Santharian Development

Santharian World Development => Places and Map Design => Topic started by: Artimidor Federkiel on 02 August 2014, 18:20:30

Title: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 02 August 2014, 18:20:30
The following of course, is only just a start to expand on Stormcrow's concept of Qel'tra'loh which was started, well, about a dozen years ago... However, it's a beginning of a major revision, and I'll see to finish sections one by one in the course of the coming weeks. But just to give you an idea what I'm also working on (aside from "The Ring"), here's a first glance on it. There are some basic hints already contained in the Overview and what else is already there that will be delved into later, so expect more explanations, reasons, historical facts and details all around in the upcoming updates! :)

Changes in yellow

Qel'tra'loh is that legendary, but nevertheless and paradoxically still existing island kingdom (or "skydom" as the "Lohans" say) founded solely upon magic off the coast of western Santharia. Its unclear roots date back millennia, at least so much is for certain, and its wondrous arcane, well guarded secrets have been preserved to this very day, despite the many failed attempts to conquer the island or undermine its leadership through intrigues, assassination plots or feigned trading relations with actual intent to spy on Lohans or smuggle powerful magical goods and information out of the realm. After all Qel'tra'loh's unrivaled fame stems from the fact that nearly the entire population is capable of using magic, with varying proficiencies of course, but generally in astounding capacities unheard of in the rest of Caelereth. Rumours abound that this has to do with a unique magical mineral, aca'hál (Styrásh for "pulsating ground"), that unfolds its stupefying qualities in conjunction with ancient arcane elven lore, today only known to the Lohans themselves.

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Picture Description.
The westernmost part of the Winderrider Cliff, the construction yard of the legendary Qel'tra'loh sky ships, complete with breathtaking scenery and ships leaving on their maiden voyage. Picture drawn by Reegen. (click on image to enlarge)

Among the most famous of Qel'tra'loh's usages of magic are - as every Santharian child already knows - its permanently floating islands and the magical skyships. All of these phenomenons are also said to be source or inspiration of the skydom's rather unusual name meaning literally "away, above and below" in Styrásh. However, the floating pieces of land and the skyships are not the only key application of magecraft on the island. also all regular businesses use magic in one form of another. Blacksmiths make use of runes and potions to imbue their weapons with beneficial qualities; farmers use magic to create crops that will grow faster and have better results; architects reinforce their buildings with small spells, and can protect them against weather; merchants use gates formed by rock arches enchanted with extremely powerful spells to travel long distances in short amounts of time. Magic is even taught in schools from a young age, and from there children can branch into any area they wish to. As it is, the island is one of the few places in the whole world where magic truly is an everyday thing and not mainly imagined as stories that are told around warm fires.

The Qel'tra'loh skydom stretches over a couple of hundred strals in both directions and is located west of the United Kingdom of Santharia in midst the Dark Sea, well protected by reefs and, naturally one might add, various magical defense mechanisms. The capital of the country is called Corloth, and since this is its most famous city, the people are called Corlothans. Lohans are a exceptionally proud people, and this applies especially for Corlothans where the most mages of the realms live. The leader of the city, the Skylord (or lady) traditionally has always been one of the most powerful wizards of the the skydom if not the whole known world.

Before we can address the details on what kind of landscapes, cities, special buildings and so forth one can expect to find in Qel'tra'loh some basic notes on this unique place are in order: The whole area on which Qel'tra'loh can be found is magical territory, or at least territory that has minerals with highly magically susceptible substances embedded deep down in its soil, which considerably facilitates spellcasting. To quote Khaelvan III. on his researches in this regard: "The locals call this mineral 'aca'hál' and have learned to mine and use it for their needs by forging artifacts out of it that can also - under certain very specific enchantmental circumstances - be brought to strongly react with similar material, resulting in remarkable stable permanent territorial enchantments." Or, in order to simplify the academic debate and get straight to the point: Wind mages can enchant clumps of aca'hál in a way that it repells and at the same time is being repelled by another chunk of aca'hál, so that these objects hold each other in a floating state. This rather elementary yet powerful technique has enabled the Lohans to construct floating isles and build vessels that can travel with relative ease through the skies, however, with the one major downside: The extraordinary properties of aca'hál can only be exploited in an area where the soil itself is rich in aca'hál, a decisive enhancing factor that makes the mineral in and around Qel'tra'loh so enormously powerful and on the other hand practically useless elsewhere. Therefore all the floating buildings and skyships prevalent in the Skydom have been carefully gauged and calibrated by wind mages and serve their purpose only in this area and even the most breathtaking ships cannot move further away than a couple of strals from the Qel'tra'loh mainland. That said, here's a basic overview on what awaits in and around the Skydom:

