Caelereth's northernmost archipelago and can be
found about a five to ten weeks voyage from the port of Carbrand, the closest
and most commonly used port by the natives that make trade with
Sarvonia. Similar in size to Akdor, it is composed
of an upwards of eight sets of islands and isles, and is roughly a third of the
size of Nybelmar. The
Cyhallrhim Elves, Quasurhiim and
Wroszul-Oc take up residency here, surviving the best they can with the limited
resources that they are afforded. This land is a cold and seemingly desolate
place to outsiders, where the moon dominates the sky and the Void seeps out
into the dark seas lapping at the northern and eastern shores. Here, the
mythical Ulvur are believed to stalk the
forests of Folasch, guarded by ferocious Snow Trolls;
Qu'prur has hidden her heart; a
fiery God has abandoned his children; and a
mysterious Deity tests the sanity of those curious, or maybe foolish enough to
seek out His grove.
Description. Cyhalloi is Caelereth's northernmost archipelago and is comprised of a number of small isles, with three mainland islands at its center; Guldor, Dorolak, and Folasch. The isles flow out and away from the corners of the mainlands, giving one a sense of a spiraling motion. Each island has its own unique geography, as if patch-worked together by the gods; from rolling dunes of snow and bedraggled beaches, to wintry marshlands and jagged mountains. A frozen over bay at Cyhalloi's heart, called the Ice Plains, serves as a bridge between the three larger islands. Beneath the ice is a torrential clash of currents, but above is the home to various seafaring creatures, a bountiful but dangerous hunting ground for animals and natives alike.
The land is eerily still half of the year and bitterly windy the other, but leaves one with the initial impression that it is a frostbitten wasteland either way. As one approaches the two southern mainlands, the beaches seem surprisingly snowless for such a frigid climate and the nearly-constant snow trickling down from the skies. However, such is not the case. Black sands cover the expansive beaches here, muddying up the crisp whiteness of even virgin snow where ice has not taken hold. "The frost has bitten the colour from the land," the Kasumarii would say. The southern isles are rocky and very boggy, the smaller spats of land even being lost to the sea whenever a heavy storm rolls over. All of the isles are covered in at least a light dusting of snow year-round, with the peculiar exception of the northeastern most set.
"It has been a few days since we left the trading port of Ludor, and we are approaching Guldor now; the turbulence of the waters is only matched by the howling winds. It is a rough morning at sea, to be sure, but only by counting the hours would you know that the night had passed. Apparently at this time of year, the sun is reluctant to climb to its perch in the sky, and when it does finally do so it sits low and lazy in the clouds. Despite the light snows, which are constant so I'm told, the shores are black as far as I can see. The captain tells me that it will be a few days, perhaps even a week, before we reach Winking Moon Cove. The sailors rush to man the sails as the winds kick up, and I am told to return below."
Key Locations. The continent of Cyhalloi comprises the following landmasses:
The most prominent landmass is Guldor, with its rich and wide landscape that holds the majority of the few areas that life thrives in. Here, farming is possible in the bay along the southern coast, the rich fertile soils beneath the water producing and supporting all manner of sea-foliage and sea-dwelling creatures. Starting at the southern peninsula, however, one would not get such an impression from the island. The ground there is mostly flat and rocky, jagged stalagmites like teeth sparsely scattered across the landscape, stretching out to the north with no mountains or trees to protect from the winds. Halfway up the peninsula is Qu'prur's Pass, a dark valley between two jagged mountains with sheer cliffs. Upon the lone standing mountain, Kasumar's Peak, on the east coast and north of the pass, lies the Kasumarrii's first great fortress city, The Citadel of Korenjah. The tundra here spans the entire midsection of the island, covering nearly a third of the island. It is protected by icy mountains, Dying Ice Ridge, on the east and Evathryón Ecúan, a mountain range stretching from the northwestern shore of the southern peninsula to the northernmost edge of the tundra along the western coast. The mountains here protect the island from the ices that threaten to creep up out of the bay. A wide forest, Sálen'Phýr, stretches out across the southern shores, shielding the belly of the land from the winds that sweep up the dark shoreline there. The coastline is a deceiving shade of brownish black, as it is not sand but soil that makes up the shore. Here, the turbulent currents sloshing across the coast prevents the ice from fully settling or freezing solid, and most of the year heavy winds wisk away any snow that may whiten the coast. The entirety of the northernmost peninsula is littered with a forest of icy stalagmites that loom over head, and cause the area to glow softly in varying degrees, echoing the light of the moon. Just past this one can see the occasional Cyhallrhim ice tower, which stands out amongst the stalagmites only due to their distinct opaqueness.
