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Penhag

The Hill of Hag's Head

Hag's Head (Old Rh."Habnohagio";Hi."Cenn Badb";S."Pêldol") was one of a pair of hills rising on the west side of the Witbeamwood, the other being Cenn Cummae. Cenn Cummae was the highest point in the Wood, just to the south of Hag's Head. Both were exposed hilltops surmounted by granite outcrops known as tors; from either a good view of the surrounding countryside could be had.Hag's Head was almost directly west of the magnificent Tateshala, which also stood free of trees in a sheltered vale. The two hills were regarded with superstition by the local inhabitants; they were reputedly haunted, or home to sacred spirits who protected the Wood.

Overview

1. Hag's Head. This was the tor on the summit of Hag's Head. An outcropping of huge granite blocks, like those of Drebi-Head and Cenn Cummae, it was weathered and worn smooth by the elements. It was hard to climb, but from the top of the 18' high block there was an excellent view all around. The stones were unremarkable and untouched by human hand. All around were smaller, more splintered lumps of rock and boulders, and only the toughest grasses grew here with a few clumps of hard flowers. In a rain or thunderstorm,or a high wind, the summit could be a frightening and even dangerous place.

2. Little Tor. This was another, smaller tor. It stood but 12' high and froma distance resembled a standing stone such as those erected by the Dunmen and their Daen Coentis forefathers. Close up, however, it was obviously a natural feature.

3. Western Cliff. This steep rock faced guards the northwest flank of Hag's Head.It rose between 8' and 22', with many cracks and clefts, but was too steep to scramble up — a proper climbing maneuver would have been called for. In the evening many birds and a few bats flitted around here basking in the last of the sunshine before roosting in tiny holes and cavelets. Jumbled rocks at the base of the cliff and hidden splits and loose sections made it rather dangerous to climb on or over.None of the caves or clefts was big enough to get inside (except for the smallest Hobbit).

4. Eastern Cliff. This was a larger cliff, facing due east across Tateshala Vale.Great striated rocks, shorn off nearly vertically, stretched up to 40' high fromthe huge spintered boulders at the bottom. A few narrow ran of scree reachup about half its height. It would have been sheer folly to try to climb this cliff. Numerous ledges did exist however, and the clefts were usedby birds, bats and other small mammals for nesting. Rock plants grew in nooks and crannies and in spring and early summer there were the bright yellow flowers of the rock-creeping vines. If the cliff was seen at dawn, as the sun roses over the ridge to the east, veins of shinging quartz in the granitic rock caught the sun's rays and scattered them like a thousand rainbow waterfalls.

5. Cave. Situated 10' off the ground, the narrow entrance to this cave was hidden from immediate view by a prominent rock. The entrance was just 6' highand 3' wide at the base, tapering upwards. Inside was a space about 12' deep,once used by a Northlander hermit. The roof was still black with greasy smokedeposits and the floor was littered with potsherds and animal bones. At the far end of the cave lay the skeleton of the hermit, reposed as if he died in his sleep. There were a few rags and bits of dried skin attached to the bones, but these would disintegrate if the body was disturbed. Beside the body was an ivorybox (worth 5 Goldpieces) containing a large quartz crystal (a six-sided prism) and a quantity of dried herb wrapped in parchment. The parchment gave instructions to burn the herb, breathe in the smoke and look into the crystal for a vision of the future.

6. Cavern. This cave could be entered at ground level. Its opening was broad and low, about 8' wide and 5' high. A passage led down to a boulder-strewn cavern, but diminished in height to just 3' at one point. In the lair lived a family of 2 adult and 2 cub black bears — and woe betide anyone who disturbed them! At certain times of the year they would be very aggressive, but at other times (such as winter) they would be slothful if awake at all.

Notes

Original form in MERP:Pen-Hag


References

  • MERP:Phantom of the northern Marches
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