Evergrey Bridge, a name that refers to the gleam of the material from which it is built, is sometimes also called "The Bridge of Tears". It stands an isolated testament to Santharia's troubled past, bridging the fast flowing Cylian River between Ephirn's Lake and the Ancythrian Sea, connecting the main trade route from Carmalad to Voldar. There has been a crossing on this site as far back as lore can recall, though there is much debate as to how old the current structure actually is. Strategically, Evergrey Bridge has always been a very important crossing and it has been the scene of many minor skirmishes, not to mention the site of a critical clash during the Battle of the Four Swords.
Picture description. The impressive Evergrey Bridge stands as a testament to Santharia's troubled past, connecting the main trade route from Carmalad to Voldar. Picture by Nalfaren.
Evergrey Bridge is a hauntingly beautiful spot. The beauty of the landscape in
these parts is breathtaking, but also wild and barren. It is not a place to
linger, for the road to the East of the River crossing passes through the
Southern most fringes of troll territory and their continuing prescence and
occasional raids make Evergrey Bridge a less than safe place to be. On both
banks there are guardposts that accommodate the men that protect travellers and
merchants that travel this way from the Troll Mountains.
To the South the land rises up into the Twinean Peaks, often purple and pink with lowlying yrom (heather). To the West the wilds of the Heath of Jernais spread out before you, seemingly without bounds - their flat expanse stretching away to the horizon. And to the North is Ephirn's Lake. Though the bridge is for the most part a structure of human concern and function, it is unextricably linked with the light elf Ephirn and his sister Ná'el'ón in lore.
Plants crawl over the structure. The pontoons that hold the structure have narrow lips that low just below the normal waterlevel, making them a haven for plants that like to keep their roots wet.
In construction, the bridge on the surface appears to be nothing special. To span the river it is 120 peds long, which makes it nowhere near the longest bridge in Santharia, and 20 peds wide. It is constructed of scoria, a rock formed by cooling lava, collected from the slopes of the Hèckra. The scoria from which the bridge is constructed contains a high quantity of volcanic glass of both obsidian (black) and arshisi (blue) types - giving the structure a slightly reflective blue-grey surface and thus, more than likely the name - Evergrey Bridge.
The bridge traverses the river using a simple arch design. Only the top layer, which form the turetted walls are sealed together with morter. The other stones are held together by the sheer weight and careful spread of gravity across the two arches that span the Cylian and come to rest on a central pontoon. This structure has great intergrity and strength. Such a design is hardly surprising, given that arch bridges are probably the oldest bridge design to use stone and the structure that spans the river to this day is certainly of great age. It is not altogether certain, however, exactly how old the present structure is.
Location. Evergrey Bridge is the only crossing point upon the Cylian River, and stands some distance downstream of Ephirn's Lake. The Bridge links the Jernais Pass that leads ultimately to Voldar with roads that lead to Doovens, Veltin and most importantly Carmalad and so forms one of the most frequented cloth routes in Santharia. If the bridge is blocked then the alternative is many months of sea travel, or a considerably longer than normal ride, passing south of the Hèckra and the Ancythrian Sea.
Picture description. The location of Evergrey Bridge, linking the Jernais Pass that leads ultimately to Voldar with roads that lead to Doovens, Veltin and most importantly Carmalad. Maps drawn by Artimidor.
Evergrey Bridge now stands in the province of Enthronia, but in the time before
the ascension of Thar the Bridge and the road
pass that it bore across the river formed the border between the kingdoms
Caltharia. Such is the
importance of this bridge that neither tribe was prepared to relinquish
ownership, and eventually it was divided in half, so that the southern side
belonged to Caltharia and the
northern to Erpheronia. This
arrangement was to have many beneficial consequences and these shall be
History. The lore that surrounds this bridge is ancient beyond even the reckoning of the elves and there has most certainly been a crossing here for as long as there is memory and written records. However, many scholars believe that the current structure is not the bridge referred to in the myths about Ná'el'ón, arguing that in the earliest times a crossing was more likely to have been a wooden structure resting on several enormous wooden pontoons, not the great technically advanced stone structure we see today. However, none of these scholars can agree on when the current structure was constructed.
Lore and myth is not helpful. Even stories of the oldest times describe the bridge in its current form. Memory of any older structure that might have existed has been lost. Tales of yore cannot shed light on when the current bridge was built, nor even as to who built it and for what purpose. Most consider it to be a human structure, though there are tales, which I will recount in the next section that attribute the building of the bridge to trolls, but given that Santharian trolls have never shown any tendency to build such technically adept structures elsewhere, it is thought that this is a fantasy, albeit a very entertaining story. More likely than trolls actually building bridges seems their liking to let others build them and concentrate more on the part dealing with the waylaying of travellers...
The most likely explanation is that Evergrey Bridge was built about the year 846 b.S. by the Erpheronians to aid their war against the Caltharians. A new structure could support vast numbers of troops and heavy siege equipment that a wooden bridge could not. Certainly the structure can be no later than this, as Evergrey Bridge was a critical strategical location during the War for Ancyros (846-822 b.S.).