On the second largest island, Dorolak, the grounds are either frozen or extremely rocky and provides little in the way of edible foliage. The island is the equivalent of a snowy desert and resources are scarce for the orcs that live there, whose pillage-and-plunder attitude had compensated for their lack-there-of. However, even in a desert life can be found should one know where to look for it. While the tundra reaches the northern tip of the island, it is nowhere near as protected from the bay as the part spanning Guldor. Low-laying mountains are scattered haphazardly around the middle of the island, as if carelessly tossed to land where they may. Small, sparsely wooded forests are tucked in the shallow valleys between neighboring mountains, and against any other landmass that may serve as a sheild from the gales of wind coming off of the bay. It is presumed that few animals make home here, as there is little for game such as elk to dine upon and, by extension, little for predators to hunt. The tail end of the island is filled with caves that flow toward the north, tucked into crevices of the rocky landscape. It is in these caves that the bulk of the orc population have taken up residence, as it provides much needed refuge from the bitter climate. Beyond that, little is known about exactly what one might find inside.
The smallest primary island is Folasch, sitting at the northern end of the bay which has claimed the entire southern shore. Long tendrils of ice, like fingers, creep inland from the Ice Plain Bay, as if holding the island in the palm of its hand. Eventually the streams of ice, at least a dash wide, are lost beneath the hills beyond the southern beach. The western beach has not succumbed to the ices, but is long and shallow, slushy waters about a ped deep reaching inland for roughly 8 dashes. A small wooded area separates the beach from the Rolling Snows which is prime troll territory in Cyhalloi. The huge powdery hills shift and move on a daily basis, much like dunes of sand in the desert. As the hills flow northwards, they very quickly gain altitude before dropping off, abruptly in some places, into a canyon. The deep and very eerie Shade Crest Canyon, set in the northern majority of the island, is thickly forested and is believed to be where the mythical ulvur reside in secrecy. However, not many people would dare venture across the Rolling Snows, as packs of Snow Trolls can oft be found tolling around those parts, as if they were unofficial sentinels of the forest in the canyon beyond.
The Ice Plains
The bay between the three mainlands, called the Ice Plains, is a death trap just waiting for foolish ships to haphazardly sail into its midst. The surface of the bay is frozen, a mixture of varying degrees of ice. The southern most part of the bay's frozen surface is often crashed into by icebergs pulled in by the current, clearing away large amounts of thin ice and leaving the impression that a ship could perhaps sail through. Such is not the case. A little further north one might think the ice is thick enough cross on foot, as no cracks are apparent and the heavy snows often hide any fractures in the ice. This area is known as "The False Bridge" and, as its name would suggest, sure-footing is not something to be found. North of there, at the heart of the bay, is a huge gaping hole in the ice where torrential waters swirl and slosh, angrily splashing and frothing as if trying to reclaim its frozen surface. The Kasumarii call this place Nexus, and avoid visiting it altogether. Fishing here, they say, is a fruitless endeavour, presumably because the currents near the surface are too strong and quickly whisk away anything that may get caught up in it. Northwest of Nexus lay mountainous ice cliffs that rise up high above the sea level between Dorolak and Folasch, huge chunks of ice occasionally breaking off the face to float away in the waters below. Where the bay has latched onto the southern shores of Folasch with long icy fingers lays a hidden ice ravine, called "Qu'prur's Palm". Hidden away by mounds of snow, it is often the final resting place of those that do not take care in where they step. Just east of here, wedged between Guldor and Folasch, one can find the Ice Shelves where many fauna, such as the Nexus wallub and the spotted Pinnup, can be found throughout the summer and winter months.
