THE BROKEN DREAM GAP

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - CLIMATE
 
FLORA - FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE - HISTORY

The Broken Dream Gap is the wide, low altitude pass which runs form east to west between Mount Wraelen and the Three Maids in the Santharian province of Manthria. It is is a fairly even forty peds wide the whole way along its twenty strals of length. Outside of the wide, paved strip on the northern, uphill side it is mostly bare rock and muddy soil, with little in the way of vegetation. Its northern side is a cliff where the feet of Mount Wraelen abruptly break off into a sheer-sided drop of ten peds. It is this surprisingly smooth drop, along with a few of the other features of this gap and the Maids to the south. Concerning the latter Compendium researchers theorise that they led to the myth of the creation of the Broken Dream Gap, called the Tale of Three Maids. This fable says that the name ‘Broken Dream Gap’ comes from long ago when the Three Maids Mountains were all in love with Mount Wraelen but he sent them away to the South, thus shattering their hopes and breaking their dreams. The legend tells that the Gap was gouged from the earth as the result of this movement of the three mountains.

Description. The Gap is a strange looking phenomenon. The Mitharim dwarves have in fact been known to regale travelers who travel with them through the gap with their thoughts on the oddness of the rock formation, and will sometimes even follow up with a telling of the legend about its origins. This is somewhat odd as the tale is thought to be a human legend, given the prominent roles of the Twelve in the story and it is supposed by some that the dwarves do this in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner, poking fun at over-credulous humans.

Broken Dream Gap is about forty
peds wide the whole way along its twenty strals of length, and fairly straight. It is somewhat sunken into the earth, and gives the appearance of being the result of a god having dragged the Three Maids in the south away from the Mithrals proper, gouging the rocky Gap out of the earth as it moved. The eastern and western ends both ascend gently to reach the level of the surrounding land. Its northern side is the sheer, surprisingly smooth cliff on the southern side of Mount Wraelen. The southern edge of the Gap also has cliffs, though not nearly as high or as smooth as those on the north side. They are fairly low, and at one point about three fifths of the way through the gap there is a small trail which winds up between two steeper areas of the wall, leading into the sheltered, oasis-like space between the Three Maids.

The Gap was paved by the Mitharim in the year 880 to facilitate its use as a trade-route from their home on the eastern coast to the wealthier towns of central Santharia and beyond. Despite the length of time since the stones were laid, the dwarves still hold the memory of the underlying form of the base of the Gap – not greatly surprising given both the long lives of dwarfkind and the regular use of the pass. It is recalled by the Mitharim as being smooth rock, scored with three wide ripples running from north to south.

Despite this paving by the dwarves, the floor of the Gap still retains something of one of its original features. Where the southern cliffs slope up from the base of the Gap there lies a strip of boggy, muddy puddles which in the spring - because of the rains - can become a small attenuated lake. The northern side was engineered by the dwarves so that it is level, but a strip along the southern side was left unpaved so that it acts as a natural drain, channeling rain and mud into the unpaved third of the Gap and thus avoiding the majority of the flooding which was common in the Gap before its remodeling by the Mitharim. It can still be a somewhat muddy, inhospitable route in the spring when the rains bring volumes of muddy soil from the higher ground down onto the trail which are too great to be entirely caught by the natural drain, but the ever-pragmatic dwarves have solved this problem by tending to make trading expeditions to the eastward port town of Marduran during this season, and trading to the west in summer, autumn and winter. However, the debris left by the spring rains does not take care of itself. The first caravan out from Tyr Ethran in the summer has the slow and unenviable job of clearing the paths for the expeditions which will follow in that year and, by association, any other travellers who pass through the gap that year. As the Gap is at such a low altitude, snow is not a problem here. Some heavy frosts will reach the stony walls, but very seldom does the cold weather ever inhibit the dwarves from trading.  Return to the top

View picture in full size Map description. Location of Broken Dream Gap between Mount Wraelen and the Three Maids Mountains in the Santharian province of Manthria, at the southern end of the Mithral Mountain Range. Map drawn by Artimidor.

Location. The Broken Dream Gap lies between Mount Wraelen on its north side and the Three Maids Mountains on its south, in the Santharian province of Manthria, at the southern end of the Mithral Mountains. Brok’s Way, a dwarf-made road runs from the doors of Tyr Ethran through the Gap, right until the Dead Ogre Pass in the south from where the Eastern Mithrun Trail leads on to Marcogg and central Santharia. Nearby settlements are the trading post of Kolbruk and the dwarves’ Tyr Ethran, but it is really quite far from most places – thirty strals from Tyr Ethran and a full hundred strals as the corbie flies from Kolbruk. Return to the top

People. No people live in the Gap, but in most seasons there will be a fairly regular flow of merchants and travelers – both dwarven and otherwise – traversing the gap to get from the eastern coast area to central Santharia, and vice versa. From early summer to the end of winter, dwarven trade caravans make bi-monthly forays to and from towns and cities which are accessible by Brok’s Way. Return to the top

