Locus Niveum

From Familia Niveum

Locus Niveum -- Chancel of the Regina Nivea

The mist peels back from the water, and clear wintry sunlight falls on your small boat. Before you is a shore- one you have never seen in your life. An impenetrable looking forest, composed of trees in their autumnal colors, looms back only a few yards from the shore. In the distance behind it looms a range of snowy mountains. A winter storm rages above them, threatening to spill out over the forests beyond.

When a boat travels into mists so thick that no sound can be heard and no feature can be seen on the water, a gateway is opened out of mundane reality and into another place, the Locus Niveum. Most never cross it, but those lucky, unlucky, or determined enough to do so find themselves on the shores of an island lost to the world. Here the technoligical trappings of modern life fall dead, yielding to a simpler order of magic and splendor.



The Isla Niveum several hundred miles long and averages about half as wide. The Still Sea stretches an unmeasured distance away from its shores; this dark, unfathomed expanse of water never experiences any storms, but is always shrouded in a thick mist which makes navigation quite difficult. Only within a stone's throw of the gentle, sandy shores does this mist lift. Gentle waves, never more than a few inches high, lap up on the shore to create a soothing but curiously muffled sound.

Sandy beaches give way immediately to a mighty forest which rings the entire island. Composed of giant deciduous trees eternally in their most glorious autumnal colors, these forests seem at first glance to be devoid of animal life. A more thorough search would find the creatures here to be sparse and reclusive, but gentle. In the outer reaches of the forest, the sun always shines brightly, in the diffuse way of late autumn. Further in, a storm perpetually threatens; the clouds are dark, but break often, sending glorious columns of golden sunlight streaming onto the forest floor. This is sometimes said to be the Isla's most glorious sight.

Above the forests rise the Winterlands, a range of mountains surrounded by gentle rolling hills. These places are eternally in the grip of winter. Here the Storm does come; in the hills snowfall is interspersed with times when the clouds break and dazzling sunlight falls on fresh snow. Evergreens grow in copses and hardy plants push up through the snow, eternally foretelling spring. Elk and similar creatures roam these hills.

The hills give way to true mountains. Here the snow falls forever, and only conifers grow. It is a harsh and forbidding land. At the very center of this range lies the Heart of Winter, a long and wide valley where the character of the storm is different. Here each delicate crystal is a word conceived, yet never spoken. They drift quietly to the ground, an endless flurry of joyous secrets and concealed heartbreaks. Those who brave all the dangers of the mountains, especially the lethal passes into the Heart of Winter itself, find secrets here. Some contain great wisdom; some might better be left locked in their crystalline prisons.

In the center of the Heart of Winter- indeed, the very center of the island, in every physical and metaphysical sense- is the Lady's Grove. Here thirteen Giant Sequioa- each a hundred feet around and towering three times that height- describe a great circle in which the Storm subsides, and the sun shines on millions of flowers that grow in the snow. It is here that the Regina Nivea herself tends her gardens and holds court for those intrepid souls that make their way to her.


In the Locus Niveum, weather is not a function of time- only place. On the shores and in the outer winterlands, it is always most comfortable to dress in long clothing, but never dangerous to dress in less. Further in, through the Winter Hills, temperatures drop further and further, until it becomes quite uncomfortable to dress in less than thick winter clothing; still, though, nobody will ever come to permanent harm from exposure. It is simply not how the world works, here.

Only in the mountains is there any danger from the temperature. The higher one climbs, the more frigid they become. The passes into the Heart of Winter are the worst; fierce arctic winds howl down these narrow canyons, blowing sharp snow crystals in the voyager's face and creating temperatures cold enough to freeze an unprotected traveler solid in mere minutes.

Population and Settlements

Despite initial appearances, the Island is far from uninhabited. Fey creatures teem in the Autumnlands, from tiny flighty bogguns and sprites flittering from branch to branch to majestic groves where Sidhe courts meet. Humans, too, call the Autumnlands their home. Dozens of small villages are scattered about the forests. Their inhabitants are those- be they poets and artists seeking inspiration, those seeking a secret in the Heart of Winter, or those merely looking for the peace of the island- who came to the Island seeking something, and never left. The villages are warm, cozy places of quiet comradeship. Each is surrounded and fed by fields and orchards kept perpetually at the peak of harvest by faerie magics. The Fey have taught these magics and many others to the human inhabitants, who will willingly pass them on to newcomers and even sometimes take them out into the "real" world.

The hills and lower peaks are a place for hermits. Here those souls who cannot or simply choose not to abide the closeness of the villages make their way, hunting amidst the evergreens and collecting winter berries and greens. These places are also the home of those fey who prefer the austere purity of snow over the rioutous colours of autumn. These are often the wisest among their kind, and a few are said to exist with power on the miraculous scale.

