The Numinous Road is well known in the 10 Kingdoms, and that anyone who makes it to the end of the road receives a great and powerful boon. The precise boon is unknown, unsaid, but many assume it is a powerful godly gift, a great wish, tremendous power, ancient knowledge, whatever it is, it is a great prize.
Once, to find the numinous road, the would be traveler had to visit the shrines of the 10 Kingdoms. Eventually their experiences between the shrines, and meditating before the mysteries would show them the way to the Numinous Road, to the sacred path, the Wander.
In ages past heroes in need would seek out the Numinous Road and seek it's prize to aid them. These heroes always walked with a greater purpose, to find their inner resolve, to find the weakness of a great and terrible foe, and similar mythic needs. Others found the road, sages, oracles, explorers, and they walked the road as well, looking for its secrets and enlightenment. Many would walk the road, most failed to reach the end, but returned home with what they did learn, what they did experience.
Some made a place, and live on the Numinous Road, creating oases and safe places along the road, and some of these are known, are written of, as markers along the road. Those who dwell permanently on the Road are changed by it, they become part of it, and the road becomes part of them. They are somehow more than human, less than gods, and completely unconcerned with this change in their lives.
A good number refuse to recognize their limits and they perish on the road. Some linger as ghosts, most are not.
King Andreas Adolphus the Bird-Keeper
Andreas Adolphus was the 54th monarch of one of the 10 Kingdoms, though there is intense debate as to specifically which one, as more than half of the 10 have grounds to claim him as part of their aristocracy, and equally have reasons to deny his involvement in their lands. The Bird-Keeper King was a canny man, and set his sights on the Numinous Road, as he had gained the idea of taking the prize and making himself the first Emperor of the 10 Kingdoms, and to raise his peacock banner completely unopposed.
The King did not act along in his plan, he brought an elite cadre of warriors, magi, and others who supported him and his dream. First among them was the Lord Garandis, a captain of the Dragon Knight Order, a founder of the Order of the Sword and Oak Staff, and a beast form shifter of great acclaim. His alternate battle form, the God of Chaos, was a winged beast of great size and terrifying physical power. Garandis was loathe to use this great warforme as it cost him his wits and memories while he wore it, and the God of Chaos persisted until defeated, or the beast form ran its course and slept. Garadis was seldom alone, and was frequently accompanied by a number of Dragon Knights, and after the chartering of the Order of the Sword and Oak Staff, a full company or more of men-at-arms, errant knights, alchemists, and war mages.
The sorceress Saritra also served Andeas Adolphus, and while she had no interest in Empire and domination, she did desire magical power, and to eliminate a number of rival magi and magic using organizations. She appeared as woman wearing full armor with a tigress full face mask and golden metal eagle wings.
The Pilgrimage and Deception
Garandis, Saritra, and a half dozen of their best and brightest warriors and magi committed to the pilgrimage of the shrines of the 10 Kingdoms. The amount of skill, power, spellcraft, and magical equipment they carried, each single member of the entourage was enough to complete the pilgrimage alone. They barely passed.
The way to the Numinous Road opened to Garandis and his retinue, and they passed this to the Bird-Keeper King, and they all arrived at the gate to the Numinous Road, but in a way that none in the past had ever attemped. Andreas Adolphus arrived with an army, a second army of peasants and builders, and the bulk of the Dragon Knights. They drove a wedge into the portal to the Numinous Road and immediately started building, locking the Numinous Road into a single location, and keeping it from closing and relocating as it had since it came into being. The Order of the Sword and the Oak Staff were created for the sole purpose of policing the new city as it was being built, and after.
Magic City Garandis was named in honor of Lord Garandis and it was to serve as his new dominion, raising him from a baron to Archduke, with his land claim would include the throat of the Numinous Road. The city was to be the magic retreat and stronghold of Andreas Adolphus, and to serve as a great trade city so that the wealth of the Numinous Road could be extracted and delivered to the would be Emperor. The City was also planned to be a display of the awesome wealth and power of the hopeful Emperor.
This did not come to pass.
The Plain of Spires, the Den of Knives, and Castle Ygrosse
The Dragon Knights cut a swath up the Numinous Road and found it quite occupied. This was considered a surprise because the stories of the Road seldom involved much in the way of opposition. Garandis and the Dragon Knights were beset by hordes of hostile greenskins, goblins and hob-goblins in great numbers. They slew them. By night, their corpses rose from the dead and renewed their assaults. The Order of the Sword and the Oak staff were tasked with keeping the road open and clear while the hosts of miners, tree cutters, and hunters moved into the Numinous Road, as well as keeping the bodies of the slain greenskins burned rather than face them a second time as undead.
