Tundra/ Arctic
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Rating: 3.6111
Condition: Normal
ID: 766


December 31, 1969, 7:00 pm

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Cheka Man

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Heart of Ice


Far to the north, past the cold, vast plains and tangles ancient forests, past even the brooding Deadfire Mountains, lies a real of ice and bitter cold.  Barren and stark, few have ventured in to this icy realm.  Hunting here is scarce and the wind seems to howl with the voices of demons.  Yet there are rumors of a citadel in the heart of the ice field, rising above the wind-swept whiteness and glittering in the pale sunlight.  Some say that the citadel was built of block of ice by giants.  Others claim that some wild magic caused the structure to grow from the very ice.  Yet others state in low voices that it is not ice that shines so, but a fortress of diamonds, built in ages past to guard the most powerful of magics in the world.

The citadel called Heart of Ice is near the northern pole of the world.  It is situated on a large, relatively flat plain that is in a basin formed by jagged mountains.  The mountains are very steep and there are few traversable passes to the interior basin.  The plain is a permafrost environment, with several feet of snow over a base of very deep ice.  The ice can reach a thickness of up to 200 feet.  As the lower layers of snow compact, they add to the layer of ice.  It is usually very windy, with the wind coming from variable direction, shifting quickly to swirl snow in blinding patterns.

Under the ice near the center of the plain is a large lace, completely covered in thick ice.  There are thermal vents on the bottom of the lake that warm the water slightly.  This and the insulation of the thick ice prevent the lake from freezing solid.   This warmth, however, is not nearly enough to melt the surface ice.

It is over this lake that the citadel stands.

In ages past, the citadel known as Heart of Ice was built buy a long vanished race called the Mynar.  This race adapted quickly to any environment, allowing them to live easily in harsh climates.  The group that settled here and built the citadel was seeking escape from the political and social interactions of their culture.  They wanted only to concern themselves with their studies and meditations.  The citadel was built to reflect the stark beauty of the landscape.  At the time many now extinct animals lived on the ice plain.  Save for a few curious visitors from the south, the Ice People were left to their own solitude.

In time, however, the problems of the rest of the world intruded on the citadel in the form of a messenger bringing news of war.  A dark force had arisen, threatening to tear down the splendor of the world, and cast all to darkness.  The Ice People sent the messenger away, taking no heed, and lending no support.

Again, a messenger came, bear grim news of defeats and losses.  Still the Ice People refused to aid their kind against the dark threat, remaining aloof and claiming that the cause of the war must lie with the kinsmen to the south, therefore it should fall on their shoulders to remedy it.  The messenger left, wailing in despair, dreading the turn of the battle without aid from the north.

One last time a messenger came.  He was but a boy, for all others fought against the growing darkness.  The battle had turned, and darkness was being driven back, but at a terrible cost.  The land was sundered, the great cities in ruins.  The Mynar who had seen themselves as protectors of the land now sowed devastation in order to survive.  At the end of the battle, the boy said, the Mynar would leave this place, to ensure that such destruction would never again be wrought against the fair land by their hands.  This was decreed by the Elders, and to defy their choice was damnation.

With heavy hearts and guilty thoughts, the Ice People left their citadel and commanded, all save a few who even when faced with damnation could not leave the palace of Ice.  When the Others left, their souls were sundered, leaving them to wander the halls of the Heart of Ice as incorporeal forms, grieving for the mistakes of the past, with no hope of salvation in the future.

The citadel is an ancient structure built of ice blocks. The blocks have settled together over several millennia, almost completely removing any trace of the joints between the blocks. This has given the structure the appearance of being formed from a solid block of ice. Much of the ice is opaque, but there are some areas with crystal-clear windows. Even in areas without windows, most of the structure is well lit during sunny days. The citadel was constructed for creatures much larger than the size of a human, yet not large enough to comfortably accommodate giants. The vast fortress is sparsely furnished with finely carved ice. There seems to be no substance save ice.  The only organic materials that can be found are scraps of strange cloth and small pieces of finely-made paper. If the ice furnishings are removed, they will melt swiftly once outside of the citadel. 

The citadel extends far below the surface in a network of galleries and tunnels. The farther away from the surface, the darker it becomes.  These tunnels extend to an incredible depth, eventually opening onto a submerged lake.  The surface of the lake is approximately 20 feet from the bottom of the ice layer, and is navigable if vessels are available.  The water is bitterly cold.

