Imagine an orb of burnished copper and red dust forever locked with its face towards a huge and dull red ball of flame, flickering in the darkness of the void. One pole is eternally locked towards the swollen sun, so hot that lead melts, copper pools in lakes and the air is full of flame, while the other sees nothing but endless night, buried under a hundred Klegs of ice, its jagged obsidian peaks lit only by the balefire aurora of the distant Light Side. Though this world rolls ever on its axis, it never turns aside from its sun. Only in the narrow equatorial zone, locked in endless twilight, does water flow and Jungles flourish.
This orb is Sun Keld (The Sun's Child in the language of its inhabitants). A one-face world tidally locked to its bloated sun. Sun Keld rotates at right angles to its orientation, keeping one pole (the Sunward) always towards the sun while the other (the Nightward) faces out into the darkness. Sun Keld suffers from extremes of temperature that drive powerful winds across it's surface, lashing the light side with dust storms that take days to pass, and burying the dark side under snow and glaciers as thick as mountains. In-between, at the equator, a single band of water, the One-River, winds its way through a twilight shrouded valley of it's own making, it's banks thick with a poison jungle of luminescent flowers and strange creatures. The One-River girdles the world, i's motions driven by wind and planetary rotation, fed by glacial meltwater and evaporation.
It is a harsh world, cut off from the cosmos by the roiling energies of its stellar neighbourhood, yet not quite devoid of life. Despite the extremes of temperature, the endless deserts and the unvarying sun life still manages to cling to its surface. Life thrives in the Twilight valleys, in the frost-shrouded hills, and the Razor Grass plains, nourished by magic and defiant of the harsh world that birthed it. Principal of these creatures are the Keldians (Children of Sun Keld), who alone raise cities and lead armies.
On most worlds Day and Night are alternating states, following one another endlessly as the sun crosses the sky. On Sun Keld they are directions. Travel Sunwards from the Twilight lands and you move into Day. The Sun is always visible in the sky on the Light Side, rising higher and higher as you grow closer to the Sunward Pole. Near to the equator the light never rises above the dimness of dusk on most worlds, but as you pass into the Drylands the sun rises and the world grows bright, hot and dry. Shadows are permanent things, each with its own microclimate of moisture, temperature and life. The shadows cast by mountains, canyons and depressions harbour life, while the Sunward sides of things are baking hot and devoid of anything that needs water. Heading further Sunward still the sun rises higher and higher in the sky, Day grows brighter, shadows smaller, and the whole world more unbearable.
Head in the other direction, Nightwards, and the sun vanishes below the horizon behind you and never rises. The Dark Side is lit only by stars and flickering aurora. On the Nightward shores of the Twilight zone there is still enough light to see by, heading further Nightwards plunges you into permanent darkness. Here there is water aplenty, falling as snow. The ground is frozen, coated by frost, and the obsidian hills are cloaked by glaciers. Heading further Nightward still the auroras vanish, the rock disappears under the ice and the air becomes too cold to breathe.
The other two directions are commonly upriver and downriver (these choices are based on the flow of water near to Ur). Upriver is left, when facing Daywards, while downriver is to the right. Some Sages refer to these directions as turn and counter-turn, based on the rotation of the constellations above the Ziggurat of Ur. Turn and Upriver are the same direction.
Sun Keld shares its system with two other bodies, the Brilliance and the Passing. The Passing is a huge dark body, that crosses between Sun Keld and the Sun on a regular cycle. The Passing partially eclipses the sun every 8 days. When it comes the harsh temperatures of the Light Side are briefly reduced, and the Twilight lands pass into real darkness. The winds slacken, storms break, and rain falls. The Keldians believe that the Passing is another world close to their own, but its surface shows nothing but blackness. Every 16 days, two days after the Passing comes the Brilliance. The Brilliance is a second star, small, blue, bright, and highly eccentric, orbiting the Sun on a steeply inclined course. When the Brilliance races across the sky temperatures soar even higher than normal. On the Light Side pools dry, earth cracks, and animals seek their burrows in the shadows. In the Twilight forests shadows are cast. The Brilliance often brings new storms, kicking the winds into overdrive. After the Brilliance has passed the world returns to normal until the next Passing, 6 days later.
This regular alternation of Passing and Brilliance divides time into what the Keldians know as cycles. Each cycle is 16 days long (measured from Brilliance to Brilliance) and divided into two weeks, a dark week (Passing but no Brilliance) and a bright week (both Passing and Brilliance). Days, in turn, are measured by the regular passing of the Day Star (the brightest star in the Twilight sky) above the great Ziggurat of Ur.