The Plain of Spires was normally a starkly beautiful place of white windswept limestone promontories and broad grassy plains. Most found the journey peaceful and introspective. For Garandis, it was an ongoing war.
The Den of Knives is a bandit barony hidden out on the Plain of Spires. For years, those who were desperate, those who were not heroes, but were noble, could find the Numinous Road, and they created a safe place there, a hidden settlement, where they could live safely. This was a relative term, as they, and their descendants, were still criminal in mind and organization, and the township was lawless and known as the Den of Knives. Deserters from the city of Garandis, and others found their way to the Den of Knives, and the township flourished and quickly grew. Its lawlessness and borderline supernatural existence drew many to it.
The Castle Ygrosse was spiked by the will of the Sorceress Sarista, at the edge of the Plain of Spires. The road across the plain reached the feet of a range of nameless mountains, and narrowed dramatically as it scaled the peaks. The construction of Ygrosse was ruinous.
King Andreas Adolphus saw his wealth depleted by Ygrosse and the Numinous Road. All the wealth that was supposed to flow out of the road, it didn't. The tree cutters found no forests to fell. The miners dug into the spires, and found only limestone, and even sold as luxury Numinous limestone gained now wealth. Digging into the karst of the plains only revealed cisterns of water, caverns, dead drops, and plenty of watery graves for hapless miners. Building Ygrosse couldn't be done with numinous limestone, so more stonecutters were sent into the mountains with the Dragon Knights to cut stone for the castle, and while they did cut some, the mountains weren't empty of threats, and many were slain by rockslides, trolls, more greenskins, and curious monsters that dwelt in the mountain peaks, including no shortage of wyverns, and griffons.
It was cheaper, and more expedient, to build Ygrosse with stone cut in the 10 Kingdoms and then carried overland, across the Plain of Spires, and then set.
The Demise of the Peacock and the Defeat of the Dragon Knights
Andreas Adolphus' occupation of the Numinous Road lasted several decades, and he traveled to Ygrosse several times as the fortress was built. His first visit was as a great and powerful conqueror, and his last saw him greatly aged, coffers depleted, and spirit broken. The last visit of the Peacock was a retreat as his kingdom had risen in revolt against the draconian taxation he squeezed from them, and for the numbers who had gone to his great plan and died. The 54th King, the Bird-Keeper, the Peacock of the Numinous Road, died at Ygrosse, his last sight being storms blowing down from the mountains that had vexed him.
Andreas Adolphus still dwells in Ygrosse. The Sorceress Sarista used her magic, and the magic of the Numinous Road to resurrect him, out of her great love and loyalty to the King. The King was reborn as a demon lord. The King of Ygrosse appears as a horned goat headed demi-giant wearing a shimmering cloak resplendent with peacock feathers. The Lord of Ygrosse never leaves the keep, and might not be able to. It has no recollections of it's mortal life, and seems to only be interested in staring at the mountains. The sorceress has long since vacated Ygrosse and has been lost to time and maybe the Road itself.
Garandis and the Dragon Knights reached the summit of the mountains beyond Ygrosse, and they raised a small fortress, entirely made of wood, to serve as a base camp. By the time it was completed, in its haphazard fashion, most of the Dragon Knights were dead or were no longer capable of fighting. Before its completion, Garandis was mortally wounded, but was carried back to the ancestral home beyond the Numinous Road, where he died and was interred into the familial crypt. The Dragon Knights who remained behind found themselves exhausted, without purpose, and the mountain blew up a massive winter storm, and they all died.
The Dragon Corpse Brigade still mans the walls at Fortress Gragoroth Golagros, a tireless force of ice mummified dragon knights. Reaching Gragoroth Golagros is to reach the highest point of the Nameless Mountains, and a place of brutal cold, hunting monsters, and certain death.
The Modern Numinous Road
The Numinous Road has been anchored in place for several centuries, and the city of Garandis, also known as Garandis Numina, Magic City Garandis, and other names, remains as the gateway to the Road. It has become the main pilgrimage point for those interested in the Road. Most of the old mythos of the Road has faded, and most people think of it as just another strange land, not a mythical destination that would be heroes strive to explore.
