The Nightfog Cliffs are a series of small mountainous islands, situated in the Adanian Sea in eastern Santharia. The cliffs are a famed blue drake hunting ground, and are often visited by ships containing hunting parties. Marduran is the main staging ground for these hunts. The rocen worm, the sole member of its kind left, also has its home here. Fishermen and women tend to avoid this area, though not as fearfully as the Dead Fisherman's Grotto. It is believed that the cliff is used as a smuggler's den of sorts, by the infamous smugglers that plague Marduran. However, due to the increased activity in the area by the drake hunting parties, this is much less common than in past years. The cliffs are the subject of a small number of myths and stories, most including the blue drake.
Picture description. An artist's depiction of the Nightfog Cliffs at dawn. Image drawn by Ingeborg.
Nightfog Cliffs are exclusively mountainous. Each island looks like a mountain
peak rising from the sea. On the largest island, a plateau of sorts stands. Due
to the general rockiness of the area, it is wise to bring certain supplies with
you, especially if you are hunting the
blue drake. A rope is always useful,
though the noise you may generate shuffling up it may scare any prey away. It
is worth bringing good boots, as these can be a good alternative to rope,
allowing you to traverse up the cliffs making less noise. Food supplies are
important, because you are unlikely to find any tasty sustenance once on the
cliffs, if any at all.
As you move towards the peaks, you will notice the water becoming dangerously shallow, and occasionally a rock will stick up. Though it is unlikely you will be shipwrecked on the way to the cliffs, it has happened to unlucky sailors before. It is only once you are close to the islands the dangers begin. First, you must find a good mooring place for your boat. It must not be left to drift in a cove, as it is likely for it to be pushed away by currents, and hit a rock, leaving you with no way from the islands. For this reason, many teams arrange a pick up time with a sailor, ensuring that someone knows they are out there. Once on the island, you may begin wondering why you came. The ground is ridiculously tricky to navigate without a good sense of balance; many hunting teams have lost a member at this early stage. However, if you carefully move along the peaks, you will soon get used to how to move, and the risk of falling is reduced.
The blue drake normally resides in the water, though occasionally will go onto the land to hide in the mud from the sun. It is at this point you must find it, when it is resting. There are several telltale signs of where the blue drake has been. You may find globules of mud leaving a trail. This is the mud the drake has slept in, and, as it flies away from its resting point, the mud will fall down, leaving wide splatters of dirt. Following these trails along will help you find the mud pools the drake often shelters in. These pools are often located in small valleys, ten to twenty peds up from the sea, and are obvious contrasts in the landscape from the general rockiness of the rest of the area. Waiting by these pools is a surefire way to find a drake, though it may take several days. Other than this, blind luck is required to spot a drake. The drake is seen once every two weeks or so, so be prepared to wait that time before you find one.
The cliffs are not thought to contain any worthy minerals to create mines, though occasionally a drunk sailor may concoct a story to the contrary, and for a few weeks gullible prospectors will visit the cliffs. The grey rock of the island is infrequently broken up by patches of plants, each in its own little pile of dirt, though, for the most part, is bland and lifeless. Loose rocks litter the islands, and avalanches have been recorded to happen on some of the larger cliffs. Each cliff is home to between two and four tulmine trees, though they tend to sit in awkward positions. It is believed the trees first grew on the islands after their seeds were transported by birds. Smaller birds, such as gulls, are occasionally found nesting in this area, though the relative lack of good nesting space prevents the number from growing.
A wide bay known to local sailors as the “White Bay” for the colour of the sand that covers the area, has been created by several of the islands. The bay is rarely visited, the water within it only a fore or so deep, and jagged rocks lie under the water restricting passage. These pointed rocks feature all around the cliffs, some blocking the way between certain islands, by having two sets of rocks at either entrance to the gap. These blocked passageways can often only be entered by ducraer, meaning they are ideal for smugglers, who frequent these otherwise seldom visited areas. Several of the most well-hidden of these area's caves are full of illegal or stolen goods, now wasting away due to the smuggler who owned having been caught, or retiring. A fit person armed with a boat and a strong acquisitive mindset could make a living from finding and selling these items.
It is not uncommon to see a shipwreck under the water, or even on a beach. The cliffs seem to almost collect these wrecks as trophies, and they often lie in very visible places. Around them, you will often see a skeleton or two, the unfortunate souls who dared invoke the wrath of the area, and didn't make it out alive. The bones are almost always picked clean, every scrap taken by the birds and crabs of the islands.
