Another ‘blast from the past’ on the plateau is the destructive spirit that possessed the Snow Queen (Ishtar, the nymph of compassion, remember). I have it frozen in a block of unbreakable crystal surrounded by ice-briars to stop anyone getting close, up near Northspring. Well, you didn’t think I kept to just one world, did you? Or one identity, for that matter.
Moving south, and on the eastern edge of the plateau is a small patch of woodland. This is Aran Wood, and in it, you’ll find the entrance to the only commonly-known restricted area on the plateau – Meidun Cavern, or more accurately, Meidun Passage. Just in from the entrance there are two tunnels. The left-hand one leads to a pair of lifts, both, due to the plateau’s nature, powered solely by the water of the southern stream from Lake Kea. The right fork leads to an altogether more unsavoury place, a dozen or so rough-hewn dungeons, embedded in the very rock and never seeing the light of day. These are hardly ever used, and then only for the most high-security prisoners of the Empire.
The Kea stream originates high up on the cliffs, near the accurately named village of Southspring. Meandering its way northwards, it tumbles happily over Seri Falls, under the bridge where the Southspring path crosses it, and comes into the lake near the Kea Quays. These are usually full of fishing boats, as the stream does not meander near Chemmer’s Ascent, up north. A ferry runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays across the lake, and a short way up the Mei River, and comes up to a small jetty by the bridge that leads onto the Dundill Road.
Dundill Village was founded when the population was booming on the plateau, because it was in a sheltered area near enough to the quarry that provided the building stone for Seven-Step Cross. It is a rather sleepy little village now, the bustle long gone, but is quaint and takes in money from tourists looking for rest and relaxation in the country. From there you can just see, and also visit, the remains of Erin’s tower, called, out of respect, Erin Tor. It stands atop Pallias Hill, still guarding the cavern in the woods. Nobody knows who Pallias was, but everyone knows the story of Erin. (He was another apprentice, actually. He and Merric, (see Merric Hill) had a competition to see who could build the best hill for Erin to build her tower on. Pallias won, partly because he realized she wanted to watch over the woods and the passage.)
Erin was my best and brightest. She passed every test with flying colours, but when she saw the world outside our peaceful and beautiful plateau she became distraught. She had been perhaps seven when I had ‘appropriated’ her for my apprentice, and knew nothing of war or pollution. She was an innocent. She could have made such a difference to the world, but instead she locked herself away, crying, as my father did when his world was engaged in the God Wars there. But she did not come out again, although I tried many times to coax her away from her depression. One day, to our horror, Erin simply willed herself into a field mouse, and called down an eagle. It was suicide, plain and clear, and she left a note, delivered by the same eagle that had granted her wish, saying ‘I cannot go on. Remember me.’ With that she was out of our lives. The tower’s site will never be built on, for obvious reasons.
The last two places on the plateau are Naylan Village and Bor Heights. Naylan is simple. It is a farming village, mainly crops, although orchards hang heavy with fruit around it. When the population grew and some were not magical, they went away together to become farmers, and were rather good at it. The one mage who went with them, Lorelee, became the village doctor and midwife, and since then it has been tradition that the village mage double to swerve locusts and blight from the crops and heal the people. It is a demanding job, but fulfilling. Lorelee still cares for Naylan Village, but now has help, a healer’s apprentice, she calls the girl, Dewbriar, because that is where she found her abandoned. I have my suspicions there. I know several women who wanted their daughters to train with Lorelee, and I don’t doubt one of them got their way, though at a hefty price.
As for Bor Heights, it was just that, high and full of boar. Of course after their grazing land was cultivated and the trees felled for roofing timber and firewood, the boars moved up into Mistdaemon Forest, but the name lives on, with corrupted spelling.
And so there it is, all the places I can think of up on my plateau. But most of them are much better in reality, so if you happen to be passing (which I doubt) please, you’ll be welcome to visit Fexil Peak and my own plateau, high above the clouds.