Although the alternation of Brilliance and Passing is fixed in period the exact course of these bodies across the sky is not. Some Passings bring greater darkness, or even a full eclipse, while others barely graze the sun's edge. Similarly some Brilliances are low on the horizon (the Keldians call these kind), while others seem to linger in the center of the sky. These complex motions are predictable, and help divide time into short years of 22 cycles (during which the Passing moves through its complete cycle), and long years of 66 cycles (during which the Brilliance passes through its).
No discussion of Sun Keld is complete without mention of Magic, for it is only by Magic that life can endure. Vast forces bathe the surface of this world, carried by Sunlight and Starlight, creating magical auras constantly replenished from above. Almost every living creature on Sun Keld has some talent to tap into these forces, channelling the energy through their bodies to manifest as magical effects. Keldians manifest these energies as gifts, minor magical talents possessed by much of the population. More powerful magicians can channel these forces wholesale to cast spells. There is no such thing as internal Magic on Sun Keld. Power does not come from within, but from without. What sets a Mage apart from a beast is only the strength of will available to channel and guide that energy.
The Light Side is the name given to the hemisphere of the planet that lies Sunwards of the One-River and the Twilight Jungles. While the land here is harsh beyond belief, it also supports the Keldian people with its plains of Razor Grass and herds of Crdlu. Many Keldian settlements nestle in the shadows and crevasses of the more tolerable parts of the Light Side. Wherever there is water there is life.
The most Sunward parts of Sun Keld are known as the Burning Lands, and include the Sunward Pole itself. No Keldian has ever seen these lands. To stray across their borders is to die. Only ancient records and the words of Spirits exist to say what this land is like. In the Burning Lands Lead melts into pools, copper weeps from the rocks, and water boils the instant it touches air. During the Passing these lakes of molten metal form crusts that hide the fire beneath, only to explode in showers of flame when the Brilliance rises, staining the bare rocks with splashes of red, green and blue salts as they fall. Even the air here is hot enough to kill a living being in seconds, and the land is wracked by the Brilliance and the Passing, sending geysers of steam and molten rock into the sky. Only once did a Mage of the Red Order stand at the edge of the Burning Lands and see what lay beyond, and he never lived to reach the Twilight lands again.
That Mage spoke of endless plains of fine red dust, scoured flat as glass by unceasing winds, that ringed the Burning Lands. Impossibly he declared that these sands contained fossil traces of ancient fish, signs of a dead ocean from before time.
The Burning lands offer litte use an adventure setting because any Keldian travelling there will die in seconds.
At the Nightwards edge of the Burning Lands a huge range of mountains rings much of the world, forced upwards into jagged peaks of sun-shattered stone. These are the Dragon Mountains, so called because many are volcanoes that often spew lava into the sky. The Dragon Mountains are filled with deep crevasses of permanent shadow, and are often shrouded by smoke and ash. They form the very limit of the habitable world. Nightwards of the high peaks spreads the bulk of the Deadlands, a rocky and broken country of foothills and chasms. It is just about possible to cross the Deadlands, travelling from shadow to shadow and crevasse to crevasse, and so reach the dark side of the Dragon Mountains. This would be a journey of madness were the mountains not the only place where Sacred Iron can be mined.
Although the sunlit surfaces of the Dragon Mountains are hot enough to boil water in seconds, the deep chasms hold a strange kind of life, just clinging to existence. Steaming pools of water collect at the bases of these chasms, and life congregates at their edges. Huge columns of bacterial colonies and algaes live on the chemicals that condense out of water. Alongside these columns grow strange plants, so dry as to crumble to the touch, which nevertheless manage to grow. There are even heat resistant insect-creatures that live amongst the plants, though none is bigger than a handbreadth across.
The main resource here is iron, thrown out by the Dragon Mountains. The sacred metal can be found scattered in black curls on the hot earth. Apart from the rare Star Iron that falls from the stars on the Dark Side, these outcrops are the only certain source of iron on the entire world.
Amazingly there are also ruins here. Half buried in the red sands are huge crumbled cities, legacies of some bygone age when the Ancients were able to survive the burning land. In these ruins lurk strange magics and metal artefacts. It has been suggested that these Ancients had access to some form of magic unknown to the Keldians of today, which allowed them to ward off the deadly heat and the Fire storms that lash the land. Why they chose to build here is unknown, but perhaps they too desired the iron and other stones thrown out by the Dragon Mountains.
