Valdorian Age - Rising Power on the Frontier
The Cold Peaks
The Cynthians regard the Cold Peaks with a mixture of awe, disgust, and fear. They admire the snow-capped peaks’ beauty, but there’s also something in them that makes a rider shiver at the thought of climbing them. When the riders speak of the Cold Peaks, it’s almost like they’re unnatural and inhuman-as if they have no place in this world. Sometimes a Cynthian describes the mountains as maggot-ridden, and if asked further explains that they’re like piece of rotted flesh-pull back the top layer and a person can see the squirming and burrowing maggots tunneling through the flesh. Sometimes storytellers speak of Old Widow Ice, the divine spirit who used to inhabit the Cold Peaks, but they always speak of her in the past tense and refuse to tell of her fate.
Because the Cold Peaks stretch to Three Fingers, it’s well known among Elweirnians that hillmen inhabit those mountains. Though they’re barbarians, they seem little different from other southlands barbarians except that their metalwork is unusually fine. But there are also strange stories of a race living higher in the mountains whose people aren’t men. The hillmen, though normally taciturn and sullen around strangers, tell stories of this inhuman race when they’ve drunk enough ale. They call them the Khuzdul and speak of the battles fought between the two races millennia ago. Furthermore, they claim their ancestors drove the Khuzdul underground, and that hillmen stole the secrets of metalwork from them. If a person can believe the stories the Khuzdul have steel skin, with finely-wrought wire for hair. They’re short, only standing as high as man’s chest, but are twice as thick as a man-and often twice as strong. If you listen to the most drunk and addle-witted of the Cold Peaks hillmen, you’ll hear that battles still go on between the Khuzdul and hillmen.