Written by Neujack, and first published on 2023-08-27
The Athasian Survey Project travels the Gold Road.
And now, my friends, I have another clairvoyant missive to share with you:
As I mentioned in our last correspondence, I have been directed to journey deep within the Kreen Empire to visit some particularly remarkable anomalies.
Even for a younger, stronger man, such a journey would be highly dangerous. At best, I would be offering myself up for servitude or sustenance to whichever kreen lord found me first. However, the Consortium are not without their connections and their valuable resources: it would be just a matter of reaching the right individuals and offering the right knowledge or gifts. At least, that is what I was told…
I departed Shazlim heading south, retracing my steps through Silver Spring and Ablath. Both are little more than fortified stop-overs along the relatively busy trade route that runs between Urik and Altaruk. Silver Spring is controlled by a tribe of elves known as the Silver Hands; Ablath is a trading post for Merchant House Tsalaxa.
There is only one official way into the Kreen Empire – through the Great Rift and the Battle Wall. While I would appreciate seeing these landmarks in my lifetime, I do not have the time to waste with the long negotiation that passing through that way would require. Instead, I have used Consortium contacts to secure aerial transport in Pterran Vale. I simply have to get there.
As a favour from the Consortium, I was granted a small armed escort for this leg of the journey. To save time and to indulge my desire to explore ancient sites of interest from Athas’ bygone eras, I opted to make our way via the Gold Road.
The Gold Road is a lesser known direct way of reaching Celik from Altaruk by way of the village of Walis - located in the foothills of the Ringing Mountains - and passing near Kalidnay along the way. Since both Celik and Kalidnay were destroyed, the route has fallen into disuse and obscurity, and many maps do not even depict this road.
Unsurprisingly, time has not been kind to this ancient trade road. As it stands now, the “road” itself is for the most part barely even a trail. The vegetation here is quite tough and aggressive, and given the infrequency of the road’s use, it has reclaimed the road in many places.
The origin of the Gold Road’s name is disputed. Ancient dwarven gold mines are said to dot this area, with most having fallen into disuse since the Green Age (we don’t use gold like we used to, and gold mining is a rather dangerous trade due to the myriad ferocious monsters lurking in the depths). However, he sand and stone here are particularly yellowish-orange as well, giving the landscape a golden hue.
This image I am sharing is a scout’s overlook of the Gold Road, from a point due west of Kalidnay, facing south towards the small village of Walis. In the distance you can see the southeastern foothills of the Ringing Mountains.
As you can see, there is still much ground to cover, and we must move before the day gets too hot. Until we speak again, may the moons guide you.
For anyone who can guess the source of this image from Earth, I have for you a gold Figurine of Wonderous Power in the shape of a potato.