Deep We Go
The Nourthern Waists
There is dim concept of “the world” in the Hearthlands. There is nothing beyond the hearth. No-one is even sure that there is even any land to be found past the mists. The hearth, the fire, is the only place one may find life and warmth; all else is death, and cold. Out in the weastern lands, the waist of existence, is where it gets to coldest.
Since the Higher Spirits could travel beyond the borders of their own, immediate surroundings, with the advent of the airship, the carriage and the carrack, explorers have sought to pierce the clouded unknown surrounding civilized lands. None who have tried have ever returned alive. Most who approach the borders, whether by ocean or by the narrow land bridge to the nourth-est, report visions, bleeding, madness, death, poison in the air, a deathly cold that shatters bones and brings only agony. No-one alive today, it seems, could ever hope to pierce this ring that surrounds all known. Its mysteries, since the dawn of remembrance, have remained locked to the bright and burning minds of history’s thinkers and geographers.
Many see the Hearthlands as a fragment, a survivor of a great war, an event that rendered the rest of the wider plane of being uninhabitable. Others state that beyond the cloud and the poison is a marvellous creation, larger than any can imagine; that the foul air and deadly Haze is merely a belt, and beyond is a landscape where dragons rule, where gods walk, where the skies are clear and a true beauty undreamt of even by the fair Eladrin can be found for any and all amongst the infinite cities and wide, grassy meadows.
Most, however, spit on such notions, and deny that there is anything beyond the Hearthlands – many see it as a spit of rock suspended in a neat void, surrounded by the lanterns of the stars, shrouded by clouds and the Haze, a point of brightness and civility within a mad vacuum filled with dead gods, cavorting demons, and the capricions of a million evil spirits. The Mutians see the world as an actor’s stage for the Ten Heavens on the moons of the Hearthlands. The Melorans see the Hearthlands as a great coin, that is flipped nightly, making the seas rise and the creatures of the ground grow sleepy and dizzy with the change. There are many more theories, and many more opinions. Every year hundreds of foolhardy adventurers search for a notch in the belt, a hole through which they can slip. All die, and life in the peninsula goes on. The Waists seem to be forever closed, and the Higher Spirits must content themselves with the relatively small band of life afforded by the Great Uplands.