Chapter 4

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The SoulSlayers had a long trip back. It took them the remainder of the night and the next two days of hard riding to travel south through the western edge of the Thaum Mountains and on to Daath Ul Thaum. Only one or two paths through the mountains existed. That was all that necessity determined.

There simply was no reason to ever cross the mountains. Albera had been one of only a few who dared to venture into the mountains. Her job required that of her and she only scouted the northern edge of the range. Nobody dared travel beyond the perimeter of the Thaums because they were reputed to be haunted (not that the SoulSlayers would be vexed, mind you). There was little north of the mountains outside of the witches' home, and the Towers could be reached with relative ease by skirting the western edge of the range. The only other point of interest was the Twisted Horn River, which emptied into the Strait of Kho Rhon'ah north of the range.

The Twisted Horn was the largest river in Khaballe and flowed north from Lake Phul, south of the capital Bhel'Ehzz. It disappeared into Thaum Weald and reappeared somewhere in the Thaum Mountains. Actually, no one was sure what happened to the Twisted Horn when it entered the Weald. If the mountains were haunted, then the forest was a veritable living death. There were no accounts of anyone ever entering Thaum Weald and returning. It was an extremely dense forest, impassable throughout. The trees were enormous. Ten good-sized men with outstretched arms were needed to encircle them. And the heavy-leafed branches formed a canopy that no light could ever penetrate. It was a land of enduring darkness, a darkness which permeated every living (or dead) thing in its boundary. And the sounds that emanated from the Weald were completely unnerving. The moaning of the wind (or was it?) and the lamenting cries from unseen voices were said to be the worst. If the atmosphere of the forest wasn't enough to turn you back, then the sounds would. Enduring this, if you followed the Twisted Horn into the Weald, about half way through you would be rewarded with a most frightful experience which paled that of the mountains or the forest. You would encounter Daath Ul Thaum.

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