When viewed from high above as when travelling via skyship or on back of a gryph, the skydom of Qel’tra’loh has the unusual shape of an eye, consisting of various of appropriately aligned islands that suggest this peculiar eye-like shape: Qel’tra’loh is arranged with a fairly round mass of land at the center. This is where the majority of the population lives, and also where the capital city, Corloth, is located. The island itself is also often referred to as "Córloth'chrónn" (Styrásh for "Island of Nightwatch") therefore or aptly as "The Eye" as it represents the "eyeball" in this unique geographical formation. Just outside of this major isle are two long islands, completing the eye shape, the northern ("Tae'theméf", Styrásh for "Covered Fortification") slightly longer than the other ("Waesh'car'scál", "Twelve-Sword" in Stýrash). Additionally, there are scattered islets to the southeast of the main archipelago named again in analogy to the eye comparison the "Teardrops" or "Teardrop Islets" (also called "Ael'ón'quaería"). Seen by most as sacred ground, an area set aside for nature alone, these are visited infrequently.

Around and in between the islands Qel'tra'loh's surrounding waters are considered practically impossible to navigate by ship due to the extreme amount of reefs scattered all over the extended coastal areas, ranging far into the Dark Sea. Aside from small fishing ports there therefore exist no major ports for ships to dock on any of the islands and islets, except the various skyports of course. Whatever few passages might nevertheless offer access for careful foreigners were fortified with floating watchtowers to spot intruders instantly, and in some other cases magical traps were laid out on sea level.

The Island of Córloth'chrónn ("Island of Nightwatch")
Looking at the main island, where most of the activity takes place, you first see the three main mountain ranges which are arranged as circles set inside one another. Each one is taller than the last as you go inland, though all are quite large and forbidding.

- The Smokeshroud ("Demon's Edge")
First of all, the Outer Rim represents the outside slopes of the first mountain range, and all that can be seen from the sea. The actual mountains are called the "Smokeshroud", a range of still active volcanoes from which lava flows frequently. Fortunately, most of the eruptions go out towards the rocky coastline. Many also call this first range the "Demon's Edge" (or "Demonedge"), for many demons inhabit the lakes of fire and deep rifts through which flow rivers of molten rock. These fiery streams flow down into the ocean, where plumes of steam and water mark their entrance to the waters. When lava flows do creep down into the valley, it creates new farmland, and the people there start over. It is a way of life, and the Corlothans are content with it.

- The Deepfrost Crags
Continuing across this green valley, you come upon another set of higher mountains that jut out of the surrounding landscape at atrocious angles. These are scalable only by the most skilled and determined of mountaineers, and impervious to any large force. Instead of eternal fire and destruction, these peaks are covered with hoods of snow, and their flanks cloaked with forest. Still, the folds and cracks cannot be completely covered, and in many a place you can see a deep chasm that goes deep into the mountain, or a ridgeline so steep that not the hardiest of trees could hold tight to its sides. Home to a few types of dragons, they also provide living space for the crag eagle and many other cold-weather animals. Called the "Deepfrost Crags", there are only a few passes through these rugged mountains, and they are watched carefully.

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Picture Description.
View on Deepfrost Warden, a fortress that specialises on training gryphs, drakes and crag eagles that serve the defense of the Skydom of Qel'tra'loh. Pic by Reegen. (click on image to enlarge)

- The Stormcrags and the Pinnacle
Finally, passing yet a deeper valley, you come upon some foothills that are nearly as tall as the "Smokeshroud". But beyond these comparatively “gentle” hills are giant mountains easily two or three times the height of the Demonedge. They are called the "Stormcrags", because of the constant turmoil the clouds seem to be in. The highest point to be found in all of Caelereth can be seen here. On the top of the highest mountain is the "Pinnacle", for it can be called by no other name. About 300 peds tall, it stands alone, the only point from which the sea can be seen not on the Outer Rim. These mysterious mountains are also home to many unknown species as well as the rare gemflower.

- The Heartland Valley and the Town of Windrider
Next, if you continue on your flyby of the island of Qel’tra’loh, you come upon the deepest valley yet, ringed by steep cliffs and slopes down into a slightly oblong-shaped depression. It is almost as deep as it is wide, but refrains from this characteristic just barely. There are hundreds of waterfalls falling thousands of feet down amazing drops, on all sides of the valley. On the southeastern side of the valley, a deep canyon that is nearly level with the bottom of the valley exits into the surrounding lands. Only in two other locations are there places which can be used to gain entrance or escape from the Heartland Valley. This is home to nearly all of the complex craftsmen, and especially to the most famous of all, the airship builders. Yet there is still enough farmland in this area to withstand a siege for a long period of time.

The town of Windrider is located to the western side of the valley, near the Windblast Cliffs and the Rift. It is where the Skyships are designed and built. They then can be tested easily by moving them above the rift and sending them up. The Rift is one of the most amazing features of the island. Though never proven, it is said that a powerful mage trained extensively in the element of Air fought a brief but furious battle there. The man was set upon by a troupe of trained wizards who acted as assassins, and held nearly all off. He had destroyed all but one, but was exhausted from the fight. Just as he was about to be killed he threw himself and his enemy into the canyon, and they both died. After his death, an immense wind sprang up, and has been acting like that for as long as the country has existed. Though there are many other theories, it is certain that magic was involved in the creating of the pillar of wind.

