THE EVERGREY BRIDGE ("BRIDGE OF TEARS")

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - HISTORY - MYTH/LORE

Evergrey Bridge, a name that refers to the gleam of the material from which it is built, is sometimes also called "The Bridge of Tears". It stands an isolated testament to Santharia's troubled past, bridging the fast flowing Cylian River between Ephirn's Lake and the Ancythrian Sea, connecting the main trade route from Carmalad to Voldar. There has been a crossing on this site as far back as lore can recall, though there is much debate as to how old the current structure actually is. Strategically, Evergrey Bridge has always been a very important crossing and it has been the scene of many minor skirmishes, not to mention the site of a critical clash during the Battle of the Four Swords.

The Evergrey Bridge

View picture in full size Picture description. The impressive Evergrey Bridge stands as a testament to Santharia's troubled past, connecting the main trade route from Carmalad to Voldar. Picture by Nalfaren.

Description. Evergrey Bridge is a hauntingly beautiful spot. The beauty of the landscape in these parts is breathtaking, but also wild and barren. It is not a place to linger, for the road to the East of the River crossing passes through the Southern most fringes of troll territory and their continuing prescence and occasional raids make Evergrey Bridge a less than safe place to be. On both banks there are guardposts that accommodate the men that protect travellers and merchants that travel this way from the Troll Mountains.

To the South the land rises up into the Twinean Peaks, often purple and pink with lowlying yrom (heather). To the West the wilds of the Heath of Jernais spread out before you, seemingly without bounds - their flat expanse stretching away to the horizon. And to the North is Ephirn's Lake. Though the bridge is for the most part a structure of human concern and function, it is unextricably linked with the light elf Ephirn and his sister Ná'el'ón in lore.

Plants crawl over the structure. The pontoons that hold the structure have narrow lips that low just below the normal waterlevel, making them a haven for plants that like to keep their roots wet.

In construction, the bridge on the surface appears to be nothing special. To span the river it is 120 peds long, which makes it nowhere near the longest bridge in Santharia, and 20 peds wide. It is constructed of scoria, a rock formed by cooling lava, collected from the slopes of the Hèckra. The scoria from which the bridge is constructed contains a high quantity of volcanic glass of both obsidian (black) and arshisi (blue) types - giving the structure a slightly reflective blue-grey surface and thus, more than likely the name - Evergrey Bridge.

The bridge traverses the river using a simple arch design. Only the top layer, which form the turetted walls are sealed together with morter. The other stones are held together by the sheer weight and careful spread of gravity across the two arches that span the Cylian and come to rest on a central pontoon. This structure has great intergrity and strength. Such a design is hardly surprising, given that arch bridges are probably the oldest bridge design to use stone and the structure that spans the river to this day is certainly of great age. It is not altogether certain, however, exactly how old the present structure is. Return to the top


Location. Evergrey Bridge is the only crossing point upon the Cylian River, and stands some distance downstream of Ephirn's Lake. The Bridge links the Jernais Pass that leads ultimately to Voldar with roads that lead to Doovens, Veltin and most importantly Carmalad and so forms one of the most frequented cloth routes in Santharia. If the bridge is blocked then the alternative is many months of sea travel, or a considerably longer than normal ride, passing south of the Hèckra and the Ancythrian Sea.

View entry on Santharia View complete map of Santharia The Everygrey Bridge The Province of Enthronia

Picture description. The location of Evergrey Bridge, linking the Jernais Pass that leads ultimately to Voldar with roads that lead to Doovens, Veltin and most importantly Carmalad. Maps drawn by Artimidor.

Evergrey Bridge now stands in the province of Enthronia, but in the time before the ascension of Thar the Bridge and the road pass that it bore across the river formed the border between the kingdoms Erpheronia and Caltharia. Such is the importance of this bridge that neither tribe was prepared to relinquish ownership, and eventually it was divided in half, so that the southern side belonged to Caltharia and the northern to Erpheronia. This arrangement was to have many beneficial consequences and these shall be discussed later. Return to the top

History. The lore that surrounds this bridge is ancient beyond even the reckoning of the elves and there has most certainly been a crossing here for as long as there is memory and written records. However, many scholars believe that the current structure is not the bridge referred to in the myths about Ná'el'ón, arguing that in the earliest times a crossing was more likely to have been a wooden structure resting on several enormous wooden pontoons, not the great technically advanced stone structure we see today. However, none of these scholars can agree on when the current structure was constructed.