The mountains are too severe for much habitation. Here there is only a sparse scattering of lodges to shelter those who journey up and down the slopes; inside hearthfires roar and travelers enjoy great feasts of hunter's takes and food carried up from the villages below. One other structures of note also exists in the Mountains. Crag Keep is a massive, fortified castle atop a sheer cliff in the northern part of the island. It is the nominal seat of government on the island, and each Noble of the Regina Nivea has a suite of rooms here (though they may choose to make their actual homes in other places). A small staff of servants and officials exist to keep their Nobles comfortable and insulated from more trivial administrative concerns.

The Great Libraries, fortified monasteries with most of their spaces tunneled deep into the Island's bedrock, exist at opposite ends of the Heart of Winter. Here the Librarians, fey creatures without mouths or ears, tend to great collections of books which find their way into the libraries on their own. In the North, the Bibliotheca Niveum archives the greatest works of contemplation, be it on the self or the nature of the world. In the South, the Bibliotheca Occultum carefully catalogues each great work which, whether because it goes unpublished and lost, is written only in the mind, or for whatever other reason, is never known to another soul but its author.

Special Hazards

Corrupt Places

With the exception of the bitter cold at the mountaintops, most of the Locus is gentle and safe even for children- with a few very notable exceptions. A few places exist where the Hellish powers who invaded the Chancel to end the Excrucian curse on the Lady left their marks, dangerous and loathesome loci of corruption. These are well known to the inhabitants and carefully marked to prevent strangers wandering into them.

The Lake of blood

This small lake on western flank of the island, near the seaward verge of the Autumnlands, is where Shi Gang, Mêlée's Regal, confronted the previous incarnation of the Silent Guard as they mounted their last desperate (and misguided) defense of the island against the Hellish intruders. The combatants proved equally matched- the entire guard, that is, against the lone power. He was dealt a killing blow, but so great was his passion for mayhem that he did not fall until the moment he had slaughtered the last defender of the island. The lake was so polluted by the blood spilled on that day that its waters are black to this day. The red mist that rises from it instills anybody who breathes it in with an unquenchable thirst for destruction and violence, inflicted with bare hands.

The Creatures that Sound

The special bane of the Island of Silence and all its inhabitants are the Creatures that Sound. These beings are fragments of the Cacaphony, the terrible echoes of creation which the Regina Nivea silenced at the dawn of creation. They have a terrible hatred for the Lady and all her works, and many are attracted to the Locus so that they may harrass and destroy.

The Creatures come in many varieties, but none have any true physical form- they are composed only of a faintly visible boil of sound, constrained into the vague outline of a mortal animal. They are transitory beings, forever on the move. They delight in tormenting any mortals they can catch- many play in the Misty Sea, misleading those who try to navigate it by ear; others hunt the forests and hills, panicking animals, ruining moments of contemplation, frightening travelers, and creating whatever other mischief they can.

Some among their number have special power. These, which encompass much more of the primeval sound, contain so much energy within them that they can blast and destroy physical things with their noise; there are accounts of past creatures so terrible rocks melted as they passed over them. The rise of such a creature is often disastrous, and always cause for immediate response from the Silent Guard. The only place they are allowed to exist is in the passes to the Heart of Winter, where they serve as one more barrier to trespassers.

The Terrible Words Below

It may only be a legend, but it is said that far below the rock of the island there are tunnels in which are sealed beings called the Terrible Words Below. These are the memories of terrible things said, horrifying sounds overheard, and painful screams and moans uttered, locked away by mortals and Powers who could no longer stand to remember them. They lurk in the darkness behind thick seals and tons of rock, never to be heard again- hopefully.

The Silent Guard

The Silent Guard are the protectors and lawgivers of the Island of Silence. A small, tightly disciplined militia of both humans and fey, the Guard are easily identified as a group by their fey-wrought silver armor and martial weapons- yet impossible to identify as individuals due to the masks they wear, which are lifelike yet generic. Their helms make them deaf, able to hear only each other's voices, which protects them from the Creatures that Sound yet also makes them cold and heartless toward anyone who attempts to plead a case with them. For this reason, the Guard are not popular despite their protection. Members of the Guard are conscripted from the Island's population. At the end of their term behind the mask, their memories of the time since their conscription slip away.

Captains of the Guard

The Guard's officers, of which there are twenty one, are of a different order from its members. These are beings constructed from the raw power of the Locus. Nobody has ever seen under their distinctive white lacquered masks and armor, prompting many to believe that there is in fact nothing inside. These Captains have power on the miraculous scale; they are immune to the magics of anything less than a Noble, and can cast a blanket of silence for hundreds of feet around them or strip away a creature's memories. They never speak, but can communicate noiselessly with each other and with their inferiors, even over long distances.

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