The war between the two kingdoms rumbled on for more than 20 years and for the majority of that time the crossing remained in Erpheronian hands, which had a deep impact upon Caltharian cloth trading with Salsir, Horth and the settlements that would go on to form Milkengrad; and so the kingdom's whole economy. The possession of Evergrey Bridge, together with the harsh terms of the Alvang treaty were the major contributing factors of civil war and the eventual emergence of Mertogran (833 b.S.), who seized the bridge and invaded Erpheronia. It was swiftly retaken by the Erpheronian army and was held by them until the truth about the Massacre at the Silvershire was revealed and in order for the Erpheronian King to preserve his honour he not only beheaded his commander Khisaar, but also ceded control of the Southern half of Evergrey Bridge - drawing the border through the middle of the Jernais pass allowing the Caltharian merchants from Carmalad and Cavthan the right of access over this ancient way and thus a road to Kyrania and Centorauria that did not pass through Erpheronian land.
While the animosity between these two tribes rumbled on long after the war finally ended, this shared ownership of the bridge was to pay dividens. The road to Doovens (now in Erpheronian hands) and Veltin ran through the southern Troll Hills. This made - and still makes - the road and its river crossing a prime target of troll raids. More importantly to lose control of Evergrey Bridge to the trolls would open the way to raids far further West. Trolls can travel at great speed, and Jernais would quickly become a target if the trolls found that they could easily cross the Cylian. Quickly the two tribes found that with both sides posting troops at the bridge (more to watch each other than anyone else) they were, between them far more able to protect the pass of Jernais from trolls, simply because of increased man power. Because the arrangement suited both sides it stuck and the arrangement only ceased when Caltharia joined the United Kingdom of Tharania in 482 b.S., though the number of men posted there did not decrease.
The strategic importance of the bridge again became evident in 292 b.S. The Aellenrhim elf Pherán'Ephtaerín brought his troops to reinforce the retreating halfling, Thrumgolz and Monteron dwarven forces at what became known as the "Battle of the Four Swords". His coming prevented an initial orcish landslide at Ephirn's Lake, but before long they were pushed back along the pass of Jernais by the seemingly endless orcish onslaught. Evergrey Bridge was where Pherán'Ephtaerín chose to make one last stand before retreat. He knew that if the Bridge was taken then the most direct route for reinforcements would be severed and Tharania would be divided in two by the orcish forces. In division, he knew, there would be no victory. He hoped that the bridge would provide a bottleneck, limit the numbers of orcs that could attack at one time, handing the tactical advantage back to the allied forces under his command. It was a wise and sensible battle plan, but it did not avail Pherán'Ephtaerín. The four swords of the allies held the bridge for a sunrise with wave upon wave of orc warriors threw themselves at their defences. However, the myth that orcs are stupid or dull, is just that, a myth without foundation. The orcenhordes quickly realised that a prolonged assault upon the bridge would end in their defeat. While the most expendable of the orc horde continued to throw themselves at the Bridge, many of the orcs moved further upstream, North of Ephirn's Lake, where the river could be more easily crossed. On the return march south, the orcs also managed to enlist the trolls. This combined forces were spotted too late by the forces of Pherán'Ephtaerín. Surrounded and outnumbered, Pherán'Ephtaerín was forced to retreat and surrender the bridge. Evergrey Bridge had betrayed the Alliance of Four Swords. Pherán'Ephtaerín was forced to retreat, first to Carmalad, and then to abandon the city altogether as it too was overrun by the orcish forces.
And so Evergrey Bridge was in orcish hands, for the first and only time in its entire history. But not for long. A few months after the fall of Carmalad and counter offensive was launched and the city retaken. The orcs were pushed back and the bridge swiftly retaken by the allied races and returned to human control.
The bridge is still a site of the occasional troll skirmish, and Santharian troops are still posted here all year round, but compared to its violent and turbulent past - site of battle and bloodshed driven by the importance of its location - this is as close to peace as Evergrey Bridge has ever been.
Myth/Lore. One of the most enduring tales about the Bridge is certainly a tall tale indeed. Popular Enthronian children's stories tell of how the stone bridge was built by a troll called Kiylk Tu'uq.
The Troll's Bridge. Kiylk Yu'uq lived on
the highest hill in the Troll lands. He was the largest of all the trolls
in all the world and by far the strongest. Everything that ventured on to
his hill was his - all the animals, all the females, even humans who were
unfortunate to get lost, even they belonged to him. He kept them and
forced them to work for him, hunt for him and when he had no use for them
anymore he, well, disposed of them, for the clean bones were often found
at the foot of his hill.
The bridge is far from elven territory, but the bridge and the water that it crosses are eternally linked in the minds of both men and elves with the legend of Ephirn and his sister Ná'el'ón (lit. "She of Tears", but is most often translated with "Maid").
The Maid of Tears.
Ephirn and Ná'el'ón were brother and sister in the thoughts and
dreams of Avá and they were as close as any light elf has ever been to
another, perhaps closer that any beings have ever been in all time past
and to come - and that may or may not even include the relationship
between Melór and she who is first among us, the High Ava'rann. Legend
tells us that they were linked in thought and purpose certain tribes in
Santharia maintain that they were formed from the same drop of the rain of
life and so represent them as twins - two facets of the same coin and as
blanced as life is itself.
Information provided by Wren