Climate. "In summer, warm / In autumn, calm / In winter, cool / In spring it’s full." - This simple little verse is recited by the dwarven children of Tyr Ethran describing the weather in the Broken Dream Gap. There is little wind there all year round and this contributes to the pleasant heat in the Gap during summer. There is not much rain in this season, and the heat is such that the stagnant pool of water which sits in the drain on the south edge usually evaporates more or less completely during the month of Burning Heavens. Autumn is cooler and is quite a pleasant season during which to travel through the Gap. Winter is cool, but not icy. Frosts will often come to the tops of the cliffs, decorating particularly the smooth northern side with glittering silver-white patterns, but ice and snow have never in the memory of the dwarven traders reached the path. This is a great help to travelers meaning that this route stays open even in winter. In the spring however, the Gap is difficult and sometimes dangerous to travel through. The paved surface means that it is possible to traverse it, but heavy rains and melting snow can lead to flash flooding when the natural drain overflows, drowning the path in water and mud from the surrounding mountains – hence the use of the word “full” in the dwarven rhyme. Return to the top

Flora. Few plants grow in the Gap as the unpaved areas are mostly rocky and what soil there is tends to be drowned each spring. What plants there are are mostly the fast growing weeds like skyweed and some of the more persistent grasses. They grow in clumps mostly on the southern side of the Gap, on the opposite side of the drain where they are difficult or impossible to reach. Some of the higher crannies in the southern cliff house small bushes or trees, the meldarapple being a common, if frustratingly out of reach, sight. Small pines will also often sprout up in crannies on the southern wall or in drifts of dirt, growing to a fore or so tall in the three dry seasons, only to be washed away in the spring. Less immediately noticable but equally common are the mosses and lichens which colour the cliff walls and, from time to time after a spring when the conditions have been particularly favourable to the moss, the path, making it treacherous until the dwarves clear it from the road. Blackmoss grows in the shadier patches cheek-by-jowl with sou’cald moss. Rockmoss can be found also hiding in crannies on the southern wall. Certain lichens which are not averse to sunlight are the most easily spotted, as the mosses tend to prefer the few places in the Gap which are out of direct sunlight. The red varieties are the most common but blue, yellow, brown and white lichens have also been seen lending their natural but cheering tints to the stony environment of the Gap. Return to the top

Fauna. As far as fauna, there is not much to be seen. The lush sides of the Maids and the well-forested Mithrals proper offer such dramatically better cover and sustenance than the Gap that it is rare for any non-insectoid animal (other than those of the human or dwarven varieties) to be seen here. Stingflies and other swampdwelling insects, flying and otherwise often take up residence in the Gap during the months when the drain is wet, but bigger creatures are rare as this food supply does not last the full year. Occasionally a sneaky kuatu or a curious corbie will descend to pester camping travelers, but other than these it is very unusual to see any fauna at all in this stony, bare place.  Return to the top

Resources. The lack of resources makes the Gap a dreary and inhospitable place to pass through. There is no fresh water to be had (except for rainwater during the spring, and then there is too much!) unless one is to make a side trip up into the Three Maids. Travel rations are relied upon usually exclusively while traversing the Gap, as both edible flora and fauna are scarce and unobtainable. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. The Tale of the Three Maids is told both by the villagers of Kolbruk and the
Mitharim dwarves, although it is said that the dwarves tell it only to human travelers whom they meet in the Gap, and then with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks!

A Tale of Three Maids. The three mountains, Jaya, Filitha and Plick were created by Urtengor as a part of His design when He created the mountains of Sarvonia. He made them to give softness and beauty to the Mithrals amidst the bountiful garden which was then the whole of the area. As was His design, they all stood together at the southern end of the Mithrals. They lived in happiness together, each one’s character balancing the other two’s. Jaya, the tallest, was brave and proud. She was the protectress of the other two. Filitha was very beautiful and intelligent. She would spend her days talking to the wise old mountains to the north. Plick, the last created, was the most playful of the three. Animals flocked to her. She was light of spirit, and could always cheer the other two when they felt down.

They lived a long time this way, but the harmony was not to last. Etherus, the treacherous God of Lust and Excess, caused a volcano to erupt at the point just north of the three maids. This new mountain was called Wraelen, and after the smoke and fire of his birth had cleared, the maidens saw that he was beautiful. They crowded around him to impress him - Jaya with her strong spirit, Filitha with her deep wisdom, and Plick with her liveliness. Wraelen was pleased with the maids’ attentions and fell in love, not with one, but with all three of the maidens. Unable to choose, he tried to give attention to each one equally, but the maidens were not content. They fought amongst them, using their differences against one another. Jaya tried to cow the other two with her fierceness, Filitha to outwit them, and Plick played horrid tricks on her two friends.

This went on for an age, and Mount Wraelen became tired of the incessant fighting. Unable to see in these three bitter women the maids he had so loved, he sent all three of them away to the south. They went, although not too far, weeping amongst themselves for their foolishness and their loss. Their movement left the broken, bare stretch of land called the Broken Dream Gap.

Many ages passed, and they forgave one another, but their sighs are visible to this day as the mist which shrouds the hollow between the three as they huddle together to the south of the Mithral Mountains. Return to the top

History. Broken Dream Gap’s only real historical milestone is that it was paved in 880, when the Mitharim dwarves first began trading with the central Sarvonian towns and cities. The dwarves chose to make use of this Gap as opposed to tunneling as they otherwise would have because they had fairly recently (in 856) excavated a network of beautiful caves under Mount Wraelen and the Dragonback Ridge. These caves were home to a large group of dwarves who were mining the last of the mithril in shafts nearby. As such, there was not room for a trade route and the alternative was a much longer way than just giving up and going aboveground. It is said that the elders of the time reasoned that it would be character building for the younger, unmarried members of the clan out on trading 'missions', thinking it would do them good to experience the vicissitudes of nature aboveground. Return to the top

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