The streams from all of the rivers in Heartland Valley exit it through the canyon at the east end of the valley. The canyon is called the Darkwall, and the river takes the same name. It exits the island in a large waterfall after collecting all water from the other two valley rings.

- The City of Corloth ("Nightwatch")
If one flies over the vibrant fields, forests, and towns, and come to the most amazing sight on the island. It far surpasses even the depthless Rift, or the towering Pinnacle. In the center of the Heartland, far over the heads of anyone on the valley floor, is a glorious floating city. It is at about the height of the highest peaks of the surrounding mountains, but still has a temperate climate equivalent to the spring atmosphere of the lower parts of the valley. Still, in the winter, a light dusting to even a fourth ped falls occasionally, and the citizens look on this as a treat. And even in the dead of winter, while snow blankets the ground, colourful blossoms can be seen peeking out from beneath the white drifts.

The city itself, Corloth, with its tall towers and meandering avenues is a perfect blend of civilization and nature. A babbling brook is just as much at home as a busy avenue in the middle of the city, and patches of forest both deciduous and evergreen pocket the landscape. The way the architecture accents the natural beauty is stunning to say the least. A park surrounds the central palace, and creeks flow out of the center of the city. Eventually all end up tumbling off the side in glorious waterfalls, only to dissipate along with their rainbows about halfway down. Some magic keeps this water clean and cycling.

Coming from the south of the city, you first come upon the houses on the edges of the city. These have wonderful views, but are not quite as luxurious as the dwelling places closer in. Further on, you see the more elaborate housing mixed with a scattering of shops and parks, mainly for families who have been living in the city for many years. Next, you come to a higher density of parks, and then to the food courts where most of the population dines. Passing the larger businesses and craftshops, you fly over the main park that was viewed from farther away. Finally, you reach the palace, the center of the city and an architectural masterpiece.

The Corloth Palace ("Gyn'os'rannaýr", Styrásh for "Glorious Castle") is surrounded by a set of nine towers, each with large, white arches connecting them to the main palace. Then comes the circular set of walls that separate the park from the courtyard. Passing on, you go through a maze of streams, carefully tended gardens, waterfalls, and pathways, and end up at the main palace. It is a difficult to describe shape that is pleasing to the eye and quite effective as well. At the top of the actual building is the hatching grounds, where every day a small number of gryphs, crag eagles and rocs hatch every day to be led away by their companions. And above that floats the Chamber of Clouds, where the Skylord and Council meet to discuss the country’s affairs. It is quite an amazing construction, because the room gives the impression of being far above the island, and if clouds obscure the view, they appear as simply transparent. This image can be shifted to take a closer inspection of any part of the kingdom, but the natural state is an overview. In the center of the palace, on the ground floor, there is a large amphitheater where the people can watch and listen in on what is being said in the council. The Chamber of Clouds seems to hover in the middle of the room. Also, the Council and Skylord can choose to have the same illusion in the Chamber, only reversed, with the people being an illusion, but still interacted with.

Tae'theméf ("Covered Fortification Island")
The northern island of Qel'tra'loh is also the longest stretching over 150 strals from east to west, but is only about 30 to 40 strals from north to south. It has two quarries and ports, but aside from that Tae'theméf is a rather craggy island with little green areas but lots of waterfalls and a long, several hundred peds high ridge stretching over most of the island's area. As Tae'theméf therefore is difficult to inhabit only a few smaller settlements can be found on its southern side, where most of the fishing to supply the ports takes place.

Its ancient Styrásh name already suggests its primary purpose: defending the heart of the skydom, the island of Córloth'chrónn and its floating capital, from unwanted intruders at any cost. Unlike the southern island of Waesh'car'scál where the multitude of reefs constitutes a natural obstacle, the north is much more susceptible to attacks - even though it is a lot more difficult to reach for, say, southern Sarvonian based fleets which are forced to circumnavigate the whole island to reach it from the seemingly at least geographically more vulnerable north. However, the last attacks date back about a millennium, as Tae'theméf has developed into a gigantic magical stronghold by now with floating watchtowers scattered all over the place, patrolling skyships and two skyship ports at the far east (Klinderonde) and west (Caelderond) of the land. The ports were build due to their proximity to the two major aca'hál quarries of Qel'tra'loh, where the magical mineral is mined that is then used to fuel the ships and allows them to float - at least in the vicinity of the Skydom (see Myth/Lore and History for more details on this). Additional defense is provided by magical installations that were set up in the northern Dark Sea. If ships approach from the north, they are likely to receive warnings via gryphriders, and should they choose to continue they're on their own when it comes to make their way through the traps - and even if they manage to do so, the Lohan army will be prepared.