The ghosts of those who built the citadel still inhabit the halls.  If one can survive and find a way to communicate with the, they might impart vast knowledge.

An expedition is mounted to plunder the “Castle of Diamonds”.

Raiders mounted on strange, swift beasts have been attacking northern settlements, always arriving from the north.  All tracks lead in the direction of the citadel. 

Updated: Added history and more detail.

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Comments ( 8 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

August 9, 2004, 17:36
interesting, but I would like to know more about the people who built a fortress out of ice in the middle of a bleak wasteland. Why are there only ghosts left, what sort of knowledge could they impart?

What sort of remains can be found inside the ice keep, or is there naught but ice and cold left, no remnant of bodies, clothing, or the day to day tools of existance?

Not a bad effort.
Ancient Gamer
August 9, 2004, 17:47
I liked the raw idea. You should embellish on the possibilities, because this is a nice beginning.
August 9, 2004, 21:20
As has been said - A good raw idea. A nice beginning. It is a place which holds great mystery: Who built it and why? Why build such a huge citadel in the middle of knowwhere? Why is nobody here anymore? What happened to them?
Woooo, spooky :)

I see this place not as a main section of any campaign, but as a great side dish to a frozen tundra expedition.

----- "We're gonna die out here!" Screamed Julian, His hand unconsciously gripping on his swords hilt for support - but how can one fight a blizzard? He and his friends had thought making their way through this frozen wasteland would have been a great idea to cut off weeks on their expedition. Suddenly - as though a beacon from the very gods themselves - a ray of light glinted just ahead, perhaps something reflecting sunlight from far away. "Quickly! That way!"
It took about 30 minutes for the group to open the vast, icy doors - Julian had to chip away extra bits of ice at the hinges and kick away the large snowdrift forming next to it, and the large door took three of the group to pull open. But finally, they found themselves in this seemedly abandoned castle. Due to the snowstorm outside, it was nearly pitch black in here, but the group exhaustively lowered themselves to the cold ground, counting their blessings that they had been sheltered from this storm. Almost wordlessly, they wrapped themselves in all of their blankets, and fell asleep at the entrance.

Five hours later, Julian woke up. He could have sworn he had just heard someone whisper... But wait, everyone else was alseep...
He could hear the sound of the snowstorm, still barraging the castle walls. But there! There was that whisper again! It wasnt the sound of the wind coming through anywhere, because there was no draft. Julian blinked - in his 5 hours of in this place, his eyes had grown accustomed to the dark - and he could have SWORN he just saw a face peering through the ice of the opaque wall in front of him, as though a child had wiped away the frost on a window and peered in. But that face was no childs face... He remembered Sharpened fangs... Crimson glowing eyes...
Another whisper, and a menacing hiss.
Julian leapt up now, fully awake and terrified. He kicked his friends awake. "We have to leave this place. NOW!"
But as Irony would have it, the snow had packed up against the door again, and they couldnt clear it away from the inside. It seemed they would have to find their way out somewhere else. Which would mean traversing the many corridoors in this god-forsaken place.
Ironic that they had seeked to find sanctuary from death by coming in here. Now they seek sanctuary from death by leaving.-----
Great horror aspect to it.
Maaaan, I could so easily write a BOOK on this place.

4/5 for me. A bit more depth may have gotten a 5/5 :)
Certainly good idea for a first item
August 11, 2004, 1:07
Hmmm... It's like a rough draft. Flesh it out a bit, and it might shine!

August 11, 2004, 9:07
Thanks for the comments. I guess I got anxious to post, so it's a little underworked. I'll flesh it some more and see if I can't make some improvements.
Cheka Man
August 11, 2004, 12:51
I like this idea. Although humans would find it hard to live in a castle of ice-lighting fires would damage it. A Fire Mage could melt a hole through the gates unless the castle has it's own magic to stop such a thing.
Voted Feraltetsuo
June 19, 2006, 11:38
Looks like this has been updated since the original comments. I can see a lot of work put into it and quite a bit of detail.
Voted valadaar
February 27, 2017, 11:28
I like the image this submission presents - it could be the stepping off point for lots of ideas.

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