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Ilikur's Bridge, known in the region as the "Haunted Bridge", was a monumental construction that spanned the Huntinghorn Water and Black Maw Bog between Westbridge and Triboar in northwest Faerûn.[1] It was part of the Long Road that connected Waterdeep to Mirabar in the far north.[2]

StructureEdit

The bridge was made from three massive granite blocks and spanned the stream and bog in the north-south direction. The two plinths were 60 ft (18 m) from west to east, 20 ft (6.1 m) from north to south, and rose 30 ft (9.1 m) above the ground extending another 10 ft (3 m) below ground. The deck slab was 100 ft (30.5 m) long, 50 ft (15 m) wide, and 12 ft (3.7 m) thick with a slight arch of about 4.0 ft (1.2 m) in the middle relative to the ends. At both ends of the span were 100 ft ramps that sloped down to meet the Long Road.[1]

HauntedBridge-raid

Aerial view of the bridge showing the plinths and the deck slab. Some unfortunate travelers have been attacked by bugbears. The Huntinghorn Water and Black Maw Bog can been seen in the background. Click to enlarge.

Each ramp was contained between two fitted stone walls that were anchored to a plinth. The space between the walls was filled with rubble, river rock, and gravel built up to form a roadbed 40 ft (12 m) wide plus another 5.0 ft (1.5 m) of guard wall on either side to prevent people, draft animals, and wagons from falling off the edge. These side rails were also made of tightly fitted smooth granite blocks and topped with a sloped capstone rail. The road itself was cobblestone for the entire length of the bridge and ramps. The choice and positioning of the blocks that formed the superstructure allowed water to pass through and drain away which minimized the problems of ice formation, both for travelers and for the long-term damage of countless freeze/thaw cycles.[1]

FeaturesEdit

HauntedBridge-compartment

This stone pivots to reveal a compartment.

Ilikur's Bridge earned the "Haunted" moniker by virtue of the loud male voice that emanated from it under certain circumstances or when particular conditions were met.[1] For example, when a creature walked solo across the midpoint of the bridge, the voice calmly and clearly stated "Be changed, for there are always too few to do the great deeds that are needful."[3][note 1] There were many such utterances and various sages that studied the bridge over the years determined that all of them came from an ancient version of the magic mouth spell. The vast majority of the mouths were visible on the underside of the span when triggered, with a few others placed on other surfaces of the bridge.[1]

The bridge was also riddled with secret compartments. Dozens of the well-fitted irregular stones could be moved or removed when the correct "trigger-stones" were depressed or manipulated. These hiding places varied from the size of a snuff box to a room able to hold eight humans.[1]

Other features included a portal at the southern end of the bridge that could be activated by touching two particular stones, one on the roadbed and one on the east wall, at the same time. Reports of the portal leading to a dragon's lair were corroborated, but they also indicated that either the portal was sealed or the lair was destroyed. The location of the lair remained unknown and the reports conflicted on whether it belonged to a red or black dragon.[3]

HauntedBridge-swords

Three stones with crossed-sword carvings.

Three other stones, each marked with a tiny carving of two crossed swords, caused a cold presence to appear close by when they were pressed in the correct sequence. Stepping into this cold region was exactly like entering the extradimensional space created by a rope trick spell. If not accessed within two minutes, the cold space disappeared for an indeterminate interval. Pressing the stones out of order also caused the hiding place not to manifest for a time.[4]

One of the unsolved mysteries of the Haunted Bridge was the meaning of the markings on one of the thousands of cobblestones. Deeply engraved on one stone was what appeared to be the letter "W" atop the letter "V". Removing the stone and digging into the gravel below it revealed nothing unusual.[4]

Bridge WisdomEdit

Over the years, by chance, observation, or experimentation, the conditions required to trigger some of the bridge's magic mouths were discovered. Others were heard without knowing the precise circumstances that triggered them. Here is a small sample of the cryptic messages and their triggers.[3]

HauntedBridge-WV

Mysterious engravings on one cobblestone.

  • If a dwarf touched any part of the bridge, it said "Built in pride, rooted in power, six stones here point the way to anvils made to forge great magic but hidden elsewhere. Dismantle and destroy not, or suffer Baraurin's curse."
  • If a flying creature got within 60 ft (18 m) of the bridge, it said "Strike not the work that pleased Ilikur."
  • If that creature landed on or hit the bridge, it said "The dead watch, and mark what you do."
  • If an object or dead body (not undead) struck any part of the bridge, it said "To the earth, all returns—but not unheeded."

There were other sayings triggered by elves, drawing magic weapons, or even lighting a torch or casting a light spell while on the bridge.[3]

Rumors & LegendsEdit

Plenty of legends surrounded this ancient edifice, the most common being that it was haunted. Investigations by sages, wizards, and priests turned up no evidence of a haunting, just the bridge's penchant for pontificating for reasons known only to the builders. The many hiding places in the superstructure gave rise to rumors of amazing treasures to be found and was a constant draw for the curious. These rumors spread even beyond the bridge to include the bog beneath and to the east, where wagons from wealthy merchants or carriages from rich nobles were supposedly sunk and waiting to be looted. Some of these stories were proven true, but the bog swallowed some of the looters as well.[1] One particularly persistent legend told of a chest of stolen coins and gems buried off the north end of the bridge out (some distance in some direction) from the end of the ramp retaining wall. Another version of this legend stated that it was guarded by undead creatures buried with it.[4]

HauntedBridge-statue

The stone visage of the buried statue.

Other tales handed down over generations told of a dragon landing on the bridge and then vanishing. This was probably based in fact due to the discovery of the portal at the south end. Likewise, a ring of wizards standing on the bridge at night surrounded by an eerie glow was a common tavern tale. But the most chilling legend was the story of some treasure hunters digging in the road at the center of the bridge and discovering a stone golem laying face-up under the roadbed. According to the legend, it sat up and blasted the defilers with lightning bolts so powerful that they were hurled off the bridge, dead and fried in their own grease before the bog could claim them. The golem then gathered the loose stones and reburied itself to await some unknown future purpose. According to Elminster, the truth behind this legend was that the bridge's superstructure contained quite a few stones that were enchanted to shoot lightning when disturbed, and a statue along with the stones from its pedestal were scavenged from a monument in the vicinity as material to build the road. The treasure seekers did dig up the statue and at least one of them got electrocuted, but it was dwarves that repaired the road and started the story of the golem to discourage other vandals. It was said that anyone who broke a stone or carried one off would surely meet a swift end.[3]

HistoryEdit

The earliest known written records that mention Ilikur's Bridge dated from the mid–6th century DR and they described the structure as "old" even then. Who or what Ilikur was and what hands built the bridge were lost to time. The builders had skill equal to that of dwarven stonemasons of the era, but no known clan claimed the bridge as part of its ancestral works. The reburying of the statue notwithstanding, the Haunted Bridge has needed no repair work in recorded history.[1]

As of the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, bugbears patrolled the area around the bridge looking for easy targets and organized raids on any travelers that attempted to spend the night above the bog.[1]

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. The source does not specify what language was spoken by the various parts of the bridge.

ReferencesEdit