Waesh'car'scál ("Twelve-Sword Island")
Twelve-Sword Island is one of the places in Caelereth where a devastating battle raged and reaped one hero after the other, all in all twelve fighters of almost legendary fame. The attack on Qel'tra'loh during the First Sarvonian War which found its end on this island was a major miscalculation by the joined Caltharian and Erpheronian leaders, who considered the Skydom an elven domain that provided magical weaponry to support the elves on the mainland, while in fact Qel'tra'loh had remained neutral in this conflict and in all subsequent conflicts as well. Unfamiliar with the territory like the masses of cliffs surrounding the Skydom and the extraordinarily powerful magical possibilities the defenders were trained in a whole army was crushed by means of earthquakes, landslides and materialising rocks raining down on the attackers coming seemingly out of nowhere. Waesh'car'scál therefore still has the wounds of this bloody battle clearly visible all over the place, and a larger cemetery stretches nearly over the whole island from coast to coast as a landmark for any outsider proving the futility of these efforts.

With its rolling hills, picturesque streams and woods Twelve-Sword Island is home to most Lohan farms that supply Cór'loth'chrónn, full with lush meadows, lots of cattle, sheep and the occasional quaerash. Due to the attack on Qel'tra'loh Waesh'car'scál however also has a couple of watchtowers on its southern coast, accompanied by a tunnel system that was excavated to provide shelter for defending mages.

Ael'ón'quaería ("Teardrop Islets")
The five Teardrop Islets, located to the southeast of the main archipelago in a shape that resembles a semi circle, are considered a sacred area by the Lohans. While they only are a couple dozens of strals wide, each one of them harbours natural sanctuaries or man-built temples and monasteries, some dedicated to specific Santharian or elven Gods, others are general places of retreat. All the forests found on these islets are tranquil and serene and altogether dedicated to meditation. They are often visited by young mages who have just finished their apprenticeship and hope for a blessing by the Gods and the universe for the work they are going to contribute for the sake of the Skydom.

It has to be noted at this point that the terms "religion" and "belief" have to remain undefined in the context of Qel'tra'loh, as there is no dominating type of faith one coudl attribute to the Lohans. This has its reason in the fact that the Skydom has its roots in a strange mix of elven, druidic and human ideas, not only insofar as magic is concerned, but also the worship of Gods or nature itself as a substitute for Gods. Thus religious convictions vary considerably in Qel'tra'loh, and each faction is represented in its own way on the Teardrops. Interestingly, despite the lack of a form of religion that is supported or referred to in governmental decisions by the Skylords (as is the case with many other state forms) the loose handle on religious matters works remarkably well and has brought people more together than apart...

The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh is located in the Dark Sea, west of the southern Sarvonian continent and northwest of the northernmost Santharian province of Nermeran. While technically the island belongs to Sarvonia it has maintained its independent stance for millenia and has to be treated as a self-sustaining entity. Qel'tra'loh is surrounded by a whole barrage of natural reefs and of subsequently heaved floating rocks that serve as "watchtower" equivalents overlooking vast areas of the adjacent seas, manned by soldiers on gryphs or crag eagles. Additionally various magical traps have been installed to make it practically impossible for unauthorized intruders to sneak in unnoticed. The system of natural environment that is difficult to overcome in the first place combined with magical defenses has worked for millennia to fend off attackers and is considered a masterpiece of strategical construction to protect the arcane secrets of the island.

The inhabitants of Qel'tra'loh mainly consist of two races, elves and humans, with origins in all kinds of tribes, primarily however Injerín elves and Erpheronian humans. This constellation is based on the fact that the official founders of the Skydom, Sah'nat'rar and Aepheael, were Injerín and Erpheronian respectively, so they brought many of their relatives to settle the isles, however, slowly more and more trustworthy people of all sorts of races and tribes were admitted as well, usually through invitation based on special recommendation. Thus integrity of the Lohan society is secured, and while there are exceptions to the rule, once whole families get exiled from the Skydom due to smuggling of people or goods in or out of the realm, deterring examples are set. Citizens of the Skydom are proud to be part of the magic realm and are Lohans with fervour and dedicated to the possibilities of these lands thanks to the secrets buried in Qel'tra'lohan soil. Knowing one's way around magic is therefore crucial to the inhabitants of the isles, and while humans and elves have different approaches on how to harness magic, on Qel'tra'loh their magical prowess works as one to maintain and expand the Skydom. On the other hand it is very difficult to become a Lohan as an outsider, and everyone who joins can only leave under certain prerequistes, however most Lohans choose to stay at the picturesque landscape they've learned to love: floating cities, swirling rocks, waterfalls that lead into nothingness from high above the ground, and, and, and...

