The North Edit
"The North of that world is a fearsome sea of mountains ridged in snow, a wild country full of wolves, the wellspring of all shifters-of-the-beast. That is where Erebus of the Deep sleeps near to the surface, rattling his slow-rotting chains against the stones that fix them fast. Between the stones sit a knighthood of wolves. They howl constantly, day and night, a never-ending litany of sound to remind the world that there are still champions willing to fight. A castle stands there, not William's Castle nor the Great Hall of Weylin Lairban but something in between: a castle built of stone, each window engraved with the crescent and star of Thala. It is called Nicoli's Refuge. Strange scholars sometimes hold court in that place. A hare, a leopard, a human, a cat, a winged horse, and many others. They are never seen, but their voices echo from just around the next corner at times, if you listen with enough devotion."
The North is a collective term for all things northerly, everything from the Dark Beast's territory up through the Iron Mountains. It is not the name of a territory -- it's a blanket term used to describe a region, same as the term "Midwest" would mean to people in America.
Legend has it that all shifters originally came from the Iron Mountains, though the details are vague.
Iron Mountains Edit
For more information, visit the Iron Mountains.
Also called the "dwarven mountains" or "northern mountains" to distinguish them from the low ridges to the south. The Iron Mountains are fierce, sharp, deadly peaks that jut up along the entire northern skyline, barring all travel. They're home to most flying creatures that would happily eat a traveler, including griffins, dragons, and bennu.
Great veins of minerals run through the mountains. They're heavily mined, but even the complete collective effort of all of the dwarves in Sihiri has barely made a dent in their depths.
It's said there are openings to a horrifying dark region underneath those mountains, and that exploring the mountains would surely be suicide.
The Wilds Edit
The Wilds are the vast grasslands and sparsely-populated forests that fill the Dark Beast's territory. They are home to roving packs of shifters and to grassland creatures. The Wilds are generally unremarkable except for how purely harsh they can be. Beings left alone in the Wilds will quickly become feral.
Howling Stones Edit
Most people regard the Howling Stones as a legend, but its knights would disagree. In the far northwest of the Wilds there is a deep depression in the ground, as if something massive was buried there a long time ago. The depression is maybe a hundred feet in diameter. All around its edges huge grey boulders have been set in a ring. There is just enough space between each pair for a wolf shifter to fill the gap. There are perhaps seven to twelve wolves there at any given time, but they take shifts according to some arcane formula of their own so the number is always fluid.
The wolves howl constantly, day and night, and the crater and boulders amplifies their song until it can be heard from miles away. Often the same wolves can be glimpsed traveling to or from Nicoli's Refuge or lounging in its cold stone halls. They never seem to take human forms. Each bears the Seal of Thala on a cord around their neck.
Legend has it that the shifters guard the world from some great forgotten evil, and that the day they stop howling the world will be overrun.
Nicoli's Refuge Edit
Nicoli's Refuge is a ruined castle about four miles away from the Howling Stones. It was clearly a breathtaking marvel when it was built. Great stained glass windows fill all its arches, staining the ground with the ubiquitous Seal of Thala, and the floor and walls are made of a worn white marble the colour of the moon. But the place has fallen into disrepair. It's far outside any trade routes and there's no reason for anyone to seize it.
The wolf shifters who guard the Howling Stones often slink through these halls or doze along its walltops. Sometimes the wind through the windows sounds like voices, though nobody lives here anymore and the wolves do not seem to speak. It is a lonesome, holy place.