Icy Houses Building / Landmark in 13 | World Anvil

Icy Houses

If you pass the tests held in this house, you'll never be the same

These abandoned houses in Vuotnaivi are much more than they may look on the exterior. These run-down houses, with holes in the roof, are used by the Shark cult of Vuotnaivi to initiate members.  

Basic Structure

These houses, often abandoned after some or all of their owners died of the plague, can have any sort of arrangement of rooms on the interior. The only important part is that they have holes in the roof, as the cold seeping into the house is an essential part of the cults' plans.   On the house floor, a pool is dug out and let to fill with rainwater. Once the pool is filled, the house is ready to use for the initiation tests.  


Candidates are asked to meet by the door one hour before dusk. Then, they are taken inside the houses, where unarmed fights are staged between the candidates. The combat has no rules; only winning matters. While combat is not to the death, deaths do happen.   The losers are tossed to the streets, while the winners are asked to get naked. One by one, they are called into the pool and told they must stay under the water until they are called back. The test only lasts one minute and a half, but on the frigid waters, it often seems like a lifetime to the candidates, and about 1/3 of them breach the surface before they are called.   Those candidates who won their fights and survived in the icy pool will only be given their clothes back after every single candidate has been tested. Once this happens, they are allowed to dry up, a bonfire is made with the remnants of the house furniture, and a small celebration is had where those initiating the candidates pass on whatever knowledge they deem important to the new candidates.   The following morning, as the new memberswake up, they will find themselves capable of things they had never been able to. Infused with the essence of sharks, the new members are released back into society, each of them with a particular mission to fulfil.


Awareness of what happens in these houses is low amongst the populace or the wardens of Vuotnaivi.   Houses are usually only used once to a handful of times to lower any potential suspicions. And when houses are used several times, there are usually months in between.   Those houses which become occupied by new members are usually only temporarily squatted. Even so, neighbours are unlikely to complain to the authorities, unless given a good reason to. After all, the plague left many houses abandoned, why not let people in need to use them (as long as they behave)?

Alternative Uses

Although these houses are only meant for the initiation of members, those who have no place to stay can sleep in the house they were initiated at for no cost.   These places are rather inhospitable, due to the cold and windy conditions, but some manage to make it work. When several people decide to stay in one, tight-knit groups of new cultists are formed.

Cover image: by Stefan Keller


Please Login in order to comment!
Aug 9, 2022 01:45

Love the detail that went into designing the ritual, just enough to showcase its cruelty but not enough to remove the mystery of the cult and its missions and goals.

Aug 9, 2022 18:26

Thanks! I had a bit of difficulty coming up with what this predation-focused cult may do for a building. I'm glad the building still reflects the overall feel I get from the organization.   I also wrote this article about people that have a different experience at these Icy Houses:

Rank/Title | Jul 17, 2022

Spies and assassins to some, failures to most.