Politically speaking Corloth since ages has been ruled by the Skylord, which is assisted by a the Sky Council made up of six people. The Council also elects the lord if one dies, or goes missing. The Council members, in turn, are elected by the people whom they represent. The Council and Skylord meet in the Chamber of Clouds, which is located in the palace in the center of Corloth. This room has the distinction of being the only building floating high above Corloth, where one is able to look all across the valley and all the isles surrounding Corloth. Thus with the whole Skydom at hand, at least as a visual aid, decisions are made much more tangible - or, in other words: - the view the Skylord and his Council have is simply terrific!

Coat of Arms/Sign.
The Corlothan coat of arms which is considered to be identical with the Skydom's banner is usually found on a basic shield shape, with clouds at the bottom, the sun in the upper right corner, and sky covering the top. In the center, a gryph and a crag eagle and circling each other, since those are the birds most used in the Skydom. The symbol of the Corlothan army is simply a gryph flying upwards, with the sun rising at the bottom, filling the sky with its rays. Only the top half of the gryph is seen. A version of this is used on exported products as well, a sign that stands for topmost quality throughout Caelereth.

Basically, the Lohans enjoy warm summers and frosty winters with a good deal of snow as is the case in most parts of the Sarvonian continent nearby. However, like many other things, climate in Qel'tra'loh is a rather peculiar issue, and quite frankly speaking: mages and scholars haven't quite figured out why and under which particular circumstances weather changes occur in the Skydom. Because as a matter of fact, they do occur rather frequently, suddenly and sometimes in dramatic fashion and interestingly are locally bound. It might happen for instance that a quiet idyllic spot on the Teardrop Isles enjoys a lot of late summer sunshine for half a day when it gets swamped by torrential rainfalls, or even worse is devastated by a blizzard which cuts a swath through the underbrush emerging seemingly out of nowhere. These uncontrollable outbreaks are said to be the results of magical residues reacting and discharging violently and are therefore often referred to as "magical storms". While all kinds of elements are involved in these kinds of storms and damage done can be quite severe, it is extremely rare that they take on the form of earthquakes or firestorms that could do more permanent damage. While the thought of unexpected magical storms might sound disquieting, for some reason populated areas are rarely hit directly, most likely - at least that's what scholars guess - because the man-made (or elf-made for that matter) aca'hál constructions manage to properly balance the elements that exist naturally in the environment through magical means, thus harnessing the prevalent chaotic nature of magic that exists on the island. On the other hand in areas where the aca'hál soil is allowed to still unopposedly react with magical residue - as was already the case long before the first settlers arrived - there is no such control. Thus by-products like free floating ounía of any kind of cast spells in other areas, permanent or temporary, might eventually trigger a magical discharge. More details on dealing with the chaotic energies of the aca'hál can be found in the Myth/Lore section.

With magical energies that are part of the land's soil there's no doubt that Qel'tra'loh's flora is extraordinary in every way one can possibly think of. Regular plants that are common elsewhere and grow on these islands as well like the cerubell, lotann, sunsmile or Dreamer's breath can double in size or shoot up over night and wither away instantly when exposed to one of the common magical storm. At least this is the case in "wild" areas, like meadows and woods that are magically uncontrolled by the Lohan mages. Wherever magicians have tampered with the magical resources in order to try to balance things out through additional permanent spells, the growth of plants does not differ greatly from other places. However, the anomalies of the Qel'tra'lohan fauna are also its allure and greatest asset, as e.g. the effects of healing remedies made out of more potent plants are definitely not to be sneezed at! Such potions sell extremely well on the market - in the Skydom and elsewhere... Which is why the Lohans have made sure that certain spots are kept untouched by any human or elven magician, so that the harvest of these wild growing plants yields the best results. On the other hand places that are intentionally kept clean from any interference are likely to get hit by dangerous magical storms and because of this regularly cost some harvesters their lives. But that's the risk some enterprising Lohans are willing to take.

Also especially in terms of plants with properties that make them perfect magical reagents and ingredients for strong potions the Skydom of course is an absolutely invaluable resource. Plants like the forget-me-nut, wizardleaf, macadan, mourdring root, injouwaeyn, kamataqua or zifel exist in Qel'tra'loh pretty much in abundance compared to the rest of the world where these kinds of magical vegetation need to be sought in the most unusual and remote places. This alone made the Skydom a chosen target for greedy rulers in the past, as despite the fact that powerful magic is limited to the confines of the islands, reagents, potions and artifacts can always be exported.

Many aerial creatures roam the skies of Qel'tra'loh, among them gryphs, crag eagles, gale drakes and rocs, all of them have been trained and made part of their army by the Lohans. Dedicated to the aerial fleet there's even a hatching ground on top of the Corloth Palace harbouring these giant birds and drakes that will serve the Skydom once they grow up. Carrier pigeons are also not an uncommon sight in Corloth, delivering important messages without delay, not only used by the army. Especially because the islands as a whole measure only a couple of hundreds strals in size and are surrounded by endless sea, trained pigeons only fly short distances within the Skydom and never lose their way. Other aerial creatures live in the Deepfrost Crags like the feathered wyvern or the notorious fire dragons which can be found on the volcano rim on the Smokeshroud, one of the few places in Caelereth aside from the Celest Mountains of Northern Savonia where these mighty creatures can be encountered, yet should nevertheless be avoided.

