This little reef lies just below Mossy Rocks Cove near Nepris about a stral off the eastern coast of the Santharian province of Manthria. It got its name from the local daring fishing youth, who would make it a game to sail their ducraers between the two main clusters of rock in order to prove themselves and test their own daring. It has expanded and has become the entertainment site for most of the youth living on the nearby coastline. Those who were able to weave their way through the passage in a ducraer or other small boat would later boast of "Threading the Needle" - and so it became known to merchants, traders, and sailors along the Mithral Coast.
Picture description. This archway and the surrounding stone have inspired small stories pertaining to the possiblility of a secret message being revealed if one has the nerve to sail through the arch. Image drawn by Lindo Tso.
are two land masses that define the ‘boundaries’ so to speak, of the area known
as the Needle’s Eye. The term “Threading the Needle” refers to the fairly
dangerous passage in between a group of three enormous boulders and a smaller
mountain. The size of the boulders is indeed rather astonishing, and the
variety in the materials that make up these massive rocks is equally as
remarkable. Instead of being one solid colour, the slate and other minerals
combine to form a beautiful collection of colour that is pleasing to the eye.
During summer rains when breaks of sun
frequently occur, the shine caused from the light bouncing off the wet, glossy
surface creates a beautiful, rainbow-like image.
Quartz crystals including both
the rare indiquartz and turquartz create a whirlwind of colour with the greens
and other hues. They tower above passing ships, the middle one standing almost
100 peds high. They are
almost touching at the base, and the northernmost and southernmost ones lean on
the middle boulder. Nothing seaworthy would be able to fit through the small
gapes between them. Needless to say, stories about how these monstrous rocks
arrived here run rampant.
On the eastern side of the Needle’s Eye, about fifty peds away from the boulders, an even taller mountain juts out of the water and blocks the passage from the high surf. New visitors to the Eye always do notice one thing; the top, about thirty peds in diameter, is completely flat. From a distance, the picture looks almost as if someone had taken a knife and simply cut it off. But in contrast to the rather beautiful three boulders on the western side, this piece of land is rather unremarkable other than this. It is actually rather large, and small trails and even an underground passageway exist through the mountain. Often, Avennorian youths use the very small beach on the southern side to beach their ducraers and explore. While this is certainly nowhere close enough to be considered an inhabitable island, there is a small hut with minor boat repair necessities and provisions that visiting youth worked together to procure and bring to the island over the years. In contrast to the ominous Dead Fisherman’s Grotto farther north in the Adanian Sea, this cavern and area is at least interesting and adventurous rather than grim and deadly. While the mountain has long since been searched thoroughly for anything of value, the younger people who visit always find it exciting to search in the tunnel and around the eye for buried treasure. Today, one can often find evidence of pirate games and treasure hunts in freshly dug mounds of dirt, where they have hidden small trinkets and childhood toys.
While the distance between the main bodies is rather large, the passage between the two that is actually sailable is small; dangerously so. Running from north to south, the Eye is, at first glance, a wide and easily sailable area; there are almost fifty peds of waters separating the two landmasses. Looking closely though, sharp outcroppings, coral, and large, jutting pieces of rocky outcroppings exist almost twenty peds out from each side of the Eye. Even in the ten-ped wide middle area, where there are fewer obstacles, pillars of stoning reaching from the sea floor prevent anything but ships with a rather shallow draft to pass. Merchant ships are entirely out of the question, and only ducraers and other small boats with a capacity of no more than three or four people risk passing through. At some points, there is not even a full ten peds, (closer to five or six) between clusters of dangerous rocks on each side of someone attempting to pass through. In total, the Eye is about 150 peds in length after “threading” your way through the entire thing.
But besides the dangerous outcroppings, the ocean below the surface is conglomeration of colour. Coral of every shape and size form an unbelievable undersea forest that is abundant with sea creatures. This is no deeper than eight or ten peds at any point, and usually considerably shallower. Of course, when you leave the shelter Eye the depth drops off almost cliff-like very quickly. But unless one is swimming, the chief dangers are that either the boat will be broken by the rocky bottom, or will be crashed by a particularly large wave against the massive boulders.
