The Pass of Athed Tav

After the Fifty-Second Dark Times, the dwarves of Tir’Kon struggled to reestablish their control over their traditional homeland, the Mountains of Fire on Gallidus. While Tir’Kon was left relatively unscathed by the Arkenosian attacks, the cities and towns in the surrounding region were devastated and fell beasts left behind from the invading forces prowled amidst the ruins. After a hundred years, they were able to reestablish order in most of their previous territory, though they remained vulnerable.

It was during this time that Tleron of Sethra began consolidating his power in the north and extending his reach southward. Prescient of the potential threat, Athed Tav, the dwarven High Magistrate, devised a method by which troops could be deployed quickly to strategic locations or, if needed, civilians could be evacuated to safety. It involved the construction of a narrow road, easily hidden from sight, along mountain faces and cliffs, stretching from Tir’Kon southwest to Khel Zin and, it is said, northwest to Danyetsiyar. Using liquid stone, they fashioned the road –most often only about a yard or so wide- incorporating ancient dwarven strongholds carved into or build upon or between mountain peaks. Such strongholds were stocked with provisions and weapons and defended by powerful wards for use in future battle. Thus, the Pass of Athed Tav is, in fact, a misnomer, as it is artificial.

Athed Tav’s ingenuity paid off, however, when rapid movement of dwarven forces were able to thwart Tlerian advances in the north and broker a peace agreement by laying surprise siege to Khel Zin; it was not known at the time that the Pass had been built, and the Tlerians thought that the dwarven armies were in possession of some powerful, unknown magic. After this success, outposts along the Pass were manned for several centuries. During this time, a breach in security led to the Tlerians discovering the Pass’s existence, but it only diminished the element of surprise that arose from its use, not its overall strategic value. In fact, early in the War for Hammerdine’s Independence, a significant number of Tlerian soldiers were diverted from the conflict over Hammerdine to defend Khel Zin, for the dwarves had formed a strategic alliance with the men of Hammerdine. It could be argued –and indeed, in negotiations with Hammerdine to this day, the dwarves still argue- that were it not for the Pass of Athed Tav, Hammerdine would still belong to the Tlerian Empire.

Since that day, though, as the threat of Tlerian invasion waned to nearly nothing and the main roads and trade routes took precedence, the Pass of Athed Tav fell into disrepair. At present, there are many segments of the Pass that have fallen away or been buried, either from decay or rockfalls. It is said that the Pass is still passable, but highly dangerous.