|Realm||Kingdom of the Isles|
The Coldwell is the southernmost region of the Kingdom of the Isles, colonised in the 460s and comprising a group of islands and a stretch of neighbouring coastline.
The Coldwell is a coastal region dominated by the trailing edge of a massive glacier to the south and west, and a single, massive island in the middle. This island is called Phoenix Isle for its shape. A sprinkling of smaller islands dot the remainder of the sea. Two important geologic features control the climate and vegetation in the region. To the north lies the Broken Enclave. A rich upwelling of warm water pushes massive amounts of plant matter southward. It collides with a bitterly cold current welling up out of the deeps south of Phoenix Isle. These competing currents drive the ecology of the entire region. There are three notable regions in the Coldwell.
The massive Guardian Glacier towers along the southern coast of the Coldwell. It is sheer and unclimbable in most places. It continually births large icebergs, which float north on the cold-water current. This makes travel by ship hazardous. But the icebergs are home to large colonies of seals and sea-lions. To the east, the deep waters are well stocked with white sharks which feed on the seals. To the west, ocean-bears hunt similar prey.
The stretch of sea between the western coast of Phoenix Isle and the promontory of Trinacria is known as the Cauldron. Here, the warm and cold currents mix the strongest, creating a counter-clockwise rotation around a central point. The undertow in the center is sufficient to pull ships down. Vast schools of baitfish live within the currents. Both shores are populated with diving birds and penguins which feed on them. In turn they are preyed upon by raptors from above and smaller sharks from below.
Phoenix Isle is an active volcano at its center surrounded by outcroppings of rock that form the shape of a bird. The name for the volcano in the local dialect translates to "The Weeping Mountain". The volcano does not pour forth lava, instead, it is a massive dome from which hot mud pours
forth on regular intervals. As the mud cools, it forms into beautiful, fragile white crystals highly reminiscent of snow. Around the edges of these flows grow the rustwind plants. The rustwinds, in turn, provide nutrients for all the other plants on the island. Most of these are thick skinned, cactus like plants. Instead of hoarding water, however, they collect a form of nitric acid to hoard the nitrogen they need to grow. This can prove a deadly surprise to any human attempting to drink from them for water. There is not a single fresh water spring on the entire island.
Phoenix Isle is also home to the first real Frost Troll settlement, known as Silvermire. Due to the corrosive nature of Rustwind, it was necessary to find a non-corrosive metal with which to build the settlement, resulting in a city built entirely of silver. Located in the North east interior of the island, the city was built with the help from the Broken Enclave, Celero and the Caercian Consortium, the craftsmen needing to be regularly rotated out as to mitigate the harmful effects of long-term exposure to rustwind.
This region is entirely devoid of human life. The glaciers are too steep and fracture into too many icebergs for permanent settlement. Some Liusti elves have been known to venture east to this region, but have not established permanent homes. Phoenix Isle has no fresh water. In addition, persistant exposure to the rustwind plant will result in iron-deficient blood within a year. Fatigue and lack of oxygen will kill within five years.
One group of natives do manage to live on the edges of Phoenix Isle. They call themselves simply, ‘the people’, but the Luisti Elf name for them translates as ‘Blood Drinkers.” They stand between eight and nine feet tall and are covered in thick white, shaggy fur. They are bipedal, but not human looking. They have large black eyes with third eyelids, long pointed teeth, and large claws on both hands. A single long horn protrudes from their forehead. They live primarily off of the blood and marrow of animals, particularly seals, penguins and the giant bears, which they hunt. They are also known to hunt large fish like tuna from the icebergs. They require the iron-rich animal blood to counteract the effects of the rustwind plants. Their fur renders them immune to the effects of the cold water and has a natural resistance to acids.
They might, at first, appear primitive. They hunt on all fours, springing forth from ambush to grab prey. But they have a keen sense of tactics and working in small groups. Their horns are sensitive electrochemical receptors, allowing them to sense their prey, and each other, even when they cannot be seen. They live in small community groups in caves dug out of the hillsides on Phoenix Isle. They seldom use wood, as they have little need for heat, and use few, if any, tools. They are not primitive, though. Metals are nearly impossible to maintain on Phoenix Isle, and their diet requires living creatures from the sea, or that feed exclusively upon creatures from the sea. This leads them to barter knowledge and assistance rather than money or trade goods. They are keen observers and have an exceptional ability to understand what a being needs, and what they are willing to pay for it.
The Blood Drinkers require very little. Their physique limits their needs. The only thing they consistently desire is fresh water, or other beverages. They harvest icebergs whenever they can, but the currents can be inconsistent, and the warm water from the north often melts the icebergs quickly.
One resource they have in abundance are the rustwind plants. Rustwind plants are ground vines that live along the edges of the mud pools. These pools are full of metallic compounds bonded to nitrogen. The rustwinds produce pollen that causes these metallic compounds to release nitrogen and bind to the oxygenated pollen instead. This frees up nitrogen for the plants to consume. The plants have a 6 week life cycle and so are continually pollinating. The pollen can corrode a coin sized piece of metal to rust in just a few weeks. If the flowers are collected before bursting open, they can be ground and used as fertilizer. They bind to metals in the soil and release nitrogen.
Another resource native to the region is giant Bear-Dogs, a very large predator which competes with the Blood Drinkers for prey and is hunted by them. The giant bear-dogs resemble bears, but are rather larger, weighing up to a ton, and are generally quadripedal, bearing some similarities to dogs in appearance. They are hunted by the population for sport and when they stray into populated areas, but some have been tamed, though not fully domesticated, and are kept as dangerous but impressive pets. Some have speculated they and the Blood Drinkers might even be related, though this seems unlikely.
The natives believe that two spirits control the universe. One is the spirit of fire, the other of cold. The constant interplay between these two motivate all life. It is largely unorganized.