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Arch of Fire (Efreet Kingdom)
Location: Norwold, continent of Brun, northeastern reaches of the Icereach Range.
Area: Approx. 5,000 sq. mi. (12,950 sq. km.); about 2,500 sq. mi. (6,475 sq. km.) around each volcano.
Population: Believed to be 2,500 efreet, 1,000 fire elementals, and 400 sollux.
Languages: Unknown languages from elemental plane of fire.
Coinage: Unknown, if any at all.
Taxes: Unknown, if any at all.
Government Type: Efreet duchy; sollux resistant front.
Important Figures: Feudelance (Brother of the Sun, sollux, male, F14).
Flora and Fauna: Small plants and animals common in more southern regions than Norwold. Fire monsters (such as lava lizards, fyrsnaca, fire salamanders and elemental beings) abound here as well.
Further Reading: CM 1 Test of the Warlords, Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.
Description by Synthala of Aasla.
You can find the Arch of Fire approximately halfway between a large swamp along the clear White Bear River and the large, picturesque Icereach Mountains. For those not familiar with the wilderness regions of Norwold, it would be about 15 to 20 days travel west of the city of Leeha. You'll know you're on the right track soon enough as the arch of flames can easily be seen up to 5 days away during the darkness of night.
A large ribbon of flames leaps out of Northern Mount Cantrinus and lands a good four days' walk to the south in Southern Mount Cantrinus. The arch created must reach a height of 4 to 6 miles (7 to 10 km) at the very least. It seems that the two volcanoes form some sort of planar conduit, creating a loop to and from the Elemental Plane of Fire. Because of this, sages believe that the Arch of Fire will be a permanent feature of the region.
The land around the volcanoes is wastelands of fire. This area is relatively flat considering how mountainous and jagged the rest of the Icereach Range is. The entire zone is crisscrossed with flowing streams of molten lava, which in turn melt all the snow on the mountain peaks and create rivers and lakes of meltwater. These rivers just as easily lead to rivers or lakes of lava, plunging into the molten rock. Steam rises at these mixing points, creating dangerous patches of boiling vapour. The entire place is a deathtrap to those not experienced with the outdoors. Falling in any of the lakes is liable to cause you to freeze to death, while the lava flows will melt even your bones. Steam geysers are relatively common as well, creating hidden traps for those not paying attention to their surroundings.
The vegetation here is rather unusual for Norwold. Because of the intense heat in the areas directly around the volcanoes, species that are normally not present in the north are thriving here. Even small mammals that normally avoid the cold and snow can be found scurrying about. Despite this, vegetation and animals are very rare; it's just too dangerous to have a thriving ecosystem. Another problem is the fact that the rivers of lava often change course, burning up whatever is in the way. Most areas are also covered in solid rock, obviously of volcanic origin. There is therefore little soil for plants to grow or live on.
As determined in AY 2014 [AC 1014. Ed.], the two volcanoes of the Arch of Fire are inhabited. Northern Mount Cantrinus has been transformed into a stronghold under the control of what appears to be two to three thousand efreet. Not much is known of their culture, but they definitely appear expansionist and tyrannical. It would be dangerous and foolish to approach and try to learn more about them.
Southern Mount Cantrinus is the home to about one thousand fire elementals. Although more friendly than the efreet, they still have no cares what-so-ever about the life here on the Prime Plane, and one can never be too sure what type of reception to expect from them. Sometimes they'll burn visitors, sometimes they won't. Those that aren't destroyed are either conscripted and forced to fight the efreet, or thrown out of their territory.
A new culture has arrived on the scene since last year. A camp of about 400 sollux [a full description of a sollux is available in the Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix. Ed.] has been set up in the plains between the two volcanoes. These strange, red-skinned humanoids are very warlike and disciplined. They are obviously trying to eliminate the efreet on Northern Mount Cantrinus, and have engaged in numerous battles with them.
Unlike the other elemental creatures, the sollux are at least approachable by visitors. It seems that all the sollux here are members of a Brotherhood of the Sun, some sort of knightly order that has sworn to destroy all efreet found on Mystara. Their leader, Feudelance, invites everyone to join them on their holy mission. It seems this event is a first in the history of their people. Never have so many Sun Brothers united to face the efreet. Then again, they claim that never has there been this many efreet in any one place. Feudelance insists that this is merely the staging ground for the efreet and that they will try to invade all of Mystara from here. The Sun Brothers plan on stopping them well before then, however.
The sollux found here at the Arch of Fire are very militaristic and orderly. Still, they are also all Sun Brothers, therefore I have absolutely no idea whether their true communities behave in this matter, or whether this is just the way of life at their military camps. After all, one can't judge the Thyatians by the way their legionnaires behave in their various camps.
From what I've managed to learn from Feudelance, it seems that the Arch of Fire has been the home to several thousand fire elementals until about 6 years ago. At that point in time, the efreet conquered the Northern Mount Cantrinus and started created their stronghold. Blocked off from reinforcements from the Plane of Fire, the elemental population has slowly dwindled over the years (some fled back to their homeplane, others were killed by the efreet). And so it would have continued until last year.
That is when the Brotherhood of the Sun learned of the efreet city. They have been trying to destroy it ever since. At first, a small group of three Sun Brothers arrived, but when they saw their opposition, they made the historical call to amass an army of Sun Brothers. This army is still in the process of being built [apparently the Sun Brothers have been scattered throughout Mystara until this gathering. It will take much time for all of them to arrive or even receive the word of the forming of an army. Synthala.], but so far 400 sollux have responded.
Feudelance wishes to thank the writers and editors of the Mystaran Almanac, as it was through their description of the Arch of Fire that they learned of the presence of the efreet. Now the battle rages on, and Feudelance insists it will continue until every last efreet is destroyed.
The fire elementals, which have been saved by the arrival of the sollux, do not participate in the war. They merely watch the two groups fight it out. If thankful for their rescue, they have yet to show it.
There is really no way to describe it beyond what was mentioned by Alasdhair MacCallum: "Well, the arch itself is one of the wonders of the world, a beautiful sight that is definitely not to be missed if one has the occasion to visit."
But as I've mentioned, this is not a journey for someone who does not have any wilderness skills. For those who do, even the trip here from Leeha will be filled with beautiful sights and scenery that is not to be missed by any nature lover.
Still, the Arch of Fire is best viewed from far. If you get too close, you will more than likely get caught up in the interplanar war that is transpiring. And unless you happen to be immune to fire, it is definitely not something you want to see or do.
Don't dare approach the efreet city too close, or they'll toast you in a matter of seconds.