Ghyll:Cataract Road

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Cataract Road stretches across most of known Ghyll, from the northernmost Evesque Valley, to Cranee then Folktown, and eventually meets the southernmost city of Iganefta. Due to the Road's popularity, you can find beauty and entertainment during your journey, but long-time travelers recognize its hidden perils and misuse.

One of the most well-known attractions of Cataract Road is also one of its namesakes: the incredible waterfalls that line parts of its length. They're assuredly natural occurrences - the Road takes great lengths to steer travelers in their direction, and days are lost at the expense of "the scenic route". Cynicists argue that the long-dead trailblazers who plotted the road were incredible procrastinators, wandering aimlessly in an attempt to prolong the inevitable task at hand. True or not, the few direct, "non-scenic" paths that have been trod in recent years are mostly traveled by DermPachyges, the well-known pachyderm courier service.

For all the beauty of the waterfalls, aged wanderers know that they're as much a place for tourism as they are for thievery. Because of the regular throngs (wait, did someone say thongs?) of people and insufficient law enforcement, pickpockets and ne'er-do-wells have a field day, reaping the profits of ignorance.

Theft is less an issue when the Road passes near or through establishments such as Folktown and Cranee. Most towns realize what a great boon to their economy well-pampered and regular travelers can be; it is not uncommon to see small markets, roadside attractions, and bordellos (known as "Bethany Brothels") formed on their outskirts. Because safe harbor insures loose purses, protection services here are as prevalent as those within town boundaries.

It is at these roadside attractions that Cataract Road has earned its second namesake. Although wild Burnflies are a common sight at the waterfalls that dot its route, trained Burnflies are regularly flaunted to weary travelers in fits of theatrical and contested bravado. Whereas wild burnfly swarms often scatter when in close proximity to others, trained swarms revel in performing and displaying their wiles, often settling on the shoulders and heads of passerbys, much to the delight and mirth of the audience. Prolonged exposure, longing, and obsession with these performances have caused more then a few travelers to suffer cataracts, blinding them to the very focus of their intense desire. Too much of a good thing, indeed.

These roadside attractions and markets aren't always fun and games, however. Recent discoveries have led many to believe that the unfortunate retardation of 18 year old Daniel Mboya may have been a first, but failed, attempt on his life. While no physical evidence remains of his "unfortunate accident" at the -7 EC fair outside of Folktown, several folks have come forward with memories of Daniel "angrily shouting about his breakup with Niala" and how "he'll show them." The identities of "them" is still under continued investigation. Daniel was 25 when he died due to complications caused by violent abuse, having re-entered society in -4 EC after years of rehabilitation.

Citations: Burnflies, Daniel Mboya, DermPachyges.

--Morbus Iff 14:36, 24 Sep 2004 (EDT)