The small island of Waning, also known as Winking Moon Cove, is directly to the east of Guldor and is a craggy little island that serves as one of the main cities of the Kasumar'ii men, and has been found to not be open to outsiders. It was here that this particular tribe of humans initially began to flourish during the days of the Hiding, when the Wroszul orcs had driven them from the tundra by relentlessly burning and plundering their villages following their arrival to the island continent. This city sits at the middle of the island and spans almost an eighth of its entirety. Now, the city that the Hiding has built there is a maze of lifted wooden walkways and docks along the crescent of the northern coast and southernmost point of the small Lune Bay, which is cradled safely away from the cold and often turbulent sea. Rows of trees that have grown so close together that one could barely step through the gaps between have been left standing along the walkways, acting as natural walls. In the majority of this city's inner areas slanted canopies made of wood or leathers have been built above the walkways for further protection from the elements. Along the southern coast are jagged rocks that stand, in some places, as tall as the trees themselves. Here, usable plants and animals are scarce and are mainly found hidden in the crannies of the southern rocks in the form of algae and crustaceans.
The Void Isles
The wintry climate only becomes more bitter-cold and nigh unbearable as one ventures further north and, ultimately, closer to the Void. The northeastern most isles are unique in geography from the others in that they are, surprisingly, not dominated by ice. Each isle, save for the largest in the middle, seems to be nothing more than mountains jutting up out of the sea. Deep caves dot the mountainsides, and the fierce winds of the region howl ominously through the openings there. Some seem to think that the islands connect to each other under the frigid waves by way of caverns. It is home to the Quasurhiim tribe, and surely to many cave dwelling creatures, not yet discovered as those whom have visited the mountain isles have little to say about them.
The Deity Isles
Found just to the west of Folasch, these isles are locked together by ice and generally have an unremarkable landscape. While mostly flat, heavy snowfall attributes to the hilly impression one gets of these isles upon approach by boat. Low areas in the land here tend to be heavily pitted, covered in slush and only giving the illusion of solid ground. The largest isle is covered in trees that sit so widely apart that one couldn't quite call it a forest. At the heart of the island sits what the Kasumarii call Deity's Grove, what the isles were ultimately named after. Sheltered from the winds by close-standing trees, tall craggy bushes and boulders that are uncharacteristic of this particular string of isles, it is a place filled with carvings of animals and various other offerings for a god or goddess unknown. It is said that when one spends almost any amount of time in the strangely quiet clearing, you'll be compelled to leave an offering of your very own before you can bring yourself to leave. It is assumed that it was once a place of worship for a people who lived here. However, all other remnants of anyone making home here have vanished into the ice and snow. Now, occasionally, Snow Trolls can be found mulling around eastern spits of lands in this string of isles, as they are connected to Folasch by the ice shelves there.
The southernmost string of isles, found just below the mainland islands on the map, are called Qu'prur's Necklace. Here, the beaches are lightly rocky, though not nearly as rocky as the southern shores of Dorolak. The largest of the isles, Lockette, is the westernmost and largest of the isles, and also the most dangerous to approach by ship. Here, huge rocks jut up out of the waters and local mariners say that many treacherous reefs form a barrier around this island, making it impossible to approach by ship. As if to illistrate the warning, a graveyard of wrecked ships foolish enough to sail too close are scattered around the island, against rocks and hung up on reefs. The difficulty of reaching the island has left it nearly untouched by mer or man, and the large boulders lining the coasts protect the thicket of woods at its center from the chilly winds. Many land bound birds can be seen scoring the beaches for food and are believed to roost in the underbrush there. It is said that the Heart of Qu'prur herself is hidden in the woods, though what form it takes is unknown. Just northeast of Lockette, upon one of smallest "beads" of Qu'prur's Necklace is a small trade city that the Stormcloaks, a Kasumar'ii men guild, have established quite recently called Ludor Port.
Location. On the map, Cyhalloi is found northeast of the continent of Sarvonia, and east of the Icelands. It takes about eight to twelve weeks to sail to Ludor Port from Remusiat and five to ten weeks from the port of Margith, depending upon the weather conditions and time of year.
Races. The tribes inhabiting Cyhalloi are few and far between, not many people would choose to live here- other than the elves, of course. However, once a place has become a people's home, no matter how harsh it is to live there, it tends to turn into a place of importance for them and the majority would not choose to live anywhere else.