Few Keldians do venture as far as the shadowed sides of the Dragon Mountains, and even this feat takes massive effort. Caravans of huge crustaceans shells, warded by magic, crawl slowly across the Deadlands, following the Shadow Trails. As they near the edge of the Deadlands they move only during the Passing, till they reach the shadows of the Dragon Mountains. These expeditions make no use of slaves, for their will to survive is too fragile, only free men and Bond Warriors of the Mages make the journey, and the rewards are great. One who survives such an expedition is rewarded with land to be passed to his sons or her daughters. One who has offended the Orders may volunteer for an expedition to regain their trust, and all crimes will be forgiven for it.
The classic Deadlands adventure is the difficult journey from Last Pool to Nagash itself, one in which the environment and its creatures are the main danger, and the riches of the iron mines the reward. Nagash's recent declaration of independence now means that every expedition now contains at least one spy from the Twilight powers, so intrigue and murder are also possible themes.
An adventure set in the Dragon Mountains should emphasise the strangeness of the place, the bizarre life, the hot pools, and the odd lifeforms. Keldians are interlopers here, and should never feel comfortable or at peace with the landscape. Nagash, and its system of Talite vows, offers much potential for stories of life-debts, renegades turned good and frontier spirit. It is a place where characters of lowly origin can rise high through hard work and strong spirit. Nagash also offers a background for infiltration, assassination and clandestine warfare, as the Riverland powers seek to bring down their new rival.
Far to the Nightwards of the Dragon Mountains lie the Drylands, which run all the way to the edge of Twilight. The boundary between one and the other is marked by a second mountain range, this one low and flat, ground down by the ceaseless dust storms. This is the Plateau, otherwise called the Gate of the Deadlands, since it is from here that the caravans set off Sunwards, often never to return.
Here the sun is lower and dimmer in the horizon, and though dust storms are the main form of weather, the Passing often brings rain, briefly flooding the dry watercourses that snake across the dry plains. Huge windstorms regularly blow across the Drylands, picking up dust and sand as they go. Sometimes these storms drag moisture from the equator, bringing thunder, lightning, and hot mists. The sun here is low on the horizon, and the shadow of an outcropping of rock may extend 10 or 20 Klegs across the ground, providing shelter for animals and plants alike. Looking Nightwards the sky darkens towards the horizon, during the Passing you can sometimes see stars.
Tenacious life clings to the Drylands. Much of the surface is covered in huge seas of Razor Grass, its stems as dry as paper and as tough as sinew. In places the Grass grows so high that a full grown Keldian cannot see over its top. Huge herds of Crdlu graze these lands, grinding the Razor Grass in their insensitive mouths. Two-legged Krakath lizards prey on these Herds (when they are not being ridden by Keldians), along with many other predators. Many smaller creatures burrow at the Razor Grass' roots, spending much of their time in tunnels under the loose soil, emerging only during the Passing. Some of the Razor Grass plains are so vast that they alter the climate, sheltering under their own thin clouds. Here and there stands of Zerom Trees spread branches thick enough to create their own pockets of shadow.
A greater variety of life is to be found in the permanent shadows, especially where open water is available in the form of springs, pools, and cavern streams. Many plants open their leaves only when rain falls, storing the moisture in underground tubers. Others grow thicks walls of thorns, to keep away the Crdlu. Keldian villages and towns are built in such places, frequently dug into the rock, or into the ground, holding close to their source of water and ringed by walls of thorn bushes. Some crops from the Twilight Lands can be grown here, such as Coloured Corn and Maize, so long as the water flows. Should the water source of such a village fail, the village dies soon after.
As well as the villages and towns the Drylands are home to countless nomad tribes, following their Crdlu herds in slow wagon trains. From time to time these tribes will gather their herds and turn Nightwards, driving them across the plains to the egde of Twilight, where the gates of the great cities stand open to drink them in.
The Drylands are a study in contrast, both harsh and hard to survive, but also the bread-basket of the Empire, the place where Crdlu are herded and grain is farmed. The Drylands makes a perfect setting for low-key adventures featuring farmers and hunters, villages threatened by wild beasts, the contrast between simple villagers and their magic weilding overlords, and the occasional warfare between towns beholden to different cities. You may wish to consider starting a party out as a group of friends in an outlying village and play out their wonder as they travel closer to the heart of civilisation.
