Kylmävikk Desert

Endless fields of blinding white stretch in every direction, interrupted only by the jagged cliffs of steep rock. If there was once life here, there is little sign of it now.
  With a name that roughly translates into "expanse of cold" in the variant of human language used by the Vaeltajat, it should come as no surprise that the Kylmävikk Desert is a large expanse of near-endless ice. It is the origin point of many of the magical storms that flash through the continent of Iskaldhal, and home to countless threats to the few that try to eke out an existence in the safer areas of the icy hellscape.   The name is somewhat a misnomer - parts of the region can most definitely be classed as a polar desert, but the rocky mountains and valleys throughout break up the ice fields with patches of tundra-like terrain instead. Still, these areas get precious little rainfall, and rely more on natural magical features to grant them their continued existence. It is in these areas, barren as they still remain, that the bulk of the Kylmävikk's flora lives. Very little survives on the ice fields themselves.

Geography

Iskaldhal
The continent of Iskaldhal is a wild place. Witch-Tribes rule in the shadows as dragons soar overhead and mysterious artifacts from lost millennia lurk in distant icy reaches.
  As mentioned above, a large section of the desert is comprised of immense ice fields, formed over millions of years, that sit in the low-lying flat expanse at the centre of the desert, and out towards the jagged coast. Still more of it is jagged, unforgiving terrain - the mountains of Iskaldhal do not simply stop at the desert, but do decrease in prominence.   It is often said that the flat area that covers much of the desert was not a natural formation, and was instead the result of the first Divine War to glance the planet - due to the unnatural magics around Iskaldhal, this may not be idle speculation. It is, however, true that the continent's troubles seem to centre on a few places - the Heartforge of Iskaldhal, Jäätta, the Shrines of Stone, and even Kyöpelinvuori, for instance - in addition to the desert.

Fauna & Flora

Flora

 
Is that-- look! Dwarf's beard! We're saved!
— exhausted traveller
  Besides the ever-present ice and jagged terrain, small sections of the desert find ways to contain more life. The Trial of Vindsvalr, a deep, land-wrenching chasm in the ice, allows some life to take root in the chasm's shade from the harsh weather above, thus serving as a fantastic source of food for the nearby orcish tribe of Durhaz Gn. The chasm was created by the beginnings of a Champion - Vindsvalr - undertaking a trial to prove himself to his frost giant deity, if the stories are accurate.   Elsewhere, the shade of mountains grants the desert a more tundra-like feel. The hearty Dwarf's Beard grows throughout the desert, but hangs particularly thickly to the walls of these shaded mountains, and other plants use its life to create their own. These spots are often called out in traditional travelling tales and songs to give the many nomads of Iskaldhal landmarks to seek out: the Isyrei and the Vaeltajat are two of such, though many of the Witch-Tribes also court these 'gardens' for ingredients.  

Fauna

 
Wh-what the hell is tha-- RUN!
— panicked traveller
  The desert is dangerous. This much is well-known. If the frost giants and potentially lethal roaming tribes are not enough to worry about, the non-sapient wildlife of the desert should also be feared. Mammoths may seem calm, but should not be provoked. Frozen undead - likely abandoned by the continent's two liches, or byproducts of witch experimentation - gather together in hordes. Immense worms burrow into the ice and emerge to consume passing meat, and skittering things made from seemingly ice alone skulk along the permafrost's edge. Polar bears raise their cubs, unaware of the terrors around them until it is too late, and seals continue to be adorable fat lumps at the coastline's edge.   The other sapient beings should not be discounted. The Sapphire Shrine lies at the southern edge of the Kylmävikk, bringing a semi-regular host of dragons to the area, and at least one white dragon maintains a lair within the desert's depths. Jäätta sits just beyond a mountain range - this would often be enough to halt odd influence, but the cursed land's glow regularly seems to spread through the mountains and across the desert. Ice fey, too, have a residence within the desert - if one comes across an icy monolith that pierces the sky, they should turn back, and quickly - else it will be too late.  
The doors are open! We come ever closer... you must be curious.
Listen to our call. Come to us. Visit us.
Alternative Name(s)
the Scarred Snows
Type
Desert, Ice
Location under
Included Locations
Inhabiting Species
Related Materials


Cover image: Ice Fields by Matteo Senesi

Comments

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13 Jul, 2021 14:46

I feel like im running out of nice things to say because everything is so good but i don't want to repeat myself. I love the way you write articles, I love the mix of info, quotes, and story. Its refreshing and easy to read. amazing :)

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
14 Jul, 2021 12:40

I am BLUSHING you're very sweet ;; w ;;

8 Aug, 2021 18:44

*squints suspiciously at that last bit*   Sounds like an interesting and terrifying place. I love that you've obviously put thought into its history, and also what could survive there. The undead seem quite concerning, but also kind of sad.   This is my favourite part: 'and seals continue to be adorable fat lumps at the coastline's edge.'

28 Aug, 2021 10:40

I came here to mention the seal's sentence as well :P   Is the last container meant to be hard to read without selecting the text?