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Arch of Fire, The (Geographical feature)
Location: Known World, continent of Brun, northeastern reaches, area of Norwold, Icereach Range.
Area: app. 5,000 sq. mi. (about 2,500 sq. mi. around each volcano).
Population: unknown number of creatures from the Elemental Plane of Fire.
Languages: Unknown languages from elemental plane of fire.
Coinage: Unknown, if any at all.
Taxes: Unknown, if any at all.
Government Type: Unknown.
Important Figures: None known.
Flora and Fauna: small plants and animals common in more southern regions than Norwold.
Description: by Alasdhair MacCallum
Well, for those of you who read Joshuan's Almanac last year, you might recall that I mentioned I would be visiting the Great Crater and New Kolland to give the world's first human report on everything that goes on in the humanoid lands. Unfortunately, I've been side-tracked from those plans. It seems I have since managed to irritate a mage of some renown within the Great School of Magic and was forced to perform a small task for her, or suffer some "accidental mishaps" she would foreshadow with her divination magic. Still, there is some time left yet during this year, so who knows, the New Kolland Travelogue might still see publication before next spring.
Anyway, this quest of hers brought me up into the frozen reaches of the Icereach Range in far away Norwold. On one of the cold nights, and it does get cold up there, I spotted a huge bright light within the sky. Closer inspection revealed a line of red flames arching through the sky. My curiosity evidently was picked, and so I approached this phenomenon to get a better look. And it is about this Arch of Fire that I write my next article for the Almanac.
The Arch of Fire
The Arch of Fire is situated approximately half-way between the large swamp along the swift White Bear Rive and the large, foreboding Icereach Mountains. For those who do not know the region of Norwold, that is approximately 300 miles west of the hin city of Leeha.
The Arch itself seems to be some sort of conduit or vortex for the Elemental Plane of Fire. The northern end of the arch starts from a volcano known as Northern Mount Cantrinus, named after the Thyatian explorer who first discovered this special geographical feature. The northern volcano is the outflowing portal, spilling fire for the Plane of Fire here into the Prime Plane. From there, the flames leap up dramatically in the form of a tube roughly 300 feet in diameter. This jet of flames lands 75 miles southward, into the second volcano called Southern Mount Cantrinus (needless to say, Thyatians lack imagination). The other volcano is the inflowing portal, where the stream of lava flows back into the Plane of Fire. The maximum point of the Arch must reach at least 5 or 6 miles in height.
The Arch of Fire is visible from about 50 miles away during the day, and at least 75 miles during the darkness of night. At night, the glow of the flames gives a beautiful orange/red colour to the night sky. It is definitely worth a trip into the frozen northland just to see this at least once.
The land around the volcanoes are wastelands of fire. The area is relatively flat considering how mountainous the rest of the area is.
The whole area is crisscrossed by 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. This creates rushing gouts of steam which gives the whole area a look similar to fog-shrouded Klantyre back in Glantri. Some of these gouts of steam are from beneath the ground, and steam geysers are relatively common as well.
Vegetation 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. This is not to say that a jungle is present here, however. On the contrary, vegetation is scarce and almost non-existent. The heat is just too intense, and the rivers of lava often change course, burning up whatever is in the way. Most areas are also covered in solid rock, obviously old volcanic deposits, and have no soil for anything to grow or live on.
Many small cave mouths dot the rocks that surround both mountains. Although most of these openings lead nowhere, some connect to fissures deep within the earth. The formerly mentioned gouts of steam occasionally scald these caves as well, making them a somewhat hazardous shelter.
Even more surprising is the fact that the area is inhabited. Yet no humans live here; instead, we have two races which are native to the Elemental Plane of Fire.
At Northern Mount Cantrinus, a society of efreet has been formed. Admittedly, I was not sure what species these beings were, but once back in Glantri, I conferred with specialists on the Plane of Fire, and they confirmed that it was indeed the evil efreet. These creatures have created what seems to be a city of basalt and obsidian stones around the mouth of the volcano crater. Because of its relatively small size and the fact that they were continuing in the construction, I would assume that the efreet are new arrivals and have just taken over the area.
The efreet had many slaves working for them, from humans, fire giants, fire elementals, to even the occasional red dragon whose wings had been clipped to prevent flight. By the eagerness behind the slave master's whipping, I could tell that visiting their city would not be a wise decision.
Still, from away, I could see military activity which suggests that they are preparing for a war of some kind. Construction seems to be limited to walls and defensive positions. A quick head count of certain areas allows me to guess at a total population of 4 to 6 thousand efreet.
Further investigating would definitely be worth doing by a larger and better prepared group.
Southern Mount Cantrinus is controlled by fire elementals. Here, my spying was discovered and I was brought to meet their leader. This elemental stands at huge height of 25 feet. Thanks to their magic, I was able to communicate with the leader, and learned that the efreet had indeed conquered the northern volcano from them just a few months ago. The efreet now seem to have plans of taking over the southern volcano as well.
The fire elementals have no love for humans, but do not slay them outright. In fact, it seems that right now they are trying to recruit help from us, as their own reinforcements have been blocked off since the efreet have control of the incoming portal from the Plane of Fire.
Still, when I refused to join their armies, I was immediately asked to leave, and brought to the borders of what they claim as their lands.
I therefore have little to say about the fire elementals, since I could not explore more. Their numbers still remain a mystery. As for their culture, I doubt I would have understood much of it anyway. It is something probably best left to mages and sages who understand more about the Plane of Fire and its inhabitants.
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. Unfortunately, everything else there is definitely not worth seeing, especially the inhabitants.
However, each of these creatures are from another plane of existence. This makes them, and their artifacts and magic, rare and unique. This means they are worth quite a bit of gold if brought to the right collectors and sages.