The Great North
The Great North
No mapmaker has ventured far beyond the Northwall, and no foolhardy captain has risked the eighty-foot waves of the Great North Sea for the vanity of mere charts. The dimensions of the Valtava’s great expanse are thus largely unknown. The Northwall crosses a relatively narrow neck of land, and it is known that, just across, the tundra spreads out to the east and west from the mere hundred or so miles guarded by the Wall. It is thus difficult to judge how large the Great North Waste might be. Similarly, it is impossible to judge just how far off the Skycrown Peaks stand, or how high they may truly reach, as one piece of knowledge requires the other. No Gwerin or Imperial scholar has been far enough past the wall to even notice parallax for these distant crags. The world’s greatest mountains are remote enough that no Valtava of the southern reaches even claims to have met one of their own who had tread the shining slopes.
What the Valtava do describe—when plied with sufficient drink—are cold, craggy hills, rocky plains dotted with huge stones, swaths of boreal coniferous forest and the battle sites these hotly-contested resources become. Some tell of the great open tundra, crisscrossed by the trails of the great caribou herds and sprinkled with tiny fields of rare ice-blue flowers. They speak of lakes unfrozen only a third of the year, in which the fish grow to enormous sizes and great bears drink in brazen disregard of any threat. A few speak of winding rocky coasts, visited by slowly sailing crystal islands and bloated monsters with horns jutting from their mouths. They speak of sulfurous geysers and one low mountain that bleeds eternal fire into the steaming sea. Of topography, however, only two written accounts mention more, the last known to civilization of the Great North Waste: the lands of the Mighty, we are told, end in a great cliff, above which stretch endless fields of snow that rise to meet the mountains that break the very sky.