The Cold Line
By Wesley Quadros and Martin Laurie
The Cold Line is a thankless posting, reserved
for malcontents and troublemakers. Yet at the same time, the Line
serves a vital function in the Empire; an immovable barrier to the
winter storms that come howling down from Valindus’s Glacier.
At the time that Kestinoros wore the Mantle of Sovereign Majesty
and ruled from Raibanth, the Hollri, ice demons, came from the north
and sought to thrown down the makings of the Golden Empire. The
Ice came and ground under the city of Verapur slaying the gods there.
The god Kalikos rode into the north with his Red Stone and took
battle to the Palace of Ice and beat back the invasion – though
not in time to save the Empire.
With the forging of the new empire by Teelo Estarra
and our noble Takenegi, mighty heroes rediscovered the secrets of
Kalikos and set out to stop the annual incursions from the glacier.
They travelled deep into the Hero planes and far into the frozen
northern lands charting places of power for both the Ice and the
Ice-Breaker. Joranaddi Soot-Step, a Kalikosi hero from Nenuvus,
quested into the Dead Place and returned with the Iron Ram. The
Ram, was the god of a barbarian people who invaded Dara Happa and
were defeated by Urvairinus. The Ram god protected Dara Happan from
the Ice - breaking its advance - until it too fell under the relentless
Finally, the Empire built a grim fortress in the
Kalikos Hills – north of Erigia and Eol – on a site where a fragment
from Kalikos’ Red Stone struck the earth. The bastion, called Kalikos
Keep, was built with red rock carved from the fallen fragment and
crowned with the Iron Ram. A string of outposts was established
along the Hollrigash River to extend the Keep’s reach.
Today, winters in the Empire are mild and storms
rare. The farms produce food year-round and travel is uninterrupted
by the harsh winters of old.
Deep in the Kalikos Hills there stands a jagged
hilltop crouched above the Hollrigash River. The hill is crowned
by a grim fortress made of red stones that steam in the rain and
never have any snow on them. The fortress itself is all blunt angles
with many nooks and crannies to trap the winds and protect the defenders
against the same. A great iron statue of a ram – the mythical Iron
Ram that broke the Ice’s assault on Dara Happa – crowns the northernmost
bastion. It stands guard again and draws the forces of Valindus
to it to be broken upon the hot stone walls.
Kalikos Keep sits atop Red Hill, where a fragment
of Kalikos’ sacred stone fell to earth. Here the power of Kalikos
manifests itself most readily in the world. The hordes of Winter
are drawn to the hill by the great Ice-Breaker temple and the Iron
Ram and the Red Hill itself, like moths to a candle. The hordes
throw themselves at the towering walls and rune-carved battlements
and waste their strength there rather than upon the heartlands of
the Empire. So harsh are the winter storms around the Keep that
a man may freeze in moments and the snows pile up in banks a hundred
feet high. The magical nature of the red stone warms the keep and
melts any snow within a few feet.
The Keep itself is a collection of disparate buildings.
The Ice-Breaker temple dominates the hilltop and funnels the power
of the legions of priests and acolytes into the defences. The eastern
wing is taken up by a Makabean chapter house where the sorcerers
add their own magic to the defence. The Crooked Tower, on the southern
wall, is the home of a score of Kalikos Shaman sent by the Char-Un
Ur-Pan, or High Khan, to aid the defence.
Deep under the Keep in warrens carved by their
own brand of sorcery the Eyzaal wizards concoct their own magics.
The entropic energies harnessed by the Eyzaal chapter house are
evident in the river. For miles downstream of the Keep the waters
glow softly at night and never freezes, even during the darkest
days of winter. Recently, malformed fish have been caught in the
river, some with three eyes, some with two heads, and other stranger
things that do not bear mentioning. The wizards are rumoured to
have an entropic generator down there but none know for sure.
The Keep is the main garrison point for the Cold
Line Foot, a regiment dedicated to maintaining the Cold Line and
protecting the Empire from the winter. About half of the regiment
is kept at the Keep, 400 men, and bands of Char-Un auxiliaries range
through the hills seeking invaders.
Cold Line Forts
Once Kalikos Keep was built the Empire built a
line of small forts along the river to protect the supply line up
the river – ironically, it is easiest to carry supplies to the keep
when the river freezes. It was soon discovered that many smaller
incursions from the northern lands bypassed Kalikos Keep and crossed
the river above or below the fortress. The forts below the Kalikos
Hills stopped many of those raids and storms. As a result, the Empire
extended the line of forts above the Kalikos hills. The Cold Line
Forts now stretch from White Harbour on the coast all the way up
the Hollrigash River nearly to the Rathori Forest.
Each outpost is usually garrisoned by 20-50 men
from the Cold Line Foot, spearmen and archers who have earned the
ire of their commander or one of the priests in the Keep. There
is also a like number of Char-Un auxiliaries drawn from the local
Cold Line Foot
In 1/24, Dara Happa rebelled against our noble Takenegi and waged
war upon loyal citizens of the Empire. When the rebellion was crushed,
the Dara Happan army was broken up and the regiments moved about
to preclude a future rising.
One of the regiments that been at the fore of the
rebellion, and one of the last to surrender had been the Tholmic
Line. The Tholmic Line was a regiment of in the Elmexdros tradition
and was best known for their burning spears. Takenegi immediately
saw the benefit of the regiment’s magics – on the Cold Line. The
regiment was renamed the Cold Line Foot and assigned permanent garrison
duty in the far north.
Today the regiment is a punishment posting. Political
malcontents from across Peloria are sent to the Cold Line to , literally,
The regiment’s standard is a swooping hawk. Their
shields show the hawk holding Kalikos’s Red Stone and are rimmed
in painted ice. Over the years they have adopted heavy bows with
“cracker” arrow-heads that can split ice. Many of the spearmen have
adopted heavy two-handed axes to better hew the ice-demons and trolls
that assail them.
White Harbour is a small, fortified town and port
at the mouth of the Hollrigash River. Several vessels in the Imperial
White Sea Fleet are based there while whalers and fishers often
put in for supplies or shelter. The “Surety of Purpose”, a sturdy
galley that belongs to the Makabean order, puts in twice a year
on its journeys between their grim tower in the north and Joranit.
White Harbour is the supply centre for Kalikos Keep and the rest
of the Cold Line. The town is garrisoned by a score of Imperial
Marines and a syntagma – 100 men – from the Cold Line Foot.
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