One of the features that exists, and has a precarious donkey path carved into the rock wall, crossing it's way back and forth some 1600 feet into the air, is the famous Amberstone mine. Once the 3 feet wide trail is climbed up to the cliff face, it opens up into a rift in the cliff wall, with a large shelf, approximately a mile from west to east. This is just east of the falls, so the western edge of the rift is quite close to the falls, and the rift is constantly wet with spray from the mighty waterfall. The shelf cuts back several hundred yards into the cliff face, and most of the open rift has a ceiling some 50-60 feet high. It is as if a gigantic finger scooped a mile long blister out of the rocky cliff wall.
|Overhead view of Amber Cave (top), image of Blue Sky Snail (lower left), outside of|
Amberstone mine (lower center), and looking out from Amberstone mine,
even seeing the green valley down below (lower right).
The shells of the Snails retain their ability to float. One thing that the snails can do, when they detach from something and start floating on air, is to use some internal organ or magical ability to steer and direct themselves up and down and left and right. Although the shells can give a person this ability (a single shell from an expired adult snail, if worn as a backpack, extending from a human sized wearer's knees, to up above his head, and extending far to the rear) to float quite readily - but directional movement has to be accomplished some other way.
The sky miners use the snails by luring them onto the great blocks of Amberstone with a food/potion mixture that the Dwarfs make (theirs is called the "Order of a Reflective Sky" - a curious theme and name for a Dwarven mystic order). A block rider will then climb onto the top of the floating block, and use the Sky Snail potion to lure the snails from one side of the block to the other, giving a crude sort of steering mechanism.
The temple monastery is old - much older than the Dwarfs, or even than Westroner culture in the valley. It was probably built by servants of the Old Ones. The Amberstone that is mined today comes out of thinner veins than what evidently originally existed. Vast blocks of the stuff were used to build the great canal of the Lost Mare river as it runs under the King's Highway.
Today, most of the mined blocks of Amberstone "float" their way down to Khomaes. There is a great market there, not only among the great public works of the City Proctor, but also among the many noble houses, and their decadent villa. None, however, has as hungry an appetite for Amberstone as the faculty and staff of the wizardry school of enchantment and charm in Khomaes - the Glamor Hall for Bewitchment and Entrancement. The Queen of Enchantment (Queen Mellisonde) is a great customer of the guild of miners working Amber Cave. Because of this, she (and the enchanters and enchantresses of her school) is very supportive of and protective of the Reflective Sky order.
The miners, other than raids by bandits, have to contend with possibly opening up the wrong tunnel or cave trail, to the many hived pockets of evil humanoids from the Unseely Court that dwell within the Destriel mountains in general, and within the Cliffs of Cloud specifically. When herding and harvesting sky snails, however, two other menaces present themselves. The first are the Blood Stars, radial parasites that have a limited flight (actually, sort of a jetted propulsion through the air, as part of a surprise attack to attach to a victim), but whom begin viciously sucking blood out of mammals. There is a strange feature of Sky Snail blood that keeps the Stars from draining it quite so quickly, but not so Humans and Dwarves (death could come within minutes of a full sized star striking an unprepared victim). The second are the Cliff Monsters. These are hard shelled worms, capable of burrowing through hard rock, that are attracted to vibrations caused by movement, and also heat caused by fires or too many people in one area. Once they emerge from the rock walls, they tend to go after the closest warm body.
Writeups (with specifics, and stat blocks) on the Sky Snails, Blood Stars and Cliff Monsters are available as their own articles.