VettinskrakeVettinskrake is cold, as far north as you can go, where it seems even the earth is frozen solid and flaking from the cold squeezing grasp of the ice that reach down into the heart-flesh of the world.
Knife-crevices of ice and raging undying blizzards, jagged mountain ranges and the pale, weak light of a sun that cares none for the blasted waste of nothingness.
Once the sun left the world all behind, and it was Ferringred who left the world behind as well to seek it out. He walked the long pathless wastes of the snow-drifts and ice-gripped lakes, and crossed Froddi's crest, before finally coming to the Mountains Beyond, and ascended to the final heights of the Mountain of Rest to call back the sun to the world.
Ferringred is not the only Hero to have traversed Vettinskrake, but he is the most famous, and the one to have gone the furthest. He is also numbered among the many, many victims of the Krake. A trait shared by all to have gone not even as far as he did.
Seek not to go there.
It is not idly that they say that "The North is too cold for Gods."
Ferringred, the NobleHero of the Northern Realms, who braved the terrors of Vettinskrake to beckon back the lost sun at the Mount of Rest.
His tale is told in its full in the Saga of Ferringred, but for the benefit of those here present, his most mighty deeds will be summarised;
He first took Fame and Glory at the battle of Hirruksnir, during which he slew with an Arrow and an Axe the Jarl of that Town, Skjrldan. Skjrldan had previously slain Ferringred's brother with a poisoned arrow, which began their blood-feud.
He did outsmart the Giant Ferregun, from which he took his Hero-Name, when the valley-town of Luggensvolt was under the Giant's tyranny. It was his wit that out-smarted the Giant, and thus drove it back to Old Fomoria in shame.
Whilst traversing the White Moors, he did become the Prey of Noksigrend, the Wilf-behind-the-Wind. In the fierceness of the battle, Ferringred took out the left eye of the Wolf with his sword, and drove it back to the wind in which it dwells and howls all the more loudly in anguish at the hurt done to it.
Also whilst wandering the White Moors whilst seeking the Mount of Rest,
He outsmarted Old Nana Trostii, the Hag of Froddi's Crest. He helped her thaw out water, believing her to be but a simple Old Maid, but saw past the Hag's illusions, and such he bound her hands and filled her mouth with Iron. Thus he could dictate the terms of their time together, which also allowed him the chance to take the Lamp-Of-Eyes, which did guide him to the Mount of Rest.
He caused the Demon Hrothdumr Stone-Blood to be called "The Corpse Who Crawls" after their mighty battle, during which he severed the tendons in the Demon's knees and heels. It was in this fight too that Ferringred lost his sword 'Byrnskyr' after it was thrust deep into the Demon's chest and sealed about by Stone. It was this blow that ended the battle.
He did finally come upon the Mount of Rest, and by the sacrifice of his blood, he did call back the Lost Sun to the land, saving the peoples of all the earth.
It was then afterwards that Ivehngr who-casts-a-long-shadow came upon him, and after a mighty battle, was Ferringred slain. His words and deeds were carried to us by many Shamans, who heard the departing of his spirit.
Noksigrend, the Wolf-behind-the-WindA great and mighty Wind-Spirit, who takes the form of a great White Wolf. Its form seems to be constantly blowing away in the gale, as if it were made of fresh snow. Its eyes blaze a fierce orange, the only part of it visible when it takes its Wind-Form, save that the eye that Ferringred stole from it now burns as a great lightning-scar from ear to maw.
Its howls cause mighty blizzards, and its barks sharp gales. It is most territorial, and has driven off all other spirits from its territory, which it shares now only with lesser wolves. It is ever eager to bear its fangs and claws, and ranges about its territory looking for whom it may devour, eager to consume as the blizzard is eager to bury and destroy. Its ferocity is a little blunted these days, its eye pains it still, and the wounds to its pride may never heal.
It hates men with a particular fire, and will always seek to destroy them.
A Hag of some considerable power, mother of the Demons, Blind, Shiver, and Seize, and also the adopted Mother of Yutheseta, the Maiden-with-Blue-Skin.
Old Nana Trostii, Hag of Froddi's Crest
She does dwell in her cabin upon Froddi's Crest, where Ferringred spent a night after binding her and filling her mouth with Iron. She did cause him one great hurt, which lead finally to his death, as her price during Ferringred's succor was "Only what he made in her home." Thinking that the price was easy to pay, Ferringred agreed, but the Hag took a lock of his hair which grew during the night of his rest, and used it later for foul magics, in revenge for Ferringred's theft of her Lamp. It was thus that Ivehngr was directed to Ferringred at his weakest hour.
She wields her Wand-of-many-Wands, each wand of which is grown from her lonesome tree, which is nurtured by the fluids and ground bone of the men she slays. It is said that it is that tree, as well as her Black Cat Rime, and her three demon sons that she alone has love for.