Drylands adventures should emphasise life on the edge of Keldian civilisation. The Drylands are full of abbandoned villages, dry wells, nomadic tribes and towns on the edge of vast wastelands. It is also a place of casual opression, punative taxation, and petty Mage tyrants with little in the way of oversight. At the same time many Keldians eke out comfortable lives as dirt farmers, and the Drylands can be a majestic backdrop for stories of personal relationships, love, struggle and growth.
Although the Drylands offers a more comfortable setting than the Deadlands it is still a place where foolhardy adventurers can perish from the thirst, heat and wildlife with ease. For lower level parties (4 or less) travel over any long distance should seldom be casual (at this level only a specialist in Survival can handle the average Harshness of the terrain, see Survival Rules) and even for higher level characters there are many strange environemnts and untravelled wildernesses that should present a challenge. The Drylands is a place where a powerful monster, such as a Naga or Ash Dragon can easily carve out a domain for itself.
|1-4||Razor Grass expanse|
|9||Bare rock uplands|
|10||Giant boulder field|
|12||Fused glass crust|
|14||Patchy trees and thorns|
|15||Burnt or dead woodland|
|17||Cacti and Rocks|
|18||Crdlu grazing lands|
|Brilliance +4, Passing -4|
|2||Light Mist or Rain|
|3||Cool Night wind|
|4||Heavy cloud cover|
|5-6||Light cloud cover|
Nightwards still of the Drylands comes Twilight, the true home of Sun Keld life. As you approach the equator the ground drops down sharply into the huge floodplains of the One-River. The sun dips below the horizon, the air grows colder and humid, and life bursts from the thick damp soil. Above the stars are clearly visible, the twenty constellations that mark the hours of the day passing overhead in orderly rotation. When no storm blows the sky is crystal clear, but for the glow of the distant sun on the Sunwards horizon. Often brightly coloured aurorae flicker across the sky, though they are much dimmer in the Twilight lands than they are further Nightwards. Occasionally the rising air gathers into vast thunderstorms that can rumble on for days, hiding the eternal stars with their pillars of cloud. The Keldians call these storms Mother Storms, since there are many creatures that swarm from the ground when it is flooded by these rains. The Mother Storms mostly hover over the twilight darkness, seldom migrating to the Sunward plains where the sun is brighter.
These are the lands of the One-River, and the Poison Forest, the true home of the Keldian race. From edge to edge the valley is many days across, even by the fastest routes. On average a crossing from the Dust Slopes to the Ice Hills would require at least a cycle to complete.
The near edge of the Drylands, where the land dips down towards the One-River, is known as the Dust Slopes. Here every step Nightwards changes the light levels, within an hour's travel you pass from Day to Dusk. These slopes are a jumbled mixture of Dryland and Twilight life: Razor Grass warring with Kail Trees, Crdlu mixing with Giant Snakes. The Dust Slopes are criss-crossed by drove roads and trails, a patchwork of little farms and villages. Pale and beautiful flowers dot the slopes, nodding in the dry winds. Outcrops of rock are lower and more spread out, creating islands of spiny and oily plants adapted to hold on to the water from the passing rains.
This is some of the most valued farming land on Sun Keld, enjoying both light and water in equal measures. Competition for the best situated fields is intense, with every City and Order claiming land here. Crops grown on the slopes are not parched by the sun, or swallowed whole by the forest, as those to the Sunwards or Nightwards are. Wide and uneven roads, paved by the ancients, dip down from the edge of the Drylands plain towards the One-River. These roads are often filled from edge to edge by Crdlu herds, creaking wagons, and farmers carrying maize and corn. Many of the principle towns of the Slopes are built along the sides of these roads, and one leads all the way to the gates of Nistray.
The Dust Slopes present a settled and pastoral background that is not found anywhere else in Sun Keld. Mages, Clerks, and Bonded Ones are a common sight (though not as much as in the cities) but the scattered communities and small towns still provide an outdoor setting. Dangers in the Dust Slopes are balanced between the occasional devastating natural event (both dust and ice storms are possible, as are monster attacks and rockslides) and the depredations of thieves, bandits, tax-collectors, soldiers, and capricious Magi. Although freemen in the Dust Slopes have the Imperial bureaucracy on tap when they fall to feuding, murder, and court cases, they are overshadowed by the city dwellers close by and lack the opportunity to leverage community spirit and family connections as characters in a Drylands town might do.
