Otherplaces – Elvanian Stairs, the (A to Z Challenge, E)

5 April, 2012

Cut into the rock of the cliff is a stairway, halfway up it changes course and cuts into the cliff, always heading up at a precise angle.  Though the stairs have been here for as long as anyone can remember, they show no sign of wear or weather.  The climb up is long and arduous, but it can be done in a day, indeed it is said it must be done in a day, for it is said those caught on the stair when night falls are stolen away into the underworld.  That may or may not be true, but anyone there at nightfall is not there when the sun rises the next morning.

the Elvanian Stairs

The cliffs are high, insanely so, some might say, dividing the lands like a massive wall.  The only place to transit the cliff face for weeks of travel in either direction are the stairs. The stairs have become an important route for high priority travel, but only for that as it is too dangerous for casual travel.

The stairs are too steep for most animals, leaving the task to porters and messengers that haunt the shanty towns at the top and bottom of the stairs.  Governments and states have attempted to control the stairs but troops get lost, governors become corrupt, messengers vanish, most sensible people soon give up attempting to govern the shanty towns and accept that maintaining a minimum of order and skimming a little off the top is the best they can do.

Travel up or down the stairs is an odd experience as the stairs reflect sounds in odd ways and warp perspective, making it hard to judge how far it is to go and how far away other travelers are.  The edge of the stairs are rough and sharp, falling on the stairs is at best painful and, at worst, deadly.

As to what happens to those unfortunates caught on the stairs at nightfall, never to be seen again, that is a mystery few are willing to risk themselves to solve . . .


  1. What a fascinating setting.

  2. This is excellent! I want–need–to know more 🙂

  3. I like it! I’m trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge this month.

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