The Demons Shiver, Seize, and BlindAppearing as mighty Black Hyenas the size of tigers, with claws and cunning each to match, the Sons of Trostii are wraiths of the ice and snow. They can easily be seen to be something other from their limbs, which end in cruel and misshapen hands and feet, though they only rarely walk on their hind legs. Their fangs are blue-crystal shards of ice, their manes are delicate frost, and their eyes are bright shining blizzard-suns. Their laughter and cackling can often be heard by their victims long in advance of their attacks, though the prey rarely realise it is more than the wickedness of the wind that taunts them.
The Demons are immaterial if they wish to be, and their hands always are. They kill by squeezing the hearts of their prey, bursting them within the chest if they don't freeze them to ice first. They seem like flurries of ice on the air, whirling and circling around you as the cackling on the rises and rises. The first sight you will have of one is when it coalesces out of the snow, standing tall above your comrade, hand plunged into their chest, as blood flows like rivers from their eyes and mouth.
Yutheseta, the Maiden with Blue SkinTales say that once she was a lady like any other, betrayed by a lover the heart-break of which froze her solid from the inside out. The truth is that Yutheseta is the adopted child of Old Nana Trostii, a girl given to her as payment for one of the deals she has made in the past. She despises what she is, as the magic of the Hag and the Cold of Vettinskrake have stripped of all by the veneer of humanity, and she is now counted as one among the Fae. She wanders the Pale Wastes, having long since abandoned the family that despised her and that she despised in turn, stealing the hearts of humans who upset her and eating them.
She boils and seethes with hatred, and the snow steams and thaws at her feet as she walks, even as water freezes on her cold, cold skin. She will talk to humans if they show her any sympathy for a time too, though oftentimes this sympathy is short-lived when they learn of the past and personality she makes no effort to hide.
When this happens, the people are often as short-lived as the sympathy was.
Her hands are deadly sharp like ice, and if she is struck with a weapon, she will simply crack like ice and the pieces will slot back into place. The only way to stop her is to totally bludgeon her into tiny, impotent pieces of ice; though this only a temporary measure, but often times it provides the time needed to escape. Yutheseta also has some modicum of her adopted mother's magics, and calls down snow-storms and Ice-Spirits when she wishes.
Hrothdumr, the Corpse-who-CrawlsIts face is like a Grey-Stone Whirlpool, stormy skin drawn endlessly inwards. It is skeleton-thin now, wasted in turn by the wastes it is trapped in, and though its arms are but barely more than bone, they are still the width of a man's waste.
It crawls now, and must drag itself by the hands due to the wounds it was dealt by Ferringred.
When dealt wounds, and its blood is shed, it is stone that boils and bubbles forth from the gash, sealing its flesh over with rock. Thus, the more it is wounded, the harder it is to wound, though it must one day turn entirely to stone and be as dead.
Once, it was a member of the Fomorian Courts, cousin as it was to the Giants of that Land, though one day it was banished, and thus became lost and possessed of the deathly colds of Vettinskrake. Sometimes, the grief of what it has lost becomes overwhelming, and it collapses and allows itself to be buried by the flurries and blizzards. Thus it was that the Demon managed to assault Ferringred by surprise, bursting from the banks of frost.
Thorgredst, the GriefsmithOnce, he was Oath-Cousin to a great Dwarf-Jarl, Forge-Master of a whole realm, but fate was ever cruel to him, and thus his curse soon became apparent. A grand feast was called, and at it Thorgredst presented his Oath-Cousin with a gift, but before the night was done, the gift had slain the Jarl. All agreed that Thorgredst was not to fault for this hateful doom, but this wound bit deep at Thorgredst's soul. Eventually, Thorgredst discovered that everything he gave as a gift, bought or freely given brought its holder to a similarly awful fate as his Oath-Cousin of old, and such it was that Thorgredst reclused himself from Dwarfdom, and sought loneliness and seclusion in the White Wastes of Vettinskrake. His only work now is the occasional wanderer that seeks him out to personally request that he craft them a tragedy, that they might carry off to the person they seek to destroy. It never works quite as the commissioner intends, but Thorgredst does it all the same, calloused to tragedy as he is.
He is cruely alone.
His face is as a Human Skull, with distended jaw, filled with molars all around, and many pale lights dancing in the empty eye sockets. It walks like an aped on its hind legs, bandying hither and thither, and its skin is like old tar; oil-black against the clean-whiteness of the skull.
To look into its many eyes is to forget a world without snow, as far as you would see is endless and hateful ice regardless of the reality. Your homes would be buried by snow, sealed with frost, and your friends and family would appear as corpses left out in a blizzard for many days. Many who have seen the lights and lived long wished they had not survived the ordeal.
Its shadow is its most fearsome weapon. Its blackness is devoid utterly and totally. It is bereft of all; heat, light, air, hope. It is the shadow of death.