The Dust Slopes make a perfect setting for mercantile and trade oriented characters. Trade roads and small towns — each with its own particular speciality — lie within only a few days of one another, and the markets of the cities are close at hand. Travelling players, tinkers, or thieves find similarly rich pickings amongst the many caravans, cattle droves, and tax expeditions returning from the Drylands. The slopes are a good setting for adventures that play up interpersonal interactions and push the harsh environment into the background.
As the land dips down into the Twilight valley proper the sky grows dark, and the air hot and wet. Rain is frequent here, as are huge banks of mist that drift slowly over the land. Sometimes fierce dust storms roar in from the Drylands, coating everything with gritty red sand. These storms always end with thunder and torrential rain. The river valley is the heart of the Twilight zone, shrouded in semi-darkness, with the sky usually hidden by thick tree cover. This endless dusk is illuminated by the countless glowing fruits and flowers of the Jungle, creating a spectral tapestry of light beneath impenetrable canopies of black and glossy leaves. From a distance (or a high point) the Forest resembles a reflection of the eternal night sky above, dotted with coloured stars.
The river valley teems with life, a tangled knot of black trees, dripping leaves, and luminescent flowers. The air buzzes with insects, the ground writhes with worms and beetles, and huge reptiles and crustaceans move slowly from plant to plant, drinking nectar from the massive blossoms. These lands are difficult going. It is hard to find solid ground on which to place your feet. Travel is a constant scramble over tree boles and under twisting branches. Every open gap is shrouded with creepers or knotted vines. However beautiful the Forest looks it is difficult and deadly to encounter, filled with thorns, jagged leaves, and venoms.
The Keldians refer to these lands as the Poison Forest (also the Poison Jungle, or the Twilight Jungle), because it throngs with venomous animals and toxic plants. Most of the fruit that grows here bears one poison or another, and the animals that feed on them concentrate these venoms into their own bites and stingers. Nevertheless the Forest is also full of edible plants in countless profusion. Kail Trees and Night Flowering Blossoms are staples of the Keldian diet, and many crop plants can be grown on patches of wet soil when the twisting trees are cleared. Though these lands are not as valued for farming as the slopes above there are countless tiny settlements scattered throughout the Jungle, subsisting on gathered fruit and fish. Even these villagers do not venture too far from their fields and trails however. It is easy to be lost in the night forest, and the darkness is full of hungry mouths.
In other places the forest is cut back to allow the earth to be mined away in great damp pits and quickly flooding tunnels. Beneath the tangle of plants are veins of copper, silver, gold and tin, running through the ubiquitous red sandstone that covers most of the world. Though precious Iron must be brought across half the world from the Dragon Mountains, other metals are available closer to home.
The Poison Forest presents a very different environment from most of the rest of Sun Keld. Towns are nearly unknown, water is everywhere, and lines of sight limited. Even to Keldian eyes the depths of the Jungle are filled with gloom, and it is easy to chance upon danger with little or no warning. Where the Drylands and Deadlands allow you to describe sweeping panoramas, blazing skies and vast plains of wind-blown grass, the Poison Forest is close, damp, noisy and claustrophobic. The Jungle conceals countless ruins, jewelled corpses, mineral wealth and precious natural treasures, all buried beneath tangled vines and toxic plants. Beyond the few maintained trails running from river channels to tiny villages, or the handful of stone roads connecting the cities, there are no routes through the Jungle. Every expedition is an adventure, presenting a perfect opportunity to cherry pick the most bizzare or interesting creatures from the bestiary.
Unlike other parts of the world, which are best stocked with the mysterious ruins of past civilisations and ancient creatures, the Forest is the cradle of Keldian life, and is full of their own history. The ruins of Nammu described in the Cities chapter are just one example of the sort of Keldian history that you can use in Jungle adventures. Ancient temples (from a time when the Keldians worshipped demons perhaps), abbandoned Derzaki fortresses, wrecked ships sunk in the mud, ruined villages or towns inhabited by the Undead can all feature here. Indeed Undead, in all their forms, are best showcased in the Jungle. Daywards such creatures are rare, while Nightwards there are fewer Keldian to leave ghosts or corpses behind.
Unless the characters in an adventure are inhabitants of a Jungle village it is likely that the forest will feature mostly as a destination for an adventure, rather than a home base. Basing a group of characters on a ship is one possibility, as is making home in a City but providing reasons to cross the Jungle.
