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Tall and airy, cool and damp, enchanted and bizarre,the Chamber of the Awful Stair was one of Middle-earth's most wondrous gifts.The Chamber rose to a height of over two hundred and fifty feet.Its stalactite-covered ceiling was a symphony of form. Many-hued veils and draperies of stone flew downward, as if frozen at the climax of some enchanted ballet.Pockets of crystals reflected the torchlight from colored nooks, like treasuries bound within living rock.Flowstone and stalagmites marched across the uneven floor.A great waterfall issued out of the southern wall, spawning the stream that swept through the Chamber.

The true wonders of the cavern were the dozens of natural, hexagonal basalt columns that reached up from the floor and, in some cases, pierced the vaulted ceiling.Stacked slabs formed from fast-cooling lava, they were the largest of their kind in western Endor.Daen Coentis Priestesses had found the Chamber sometime in the early Second Age.Ascribing a holiness to the place, they made it a natural cathedral, where they conducted ceremonies full of chants and songs.Stairways were cut in and around the columns, and platforms for singers were placed at points suited to the room's wild acoustical qualities.Each column was capped with such astage , permitting a chorus of over a hundred to join in joyous harmony.Poetic inscriptions marked the base of the columns in order to guide the singers, for without directions the Chamber was a maze of myriad shapes.Confusion is the guardian of the Chamber of the Awful Stair.


Layout of the Chamber of the Awful Stair

1.The Heallstrem.

2. The High Stair.The six exposed sections of the stair (those on the outside of the column) were hard to negotiate.After a climb of over three thousand feet, this stairway reached a watch-room carved in the summit of the Heaheall (room elev. 9817').The room was called the High Hall, explaining the origin of the peak's label.

3. The Awful Stair.

4. The Tall Stair. The High Priestesses once used this stairway to reach their ceremonial platform.It was guarded by two traps (like those at the Awful Path), set at the 75' and 110' points.

5.The Short Fall.This fifty-two foot high waterfall gave birth to the Heallstrem.Through an opening behind the foaming waters at the base was a small room (10'x 10' x 10').It was hard to detect.Within the chamber were three chests.Two were small; one was large.All were padlocked and bolted to the floor (from within).

  • Large Chest:Three feet tall, it was of plain oak and has dimensions of 4' x 4'.Beneath and within the large chest, was a chute fitted with a ladder.The chute descended 30' to a 5' x 5' chamber below, where the Master's Council kept smuggled valuables until the time was ripe for sale.One hundred to one thousand gold pieces were stored here, in sacks set in bins along the wall.Various gems and heirlooms worth a similar amount were also stored here.
  • Small Chests:Each was locked, but easy to open.When opened, they released a counterweighted steel door, which dropped from the ceiling to close the room.At the same time, the large chest snapped shut (becoming extremely hard to open).Then the waterfall was partially redirected, filling the room in one minute).The water exited through hidden grates in the lower part of the walls,the water exited through hidden grates in the lower part of the walls, which were very hard to detect.After filling a catch basin (about ten minutes), another mechanism was trapped, opening the steel door and releasing the waters from the chamber.This resetted the trap and redirects the flow of the falls.

6. The Mines.Apparently played-out, the mine was abandoned.Its dangerous passages were pocked with pits (10 - 100' ) which could claim an unwary traveller without notice.Typically, the pits were numerous, hard to find, and extremely dangerous.

7. Tomb of Lalanna. Once a meeting hall and store-room, this chamber became a crypt in the late Second Age.A 7' high blue granite jar stood in the middle of this otherwise empty room. A cut in the jar's side, symbolic of the occupant's crime, permitted its occupant to move freely about in the room (and only in the room).The cursed Daen priestess Lalanna had been buried here.Her penance for the murder of her son was simple:she was entrusted with the watch over the High Stair.Lalanna was a Minor Wight.

8. The High Hall.

9. The Awful Path.


References

  • MERP:Riders of Rohan
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