Friday, 22 July 2022

On Knudje

“For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”
― Wallace Stevens, "The Snow Man"

The Spirit of Schnai
If Soull is soul of Schnai, Knudje is its spirit. Nestled in the wooded foothills of the Corusks, its much-celebrated heroes guard its approach. But to what? From what? Nothing, they say. Mountains, they say. They defend Schnai and Soull from what may descend, they say. From orcs and ogres and trolls, from wolves and dragons and come what may.
That may be so, but the trained eye will note that their eyes sweep south far more than north. This raises the questions: What need they walls so far north that face south? What are they watching for? And what do they truly guard?
Indeed, a great many guard the way so far from the often trod path.
Knudje (Pop 4,500) [LGG – 105]
North Latitude (degrees) 50
Knudje; Kelten; Cold Marshes
[Dragon #68 – 43]

The Schnai have always been a proud people, an independent people.
The Frost, Ice and Snow Barbarians are perfect specimens of unmixed Suloise blood; the nearly albinoid Snow Barbarians are the best example. [WoGA – 13]
They are also considered the best example of the unmixed Suloise race, many being as pale as their namesake northern snows. [LGG – 105]
The Snow Barbarians are the strongest and most numerous of the northern peoples. [Folio – 15]
As a people, [the Rhizians] were always distinct from the high culture of the civilized Suel. They were thought of as a mere rabble, with a primitive dialect and no magic. In the north, they became the strong masters of their own land, from which they would never be cast out. Thus, they called it Rhizia, which means immovable. [LGG – 54]

Dedicated to Vatun
Rabble? Uncivilised? Untrue. Independent, they would say. They would also say that the king is only king by consensus, the First Jarl.
Government: Independent feudal monarchy with hereditary rulership, loosely governing powerful jarls; jarls meet yearly at the Assembly of Knudje (without king present), then send representatives to Soull to negotiate with king or have him resolve judicial disputes; king and jarls each have a retinue of advisers (clerics and skalds). [LGG – 105]
This may be true, mostly; but one imagines that the king would not remain First Jarl for long, were he not to send a message every so often.
The warriors of the Schnai are typical of the Suel barbarians. They usually ply axe or sword in battle, and wear sturdy chainmail coats. All use round shields, including the berserkers, who otherwise go unarmored except for skins. Those berserkers dedicated to Vatun wield shortspears or battleaxes, while the followers of Kord favor the broadsword. The king himself favors Kord and has a company of berserkers among his household. They are usually kept at Knudje, rather than at the king's court in Soull, though the king sometimes sends them to guest at the halls of particularly troublesome jarls. [LGG – 105]

Knudje is perched high upon Schnai, and its walls see far, unto the sea on clear days. Those days are few in spring, though, as the warm winds of the south roll up the mountain slopes, mingling with the glaciers they flow down the Corusks’ steep slopes.
The ice-capped Corusk Mountains are the backbone of the Thillonrian Peninsula. [LGG – 142]
The Corusks form a bow. the backbone of the Thillonrian Peninsula which runs from the Solnor Ocean in the east, north and west and then southwest where the range terminates (Hraak Pass). [WoGA – 52]
It might be said that ice is not the only thing to descend from their heights.
While the lower reaches are farmed with difficulty by humans, giants, ogres, trolls, and other monsters dwell in the central fastness. Monsters are less numerous farther east, but freezing fogs sweep down from the heights to threaten travelers. It is thought that this range possesses little in the way of valuable ores and gems. [LGG – 142]

Come Patchwall, the iciest of gales rush down from the peaks. And just like in the freshness of spring, few see far; but for snow and not the gathering of haze.
The season between is short. Not long for crops to grow. And winters coming is so fast those pines that cling to the coast and the Corusks learned suppleness, lest they snap from the cold, or the weight of the snows that pile higher than the tallest roofs.
The Spikey Forest
Spikey Forest: This smallish woodland divides the lands of the Frost and Snow Barbarians. Its tall pines are used by both peoples for ship masts and spars.
[WoGA – 59]
The western edge of the Spikey Forest marks the border with the Snow Barbarians, and the southern and eastern shores of the kingdom of Fruztii end at the waters of Grendep Bay. The climate here is much more temperate than in the northern parts of Rhizia (as the Thillonrian Peninsula is named in the Cold Tongue), and farming is an important part of the economy of the kingdom (though the growing season is short). [LGG – 44]
The Spikey Forest separates the territories of the Snow and Frost Barbarians, though the lands on both sides are very similar. The climate of both kingdoms is nearly identical as well, with a relatively temperate southern zone. The landscape of the kingdom of Schnai is more rugged than the Fruztii region, however, though not so rough as that of the Cruskii. The same could be said of the people, who are more factious than the Fruztii, but more united than the Cruskii. [LGG – 105,106]
It's a dangerous place, those woods. Thick, the boughs tangle and weave. One must take heed within it, and guard by sound as much as sight, for those that prowl there are as silent as the very mists.
Mist wolves are said to roam here, rumored to lead travelers away from dangerous, ancient Suel ruins. [FtAA – 56]