Lore and myth is not helpful. Even stories of the oldest times describe the bridge in its current form. Memory of any older structure that might have existed has been lost. Tales of yore cannot shed light on when the current bridge was built, nor even as to who built it and for what purpose. Most consider it to be a human structure, though there are tales, which I will recount in the next section that attribute the building of the bridge to trolls, but given that Santharian trolls have never shown any tendency to build such technically adept structures elsewhere, it is thought that this is a fantasy, albeit a very entertaining story. More likely than trolls actually building bridges seems their liking to let others build them and concentrate more on the part dealing with the waylaying of travellers...

The most likely explanation is that Evergrey Bridge was built about the year 846 b.S. by the Erpheronians to aid their war against the Caltharians. A new structure could support vast numbers of troops and heavy siege equipment that a wooden bridge could not. Certainly the structure can be no later than this, as Evergrey Bridge was a critical strategical location during the War for Ancyros (846-822 b.S.).

The war between the two kingdoms rumbled on for more than 20 years and for the majority of that time the crossing remained in Erpheronian hands, which had a deep impact upon Caltharian cloth trading with Salsir, Horth and the settlements that would go on to form Milkengrad; and so the kingdom's whole economy. The possession of Evergrey Bridge, together with the harsh terms of the Alvang treaty were the major contributing factors of civil war and the eventual emergence of Mertogran (833 b.S.), who seized the bridge and invaded Erpheronia. It was swiftly retaken by the Erpheronian army and was held by them until the truth about the Massacre at the Silvershire was revealed and in order for the Erpheronian King to preserve his honour he not only beheaded his commander Khisaar, but also ceded control of the Southern half of Evergrey Bridge - drawing the border through the middle of the Jernais pass allowing the Caltharian merchants from Carmalad and Cavthan the right of access over this ancient way and thus a road to Kyrania and Centorauria that did not pass through Erpheronian land.

While the animosity between these two tribes rumbled on long after the war finally ended, this shared ownership of the bridge was to pay dividens. The road to Doovens (now in Erpheronian hands) and Veltin ran through the southern Troll Hills. This made - and still makes - the road and its river crossing a prime target of troll raids. More importantly to lose control of Evergrey Bridge to the trolls would open the way to raids far further West. Trolls can travel at great speed, and Jernais would quickly become a target if the trolls found that they could easily cross the Cylian. Quickly the two tribes found that with both sides posting troops at the bridge (more to watch each other than anyone else) they were, between them far more able to protect the pass of Jernais from trolls, simply because of increased man power. Because the arrangement suited both sides it stuck and the arrangement only ceased when Caltharia joined the United Kingdom of Tharania in 482 b.S., though the number of men posted there did not decrease.

The strategic importance of the bridge again became evident in 292 b.S. The Aellenrhim elf Pherán'Ephtaerín brought his troops to reinforce the retreating halfling, Thrumgolz and Monteron dwarven forces at what became known as the "Battle of the Four Swords". His coming prevented an initial orcish landslide at Ephirn's Lake, but before long they were pushed back along the pass of Jernais by the seemingly endless orcish onslaught. Evergrey Bridge was where Pherán'Ephtaerín chose to make one last stand before retreat. He knew that if the Bridge was taken then the most direct route for reinforcements would be severed and Tharania would be divided in two by the orcish forces. In division, he knew, there would be no victory. He hoped that the bridge would provide a bottleneck, limit the numbers of orcs that could attack at one time, handing the tactical advantage back to the allied forces under his command. It was a wise and sensible battle plan, but it did not avail Pherán'Ephtaerín. The four swords of the allies held the bridge for a sunrise with wave upon wave of orc warriors threw themselves at their defences. However, the myth that orcs are stupid or dull, is just that, a myth without foundation. The orcenhordes quickly realised that a prolonged assault upon the bridge would end in their defeat. While the most expendable of the orc horde continued to throw themselves at the Bridge, many of the orcs moved further upstream, North of Ephirn's Lake, where the river could be more easily crossed. On the return march south, the orcs also managed to enlist the trolls. This combined forces were spotted too late by the forces of Pherán'Ephtaerín. Surrounded and outnumbered, Pherán'Ephtaerín was forced to retreat and surrender the bridge. Evergrey Bridge had betrayed the Alliance of Four Swords. Pherán'Ephtaerín was forced to retreat, first to Carmalad, and then to abandon the city altogether as it too was overrun by the orcish forces.

And so Evergrey Bridge was in orcish hands, for the first and only time in its entire history. But not for long. A few months after the fall of Carmalad and counter offensive was launched and the city retaken. The orcs were pushed back and the bridge swiftly retaken by the allied races and returned to human control.

The bridge is still a site of the occasional troll skirmish, and Santharian troops are still posted here all year round, but compared to its violent and turbulent past - site of battle and bloodshed driven by the importance of its location - this is as close to peace as Evergrey Bridge has ever been. Return to the top


Myth/Lore. One of the most enduring tales about the Bridge is certainly a tall tale indeed. Popular Enthronian children's stories tell of how the stone bridge was built by a troll called Kiylk Tu'uq.