Sheep, cattle, goats and pigs plus the occasional quaerash roam the southern island, Waesh'car'scál, where many farms can be found to provide Corloth with food, and the sparse woods have deer, wolves, foxes, wild cats and the like. Most of the fishing is done up north on Tae'theméf island, where yellowtail, barsa and the in other parts fairly rare goldfin and charma'lan are caught.

Qel'tra'loh's main and essential resource for the functioning of the Skydom of course is the aca'hál (Styrásh for "pulsating ground"), the mineral found over most parts of the territory and considered unique to it (insofar as is known). It is endowed with magical properties that allow capable mages to keep pieces of land, rocks, ships and buildings afloat permanently, alas with the downside that permanent enchantments only work on and in conjunction with aca'hál containing soil. Aca'hál therefore is indispensible to keep Qel'tra'loh afloat, quite literally at that, but on the other hand is completely useless elsewhere, so despite its internal value for the Skydom it is not a trading good. Aca'hál is mainly mined at the northern island of Tae'theméf in quarries near the ports of Klinderonde and Caelderond.

Other minerals found on Tae'theméf in and around the aca'hál mines are fyrite, orcrystal, vitriol and herne, however in comparably meager quantities. The main island, Córloth'chrónn, also features a couple of gemstone deposits, especially around the town of Windrider with its skyshipyards. Close to the Windblast Cliffs and the Rift carnelions (also called "lionstones"), emeralds and sapphires are mined, topaz and garnets are to be found in the Neyer mines in the southwest of the island of Córloth'chrónn. In general it has to be said that the lack of other minerals and gems aside from aca'hál make it an absolute necessity for the Lohans to trade with others, so while on the one hand they seem to be far ahead from others, in other respects they depend entirely on the outside world.

While aca'hál is exempt of trading, what the Lohans can actually trade with others are the products made in Qel'tra'loh thanks to the direct or indirect influence of aca'hál, products that are primarily magical in nature (e.g. artifacts) or alchemical (potions, ointments etc. made of wild growing, much more potent plants near major aca'hál deposits). Trade with other kingdoms however is meticulously controlled by the executive branch of the Chamber of Clouds, which attempts to prevent any kind of irregularities of trading like delivering excessive amounts of reagents to single customers. Infringements can lead to severe penalties, among them exiling the delinquents for life.

Discovering, interpreting and finally harnessing the powers of the legendary aca'hál mineral were the foundation on which the Skydom of Qel'tra'loh was finally built. After all, for millenia following the War of the Chosen, the island was considered uninhabitable due to the chaotic rampant magical storms that plagued the area unabatedly and also because large parts of it were and still are inaccessible, blocked by deadly reefs. How exactly these circumstances exactly came about is anyone's guess, but what seems for certain is that one of the white Chosen, the Injerín half-elf Dra've'ensle, had erected a stronghold on what would eventually become Qel'tra'loh, but at that time these lands most likely were still parts of the Sarvonian continent. The War of the Chosen brought death and destruction upon Caelereth, and Dra've'ensle along with his fellow white Chosen, Coulande, perished in the Battle of Winds when fighting Eckra the Cruel, Avatar of Queprur. An ensuing gigantic maelstrom ripped the lands apart, and Qel'tra'loh was probably separated from the mainland at this time, but not without Coulande's final "gift" to the world: The elf is said to have linked his soul to the place he had built, and that he drew powerful magic he used in battle from it through means only he could know. However, once his demise had come, his stronghold was extinguished with him, as he wouldn't let it fall in the hands of another Chosen and exploit its arcane knowledge. Some say that the eye shape of today's Qel'tra'loh and its many reefs mirror the devastating explosion of Coulande's magical fortress when he was killed, but that's just one aspect of this tragedy. The other is that the place was still imbued with the dazzling powers of its creator, which sank into its soil and transformed it, giving birth to a new kind of mineral which since its discovery has been referred to as "aca'hál" (Styrásh for "pulsating ground"). Or at least so the story goes. Others claim that aca'hál exists in other parts of the world as well, disputing its uniqueness to Qel'tr'loh, but no concrete proof exists of these assumptions as of yet.

