Matan's Rift is a deep valley hidden within a portion of the Shurai mountains known as the "He'nal Rise", a small south-pointing finger of mountain chain that runs through the middle of Ma'helas. Located around [Matan-661], a small secondary road branches off from the hillside road at [Matan-6611] and leads a winding trail through the rugged terrain. It takes about 2 days to travel the road to the rift on foot, a little over 1 day if mounted. The road is too narrow for carts in some places so all goods are usually transported by mule train. The Rift can be reached by overland travel, if its location is known, in 4 days on foot (mounted travel not possible). By Ma'helan law entry of the rift by any way other than the road is illegal. The road is usually closed by snow around the middle of November until the middle of April.
The Rift itself is about 7 miles long by 2.5 miles wide at it's greatest point, running nearly north-south. The valley floor is surrounded by sheer rock walls ranging from 500' around the road area to nearly 1200' at the far end. Due to underlying geothermal activity the valley never gets colder than 50 degrees, even in the middle of winter, and is nearly tropical in midsummer.
Sarameya's River is an unusually warm and powerful river, averaging 50 feet wide and about 25 feet deep. The current is very fast, with a PMR of 5, and the currents tend to keep objects in the center of the river.
Points of Interest
1) Rift Road Checkpoint
A small gated checkpoint is maintained here. The gates to the rift are usually kept closed and the men assigned to this gate are picked in rotation from among the most honorable of the Ma'helan military. Gate duty lasts 1 month and is considered an honor (and almost a paid vacation) by those troops. The gate is locked and warded shut and unmanned in the winter mounts.
2) Se'vals Keep
A military structure built long ago as a training center, now renovated for general use by visitors to the Rift. It gets the most use during the time of "Mata's Challenge", at the Fall Equinox, but is also used by Ma'helan citizens wishing to make the trip through the Hazen Archway (6). It has Fine accommodations for 20 and Average accommodations for 50 more.
3) Royal's Keep
A keep and manor house of more recent construction, designed for the royal family. It has room for a 100 man honor guard when the queen is present and sports a stable and a vast underground storeroom. The Keep itself is heavily guarded and capable of withstanding a siege.
4) The Judging Currents
At the bottom of this portion of the lake is the tunnel through which the lake is drained, leading to an underground river that leads into the River Helas. The water in the 1/3 mile straight between the shore of the Royal's Keep (3) and the Plain of Heroes (5) is exceedingly choppy and wandering throughout is the whirlpool current that drains the lake. Any swimmer caught in the current is likely to be sucked down to his death unless he is very capable or very lucky.
5) Plain of Heroes
This small bit of valley contains many fruit and nut trees and is largely overgrown. As a part of Mata's challenge, those who manage to swim the Judging currents (4) may rest here for up a day before attempting to swim back.
6) The Hazen Archway
This cavern opening is framed by a huge arch made from smoky quartz. Travelers who follow the river into the cavern will find that it branches into a maze of smaller rivulets. Without a map or other detailed knowledge, only a person of balance can follow the true river to its source in the Balance Marches in the upper world.
Following the river to the Marches is a risky proposition if the traveler is not truly Balance Aligned, with those losing their way lost in the endless paths between worlds. While following the true river, 10 rolls of 1 or more must be made on 1d6. Subtract 2 if Law or Chaos aligned, Subtract 1 if anything else but Balance Aligned. If a party lead by a Balance aligned member contains a Law or Chaos member, Subtract 1. The subjective travel time for each roll is 1 hour.
If you fail a roll the traveler is considered "possibly lost" A 2d10 roll of 21 or more must be made to find the correct path, adding Underground Survival I skill. If successful, the traveler is back on the true path and may continue where he left off (he must make the travel roll he failed again). If unsuccessful he is "lost". While lost he may make up to 1 survival roll per day to become unlost. If he takes 2 days to do this he may add +1, 4 days adds +2, 8 days adds +3, etc. If unsuccessful he becomes more lost (keep track of the number of "lost levels") -- if successful he removes one "lost level" and at 0 levels may continue to travel.
Time to travel from the Middle world to the Balance Marches is always 1d10 days, no matter how many days lost. Travel time from the Marches to the Middle World is 1 day.
7) Cave of Options
A cave that must be found by the challengers (DIFFICULT Forest survival, if searching in the right hex) in order to continue the challenge. When entered, the opening is blocked by a monstrous beast of terrible proportions (all attributes 2x that of the character, frightening to look at -- make WILLx2 roll or be scared spitless). The created creature looks as if it must be fought, but the challenge here is to escape through other means than combat (the creature blocks the way out).
8) Fe'mar's Ford
At this point the river is shallow enough to cross without a boat -- about 3 feet deep (The rest of the river is about 25 feet deep by 50 feet wide and has a very strong current.) The ford is actually a stone bridge that lies under the water's surface.
9) Ranks of the Fallen
This area contains the sacred graves of Ma'helas's greatest heroes and noblest bloodlines. Each tomb is made from granite and inlayed with a smoky quartz arch ("transporting the soul to the marches"). While rumored that some of the tombs contain valuable treasure and magical weapons, they are also heavily warded against invasion.
10) Lake Ferry
A pair of lake barges cross the lake at this point, guided along a thick rope cable and pulled along by a pulley system. It takes about 1 hour to cross the lake, and each barge can hold up to 50 men.
11) The Camp on the Plains
This cluster of buildings is where the challengers stay during Mata's Challenge, and are used as training barracks at other times of the year.