The Shatterspine Mountains
(also occasionally “M’roscal” or "M’rotha’s Daggers", in classical
R’unorian) are the largest range of mountains in the
R'unorian Isles, located north-west of
Nybelmar. Not mountains in a conventional sense, the
near impenetrable Shatterspine range is a maze of brutal limestone daggers,
filled with unusual flora and fauna. Recent innovation has allowed limited
exploration of the interior, but the range remains largely unmapped and
Description. The Shatterspine Mountains do not resemble those of mainland Nybelmar, or Sarvonia. While most mountains have a comparatively gentle slope that one could actually stand on, the Shatterspine range is a series of knifepoint spikes with razor sharp edges, ranging from the height and breadth from a small house to pinnacles several dozen peds in height. Individual spikes stand apart from tall and narrow ridges of limestone, all clustered together in alleys so that when seen from on high it resembles the streets and byways of a city.
While generally narrow in some places the spikes are placed wide enough apart to allow whole trees to grow between them, excepting cases when time has caused them to topple over. The action of one of these spikes tipping is no small matter, and can knock over neighbouring spikes.
The effect this creates is one of a vast maze of knife edged spikes, put together in such a way that it is all but impossible to approach anywhere much beyond the edge without flying. Most creatures cannot even begin to climb the "mountains" of the Shatterspines without somehow protecting themselves, as there is rarely such a thing as a safe place to place one's hand.
In some places, shallow depressions, or cracks in the spires have been filled with dirt and allowed plantlife to flourish there. Entire trees have been found clinging to the rocks, or growing in the avenues giving a curious contrast between the white of the limestone spires and the green of the local flora.
It is possible, at the edges of the "mountain" range, to penetrate into the rocky snarl that is the interior but this is generally not advised. The ground around the base of the mountains is mostly a scree of pebbles, sticks and leaves, where it is not entirely choked with the resilient foliage that manages to take root there. Footing is poor and the edges of the rocks have been known to tear gashes as though they were knives.
Extensive exploration of the Shatterspines as has been made has only been done recently. Aided by a curious contraption that has enabled him to ascend, a small basket attached to a large floating bladder, R’unorian explorer Adma'Nsun Rol'id recently managed to achieve a view of much of the southern portion of the range from above.
Location. The Shatterspine Mountains are located in the Isles of R'unor. To be precise: they can be found on the island of R'unor itself, located in the northern half due west of the capital, and almost directly north of the town of Stone-Shallow. They are separated from a smaller range of mountains by the Black Fields in central R'unor.
Image description. The limestone quarry at the Shatterspine Mountains, the village of Stone-Shallow. Picture drawn by Faugar.
People. The nearest
habitation to the mountains is the town of Stone-Shallow, which quarries
limestone. Stoneshallow is one of the larger settlements on the Isle of
R'unor, and is actually built around (and out of and
upon) a trio of fallen spikes at the edge of the mountains. These spikes are
among the smallest in the range, even before the quarrying began. Two of the
smaller spikes have been largely consumed, as paths have been cut out of them,
homes and shops built into them and around them while quarrying of the third and
some of the neighbouring spikes within the range provide industry for the town.
Climate. The climate of the Shatterspines is largely arid. While it does experience copious rainfall, throughout the spring and fall, the porous limestone of the spikes and the scree floor quickly drink it up, leaving little to no standing water. The summer and winter months are both quite dry, during which much of the avian life of the mountains departs in search of food.
Flora. The native flora of the Shatterspine Mountains is hardy, there is very little soil and water is absorbed quickly. Cactuses, such as one might expect from an outright desert, thrive in nooks and crannies in the rock. Incredibly tall trees manage to thrive in the alleys between spikes, clogging the passage with roots and branches. The curious creeping leaf vines have been observed colonizing the upper reaches of some spikes. During the early autumn their seeds are carried aloft by the strong winds and scattered to grow elsewhere, where they are considered a troublesome form of weed.
Fauna. The lack of solid footing, the cramped spaces and natural hazards combine to ensure that any sort of terrestrial fauna quite rare. Notable residents include the three-limbed ateline simians, and wide variety of scaly creatures. In the air however, a wide variety of raucous birds of assorted colours have been known to make their nests in the mountains. Insect life is quite abundant, providing food for these birds, including the massive R'unorian rook.
Myth/Lore. The peoples of R'unor claim that the Shatterspine Mountains rose up overnight after the people living there angered M'rotha, goddess of the earth and harvest. Because of this M'rotha forbade any creatures to dwell there. She drove the mountains up out of the ground, and made them as sharp as great knives, so that the land would only belong to the birds.