Undoubtedly the Qel'tra'loh territory was still magically active long after the War of the Chosen had ended - "cursed" some say, "haunted" others, but what was for sure was that all elements existed in a dynamically changing environment on these islands. This also meant that the place was not done with destroying whatever tried to set foot on it, for a long time it represented an impenetrable magical trap. Glaciers and active volcanoes existed alongside each other, heavy storms battered the coasts for a long, long time that cost many adventurers looking for artifacts and treasures their lives. Until one day when a shipwrecked sailor by the name of Aehphael of an Erpheronian trade ship that hit a reef got stranded on one of the islands and lived there for years in a humble abode he had constructed from simple logs and leaves. He survived on Waesh'car'scál (the southern island) because he observed the magical storms carefully and learned where not to venture when he set out to forage. Eventually he could pass this precious knowledge on to a group of independent Injérin and human mages who had come to investigate the phenomenons bringing with them their very own approaches on the workings of magecraft. The corridor they used to circumnavigate the reefs by the way since then has been called "Aephael's Strait", and the elven leader of these bold researchers, Sah'nat'rar, would eventually become the first Skylord, and Aephael his right hand.

As thus it happened that thanks to Aepheael's invaluable help patterns of magical storms could be detected that prior to this expedition were considered to be merely random. Based on these findings, Sah'nat'rar and his followers experimented with containing the magical energies that dominated vast areas of the islands, which eventually led to the discovery of the mineral they aptly named "aca'hál" (Styrásh for "pulsating ground"). Buried deep within the soil aca'hál was found to act as a catalyst to enhance or trigger magic reactions, and due to the fact that the mineral was prevalent in certain specific areas and lacking in others, the magical storms it caused (often ignited by natural strong winds, lightning, volcanic eruptions or just a hot day etc.) could be more or less predicted. One thing led to another and the magicians found ways first to neutralize the powers of the aca'hál, reducing the probability of storms and then to competely harness aca'hál by using chunks of it for the balancing of permanent enchantments: Wind mages found ways to use aca'hál artifacts and let them repell each other, keeping objects afloat, providing the artifacts are close to soil that also bears aca'hál. Tempering with this natural magical resource of course led also to side effects, namely that while magical storms could be tremendously reduced over the millennia, they could not be completely annihilated, only directed to areas of the island that are not properly balance controlled.

Ever since the days of Aephael and Sah'nat'rar the Skydom of Qel'tr'loh has only grown in its magical prowess, reigned by the Skylords, and while its natural limitations prevent it from expanding, its secrets have remained well guarded. Several attacks on Qel'tr'loh have failed, among them a bloody massacre during the First Sarvonian War that lends Twelve-Sword Island its name. Qel'tra'loh - represented by the Skylord - sees itself as a place on its own, independent from the continents, not dictated by race, tribe and creed, and therefore has brought forth a plethora of diverse leaders over time that stand for this exemplary criteria, a rare governmental construction that almost matches aca'hál in its uniqueness.

Title: Re: The Magic Island of Qel'tra'loh ("Sky Realm")
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on 03 August 2014, 05:03:20
Excellent undertaking, Art. :)  Be nice to see this formalized.  Trick will be integrating it, yet at the same time keeping it separate from the rest of the world.  We don't want airships becoming the norm.  But, as the resident expert on everything Santh, I trust you'll get it done.  :thumbup:

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Mina on 03 August 2014, 19:21:59
I'm guessing this isn't an Elvish kingdom?  Some explanation for why its name is in Styrash might be necessary.  Or possibly just have it be coincidence that it seems to mean something in Styrash, since the translation frankly doesn't make much sense (and it should be 'quel' instead of 'qel').

It definitely looks like it's going to be tricky to integrate.  Stuff like a unique resource, knowledge that no one else has, and being unconquerable makes me wary. 

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 03 August 2014, 21:07:30
Well, the spelling is not consistent throughout the site. On the map it is spelled "Qel'tra'loh" (see here ( and also in Stormcrow's original concept, while several entries refer to it with a "Qu". As changing a picture that exists in various forms is though, keeping the "Qel" looks like the best option. After all the name was also most likely transformed over the course of time.

It's also definitely not an elven kingdom, but a human one, probably based on elven magic/lore though with elves maybe still pulling the strings in the background. Sort of like a League ( experiment. However, it all needs a lot of thought, though, how exactly this can work.

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 10 August 2014, 01:57:53
Small update: Pictures were now added to the entry above, along with the fitting descriptions. Currently in the works is the Description section, which will be posted once it is completed... Stay tuned!

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 10 August 2014, 22:11:53
Ok guys, I've made some more progress on this one. :D

Major parts of the Description section were now added - still missing are the two islands mentioned at the end, but Stormcrow's stuff has been integrated and updated, Tae'theméf is completely new and so is the introduction in the Description section. In that first paragraph you'll also find the backbone of the whole entry where the floating stuff is explained briefly. More to come in this respect of course in terms of historical development, lore etc. but there's the basic outline. Comments, ideas, suggestions welcome!

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on 11 August 2014, 12:32:21
"Among the people of Qel'tra'loh are the people of a small village of Lin'say.  This small village is well known for its extraordinarily beautiful women and its wild celebrations.  It seems as though these villagers haver some reason to celebrate every second week.  Most of these festivals are geared toward the fairer sex, where men try to win their favour by buying them much ale.  It has become such a common occurance that whenever a drunken girl is seen on the island, someone invariably comments "that drunk girl must be a Lin'say Lohan"."

