Under the ice in Shadowfire | World Anvil

Under the ice

There is nothing as wondrous and terrifying as your first descent into the Tears of Xivleppo.   After weeks spent traversing the scarred expanse of the Sea of Black Ice, the gates to the Under-ice beckon you. The City of Xivleppo promises respite from the bone-scouring icestorms, and the ever-hungry Frostbacks that prowl the world above.   To access the city, you must first find an entrance. This is not easy, as their markers are often obscured by snowfall, and the entrances frozen over entirely. You might spot the telltale whisps of warm vapor rising from cracks in the ice, and you will have to dig, and hope you have chosen the right place to do so.   The ice tunnels are worn smooth by time. Warm air from far below greets you. It is this that keeps the surface of the tunnels smooth and wet. As you descend you quickly realise that turning back is no easy option. Most of the tunnels are steep and often the only way forward is a headlong slide downwards which you must launch yourself into, and hope for the best.   Eventually the tunnels emerge into one of the vast antechambers to the Under-ice proper, and you are greeted by your hosts, the Lonkero, who guard the final airlocks into the city. Their tentacled beaks clatter and rasp at you as they hand you your breathing mask.   This is where the true strangeness of the city becomes apparent. You are the alien here, and your entry is conditional on the goodwill of your hosts. The breathing apparatus is controlled entirely by the Lonkero, and without this you will not survive.   With your mask on, they push you to a round pool of water in the middle of the airlock. You are acutely aware of the mountains of ice above your head, and the endless dark waters below. Safety and comfort are literally a world away, and you must surrender your fear and step forward.   As you plunge into the waters below the ice, the cold slices to your bones. You are cut out of yourself, and are tranplanted again. Transformed in an instant as a soul of the deep.   Below you is the darkest blue you have ever experienced, darker than the skies of Shadowside, and broken by endless streams of luminescent bubbles that rise from the hidden depths.   Around you are the Tears of Xivleppo, the graceful spires of the city that drop like twisting icicles into the darkness. A thousand windows sparkle like stars and between them swim schools of shining fish, undulating and shimmering in waves.   The silence swallows you. All you hear is the thumping of your blood in your ears, and the rasping of your breath behind the mask. All around you swirls the vast expanse of the under-ice that cares not if you survive or sink into the abyss below.   There is nothing as wondrous and terrifying as your first descent into the Tears of Xivleppo.

Cover image: by Midjourney


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Oct 15, 2023 10:59

Wow. This is one of the best articles I have read for Spooktober.

Oct 15, 2023 11:09 by Ononomad

Thank you! That's lovely to hear. I am having fun with this Spooktober... I hope you are too :-)

Apr 8, 2024 07:13 by Kerry

This gave me chills, mostly cuz of the cold references. Its REALLY good. My jaw dropped when I finished it.

Apr 8, 2024 23:44 by Ononomad

Thank you Kranjax. That kind of feedback is super nice to hear. :-)

Apr 9, 2024 06:44 by Kerry

I've been making it a point to work on my descriptive writing. I will use this as a point of reference of what to do correctly.