The Troll's Bridge. Kiylk Yu'uq lived on the highest hill in the Troll lands. He was the largest of all the trolls in all the world and by far the strongest. Everything that ventured on to his hill was his - all the animals, all the females, even humans who were unfortunate to get lost, even they belonged to him. He kept them and forced them to work for him, hunt for him and when he had no use for them anymore he, well, disposed of them, for the clean bones were often found at the foot of his hill.

One fine, fair day Kiylk sat upon the mound that he had built to better oversee his lands. The air was still and quiet. Kiylk thought that there was no place better on earth to survey all that he had acquired.

That day he could see further than he had ever seen before. And in the distance he could see the peaks of the Tandala. There he discovered an individual staring back at him - there was an ogre looking back at him.

The ogre was Fiyk and he was the most atrocious looking creature in all the world. And there he stood, eyeing back at Kiylk. Kiylk drew himself to his full height, and Fiyk did the same.

Kiylk made a rude sign at the ogre.

Fiyk did the same.

Kiylk made a decision that he must rid himself and the world of this impertinent rival. So he left his hill and walked north east until he met the river. He waded into it, but the water was deep and fast and it tugged even at his enormous frame. Kiylk had to retreat to the bank. Now the river was his enemy and he determined to tame it. So instead of walking around the river, he lugged rocks all the way from his hill to the river. He spent months building the bridge and when he was finished he was faced by the ogre, who had made quicker progress from the Tandala.

At the other side of the bridge that Kiylk had built, the battle commenced. The tyrant of the hills and the butcher of the Tandala were locked together in battle for many nights and the sound attracted many watchers from nearby. Among the watchers was a young man named Finn Gurnby. Finn thought that he would vastly prefer it if neither the ogre nor the troll won, and that he would be happier to see both deceased. So he hatched a cunning plan. He was a local lad, and he knew the troll's ways well.

(Wreny note: Not quite as cunning as a fox that has studied cunning at Oxford University. Sadly. )

He bought a toxic brew from a local alchemist, a brew strong enough to floor a great drake. He also bought a length of rope from a passing merchant, of the kind that fishermen use to tether their boats.

He crept to Kiylk's ammunition piles and tipped a number of the sharp pointy rocks with the poison that he had bought. Then Finn gathered as many able bodied men as he could. He laid the rope along the end of the bridge and his men took either end and then hid.

Eventually Kiylk gathered the poisoned rocks and hurled them at his ogre enemy. One of the rocks buried itself deep in the the ogre's skin. Fiyk stumbled, Fiyk tripped and then Fiyk fell to the floor dead and the ground shook with the impact.

Kiylk strode around his fallen foe, triumphant. Then he went across the bridge he had built, his head held high. As a result he did not see Finn's men draw the rope taut.

The ogre tripped over the rope and fell. Finn and his men rushed from their hiding places and with all their might heaved the enormous troll over the side of the bridge into the raging waters of the Cylian River.

The troll was never seen again, but the bridge remains. Which proves that pride, like success may come before a fall, if one is not very careful.

The bridge is far from elven territory, but the bridge and the water that it crosses are eternally linked in the minds of both men and elves with the legend of Ephirn and his sister Ná'el'ón (lit. "She of Tears", but is most often translated with "Maid").

The Maid of Tears. Ephirn and Ná'el'ón were brother and sister in the thoughts and dreams of Avá and they were as close as any light elf has ever been to another, perhaps closer that any beings have ever been in all time past and to come - and that may or may not even include the relationship between Melór and she who is first among us, the High Ava'rann. Legend tells us that they were linked in thought and purpose certain tribes in Santharia maintain that they were formed from the same drop of the rain of life and so represent them as twins - two facets of the same coin and as blanced as life is itself.

It is from the myth of these two closest of siblings that many of our Santharian expressions arise. The Aellenrhim say: 'ác aelonián injèrá qué' meaning literally 'You lead (another) to tears', meaning that one is so close to another that they will allow themselves to be led even to destruction or distraction, whichever comes first. My own tribe say often in Ylffer: 'Maríncín y sai siníwecín' , meaning 'Like a Lake and a River' to represent two who are inseperable.

Erpheronians also say 'to hold a bridge' meaning to cling to someone or something that is now gone. In the villages near Ephirn's Lake and Jernais, a common expression is: 'of one drop' meaning that a pair is inseparable. Such expressions may give you an inkling of how the legend of Ná'el'ón pans out.

