This is one of my favorite little corners of the Speaking Lands, to be honest, because it’s weird and magical and also a road, because let’s be honest, I love me some roads. But this road has friendly rock-people who only want you to reach your destination safely. Fun times!
The Road of Heaven
The builders of the Road of Heaven have been lost to history, but the road itself has remained. This is primarily because the road is enchanted, maintaining itself and even changing its path over the course of the centuries. Presently most of the road winds through the Norsteppes, with a smaller portion reaching south into Outland. The road is mostly straight and level, occasionally indulging in modest curves and gentle grades. It is about twenty feet wide and made of grey granite.
Travellers along the Road of Heaven will find their path lit by will-o-wisps that proceed about ten feet before and behind them. They may also encounter teams of erdgeists, composed of granite cobblestones, maintaining or repairing the road. Sometimes these stone workers even shore up the edges of the road or build bridges across streams and small rivers. Very occasionally, travellers may witness the road changing its path: then a veritable army of erdgeists rise up from the road and move the rest of the road left or right, one cobblestone at a time.
The road is one of the few artificial places in Ipeiros known to have a genius loci. Considerable scholatic ink has been spilled on whether the road manifested its own spirit or if it was somehow constructed. Unlike the spirit of the Gennishar Archive, the Road of Heaven is noncommunicative; it isn’t telling where it came from. Direct experimentation on the road is difficult, as the road repels any would-be investigators who try to take samples of the stones.
What exactly the road wants is difficult to determine with any specificity, but in general the Road of Heaven seems to want to provide its travellers with a safe and comfortable travel experience. It takes a dim view of violence on the road, summoning erdgeists to forcibly eject any such instigators—although it doesn’t seem to care about violence that occurs just a few feet off the road. Its course also seems to curve towards sources of water and food, passing near oases, streams, orchards, and berry patches when they are full or in season. When these sources of sustenance run dry or go out of season, the road moves away, toward other sources.
One constant of the road’s path is that it passes between Ellamthorn Lake and the Xenix Gorge. This is most likely because the road cannot shift its path across the lake or down the sheer canyon walls, and retracting one of its ends to this bottleneck would be an undertaking that the road has never found necessary. The people of Ellamthorn maintain a road that strikes out to connect with the Road of Heaven, wherever it happens to be at the time. They are careful to never use granite paving stones in their own construction, since the Road of Heaven’s erdgeists will pull such stones from the ground and incorporate them into the Road.