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Wonders of NaeraCull: Mahanguan Pilgrimage Trail

mahuanga pilgrim trailRising high into the sky, Mount Mahangua dominates the skyline of the Pirate Isles. The top of the volcano—at roughly 7,000 feet in elevation—is always in an active state. Lava gurgles in the crater, 1.4 miles across at its widest point. The very center is in a constant display of pyrotechnics, shooting flaming rocks hundreds of feet in the air; seafarers use the mountain as a natural lighthouse. Despite its volatility and near constant lava flow, an eruption has not happened for centuries. Because of this, the forest is thick almost all the way up to the lip of the crater, with patches of burnt timber in spots where the lava has made contact with the woods.

The native lizardfolk settlements on the island are clustered around the base of the mountain, and range in size from 25-100. Most of them are hunters and Indifferent or Friendly to strangers. A few villages are Helpful towards outsiders. One such village, Xacana, is located on the eastern side of Mount Mahangua, at the trailhead of the Mahanguan Pilgrimage Trail (detailed in The Ash Spirits of Mt Mahangua).

If the lizardfolk of Xacana’s attitude towards the PCs is Helpful, there are 1d2 igneous trinkets available for purchase. The party is told that evil fire spirits are sometimes found at the top of Mount Mahangua, and that these stones will protect them. They are also told to steer clear of The Shrine of Mahangua; it is a sacred place and quite dangerous.

The trail itself is 24 miles long and somewhat steep; moving at normal speed, the trip to the top takes 2 days. Lizardfolk regularly patrol the trail and dispense justice—thieving and robbery are dealt with swiftly and violently. The trail is kept clear of encroaching vegetation, and although the forest can be quite thick at times off of the path, most of it is paved, covered in crushed volcanic rock packed down from years of pilgrims’ journeys. There are four points of interest along the way, marked on the map available for purchase from Lescius the merchant.

  1. Lava Falls: On the left side of the path, a small stream of lava continuously flows. At this point it drops 20 feet, making a small lavafall and a very unique splash pattern at the bottom of the falls formed from the cooled lava.
  2. Campsite #1: A 100-foot diameter cinder rock clearing that contains 2 cabins and a firepit.
  3. Iron Tree: A 20-foot diameter tree actually grows in the lava stream. It is badly scorched and has no bark on the lower third, but it is somehow still alive.
  4. Campsite #2: This simple campsite is little more than a firepit in the middle of a small grassy clearing with a small water stream next to it.

 

At irregular intervals the mountain shakes as the volcano belches out a cloud of steam and ash from the center of the crater, though a full-scale eruption is not recorded in history. The top of the trail ends near the edge of the crater; the Shrine of Mahangua is about ¾ of a mile away. The view from any point at the top is incredible—visitors can get within about 50 feet of the actual lava and watch the pyrotechnics safely. The western side of the crater is 200 feet higher than the eastern side and rises into a steep lip. From the top of this lip, the ocean to the west can be seen, and on a clear day the island to the northwest is visible as well.

 

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