The Cyhallrhim Elves
These elves were the first to stumble across these arctic islands, hence the similarity between the names, but have since become feral, so to speak, and scattered themselves across the islands. They live in seclusion, keeping to themselves, the forest, and their ice towers that stand tall across the northern peninsula of Guldor. Having rarely interacted with their neighbouring tribes, the elves are far from anyone's thoughts and a silent kill of a well-aimed arrow may be the only trace left behind by one of them, if any trace at all.
It is unclear the exact circumstances that transpired to result in the orcs of Dorolak coming to be upon Cyhalloi, however it is apparent how the islands have drastically changed them. Their huge warship is washed up on the southern shore of Dorolak, the huge square barge a menacing wonder to behold. Having given up their quest to dominate the humans, they have receded into the caves of the island and begun a life almost as mysterious as the elves. These orcs skin colour ranges from an ashy plum to a black blue and they stand at a great height, averaging at two peds. They are said to have a wild mane of pale hair about their heads with beady pale-gold eyes and dark greenish lips. It is rumoured by the Kasumarii that these orcs mated with the snow trolls because their numbers were so few, which they seem to think perfectly explains the orcs' immense stature, ferocity and wild fur.
The Kasumarii Men
The Kasumarii men, also known as Ka'rii, are a tribe born of hardships and battle. When ships fleeing a plague get lost at sea due to storms, they crash upon the southwestern shores of Guldor and quickly move north into the mountains to take refuge from the harsh climate. Surviving the unforgiving winter was a testimony to their will and resilient constitution. Upon emerging from caves when summer blinked it bright eye, their hardships had just merely begun. The orcs of the land discovered them, having just finally made their way to the continent and started their race to claim it against the elements and against the never-seen elves. It took decades for the Kasumarii to grow in numbers and become learned in the art of guerilla warfare. Once they relinquished control of the tundra from the orcs entirely, their tribe began to flourish and they established two main cities; the Citadel of Korenjah and Winking Moon Port. It wasn't until fairly recently that the Ka'rii began relations with other continents and built Ludor Port in the southern end of Qu'prur's Necklace as a trade city open to outsiders.
An offshoot of the Kasumarii men, this tribe was established shortly after the orcs had first begun driving the humans out of the tundra following their arrival to the islands. After many raids and skirmishes, a large group of Ka'rii fled to the north where the orcs never ventured due to the increasingly frigid climate, weary of the bloodshed that they had witnessed. They searched for a home where conflict with other peoples could be avoided, and where they could live peacefully with each other. It is said that upon finding an Ice Tower, the group pleaded with the elves residing there for shelter from the bitter-cold by offering them the frozen remains of two elk they had felled in the forest along the way. The Cyhallrhim elves took pity upon the downtrodden humans, allowing them to stay and learn how to survive by watching and participating in their everyday lives. Once sure of the knowledge they had gained, and that they would not perish should they journey out into the wilderness, they left the elves in search of a home that they could truly call their own. Something was calling to them from the north, it seemed, a lulling voice so beautiful that they could not refuse its beckoning. So it was north that they travelled, until they discovered the Void Isles, naked of snow, and they receded into the extensive caves and caverns throughout those mountains.
All across the northern half of the continent of Cyhalloi, one can find these trolls trudging around through the snowy landscape. Not too much is known about this brutish tribe, as they tend to be particularly hostile towards anything that isn't a troll as well. Oddly, despite their size, they have been known to be spotted from a distance and then seemingly just vanish into the snow, even when one doesn't look away. It is thought that they tend to keep mainly to Folasch island, but have been spotted briefly in the tundra of Guldor and the northern areas of Dorolak. While there are no reports of them across the southernmost areas of the continent, it does not mean that they are not there, though the notion seems unlikely.
The ulvur, thought to be merely creatures of myth by most, are said to reside in the northernmost forests tucked inside a surprisingly deep canyon in the northern island of Folasch. It is said that their song can be heard, howling with the winds on nights of the full moon. While no one has reported seeing a member of this tribe in the remembered past, Shade Crest Canyon is respected as their home and none dare to trespass on their land. That is, assuming that they make it past the Snow Trolls and survive the treacherous climb down the canyon wall first.
