A place of magic and mystery residing just outside of the Northern border of Starkwater and Nevros. A land which is roughly the size of 300 square kilometres floats a kilometre high in the air, just at the end of a valley, surrounded by mountain peaks on all three sides. The floating island is draped by lush green fields, while in the middle a town and a castle stands proud. Below the island a large gap gives birth to a dangerous all time night life. How such a large island floats in the air is unknown for all, perhaps except for those who live in the Skyhold castle.
Skyhold has existed there for as long as most can remember. There had been a few attempts to claim the land both by Nevros and Starkwater, however both faced complete defeat from what is believed to be the Skyholder's curse, a strange, vital sickness. Thus to this day Skyhold remains an independent land, answering to no fiefdom. Though there have been attempts to claim Skyhold, the island so far has not threatened or attacked any.
In 4235, two years after peace was finally settled and Skyhold was officially left as a free land, a small village rose south of it, named Heaven Stairs. The village consists of only a few families, whom all work in the village’s inn or do travelling trade to bring supplies back and forth to the village. The inn provides food and shelter for those who wish to go to Skyhold or the No-Wind Cave. A few hundred meters from the village is a large rope-ladder that leads all the way up to Skyhold. The ladder is a few meters wide and has a lot of "steps", thus it looks more like a net that is made for climbing, rather than the usual rope-ladder. This is the primary and only free way to get to Skyhold, however it is dangerous and people falling off the ladder due to slipping or a gust of wind is not unheard off.
Roughly 300 square kilometres of floating land, which carry the name of Skyhold have eight massive chains connecting it to the surrounding mountains. The shortest chain is half a kilometre and the longest one is two kilometres long. Whether the chains serve any actual purpose is uncertain, however supposedly they keep the land from floating away or even rising too high. The land does indeed slowly but constantly shift both sideways and vertically, ranging roughly 20 meter difference.
Even though the island is so high above sea-level it is protected both from the winds and the cold. The space that goes between the island and the mountains creates extremely powerful vertical winds soaring in the gaps and leaving the island’s land and the underground practically windless. The island gives off constant heat, keeping the ground and the air pleasantly warm. Rumours circulate however that the source of the heat is lethal and everyone who ventured deeper into the island have soon died from strange illness.
The majority of the land is covered by lush pastures or farmland. In the middle of the island stands a castle surrounded by a beautiful prosperous town. The town holds 1500 people, where the majority of the population are humans. Skyholders seem to be facing two problems, one – being almost completely forbidden from expanding the town and two being less fertile than the norm. Because of that the town lets in people from the outside to live on the island in the deceased homes who no longer have any descendants. Most of the times only people who have good connections with Skyholders or those who are deemed worthy for various reasons are the ones who win such a home.
Skyholders seem to have a simple and easy life. The town supports itself easily because of lush lands and a constantly warm climate. Those who do not work the fields or livestock make a living in the town through various crafts, working a tavern or a clothes shop. The livestock seems to be facing a similar though lesser fertility problem, so it is not unheard off for Skyholders to renew their animals. The island buys most of raw materials such as wood and fabrics from outsiders as it cannot make any by itself. More or less the only thing that the island sells are filigree jewellery. The transaction is done by two resident mages.
Even though life seems to be simple all Skyholders are forbidden from entering the castle. The only ones who have access to the castle are the Wind family, which governs the town, the Sky Guards, who keep the peace in the town when necessary, Bal the alchemist and his apprentices. The castle is made of white stone, the main part being five storeys and the highest tower reaching whole nine. It supports two gardens and is surrounded by a same white stone wall.
The Castle Dwellers
Wind family - self proclaimed nobles, who pass down the right to rule Skyhold to their heirs, all take part in governing Skyhold and meddling in its politics. There are over fifty family members, however they are rarely seen outside the castle walls and even Skyholders do not know most of their faces. Who the true ruler is among them or if the whole Wind family rules in democracy is hard to say, for all the commands are passed to the town through the Sky Guards. The family has never been opposed not only due to strong walls and faithful guards, but also because so far it has not failed Skyholders and has led them to prosperity.
Sky Guards - these are the only people who use arms in Skyhold. Even though an occasional noble or a blacksmith may have weapons with them, Sky Guards are so far the only ones who use them. Their duties resolve around protecting the castle from all intruders and overseeing justice within the town, be it a dispute between two nobles or trouble with a hostile foreigner. Even though Sky Guards carry different weapons and wear different armour, they can be easily identified by black gloves and black-red helmet-masks, which hide their faces. Rumour goes that all of them have diseased skin, which shows especially on the face and the hands, furthermore some even say that Wind Guards aren't really human.
Bal - much like the Wind family, the alchemist too does not show his face too often in the town. All the strange sounds or even explosions that sometimes come from the castle are almost guaranteed to be caused by Bal or his apprentices. Most of the Skyholders believe that he is the one who sends the plague upon invaders and that he has a lot of influence in Skyhold's governance. Every few years Bal takes a new apprentice, however they are seen in public even less than the alchemist himself.
Deeper into the depths of the No-Wind Cave (part of the land that the island hovers over) light is scarce but not nonexistent. Even though sunlight no longer reaches the deeper parts, the bottom of the island is covered by Dark Glow, a fungi that provides light much like that of a clear full-moon on a snow covered land. While darkness does spawn various beasts and other unwanted individuals, recently it was discovered that the light from the fungi allowed scarce sky blue crystals to grow upon rocks. These crystals are not only beautiful to look at but also grow in a form of a spike and are as durable as ordinary steel. Due to these qualities the crystal fetches a high price from blacksmiths who can make swords and spears from it as well as other craftsmen.
The lower Skyhold remains a dangerous and vastly unexplored place, which becomes either a fortune or a grave for many adventurers. What exactly lurks in the vast No-Wind Cave is so far undefined, some faced beasts and monsters, others have even suffered from hallucinations, while there even have been some lucky ones to get in and out without suffering. Some come for the crystals, some for pure exploring, while there are even those who come for the valuables of fallen famous adventurers.
OOC info on radiation
Skyhold is infected with a large amount of radiation, which is primary in the depths of the island. Smaller amounts are on the surface which affect the growth of plans, fertility of both animals and residents and warms the surface weather. While the amounts of radiation on the surface of Skyhold are minimum and travellers don't get contaminated, over prolonged time such radiation becomes incurable and then is even passed down to the future generations. Passive radiation isn't deadly and increases extremely slowly, however it cannot be cured. Direct contamination is a whole different matter.
Direct contamination levels
1-3: The person has taken small amounts of radiation. It does not increase and no direct ill effects are found. Only when the person gets elderly he usually feels much weaker and loses most of his hair. Can be cured only in Skyhold.
4-7: The person has taken large amounts of radiation. If nothing is done it increases by a level every two or three months. The person experiences weakness, rashes, coughing and rapid hair loss. Levels can be kept at bay or reduced to level 4 by various means throughout Adylheim or completely cured in Skyhold.
8-9: The person is infected by insane amounts of radiation. If nothing is done it increases by a level every six months or a year. The person rarely ever has a hair left or normal skin, often he may also cough blood. Unlike before though, the person feels stronger than when he was completely healthy. Mages also notice that their Numen has increased significantly. Strong hallucinations become a constant thing, sometimes even impossible to discern from reality, leading to people usually making vital mistakes and killing themselves accident. The person also becomes infectious to others at close range. Levels can be kept at bay only by top healers, alchemists or mages. Whether it can be cured in Skyhold remains unknown as it refuses people this contaminated.
10: The person has taken a lethal amount of radiation hence comes death.