Close to the northern entrance to the passage there exists a small archway. It is in total no more than five or seven peds in height above the water, but rests on a flat rock that serves as a platform. This is barely wide enough to allow a ducraer to pass, and the water is deeper than a couple of handspans between the surface and the rocky platform. Surrounding this are rocks and boulders that break the surface of the water and surround the archway in a garden of stone. On the northernmost side of this arch is a fairly sheer wall of rock slightly higher than the top of the archway. Sailing in this area is paticularly dangerous, and is highly risky because of the high probability of damage to one's craft on the rocks.
Location. This famous fishing and sailing site can be found just off the Mithral Coast, southwest of Mossy Rocks Cove in the Santharian province of Manthria. The Needle’s Eye is solely accessible from Nepris and other small settlements along the Mithral Coast Route. In total the Eye is about a stral of the coast in the Adanian Sea.
People. The Needle’s
Eye is almost always populated by a group of fishermen youth and rebellious
teens during the summer months. Sometimes, they are accompanied by younger
siblings who enjoy playing on the mountain or swimming, but it is only the older
ones who make the dangerous passage through the Eye. This trend was only broken
during the brief period where traveling to the passage was outlawed after the
famous shark attack of 1200. To this day, the summer tradition of spending hot
days frolicking on the small mountainside or swimming in the contained area
right off the small beach is a common practice. The young adults take turns
timing each other as they pass through the Eye, seeing how long it takes them to
make the trip. When the fathers of these children return from merchant trips
(one of the most common employments in
Nepris), it has
become custom for the vessel to lower anchor near it, so that these newly
returned parents can visit their sons and daughters.
Due to the abundance of fish and other sea creatures, villagers commonly venture at dusk or dawn and fish within the area. This is a profitable use of time, and besides providing food for the family, it is rather lucrative side job.
The flat top of the mountain on the eastern side is also a common place for marriage proposals. The tradition of proposing on this spot has been passed on from father to son in the area almost since it became more widely known about 640 years ago from today. The moonlight and view of the apparently never ending coastline create a romantic setting when it isn't foggy. To the constant annoyance of fishermen and these people, a group of mixed-gender older youth is very common here. In an attempt to escape the watchful eyes of their parents and spend some time with each other, young men and women often come here later at night. The Eye has a reputation as a refuge for youth who are sick and tired of their home or parents. Because of the lack of protection from the powerful waves and the tight corners, the rocks surrounding the archway provide a challenging maze that the daring fishing youth often attempt to navigate through as well. Stories have sprang up that suggest that a secret pattern is revealed within the maze of boulders surrounding the archway, only when one has the daring to make the passage through and navigate the dangerous outcroppings of rock.
Another rather repetitive event is the debate surrounding the Eye that always ensues between parents and their grown up children. When a child receives a ducraer for the first time, the request on his or her lips seems always to surround a visit to this exciting site. Everyone new to parenthood is always a little nervous about this. Remembering the daring runs of their own childhood, they are always loath to allow their children the same freedom, realizing how dangerous what they were doing actually was. Eventually this argument is, almost without fail, won by these young fishermen.
Climate. The weather around the Needle’s Eye is similar to that along most of the Mithral Coast. Luckily for people near or in the Eye, the strong sea breeze can make the characteristically hot summer days cooler. On the other hand, except for the rocks, the open ocean leaves you very exposed to the sun and on a day with few clouds, it can still be swelteringly hot. Most children who take out their ducraers on such a day are known to take a swim within the enclosed area between the large rocks that form the Needle’s Eye. Swells are a common occurrence in the Adanian Sea, but the enormous rocks on the lee side partially protect the sailable part from the rough waves and heavy surf that batter the coastline. In the spring, children await the letting up of the rain; the signal that the season of Needle’s Eye visits is upon them. Nevertheless, a heavy fog can be found here often, like everywhere else along the Mithral coast line.