Climate. In Cyhalloi,
it seems that winter will never end; snows fall nearly every day, coating the
land. Here, the winter never fully thaws away, and most of the northern half of
the islands have fallen victim to the ice creeping out of the bay. Though the
chilled winter mostly drowns out the other seasons that may come to pass, the
snows become torrential and rarely stop in the spring as the weather warms just
a little. However, summer is quick on spring's heels. Heavy, warm winds sweeps
away and melts at least half of the snows that spring left in its wake, and
steals away most seedlings that would try to take hold. During fall and winter,
the land falls under such a stillness that it makes one want to hold their
breath. There is not much, if any wind at all, and the snow, when it falls,
trickles gently from the sky. It is claimed mainly by the
Kasumarii, despite being the
coldest time of the year, is the best time of year: "The land is eerie, and
downright beautiful in its uncanny quiet. As if
Qu'prur, Herself, stole breath from the
Darkness prevails upon these islands, the sky often times shrouded with thick swirling clouds or short lived flurries blotting out the sun. At night the weather seems more calm, and when the moon is full it lights up the sky as if it were the sun, setting the snow drenched land aglow. When coming from anywhere else, one would swear that the days were shorter here than they ought to be, while the night would seem to stretch on as if it would never end. The sun is lazy to rise and early to set, giving the impression that it is hard pressed to cast its light on such a distant horizon.
Flora. The variety of plants upon land that are usable resources are scarce, making survival particularly tricky, especially since faring the icy waters around the islands is such a risky affair. Trees such as the Cyhalloian pine and snow firs stand tall in most of the wooded areas here, acting as homes to squirm moss and other such plants. A narrow variety of bushes take hold here, as the climate does not allow it, but the low-lying Craggy tuft can be found in places shielded from the winds. Many of the plants found here that are abundant enough to be a reliable resource are found in the cold, fertile waters surrounding the islands. The most prominently depended upon plant would probably be the tyrscaru, a sea lilly that grows in surprising abundance along the southern and eastern coasts of Guldor, but can be found all around the islands.
Fauna. Few animals have the hardy constitution required for living in such a harsh climate as that of Cyhalloi. Herding and domestic animals are practically nonexistent here, but that hasn't stopped the Ka'rii from trying to tame and domesticate the wild animals present. An offshoot of the thunderfoot lives exclusively in the tundra sprawling across the waist of Guldor, named íl’thróg by the Cyhallrhim elves. Animals such as the cloaked elk, leveret rabbit and the cragdashlive can be found throughout the islands, leaping through the snows and hiding in the forests, though the latter-most beast tends to keep to the steep mountainsides. There are, however, plenty of predatory animals calling this continent home, like the Cyhalloian slinker, the mithrilene lingradau, or the fierce white bear. Animals that live on the ice, such as the spotted pinnip and the Nexus wallub, prey on the abundant supply of fish that live in the cold waters around the islands, along with any other crustaceans that they may find. The verhon, a bird that lives sparsely across the Ice Plains, generally tends to keep south of Nexus when pecking for food and is suspected to be the main cause in cracking the ice and making False Bridge even more treacherous than it already is. Fishing here is the easiest dinner to be caught, the spearhead trout being the most abundant, but is still quite the dangerous endeavor from encounters with the terrifying krrroa'haxpattl to simply falling into the frigid waters. Also, surprisingly, many land bound birds, such as the snow gynnia and the pendant hopper, can be found all across the continent. It is also suspected that many of these flightless birds live throughout the entirety of Qu'prur's Necklace. Also, to be mentioned, the eagle, one of the largest predatory birds in Caelereth, calls home to many of the mountains particularly along the western coast of Guldor and the Shade Crest Canyon.
Myth/Lore. There is nowhere else in the world that the moon is larger, brighter, nor more revered and hated than it is here, upon these isles. Because of this, it is believed that the mythical ulvur stalk the forests of the northernmost mainland, Folasch, their secrets hidden deep within the canyon nestled in the north majority of the island. This is, however, only the most prevalent and well known myth of the region and there are many others to be told; such as the tundra beast and the lindorm.
Long ago Qu'prur came unto the Kasumar'ii men to show them the path through the darkness. "Need not the light," She said, "as it can be just as blinding as the darkness- but nothing else is as absolute." Then, with a wave of Her pallid hand, death swept the land and drove them into the dark.
