Tyranny of Dragons
Ekhart's Edge and the Lonely Outpost
Excerpt from A Study of Faerun’s Geography and the Influence of Arcana by Nanfoodle Tiggerwillies
To the north of Candlekeep and west of the Cloak Woods lies a natural landmark of great intrigue for the inhabitants of Faerun. Ekhart’s Edge and it’s solitary watchtower, dubbed the Lonely Outpost, mark the highest coastal cliffs along the Sword Coast, sporting a five hundred foot plummet to the ocean shores far below. Formed from thousands of years of oceanic erosion, the confusion and mystery that draws so many geologists, geomancers, and wizards from Baldur’s Gate, is the fact that despite continued tectonic activity and tidal influence, the erosion of the cliffs has inexplicably stalled around the edges of the Lonely Outpost and indeed, much of the cliffs themselves. The cliff line has been recorded to have only receded one inch in the last three centuries despite its limestone and shale composition. To many, the paradox is answered by a simple explanation of “ancient magic,” much of which still exists to this day and has yet to be understood by even the most adept of scholars.
While the stones of the lonely outpost have been established as dwarven in craft, (and granite in composition, further solidifying the dwarven influence as the ore would have had to have been hauled in from another location) trace amounts of primal magic are laced throughout the rock itself. There is still some debate over whether this magical influence is arcane or druidic in origin. Some even speculate the influence of a certain dwarven druid named Pickle Bouldershoulder, famed for his oddly chosen profession despite his obvious heritage. Such a creation does indeed coincide with the theory of Pickle’s involvement, for the dwarven-hewn stone enriched by an as of yet undecided magic points logically to the druid of the Lost Age. However, with no descendants who can testify to this account, the theory is still only speculation, even if it is widely accepted as the most likely explanation to the area’s resilience to natural forces.
A more pertinent question aside from the cliffs’ magical origins is what the outpost was constructed for. As previously stated and for argument’s sake, if indeed Pickle Bouldershoulder was responsible for the structure’s creation, the presence of dwarves along the coast is highly suspect, as the stout folk, to this day, are keen on avoiding the most extensive bodies of water, chiefly among them, the sea. What then, would cause a dwarven clan, utilizing the magic of a druid from their bloodline, to take such extreme measures and raise a structure upon the coastal grounds? Many theories have been proposed, my own “Aquatic Dwarves: Fact or Folktale?” among them, but it seems widely agreed upon that the dwarves were leaving behind proof of their presence. The reason for doing so seems to connect to the ancient Delzoun line that founded the fortress of Gauntlgrym, regardless of the fact that the fabled citadel has yet to be found and proven to exist. However, if indeed the architects of the Lonely Outpost are connected to those of Gauntlgrim, many suspect the reach of the Delzoun Kingdom to be far beyond any historian’s account of the ancient stout folk. Evidence of a vast network of caves within the rock of Ekhart’s Edge has been discovered, though having collapsed long ago, has rendered little real evidence to the support the aforementioned theory. However, those who persist in upholding the theory attest to further speculation that the Lonely Outpost was a last refuge for the Delzoun line utilized when they were driven out from the fabled homeland. Such an outpost would have, in theory, signaled to vessels lying in wait in the need a hasty escape was required.
Such a theory begs the question: what manner of force or beast could drive out and eradicate the mighty dwarven kingdom?
(Note: Please ignore the oddly attired human contained within this rendition of the cliffs. The artist I commissioned for the depiction said the dolt wouldn’t move and he wasn’t about to compromise the integrity of his craft by not depicting the beauty of the cliff’s as they were in their entirety in the moment they were so captured. Though I’ll omit my personal opinions on the proclivities of artists from this manuscript, you can find them in Craft and Etiquette: Creation Does Not Yield Entitlement)
Regardless of the many speculations surrounding the area, Ekhart’s Edge and the Lonely Outpost are still visited by hundreds if not thousands each year. Most come for the expansive views of the Sea of Swords offered by the towering cliffs, though there is a proportionate number of visitors who hold a certain religious significance for the attraction. Whatever their faith, it seems most worshipers of the divine find a greater sense of spiritual connection with their patrons whilst upon the edge of the cliffs. To most, this has instituted yearly visits to the area and established gatherings of many faiths, though the vast casualties of a certain following of Ilmater who leaped from the cliffs’ edge in the hopes of achieving martyrdom in their self-proclaimed “suffering for all of Faerun,” is the reason for heavy observation from both Candlekeep and Baldur’s Gate garrisons. Both cities are happy to offer this service, as it extends relations and commerce between them.
In this author’s opinion, the area is as beautiful as it is mysterious, and some mysteries are best left appreciated for what they are. Since publishing this account, I have personally visited the Lonely Outpost and Ekhart’s Edge twice, finding myself both mystified and intrigued on each occasion. I would highly encourage any interested in making the journey to do so, as the Coastal Way which diverts southwest from the Trade Way is easy to follow and well traveled, providing a higher degree of safety than most other roads. Still, this is Faerun, and the journey itself is no less enshrouded in the unforeseen than the cliffs themselves. Travel with the appropriate companions and equipment, and set out for adventure. Ekhart’s Edge and the Lonely Outpost are certain to possess both.