Road to Couronne

Pilgrims making their way to the Temple of Shallya.[1]

The pilgrimage to the Temple of Shallya at Couronne is one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in the Old World. Most people who travel it are sick or crippled, hoping to be healed by the mercy of Shallya when they reach their destination. The fact that people start out sick contributes to the fact that a very high proportion of the pilgrims die along the way.[1a]


This pilgrimage officially starts from the temple of Shallya in Altdorf. A few pilgrims join the route later, but unless they live along the route, most people prefer to go to Altdorf and start with everyone else. In part, this is due to the belief that Shallya is more impressed by people who make the whole pilgrimage. The main motivation, however, is that the temple in Altdorf arranges for groups of pilgrims to travel together, and encourages warriors with reason to be grateful to join them. Fairly solid rumours suggest that the temple occasionally pays for such guards if they cannot find those willing to go out of charity.[1a]

The priestesses in Altdorf record the names of everyone leaving on pilgrimage, and pray for them every day until they return to the temple, or until two years have passed. About a third of the pilgrims, particularly those from distant parts of the Empire, give up once they reach Altdorf, and content themselves with the blessing of the priestesses there.[1a]

Most of the pilgrims walk because they cannot afford any other transport. Some have to be carried by friends, or dragged in handcarts, because they cannot move under their own power. A tiny proportion have enough money to live well during the journey; others are reduced to begging, most of them before they get out of the Empire. Some of the beggars are arrested as vagrants, others turn to thievery and are caught, while some, weakened by lack of food and drink, simply die of their illnesses. Half a dozen temples along the route from Altdorf to Axe Bite Pass are specifically dedicated to the needs of the pilgrims. Three are temples of Shallya, while the other three are temples of Morr. Superstition holds that one is most likely to die when en route to one of the Morrian shrines.[1a]

Shallyan pilgrims do not have to pay tolls in Axe Bite Pass as long as they are carrying no valuables. Smugglers try to take advantage of this by dressing up as pilgrims to sneak heavily taxed items through, so the toll keepers have been forced to search those claiming to have nothing. Pilgrims with enough money for the journey can generally afford to pay the tolls, as well.[1a]

The inns are a different matter. One, The Well of Mercy, two days’ walk from the Empire’s border, offers free overnight accommodation (albeit in a rough shed) to genuine pilgrims. The shed is, however, within the walls that protect the inn, and the innkeeper is regarded as a model of charity and piety. The other inns demand that pilgrims pay, just like anyone else. Rich pilgrims occasionally pay for their whole party, but most groups are forced to camp just outside the inn’s walls.[1a]

Some sections have no inns at all. The stretch known as Ludwig's Run is too long for any but the healthiest walkers or those with mounts to manage in a single day, so many are forced to camp in the middle of the mountain pass. Some even survive the night.[1b]

The temple of Shallya in Inner Montfort has extensive accommodation for pilgrims, and, thanks to generous donations from people healed by Dhuoda of the White Hands, a miracle-working priest of the last generation, it also provides six meals to every pilgrim. This temple is also the place where citizens of the Empire change from the white robes representative of Shallya in most places to the yellow robes worn by her peasant followers in Couronne. The priestesses tell them that this is both a legal requirement and a commandment of the Goddess.[1b]

Pilgrims must pay the toll at the gate in Montfort. Those who have made it this far are likely resourceful enough to find some way to get the money, perhaps even legally. The priestesses their flock to pay for pilgrims’ tolls as a form of charity, but a few notable abuses of this system by merchants and couriers have made most residents unwilling to give their money to strangers.[1b]

The route then runs north, through the foothills of the mountains. The going is difficult, and almost impassable for carts, but hostels dedicated to Shallya are located every day’s travel along the way. These all have wells and provide free lodging for pilgrims. Sir Chroderis, a Knight of the Grail, is known to ride along the route defending the pilgrims. These hostels and Sir Chroderis's protection are the reason the route runs inside Bretonnia rather than going up through the Wasteland; very few pilgrims are lost between Montfort and the Pale Sisters. Only one in twenty who takes the other route emerges from the Wasteland.[1b]

The hostels continue through the Pale Sisters, as far as the temple itself. The kings of Bretonnia have traditionally given some support to these hostels, and King Louen Leoncoeur does so more enthusiastically than most. However, moves to establish them within Axe Bite Pass or the Empire have all failed due to raids by Orcs and bandits. No one has yet been able to prove that the innkeepers on the route are responsible, but there are rumours of just such a conspiracy.[1b]

Although the hostels make the Bretonnian leg of the route relatively easy, still only one pilgrim in ten actually reaches Couronne alive. Pilgrims of the Empire who make it are prayed for by the High Priestess in person, and a few even receive miraculous cures. The pilgrims must then return home. More than half of those pilgrims who return from Couronne come back healed, a fact publicised by the cult, and which encourages others to attempt the journey. A less well-known fact is that fewer than one in a hundred return at all.[1b]


  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Tome of Salvation
    • 1a: pg. 173
    • 1b: pg. 174

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