The Fortified Districts of Grimthorn are connected by a series of stone bridges bookended by defensible gate-houses. This network of guarded arteries provides a crucial level of defense for the City. The history of Grimthorn is punctuated by times when the bridges have proven to be the City's greatest defense against invaders. Over the centuries, the bridges have earned histories of their own, equal or more important than the Districts that they join.
One of the more famous bridges of Grimthorn is the stone span of Bardsfall. Almost 400 years ago, the mediocre minstrel Sirmis Gīsimis threw himself from the bridge, landing with a bounce on the shore of the Lower Aralis. As he hit the ground, his harp flew from his hands landing near a group of onlookers. As the harp rattled to the ground it sounded four beautiful notes that are now the first sounds of the ballad, "The Flight of Sirmis Gīsimis". The song, inspired by the death of the unsuccessful bard became so popular that the bridge was renamed for the event and the place where he landed was dubbed Bardton. His corpse sat in a tavern chair for years before an entrepreneurial luthier supposed that a small fortune could be made from instruments with tuning pegs and bridges fashioned from the bones of Sirmis the Bard. As the body grew more shapeless it was eventually removed with great fanfare to the Hill of the Unburied. En route to his final resting place, the barge capsized and most of the entourage were lost in Lake Dēalled. This inspired another popular song titled, "The Boneless Balloon of Bardton", wherein a quick-thinking hero inflates the sack-like corpse of Sirmis to save the drowning mourners. The song explains that his eyes and lips were sewn shut, so there was only one other option; and that as they drifted to shore the man kept a "thumb up his bum" to keep the boneless balloon afloat.
Visitors that spend any time in Grimthorn are first amazed by its antiquity and later by the many means the people of this City dispose of the dead. Not all of these methods are still employed, but evidence remains. Just south of the Bridge of Crows lies the Hill of Towers. Sandwiched between the Fortified Districts of Char and Heart, the hill is very visible from the walls and especially from the Bridge of Crows that connects them. While the occasional crow can still be found on the bridge, it is no longer blanketed with their cawing murders. The Hill of Towers is covered with over a dozen stone pillars with staircases spiraling through their cores. In ages past, the City dead were carried to the top of these pillars and left for excarnation. The crows would wait on the bridge's edge until the procession left and then swarm the tower tops. When the crows dispersed the tower tops gleamed white in the sun.
The gatehouses opening onto the bridge are painted red and emblazoned with giant iron crows rampant regardant.
One of two bridges visible from the Bay of Swords, the Bridge of Pyres arcs nearly 160 feet above Underpyre Creek, linking the Char and the Final Districts. The bridge is named for a series of iron baskets that flank the stone span. In ages passed, these baskets were filled with firewood and then set alight with offerings to the gods and spirits. There is no official record of burning bodies, living or dead, in the baskets though rumors abound that mobs may have done this very thing from time-to-time. As the baskets burned, the fiery debris would fall into stone gutters running beneath the bridge and into the Underpyre creek. At night the bridge appeared to rain with waterfalls of fire. Today, only a handful of the iron baskets remain. A few of these have been filled with dirt and flower draperies.
Spanning the valley between the Districts of Grimthorn and Char stands the luckless Burning Bridge. The first calamity to befall the bridge occurred when Thorn Keep collapsed. The colossal falling blocks destroyed the Grimthorn gate house and much of the northern spans. The spans were replaced with ancient forest timbers pulled from the Dwarven mines to the north. The resulting marvel lasted less than one year, set ablaze by Elven saboteurs during the next Feynight. After some years standing incomplete, the bridge was repaired again using wood from the eastern forest of Īll. This bridge lasted for nearly three centuries, until it was destroyed by lightning and the resulting fire. This calamity prompted the building of the Lightning Spire (in Storm). The bridge was built twice more over the years, securing its place in the public consciousness as a metaphor for things that change but stays the same.
Connecting the Wail and the Storm is a solid bridge with very little ornamentation. The Guild of Masons inspects the bridge on a regular basis, but it never needs repair or mortaring. Years have been spent searching the Mason archives, but no historic plans for the bridge have ever been unearthed. Other than its durability, the bridge has another feature that borders on the phenomenal. People claim that when standing alone on the bridge, one can feel every shudder, landslide, and wave breaking against the Island of Īll. Others claim that those attuned to the bridge's vibrations can also feel horses and footsteps approaching the City along the coastal roads. Though the rumors are well-known, there is not much opportunity to stand on the bridge alone, except in the middle of the night. A popular play performed at Kirād's Stage ended with a man standing alone on the bridge at night, trying to extent his awareness, when he felt the footsteps and heartbeat his killer approaching in the darkness.
Tower Bridge is named for the high balconied gatehouses at each end of the crossing. Second only to Kirād's Stage, Tower Bridge is one of the best entertainment venues in Grimthorn. Performers stand upon the many facing balconies and deliver their music, plays, and other performances to everyone that gathers between. At times, entertainers compete for the attention of the crowds, drawing people to one end of the bridge or the other. Such competitions are well-remembered and serve to establish a pecking order among the performers of the City. Unknowns that distinguish themselves at Tower Bridge often move on Kirād's Stage or high-priced private venues throughout the City.