Were wolves the only worry. Dragons dwell in the high reaches, where the pines thin, and the ice thickens.
One wonders how anyone could live here. But the Schnai do, and have for long centuries. Others proceeded them, though the Schnai, indeed the whole of the Rhizians, are loath to admit it.
[A] band of Frost Barbarians recently returned from dangerous explorations in the great Corusk Mountains. […]
While searching for the lair of a white dragon, the barbarians chanced upon an illusion-cloaked dungeon entrance and ventured inside. There they fought evil, cold-dwelling creatures and passed through strange areas of chilling, life-sapping vapor. Finally, they reached a great ice-encrusted chamber. While the intruders were busy digging out a chest from the ice, their activity awakened the dungeon’s most dangerous guardian: a massive automaton fashioned—so swear the barbarians—of steel-hard ice. Although the golem slew two of their number, the barbarians were ultimately triumphant and claimed the icy dungeon’s treasures as their own. Among the hoard was the book that was to become known as the Ice-Shard Tome. Of the book’s owner there was no sign. [Dragon #243 – 89]
Who wrote that ancient tome? Certainly not the Schnai. Whomever did knew of the Hanging Glacier, and judging by the age of the caverns the book was discovered in, its writer may have been as ancient as that mysterious ice. One wonders if the writer may have created them?
The Ice-Shard Tome
Finally, the book contains an accurate map to the Hanging Glacier of Alisedran, with notation in no language known in the Flanaess, either current or ancient. [Dragon #243 – 90]

Without doubt, the Ice-Shard Tome is far older than Alisedran’s On Sledge and Horseback to the Barbarians of the North. Centuries older, mayhap.
Might it have been Keraptis, or one of his minions?
[In] a time when the Flan tribes still dominated eastern Oerik, the archwizard Keraptis rose to power in the lands abutting the southern Rakers, and while most historians agree that the mage’s kingdom encompassed what is now known as the Bone March, a few scholars believe the territories that later became Ratik and the Pale were part of this empire as well. [Dragon #241 – 77]

Whoever might have, what is sure is that the Schnai knew about the Hanging Ice long before they were aware of either scholarly work, if they even are, now. And they did not take kindly to Alisedran’s having discovered its location.
Alisedran, Hanging Glacier of
Into the Corusks
In CY 113, the scholar and explorer Alisedran returned from the Barbarian lands with a tale so bizarre that no one believed any of it. His ramblings were put down to the feverish after-effects of being run through with a scimitar by a Suel pirate on the Solnor Ocean (it is true that his behavior was marked by weird eccentricities until his death the following year). But all of what he recorded (in his On Sledge and Horseback to the Barbarians of the North, still available in the libraries of Greyhawk City) is true.
Alisedran described a glacier in the very depths of the Corusks (suggested location: hex J-16) that traveled at great speed to a massive precipice— and there stopped abruptly. It appeared that the ice floe broke up into many splinters and fragments that simply hung in the air, entirely static, all the way down the two-thousand-foot drop to a river valley below. The ice shards that hung there contained absolutely pure water; Alisedran bottled the water they formed, and alchemists found that potions made with this water never failed in their preparation.
The Glacier
Alisedran also found that certain ice shards were light blue in color. Each of these shards contained a single tiny bubble with a miniature monster inside. All these creatures were of the cold-using or cold-dwelling type: yetis, remorhaz, white puddings, ice toads, winter wolves, and the like.
Of the trapped creatures, only monsters (no natural animals) could be seen. Alisedran tested one of these blue shards and found that during its melting, a fully-formed, adult-sized monster sprang from the ice. At least three of his traveling companions were unable to share his surprise at this, since the enraged yeti killed them.
Alisedran found a third aberration among the ice shards: rare, one-inch blue cubes of "solid air" (as he termed them). When he was cast overboard during a fight with pirates, he found that these blue cubes of airy matter could be crushed in the hand to duplicate the effects of an airy water spell.
Local barbarian legend provided Alisedran with some important information relating to the ice shards. First, cycles of unusual monster activity in the Corusks occurred every 20 years or so; Alisedran hypothesized that, at those times, the strange suspension of gravity collapsed, at least momentarily, and as the ice fell into the river below and melted, the monsters came to life (he was correct).
Periodically Able to Emerge and Cause Havoc
Second, the glacier itself was regarded as cursed—an area where a powerful evil spirit dwelled. Here, the barbarians were incorrect, for below the glacier lies a portal to another world of the Prime Material. The portal has been enchanted to prevent the servants of an evil Power of cold and suffering (suggested: Loviatar of the Finnish mythos) from entering Oerth. The enchantment is not complete, however, and it allows the goddess and her priests to dispatch summoned monsters to Oerth, which are periodically able to emerge and cause havoc.
Third, cold-dwelling creatures of above-animal intelligence (but not frost giants) are attracted to the area of the hanging glacier (double normal encounter frequencies) and are strangely compelled to leave gifts there—ivory, treasure taken from slain barbarians and explorers, and the like. There are thus considerable caches of treasure in the area, as well as unknown secondary effects of the magic of the portal (perhaps akin to the solid air above the glacier). Exactly what form the portal takes, and how it can be reached and finally sealed, is unknown. [FtAA – 67]