Feel free to use that. :P  Or not.  She has a habit of suing anyone who remotely uses her likeness (E-trade and GTA).  Of course, that would be good publicity....

Anyway, looking great so far, Arti.

I like the aca'ton.  The way it is used is very similar to how I made my Antislar Mani's manipulate objects.  I wonder if there could be a connection, somehow?

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 11 August 2014, 17:58:40
:lol: Could be quite expensive to use the  Lin'say Lohan thingy... ;)

The similarities to Antislar magic are quite interesting... Only that in the case of Qel'tra'loh there is a substance, a reagent and not just willpower, which makes the decisive difference. Basically there's a permanent force field in the Qel'tra'loh area in which two forces are then pushed to the one side and the other to keep things in balance by the mage, but the force field holds it in check (while Antislar magic works with balances, but only temporarily manipulates stuff, because it depends on willpower). In Qel'tra'loh enchantments can be permanent, as long as the force field is active. Sort of like magnetism which is the basic force and on top of it objects are manipulated and kept in a certain state by being constantly fueled by the basic force...

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Mina on 11 August 2014, 20:12:44
Hmm, so if I'm reading it right, aqa'ton isn't unique to the place?  It just doesn't occur in large enough quantities elsewhere to be put to the same uses?  That makes more sense than it being unique.

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 11 August 2014, 21:09:08
It hasn't been stated exactly as of yet if aqa'ton is unique or not, but it's quite possible to have it elsewhere as well - and even if it exists elsewhere this doesn't mean that anything Qel'tra'loh-like is possible at those other places due to the limited amount of quantity in which it can be found. So yeah, that sounds perfectly alright with me.  :thumbup:

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 12 August 2014, 04:01:41
Also now added: Details on Waesh'car'scál ("Twelve-Sword Island") and the Ael'ón'quaería ("Teardrop Islets").  :grin:

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 15 August 2014, 23:15:09
Another addition for today: the Climate section. :)

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on 17 August 2014, 07:58:38
Finally had time to peruse your new section Art.  :D   A couple of things here.

Aca'ton and Aqa'ton are used interchangeably?  When I first read the term, locals called it Aca'ton, but elsewhere you referred to it as Aqa'ton, so I assumed that the general Sarvonian called it that, but in Climate you have gone back to Aca'ton.

"However, like many other things, climate in Qel'tra'loh is a rather peculiar issue, and quite frankly: mages and scholars haven't quite figured out why and under which particular circumstances weather changes occur in the Skydom.
And quite frankly what?  Something missing here, I think.

"While the thought of unexpected magical storms might sound disquieting, for some reason populated areas are rarely hit directly, most likely - at least that's what scholars guess - because the aca'ton constructions manage to properly balance the elements within the environment through magical means, whereas in areas where the aca'ton soil is allowed to react with magical residue there is no such control. "

I'm not getting this, I think it needs to be expanded on and explained a bit more.  Are we saying that "wild" aca'ton deposits create a chaotic effect on the weather, but that through refinement during the construction process that this chaos can be lessened?  If so, then that you lend itself to some interesting stories about the first people to try and inhabit the island, and how mages learned of the secret and were needed to "tame" areas for human development, therefore setting the stage for magical "exploration" which eventually led to the floating cities.

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 17 August 2014, 15:36:10
Thanks for the suggestions/questions, Alt! Always appreciated! I will add a few more lines in the Climate section to explain this a bit more and then point to Myth/Lore where the basic outline of the historical development of Qel'tra'loh can be found. Actually, the way you put it, the story is indeed right there, and I pretty much thought also along this line. Just need to make it explicit in the proper section, because Climate of course deals only with one aspect. Well, what can I say: Great minds think alike, eh?

On the aca'ton/aqa'ton issue: Should be "aca'ton" throughout, I'll change that. Probably I'm a bit "q" damaged due to the fact that I have to write Qe'tra'loh that often... :lol:

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 17 August 2014, 18:32:10
Ok guys, we now have a Myth/Lore section that deals with the historical key events, check it out! Also adjusted was the last part of the Climate section, and the mineral BTW has been changed to "aca'hál" in order to go with partly existing Styrásh vocabulary (as it means "pulsating ground"). Hope you enjoy, as with this explanatory additions we're really getting to know these islands a lot better :)

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 18 August 2014, 23:10:27
Let there be a... say... Flora section next, maybe? And there it was!  :grin:

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 20 August 2014, 23:41:41
Resources section? Added. :)
Fauna section? Added too...  :cool:

Title: Re: The Skydom of Qel'tra'loh ("Island of Skies")
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 02 September 2014, 03:48:14
People section was also added now - some History is still to come, then this one's ready to go!

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