The Lore of VulcanVerse- The Gardens of Arcadia Pt II
In our last article, we covered the Deep Forest, the Sacred Way and the Summer Palace. Now, we travel north along the west bank of the River Ladon..
Crossing The River
Near the center of the Gardens of Arcadia was the River Ladon, fed by the Ladon Lake. Both of these places have been known as either this or the Lake and River of Arcadia, but the River Ladon isn’t the only river in Arcadia as we will soon cover. At the north section of the river, near to where it met the waters of Oceanus, was an ancient stone bridge carrying the Sacred Way over the river and into the east. The route wound west and a traveler here would be met with a mixture of the ocean breeze blowing in from the north and the pleasant scent of wild flowers and tree blossom all around. To the south was an impassable cliff, the route here more grassland than wood though occasional groves were tucked into the odd hollow and below the cliff face. To the south of the Sacred Way here could be found the Verdant Farmlands.
The Verdant Farmlands
Known as ‘Arcadia’s grain basket’, a large area of farms, stables and barns surrounded by fields could be found to Arcadia’s north east. A windmill was positioned here, to the south and to the north east a short distance from the farmlands near the Sacred Way could be found a small Temple of Demeter. The Verdant Farmlands produced enough food for the whole of Arcadia, here humans, centaurs and other industrious creatures worked side by side to ensure a good harvest.
South east of the farmlands, the Sacred Way continues near to the coast. A distance to the west here can be seen cliffs and the route continued through scrubland, with wild grasses, brambles and other bushes pockmarking the way. A traveler heading south would notice increasing amounts of trees until they reached a large area of woodland which the Sacred Way entered, the trees reaching all the way east to the coastal cliffs.
The Woodlands of Ambrosia
The Woodlands of Ambrosia was a deep forest to Arcadia’s south east, which the Sacred Way passed through near its eastern border, where the forest met the waters of Oceanus. Today, mortal humans build on a flat plain, but in days of old, this area was thick with trees.
In the dense undergrowth to the east was rumored to be a shrine to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, though details about this place were lost to time. In the greater expanse of the woodlands west of the Way mushrooms grew, legend tells us that mushrooms grew, the very mushrooms that the goddess Hebe harvested to make Ambrosia, the nectar of eternal youth. Apiaries were said to have been located somewhere within the forest, the honey here renowned.
The Woodlands of Ambrosia are described as having been wild, with its trails often hidden in dense thickets. A wanderer here would be entering the home of dryads and nymphs, very at risk of falling into an enchanted slumber.
To the south of the Woodlands is the River Alpheus, cascading down from cliffs to the north west and heading out to the waters of Oceanus to the east. Two bridges crossed the Alpheus in this area, one to the south east carrying the Sacred Way to the south and towards the Desert of Notus, the other to the south west leading to an area just south of the Wineries of the Nectar of the Gods.
The Wineries of the Nectar of the Gods
In central Arcadia, to the south east of the Summer Palace and the west of the Woodlands of Ambrosia was the Wineries of the Nectar of the Gods; commonly known to the people and creatures of Arcadia as “The Wineries”. Here, field upon field was neatly laid out, each growing different varieties of grape and fruit and tended to by Satyrs. Old texts mention the resplendent vineyards, the excellent quality of the pomegranate and dandelion wines produced there and how occasionally the satyrs would need to find ways to repel raiding centaurs and bandits running the Arcady trail from the areas surrounding the Deep Forest intent on stealing and vandalizing.
The Druid Shrine
From the Wineries, a traveler would have seen the River Alpheus plateau rising to the north east, torrents of water cascading down in waterfalls first from the Upper Tarn to the Lower Tarn and then from there down further to the edge of the Woodlands of Ambrosia, a water vapour mist rising in the heat. The closer a visitor got, the louder the sound of the falls here, an impressive scene. The River Alpheus was named after the god, a son of the Titans Oceanus and his sister-wife Tethys. Legends tell of a time, as with the River Ladon, the gods fell silent and the Alpheus ran dry. On the lower plateau could be found a monumental arch depicting an ancient scene, not far from the lake here. Somewhere in the vicinity, old stories told of a Shrine to Athena concealed in the cliffside. Another waterfall flowed down here, feeding the lake.
Steps carved out of the rockface climbed the cliff providing access to the Upper Tarn and source of the River Alpheus. At the top, another large archway, this time decorated in the celtic style of interlinking geometric patterns, marked the entrance to sacred ground, Pan’s Arbour, an ancient druid’s shrine in a sunken glade.
The Sacred Stables
Just a short distance to the north of Pan’s Arbour tucked away in a woodland clearing could be found the Sacred Stables, home of many of Arcadia’s centaurs. Here were curious buildings, half-house, half-stable, but homely and lived in by centaurs and humans. Through the trees a short way to the west the Ladon river valley lay far below and on rising above the cliffs to the west among the trees on the far side of the valley could be seen the battlements of the Fortress of the Blackgates.
The Far South
To the far south west of the Gardens of Arcadia, near where the Sacred Way created a division between Arcadia and the Desert of Notus could be found the Arnion Hills, low lying hills blanketed in rich grasses upon which sheep could be seen grazing. Further low hills follow the Sacred Way in these borderlands, a truly pleasant part of Arcadia, the air here filled with the buzz of bees and birdsong. The Sacred Way here was at times covered in sand as the green hills gave way to sand dunes covered in tufts of marram grass. Traveling south here would take the adventurer into the desert…
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