Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms: The North

Being a travelogue of a blogger's summer vacation through the continent of Faerun.Day 1: Having set off from Waterdeep, I decided to go inland and thus avoid - at least for now - the treacherous Red Rocks and a particularly dark patch on my map called the Mere of Dead Men (does anyone in these parts even THINK of tourism development!?). Before the sun had gone down, I'd made it to the Hamlet of Rassalantar and an inn called the Sleeping Dragon where, I was told, one of the serving girls was actually a Gold Dragon in disguise.

Travel tip #2: If the waitress hints that she might be a polymorphed Gold Dragon, you can be sure it's just to get you to leave a bigger tip.

At least I did manage to hire a guide called Bramble - who may or may not have Orcish ancestry, but I didn't want to ask - to take me off the road and on a tour to see some of the more interesting ruins in the area.

Day 2: I was afraid I wouldn't get to see anything today. Even though we took off before the sun was up, it was all hills, rivers and forests for most of daylight hours. But Bramble made good on his claims and got me to The House of Stone before the sun went down. And wow. These ruins used to be a huge mansion with an adjoining maze, and is filled with well-preserved statues. Bramble encouraged me to commit a little vandalism, which I really didn't want to do, but he started and I followed. Just a little masonry ripped off the walls and thrown at a stone minotaur, nothing major. Went to sleep feeling guilty. Maybe Bramble's a little crazy. And here I am in the middle of nowhere, a sleeping bag my only armor.

Day 3: Well, I'll be darned! The ruins have undone the damage during the night! That's a neat trick! Bramble is all smiles (I wish he had the teeth for it) and we continue North joking and wondering if the House will ever rebuild itself completely. Our next stop is a place called Goldenfields, the so-called Granary of the North, expansive fields that feed the entire region, including Waterdeep. Impressive, but then I've never been to Saskatchewan. I've had to make an offering to the gods because this place is run by warrior-priest-farmers, not unlike the American Midwest. But I'm more than happy to pay the toll, as it were, after all, that's what tourists do. We're not allowed to stay for the night, so we ride on to nearby Bargewright Inn, near the Ironford crossing the River Dessarin, population 35 (not counting travelers)!

Day 4: This is where Bramble and I part company, as I rejoin some official arteries. I'm off towards Red Larch* via river barge, and on up to the Stone Bridge from where you can actually see the dwarven Halls of the Hunting Axe in the distance. Sadly, the sun is setting and I ride the last few leagues to Westbridge in the dark. That's what's frustrating about playing tourist. There's so much to see, you end up missing 90% of it because you need to move on. Westbridge is an agrarian disappointment, barely more than an intersection with restaurants and inns. Avoid the wine.
Day 5: Back on the Long Road (I sure know why they call it that), and still no sign of Winterfell. Wait, maybe I'm confusing the various brochures I consulted before leaving... At any rate, the next town, Triboar, is much bigger, and there I refill on provisions, hear about how Yartar, just West of here, is filled with real jerks (politeness mine), and get some information on some of the more interesting local landmarks. I've got some choices here. I decide to skip the Old Owl Well to the East, and instead keep going North to climb Berun's Hill, which affords a really nice view of the entire region. Neverwinter Wood to the East, just tree tops from this vantage point, except for an active volcano in the middle of it. And down there, the Tower of Twilight standing on an island in the middle of a lake. I was thinking of visiting, but I recently saw Conan the Destroyer. What am I? Crazy?

Travel tip #3: Towers that belong to wizards are bad news. (Tip supplied by one J.R.R. Tolkien. You don't know him.)
As it turns out, I still met some wizards. Though Longsaddle looked tiny from the Hill, I must ever forge ahead and hoped they had an inn or maybe some stables where I could stay. As it turns out, it WAS tiny, but there was one huge house covered in ivy like some old college campus building. I knocked, and was invited inside by a Mr. Harpell, from the same family as the guy who keeps the Tower. Well, my host regaled me with tall tales about rebuffed demigods and orcish hordes, even showed me a little magic. He also gave me quite a scare when he told me Berun's Hill was a lookout used by brigands. I guess I've got tourist luck! I went to bed with a full head and stomach.

Day 6: Determined to get as North as Mirabar today, I was surprised by the freezing wind blowing on the road and had to stop at Grunwald, a Viking hall by any other name, inhabited by the Thunderbeast tribe. Nice folks, really. And you've got to make the trip to see their mound surrounded by an intact apatosaurus skeleton. When your animal totem is a freaking DINOSAUR, you get mad props!

Day 7: With Mirabar comes the permafrost. Thankfully, I don't need to plant a tent. Mirabar is a mining town, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to see. If you're into giant Gnoll statues, there's that. And then the palace, with its many Coruscant-ish balconies. It's a rich town, so the accommodations are good, and there's even hot water readily available. I can buy furs here because I want to see some of Arctic sights. And a post office, from which I'm sending a week's worth of messages.

I think I chose well starting with the North. The rest of the Realms will seem positively balmy!

*If you're wondering how I got more than a 7-days' ride from Waterdeep in 4 days, with a long detour no less, it's because time doesn't pass at the same rate in the Forgotten Realms. Those are Earth days. Don't think about these statements too much.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're a real VOlo, eh?

Don't forget visiting the Icewind dale!

Roger

Siskoid said...

Volo was an expert. I am just a lowly tourist hoping to see the sites. I am basically Volo's target audience.

I'll get to the Dale! Noted.

 

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