliff

The Kingdoms around the Golden Sea are under siege — not by armies — by a Blight. Plants, insects, and other plagues are killing serfs, peasants, freemen, and nobles. Prayers to the Gods have gone unanswered. Even the spells of the druids are powerless to change the tide.

Elves are dying in their forests and Dwarves in their mountains. Entire tracts of land have been evacuated. Refugees are fleeing in whichever direction the winds point them. No one has any idea as to source or safety.

You are among the desperate.

Perhaps you have been charged with the duty:

  • to locate a safe haven for the refugees until such time as it is safe for them to return to their lands,
  • to locate the source of the Blight and send report back to the Council of Kings,
  • to protect what few survivors of your home (which was swallowed by the Blight) as you flee with only that which you were able to carry,
  • to protect a merchant caravan trying to maintain what little is left of trade between the various cities and towns of the kingdoms, or
  • to spy upon the most wayward of the Kings’ vassal, the most likely to buckle under the pressure of the Blight, or the most likely to defy the Kings when it comes to the final battle against the Blight.

Regardless of the specific reason, you find yourself in a strange place. It is a town crafted of stone buildings four stories high — similar to some of the most populace cities about the Golden Sea. Yet, this town is sandwiched in a series of caves within a sheer cliff. Hundreds of feet below is a river valley, and hundreds of feet above is a savanna.

While the people are built the same as those anywhere else, their culture is something very strange.

Those villagers, who are preparing to go into dangerous situations, have their shirtless chests and backs painted in woad or tattooed with symbols of protection. One can identify the Woad Speakers and Skin Speakers by the quantity of designs they wear upon their bodies. Few others wear much, if any, woad or ink while going about their daily business within the caves of the village.

The coins of the far-off kingdoms hold little value among the people who ride the currents of air on floating rafts and upon the backs of small dragons and griffons. Instead, they prefer to give what they can to those who most aid the village.

The young Knight sits with his mother, the Regent Mother, as representatives of and vassals to the distant king.  His lineage is exalted, but vague — “Very prestigious.  Long service to the King.’  Who?  ’Sh!  No names.  The Necromancers might be listening.  We don’t want his father coming back as a ghoul, do we?”

And, despite the Knight’s age, his mother retains the title of Regent Mother. Together they sit upon the village council (a body mainly of women) as equals.

Yet for all this land’s strangeness, it seems impervious to the Blight. Seeds of killer plants burst into flames as they drift upon the winds over the savanna. Eggs and larva pop and sizzle in whatever hidden nooks they found.

Is it a safe haven for those running? Do its protections mean the source of the Blight is nearby? Will the villages of the Canyon and savanna be strong trading partners capable of supporting the merchants even as the cities about the Golden Sea succumb to the Blight? Will these people, untroubled by the Blight, be willing to answer the Call of Kings when the time comes?

Can the secrets of this place be used to save the kingdoms?

Yet, there are those who want these people to succumb to the Blight as well. They are hatching a plot to destroy what may be the only safe haven. Can you stop them? Can you save the Canyon?

The Canyon

PolarSleuth Rafferty