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Rated: E · Short Story · Writing · #2099968
Contest Round #4 - Setting Description #2 – Valley of Elves & Dragons
Valley of Elves & Dragons:

Atop the Sothern Fortress I stand upon a plateau unreachable except through the fortress itself. A beautiful, winding stone staircase climbs from the main floor around the Great Pine Tree and carved staircases follow branches off to hallways throughout the fortress while the main staircase continues to the plateau. The smell of pine is strong in the air and it wafts through the fortress and across the plateau.

On the plateau, the top of the Great Pine Tree stretches the top of its branches another 20 feet up and 100 feet diameter. The plateau itself is 30 square miles. Enough for several different farms and livestock to be raised for inhabitance of both the valley and fortress for stockpiling and in case of emergencies.

The main Southern Fortress has been dug into the mountain through the combined efforts of elves, dwarves and dragons. Elegant passageways, rooms, kitchens, and other service centers carved with delicate care. The one river which runs through the valley and into the fortress feeds an intricate system of pipes to the rooms and kitchens before heading out to the sea on the other side of the mountain.

Outside the fortress there is a vast city also carved from the same mountain. Elegant stone dwellings, spires and stairways all making it look as if the mountain itself wished the city into existence. Within this city are three buildings which stand out from the rest.

The first is the Council Chambers which are set in the center of the city. Carved into the earth in a bowl like fashion. There are columns rising up to hold a carved ceiling which serves as a landing site for dragons who wish to assist, or simply attend, any council meeting. The whole affair is 200 feet in diameter. The ceiling has two different staircases on opposing sides which spiral to the ground. The roof is 8 feet above the ground. The circular, bowl, stadium seating extends down 100 feet. At the bottom of which there is a doorway opening to a tunnel, leading towards the fortress. Inside the entrance to the tunnel there is a switch which has a spell when triggered will cause the columns to collapse and the roof to fall, enclosing the stadium. This was set so if needed the entire city could be evacuated to the fortress with the hope of saving citizens. For the trek through the city from the gates to the fortress, even from the council chambers is several hours.

The second is the Great Library. A large building part outside and part inside of the fortress itself. Elegantly carved depictions of various creatures, plants and the different races run across every inch. With the help of dragons, and previously dwarves, it holds knowledge from almost all the races of Earth. On very rare occasions a member of another race (such as goblin, gnome, orc, etc) would bring a book from their race to be stored in the library. Anyone who is sent to the library for “cleaning & repairing” can easily get lost in its vast corridors.

The third building is the protected chapel between the wall and the fortress where Jayrm the white World Tree grows. It’s the simple building carved in the entire city. Those chosen to care for Jayrm live in the simple, but elegant chapel.

From the fortress the valley spreads out in rolling green hills and plains. A few farms dot the valley floor. From its center, even on horseback, it would be a five day journey in any direction.

The eastern mountain range is dotted with a variety of dragon caves. On the floor of the valley, near the eastern range, is the one river running through our valley. Near the middle of the valley it pools into a lake before moving on to run through the fortress and out to the sea. The eastern range of mountains also holds a roughhewn commerce passage to a secret bay for elven ships. The journey through the passage takes two days. Halfway through there is an open hole to the sky dragons use to ensure no unwanted guests get through to the valley.

The northern mountain range has its own commerce pass. Trail blazed by countless wagons and horse riders through the forests of the mountains. Other than the passage the dragons guard it’s the one truly safe route into the valley without a guide.

On the west is the Forest of Sorrows. It is the one place which Elven Rangers patrol constantly lest some foul beast appear from a strange portal or an unlucky traveler decide to brave the one road through its magical trees without a Ranger by their side. The forest is aptly named for it drags the unwary to a sad and lonesome death.

The forest is said to have been created because two dryads fell in love yet the trees they were attached to were far apart. Originally it was not a problem because the forest around them helped them travel between the trees and they could meet every full moon. But then man came and began chopping trees to use for firewood and homes. Soon there were no trees for the dryads to use to help them meet each other when the full moon rose. And as things would happen, man came and chopped down one of the dryad’s trees causing it to die. When that happened, there arose such a keening from not just the remaining dryad, but the remaining forest as well. Never had the dryad felt such remorse and sadness. The humans in the area were frightened and ran, never to return. From that day forward any tree growing in the area grew with sadness in its roots, thus creating the vast Forest of Sadness.
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