Most seek out Magic City Garandis to shop the bazaar of the Road, which tends to be well stocked with exotic wares from the Numinous Road, mostly amulets and talismans, potions, etc and other such things that are quite easily made in the part of the city that exists within the boundary of the Road. Magic items are easier made there, as well as spells being cast. The Order of the Sword and Oak Staff keeps the peace, and the Captain of the Order acts as the mayor of the city. Garandis has a very strict non-intervention and neutrality policy.
The Den of Knives is two days travel through the gate and off the left side of the King's Road. The city of thieves, whores, murderers, and assassins has grown to be a good deal larger than Garandis. The city has no organization or central planning, and is currently under the control of the Perfume Makers, a guild of assassins, alchemists, and prostitutes.
The Spire Mines still delve into the limestone karst of the plains, and have created endless tunnels. Most of the tunnels lead nowhere, and have nothing but water, rusting old gear, and bones, but on occasion some spectacular things have been found, like nuggets of gold, valuable gems, lost treasures, etc.
Castle Ygrosse is the bulwark against the storms that come out of the mountains, and considered the last normal stop on the King's Road, and where the King's Road end and the Numinous Road begins again. Most avoid entering the castle itself, as the Peacock King demon still resides inside, but never accepts audiences.
Secret of the Numinous Road
There is one massive law of the Numinous Road, and Andreas Adolphus broke it with every action he took. The Road is intended for the solo traveler, or the small intimate group of travelers. The upper limit is 6 entities in a group. For whatever reasons, the road counts all living members of a group, regardless of their sentience or species. Live animals count against this total, be they horses, pet companions, familiars, or just livestock on foot that is intended to be eaten later.
The larger the group that attempts to forge the Road, the more the Road pushes back. A solo traveler will find their needs met on the Road, provided they are cunning and wise and can accept what the road offers. Andreas Adolphus sent an army into the Road, and the Road responded by hitting back with it's own armies. The host of miners found nothing but underground horrors and traps. Treecutters found nothing. Soldiers found an endless surge of monsters seeking their blood.
Those who explore alone, or in small groups, find their fortunes, find their skills, and their self confidence.
The Castle Run is an annual event in Garandis, and starts with a great tournament and general festivities, while 'teams' arrive and prepare to Run the Road, a wild sprint from Magic City Garandis to Castle Ygrosse, and then to see how far each team can make it down the road before falling back. Most of the regular teams herald from various guilds most notably the Mercenaries Guild and the Guild of Adventurers Upon Return. Nobles pick their own teams, while other non-combat non-adventure guilds put their own teams together for the run. The tournament is used as a sort of elimination tourney to determine who gets the starting positions, as well as for freelancers and free agents show their prowess for being handpicked by a guild team, or forming their own freelancer and freebooter teams.
After the tourney and opening festivities and feast are complete, the teams charge down the Road at the rising of the sun. Such a concentration of powerful heroes, athletes, and more draws a strong response from the Road, and many teams barely make it across the Plain of Spires. The strong countering by the Road is part of the festivities and a strong reprisal from the Road is considered an auspicious omen for the coming year.
The Lord of Garandis typically presents a gift to the team that makes it to Ygrosse first usually a golden token.
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? Responses (3)
The Numinous Road was born from a conversation with a coworker who is building a game based around an endless road. The Numinous Road takes this idea and goes a different direction with it. There will be more submissions.
I like how it started as an almost impossible path to find, a location that only opens to those that follow the requirements and that are worth. Only the most steadfast could hope to find the road that will take you to glory and riches! Now an abused entrance that lost most of the mystic aura and is a place that great armies have lost their life. Not very enticing to travelers anymore when they can get readily made magic without the danger of the trip. Is there anybody left that is tempted to take the trail? Are there still stories of those that go through and come back with a great treasure? Or just stories of perseverance and lessons learned on the road? Is that, perhaps, the real reason for the road. To force a person to self-analyze and come out of there a bigger self?
People who travel alone still return with wonders, like the lone miner who wont give up on an old shaft and returns one day with a ruby the size of his fist, and now he can go home, real home, and rescue his entire clan from abject poverty under a cruel landowner. Or the hunter who stalks the ancient wood beyond the mountain finds his great prize hunt and returns home with the remains of the best to be recognized as the hunter he is. The greater the dream, the greater the prize, the further it is down the Road. Scroll of Truth be damned, friendship is not the greatest prize