The One-River flows at the heart of the Poison Forest and the Twilight lands, an endless braided channel of countless streams, ox-bows, marshes and banks. The One-River shifts constantly, fed by meltwater from the Dark Side, and the seeping wash of rainstorms on the Sunwards slopes, and driven by the planet's turning. There are no reliable maps of the One-River. What might be a wide channel one cycle, might be open mudflats the next, already succumbing to the ferns and roots of the Forest.
Most of the One-River is shallow and slow moving, easy to wade, and pleasantly cool. A few wider channels run deep enough for shipping, but even these are frequently cut by gravel banks and fallen trees. Here and there the river narrows, flowing rapidly through rocky rapids, cascading down cataracts, or rushing through subterranean channels. Despite the name there is never merely one channel or one course, but hundreds, all cutting their own paths. In many places there is not even a single main channel that can be identified.
The One-River is filled with primitive life. Crustaceans of many kinds crawl through the rich muds, fed upon by Giant Crabs, Lobsters and Crayfish. Luminescent jellyfish and Crowns of Stars drift above them, feeding on blooms of algae and plankton. There are also many snake-like reptiles which are adapted for the water. The slow moving current of the river generates many mud banks around the edges of the channels, home to crabs, worms, and many-rooted trees that help to stabilise the land. Bony and armoured fish cluster in the shallows, edible once their tough scales are removed.
As the cradle of Keldian civilisation the Twilight valley is home to the great cities of the Eternal Empire, Ur, Chald, Nistray and Derzak. These cities are discussed in detail in the Cities chapter. Each city has its own characteristics, but all of them are situated within the boundaries of the Twilight zone, and are surrounded by fields, canals, orchards and satellite villages. Travel between the cities is easiest by water, but well marked land routes also exist, tended constantly to prevent the Jungle from overgrowing them.
At the Nightward edge of the Twilight valley the land begins to rise again, and the air grows markedly colder and dryer as you ascend. The land here is formed from notably different rock to the red sandstone that dominates the Light half of the world. Here the rock is a mixture of Olivine, Serpentine, Granite, Basalt, and most of all Obsidian — the sacred stone of the Black Order. These rocks are cut through by countless steep sided canyons, each home to a fast flowing torrent of water, pouring from the melting glaciers and down into the One-River below. The forest that cloaks the lower slopes quickly gives way to hardier trees, leaves replaced with needles as the land rises and becomes blanketed with snow.
These are the Ice Hills, and they form the boundary zone between the Twilight and Dark sides. Inhabited by trappers, Steet, Ravens, and Night Goblins, they are far from hospitable, but much of the stone used in the cities is mined here, and the chilly woodlands provide different foods and wood-types to the Jungle below. The Ice Hills are sparsely populated compared to either the Forest or the Dust Slopes. In places there are easy to follow trails, and a few well-insulated towns are build Nightwards of the river.
Beyond the Ice Hills is true night, the Dark Side. The lands here are cloaked permanently in darkness and snow. Where the Light Side is filled with howling winds and changing weather, the Dark Side is still and silent as a grave. Spires of ice, deposited by winds whose patterns never change reach up into the dark sky, occasionally picking up electrical fire which makes them glow blue. The ice here varies from a few centimetres to many strides deep, compacted snow in the mountains creating glaciers that move down to the valleys. Above this rise huge black mountains, their tops occasionally lit by permanent crimson light where they catch the distant sun.
Nightwards of the Ice Hills the land gives way to jagged obsidian peaks a many Kelg high, their sides cloaked in snow, and the space within filled by endless glaciers. Ice crystals drift constantly from the sky, freezing out of the high altitude winds that bring moisture and dust from the Light Side. This sky is truly dark, lit only by stars and shifting aurorae. There is no hint of the sun save from the highest peaks, and the Passing goes unseen. Any expedition here must travel with its own fuel, its own food, and its own light, the world gives nothing back. Temperatures here are well below what any Keldian can survive for long. Anyone caught in the open is frozen in minutes, dead in tens of minutes. No creatures of the flesh live here, and precious few which are not.
And yet beneath the ice glimmers of light can sometimes be seen far below. Legend says that these are lost cities of the ancients, long ago encased in ice.
No Keldian has seen the Dark Pole, just as no Keldian has seen the Burning Lands. Here even the air freezes. First Carbon Dioxide, then Ammonia, and finally even Nitrogen fall from the air as snows and ices of strange colours. No sunlight ever touches this Pole, no footstep stirs the ground, no sound splits the air. Where stories populate the Bright Pole with fire spirits and burning Demons, no one believes that anything lives at the Dark Pole.