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Lynch P J SNOW-QUEEN 1600

Winter

The Winter War took place almost a thousand years before the present era. Thousands of years after the God War, an unnatural winter fell upon the land. The great Mammoth Steppes expanded in range, and land previously suitable to cultivation became uninhabitable. The seas withdrew as they were taken up into the ice; the lands by their shores became poisoned by windblown salt, and multitudes starved. Fed by the dying seas, the ice covered great tracts of Mantica, including the grand plains of Ardovikia, where much of the latter-day glory of Primovantor was; the republic was slowly brought to its knees.

This cooling of the world was far from natural: Elven seers discerned that the goddess known simply as Winter was behind the chilling of Mantica. Somehow she had escaped the Abyss, or had not been cast down with the rest. Discovered, Winter fully unleashed her magic, and glaciers advanced like armies upon the civilised realms, strange creatures marching before them.

Men, Dwarfs and Elves stood shoulder to shoulder once more against the threat of the Wicked Ones. This time there was only one divine enemy, but all three peoples were far weaker than they once had been. The aid of the Shining Ones was erratic and could not be relied upon; for they too had lost a great deal of their power, and their minds had become unfocused, their actions whimsical.

For one hundred and fifty long years of unending cold, the war dragged on. There was some successful resistance: the Ice Elves of the Bitter Lands remained there even when Winter was at her height, surviving by taking her magic and turning it against her. And while Ardovikia and the northern provinces of Primovantor were smothered in ice, the Sylvan Kin of the Forest of Galahir called upon the power of the Lady. Their realm was surrounded and isolated by the ice, but it was not crushed. For three hundred years the trees slept, bare of leaves, but they did not die. Finally, the elven hero Valandor the Great, mightiest mage of his time, confronted Winter and defeated her in a magical duel.

Blanche3

The fall of Primovantor

However, the culmination of this struggle against Winter wrought havoc upon the world. Even though they were victorious, the wisest Elves and Men could not foresee that the ending of Winter’s Age of Ice would drown so many lands under the thawing ocean and reshape the map. As the glaciers of Winter melted with magical rapidity, the sea came crashing back, and it did not stop once it had reached its original extent. The waters surged onward, inundating much of the lands of both Elves and Men. Valandor used his magic to hold back the waves, and although he managed to save vast swathes of the old lands, ultimately he was lost to the limitless power of the cold sea.

The Grand Republic of Primovantor was shattered forever, the northern provinces crushed under the ice, the colonnaded cities of the south empty of inhabitants now but for fish and kraken. The Infant Sea was created from the ruins of what had once been Primovantor. Only the province of Basilea was spared; from this would spring its successor state, the Basilean Hegemony.

Destroyed too was much of Elvenholme, the kindreds of the Elves scattered, the Sacred Groves of Elvenkind lost. Winter’s Final Gift, they call it, the sinking of much of Elvenholme under the raging sea, an inundation so swift and terrible it slew fully half of the Elven race. Only the city of Therennia Adar survived, saved by Valendor, who used his arts to raise walls hundreds of feet high around it to protect it. This has led to the city becoming known by another name, Walldeep. Aside from the Brokenwall Islands, it is the last piece of the ancient heart of the Western Kindreds that exists today. Those that survive are known as the Sea Kindred now, and their ships skim the waves that cover their lands; Therennia Adar has remained the capital of the Sea Kindred since that time.

Winter’s flood swept into the holds of the Dwarfs, killing thousands. Anguished and mourning their dead, the Dwarfs sealed shut their holds for many centuries, turning their backs on the world.

After Winter’s defeat, her ice retreated back to the pole of the north, and in the south up to the peaks of the Dragon’s Teeth mountains. As this occurred, the Ardovikian plain was uncovered after ages pressed under cruel glaciers. Once home to the richest nine provinces of Primovantor, the ice had wiped it clean. Winter’s time may be long past, and her chill grip receded from the world, but at the poles Mantica is clad still in great caps of ice. Huge frozen cliffs of blue ice as tall as mountains stand sentinel over the world. By day they are visible for a hundred miles, by night the ice groans and roars. Some say this is Winter, that she lives still, and shouts her defiance at the warming sun once it has safely set.