The Tower of Sathelis

  The Tower of Sathelis is a snow elven civilisation, home to the tribe known as the Querei. It is one of only three extant snow elven settlements, the others being the Nisrei home beneath Mt Firanthul and the fallen Elsrei lands of Jäätta.   The tower and its inhabitants are perched atop the ridged mountains that border Kylmävikk Desert, not too far from the strict dwarven country of Sjarvaldir and the gnomish Polyhedra. The location comes with a strict list of benefits and disadvantages: the small settlement is far enough out of the way that war very rarely comes crashing against its doors, yet close enough to allow for trade. The vast expanse of mountains around them makes for wintery weather, but the southern currents do grant them milder periods and allows for some amount of plant growth.   The Isyrei and other wandering tribes of the Kylmävikk are welcome in Sathelis, and often traverse the tunnel network leading up to it during the freezing winters to gain some shelter and trade their trophies for foodstuffs and clothing.

Demographics

Darling, don't tell me it's a surprise to you that a snow elven civilisation primarily speaks Elven.
— Azsire
  Sathelis is an almost entirely snow elven civilisation, with very few exceptions. Those exceptions are typically not permanent residents, instead being wanderers of the Vaeltajat who are oft welcomed into the Tower's halls with their trade and gifts, or those passing through by way of the Elf-Gate. Despite the prevalence of dwarves across Iskaldhal and the proximity of Sjarvaldir, dwarves find themselves unwelcome in the Tower due to the long history of war their nations have painted across the continent in crimson.   Galasthin maintains a mutual pact of residency with the Querei, allowing for purely elven members of the Querei to travel to Galasthin to study or take up residence. The details of the pact, however, result in the process taking entirely too long for most, and are seen as an attempt to re-colonise the Querei and to harm snow elven sovereignty. Very few have willingly gone through with it, as a result - and those coming from Galasthin have found themselves ostracised in more cases than not. Almost every Galasthin-born elf leaves within the year, either driven away by their social isolation or by their incapability to handle the bitter winters and magical storms blown in from the Kylmävikk Desert.

Government

The light of Seren falls upon you, and yet still you would tell such obvious lies?! You have betrayed our trust, and worse - you have betrayed your people.
— tribal elder giving judgment
  Snow elven tribes are incredibly insular, and the governance of Sathelis - along with every other snow elven community - is handled by the most trustworthy and knowledgeable members of the ruling tribe. In the case of Sathelis, Querei elders are chosen through rigorous trials of tribal tradition, artwork, knowledge, and interpersonal capabilities. The position is considered lifelong, but many elders choose to step down when their age begins to slow their thoughts. Procedures to remove an elder prematurely may be petitioned by any so long as there is a supporting count of at least ten members of the Querei.   Taxation does not exist; there is not enough individual wealth in the community to warrant it. Instead, money tends to be treated largely as a communal asset, with the tribal elders handling the supply chain and organisation of the entire tribe and thus being involved in almost every facet of life. The list of laws is not fully codified in text, with outsiders being told those which they must pay attention to upon their arrival. Punishments for breaking Querei law are harsh, ranging from hard labour to execution. They have very little mercy, even for their own, for those willing to breach the tribe's collective trust.

Infrastructure

Sathelis Library by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  Sathelis is home to the only remaining elf-gate on the continent of Iskaldhal, a fact which remains a point of pride for the Querei, and holds the only known comprehensive repository of snow elven knowledge remaining past the fall of Jäätta. Access to the libraries and artifacts, all stored well beneath the earth in an expansive and confusingly-organised vault, is granted only to those who can convince the tribal elders, which involves a lengthy process involving a ritual of communion with the earth and prayers to the gods. Those who attempt to bypass the Querei's protections are summarily executed - the method of execution is determined by the severity of their breach.   The only exception to this was in the 4600s, when a determined traveller from Polyhedra broke in to obtain information necessary to cure her Querei wife of a rare disease that had been ravaging the populace. The traveller immediately admitted their crime to the tribal elders - and presented a cure. The tribal elders spent much time deliberating, but finally resolved to allow the traveller into the Querei as one of their own when Seren herself protected the gnome with a crystalline shield no other could have conjured. Others have tried to mimic this feat and failed miserably.  
Elven Gateway by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

The latest breach of Querei security was in 5626, when a scholar travelling with adventurer Syrin Elathien attempted to breach the vault's protections whilst in search of a cure to the rare affliction the Spiritblade had cursed the half-elf with. Though the attempt resulted in the scholar's death, it did attract the attention of supposed Querei mage Azsire Túlyatar, who joined the half-elf's expedition.

Districts

The Tower is, by definition, a tower, and each of its districts are spread across levels.  

Each of the district names is somewhat more colloquial than anything codified, as is the case with much of snow elven cultural tradition.   Writing is too easy to lose to the brutal Iskaldhan weather conditions and constant threat of war to be trusted - the Querei vault is one of few exceptions to this, particularly after Jäätta's semi-recent example.

Districts of Sathelis

Seren's Beacon
The Starlit Seats
Skygate
Snowswept Residences
Halls of Union
The Hunters' Quarters
Traveller's Rest
Depths of Creation
The Vault
  Seren's Beacon is the tower's guiding light and the most official name upon the list. It is one of few remaining gifts from the Elsrei prior to their fall: a consecrated light powered by divine magic and blessed by Seren herself to shine as a beacon for lost travellers in the long winter nights. The Starlit Seats are the elder's chambers and the tower's meeting rooms; only one room is off-limits to non-elders, and the internal windows leading into it are rarely closed. The Querei have few secrets from one another and this is represented in every level of their governance.   Skygate is a level of its own, a series of extended balconies and viewing areas for visitors and citizens both to enjoy the sights. It is also the level on which the Querei elf-gate resides, though the gate receives little use from members of the Querei unless they are the type to travel far beyond. The levels below, from the Snowswept Residences to Traveller's Rest, are considered general residential areas - they cover the majority of living spaces and trade areas within the tribe, and include the bulk of the tower.   The Depths of Creation stand out as the designated levels for craftsmanship, magic, and other laborious tasks requiring significant personal and group effort. The rooms and floors here recieved dedicated attention to ventilation and emergency escapes, and a tunnel exists between the smithing areas and the dwarven Iceflows to allow for trade in more peaceful times. This particular entrance is the most heavily secured of the entire civilisation. Beneath these levels, and far from the Iceflows entrance, lies the Vault - as discussed above.
by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Alternative Name(s)
Sathelis
Type
Town
Inhabitant Demonym
the Querei
Location under
Owning Organization
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.
Sathelis and Firanthul are close enough to be sister cities and sparks to the flame of snow elven ambitions. It is strange, then, that the two tribes - Querei and Nisrei - maintain such a strong, defined distance. Perhaps they fear our intervention, should the threat of another Jäätta become overwhelming.
— dwarven scholar from Sjarvaldir on snow elven civilisations
 
It's strange. Like Polyhedra, the Tower of Sathelis is near enough to Foldauth that the threat of a lich should be one present in their daily lives. And yet it's strangers, not undead or dragons, that they are more wary of.
— Polyhedran observer
 
There's a rumour within the Circle of Harmony about that place, though the Circle-Keeper keeps telling us to shut up about it. The Querei won't advertise it, and they certainly won't confirm it, but... apparently, if you want to learn about ley magic, you go to them. They might even have an avatar willing to assist.
— anonymous druid
 
Mm. That last quote seems a little far-fetched, darling.
Azsire, avatar of Jäätta

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