Ephirn fell in love with a human woman and left the Thaelon many times to search for her. However, upon leaving the sacred Thaelon, a light elf takes on the mortal form of a elf. His sister was desperatly afraid of the consequences this would have for her brother, and often begged him not to go, but he would not listen. Ná'el'ón then began to offer to accompany her brother out of the forest, but in her own heart she knew that something had changed between them the first time he had taken mortal form and he always refused, preferring to wander lonesome across the Heath of Jernais.

Ephirn saved many human lives by warning them of troll raids, but in the end he paid the price for his love of all things human and he met his end during his lonely wanderings. As the Astyrhim light elves at the Thaelon counted Ephirn more to the humans than to their own kind they didn't fulfill the elven Rite of Return on him, but sank his body in the nearby lake according to the nature of the humans, which in elven myth are associated to the element of Water. The lake was later on named Ephirn's Lake.

Ná'el'ón felt angry and hopeless, divided from her brother by his death, and eternally now as without the Rite of Return, there could be no reincarnation of his being; she decided that she would therefore not be divided from her brother's purpose. She left the forest of the High Ava'ránn and walked first to her brother's resting place, but knew that she could not remain there, for the grief was too near for her. She wandered listlessly until she witnessed a troll readying an ambush for a party of human travellers at a crossing on the Cylian River. True to her brother's calling she ran, swiftly, on legs that were once light and wind to the travellers and warned them of the ambush. They rewarded her with a fine bow and arrows and carried on by another route, leaving the trolls bewildered and frustrated.

From that day forward Ná'el'ón kept the bridge safe for human feet, as she felt her brother would have done, but she felt no love for her new found purpose, only the burden of duty as the days and years that passed. And a great many years passed. Though now trapped in a mortal body, like all elder elves trapped in physical form, Ná'el'ón was gifted with a far longer lifespan than the wood elves who had been sundered from the Light and Wind when Eureóll [The Tree of Life] was burnt. Every night for all those passing leaf turns, Ná'el'ón wept for her brother and his loss and felt all the more agrieved at the duty she had sworn to take, but could not bear to be parted from that last thing she had of her brother.

One day, something new occured. Rather than the humans and elves who normally passed the bridge, there was a party of what appeared to be little more than children. Intrigued, Ná'el'ón watched from a far. She knew of halflings, but had never witnessed one in all the many life times of men that she had lived. These particular hobbits were from the Elenveran Shire, the hobbit tribe who live in contact with those most gregarious of elf tribes, the Quaelhoirhim with their enormous city of Elving and all their tales of other elves, and of men and of far off places. Inspired by those tales, this small group of these most home loving of creatures, had wandered off in search of other like themselves that the Quaelhoirhim had told them of.

These hobbits had also knowledge of elven lore from their Quaelhoirhim neighbours. They knew of the keeper of the Bridge, though they had not expected her particular protection, being neither human nor elf. But the simple songs of the little halflings warmed the heart of the elven maid and she left her bridge and her duty for the first time since she had arrived, to follow the little folk at a distance. In them she saw something of Avá that she had never perceived in any other living creature, just as her brother had in the eyes of a human woman.

While she was away, many travelling parties, who for time past had nothing to fear because of the presence of Ná'el'ón were taken off guard. In the time she was gone several humans were killed in troll ambushes for which they were unprepared.

Eventually this news reached Ná'el'ón, when the hobbit party she was following were warned by passers-by that troll parties were rampant in the lands they had passed through and that they should be careful on their return.

Distraught Ná'el'ón rushed back to her bridge, but now the pain seemed more dire than ever before. Months passed like lead weights and this tale might have had a more tragic outcome if it were not for the intervention of Melór, the Shadow of She, who was first among us. He came to Ná'el'ón and pointed out that in her love for hobbits she had found the true spirit of Ephirn's cause - to learn from another race what they had to teach about the nature of Avá. Ephirn had found that in humans, Ná'el'ón had found it in the gaity and wide eyed wonder and merriment of hobbits. Melor told her that while it was not in his power, nor in the power of any creature upon Caelereth to make her hobbit rather than elf - for she was fashioned from wind not earth - she might live among the Quaelhoirhim on the Elverground, whose settlements intermingle with those of the hobbits.

Ná'el'ón was taken with joy at Melór's words. However, she was worried for the consequences of leaving the bridge. Melor reassured her, saying that Avá's dream would come to pass regardless of the actions of those who dwell within it and yet Seyella may attempt to tip fate a little for those within her favour. 'Men,' said Melór, 'will and must now come into their own right. And they are more like this river than one might believe, dam the course and they will carve for themselves another bed.'

And with that Ná'el'ón left that place and lived upon the Elverground among the elves and hobbits that she so favoured. The legend has it that when she died, she too was denied the Rite of Return, but her body was returned to the river, buried in the bank, so that like her brother she was returned to the water, but remained rooted to the earth from which myth tells that hobbits are also fashioned.
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