Map of Shadow Hall
The mountain path becomes steep, going uphill, winding through crevasses and past sheer drops. The forest was dense where the soil was deep enough and various types of fern dominated the underbrush. Birds were ever present and their songs accompanied them as they walked. Every now and again, they got to a point where there was a break in the trees and were able to see glimpses of the plains to the East.
By midday, they reached the top of the ridge. From here, it was only a short way down The Steep, the path that led to the city. But, as its name suggested, it was steep. In some places, steps had been hewn into the rock and in other places, there was only a chain attached to the cliff face one could hang on to.
Soon there is the rushing of a waterfall. The river came off the mountain, tumbled over on of the cliffs and then flowed into a fast, steep bed down to the city, which it divided neatly in half, and then flowed through the little birch forest, which they called the Silver Forest, to join the might Oakin River far out in the plain.
The city was shaped like a large horse-shoe, with the Gathering Grounds in the centre. It nestled at the edge of the forest, right up against the steep sides of the mountain.
The houses were built in the trees; some so high up that one could see over the canopy of the forest, and, on certain when the air was extraordinarily clear, one could see the shimmer coming off the great lake in the far distance.
Because of the slope, the trees were at different levels, much like a terrace. Their entire city was built on so many different levels that sometimes one had to climb several staircases and cross several bridges just to get to a neighbor.
Although there was an underlying uniformity to the houses, each one had been built to suit it’s inhabitants. Some were angular, others round. Some only had one level, while yet others sprawled on multiple levels, with stairs connecting the various rooms. Most of the houses had wood shingle roofs, but some of them had roofs made of such cleverly interwoven branches that it was near impossible to tell where roof ended and tree began.
Although their builders used cut wood to shape the houses and brace the roofs, they also used the living trees in their construction. After a tree was chosen, it was then encouraged to grow a certain way to accept the new house and then anchor it in place. The larger the house, the more magic it took to encourage the tree. After a time, house and tree would become one and it would night on impossible to separate them again.
Most of the bridges were made out of rope and wooden plans, vines encircling their railings. Only the bridges along the forest floor were made of stone. Beautiful, blown glass lanterns hung at periodic intervals, their crystals dull in the full light of day. By the evening, their whole village would be bright with the light from the crystals and they would sparkle like stars in the night sky.
Author: Toni Cox – Elemental Rising.
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