Caves line the cliffs, some above the sea level, some below. This has led to speculation that several - as yet unknown - types of fish or beasts of the water live in these caves. Unfortunately, due to the difficulty in reaching these caves, and the fact that breathing underwater is difficult to achieve, the deepest underwater caves have never been explored. Avennorian pearl divers have tried to get as deep as possible into these caves, hoping to become rich by finding great troves of pearls, or to be the first person to spy a new sea-creature. Few have been able to penetrate the caves to any great depth, but those who have tell stories of octopi, sea-snakes, and some even tell of creatures the like of which they had never seen before. It is possible these unknown creatures were figments of the divers’ imaginations - shadows, and the extreme depths causing disorientation - but it is hard to prove or disprove it. Above water, rockpools dot the caves, small animals, such as starfish, kina, anemones and shellfish, all make their homes in these pools. Those caves which lie above water are almost devoid of life, inhabited only by the rockmoss that grows within them, the creatures living in the rockpools, and the rocen Worm. Some of the deeper caves reach up to two hundred peds into the cliffs: these are the ones in which one is most likely to spot ‘Old Rocky’.
At night, the cliffs are shrouded in sea-mist, which is how the cliffs received their current name. Every year or so, a ship is cut down while attempting to traverse the area at night. The fog, combined with shallow water and spiked rocks, is a dangerous combination. The mist has a slightly green-grey quality to it, aiding the peaks' mysterious quality.
At dawn and dusk, when the fog is not so thick, the cliffs are an extremely
tranquil place. Nothing moves, and the only sound is of silence, with the
occasional soft thump of a wave on the shore. This picture see above, drawn by a well
known artist, depicts a small ducraer tied
down on the rocky shore of one of these cliffs. The picture is well known to be
in mourning of the ducraer builder Ducras,
who was lost near the cliffs in a mysterious, yet unexplained way.
Location. The Nightfog Cliffs are situated off the east coast of Manthria, specifically beginning at Clendor Point and rising from under the Adanian Sea to the north-east. They continue in a line, not unlike a mountain chain, until around two-thirds of the way, where they branch out into two rows. Each of these lines contains several islands. There are around thirty-five islands in all, although more are there, they are too small to truly count. The entire mountain range is around sixty strals from the coast, from which point it continues for around hundred strals north-east, then turning north-west for another forty strals, At this point they begin to thin in number, and get progressively smaller, until they are little more than glorified islands. The massive size of the cliffs makes them a major landmark for sailors, who can see them from strals away, and as a hideout or warehouse for thieves, who use the caves often to hide illicitly gained goods.
Climate. The Cliffs have a temperate climate, slightly colder than the coast it lies off of. During the winter weeks the cliffs are covered with a thin blanket of snow. Throughout the rest of the year, mist covers some of the cliffs, and it often rains. While this water allows some plants to live, it also washes away small amounts of soil into the sea each year. In several hundred years, it is believed the cliffs will be devoid of any plants other than the rockmoss in the caves. In autumn, rainstorms ravage the cliff, which can cause any boats that have dared sail to the islands to be in great danger. The rocks underwater are nearly impossible to see in these conditions. During the night all year round, the cliffs are shrouded with an impenetrable fog: hence the name of the cliffs. This fog has captured many fishing parties in its thick grasps, and the sea floor around the cliffs is littered with wrecks; some in the more shallow places present a danger to other ships.
Flora. Flora in the region is limited. A few clusters of ptoria weed cling to the cliffs, as do several tulmine trees, both being hardy enough to stand the elevation and climate. Many of the caves and caverns of the cliffs are full of rockmoss.
Underwater, however, the story changes completely. Seaweed of all kinds litters the seabed, especially on the west side of the cliffs. These plants, all of which seem to have an individual colour from the rest, crowd around each other, almost as if they were competing for certain spaces. While it is by no means full to the brim with sea plants, the seafloor has a great amount of life in this region.
Fauna. Other than blue drakes, the smaller cousins of dragons, some seabirds who nest in the cliffs, and a single rocen worm, a terror-inspiring giant worm, nothing much else is known to live on the cliffs. However stories speak of other creatures living within the deep caverns of the isle. Researchers generally dismiss the stories as folklore, the “unexplained disappearances” being attributed to drowning, falling, or even starvation. The seabirds living among the isle are exclusively gulls, though, due to the gull's flock instinct, there are either many or none nesting at any point.