The Vondstrekken, frozen-hearted Men-of-Old"The North is too cold for Gods," they say. The same is true of death as well sometimes. Vondstrekken are born of humans who are slain by the vicious cold and ice, which then grows and fractals within them, under the skin. They live still, but are far to numb to feel any of that, or to feel the sting of death, and thus they march on beyond the shade of the End. No God will brave the journey down to collect their souls.
They are impossible to kill, they have already been claimed by the cold. They will never stop hunting you if they seek your death, they have no other purposes. They are dreadfully sad and cold, they have nothing to exist for.
If you should ever meet the Vondstrekken, for they will always group together when they can in wandering herds of drifting dead, you should light a fire, and offer them a meal. Heat and warmth have been much denied to them. These things you offer them will give you opportunity to escape them. If you do not, they will take you, tear the meat from your bones, and slather themselves in the steaming meat to try and claim the warmth within. While the Vondstrekken eat the meat you offer them, you must strike up a conversation with them, and involve them all, or the trick will not work. Once the conversation is going, you must introduce some polarising and contentious debate among them, such as who the greatest hero among them is. While they bicker, you will have your chance to steal away from them; this is why you must involve all of them in the debate. If you do not, one of them will see you leave, and once they begin their pursuit, it will never stop.
She is a powerful sky-spirit, wearing the guise of a great eagle, though she scarcely needs to. Her eyes blaze with sky-fires, and storm clouds brew and boil angrily beneath her feathers. When she spreads her wings, a great billowing storm spills from her outstretched arms, and with a powerful beat, she speeds off into the air as a bolt of brilliant, white, blasting Lightning. Here she is true to her nature, as she speeds through the air, scorching and dashing the world apart around her, arcing around and about in bright shining lines of fire.
Mithandrigal, who Flies-as-Lightning
She is not cruel, nor does she have a great hatred of men. She does however, have very particular desires, and she cannot abide those who do not give her the gifts befitting her station. Many are the men she has blasted to stinking meat that did not grant her some mighty morsel to chew on. Indeed, even mighty Ferringred only escaped her wrath by hiding overnight in a cave beneath the earth; the one place she could not stand to go.
The Iksvaettir, the Thin KingsThere were once a race of beings, something like men, that now dwell in and rule the Vettinskrake. Close up, they are probably anything but human, though they might appear to be men at distance. No-one really knows what they look like. Some say their faces are like fractals of snowflakes wrapped endlessly around themselves, or jagged boulders of ice. Some have said their tools are made of ice, and glow a soft and terrible blue. Others tell that it is ancient flint that their weapons are forged of. Some others even say that they create the Vondstrekken as their unwitting wolves, and that they eat the cold and shredded meat they leave behind in their eternal searches for heat.
The truly bold-faced tell of great castles carved from mountains and adorned with glacial towers, cruel grasping hands reaching up into the sky with shining-tipped claws.
The truth is perhaps that they are the lost servants of Lord Storms, or perhaps he enemies, frozen and ice-clad. They might guard the Black Spire that is the resting place of Fabled Lord Storms' lost heart. Or perhaps they guard it from him so that he can never reclaim it.
What is sure, is that they slay all men they find in the wastes of Vettinskrake. None will ever find the Dark Spire of Lord Storms.
A trickster-spirit of the Wastes who dwells in a palace of frosted-crystal. He has nine eyes in a ring on the crown of his head, long, long white ears tipped with black, and a long and lazily wafting tail. It is said that it is extraordinarily fond of humans for a spirit of its kind, and will often invite them to stay at its dwelling. Indeed, Ferringred himself was invited to stay for a few days by the Fox, who saw his might and the cloud of fate that mantled him. Elves however, are a source of purest hate within the Spirit's heart, and it has only death for them.
The Nine-Eyed Fox
It is said that the Nine Eyes of the Fox see the nine-fates of those they behold, and that the fox is blind to the present world. Others call that foolishness, and that the eyes merely see one each into the realms of the world. Again, there are more that declare that the nine eyes are all misdirection, and the Fox's true eyes are in its mouth, and thus that it can only see when it speaks.
It is a master of magics, though it has never used them fatally, it only misdirects, tricks, and leads others to their own demise. Its hands are supernaturally dexterous too, and it can often be seen crouched like a monkey, tinkering with some new trinket it has carved out of the ice of its home.
Fabled Lord StormsA masked and mighty Death-Knight of legend. Old tales say that after his long and cruel life, he carved out his own heart, sealed it still beating in a Sandalwood box, and hid it away in a tower of Midnight-Black stone, that he would never again feel the hurts that had been inflicted upon him.
The legends also say, that the Tower is the very heart itself of Vettinskrake; though none who have braved the cold and death have ever returned to speak of the truth of it.