Her children must face her, to love her, and like all those learning, must be pushed to do so with a firm but patient hand. The weak would fall and the strong would thrive, but she did not discriminate. She taught that all had strength, they had but to grasp and utilize that strength. In the eyes of Qu'prur, only the fearlessly strong are worthy of reaching the land that she gave birth to intended as paradise to her children. Her love is hard and earned, and that much more gratifying to receive because of it.
Great ships brought them to Cyhalloi, many along the journey perished and the deserving- the ones that fell fighting- were wrapped in night cloak and kept safe as to be reborn. They had followed Her voice through the turbulent seas, and by the time they stood once more upon still ground they had lost track of how long they had been wandering through the darkness. However, reaching the land wasn't the last of their trials. Further tribulations lay ahead.
The inhabitants of the region proved to be aggressive and ruthless in their assault on the Kasumarii, and they had to fight tooth and nail just to survive. It taught them that the strength of will they were born with was not enough, they must aspire to be more. It taught them patience, and it was down this arduous path that they would learn such patience. The Kasumarii became the Hiding then, using the shadows to their advantage in order to slip by their foes. This gave them the time to calculate, to learn, to grow. And once they were strong enough and brave enough, they conquered the orcs and drove them out of their paradise.
It was then that Qu'prur looked down upon her children with respect and provided them her favor- granting them power that only the Moon had to offer. For, while her love was hard, it was true and absolute; as deep as the Darkness, and endless as Life and Death.
Deity's Grove is said to be the final resting place of a long forgotten god, and it is certainly eerie to behold. Whether or not the celestial being is male or female, one may never know; but the strange primal magic and the huge totem looming in the middle of the clearing, thickens the very air. The grove itself is actually a breathtaking sight, seemingly unscathed by whatever the world may bring to pass and the crisp white snow appearing untouched by wind or animal or anything else, as though it has always just fallen. It seems too white, too virgin, and glitters in the sunlight in a way that doesn't seem quite right for snow, though it is impossible to say exactly why. Even compared to the Shade Crest Canyon, it is describe to as beyond eerie.
The clearing itself is surrounded by huge boulders, as though put there by someone on purpose, however it would have taken incredible ingenuity or a giant to move such large rocks. Only a small gap between two of the boulders on the southeastern side of the grove allows admittance into the area. As stated before, a huge totem sits quietly in the midst of the clearing. A wide, oval base with all manner of carvings and drawings around its sides has bowls chipped right into the surface, presumably where offerings are to be placed.
The totem itself stands tall, reaching at least five peds in height, and is solid stone. Strange, swirling designs that glow much like Luneweep stones are said to be traced all over the rock, however those whom had reported stumbling across this particular place all describe different designs. One particular Shade Cleric who claims to have seen the grove states that the designs played out a story; telling the birth, life, and death of Qu'prur. Others have said to have seen their own lives, and their own death, upon the stone. But all say the same, that the stone seemed to have gnarled black antlers growing out of its crown, like burnt jagged hands reaching up to grab the very sky.
Others, still, reported even stranger things:
"I could hear it, the big stone in the middle, like it was whispering to me- couldn't make out the words, though. But the sound of it buzzed around in the back of my head, barely noticeable. It wanted something, I could feel it. So I slit the throat of my leveret on the base and kneeled in the snow until the blood froze." - Shade Cleric
"It was so quiet there, like the air was holding its breath. It could have been peaceful, I suppose, except that it seemed that the silence itself was loud and screaming, drowning out the rest of the world." - Korenjaan
It is told in stories that hidden deep in the woods, which thickly cover the entirety of Lockette island, is a sacred place where Qu'prur herself hid her heart.
Long ago, after Kasumar helped his people overcome the oppression of the orcs and drove them from Guldor, he disappeared into the forests of the north. It is rumored that he went there to learn the secrets of the elves. After this, he is said to have disappeared into the Rolling Snows and never returned. Many Kar'ii believe that he made it down into Shade Crest Canyon and lives with the mythical ulvur there, others believe he perished in the snows for any number of reasons. Either way, all Kasumarii believe that his fabled blade, given to him by the god Korenjah himself, is still to be found somewhere on Folasch island.