Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flinch and the Defile of Castragon

Xanthus River Valley

The Defile of Castragon is a narrow pass through the mountain range known as the Great Wall located near the small village of Flinch, located in the northernmost region of the Xanthus River Valley near the headwaters of the Flavous River.

The Ancient Trade Road
The road made of cyclopean slab-like paving stones was laid down in ancient times by the Agarthan empire to facilitate trade between the remote kingdoms of the north and the sea-port city of

The Ancient Trade Road

The Flavous River
The Flavous River begins as glacial runoff high in the crags between Mount Zinnober and Nightflame Mountain. It collects in a deep clear lake below the village of Flinch and cascades down a series of several natural multi-step waterfalls before it joins with the Xanthus River to the south.

The Agarthans built small stone bridges to cross the many creeks and streams that feed the Flavous River.

The Jetty, Water Wheel, and Flinch. The Manor House can be seen in the upper left.

The Village of Flinch
The village is a small round walled village built in ancient times. It can house 400-500 inhabitants. The land around the village has been cleared of trees for nearly half a mile and is farmed for beets, turnips, potatoes, onions, leeks, and other bulbs and tubers. The farm plots are separated by low fieldstone walls. The village itself has one main gate and a smaller side gate. The walls of the village are built of ancient stone and are quite resilient. There are twenty buildings in the village including a polytheistic temple and a great hall. The village hasn't been ruled by an archon in hundreds of years. Instead, the village is governed by a village elder.
Flinch, the surrounding field walls, and the jetty. The manor lies just off the map to the north.

The Ruined Manor House of the Last Archon
These hilltop ruins overlooking Flinch are all that is left of the estate of the last archon of Flinch. The archon died hundreds of years ago with no heirs. His manor sat abandoned and eventually collapsed. The last archon was an avid hunter and collector of rare beasts. It is said that he kept a menagerie of monstrosities held in magical stasis somewhere in his manor, and that one night they escaped, killing the archon and his household. The villagers believe that monsters haunt the ruins still and refuse to go near it.

The Jetty
The ancient trade road ends at a stone jetty in the lake beneath Flinch. Since ancient times, rafts ferried caravans back and forth across the lake to the western gate, the entrance to the Defile of Castragon.

The Defile of Castragon
A narrow pass that wends for almost twenty miles between Mount Glothacon and Mount Ignoit. A paved road marks the way. Steep mountain slopes rise to either side. At some points the road rises and falls starkly. In ancient times, the pass was patrolled by Agarthan road wardens. No warden has passed this way in centuries. Today, the road is in poor repair, covered in pot-holes and twisted and jumbled in great upheavals of earth. Boulders, landslides, and wash-outs often hinder travelers. In addition, the way is plagued by ogre attacks, hill giants, bandits, griffons, perytons, giant birds of prey, and massive spiders. Despite the dangers, the defile represents the only route through the Great Wall, and merchants are still willing to take the risk.

The Jetty and the ruins of the Eastern Gate

The Eastern Gate
The gates are ruins from the Agarthan era. They were once massive five-story fortified gatehouses to either side of a huge arched gate. They have long ago fallen into ruin, their walls and ceilings collapsed. The skeleton of the arched gate still stands, soaring a hundred feet into the air. No one knows what happened to the cyclopean iron barred doors that once sealed the gate. Legend says they were stolen by a storm giant.

Signal Towers
In ancient times, small signal towers stop atop the ridges overlooking the defile. By shutting the light of a large fire, the guardians of the Castragon could relay messages from one end of the pass to the other. The towers now lie in ruins, occupied only by aerial predators.

The Watchtowers
Two watchtowers once occupied commanding overlooks, allowing unprecedented visibility across the valley to the south and the wastelands to the north. Each watch tower consisted of a citadel and a ten-story tower. A network of subterranean passages connected the watchtowers to the defile thousands of feet below. Today, the eastern tower lies in crumbling ruins while the western tower is said to be occupied by a reclusive wizard.

The Western Gate
The western gate, like its eastern counterpart, lies in ruins. Its great iron gate permanently open, facing the arid wastelands.


The majestic beasts known as sky-whales drift serenely through the mountain peaks of the Great Wall, their thick hides impervious to most predators save the great Roc or Storm Giant hunters. One tribe of Mountain Folk have raised a handful of sky-whales from infants, domesticating them for use as mounts and beasts of burden.

Nightflame Mountain
The midnight-blue stone of Nightflame mountain rises to a height of 14,000 feet, towering over the lesser peaks that surround it.  At night, the summit of the mountain is aglow with a halo of strange witch-fire.

Mount Zinnober
At a height of 13,000 feet, Mount Zinnober looms over the northern mountain-scape. Mount Zinnober is made of reddish-brown stone. It is home to many tribes of orcs, notable for their red skin.