The great, steep peaks of the Ironfist Mountains divide the kingdoms of Keledon and Akaryth. The one relatively reliable route through the mountains, connecting the two kingdoms, is Cardas Pass. On the Keledon side the pass opens onto the lands of North and South Avendur, under the rule of House Caerwyn and House Dreigar respectively. House Caerwyn maintains the ancient stronghold of Brand Keep, which overlooks the western mouth of the pass. On the Akaryth side the pass opens into the western province, where it is guarded by the twin towers, the Crows (so named because of the natural enmity between the hawk, symbol of Keledon , and the crow). The Seneschal of the West oversees these towers.
The western approach to the pass begins easily enough, but quickly steepens. A well maintained road exists as far along as Brand Keep ; after that point it becomes rougher. Soon the air grows cold, and as the trees thin away the land levels. In winter the pass is often impassable, covered in several feet of snow and lashed by sleet and howling winds.
The eastern approach is far easier, the climb gentler and easier as it ascends. Beyond the Crows the climb is rockier and rougher, but soon levels out.
Wars between the two kingdoms have invariably involved the pass. Both are very difficult to invade from the sea; the pass is therefore the only real route open to an army. Even then, only in the warmer months. The last true agressive military expedition through the Pass occurred during the War of Two Moons, well over a century ago. More recently, in the early 1860s AS, Theo of Aldwyn and Alrik Beyran used gold stolen from BalarHalad to pay an Akarthan mercenary company to come over the pass in support of Balar's niece Seldhe.
While merchants and travellers use the pass fairly frequently, passing through the watch of soldiers on both sides, the higher areas of its trail have fallen too far into disrepair to allow the movement of a sizeable military force.