Random Encounters06/30/2003

Fharlanghn's Garden

Journey's End

Many people believe that Fharlanghn's secret garden is only a myth -- a legend perpetuated by those who worship the Dweller on the Horizon. After all, if one's god is known only for something as mundane as roads and travel, some believe it is important to invent something magical and idyllic for the faithful to believe in.

However, Journey's End is more than just a fairy tale -- it is a real place that a dedicated (or extraordinarily lucky) traveler may one day find. It is not listed on any maps, and the few who know the most about it, a fanatical group of Fharlanghn worshipers called the Guardians of the Road actively discourage anyone from attempting to find the garden.

Journey's End is an oasis located in the center of the campaign world's largest desert (or, if that spot is already occupied, in the center of another large desert of the DM's choosing) away from trade routes, nomadic tribes, migrational paths, and all human or humanoid contact. In other words, it is in a place where no one would go haphazardly.

The oasis is lower than the desert floor, so it is difficult to see from a distance. PCs can attempt Search checks if they are actively looking for Journey's End, or the DM may allow them to make Spot checks if they just happen to be passing near it (the DC for Spot checks is always 5 higher than for a Search check). The DC for Search checks is 30 if the PC is within 1,000 feet of the oasis, 40 if the PC is within half a mile, and 50 if the PC is within one mile. Characters flying over this part of the desert may also attempt to find the oasis (Search check DC 25).

Journey's End

Fharlanghn's Garden is an oblong-shaped oasis, about 500 feet long and 200 feet across. The temperature inside the oasis generally does not rise above 85 or fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit -- a pleasant change from the extreme temperatures typically found in the desert.

The boundaries of Journey's End are marked by gently sloping natural stone walls (this apparently is what holds the desert back), and the floor of the oasis is covered with lush vegetation and a copse of trees so thick that one might call it a small forest. From the north wall, a steady stream of water flows and creates a beautiful waterfall that flows into a large pond. All of these features have been blessed by Fharlanghn in some way to make them boons to travelers who find them.

The forest is home to birds and small lizards, and the pond is filled with fish. None of these are dangerous, and all are delicious if caught and cooked.

Orpheus Grove

After spending days, and perhaps weeks, journeying across the scorching desert in search of the oasis, the cool shade offered by the copse of trees should certainly appeal to most visitors. What's more, the soft, loamy, moss-covered ground beneath the trees makes an inviting bed, and those who lay there find that sleep comes easily.

These are orpheus trees, which are magical plants that grant the gift of rest and recuperation. Anyone who sits beneath an orpheus tree must make a Will save (DC 15) or fall into a deep, restful slumber that lasts for 1d4 hours. At the end of this time, the person awakes fully refreshed having gained all the benefits of a full 8 hours of sleep.

Fruit of the Divine

The orpheus trees bear fruit. Throughout the grove, visitors find round, fist-sized fruits hanging from the branches. These fruit can be picked, and their thick rind can be split and peeled by hand easily. Inside, the fruit is a bright blue reminiscent of a clear sky, and the opened fruit drips with juice that smells sweet and promises to taste delicious.

Eating one orpheus fruit provides the equivalent of one full day's rations. A person can survive indefinitely eating nothing but the fruit without risking any nutritional or other health side effects. More importantly, the fruit does not spoil -- a successful Knowledge (nature) or Wilderness Lore check (DC 15) reveals no sign of fruit that have over-ripened and fallen from the trees.

A visitor can pick as much fruit as she can carry and take it on her journey home across the desert. The fruit stays fresh throughout the entirety of the trip. However, their magic is broken on the first day she does not spend at least 6 hours traveling. At dawn following such a day, the fruit becomes desiccated. When a desiccated fruit is pried open, instead of juicy pulp, the person finds a sweet smelling blue powder that is terribly bitter to the taste.

Cleansing Falls

The waterfall running down the north wall of the oasis is more than just a beautiful piece of scenery. It is Fharlanghn's way to help visitors clean off the dust of the road and rejuvenate their bodies.

Standing under the falls is a pleasant experience. The water is cool (but not frigid) and causes the skin to tingle. Anyone who stays under the waterfall for 1 minute gains the benefit of cure light wounds, and any equipment he carries gains the benefit of mending. If the person remains in the water for 10 minutes, he gains the benefit of cure moderate wounds. After 1 hour, the person gains the benefit of cure serious wounds. Those who remain under the waterfall for 4 hours gain the benefit of one of the following spells (their choice) cast as a 7th-level caster: cure critical wounds, neutralize poison, or restoration.

A person may use the waterfall's magical properties only once per day -- once he steps out from under the flow, he gains no further benefits until the next day. Staying in the pond does not count; the person must be directly under the waterfall.

Communing Pool

The waterfall flows into a large, crystal clear pond. Anyone who looks into the waters can see fish swimming to and fro. The water is warmer than the waterfall and is heated by a combination of the sun's rays and Fharlanghn's grace. It feels very much like a bath or run off from a hot spring.

While floating in it is comfortable and relaxing, the pool does not have the same magical healing properties as the waterfall. It does, however, bring a profound sense of peace and belonging to whoever soaks there for an extended period of time. Anyone who stays in the pool for 1 hour finds that Fharlanghn will answer any five "yes or no" questions the soaker poses. This functions identically to the way a commune spell would if it were cast by a 5th-level cleric.

Bringing the Parts Together

Once the PCs find Journey's End, they may find one of the Guardians of the Road. What do the PCs do if the Guardian of the Road demands that they leave?

Coming in Part 5 of Fharlanghn's Garden

The secret garden of Fharlanghn is revealed to those who persist in their journey to seek it. Once they find it, though, it has its own ways of hiding itself again.

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