It the Schnai were so displeased with Alisedran for having found the Glacier that a “Suel pirate” –that seems a little convenient, considering how tight-lipped the Schnai are concerning the Hanging Glacier—ran him through with a scimitar, they are altogether hostile to Oeridian Telchurites.
Another sight to be a holy place to Telchur and for which his priests have been searching for over 450 years, is the Hanging Glacier of Alisedran. This structure, found in 113 C.Y. by the explorer after whom it is named, supposedly lies somewhere in the Corusk Mountains. Though the priest of Telchur still search for it, the barbarians of the Thillonrian Peninsula bear them no great love and have made the search a fruitless one to date. [Dragon #265 – 58]
It goes without saying that clerics of Telchur would find their heads upon a pole should they be discovered in the vicinity of Knudje. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
Vatun was imprisoned by clerics of Telchur about the time of the Battle of a Fortnight's Length. [LGG – 185]
Those clerics of Telchur are willing to take the risk, regardless. Alisedran’s book has put them on the scent, and they will not be dissuaded from their quest.

Alisedran’s memoir peaked more than Telchurian interest. Hints of mysterious magic have nudged wizards to discover the truth beneath long-lost secrets and lore for centuries, haven’t they?
Characters of Nyrond
Kurast is obsessed with lore concerning magical fluids and waters. He has actually visited the hanging glacier of Alisedran (see From the Ashes), knows of many other such wonders [.] [WGR4 – 93]
Some of his ideas are crazy, some of the lore he knows is deluded nonsense, but some is genuine. He has a bizarre attitude to the Nyrondese around his home, thinking of them almost as pets and patronizing them. […] Nearing 70 years of age, the black haired mage has a disconcerting habit of sucking in his lips when speaking, making his speech hard to understand at times, a problem exacerbated by his occasional lapses into Old Oeridian. [WGR4 – 93,94]

The Flan
Who else might know what mysteries reside north and east of Knudje?
Nor do they mingle much with those who came after them, content in their high towns, their hidden coves, their dark woods.
WORLD OF GREYHAWK® campaign (Flanaess only): Beory and Obad-Hai, the latter also known as “The Shalm,” are the major gods of the druids here. [Dragon #209 – 11]
Arctic druid: WG: Thillonrian Peninsula (on which lies the Corusk Mountains).
Forest druid (cold): WG: forests along Thillonrian Peninsula (Spikey,Timberway). [Dragon #209 – 13]
Mountain druid: WG: Corusk-Griff-Rakers chain [Dragon #209 – 14]
So, if these was one who knew whence the Ice-Shard Tome came, or who levitated the Hanging Glacier, it would be one of them.
And the Flan surely guard those secrets still.

“Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from.”
― Mae West

One must always give credit where credit is due. This piece is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable.
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

The Art:

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9317 WGS1, The Five Shall be One, 1991
9337 WGS2, Howl from the North, 1991
9398 The Marklands, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Dragon Magazine #68, #209, #241, #243, #265
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

1 comment:

  1. I’m catching up on gh content after having been out of internet reach. Lots of material in these articles David , it will take a few readings to absorb it all. Many thanks for all the effort put in. Enjoy your summer!