Athson runs in the dark. Trolls howl as they thunder like an avalanche after him through the underbrush. Clawed paws snag and tear his clothing. Firelight fades. Heavy footfalls of trolls pound near, their huffing punctuated with grunts and snorts.
He turns and rushes back toward the gorge, the Funnel, near the troll camp. More trolls search the night, and others call for help. A kobold appears in front of him, and he runs into it. They fall hard, and the creature squeals as Athson grunts and kicks the creature in the face. Athson scurries off its back and rushes on. Where can he hide?
Deeper darkness yawns at his feet. He slides to a stop but not soon enough. He goes over the edge and rolls on a steep slope. Below, at the sheer edge, Athson’s legs go over, and he grasps wildly for any handhold.
Trolls point at him and howl as he slides over the edge. He falls and screams.
The passage above makes some reference to a setting that recurs in The Bow of Hart Saga, especially in the latter two books. There’s drama around the setting of a gorge through which a rushing river flows in the world of Denaria. The gorge of the Funnel serves as part of the basin for the Long River west of the Drelkhaz Mountains while also serving as a major geographic boundary for the eastern side of the Troll Heaths. It’s here that Athson experienced some of his childhood trauma and here that he must return.
There is an actual location from which I based with the gorge in An Arrow Against the Wind. I grew up in North Alabama which is in the southern Appalachians. There are several interesting rock formations – and even caves (more on that another time) in an area that’s largely unknown outside of Alabama.
Little River is formed from East Fork and West Fork on Lookout Mountain. From the confluence of the forks, the river runs through what is called Little River Canyon which is a National Preserve. The river is about 26 miles long and empties into Weiss Lake which is drained by the Coosa River.
The Canyon is actually one of the deepest canyons east of the Mississippi River and sports some dramatic views such as Canyon and Crow Overlooks which are majestic cliffs over 300 feet high but the canyon is over 600 feet deep in places. From these vantage points, you can view just how big this place is.
Additionally, here are some links containing other shots that provide more perspective. I haven’t been able to track down some of my best ones from several years back but they are from similar locations on the canyon.
There are any number of videos that also provide some excellent perspective shots of the canyon – here’s just one.
I’ll add my other photos as I find them but you can see that the canyon is great for a fantasy fiction setting.