They've been a myth made real for longer than any living being can remember. I can't even count how many adventurers have tried to seek their fortunes in a Shrine, only to find the only reward awaiting them is a very painful death.
believe Iskaldhal was their continent to inherit - that it was their birthright, their place of being. Given the existence of the Heartforge
, they may be correct to some extent.
They were not the first sentient beings to roam the icy mountains. Before them came giants, fey, and even the likes of thunderbirds. Ancient beings with varying levels of sapience, each making their own way in the world. The eldest of these creatures (according to their own scriptures) were the dragons
. Little remains of the times they openly ruled. The Shattering of Skies
made sure of that.
Little remains but scattered artifacts, lost legends, and the Shrines of Stone.
Four aboveground and intact Shrines are known to still exist in a non-ruined and at least partially functional state. The exact amount of Shrines in existence is unknown - the Goldendwelt
are rumoured to be found close to an alleged Shrine of Topaz
, and multiple references to a Shrine of Onyx
have been found in draconic scripture.
Shrine of Ruby
The Ruby Shrine can be found south of Foldauth and lies closest to the Heartforge of all known draconic shrines. Chromatic dragons, particularly the red variety, guard it fiercely. An aura of evocation magic lingers around it, causing an odd heating effect that prevents snow from settling in the area.
Shrine of Sapphire
The Sapphire Shrine is found to the east of Jäätta
. Whilst it was once firmly within the grasp of white dragons, a metallic
pair have recently - within the past five centuries - reclaimed it, and now allow respectful scholars to study the outside of the ruins. Adventurers seeking to brave the inside are given the opportunity to do so if they can pass the dragons' test. So far, none have passed.
Shrine of Emerald
The Emerald Shrine is perhaps the most well documented of the stone shrines, due to its proximity to Gildómar
. After both nations and their assorted enemies made attempts to capture the beacon of power in centuries past, an ancient imperial dragon
(a sovereign, marked by its gleaming crown of scales) took up residence. The Servants of the Crowned
were subsequently formed of those foolish enough to attack, turning them from violence to quiet harmony.
Shrine of Diamond
Technically, there exist two Shrines of Diamond. The ruins of one lie to the south of the Ruby Shrine, whilst an elaborate gleaming obelisk marking the other can be found nestled between Fjolkandr
and the Tower of Sathelis
. The two are linked - though the dragons refuse to say how - and both are heavily defended. Those braving the Western Diamond Shrine risk drawing the ire of Seiðrkolva
, as her aura of necromancy lingers about its perimeter, whilst the Eastern Diamond Shrine radiates of some of the strongest abjuration magics known to all sentient beings.
They used to be beautiful. Shimmering beacons of gem-tinted light stretching up into the sky, entwining with the greenish haze bestowed by the sun's grace. We have nobody to blame but ourselves for their loss.
In their prime, each Shrine was a place of reverence for dragonkind and those who saw the dragons as higher beings. Though exact records of the uses are incredibly rare, accounts given by dragons in the years following the Shattering establish the Shrines as being key magical locations innately linked with Iskaldhal's ley network. They were the home of rituals and spellwork far beyond the capability of most mortal spellcasters, to the extent that even now, traces of divine magic bleed through the very roots of each Shrine.
They fell out of use after the Shattering. The sundering of old alliances and magics disrupted the spellwork at each, making them dangerous places for the less powerful. The remaining draconic mages found their rituals weakened in the post-Shattering world, and though some still complete their magics at the temples they can gain access to, the art remains mostly forgotten.
Adventurers, however, see the Shrines as a source of adventure. Untold treasure and relics of the distant past lie within each, left untouched since before even the events of the Worldrend. Not many have succeeded in their attempts of invasion - this doesn't deter most parties. Each seems to believe, wholly, that they will be the ones to survive.