In some of the lower caves, those that are regularly flooded by the tide, rock pools are common. Small water creatures live in these pools, ranging from tiny anemones and starfish to some of the smaller kinds of shellfish. On the beaches crabs are often found, enjoying their latest meal, or just trying to avoid the gulls.
Resources. The cliffs are thought to contain few if any minerals, certainly such trace amounts that a mine is not worth the work. Due to the limited fertile land, and the lack of minerals, settlement has never been attempted here. The only resources of note are those provided by the blue drake, such as its oil and horns. Underneath the cliffs the pearl divers report an average number of pearls in the area though, and occasionally you might see a pearl diving team taking a share of the sea's bounty. The pearls are relatively evenly distributed among the islands, although some of the islands further out tend to have better quality pearls. Seafood in the area, such as shellfish and plants, is quite common, though unlike the pearl giving oysters, water plants tend to congregate around the western side of the cliffs. This is possibly due to the slightly increased quality of the seabed there. It is known plants in that area are able to grow much better than other areas, and the underwater currents there are weaker than elsewhere, having been diverted by the cliffs.
Myth/Lore. There are many stories of strange creatures living within the deep cavern system of the Nightfog Cliffs, though on the few expeditions ever sent to look for anything, nothing has been found. Many of these stories can be attributed to the rocen worm, which is known to live within the caverns. However, it is quite possible creatures do live in the caverns, providing the creatures within eat fish or water plants predominantly, as the rocen worm does. The worm has been nicknamed by sailors and divers alike, as "Old Rocky", or "Old Grandpa Worm". However, it doesn't seem likely sailors will ever stop believing in the monsters.
Several inhabitants of Marduran have made their voices heard on this matter. Geirloff Joran has voiced his opinion on the caves:
"I dive for pearls regu'ly. And I've
bin in the caves in t' depths. And they have creatures in 'em! I've seen
great snakes in there, more'n two or three
peds long, but only a
thick. Its teeth were longer than it wa' wide, they stuck out by a little.
I'm sure if the thing had wanted to kill me, it could have. It could have
wrapped itsel' aroun' me and poked me neck open with its fangs!"
Other divers however, say to the contrary. Fjules Anrikjor also dives for pearls, and says she believes nothing in there would ever harm her.
"I've been in those caves, deeper than most. All I ever seen in there were these red fish, some weird sea plants, and a few shellfish. The oysters in the deeper caves grow bigger than the ones nearer the surface though. I guess I could make a fortune down there!"
One myth speaks of the cliffs
possible origins, the myth of the wizard Clendor, who by cheating a
demon, enraged it, and years later it
sought revenge. Unfortunately, another demon
was summoned by one of Clendor's apprentices, who fought back the first
demon. In the end, the first
demon defeated the second, though the first
had to flee, weakened from the fight. As he fled across the sea, his feet
kicked up the seabed, forming the Nightfog Cliffs, and other islands. The full
story can be read in the Clendor Point entry.
Merfolk are said to live here too. Pearl divers, usually when drunk on the coast, speak of meeting merfolk under the sea, and being captivated by their beauty. It is possible that they are just a story the divers say, though it would not be impossible that the merfolk live here. The sea floor is ripe with food, and fish are common. The area has all the necessary ingredients for the recipe, in a manner of speech, though whether merfolk live here or not is debatable.
Ghosts of sailors who have been shipwrecked near the cliffs are believed to inhabit the islands as well. These souls of the departed have never been reported (other than in drunken sailors exaggerated tales) to cause any harm, or even to take an interest in alive visitors to area. The ghosts are rumoured to suddenly appear from the fog, then after a few minutes, vanish into the fog as quickly as they appeared. Not all the people in the area believe this though, as Fjules has to say: "What would be the point of hauntin' the area? I could understand it if they 'ad all died 'cause of a drake or a monster, or been murdered or somet'ing, but most o' them weren't. I s'pose at most there could be a few... but no more than that."
Other sceptics of the ghost stories point out that the thrashing of the rocen worm could make a blast of air, moving the fog away from a group of adventurers, rather than ghosts.
The story of Ducras is a well known story in coastal settlements in this area. Ducras' family died in a boating accident. He, his wife and both his children were sailing near the coast, when the boat flipped over. Ducras managed to survive, but his children and wife, weaker swimmers than himself, all drowned. After mourning for several weeks, Ducras unexpectedly disappeared in the night, and was last known to be heading towards the cliffs. A friend of his, a popular artist, painted the picture used above to represent the bleary feelings his friend had, and using a ducraer to represent the tragedy and the victim.