Flora. Looking down into the water as you sail through the gap shows you an amazingly colourful picture, full of coral as deep as the eye can see. Some of this is worth harvesting, and those who pass through in a ducraer can, perhaps, reach into the water to grab the yellow flysh seaweed, which, though salty and slightly sour, is actually crunchy and satiating. On very clear mornings when the water is less disturbed, you can see peds deep, allowing glimpses of sea fans, and forests of tall seagrass. Other than small clusterings of bombox palms on the shoreline, nothing grows on the barriers forming the Eye. Sometimes, the kids playing within the Eye play with the seeds, having fun with the loud cracking noise they make when opened. They also dare each other to eat as much of the sour pulp as they can.
Fauna. During the summer days when the passage is frequented by villagers and children, the undersea life is usually very quiet. Small recesses on the undersea mountainside hold hordes of small fish and even more remarkable sea creatures that make their home near the vast coral forest. When villagers are doing serious fishing in the area, they often attempt to catch boneheads. While these fish are usually rather large, even more incredible sizes have been found in this area. The record fish caught was a bonehead ranking at almost three peds. More common than boneheads are evoor, though these have very little use in Nepris besides lamp oil, as they taste terrible.
Mythology. Many centuries before Santhros ascended the throne, the first settlers came to the shores which lie in the east of the Mithral Mountains. The special riches the sea near the Mossy Rock Cove offered them, the pearls, had persuaded many to try their luck. And so, on the basis of hundreds of schemes to get rich quickly, the villages of Phris and Nehlan were founded. The avid divers found plenty of oysters and nearly each of them contained a pearl. But after some time of intensive harvesting few and fewer oysters with pearls were found. - How could that be? Nobody knows today who first told the story of how the pearls-filled oysters slowly disappeared but still today the following tale is told to the children living on the shores of North Eastern Manthria:
Pearl Robber. Long ago, when
no human foot had walked the shores east
of the Mithral Mountains, there was a
profusion of oysters along the whole
coast, from the mouth of the Mashdai river up to the Snipe Head's Bay, and
nearly every one contained a pearl.
Baveras loved that stretch of coast because of the beautiful
pearls, and it is said that at that
time there was an abundance of
waterstars flowering there. However, one day a creature appeared at
these shores that loved the oysters
almost as much as Baveras did. But
not to admire their sparkling shells and remove a
pearl cautiously and softly, as only
the Sea Goddess could do, without
harming the oyster, no. Hunger, not
admiration, was the creature’s motive for love of the
oysters; he simply ate them, one
after the other.
fishermen youth and older, superstitious sailors from the coast believe that
those who successfully sail the route through the maze of stones and around the
archway at the north end of the passage, and then look down upon the stones from
the magnificent flat-topped mountain see a hidden secret, visible only to them.
How they actually glean the information is never told. Nevertheless, some say
the stones tell the reader’s future, while those well versed in the mythology of
the creation of the Needle's Eye believe it to be a message from
Baveras, revealing the truth of how those
living on the coast lost her favour.
History. Shortly after the development of the ducraer around 500 b.S., a record of the Needle’s Eye was found in the papers of the original builder, Ducras. Aside from developing this now-standardized fishing boat, he commonly explored and recorded a large amount of information on the Mithral Coast. While kept and constantly updated by the crew in his shipyard, it was partially destroyed in the same group of storms that wiped out the building. To the best of the knowledge of the Compendium based upon the records, the Eye was most likely discovered sometime around 550.
The area was not frequented by children until much later however, around 1025, after the storms that battered the coastline almost destroyed the record of it, and people were driven to read notes Ducras had written so long ago on the area. This is not to say that fishermen did not visit the area, but “Threading the Needle” and the use of leeside barrier as a playground were not heard of until this time.
Around 1200 a.S., an event occurred that put the future of visits to the Needle’s Eye for the next generation in jeopardy. When the grandson of one of the elder fishermen of Nepris was killed by a shark that had come into the area, the elders of the village voted to ban visits to the Eye until the situation was resolved. It took many months of hunting for the shark to finally be speared by the Avennorians, but the event was one of much rejoicing on the part of the children of the region. The shark was found to be of the dark stryke variety, and because these are almost never seen south of Glandor, this was considered to be some sort of fluke, and the children were allowed to return to their fun.